I think it's swell when a husband indulges his wife's crushes on other men.
(This image will likely not make the cut.)
He explains his current stance in “Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama,” which will be published in two weeks by Overlook Press. But reached this week in Denver, Mr. Kmiec agreed to give necessarily brief replies to questions sent by e-mail.
Q. What is your position on the morality of abortion, and how is it related to your religious faith?
A. I fully accept the teaching of the church that participating in an abortion is an intrinsic evil. My acceptance of abortion as a grave, categorical wrong is one part respectful deference to authoritative Catholic teaching and one part reasoned deduction from our scientific knowledge of genetics and the beginning of an individual life.
Q. Would you like to see Roe v. Wade overturned?
A. Yes, but not on the terms usually suggested by Republicans. Roe is mistaken constitutional law not just because it invalidated state laws on the subject but because it is contrary to what is described as a self-evident truth in the Declaration of Independence, namely, that we have an unalienable right to life from our creator. It may surprise the general citizenry that not a single sitting justice utilizes the declaration as a source of interpretative guidance.
But even employing the jurisprudential methods applied by the modern court, there is no satisfactory showing that abortion as a matter of custom and tradition was properly found to be an implied aspect of the liberties protected by the 14th Amendment.
Q. Given those views, why do you support Barack Obama?
A. There is a widespread misconception that overturning Roe is the only way to be pro-life. In fact, overturning Roe simply returns the matter to the states, which in their individual legislative determinations could then be entirely pro-abortion. I doubt that many of our non-legally-trained pro-life friends fully grasp the limited effect of overturning Roe.
Secondly, pundits like to toss about the notion that the future of Roe depends on one vote, the mythical fifth vote to overturn the decision. There are serious problems with this assumption: first, Republicans have failed to achieve reversal in the five previous times they asked the court for it; and second, it is far from certain that only one additional vote is needed to reverse the decision in light of the principles of stare decisis by which a decided case ought not to be disturbed. Only Justices Thomas and Scalia have written and joined dissenting opinions suggesting the appropriateness of overturning Roe.
So given those views, the better question is how could a Catholic not support Barack Obama?
Senator Obama’s articulated concerns with the payment of a living wage, access to health care, stabilizing the market for shelter, special attention to the needs of the disadvantaged and the importance of community are all part of the church’s social justice mission.
Applying this to the issue of abortion, the senator has repeatedly indicated that he is not pro-abortion, that he understands the serious moral question it presents, and, most significantly, that he wants to move us beyond the 35 years of acrimony that have done next to nothing to reduce the unwanted pregnancies that give rise to abortions.
Q. But all the same, isn’t your support at odds with Catholic teaching?
A. Quite the contrary. Senator Obama is articulating policies that permit faithful Catholics to follow the church’s admonition that we continue to explore ways to give greater protection to human life.
Consider the choices: A Catholic can either continue on the failed and uncertain path of seeking to overturn Roe, which would result in the individual states doing their own thing, not necessarily, or in most states even likely, protective of the unborn. Or Senator Obama’s approach could be followed, whereby prenatal and income support, paid maternity leave and greater access to adoption would be relied upon to reduce the incidence of abortion.
It is, of course, not enough for a Catholic legislator to declare himself or herself pro-choice and just leave it at that, but neither Senator Obama, who is not Catholic except by sensibility, nor Joe Biden, who is a lifelong Catholic, leaves matters in that unreflective way.
In my view, Obama and Biden seek to fulfill the call by Pope Paul II, in the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae,” to “ensure proper support for families and motherhood.” It cannot possibly contravene Catholic doctrine to improve the respect for life by paying better attention to the social and economic conditions of women which correlate strongly with the number of abortions.
Q. You have been fiercely attacked by some Catholic abortion opponents and in one instance barred from receiving communion. How do you feel about that?
A. To be the subject of an angry homily at Mass last April 18 and excoriated as giving scandal for endorsing Senator Obama and then to be denied communion for that “offense” was the most humiliating experience in my faith life.
