22 June 2012

Launching the Fortnight for Freedom

In January 2012, as the Obama Administration began to bureaucratically buckle down to implement Obamacare, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius imposed a Qualified Health Plan mandate which basically required all qualified plans to offer “free” contraception, sterilzations, and abortofacient drugs.  In addition, the clerical exception was so narrowly construed which does not extend beyond the Church’s sanctuary.  In response to the public outroar that accompanied this Obama ukase, the Obama Administration claimed that conscientious objectors would not have to pay for repugnant treatments but insurance companies would pick up the bill.  This laughable fudge was given the same day that the Federal Register published the original HHS mandate with no revisions.

Some polling indicates that Catholics do not appreciate that religious liberty is under assault.  So the US Council of Catholic Bishops launched a Fortnight of Freedom, a coordinated nationwide effort of prayer, fasting and instrution to educate the Catholic laity as well as the general public on the importance of preserving Americans’ First Amendment rights to the unfettered exercise of religious beliefs.

Liberal leaning Catholics launch into tirades against the UCCB efforts, accusing the Bishops of unfairly involving themselves in politics.  Such rantings about not mixing church and state are laughable as the LCRW inspired Nuns on the Bus Tour is out protesting the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) budget proposal for suggesting changes to social service spending. Perhaps advocating for the Social Justice inspired acts of charity are not recognized as even being religious in nature but appeal to  Social Gospel believers who are strong on social but queasy about gospel.

George Soros is funding a “Catholic” shadow organization “Faith in Public Life” to be the devil’s advocate working behind the scenes against the UCCB Fortnight of Freedom efforts. Prominent dissonant Catholic voices, like the outsed America editor Fr. Tom Reece and prominent feminist theology professor Lisa Sowle Cahill, have associated themselves with the “Faith in Public Life” front group. Expect the media to be fed questions by Faith in Public Life  about conflating health policy quarrels with religious freedom, bluster about the fake HHS compromise and questioning if Catholics would stop social justice programs if they do not receive religious accommodation.

The Fortnight for Freedom kicked off with a mass at the America’s oldest Catholic Cathedral, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  Newly named Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, a staunch spokesman for the UCCB on religious freedom, presided and gave the homily.

St. Thomas More
Archbishop Lori noted that the Fortnight for Freedom was launched on the eve of the feast of St. Thomas More, a Catholic Lord Chancellor of England  who sacrificed everything, including his life, to keep faithful to communion with the Catholic Church in the face of King Henry VIII Act of Supremacy.  Lori also invoked the example of St. John Fisher, who also shares the feast day with St. Thomas More, as Fisher was Catholic Cardinal who was martyred by a tyrannical English crown anxious to control the practice of faith in the nation.   Archbishop Lori also noted that Charles Carroll (brother of first US Bishop John Carroll) the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, risked his life and thwarted unjust law which legally prevented Catholics from being Maryland office holders.

Archbishop Lori’s homily also touched upon Catholic organizations affected by the narrow HHS construing of a religious exemption. Lori declares that organizations can have moral character and should not be forced to participate in practices that are repugnant to the group’s founding principles. Liberals have invoked the argument that it is all well and good for individuals to have moral positions, corporations can not take moral stands.  This strain of thought posits that organizations like the Knights of Columbus must participate in what they believe is evil.  Or Catholic Insurers need to offer coverage for contraception abortions and sterlizations because institutions can not have religion.  This flight of fancy leads liberals to argue that Georgetown Law must offer contraceptives because most of their students and faculty are not Catholic, so damn the Catholic connections.

 But this Fortnight for Freedom raising of consciences is not just coming from the clergy.  Embodying the New Evangelizaton, the Catholic Association made a media buy to dispel the secular myth that one should confine their expressions of faith to the pews in church or cowering at home.

New York’s Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan will offer a Mass for the Fortnight of Freedom at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.   The Archdiocese of Washington is sponsoring a rally amongst other activities throughout the country.   The Fortnight of Freedom will conclude with a noon Mass at the Basilica National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC on Independence Day celebrated by Philadelpia’s new archbishop Charles Chaput.

During this Fortnight of Freedom, the faithful are offered an appropriate prayer:

Almighty God, Father of all nations, For freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus.We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty,the foundation of human rights, justice and the common good.Grant to the leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties;By your grace, may we have the courage to defend them,for ourselves and for all who live in this blessed land.We ask through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness,and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,in the unity of the Holy Spirit,One God, forever and ever. Amen.

18 June 2012

Obama's EPA Pulls the Plug on America

As Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency implements regulations which make it too complicated and economically untenable to operate Coal Generation plants.  The EPA’s regulation (which was not approved by Congress) will shut off 10% of electricity generation in the US.

This Congressional unapproved Obama Administrative mandate will hit the Midwest particularly hard.  Michigan may have to deal with unreliable power deliver (read blackouts) if any additional co-generation plants are shuttered.  According to the Chicago Tribune, electricity rate-payers in Ohio should expect to pay $179 per household extra for these EPA regulations.   Of course, these coal power conversion “challenges” will complicate adding jobs during this “Summer of Recovery”.  Then again, that was Obama’s gimmick for the 2010 election cycle.

