wDe Virtutibus
The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.
-St. Gregory of Nyssa; CCC 1803

De Virtutibus; or, Kevin's Kasuist Korner; or, Miller's Moral Musings.

"Why 'De Virtutibus'?"



wLinks, resources:
Worth browsing ...

Balthasar: a Sketch
Book TV.org
Center for Life Principles
Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics
Communio
Dominicans
Franciscan University of Steubenville
IntraText Digital Library
John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
Junkscience.com
Christopher Kaczor
Life Issues Institute
Lifeissues.net
Marquette University Institute for Natural Family Planning
National Catholic Bioethics Center
National Right to Life
New Advent
Perseus Digital Library
Priests for Life
Ratzinger Fan Club
The Thomist
USCCB
Vatican

blogs4God

< x ? ChristBlogs # x >

<< # St. Blog's Parish ? >>

Select Catholic and other good blogs

After abortion
Being! Or Nothingness
Catholic Analysis
Catholic and Enjoying It!
Catholic Light
Catholic Ragemonkey
Dappled Things
Dawn Patrol
Disputations
Dyspeptic Mutterings
Envoy Encore
Fructus Ventris
HMS Blog
In Light of the Law
Open Book
Rerum Novarum
SecretAgentMan's Dossier
Sed Contra
Summa Contra Mundum
Thrown Back
Veritas
... and more ...

News and commentary

Catholic News Service
First Things
FOXNews.com
National Catholic Register
National Review Online
Town Hall
Weekly Standard
ZENIT News Agency

Some especially good moral theology reads ...

Aquinas, Summa Theologiae; Ashley & O'Rourke, Health Care Ethics; Cessario, Introduction to Moral Theology; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Christian Freedom and Liberation - Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian - Euthanasia - Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons - Procured Abortion - Profession of Faith - Questions concerning Sexual Ethics - Respect for Human Life in its Origin and Dignity of Procreation - "Theology of Liberation"; DiNoia, Veritatis Splendor and the Renewal of Moral Theology; Gagnon, Bible and Homosexual Practice; Kaczor, Proportionalism and the Natural Law Tradition; de Lubac, Brief Catechesis on Nature and Grace; Matera, New Testament Ethics; Melina, Sharing in Christ's Virtues; Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love - Four Cardinal Virtues; Pinckaers, Sources of Christian Ethics; Schindler, Heart of the World, Center of the Church; Schürmann, Ratzinger, Balthasar, Principles of Christian Morality; Sokolowski, Moral Action; Steck, Ethical Thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar; Vatican II, Apostolate of the Laity - Church in the Modern World - Priestly Formation - Religious Freedom; Wojtyla/John Paul II, Catholic Universities - Church in America - Dignity and Vocation of Women - Faith and Reason - Human Work - Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum - Gospel of Life - Letter to Families - Lord and Giver of Life - Lord's Day - Love and Responsibility - Mercy of God - Person and Community - Redeemer of Man - Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World - Social Concern - Splendor of Truth - Theology of the Body

Who is this blogging moralist?


Note. This blog adheres to the Welborn Protocol: All correspondence is bloggable unless it requests otherwise - and to the Shea Protocol: At my sole discretion, uncivil commenters will be banned.



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wSaturday, February 08, 2003


Someone who doesn't think the GOP racist

"CHARLESTON, S.C. — A black city councilman and mayoral candidate in Charleston, S.C., has shocked voters and politicians alike by switching to the Republican Party after the party began taking heat for its [shouldn't there be an "alleged" here?] racial insensitivity. ..." more

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Iraq, N. Korea

"WASHINGTON — President Bush on Friday encouraged the U.N. Security Council to quickly come to a decision about confronting Iraq, or the United States and a coalition of allies would disarm Saddam Hussein themselves. ..." more

"BAGHDAD, Iraq — Top U.N. arms inspectors met with Iraqi officials Saturday to determine what Baghdad did with stores of anthrax, nerve gas and other forbidden arms. ..." more

"BERLIN — Germany and France are working on a broad disarmament plan for Iraq designed to avoid war, including the deployment of U.N. soldiers throughout the country, reconnaissance flights and a tripling of the number of weapons inspectors, a magazine reported Saturday. ..." more

"MUNICH, Germany — In a jab at major U.S. allies, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Saturday countries such as France and Germany that favor giving Iraq another chance to disarm are undermining what slim chance may exist to avoid war. ..." more

"SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's ruling party said Saturday it feared Washington might be getting emotional in its handling of a nuclear standoff with North Korea, a day after President Bush left open the possibility of a military strike. ..." more

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Not "Big Brother"

"WASHINGTON — Two oversight boards are being set up to monitor a Pentagon anti-terrorist technology experiment that critics fear could lead to spying on the financial transactions of unwitting citizens, officials say. ..." more

A thorough explanation and cogent defense of the program: "EVERY WEEK brings new evidence of al Qaeda's continuing plots against the United States and the West. Yet the 108th Congress may well shut down one of the most promising efforts to preempt future attacks, thanks to a media misinformation blitz playing to Americans' outsized Big Brother paranoia. ..." more

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w


Premature births, abortion, and the March of Dimes

From The Elliot Institute News:
The March of Dimes has announced a major fund raising effort to understand and battle premature deliveries. March of Dimes medical director Dr. Nancy Green told Time magazine that the 27 percent rise in premature births over the last few decades "is a mystery."
(http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101030210-418559,00.html)

Dr. Green's claim that the rise in premature birth rates is a mystery reflects either a distressing ignorance of the medical literature or a calculated case of selective recall.

At least 48 published studies have shown significantly higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight deliveries among women with a history of abortion.(1-48) One of the best, a Danish record based study (1), found the risk doubled after just one abortion. Multiple abortions increase the risk even more. A doubling of risk among an estimated one-fourth of delivering women who have a prior history of abortion would result in a 25 percent rise overall.

The only real mystery surrounding the 27 percent rise in premature delivery rates among the post-Roe generation of women is why the March of Dimes has failed to call attention to this major risk factor. Their fact sheets downplay the risk of abortion, stating only that women are at higher risk of premature delivery if they "have had more than three abortions or miscarriages." Other risk factors such as drinking, smoking, and drug use are also elevated by a history of abortion.

The March of Dimes professes that its position on abortion is one of neutrality. This is a good position to be in if one is trying to gather in donations from as large an audience as possible.

But the fact that the March of Dimes encourages prenatal screening for birth defects that can only be "treated" by abortion does not support the claim that they are neutral. Instead, it supports the view that the March of Dimes is encouraging eugenic targeting of "unfit" children that do not "deserve to be born." Their refusal to aggressively educate the public about the role abortion plays in heightening the risk posed to subsequent pregnancies is another sign that their claim of neutrality is a just a veneer over a pro-abortion, eugenic- minded "charity."

According to the March of Dimes, "In 2000, hospital charges for 23,000 prematurity-related infant stays totaled $1.2 billion. The average charge was $58,000 per baby, compared to $4,300 for a typical newborn stay."
(http://www.marchofdimes.com/aboutus/791_6775.asp) Treatment of these children through employer health plans is estimated at $4.7 billion per year. One fifth of these costs may be is attributable to extra cases of prematurity arising from abortion-related morbidity.

Premature birth is the leading cause of neonatal death and is related to increased risk of cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, retardation and other lifelong health problems.

You can register your complaints about the March of Dimes coverup by calling 1-888-MODIMES.

-------

The list of 48 studies showing abortion's relationship to premature birth and low birth rate deliveries compiled by Brent Rooney can be found at http://www.vcn.bc.ca/~whatsup/APB-Major.html.
The pro-life movement has been boycotting the March of Dimes for years now. The above is another reason to continue the boycott.