To be separated in that public manner from the receipt of the eucharist, and to be effectively shunned or separated from the body of Christ in the sense of that particular congregation, has left, I very much regret to say, a permanent spiritual scar. Thankfully, it has also given me a new appreciation for the significance of the sacrament in my daily worship. And the priest, having been called to order by Cardinal Roger Mahoney, sent me an apology, which of course I have accepted.
Nonetheless, I remain deeply troubled that other church leaders not fall into similar traps. That would do untold damage to the church within the context of American democracy.
There are clearly partisan forces that want nothing more than to manufacture or stir up faith-based opposition to their political opponents. The church has been careful to underscore that Catholics have unfettered latitude to vote for any candidate so long as the intent of the Catholic voter is not to express approval of a grave evil.
ROME -- An Italian museum on Thursday defied Pope Benedict and refused to remove a modern art sculpture portraying a crucified green frog holding a beer mug and an egg that the Vatican had condemned as blasphemous.
More ho than hum, it turns out. The defense of the exhibit, in keeping with the oeuvre itself, is conventionally meretricious:
The board of the Museion museum in the northern city of Bolzano decided by a majority vote that the frog was a work of art and would stay in place for the remainder of an exhibition.
Ars longa, comrades, VISA brevis. Three years ago Mark Steyn gave a pointed analysis of the double standard used in dealing with religious sensibilities. It's worth quoting at length:
The rules for this sort of thing are well known. Last year, an old leftie Scots pal of mine, Alistair Beaton, wrote an anti-war "satire" which included Bush and Blair singing "We're Sending You a Cluster Bomb from Jesus." Ha-ha. Alistair's play opened at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in England and did boffo biz. In his merciless evisceration of Bush-Blair and the radical Christian threat to world peace, Alistair was operating in the tradition of bold, courageous, transgressive artists without whom a free society cannot survive. And happily, crazy as they are, these Christian fundamentalist types don't tend to be waiting for you at the stage door. Whereas, if you write, "We're Sending You a Schoolgirl Bomb from Allah," you attract a somewhat livelier crowd, and it's hard to pick up showbiz awards for your boldness, courage, transgressiveness, etc., when you're six feet under. Ask Theo van Gogh. As a rule, if you're going to be "provocative," it's best to do it with people who can't be provoked.
Journalists understand this, too. When Christians get hot and bothered about a horny Jesus (The Last Temptation of Christ), a gay Jesus (Terrence McNally's Broadway play Corpus Christi), or a Jesus floating in the artist's urine (Piss Christ), columnists take to the barricades to champion the cause of free speech. When Muslim groups closed down a play in Cleveland because its revolting apologia for a Palestinian suicide bomber was insufficiently pro-Muslim, the silence of the media lambs was deafening.
Antagonism to Christianity has come to be taken for granted among fashionable artists, as among the glitterati that support them, to the point that it's hard to imagine an exhibition of contemporary work (outside the ghetto) executed in celebration of Christian themes. But this very hostility pays a left-handed compliment -- two compliments, in fact -- to the Christians who are its targets. On the one hand, as Steyn points out, the insouciance with which artists taunt Christians with sacrilege shows they don't fear violent retaliation -- indeed they fear no palpable retaliation at all; that means they performatively concede that fervent God-fearing Christians are as good as their commitments. On the other hand the Christian claims must have some potent moral force even with the worlding artistes in order to be rejected with so much vehemence. You don't devote yourself to the construction of elaborate assaults against fantasies you find boring and irrelevant. Christ's teachings still have their sting, even when rejected.