It is not as if this result was unexpected.  In 2008, then Senator Obama gave an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, where he predicted that his policies would cause electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.

The only difference is that Obama thought that it would be Cap and Trade legislation which would prompt Americans to dig deep in their pockets to do the right thing.  The problem is that the Senate never approved Cap and Trade legislation, so EPA bureaucrats took the onus on their unelected shoulders to proffer the regulation.  But then again, following the Constitution would be a DREAM Act from My POTUS.

If only we could treat this as a laugh-a-second farce like Johnny's antics in the original Airplane movie (1980).

Alas, it's no laughing matter.  The fog of economic uncertainty is getting thicker and Obama's Leviathan government is getting larger.

h/t: Institute for Energy Research
     Michael Ramirez, Investors Business Daily

08 June 2012

Pelosi's Bull on Authentic Catholicism

Pope Benedict XVI (vested in white) greets then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (ironically dressed in purple), on the Papal pilgrimage to Washington, DC in 2008

House Minority Leader (and former Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 8th) prides herself on being an ardent Catholic but she seems quite confused about her faith, yet she continues to foist her heresy in the realm of politics.

A couple of years ago, at a Capitol Hill conference, Rep. Pelosi offered that her favorite word was “The Word” and stressed how it was crucial to give voice to that scriptural word when conducting public policy. However, when a reporter during the former Speaker’s weekly press gaggle followed up on when the Word became flesh, suddenly the concept was only fit for church. Perhaps Pelosi did not want to reconcile her beliefs with the inconvenient truth that her faith teaches about human life beginning at the moment of conception.

After then Senator Obama’s (D-IL) appearance at the Saddleback Civil Forum where the successful Presidential candidate deflected a question about abortion as being “above my pay grade”, Pelosi was pressed about abortion, she insisted that the doctors of the Church had been unable to make that definition.

Maybe Nancy was relying too much on Senator Augustine, uh Saint Augustine's, 4th Century notion of quickening instead of acknowleding Pope Paul VI's Encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968 which makes it quite clear that the Catholic Church believes that life begins at the moment of conception. It might give context as to why the American Catholic Sees are seething about the contraception mandate embedded in Obamacare.

Minority Leader Pelosi dismissed American Bishops objecting to the HHS mandate as imposing on religious freedom, noting that she respects her pastor not when these Shepherds of the Faith act as lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Instead of confining herself to be a hypocritical politico, Pelosi has annointed herself as a theologian. Pelosi pontificated that it was not entire Catholic Church was against the HHS mandate, just 43 Catholic organizations, such as the Archdiocese of Washington. Pelosi embellishes her bull by noting that they had not spoken ex cathedra.


So by Pelosi's train of thought, the Cardinal Bishop in her Archdiocese between the beltways is not speaking authoritatively on matters of faith for Catholic Church or she bears false witness about respecting her pastor.

But to correct the record as either Pelosi's religious education at Trinity College was inadequate or it was an instance of invincible ignorance, ex cathedra statements are solemn and formal papal pronouncements on matters of faith and morals. Before the Congresswoman from California takes solace that the Humanae Vitae encyclical was only a papal teaching, she should consider what Pope Blessed John Paul II stated in a 1993 papal audience:

When the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in exercising his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians he defines with his supreme apostolic authority that a doctrine on faith and morals is to be held by the whole Church, through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, he enjoys that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining a doctrine on faith and morals.
But the lawsuits from 43 Catholic institutions protesting forced participation in contraception, sterlizations and abortion are rooted in natural law hence it is part of the unaltered Magesterium (teaching) of the Catholic Church. The same is true for the Catholic Church's opposing same sex so called "marriage". The same is true of opposition to homosexual "marriage", which trumps Pelosi's puerile justification supporting same sex marriage as her Catholic faith (allegedly) teacher her that that she must oppose all forms of discrimination.

 Faithful critics both instead and out of the Catholic Church grumble that former Speaker Pelosi should be excommunicated for her beliefs. Excommunication should never be used in a punitive secular sense, as it is intended to save the soul from eternal damnation. However, excommunication proclamation need not be issued by an ecclesial court under canon law ( ferendae sententiae). A Catholic's very actions may ipso facto result in a latae sententiae excommunication, which can include an apostate, a heritic or a schismatic. Often a bishop will convey this warning in private. For all we know, this may have already happened.

When former Speaker Pelosi visited the Vatican in 2009, she was granted a fifteen minute meeting with the His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, with no press or photographers present. Pelosi issued a press release which complimented the Roman pontiff for standing for religious freedom and praised the Church's leadership for fighting poverty, hunger and global warming. The Vatican press office had a chillier characterization of the brief greeting. The papal statement indicated:

His Holiness took the opportunity [of the brief greeting with Mrs. Pelosi -ed] to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoins all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

It sounds like the Supreme Pastor of the Catholic flock was pretty clear about when life begins. This comes on top of the 2002 doctrinal note "The Participation of Catholics in Political Life," which states rather succinctly that politicians who profess to be Catholic have a "grave and clear obligation" to oppose any law that attacks human life. The brief greeting might have sotto voce also been a word to the wise.