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w


Catholic institutions on radical black speakers

"CINCINNATI — Xavier University canceled plans for a satellite feed of a speech by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan because his message is 'perceived by many as divisive,' the school's president said. ..." more

I'm disappointed that Chicago's Cardinal George - a man and a prelate for whom I have the greatest respect - won't, despite his disapproval, cancel the divisive and pro-abortion Al Sharpton's upcoming sermon (!) at St. Sabina's (following upon Harry Belafonte's pro-abortion speech/sermon there). I realize that political capital has to be spent wisely, but it seems obvious to me that this cause would be worth as much as it takes of Cardinal George's.

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w


Another GOP-racism flap

"WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling on Congress to pass a resolution recognizing the injustice behind interning Japanese-Americans in World War II, a reaction to recent comments by a Republican representative who said it was done for their own good. ..." more

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w


Kinsey film flap

"LOS ANGELES — An upcoming film about the 'father of the sexual revolution' is already making some hot and bothered. ..." more

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w


Immigration and health care

"To hear my client 'Rick' tell it, you would think that his third arrest for possession of crack was the best thing that had happened to him in years. ..." more

What concrete way of dealing with illegal immigrants - in particular, what policy concerning health care for them - is best in keeping with the Catholic view of the person?

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w


Lincoln and the liberal social agenda

"WASHINGTON — The National Park Service is reviewing a video presentation at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington that conservative groups say portrays the former president as a supporter of modern-day liberal causes like gay rights, abortion rights and the modern feminist agenda. ..." more

Inscribed on the walls inside the Memorial are Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address, perhaps the two most beautiful and profound pieces of political rhetoric in our nation's history. Why not let them speak for themselves? (Why, in general, the National Park Service's recent obsession with "interpreting" for us? - See Catesby Leigh, "Subterranean Blues: Washington digs itself into a hole," Weekly Standard, 1/13/03, p. 32.)

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w


WV malpractice bill

"CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The Senate passed a medical malpractice bill Friday that includes a $2.5 million tax break for doctors but still charges them $1,000 each to fund their own insurance program. ..." more

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w


Interview with co-author of Vatican "New Age" document

"... Q: In facing an umbrella movement such as the New Age, ... could you point out the principal differences between New Age and Christianity? ..." more

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wFriday, February 07, 2003


Pope on bishops' conferences

"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Especially in large countries, a bishops' conference is an essential tool for expressing unity in the faith and for addressing common problems, but it must not become a bureaucracy burdening the bishops themselves ..." more

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Pre-WWII Vatican documents

"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the Vatican prepared to give scholars access to its files relating to Germany before World War II, public attention focused almost exclusively on diplomatic reports contained in the Vatican's so-called 'Secret Archives.'

"But what may prove equally significant to scholars is another set of records being opened the same day, Feb. 15, by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which in the pre-war period compiled numerous confidential studies on Nazism, fascism and communism. ..." more

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Pope on sick

"VATICAN, Feb 7, 03 (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II has released his message for the World Day of the Sick, calling for respect for the dignity of suffering, and denouncing abortion and euthanasia. ..." more (subscription required)

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Church in China

"HONG KONG, Feb 7, 03 (CWNews.com) -- The Vatican has renewed diplomatic talks with Beijing, seeking an end to government persecution of the underground Catholic Church ..." more (subscription required)

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More on Vatican on Powell speech and Iraq

"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2003 (ZENIT.org).- Vatican representative Archbishop Renato Martino stated that the evidence against Iraq presented by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5, does not alter the validity of the United Nations' resolutions. ..." more

(See also below.)

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Vatican on Euroconstitution

"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The first official draft of the future European Constitution, presented yesterday in Brussels by former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, makes no mention of Europe's religious roots nor the juridical status of churches. ..." more

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Real reason malpractice insurance is too expensive

"I couldn't help but emit a short burst of cynical laughter at the reasoning in a recent letter holding that high malpractice insurance premiums are caused by a lot of good doctors protecting a few bad ones ... My personal experience in this debate stems from acting as a juror in two malpractice cases. ..." more (see first three letters on page)

(See also below.)

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w


AIDS drugs for Africa

NRO on Bush's plan: "If President Bush wants to stop the AIDS epidemic from laying waste to generations of people in the developing world, he should scrap his proposed $15 billion plan to seed the African continent and the Caribbean with AIDS drugs and spend the money elsewhere. ..." more

I don't know. Drugs aren't a cure-all for the epidemic. But people who are infected can benefit from them. And I don't know that it's a law of nature that they'll go to waste rather than getting to those people. Unlike various folks at NRO, I'm not going to accentuate the negative.

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w


Pro-family social science

HMS's Emily blogs about the Heritage Foundation's new Family and Society Database. Have a look! Find out how social science supports what philosophy and theology say about the importance of the family for people and socity.

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State contraceptive-coverage mandate fails

"A preventive health-care bill that included mandated coverage for prescription contraceptives has failed again. A Senate committee Tuesday deadlocked 3-3, which means SB134 is dead for now in the 2003 general session. ..." more

As it deserves to be. Contraceptives have nothing to do with "health care." They prevent the healthy functioning of a bodily system. This is a fact, whether one does or doesn't judge contraceptive use immoral for this or any other reason. For this reason alone, mandated contraceptive coverage is arbitrary and unjust. Sadly, many states have made the opposite decision, ignoring even appeals by Catholics for conscientious-objector status.

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Is Bush all that inarticulate?

The chattering classes chatter, "Yes." A blogger replies, in effect, "Not really; and anyway, so's your old man." Here's a sample of The Volokh Conspiracy's ripostes to Bush critic Jacob Weisberg of Slate (thanks to the 2/3/03 Weekly Standard for the reference).

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What to do about the "marriage penalty"?

"EDMUND L. ANDREWS, the 'Economic View' columnist for the New York Times, is annoyed. It seems that President Bush won't stick with the plan favored by Andrews and most experts for reducing the marriage penalty in the federal tax code. 'The big winners,' he complains, 'are the Ozzie and Harriets.' ..." more (subscription required)

Summary/comment: The "marriage penalty" can be reduced by treating spouses as if they were single - or by treating them as married. The latter is the better option, and Bush has moved toward it. This is a choice to embrace something more consistent with the Catholic world view than typical (economic) conservatism sometimes is (as I and others have noticed).

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What hath the pro-life movement wrought?

"A STIGMA. THAT'S THE GREAT achievement of the pro-life movement: Having an abortion once again carries a stigma. ..." more

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Colleges support Michigan in "affirmative action" case

"Carnegie Mellon University plans to join a U.S. Supreme Court case that will likely determine if the nation's colleges and universities can continue using race in deciding which students they admit. ..." more

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w


Iraq, Palestine

"VIENNA, Austria — An Iraqi scientist's decision to be interviewed by U.N. inspectors suggests that Baghdad is 'making an effort' to cooperate, chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix said Friday ahead of a key visit to Iraq. ..." more

"ROME — The moment for military action against Iraq is almost here, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday as he traveled to Europe to push forward the American case against Saddam Hussein. ..." more

"PARIS — French President Jacques Chirac issued a stern warning to Baghdad on Friday to comply with U.N. inspectors, but said he still disagreed with President Bush's declaration that time has run out for Saddam Hussein. ..." more

"GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas, a militant group that espouses suicide attacks and a strict Islamic rule, says it is ready to take over the Palestinian leadership from Yasser Arafat. ..." more

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w


Bishop endorses firing of pro-abort teacher

When I first saw this story last week:

"WILMINGTON, Delaware, Jan 30, 03 (LSN.ca/CWNews.com) - Michele Curay-Cramer, a religion and language arts teacher at an independent Catholic school in Delaware, was fired from her post after her name appeared in a public advertisement in support of abortion. ..." more (subscription required)

I didn't blog it because when I saw the reference to "independent" - i.e., I assume, not run by a diocese or order - "Catholic school," I thought the story had somewhat of a "dog-bites-man" quality. Such schools often take Catholic identity more seriously in some key respects than do "non-independent" ones. But I was very happy to see this today:

"WILMINGTON, Del. (CNS) -- Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli of Wilmington expressed his unqualified support of a local Catholic school for firing a religion teacher who signed a newspaper advertisement supporting legal abortion. ..." more

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French Senate morally ahead of US's?