In point of fact, the plastic frog of the Bolzano museum mockery, and the contempt that employed it, have very ancient precedents. What is purportedly the oldest known image of the crucifix is a graffito scrawled into a the wall of an excavated guardroom near Rome's Circus Maximus; it's usually dated to around 200AD. It shows a man standing beside a crucified figure with a head of a donkey, and (in shaky Greek) the words "Alexamenos worships (his) God." In mocking the Christian Alexamenos, the anonymous graffitist is a spiritual forebear of the Andres Serranos and Steve Rosenthals and Martin Kippenbergers of our own day. The paradox is that in each case their malice backfires, and eventually comes to bolster the piety it sets out to belittle. Today the Alexamenos graffito is treasured by Christians; it is a testimony to an embattled faith. Were it to be defaced or destroyed it is believers, not sneering heathen, who would mourn the loss. It's not impossible that the Bolzano Imposture might be accorded a similar value two millennia from now.
Blasphemy never fully attains its goal, because it never takes the full measure of its object. There's something poignant in the theological misunderstanding betrayed by the attempt to mock Jesus as a crucified donkey or frog. The crucifixion itself was a humiliation, a humiliation Christ willingly embraced ("He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave … and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross"). To trick out the crucified one as a figure of ridicule confirms rather than undercuts the Christian understanding of the event. A century and a half before the Alexamenos graffitist St. Paul had already instructed us that the crucifixion was folly to the Greeks. Pagan mockery proves his point. Perhaps this is why Jesus taught "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him." It's not the Son of Man who's diminished by blasphemy, but his assailant.
Pope Benedict XVI , 81, has said he is looking forward to a "peaceful old age" with "serenity and humility" as he enters ''the last phase'' of his life.
The Pope made his remarks at a ceremony making Father Georg Ratzinger, his brother, who is three years older, an honorary citizen of Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence in a hilltop town above Lake Albano south of Rome.
''We have arrived at the last stage of our lives, at old age, and the days left to live grow progressively fewer,'' the pontiff observed. ''But even at this stage my brother helps me to accept the weight of each day with serenity, humility and courage. For this I thank him".
He added: ''From the beginning of my life my brother has always been not only a companion for me but a trustworthy guide, a point of reference with the clarity and determination of his decisions. He showed me the road to take, even in difficult situations,'' he added.
The Pope took a two week break with his brother this summer at a seminary at Bressanone in the mountains of northern Italy. He spent the time playing the piano, walking, and preparing his next encyclical as well as the second volume of his study of Jesus. In September he is to travel to France to pray at the Marian shrine at Lourdes.
A Catholic nun was burnt alive by a group of Hindu fundamentalists who stormed the orphanage she ran in the district of Bargarh (Orissa), this according to Police Superintendent Ashok Biswall. A priest who was at the orphanage was also badly hurt and is now being treated in hospital for multiple burns. Another nun from Bubaneshwar’s Social Centre was gang raped by groups of Hindu extremists before the building housing the facility was set on fire. Sources also told AsiaNews that elsewhere one priest was wounded and two other were abducted. The list of violent anti-Christian acts is thus getting longer.
For the past two days the state of Orissa (north-east India) has been racked by violence following the assassination of radical Hindu leader Swami Laxanananda Saraswati.
Churches, community and pastoral centres, convents and orphanages have been attacked yesterday and today by mobs shouting “Kill the Christians; destroy their institutions.”
Tensions in the state are in fact still running high. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has planned demonstrations for today and tomorrow. Gangs of Hindu fanatics from the VHP as well as Sangh Parivar are roaming roads and villages, setting up road blocks, sending their own members on raids of plunder and violence.
According to firsthand accounts the archdiocese’s social centre was attacked and torched. Before that the attackers raped Sister Meena, a nun working at the centre.
The local pastoral centre, which has escaped destruction in last December’s violence, is now a total wreck. Father Thomas, who ran the facility, is in hospital with serious head injuries.
Speaking to AsiaNews Fr Ajay Singh also said that a nun was burnt alive in an orphanage she ran in the district of Bargarh.
Elsewhere Sisters of Mother Teresa have been attacked by stone-throwing Hindu militants with one seriously injured.
All Christian institutions are now in danger because mobs of Hindu radicals are roaming the streets, breaking down doors and smashing windows, including in some cases Christian homes. Many priests and nuns have had to escape.