Well, Mrs. Pelosi persists in purusing a public policies that is anathamatic to Catholics. Worse, the House Minority Leader justifies her progressive political positions in faith while misrepresenting the Magesterium. In this environment, Canon 915 seems applicable to this layman which denies the Eucharist to someone who obstinantly persists in grave sin. Even though Washington's Archbishop Donald John Cardinal Wuerl has recently been appointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Wuerl seems chary about keeping pro-abortion Catholic politicians from participating in Communion. Based on Monsignor Charles Pope's recent reflection, it is dubious that such action would be applied.

It is galling that a Cafeteria Catholic extols spiritual junk food for mass consumption instead of the Divine Feast under the illusion of obeying "The Word". In a pluralistic representative Republic, it is not uncommon for a politician to promote positions which an individual finds repugnant. What seems unjust is that leader lying about the moral underpinnings of these positions when it directly contradicts clear tenants of Catholic faith. If she wants to rationalize her positions on abortion, contraception and same sex "marriage" through a veneer of  religiosity, she would do well to swim the Tiber in reverse, as her secuclar humanist progressive political  positions would be welcomed with open arms among most Episcopalians or even Unitarians. But such a principled act would fail to pander to a large voting bloc of Catholics.

06 June 2012

New Bible Translation is Just a Muted Voice

In an officious effort to make the Bible  more “attune to our times”, the Ecclesia Bible Society and Thomas Nelson released “The Voice”.  The Voice proclaims itself as “a faithful dynamic translation done as a collage of collaborative narratives, poetry, song truth and wisdom”. 

Professor David Capes of Houston Baptist University, spent seven years helping translate “The Voice.”  Capes reveals that the methodology for translating “The Voice” was to prepare a Bible that Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards would read instead of considering it deadly boring. 

What this means for practical purposes is that “The Voice” is a paraphrase of sacred scripture which incorporates scholarly slants within the text of the verses. When the translation uses language which does not correspond to Hebrew or Greek origins, the word is placed in italics and the translators choose not to transliterate anything aside from proper names. 

While many Christians recently celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, some readers can be put off by the sonorous archaic sentence structure and lexicon.  Thomas Nelson sought to keep the Word of God real in part by eschewing traditional terms for the Divine.  The Lord is referred to as “the Eternal One”, Jesus is also called “The Anointed One” and angels as “Messenger of God”.

This scriptural paraphrase sounds awkward, especially for a familiar passage like Psalm 23.

Calling the Lord “Eternal” in this instance sounds flip, mistakes the paternally oriented God of creation as just being an eternal being and circumvents the relational subservience and dependence implicit in the label “Lord”.

Words do matter.  Perhaps it is educational and accessible to call Christ “the Annointed One”, as that is from the Greek.  However, this hardly touches the significance of Jesus which is “Yaweh Saves”.  So Jesus Christ is actually a two millennia prayer just by uttering His holy name.  But the power of that prayerful moniker has nominal impact when the Lord God is relegated to being “The Eternal One”.

Admittedly, translating sacred texts can be hard.  It took 39 years for English speaking Roman Catholics to faithfully develop a new translation of the liturgy.  Some of the faithful chaffed at changes in the Words of Consecration in the Roman Rite English liturgy. The new translation of the Roman Missal uses a more static translation instead of using a dynamic translation methodology.  For the Anaphora, the term chalice is used for the vessel which contains His Precious Blood  instead of “cup”  because it was in the original translation.  But the Last Supper was no ordinary meal, it was part of the Passover, and it makes sense that the Elijah Cup was used.  The linguistic change “for many” instead of the familiar Vatican II verbiage is keeping with the Hebrew original which does not have any expression “for all”.  

In this age when the Western world has lost its moral moorings and secular society scorns scripture, it is admirable to encourage individuals to read the Bible.  But the Word of God should not be a muted Voice to make it more accessible.  This populist paraphrase of scripture calls to mind the quip by C.S. Lewis: “Odd, the way the less the Bible is read, the more it is translated”.

01 June 2012

W Apocalypse in the White House

An "augmented" Unveiling by President George W. Bush of his White House Portrait

Former President George W. Bush and his extended family (including "41" a.k.a. former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara) returned to the White House to see the unveiling of the 43rd President's official portrait by John Howard Sanden.

The portrait shows President George W. Bush standing in the Oval Office in front of a painting "A Charge to Keep" by WHD Koerner (1916) which depicts a horseman charging up a rugged mountain trail, followed by others.  This painting had great significance to President Bush as he associated the Charge to Keep painting with a scriptural paraphrase by Charles Wesley hymn about Leviticus 8:35, as it reminded him that we serve one greater than ourselves.

Compare the gracious and humorous remarks between former President George W. Bush and the variation on a blame Bush stump speech by host President Barack Obama.

No wonder why Rush Limbaugh suggested that it would only be just to add a "Miss Me Yet" thought  bubble to newly unveiled official portrait.