"PARIS, Feb 6, 03 (LSN.ca/CWNews.com) - The French Senate has passed a ban on all cloning, including so-called 'therapeutic cloning,' and has declared reproductive cloning a crime 'against the human species.' ..." more (subscription required)

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Catholic politicians

"ANN ARBOR, Michigan, FEB. 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- How does the recent Vatican doctrinal note 'On Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life' look to an expert on civil and canon law? ..." more

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Religious dialogue for Holy Land peace

ROME, FEB. 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A network designed to promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians sees religion as a solution, rather than as a problem, in the Mideast peace process. ..." more

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Pope prepares for Lent

"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II's Message for Lent 2003 describes this liturgical period as a time of 'intense' charity and solidarity. ..." more

"VATICAN, Feb 6, 03 (CWNews.com) -- The Vatican has released Pope John Paul's message for Lent 2003, which centers on the theme, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' ..." more (subscription required)

"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Personal acts of charity and sacrifice to help others are essential elements of a truly Christian life, Pope John Paul II said. ..." more

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wThursday, February 06, 2003


North Korea latest

"WASHINGTON — The United States has 'robust plans for any contingencies' involving North Korea, including military action, the White House said Thursday amid criticism from Democrats and talk of war from Pyongyang. ..." more

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Iraq, war, and an axis of terror?

"EDITOR’S NOTE: At his speech at the United Nations on Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell introduced the name of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as a vital link between Iraq and al Qaeda. ... Powell's example of Zarqawi, in fact, proves more than the administration likely wanted to prove: ... Zarqawi not only proves Iraq but Iran. ..." more

"In mapping out Iraq's links to international terrorism before the United Nations Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell highlighted the case of senior al Qaeda commander Fedel Nazzel Khalayleh, better known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. ..." more

(See also below.)

Meanwhile:

"WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Senate committee Thursday that Feb. 14 will be a key date in deciding Iraq's fate. ... 'I think we are reaching an endgame in a matter of weeks, not a matter of months,' Powell said ..." more

"LONDON — With the clock ticking inexorably toward midnight, the chief U.N. weapons inspectors were heading to Baghdad Thursday in a last-ditch effort to persuade Iraq to prove, finally, that it has disarmed, and avoid a war ..." more

"WASHINGTON — Saddam Hussein continues to defy the world, and now the world must take action immediately to stop him, President Bush said at the White House Thursday. ..." more

"UNITED NATIONS — Britain is likely to introduce a new U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq after top weapons inspectors return from Baghdad and report to the Security Council on Feb. 14 ..." more

"PARIS — President Jacques Chirac said Thursday the U.S. case against Iraq wasn't enough to change France's anti-war stance. But there were other indications of a shift in Europe toward Washington. ..." more

In the blogosphere:

HMS's Greg is quite right about the importance of proportionality in the use of military force and about the need for support for war to be contingent upon (among other things) the US's respect for this criterion. I have blogged before about how George Weigel's thinking seems to be somewhat muddled, in part because he doesn't fully appreciate the importance of these things.

The evils produced by the use of arms also include those inflicted by an aggressor's counterattack to our defensive action. Thus, such WMDs as Iraq may possess at this time probably do matter in the proportionality judgment. But if Iraq is part of an axis of terror, perhaps the weapons will do less harm if used against us in a war than they would otherwise - if terrorists were allowed to get their hands on the weapons and smuggle them into US cities ...

Nonetheless, Robert Gotcher and Greg are right to point out the continuing importance of praying - not only for peace - but for peace without war - that war be averted. And pace a commenter on Robert's post, I'm not sure that everyone is serious about the importance of this. Witness some of the carping in the comments box under Mark Shea's post on the pope's upcoming meeting with Tariq Aziz. Aziz seems to be a thoroughly odious character. But isn't it worth the pope's effort to try to change his heart? Could anyone who is serious about praying for peace deny this?

Thus, when I read about this from the Vatican ...

"NEW YORK (CNS) -- The Vatican's U.N. nuncio said the threats described by U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell at the United Nations Feb. 5 should be addressed, but not by military action. ..." more

"VATICAN, Feb 6, 03 (CWNews.com) -- Archbishop Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has said that US Secretary of State Colin Powell was 'unconvincing' in his argument to justify military action against Iraq. ...

"Archbishop Martino told Vatican Radio that a visit to Rome by Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz, scheduled for February 14, 'could be a step' toward a peaceful resolution of the crisis. He said that 'the Pope will do everything possible' to avoid open warfare." more (subscription required)

... I'm still sympathetic. In particular, while I question Migliore's judgment that Powell didn't offer "evidence of a threat of an immediate use of these weapons by the government of Iraq" (I think this is where the terrorist connections are very significant), I think that someone who thinks he has reasonable doubts about this evidence is right to continue to question the march toward war, and I certainly think that it is right for the pope to continue to try to avert war through prayer and exhortation.

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Commentary on Dem opposition to Bush nominee

"THAT SENATE DEMOCRATS are mulling whether to filibuster the nomination of Miguel Estrada is a telling measure of their reduced power to block Bush judges. ..." more

"The headline from Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's news conference Wednesday was his threat to filibuster the appeals-court nomination of Miguel Estrada. ..." more

(See also below.)

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w


ND Catholic bishops against pro-life bill?

Well, not exactly, despite what's being suggested in this account.

There is little if any evidence that under the pre-Roe regime, mothers were prosecuted for having abortions. And since Roe, the pro-life movement has been, as near as I have seen, virtually unanimous in rejecting the idea of imposing such prosecutions. (See, e.g., Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Willke's classic Abortion, Questions & Answers [1985], pp. 15-16.)

And this is as it should be. The pro-abortion movement seeks to pit mothers against their babies - to posit a genuine conflict of interest between them - and then accuses us pro-lifers of favoring the wrong party in the contrived conflict. We must not buy into the notion that there is such a conflict of interest, or appear to be doing so. This would send a message that would be politically suicidal - and not without reason. For the message would also indeed be contrary to the Gospel of Life. The point of this Gospel is that there is no such conflict between mother and child - that we fulfill ourselves through death to self, for God and others. Our proclaiming, celebrating, and serving of this Gospel, and not fear of punishment of mothers, is the effective, culture-of-life-building way to move mothers to choose life.

(See also below.)

The bishops are right.

As for abortionists: lock them up and throw away the key.

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Stuck with bad school buildings, bad teachers

"Raising millions to build a new technical high school was only the first hurdle. Now officials at the Lynde and Harry Bradley School of Technology and Trade need to reconcile students and teachers with their new digs. ..." more

"Jeffrey F. Moyer taught high school social studies in the Whitehall-Coplay School District in eastern Pennsylvania for years before someone started keeping book on him. ..." more (See also below.)

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Iraq, N. Korea

"UNITED NATIONS — The U.S. case against Saddam Hussein is entering a critical 10-day period in which top inspectors will visit Baghdad and make a key report to the U.N. Security Council. Their comments could help decide whether there will be war ..." more

"SEOUL, South Korea — Pre-emptive attacks on North Korea's nuclear facilities would trigger a 'total war,' the communist state warned Thursday after U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld labeled the North's government a 'terrorist regime.' ..." more

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Pro-life response to Hatch on cloning

"WASHINGTON (Feb. 5, 2003) – A bill being introduced today in Congress, falsely labeled as a bill to make 'human cloning a crime,' actually 'would give a green light to the establishment of human embryo farms' ..." more

(See also below.)

