By Fr. George Welzbacher
December 4, 2011
First off, from the "No Comment" Department, two items, two statements from figures eminent on the world stage: one statement interesting for what it says, the other for what it leaves out.
Statement #1: ANSA, November 25, Vatican City. Pope Benedict said Friday that a lack of REVERENCE for the divine has led to the global economic crisis. "The diffusion of this mentality has generated the crisis in which we live today, which is more a crisis of values than of economics," said the Pontiff.
Statement #2: Newsmax On Line, November 25. President Obama gave his weekly radio address, one devoted to THANKSGIVING, by praising U. S. Service members and volunteers at shelters and soup kitchens. The president outlined the... various things that HE was grateful for, but not once was there any reference to GOD.
* * * * *All of which can serve as a launchpad for discussion of a related topic. Michael Gerson, a respected columnist for the Washington Post, the flagship paper of our nation's capital, addressed in a recent essay an issue that, you may recall, claimed front and center of last week's Pastor's Page, namely, Mr. Obama-and-Friends' declaration of outright "WAR" against the defenders of Judaeo-Christian sexual morality and thus preeminently against the Catholic Church-a Kulturkampf-in-the- making reminiscent of the Age of Bismarck, though Bismarck would have been appalled at the sexual decadence and the uninhibited blood-lust that inspire Mr. Obama's "transvaluation of all values" campaign. Mr. Gerson, an independent observer with no partisan axe to grind, had this to say.
* * * * *Obama Administration Spurns Catholic Constituency
In the Star Tribune, reprinted from the Washington Post November 16. 201 1
In 2009, Notre Dame University set off months of intra-Catholic controversy by inviting a champion of abortion rights to deliver its commencement address. When the day arrived, President Obama skillfully deflated the tension. He extended a "presumption of good faith" to his opponents. Then he promised Catholics that their prolife convictions would be RESPECTED by his administration. "Let's HONOR the conscience of those who DISAGREE with abortion," he said, "and draft a SENSIBLE conscience clause, and make SURE that ALL of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ETHICS, as well as respect for the equality of women."
Catholics, eager for reassurance from a leader whom 54 percent had supported, were duly reassured. But Obama's statement had the awkward subordinate clauses of a contentious speechwriting process. Qualifications and code words produced a pledge that pledged little.
Now the conscience protections of Catholics are under ASSAULT particularly by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). And Obama's Catholic strategy is in shambles.
Shortly before Obama spoke at Notre Darne, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts brought suit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), seeking to eliminate a grant to their programs helping victims of human trafficking. Because Catholic programs don't refer for abortions, the ACLU alleged that public support amounts to the establishment of religion.
The Obama Justice Department defended the USCCB grant in court. But last month, HHS abruptly ENDED the funding. It did not matter that an independent review board had rated the bishops' program MORE EFFECTIVE than those of its competitors - or that career HHS employees OBJECTED to the politicized handling of the grant. HHS announced it was giving preference to grantees that offer "the FULL RANGE of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care." ["Let him who reads understand"].
The process that produced the HHS decision remains murky. The USCCB has filed a Freedom of Information Act request requesting more details. But it is difficult to imagine that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was not involved in a matter of this much obvious controversy. Sebelius - an outspoken pro-choice [self-styled] Catholic - has a long history of conflict with Catholic authorities.
BROADLY applied, the HHS policy would amount to SYSTEMATIC ANTI-CATHOLIC BIAS in government programs. And the provocation is ONE IN A SERIES. HHS has drawn conscience protections so NARROWLY that Catholic colleges, universities and hospitals-any Catholic institution that employs and serves non-Catholies-will be REQUIRED to offer health coverage including contraception and drugs that cause abortion. In GLOBAL health grants, NEW language is appearing REQUIRING the integration of family planning and "reproductive health" services, effectively barring the participation of Catholic institutions. Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, calls these policies an "assault which now appears to grow at an ever-ACCELERATING pace in ways that most of us could never have imagined."
The main VICTIMS of this assault are NOT THE BISHOPS BUT THE POOR AND VULNERABLE. It is also politically incomprehensible. Obama's Catholic outreach is being revealed as a transparent ploy-a year before he faces reelection. A portion of the Democratic coalition-including civil libertarians and pro-choice activists-has decided to attack and marginalize Catholic leaders and institutions. And HHS is ACTIVELY siding against Catholic organizations. "We are in WAR!," Sebelius told a recent pro-choice meeting. Opponents of the administration, she said, are trying to "roll back the last 50 years of progress women have made in comprehensive [abortion-inclusive] health care in America." This is no longer the "presumption of good faith." It has all the hallmarks of a vendetta....
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"The enemies of a man are those of his own household." So the Prophet Micah (7:6) and the Lord Himself (Matthew 10:36) have assured us. The aforesaid Ms. Sebelius, a vehemently pro-choice self- certified "Catholic", matches this profile to perfection, as indeed does a whole legion of "progressive" Catholics (c.f. Call to Action, Catholics for Choice, and sundry coalitions of militant nuns) who in one breath proclaim their Catholicity and in the next breath implicitly deny it, as they defiantly assert their INTRANSIGENT support for propositions that contradict the Faith. The Apostle John's warning in his Second Letter (II John, verse 9) about the "progressive" revisionists of his own day comes readily to mind: "Anyone who GOES AHEAD [i.e. who glories in being "out in front of the pack") and does NOT ABIDE IN THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST-DOES NOT HAVE GOD."
