Pastor's Page
By Fr. George Welzbacher
October 11, 2009

I never woulda thunk it. But there it was. Right at the top of the Op-Ed page of the New York Times -I kid you not!-for October 3rd: a tabulated summary of the results collated from several recent Gallup Polls, taken over the course of the last several months, going back to June of this year. In America today, so these polls assure us, there are now twice as many- people who call themselves conservatives as there are those who proudly wear the label of liberal. And most interesting of all, for the first time since 1995, when the Gallup Polls began asking about abortion, there are now more Americans today who reject abortion as morally wrong than there are those who support it as morally o.k. The Pro-Life forces are winning the battle for America's mind. All of which provides good reason to pray as never before-and to reinforce that prayer with some penance, too-that our legislatures and our courts may respond with sensitivity to this growing change in the public attitude, though that response may not be very soon in coming.

What we see in these polls is perhaps just a bit analogous to what Winston Churchill perceived back in November of 1942 to be the import of the American invasion of North Africa: "not perhaps the beginning of the end, but surely the end of the beginning".-an important turning point in what had been a long and discouraging struggle. And let's keep in mind St. Paul's assurance that "our weapons are not those of th, flesh, but they are powerful for the overthrow of strongholds."    Witness the signing of the official document that dissolved the Soviet Union, with a stroke of Michael Gorbachev's pen in 1991--on Christmas Day!

Here, just slightly abridged, is the Times Op-Ed.

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The Comfort of Conservatism
   By Charles M. Blow
   From: The New York Times Op-Ed
   Date: Saturday, October 3, 2009

... A series of recent Gallup polls has ... detected an uptick in conservative sentiment across a broad range of measures. For example:

*  The party identification gap between Democrats and Republicans is now the smallest it has been since 2005.

*  There is a "renewed desire" for government to promote traditional values.

*  An August report saw a marked increase in the itumber of people who want immigration to decrease.

A June report found that conservatives are now the largest ideological group, outnumbering liberals 2 to 1....

*  A May report found that for the first time since Gallup began asking about abortion in 1995, more Americans are now anti-abortion than [are those who, are] supportive of abortion rights.

Is this a reaction to a new Democratic administration in general or to President Obama in particular? Maybe it's the manifestation of something more deeply rooted in our behavior.

A hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln. framed conservatism thusly: "What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?" It was and still is. Conservatism for some is a collective mooring against the waves of change. It is a reflexive reaction to uncertainty.

The Obama administration's response to the financial and automotive crises and its pursuit of a wide range of reforms is the epitome of new and untried. Major change has come much too quickly for far too many.  The response: retreat to a cocoon of conservatism.

Nothing illustrates this better than the health care reform debate. Fear of change and the uncertainty it brings is driving a large portion of the opposition. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey released on Tuesday found that the top three words selected by those in favor of reforms to describe their feelings were "hopeful", "optimistic" and "positive." On the other hand, the top three words used by those opposed to reform were "frustrated," "confused" and "angry."

This fear and frustration put feet into the streets. Some simply protested the health care reforms, but others vented their cumlative angst. It was a conservative catharsis ....

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The occasional special significance of major anniversaries has always fascinated me; these anniversaries can often serve as useful benchmarks for the tracing of progress or decline. Last year's fortieth anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae is a case in point. By 2008 the grim social results from the Catholic world's rebellion forty years before against the Church's teaching on contraception are now very hard to deny. So, too the recent observance of the sixtieth anniversary of the Communist conquest of mainland China affords grounds for cautious hope for a continuation of an evolution more benign than would have been thought possible when the fortieth anniversary was observed. But another major anniversary-one fraught with reason for concem-would have escaped my attention altogether had it not been for an interesting article that I came upon in the national edition of The Washington Times, written by family affairs columnist Cheryl Wetzstein. She points out the dreadful consequences that have flowed from the signing of a document in the bellwether state of California back in 1969 by the governor of the state at that time. Like the slightly earlier rebellion against Humanae Vitae the signing of this document constituted yet another violent shock to marriage and the family, the bedrock institution on which the stability of our nation (or of any nation) rests. The governor who signed the document was none other than Ronald Reagan. (He later described this action as the worst mistake he had ever made.) The document that he signed was the "No Fault" Divorce legislation that had been passed by California's legislature. May I share with you here Cheryl Wetzstein's comment from the September 28, 2009 issue of The Washington Times.

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This month marks the 40th anniversary of the earthquake that rocked the American Family.
   The Washington Times
   By: Cheryl Wetzstein, September 28, 2009

Such an anniversary deserves to be remembered.

On September 4, 1969, California Governor Ronald Reagan signed a "no-fault" divorce law.