Pro-lifers should support Sen. Brownback's bill instead. Which is a ban on all currently-relevant forms of cloning. Claims by Judie "Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud" Brown to the contrary notwithstanding. These claims reflect obfuscation of both the politics and the science of this issue.

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Forthcoming classified FBI report on al-Qaeda

"... The sources say the report will contain information from electronic eavesdropping and other surveillance indicating that al-Qaeda operatives around the world continue to discuss a strike against the USA that would top the hijacking attacks of Sept. 11. More than 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on New York and Washington.

"But, the sources say, the report also will reflect investigators' belief that future attacks are more likely to be carried out by individuals or by groups that are much smaller than the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers.

"The FBI report is long overdue; it originally was promised for delivery in 2000. ..." more

"... Evidence of Al Qaeda's undiminished power to conduct a large-scale attack includes the October nightclub bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali that killed nearly 200 and November attacks on a resort and airliner in Kenya.

"The Kenyan attacks occurred nearly simultaneously. A vehicle packed with explosives plowed into a hotel, killing 15 people. Minutes earlier, unidentified assailants fired two missiles at an Arkia Airlines Boeing 757, narrowly missing the charter aircraft as it was taking off from Mombasa airport with Israeli tourists returning to Tel Aviv.

"The 'soft targets,' ones that are particularly hard to anticipate, like the Bali bombing, makes Al Qaeda extremely dangerous despite its ouster from Afghanistan. ..." more

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w


WV Senate answer to docs' malpractice woes: raising their taxes

"CHARLESTON (AP)- Instead of getting a tax break, doctors would have to pay $1,000 each under the medical malpractice bill amended and passed Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee. ..." more

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wWednesday, February 05, 2003


Fate of Catholic-backed tax proposal

"PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- Oregon voters on Jan. 28 turned down a church-backed relief plan for schools, public safety and the state's most vulnerable citizens. ..." more

(See also below.)

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w


Bishop on his statement on pro-abortion governor

"SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) -- Bishop William K. Weigand of Sacramento said his recent statement that any Catholic politician who supports abortion should 'abstain from receiving Communion until he has a change of heart' has had 'more reverberations than I was intending or foreseeing.' ..." more

(See also below.)

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w


WTC site ideas

"Two teams of architects, one that sees the foundations of democracy in the concrete walls surrounding ground zero and another that imagines New York's rebirth in soaring towers of culture, have been selected as finalists ..." more (registration required)

I still don't like them. I suppose the Libeskind one is the lesser evil.

Another writer's thoughts and most intriguing news: "both plans fail to do what Northwestern University's Justin Berzon has done. He has created something seemingly impossible: A concrete plan that restores the Twin Towers in a way that should satisfy the various constituencies currently feuding over the future of Ground Zero. ..." more

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Senate Dems vs. Bush nominee

"WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers will attempt to filibuster the nomination of Miguel Estrada for Washington's U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before a vote on his confirmation, expected as early as Thursday ..." more

"... On Monday, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales sent a letter to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a last attempt to gain her support — if not for the nomination itself, then at least for allowing a full-Senate vote. ..." more

"... Aware that this debate will set the stage for future nomination battles, Democrats have threatened to filibuster. Such blatant obstructionism should not be allowed to derail the appointment ..." more

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Meanwhile, from an animal research lab near you

"NEW YORK — Lab rats have a lot of wild company lately. ..." more

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Meanwhile, from N. Korea

"SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Wednesday it has reactivated its nuclear facilities, a surprise announcement that raised questions whether it was trying to take advantage of Washington's preoccupation with Iraq to ratchet up pressure in its own standoff with the United States. ..." more

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Powell's UN Iraq speech: aftermath

The speech.

To me, as I suggested would be the case, the most important part of the speech: "But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Massad Al-Zakawi an associate and collaborator of Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida lieutenants. ..."

Maybe there is a casus belli here. Meanwhile:

"WASHINGTON — The buildup of American land, sea and air forces in the Persian Gulf is accelerating, officials said Wednesday as the Bush administration made its case at the U.N. that Iraq must be disarmed. ..." more

"BRUSSELS, Belgium — NATO called a special meeting to discuss the Iraq crisis, as pressure grew Wednesday on France and Germany to drop their veto on the alliance's starting military planning for a support role in a possible war. ..." more

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Yugoslavia is dead, long live Serbia and Montenegro

"BELGRADE, Yugoslavia — Lawmakers formally abolished Yugoslavia on Tuesday, replacing it with a loose union of its remaining two republics, Serbia and Montenegro. ..." more

Best analysis I've ever read of the bang-followed-by-whimper breakup of Yugoslavia: chap. 7 on "Multiculturalism: Going from Bad to Diverse" of P.J. O'Rourke's All the Trouble in the World: The Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Ecological Disaster, Ethnic Hatred, Plague, and Poverty. Choice excerpt:
The way Tito kept Yugoslavs from killing each other was he did it for them. This is the same technique used by the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Austro-Hungarians, Nazi Germans, and everyone else who's had the misfortune to rule the Balkans. ...

Although Tito himself was of mixed Croat/Slovene/son-of-a-bitch background, his World War II Partisan troops were mostly Serbs. In 1946, 100,000 anti-Tito Croat refugees were handed over to Tito by the ever-admirable British. Tito's Partisans then killed something between 40,000 and all of them, with the usual number of women, children, and old people included. Of course, the Partisans didn't do this for a lark. The Croats, under raving nationalist Ante Pavelic, had established a Nazi puppet state in 1941 and killed as many as 350,000 Serbs.

Tito tried to eliminate Balkanization in the Balkans by proscribing the nationalism of Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro while, at the same time, carefully apportioning the number of government and Communist Party jobs given to Serbs, Slovenes, Croats, Bosnians, Macedonians, Montenegrins, and whatever the rest of the people in these parts call themselves. Everyone was supposed to be a Yugoslavian ("South Slav") and get together and sing one national anthem, "Hej, Sloveni" ("Hey, Slavs"). This worked about as well as you'd expect a country with a national anthem called "Hey, Slavs" to work. ...

You mustn't ever ask the Yugoslavs why they're fighting. They'll tell you. And there's no straightening it out. If you look at a topographical map of the Balkans, you see nothing that would serve as a national boundary and no area - no plain, valley, coastline, or mountain fastness - coherent or extensive enough to put a boundary around. It was a confused region before nations or even people existed - not big enough to be a continent, too big to be a peninsula, wrinkled, creased, puckered, the cellulite thigh of Europe.

To this bad hash of terrian came a worse omlette of population. The Balkans separate Asia from the West, divide the steppes from the Mediterranean, lie athwart the road from Baltic ice and snow to Adriatic topless beaches. Most of the roving bands, nomadic tribes, pillaging hordes, and migrating populations of history have passed through the Balkans. Every time they did, they'd tell their most objectionable members to go camp around the corner. Then the band, tribe, horde, or population would sneak off.

The Christians hate the Muslims because Christians were peons under the Ottomans. The Muslims hate the Christians because Muslims were pissants under the Communists. The Croats hate the Serbs for collaborating with the Communists the same way the Serbs hate the Croats for collaborating with the Nazis, and now the Bosnians hate the Montenegrins for collaborating with the Serbs. The Serbs hate the Albanians for coming to Yugoslavia. Everyone hates the Serbs because there are more of them than anyone else to hate and because, when Yugoslavia was created in 1918 (with the help of know-it-all American President Woodrow Wilson), the Serbs grabbed control of the government and army and haven't let go yet. And everybody hates the Slovenes, too, for getting out of this civil war after only ten days.