In Bubaneshwar Hindu militants stoned the Archbishop’s residence, but did not dare invade the place because of police presence.
In Phulbani the parish church and the home of local clergy were attacked and set on fire. All local priests fled and found refuge in the homes of some of members of the local congregation.
The youth hostel that houses students who study in Phulbani has also been torched.
Some missionaries of Charity who were attending a health course in Brahamanigoan were blocked for hours in the village.
Elsewhere nuns left their convent finding shelter in some school buildings.
She recalls that in 2001 she began going to Mass because her sister was the friend of the bishop’s secretary. While she was interested in the celebration, she did not have much faith. She explains that she enjoyed the songs sung in English and the words continued to ring in her ears, though she did not understand the lyrics.
Faith in Christ began the following year and after praying the Rosary intensely, but with great difficulty at home. She realized the importance of prayer and decided to convert to Catholicism.
Much has been made of Pope John Paul II’s role in inspiring the music of the new evangelization. But what of the man who has led the Catholic church since 2005?
According to Fr. J. Michael Joncas, Pope Benedict XVI’s thoughts on liturgical music “have never been presented in a systematic fashion.” But some of his opinions can be gleaned from books like The Spirit of the Liturgy, which compiles his writings on the subject. They reveal an abiding respect for traditional sacred music, and greater uncertainty about more modern styles.
When Benedict XVI came to Washington and New York to celebrate his first U.S. Masses in April, the visit triggered more contentious debate about music in the liturgy. Traditionalists in particular were confident that this pope would share their tastes, if not their convictions.
The music chosen for the Mass programs in the two cities formed a contrast. In New York, the Masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Yankee Stadium favored what Joncas characterized as a “more substantial use of chant … and choral singing without congregational vocal participation.”
Ron Rust, owner of the William R. Rust Funeral Home in New Haven, said the policy will interfere with his longstanding business of coordinating funerals that are held at St. Catherine.
The policy marks "an intentional and wrongful interference" in the dealings between the funeral home and its customers and will cost Rust funerals and income, according to his suit filed Aug. 7 in Nelson Circuit Court.
He's seeking a temporary injunction halting implementation of the policy, pending a trial seeking monetary damages from Leger and the archdiocese.
Rust claims a "right to direct funerals in accordance with the wishes of the family of deceased individuals without the constraints" of Leger's policy, it says.
Claims made in filing a lawsuit give only one side of the case. Leger did not return a call last week seeking comment.
In his letter to funeral homes, he said the purpose of a funeral Mass is to "illumine the mystery of Christian death in light of the risen Christ," and that everything must focus on the Christian hope of resurrection.
Anything that could distract from that should be avoided, he wrote, adding that eulogies, recorded music and nonbiblical readings such as poetry and letters are forbidden except under limited circumstances.
Such personalized features should take place at the vigil service, typically held the evening before the Mass at either the church or the funeral home, he said.
The Archdiocese of Louisville doesn't comment on pending litigation, said spokeswoman Cecelia Price.
But she said each parish pastor sets funeral policy within overall Catholic law and liturgical practice. "The policies at St. Catherine are in conformity with church law and pastoral practice."
The archdiocese itself distributes a brochure based on Vatican guidelines that mirrors much of what Leger put in the parish policy. "It's not unusual," she said.
The policy distributed by Leger specifies that a funeral Mass is not allowed for "notorious apostates … heretics … schismatics … and other manifest sinners" who did not repent before death.
Also, it says, a deceased person who had long avoided Mass will be denied a funeral Mass but allowed a rite of Christian burial. "Since they chose not to attend Mass in life they should not be compelled to attend Mass in death," the policy said; the restriction doesn't apply to those who couldn't attend for such reasons as a prolonged illness.
Leger also said that while a visiting priest with a past connection to the deceased can attend and even preach, Leger should be the prime celebrant of the funeral Eucharist.
For families who oppose that restriction, "the remedy is clear," Leger wrote, "choose another church."