California wasn't the first state to pass a no-fault provision-that honor went to Oklahoma (1953), followed by Alaska (1963) and New York (1967), according to the 2004 Handbook of Contemporary Families. But California was the first state to cast out "fault" in divorce entirely and replace it with "irreconcilable differences."

Within 15 years, every state had followed suit in some way, and the so-called Divorce Revolution was on its way.

What motivated people to enact no-fault divorce laws?

One reason was that, in a fault system, a divorce required at least one spouse to prove that the other had committed adultery, abandonment or abuse. This meant hiring a private detective and/or collecting incriminating evidence for the court.

Or-and this happened far too often-couples who both wanted the divorce had to resort to manufacturing evidence-faking abandonment, for instance. This kind of fraud insulted the court, legal professionals complained.

And then there were the genuinely ugly divorces, in which both spouses hurled blame and evidence at each other. Everyone suffered, including the children.

Thus, the noble purpose of no-fault divorce was to remove the contentious, annoying legal requirement for couples to prove anything other than their desire to divorce. After all, the thinking went, if marriage was the union of two people, and one person wanted out, then the union was no longer viable.

Except that wasn't the whole story

The key to understanding the problem is to recognize that the grounds for divorce did not go from fault to no-fault, they went from mutual consent to unilateral," said Allen Parkman, University of New Mexico economics professor and author of books on divorce.

Under the fault system, "most divorces were negotiated and eventually [were granted] based on mutual consent," Mr. Parkman said. But once one person could legally end the marriage, "there was no longer any need for negotiations."

The 40 years of divorce-on-demand has left a "poisonous legacy," wrote W. Bradford Wilcox, University of Virginia sociology professor and director of the National Marriage Project, who detailed his observations in an article in the new National Affairs quarterly.

 Divorce expert Judith Wallerstein said in 2005 that the number of children affected by divorce was one million children a year, since 1973. These young people's passionate, even pathological, fear of divorce continues to reverberate through the culture via rampant cohabiting and delayed marriage.

Going back to California's 1969 no-fault law, it appears that it was also a case of the personal becoming political.

According to "Stolen Vows" a 2002 book by Judy Parejko, the California lawmaker (James A Hayes) who championed no-fault divorce was embroiled in a bitter divorce from his stay-at-home wife, the mother of his four children. Removing fault didn't help Mr. Hayes in his divorce, but it certainly crushed the "negotiating power" of other stay-at-home wives, Ms. Parejko wrote.

And when Mr. Reagan signed the bill, he was apparently still smarting from his 1948 divorce, which actress Jane Wyman obtained because of his "mental cruelty." Mr. Reagan later said signing the no-fault law was "one of the worst mistakes he ever made in office," son Michael Reagan wrote in his book, "Twice adopted."

Michael was 3 when his father and Miss Wyman divorced. His description of divorce-"where two adults take everything that matters to a child-the child's home, family, security, and sense of being loved and protected--and they smash it all up, leave it in ruins on the floor, then walk out and leave the child to clean up the mess"-- still resonates today, fault or no-fault.

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And speaking of major anniversaries, was it the deliberate intent of the White House to "twist the knife", so to speak, in the collective memory of the Polish people, or was it simple ignorance, that prompted the current administration to choose, of all days of the decade, precisely the seventieth anniversary (September 17th) of Russia's stab-in-the- back invasion of Eastern Poland in the opening phase of World War II as the day on which to issue an announcement to the world (an announcement transmitted to the office of the President of Poland via a telephone call in what in Poland's time zone was the very dead of night,) to the effect that an agreement of strategic importance, previously endorsed by the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic in concert with the preceding American administration, was now being abruptly cancelled. Little wonder that the President of Poland, thus doubly insulted, declined to accept the call. This was the agreement that had called for the positioning of anti-ICBM defensive missies on Polish soil with the requisite controlling radar to be located in the Czech Republic. The cancellation of this agreement leaves the eastern seaboard of the United States now deprived of what would have been its only defense against the likely threat in perhaps not too many years to come of Iranian ICBMs armed with nuclear weapons. In view of Iran's rapid progress thus far in the science of rocketry-in this very year of 2009 it has successfully launched a space satellite and has demonstrated an existing capacity to fire medium range, solid-fuel, mobile missles that put all of the Middle East and much of Europe within the sphere of danger-America may come to regret this repudiation of a signed agreement more quickly than many would like to think. And of course there is now the widespread perception that two of our most loyal but smaller allies have been "thrown under the bus" to appease a more powerful next-door neighbor, a perception that may be less than reassuring to yet others among our smaller allies, Israel included. And to think that it's still just early days. Oh, well, in the meantime, have a good week. And pray for our country.