It's hard to come back from the Balkans and not sound like a Pete Seeger song. ...
No doubt I'll now be getting hate comments/email from the Yugoslav Serbian and Montenegran Cultural Union.

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Science, religion, and stem cells

"Sen. Hatch sided with science on stem cells ...

"The predawn call one Saturday last February was part of a difficult, yearlong journey by a man torn between his long-standing opposition to abortion and his deep faith in science. Hatch read Scripture, prayed, talked to religious leaders, scientists, bioethicists. He struggled with himself.

"Then he sided with science. ..."

No. "Scientists' ambitions" does not equal "science." And we who conclude that a human being is present from the moment of fertilization don't generally appeal to the Bible (though we do find in it some confirmation, and, more importantly, something about the dignity that inheres in every human being). We more typically appeal to science - to the facts of embryology.

Later in the article:

"... So he set out to determine for himself when life began. He ultimately decided it was not at the moment a sperm fertilizes an egg.

"'I came to the conclusion that, yes, the fertilized egg is a living human cell, but it has absolutely zero chance of becoming a living human being unless it is implanted in a womb,' he said. ..."

What's "scientific" about this strange distinction? The zygote isn't just another human cell (nor, perhaps more pertinently, is the embryo just a collection of human cells). It's all there is, at the time, of a being that has the inner capacity to develop into what even Hatch admits is a human being. So why isn't it human yet? What's magic about implantation?

Hatch's descent into the irrational faith of those for whom "scientific"-technological ambition is the measure of all things is most depressing.

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New, post-abortion blog

A reader emails:
An e-friend of mine has started a blog about her abortion. It is quite fascinating. She calls it The S.I.C.L.E. Cell, where S.I.C.L.E. is a Self Imposed Child Loss Experience. The S.I.C.L.E. Cell
I've given it only a cursory glance, but it does look interesting. I will be reading it more carefully later. Have a look also and see what you think.

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Wednesday Book Club

This week:
Roch A. Kereszty, O.Cist., Jesus Christ: Fundamentals of Christology, rev. and updated ed. (Alba House, 2002).
This will be another brief book-club post, as it is another busy day (committee meeting, teaching, evening prayer and dinner with the theology department with our new bishop). If you want to read one contemporary or synthetic work on Christology, pick Kereszty's, with its multi-chapter parts on New Testament Christology, historical Christology, and systematic Christology; an appendix on "Relationship Between Anthropology and Christology," and a "Reader's Guide: How To Use the Book for Different Purposes." Kereszty's insightful comprehensiveness can be seen in, e.g., his inclusion of a section on "The immanent Trinity as the metaphysical condition for divine freedom in the incarnation," leading into his evaluation of "The feminist critique of the Christian mysteries" and thence to a fuller discussion of the hypostatic union, which draws heavily from, among others, Balthasar.

One, perhaps especially interesting, passage, on Christ and human fulfillment:
Here and excursus seems warranted on what we may call eschatological humanism. By this we mean that only eschatological salvation achieves our perfection as human beings. Our full potential is realized not only through our union with Christ, but through Christ, with every member of redeemed humankind. Separated individuals cannot unfold in themselves all the perfections of human nature. The "idea of humanity" in its full richness, as conceived by God from all eternity and realized gradually in history, can be actualized in each individual only in a limited and one-sided fashion. For instance, it is hardly possible to develop simultaneously such diverse gifts as poetic creativity and mathematical talent, let alone to combine the self-giving love of a mother with the single-hearted devotion of a virgin. Every individual is only one variation of the potentially limitless ways of being human. Thus the individual will become perfect as a human being only if, in some way, he or she can appropriate all human values. No individual man or woman can do this except by entering into communion with all men and women, past, present, and future who have developed their humanity. Thus, the only one through whom we can reach all men and women of all ages is the one in whom they are alive and who keeps them united: the risen Christ present in them through the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit of Christ we will participate not only in everyone else's supernatural gifts but also in their human perfections. Of course, such mutual possession of one another's perfections will not lead to the extinction of the unique beauty of each individual. The poet will still be very different from the mathematician, the mother with a large family will still be easily distinguishable from the twelve-year-old St. Agnes, virgin and martyr. Yet by loving the special beauty of the other and by loving it as belonging to the other, each will in some way share in the perfections of all. Thus will the love uniting all the redeemed in Christ result in the enrichment of each individual by the riches of all. A radical humanism, the full actualization of the human potential, is possible only in the eschatological Christ.
Compare de Lubac's Catholicism, esp. chaps. 1, 4, 11.

The biblical and historical sections of the book are no less interesting and insightful. For more on the one who is the center of our faith and our life, give Jesus Christ a try.

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Faith

We read in today's Gospel that Jesus "was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith." That "not able to" is interesting (compare the softer "did not" in Matthew's parallel passage).

Mark is certainly interested in the importance of faith. One could suggest that his Gospel is especially strong on the disciples' journey of faith and even leads the reader along a similar one (I suggest to my Intro to Scripture students, for example, that this is part of the point of what was probably Mark's original and rather abrupt ending, 16:1-8).

It is especially interesting that the comment about "lack of faith" in today's Gospel follows the crowd's acknowledgment of Jesus' "mighty deeds." Perhaps one of the reasons for the importance of faith is that it is more than just intellectual assent - it is a broader (and maybe deeper) kind of openness.

Thus, de Lubac (yes, him again) writes of Kierkegaard on faith (Drama, 103):
As he is the philosopher of transcendence, Kierkegaard is the theologian of objectivity. But he is at the same time the theologian of inwardness, that is to say, of personal appropriation. The problem he handles in the Postscript is consequently a subjective problem: it is a question of determining the relationship of the subject to the truth of Christianity - more concretely, the relation of the individual to Christian reality: most simply of all, it is a question of how to become a Christian.
I think this is a very biblical question; consider, e.g., what Paul indicates about the nature (and not only the importance) of faith in Galatians, as, e.g., with his "Christ ... in me."

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Harry Potter

HMS's Greg Popcak agrees with me and with the Vatican, and adds some further, very helpful comments on the nature of Harry's "sneaking and lying."

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Speaking of public schools: teacher diversity important?

"Terry Jackson, a math teacher in Upper St. Clair School District, believes he's making a difference in the lives of his students far beyond helping them solve word problems.

"That's because he's one of just five black teachers in a district where 94 percent of the students are white. ..." more

By the way, on "diversity," you might be interested in the book reviewed here (scroll down to "Books in Brief").

(See also below on teachers.)

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Public school special ed: invaluable service

"West Bend - The special education teacher accused of carrying on a sexual affair with one of her students was in the classroom for nearly five months despite having no license to teach, a review of state records shows. ...

"Special education teachers require more training than most other teachers, but state officials say it is increasingly common for uncertified teachers to be hired for special education jobs under emergency permits because of a lack of qualified candidates. ..." more

(See also below.)

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More prison time needed?

"Today is Emily Willegal's funeral, a good 60 or 70 years too soon.

"Kimani Ward admits he took away her life, according to a criminal complaint. Smashed her head with a tire iron, stole the $11 in her pocket, sexually assaulted her and drove around with the unconscious 24-year-old woman in the back of his pickup truck like so much trash, then left her near an alley to die in temperatures barely above zero, the complaint says. ...

"I looked up Ward's criminal record. This high school dropout has never been caught for a violent crime, but he's a felon several times over for stealing cars and other things. There were plea deals and early releases from prison. He saw a parole agent just days before Emily's death, records show.

"Judge Dennis Moroney, sending Ward to prison in 1998, told him, 'Every time we do something with you, try to give you the message, you just kind of ignore it and say, "Hey, I'm just going to do what I want."'

"Police say they are now looking at Ward as a possible suspect in other attacks on women on the east side. A search of his home near 108th and Hampton last week turned up numerous pairs of women's underwear, court records show. ..." more (See also below.)

