Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Villanova, Where Is Your Moral Compass?

When my dad's brother died in 2004, he had been the Irish Augustinian with the longest tenure as a missionary in Australia.  Yet, that 30 years did not even constitute half of his 70 year priesthood!  In addition to Australia, my uncle served a combined 40 years in Massachusetts, Colorado, California, and Ireland.   

When my uncle died, the local Irish paper simply noted, "Friend of 'sick, poor and aged' passes away."  At the time of his death, he also happened to be the oldest Augustinian priest in Ireland.  

Unlike another Augustinian priest, Villanova president Peter Donahue, PhD, my uncle's academic and theological "credentials" did not go beyond his seminary training in Rome (Yeah, it was cool to have an Irish born uncle who was fluent in Italian.).  My uncle was never on any sort of "fast track."  He never taught college, never taught in a seminary, never became a bishop, and never even became a pastor.  Yet, it's funny - he really understood that thing about following Christ as a priest. 

Perhaps, my uncle's forthright and unapologetic pro life beliefs were a bit embarrassing to more "sophisticated" Augustinians: 
  • Seven years ago, I wrote to Father Donahue about Villanova's choice of commencement speaker: "Cable television has provided cultural Catholic Chris Matthews with a more than ample stage for his pro-abortion opinions, as well as his buffoonish 'interview' style....Villanova's choice of commencement speakers is a slap in the face to the memory of countless men like my uncle."  
  • Three years ago, I also wrote to Father Donahue about Villanova's choice of commencement speaker:  "With the name 'Robert Casey'..., many Pennsylvania Catholics seem to have thought that Casey Jr was committed to the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. Yet his repeated betrayals of the most vulnerable human beings reveal either utter ignorance of Catholic teaching or rejection of such....Father, I encourage you to read the "Casey on Killing of Bin Laden" statement on Senator Casey's web site....Casey's immediate and unqualified endorsement of 'killing' Bin Laden reveals absolutely no reflection on what the Church teaches, re: "Just War Theory." As the Just War Theory is part of the great intellectual heritage of Saint Augustine, Villanova is making itself look particularly foolish by honoring Casey....Your choice of Robert Casey, Jr as this year's commencement speaker appears to be another slap in the face to the memory of countless Augustinians like my uncle."
Guess what?  Judging by his non-response (and his continued practice of honoring "Catholics" who support abortion),  Father Donahue couldn't care less.  Personally, I don't understand how Catholic institutions are allowed to spit in the face of Catholic teaching and continue to enjoy any benefits of calling themselves "Catholic."

Though my uncle was not the sort of cleric to be befriended by the powerful, I suspect he would have been very comfortable breaking bread with Villanova alumnus and former Pennsylvania state house representative, Steve Freind, who is : "appalled by the announcement that Jill Biden, an outspoken advocate of abortion rights, will be my alma mater’s commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary degree" (Villanova fails to walk the walk on speaker choice, BC Courier Times, 5/20/14).

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"The Pill Kills"

Yesterday, Judie Brown of the American Life League published a powerful indictment of complicity in a heinous sin against God, human life, and marriage:
"Ever since the first whisper of Catholic teaching on contraception there has been upheaval, derision, and outright fabrication. Declared to be an infallible teaching at the time it was uttered in 1930—and reiterated in 1968—this teaching has created controversy where it should have created clarity. There are still many who claim it is not infallible and who even believe it is wrong.
"These purveyors of falsehood have shunned teaching the truth from the pulpit and in the classroom. And in step with this, far too many Catholic priests and bishops mislead the uninformed or are simply silent on the subject. As a result, the vast majority of Catholics really have no idea what the Church teaches. Furthermore, they rarely have the opportunity to learn or to be evangelized by couples who practice natural methods of spacing children within marriage and who give witness to the fact that this practice leads to healthier relationships and happier marriages.
"In the wake of these sad facts, American Life League’s annual THE PILL KILLS event will again focus on Catholic teaching and its importance in the quest to protect women, save preborn children, and celebrate happy marriages.
"In Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI teaches: 'Any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.'
"This teaching was repeated by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae in which he said, in part, 'We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. . . . Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.'
"Yet still the teaching is misinterpreted. Today, nearly all Catholic females, according to one survey, either use or approve of contraception. Catholic teaching is thought to be irrelevant, but in fact this trend alone should enliven pulpits with a renewed sense of obligation to teach and preach the truth.
"But as has been the case since the beginning when Christ walked the Earth and passed on to His disciples His 'hard sayings,' many turn and walk away from it in deference to polling data, political correctness, and even fear of decline in donations. None of this changes the facts: The use of contraception is sinful and destroys marriage, families, the bodies of women, and the lives of preborn babies prior to implantation in the wombs of their mothers.
"American Life League has worked tirelessly to expose the truth about the pill and the tragic consequences that its use has had on preborn babies, women, and families. Rita Diller, national director of Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP) International, says, 'The pill is marketed as sexual and economic freedom but a growing body of peer-reviewed research indicates contraceptives set women up for relationship disasters. . . . The physical, psychological, and emotional damage that women suffer because of the pill has devastated the institution of marriage, leading to soaring divorce rates. That means fatherless homes—the greatest predictor of poverty in America.'
"We encourage you to learn the facts and join us in helping our brothers and sisters see that self-absorbed attitudes about sexual relationships lead to misery and illness.
"Alternatively, we can show them how to discover why healthy people, healthy marriages, and happy babies occur when people are willing to surrender to God’s will. By doing so, they reject the contraceptive marketing hype that instantaneous sexual gratification is more important than selfless love and commitment.
"Vow today to be one of God’s disciples who willingly guides people to see that one path leads to unhappiness while the other to happiness.
"Learn more and get happy! (The Pill Kills Families, 5/16/14)
According to the Guttmacher Institute (Don't be misled - it's the research wing of Planned Parenthood.): "The pill and female sterilization have been the two most commonly used methods since 1982."  Instead of condemning the casual marketeering in these poisons by almost all pharmacies (including those in department stores and supermarkets), we even find these pharmacies advertised by our parishes! 