As readers know, I'm with the pope against the death penalty. I don't know that every murderer should have no possibility of parole, ever. But I do believe that we need to give some criminals much more prison time, for the protection of society.

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Military help for S. Korea?

"SEOUL, South Korea — The top U.S. military commander in South Korea said Tuesday he will consult with South Korea if reinforcements are needed amid a deepening crisis over North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons development. ..." more

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More on malpractice

"WASHINGTON — Key Senate Republicans, while calling for medical liability reforms to address growing physician shortages, were reluctant Tuesday to endorse ceilings on jury awards in malpractice suits. ..." more

"TRENTON, N.J. — State lawmakers appeared Tuesday to have reached a compromise meant to ease New Jersey's malpractice insurance crisis and prevent more doctors from closing their doors because of skyrocketing premiums. ..." more

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wTuesday, February 04, 2003


Catechesis and clergy sex abuse

"OCEAN CITY, Md. (CNS) -- At a diocesan gathering of religious educators in Ocean City, Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli of Wilmington, Del., asked if a decreased emphasis on teaching about sin might have contributed to the clergy sexual abuse scandal. ..." more

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Pope to Catholic hospitals on Day of Sick

"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II urged Catholic hospitals to reflect on their identity so that they will be 'centers of life and hope,' including at the financial and administrative levels. ..." more

"WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic health care workers 'have the urgent task of doing all they can to defend life,' Pope John Paul II said ..." more

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Archbishop Foley on New Evangelization of America

"DALLAS, Texas, FEB. 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Anyone who aspires to be an instrument of evangelization in today's world has to be a person of faith -- and a would-be saint. ..." more

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Sad songs

"Travelin' Soldier" (sound clips: end of 1st verse/start of chorus; entire chorus) seems to be getting a fair amount of airplay lately. I don't care much for some of the Dixie Chicks' songs. Several are too feminista (and I don't like that the Chicks played this tour to raise funds for some of these entities). Also, I don't think their sassier, more up-tempo songs complement their voices as well as do their sweeter ballads (clip), though there are exceptions (clip). So, sometimes when one of their songs comes on the radio, I switch to another of the four different country stations that can be received here in Steubenville. But not when I hear "Travelin' Soldier." Which might not be the best thing. Even after hearing it several times in the past couple of weeks, I still get a little misty-eyed when it plays, especially as it gets into the last verse. That makes driving more difficult (and I don't listen to much radio except in the car).

So - my question for you: is the song really that sad and moving? Or is there just more of a sentimental fool than I'd realized under my slave-driving-professor exterior?

By the way, I'm glad that I'm still hearing this song (clip) rather frequently; I was especially glad to hear it what seemed like a number of times around 1/22.

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Why I blog about malpractice law and insurance

A commenter on my latest post on this topic poses some objections. Here is her comment, with my responses inserted.
I will say it again, as I do not understand your fixation on this issue. Are doctors facing more of a crisis with malpractice insurance than many of their patients are facing with the cost of health insurance?
Not necessarily. But I can't blog everything. And affordable health insurance isn't helpful if there aren't doctors around. Besides, malpractice-insurance costs are among the factors that, insofar as they drive up doctors' expenses, end up helping to drive up health-insurance costs.
How can the former but not the latter be perceived by doctors to be an acute public health problem?
I don't know that the latter isn't of concern to doctors. But even if it isn't, that doesn't mean the former shouldn't be. And it's understandable if they react more strongly to imminent threats to their own practices.
There is no political will among doctors to police the substandard members of their own ranks. They expect the public to bear all of the costs of such substandard care.
Well, wait a minute. First of all, as I've blogged before, it begs the question to speak of substandard care here. Medicine isn't an exact science; a bad outcome doesn't necessarily reflect substandard care. But patients' lack of understanding of this, combined with their sense of entitlement, combined with lawyers' greed, can result in the filing of unfair lawsuits. And the costs of litigating even those suits that are likely to be successful can lead to insurance companies' deciding to settle those suits. Thereby imposing costs on them that aren't related to actual malpractice.

Second, I'm not sure exactly whom you expect to bear the costs of lawsuits whether just or unjust. Neither insurance companies nor doctors have money trees growing out back behind the office. If a doctor whose net worth is substantially below $1,000,000 is hit with a $1,000,000 judgment, the ultimate source of that money is going to be the public.

And third, your reference to "costs" is misleading. If a patient incurs further medical expenses or lost wages or suchlike because of substandard care, he deserves compensation. But it's imprecise to speak of pain-and-suffering awards or punitive damages as compensation for "costs." The latter are especially troubling. If a doctor's performance is so substandard as to deserve punishment, create or employ a mechanism to suspend or revoke his license, and/or charge him with reckless endangerment or something along that line. But don't use an easily-manipulated civil justice system to extract a pound of the doctor's flesh and then call that a "cost."
They might as well view high malpractice premiums as the downside cost of operating without accountability for the quality of their care
See above. It's not clear that the premiums are mostly the result of this.
and without commitment to the equality of access to their services,
How is this a cause of high malpractice premiums? (And what exactly are doctors to do about it? I'm not saying there's nothing they can do, but one needs to be more specific if one is going to accuse them of failing to solve the problem.)
both of which make the professional life of a doctor financially rewarding and relatively risk free, compared to other professions and the average member of the employed public.
Except that the burden of their argument against high malpractice claims/rates is that their life is now considerably less than risk free, let alone rewarding, to the extent that some of them literally cannot afford to practice medicine anymore.

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Iraq, and a comment on "just war"

"BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.N. arms investigators found another empty chemical warhead on Tuesday as they pressed ahead with a dozen surprise inspections ..." more

"UNITED NATIONS — Warning Baghdad that it's 'five minutes to midnight,' chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix pleaded with the Iraqi government Tuesday to produce evidence during his visit this weekend about its weapons programs. ..." more

"NEW YORK — Secretary of State Colin Powell will be the man of the hour on Wednesday when he presents evidence the White House says irrefutably shows that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and is mocking the rest of the world. ..." more

Now: Rumsfeld said today that the test is not whether there is a "smoking gun" but whether there is Iraqi "cooperation." I think that formulation is deeply problematic. The international community has a right to press Iraq to cooperate with weapons inspectors, but I think it's most unlikely that its failure to do so is a legitimate ground for war.

Recall that the first of the criteria for "legitimate defense by military force" is that "the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain." How does "failure to cooperate with inspectors" = "certain damage"?

I respect Bush and his team. I think Bush - unlike his predecessor and his erstwhile opponent - is a morally serious man. But I also, as a Catholic, think he'd probably be wrong to go to war against Iraq at this time.

By the way, I do link a lot of news stories, perhaps especially concerning Iraq (and North Korea), without always (or even often) commenting on them. This is generally because I either find them informative and want to share them, or think they speak for themselves in making some point. Either way, I'm communicating something about my own thoughts. Also, among other things, I would like this blog to be, among other things, something of a record of our march to war, especially since I do from time to time comment on the moral issues associated with this march.

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Christianity, strength, and charity

De Lubac also writes (Drama, 129):
In the present state of the world, a virile, strong Christianity must become a heroic Christianity. But this adjective is a description, it must not become a definition, in which case it would be a falsification. ... For, if Christianity can and should assume the virtues of ancient paganism, the Christian who would remain faithful is bound to reject with a categorical No a neopaganism that has set itself up against Christ. Gentleness and goodness, considerateness toward the lowly, pity for those who suffer, rejection of perverse methods, protection of the oppressed, unostentatious self-sacrifice, resistance to lies, the courage to call evil by its proper name, love of justice, the spirit of peace and concord, open-heartedness, mindfulness of heaven; those are the things that Christian heroism will rescue. All this so-called "slave morality" will be shown to be a morality of free men and the sole source of man's freedom.

Christians have not been promised that they will always be in the majority. (Rather the reverse.) Nor that they will always seem the strongest and that men will never be conquered by another ideal than theirs. But, whatever happens, Christianity will never have any real efficacy, it will never have any real existence or make any real conquests, except by the strength of its own spirit, by the strength of charity.
This is probably related to, among other things, my diablog with Robert on "warrior virtue," etc. And contrast, perhaps, the view expressed in the book reviewed here.

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Myth, mystery, and the cosmos

De Lubac writes (Drama of Atheist Humanism, 91-92):
... There is the sacredness of myth which, like vapor rising from the earth, emanates from infrahuman regions; and there is the sacredness of mystery, which is like peace descending from the heavens. The one links us with Nature and attunes us to her rhythm but also enslaves us to her fatal powers; the other is the gift of the spirit that makes us free. ...

... Mystery does not refuse to make use of myth, any more than reason does in the human order; on the contrary, mystery takes over a part of it, filters it, purifies it - exorcises it, as it were. There is an authentic sacredness in the cosmos, for it is full of "vestiges" of divinity. There is a "mystique of the earth." But it needs to be christianized. When it aspires to reign alone, it is no longer even terrestrial; the mark of the Spirit of Evil is upon it.
This is relevant, I think, to discernment about "New Age" mythology, as well as to understanding in what sense we should be drawn to the cosmos (see also the thoughts Mark has posted).

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Import Canadian health care?

Maybe, maybe not.

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Media on Roe, abortion

"Once again, President Bush pledged in his State of the Union address to stretch the word counts of news reporters by signing a bill to ban 'what opponents call partial-birth abortion.' ..." more

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Powell and the march to war

"When Secretary of State Colin Powell meets with the members of the United Nations Security Council Wednesday morning, the United States will be meeting its obligation to come back to the body before proceeding with action against Iraq ...

"... The primary factor influencing his tune change on Iraq is likely his military background — not in the sense that it guided him to believing that war is necessary, but that his strong sense of allegiance has been the driving force. ..." more

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More Columbia commentary

"RETURN TO THE END of the Gulf War, when we did not go to Baghdad. The wave was taking us there, but we stepped off. ..." more

"Wellington probably never said that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, but it could be said that the battle for Afghanistan was won on the launch pads of Canaveral and Vandenberg. ..." more

"There is scant public information on why Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated on reentry. A technical investigation is underway, and the shuttle fleet is temporarily grounded. Human exploration of space may pause, undergo a course correction, but should not stop. ..." more

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Encyclical on Eucharist coming soon

"VATICAN, Feb 4, 03 (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II will publish a new encyclical, on the Eucharist, within the next few months, informed Vatican sources have revealed. ..." more (subscription required)

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Attention college students: read this!

Ten common mistakes to avoid

I saw this on a poster, and am now glad to have found it online. I'm going to print and copy it for my students, I think.

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The story behind the "story" of "choice"

"IN THE PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL for 'Behind Every Choice Is a Story'--Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt's contribution to the flurry of books marking the thirtieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade--the publishers include a brief marketing advisory for booksellers and reviewers. Which is the customary thing to do, only theirs isn't the customary way to do it. ..." more

Good review. I think there is more of a connection between contraception and abortion than Tell suggests, and I think he's somewhat - but not entirely - unfair to Rice.

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More malpractice-crisis news

"TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- Doctors overwhelmed by ballooning malpractice insurance premiums are taking to the streets like never before -- rallying, demanding government reform and in a few states, walking off the job. ..." more

"TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- New Jersey doctors canceled some rallies and agreed to pare down protests Monday over rising malpractice insurance costs in deference to the space shuttle disaster. But hundreds of physicians staged protests or took time off to give blood. ..." more

"CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Though medical malpractice has dominated much of the session so far, the Legislature held its first public hearing on the subject Monday. ..." more

"PARAMUS, New Jersey (CNN) -- Physicians throughout New Jersey have temporarily stopped non-emergency work to protest high malpractice insurance premiums. They plan activities through Tuesday and are expected to return to their jobs Wednesday. ..." more

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Another kind of sex abuse

"It's 1987, and a 36-year-old Madison high school gym teacher is charged with sexual assault for a liaison in her basement with a 15-year-old boy. But the case is tossed out of court on a technicality. ..." more

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Adultery today

"Adultery is in the news again due to the murder-by-Mercedes trial of Clara Harris, who allegedly ran over her adulterous husband three times after discovering him with another woman. ..." more

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Iraq, N. Korea this morning

"WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin Powell, bidding for U.N. support, is set to present evidence that Iraq has hidden large caches of weapons of mass destruction from international inspectors and defied calls on it to disarm. ..." more

"SEOUL, South Korea — As the United States considers beefing up its military around the Korean peninsula, North Korea's leader visited a naval base and praised the unit's sailors as 'human bombs' defending socialism ..." more

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St. Catherine de' Ricci: "Run the race"

Today Dominicans celebrate the memorial of this sister who received the stigmata. From a letter she wrote on Palm Sunday, 1554, from the Office:
Competition should be considered extremely important. Such competition is not the same as envy which leads a person to wish to prevent a neighbor from attaining some good lest the neighbor get ahead. Rather, the race should be run with a holy rivalry and with a thirst for the heavenly fountain, not in such a way as to create obstacles for someone else. Oh, if only this competition existed in Christian hearts ... ! ...

Now, my child, we are celebrating a season when running and enduring are more necessary than we are accustomed to. For when we consider the depth of the mystery of redemption presented to us during these days, how much more should we not endure and persevere!

First of all we see the mercy that conquered justice and that, acting as an intercessor with the eternal Father, induced God to send the only-begotten Son and clothe him with human flesh for our salvation. ... The omnipotent God became an infant susceptible to all human miseries: the immortal and immutable one became mortal and mutable; the divine one became human; the most wise one became, so to speak, foolish before others; the Lord whom angels serve became a slave of human beings.

Who then, being aware of this mercy, would not marvel at the knowledge that all these things took place so that human nature might pay the debt owed to the divine Essence? ... Behold one rich in treasure, ready and eager to pay the debt for us and to restore us as the heirs to our heavenly homeland. Indeed, this consideration should restrain us from doing anything that is earthly and empty.

Being profoundly moved by the example of the depths of charity shown by the Son of God to his insignificant creation, it behooves us to run this race. One in nature with us, Christ himself ran the race so quickly as to embrace very great suffering.

My child, we must run this same race and without restraint throw ourselves into this great sea that we may be washed and cleansed, for all this was accomplished for us. ...
(The saints often speak of being moved by God's mercy; see also below.)

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wMonday, February 03, 2003


Another example of why The Situation is the laity's fault too

"BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Feb 3, 03 (CWNews.com) - Parents, teachers, and children at a Belfast school are campaigning for the chaplain to be reinstated after a tabloid newspaper published photographs of him at a gay group-sex party last weekend. ..." more (subscription required)

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Vatican "provisional report" on "New Age"
... These reflections are offered primarily to those engaged in pastoral work so that they might be able to explain how the New Age movement differs from the Christian faith. This study invites readers to take account of the way that New Age religiosity addresses the spiritual hunger of contemporary men and women. It should be recognized that the attraction that New Age religiosity has for some Christians may be due in part to the lack of serious attention in their own communities for themes which are actually part of the Catholic synthesis such as the importance of man' spiritual dimension and its integration with the whole of life, the search for life's meaning, the link between human beings and the rest of creation, the desire for personal and social transformation, and the rejection of a rationalistic and materialistic view of humanity.