I believe those of us who live in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and in our neighboring Diocese of Trenton bear a special responsibility to expose the heinous nature of the Pill.  According to a Planned Parenthood directory (http://contraceptive.ippf.org/search.) and www.thepill.com, we are also home to 2 of the world's 15 "leading" manufacturers of "the Pill" (i.e., Teva of North Wales and Wyeth of St. Davids.)!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

re: "Popes and Presidents Can Make a Powerful Team" (BC Courier Times, 5/6/14)

Markos Kounalakis rightly notes that "Pope Francis' ascension to St. Peter's throne creates unique opportunities for President Barack Obama to leverage a fresh, credible message of social justice and leadership aimed at Latin America" (Popes and Presidents Can Make a Powerful Team, Bucks County Courier Times, 5/6/14).  Agreed.  Yet, like much of what gets reported about Pope Francis and the relationship of church and state, Kounalakis is offering a very superficial piece. 

Kounalakis claims that, "The president shares a passion and a purpose with Pope Francis. They are both committed to combating inequality."  Yes and No.  The most casual of readers should realize that Pope Francis and the president have different notions about "social justice" and "inequality."  I suspect that  Kounalakis is missing the significance of Pope Francis' gift to the president, after their March 2014 visit. 

Pope Francis gave President Obama a bound copy of his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium; it touches upon a great array of topics in proclaiming the Joy of the GospelIn response, Mr. Obama said "I actually will probably read this in the Oval Office when I’m deeply frustrated. I’m sure it will give me strength and calm me down" (cf, Dave Andrusko, 3/27/14).  

If he really has started to read Evangelii Gaudium, calmness may be the last thing that Mr. Obama feels!  Mr. Obama will have to be taken aback by much of Pope Francis has to say in Evangelii Gaudium:
  • "65. Despite the tide of secularism which has swept our societies, in many countries – even those where Christians are a minority – the Catholic Church is considered a credible institution by public opinion, and trusted for her solidarity and concern for those in greatest need....Yet, we find it difficult to make people see that when we raise other questions less palatable to public opinion, we are doing so out of fidelity to precisely the same convictions about human dignity and the common good.
  • "66. The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple....
  • "213….defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, 'every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual'."

Sunday, May 4, 2014

End of Life Games at Holy Redeemer!

Rev. Mark G. Swope, MDiv, MBE, 
Coordinator of the Ethics Program and Ethicist at Holy Redeemer Health System
Weekend Assistant at St. Martin of Tours/Philadelphia

Dear Father Swope,

As you are an archdiocesan priest coordinating "ethics" at Holy Redeemer, it is all the more scandalous that 
1) No Holy Redeemer OBGYN can be found on One More Soul's list of NFP only OBGYNs; 
2) Holy Redeemer has privileges for IVF specialists (i.e., Holy Redeemer's "Reproductive Endocrinologists and Obstetricians" are IVF specialists (Drs Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, Benjamin Gocial, and Jacqueline Gutmann of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Philadelphia)!; and
3) Holy Redeemer's Advance Directive form does NOT even bother to specify:
    • Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
    • that health care services cannot honor non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration.

I am at a loss to understand why the Archdiocese would publish what initially appeared to only be a fluff piece, Holy Redeemer Hospice hosts end-of-life discussions (CatholicPhilly.com, 4/28/14).  That article comes with what appear to be unvetted links to the National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) and the My Gift of Grace card game!  I urge you to read Judie Brown's Advance Directives Are a Bad Idea (5/2/14), which includes a link to the "American Life League’s loving will, a truly pro-life alternative to the living will."


The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010