The present publication calls attention to the need to know and understand New Age as a cultural current, as well as the need for Catholics to have an understanding of authentic Catholic doctrine and spirituality in order to properly assess New Age themes. The first two chapters present New Age as a multifaceted cultural tendency, proposing an analysis of the basic foundations of the thought conveyed in this context. From Chapter Three onwards some indications are offered for an investigation of New Age in comparison with the Christian message. Some suggestions of a pastoral nature are also made. ... more
Meanwhile: "VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Harry Potter has them talking -- even at the Vatican. The name of the fictional wizardly apprentice came up today during a press conference on the document 'Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the "New Age."' ..." more

I hope Michael O'Brien is paying attention (see also below).

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US Cardinal on Iraq attack

"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The leading American cardinal in Rome sharply criticized a proposed U.S. pre-emptive attack on Iraq, saying Washington 'has not offered conclusive evidence of imminent danger to its national security.' ..." more

(Memo to Rod Dreher: he's probably not "anti-American.")

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Familiar story

"When an expert NASA panel warned last year that safety troubles loomed for the fleet of shuttles if the agency's budget was not increased, NASA removed five of the panel's nine members and two of its consultants. ..." more (registration required)

Remember what led to the Challenger explosion?

(See also below.)

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Columbia, space-program commentary

"THE COLUMBIA IS LOST, but what remains are all the things that make us human: our grief, our sympathy for the families of the astronauts and the larger family of NASA--and our darker impulses as well. ..." more

"WHAT MANNER OF CREATURE ARE WE? It took 100,000 years for humans to get inches off the ground. Then, astonishingly, it took only 66 to get from Kitty Hawk to the moon. And then, still more astonishingly, we lost interest, spending the remaining 30 years of the 20th century going around in circles in low earth orbit, i.e., going nowhere. ..." more

"The nature of American technology and confidence in it are now such that our own astounding achievements sometimes insulate us from the unforgiving laws of the natural world that will not go away. ..." more

"It's way too soon to know what went wrong with the space shuttle Columbia on Saturday morning ..." more

"... I'm reminded of this by the calls of some over the years to end the space-shuttle program, even (perhaps especially) by people who are frustrated by our lack of progress in space. ..." more

"At around 11:00 A.M. on Saturday morning, NASA officials lowered the flag at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to half staff. ..." more

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Political correctness, or civility?

Most of these examples are political correctness, but perhaps not all of them. I wish the Washington Redskins would change their name (I'm by no means against all Indian names, but "Redskins" is too much like a racial epithet).

(By the way, I'm reminded of the joke that went around when the "Washington Bullets" became the "Wizards" - to the effect that they wanted a name that wouldn't connote violence, so they were going to become just the "Bullets.")

These ads, meanwhile, like so many today, are clearly offensive.

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Bush admin to argue "affirmative action" stance

"WASHINGTON — The Bush administration will probably go before the Supreme Court to explain its stance in a politically and racially charged affirmative action case ..." more

(See also below.)

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WTC site process advancing

"NEW YORK — Officials overseeing the effort to rebuild ground zero met privately Monday to pick the final two designs to replace the World Trade Center. ..." more

I still don't like the designs, especially the two finalists.

This article sheds some light on the problems with the process; see below for a better explanation than I could give of what's wrong with the designs.

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Iraq, N. Korea

"LONDON — The United Nations must complete the disarmament of Iraq or become impotent, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday, adding that he favored a second U.N. resolution before military action. ..." more

"WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin Powell will present photographs of mobile biological weapons and transcripts of overheard Iraqi conversations to convince allies that Saddam Hussein has potent arsenals ..." more

"WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is considering new deployments in the Pacific Ocean to signal North Korea that the United States remains capable of blunting an attack in Korea despite its focus on possible war in Iraq. ..." more

"UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed for funds Monday to 'avert a major humanitarian crisis' in North Korea and create better conditions to peacefully resolve the nuclear standoff. ..." more

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Your loss is your gain

Busy day today with teaching and a meeting and so on, so blogging will be at best light till evening. But I went blog-wild this weekend, so take the opportunity to scroll down and catch up on reading the many insightful and compelling posts!

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Priests

From an interview with Milwaukee's Episcopal bishop:
... Q. Are you getting Catholic priests transitioning to become Episcopal priests? Episcopal priests can marry.

A. Yes, we are. We have two in process. Because of the covenant with the Archdiocese (of Milwaukee), we have to send them to Chicago or to Fond du Lac, or move them to another diocese. We don't encourage Roman Catholic clergy to come to us, we don't want to be a cause of scandal.

The usual reason has to do with celibacy, not necessarily that they are going to get married, but they want that option.

Q. Are you getting more Catholic priests because of recent sex abuse scandals?

A. I don't think so.

Q. Have you gotten many Catholic priests from Wisconsin and elsewhere?

A. I'd say over the last 10 years, 10 or a dozen. I mean, I have three former Jesuits. It sort of blows your mind. ...
Seems to me that if a Catholic priest want to become an Episcopal priest for whatever reason, this raises serious questions about whether he had a vocation to the priesthood, given that there are, at least historically, serious differences between Catholic and Episcopal theologies of the priesthood (such that Catholics consider Episcopal orders invalid - also, the theological differences are probably not unrelated to the permission given Episcopal priests to be married or to marry). (See also below.)

Meanwhile, the (Catholic) Bishop of Pittsburgh visited a parish whose popular priest recently retired suddenly:
... After receiving numerous letters and e-mails from parishioners concerning Crowley, Wuerl decided to visit the parish. He arrived wearing white-and-gold vestments and as he walked up the steps to the church, was confronted with the crowd chanting "Crowley, Crowley, Crowley."

The smiling bishop told a woman in the crowd that people should be chanting Jesus' name.

"He's as close to Jesus as we know," the woman replied. ...
Right. Because Jesus, like Crowley, was never "persnickety." This parish's problem seems to differ more in degree than in kind from that of the Chicago parish I've blogged. Seems people in more than one parish in more than one diocese could profit from a study of 1 Cor. 1:10ff.

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wSunday, February 02, 2003


Hail, Queen of Heaven

From the eve of the first Sunday of Advent through yesterday, many people prayed the Alma Redemptoris Mater at the end of Night Prayer. From tonight, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, through Holy Week, it is traditional to end Compline with the Ave, Regina caelorum:

Ave, Regina caelorum,
ave, Domina angelorum,
salve, radix, salve, porta,
ex qua mundo lux est orta.
Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
super omnes speciosa;
vale, o valde decora,
et pro nobis Christum exora.

notation | recording (mp3)
translation, with traditional collect

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Feast of the Presentation also Day of Consecrated Life

"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 2, 2003 (Zenit.org).- People consecrated to God in poverty, chastity and obedience are, with their faithfulness of life, a manifestation of divine love for the world, says John Paul II. ..." more

Here is John Paul II on the 1997 institution of this annual observance.

And here is a selection from his Veritatis Splendor 18, which further suggests what we can all learn from those who live the consecrated life:
This vocation to perfect love is not restricted to a small group of individuals. The invitation, "go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor," and the promise "you will have treasure in heaven," are meant for everyone, because they bring out the full meaning of the commandment of love for neighbor, just as the invitation which follows, "Come, follow me," is the new, specific form of the commandment of love of God. Both the commandments and Jesus' invitation to the rich young man stand at the service of a single and indivisible charity, which spontaneously tends towards that perfection whose measure is God alone: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus makes even clearer the meaning of this perfection: "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36).
And see also below for Balthasar on the meaning and moral importance of "following Christ."

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Pope on genetic technologies

"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 2, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Warning of genetic manipulations that violate the dignity of human beings, John Paul II said that 'you cannot trade with life.' ..." more

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Anarchy now

"One of the most visible but least-explored tributaries of the anti-war left comprises a group of people, mostly young, who dress in black, conceal their faces with masks and combine street theater with street fighting. They call themselves anarchists. ..." more

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