A striking example of the extraordinary case with which the "progressive" Catholic can embrace BOTH sides of a contradiction all at once, even, as it please you, before breakfast, was highlighted three weeks ago in The Wanderer, edition of November 17th. May I share Dexter Duggans' report with you here.
* * * * *Sister Expresses Pride In Call to Action Award
The Wanderer, November 17, 2011
A Study in contrasts.
The same day that a bustling pro-life pregnancy center held its annual dinner here [Phoenix, AZ] to celebrate babies and their moms, Arizona's largest daily newspaper COINCIDENTALLY reported that a religious sister WHO FACILITATED AN ABORTION at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix in 2009, expressed PRIDE at receiving an AWARD (for her INVOLVEMENT in the abortion) from the Call to Action organization of dissident Catholics.
At the November 5 Scottsdale benefit for Phoenix's First Way pregnancy-support center, stories were shared of daunting challenges overcome so that babies could be BORN.
One First Way client, Laura, told the audience that she already had five children, her husband was unemployed, and their apartment caught fire "and we lost everything" while she faced being pregnant again. "Nothing I can offer this kid" she said she thought as she planned to have an abortion. But she changed her mind through pro-life support, and her delivery date was 23 days away. FIRST WAY IS "LIKE MY SANCTUARY," SHE SAID.
While LAY PEOPLE AT FIRST WAY on McDowell Road assist pregnant women to avoid abortion, a religious sister at the formerly Catholic hospital not far away, on Thomas Road, took comfort if a pregnancy ended in abortion.
The Phoenix-based Arizona Republic reported on November 5 that Sister Margaret McBride, of the Sisters of Mercy, [yes, you read that right!] said she was "VERY PROUD to be receiving this award" from Call to Action, an organization, that the often-liberal Republic described as supporting "a married priesthood, women priests, gay marriage, and other positions that the Church opposes."
In honoring McBride, the Republic story said, Call to Action said it "recognizes Sister Margaret's CAREFUL WORK with a COMPLEX issue, her COURAGE in a time of censorship and public pressure and her WITNESS to the need TO STAND FIRM in the face of opposition, while striving to PROTECT life [sic] in all its venues."
In a November 8'h story, the [hyperprogressive] National Catholic Reporter said, "McBride received the Call to Action 2011 Leadership Award at the national conference November 6 because SHE represents the 'TRUE meaning of a PASTOR' according to Call to Action...."
The abortion reportedly was performed on a mother suffering from pulmonary hypertension who carried an 11-week-old unborn baby.
The Reporter story said that when the aborted mother later expressed sorrow for the problems she had caused McBride, McBride replied that "you just don't see my SUPPORT; you don't see the employees, you don't see the doctors, you don't see the board of directors and the Catholic Healthcare West who have SUPPORTED me through this interesting time."
The mother had returned to the hospital, the Reporter had said, because she "had started taking street drugs."
The Wanderer asked Phoenix Catholic Bishop Thomas Olmsted, who was attending the First Way benefit dinner, for a comment about Call to Action's honoring McBride. Bishop Olmsted declined to comment, saying that Call to Action is "not an organization we support."
Asked if a diocesan media spokesman would have a comment, Olmsted said no.
Olmsted drew applause at the First Way dinner when he was introduced as being "a beacon of light in a culture of death."
A First Way spokesman in a video said, "We help women feel like women. We help them feel cherished" and feel renewed.
Telling of hundreds of babies saved from abortion last year, Peter Lemieux, who helped emcee the First Way dinner, said little life-changing moments "go unnoticed in a world addicted to big events."
During a December 21 news conference last year, Olmsted said the baby aborted at St. Joseph's "was healthy and there were no problems with the pregnancy, rather, the mother has a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph's medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy 11-week-old baby should be directly killed" through abortion.
In his December news conference, the bishop said a lengthy review revealed that [St.Joseph's] hospital was also involved in OTHER violations of Catholic medical ethics.
Olmsted rebuked St. Joseph's and its parent organization, the San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), for "FORMAL COOPERATION IN EVIL ACTIONS which are contrary to the Church's teaching," including other abortions, sterilizations, and contraceptive counseling and devices.
Only in recent weeks, Bishop Olmsted had told that news conference, did he learn the far-reaching extent of the violations of Church ethical directives by St. Joseph's and CHW.
St. Joseph's "CANNOT BE CONSIDERED CATHOLIC" any longer, Bishop Olmsted told the news conference.
Catholics are still free to seek care or to provide care at St. Joseph's, he said, "but I cannot guarantee that the care provided will be in full accord with the teachings of the Church." As a result, he said, the regular celebration of Mass and presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel would end.
Strange Ways With the News
Earlier last year, Olmsted said McBride has excommunicated herself by helping to approve the abortion at St. Joseph's.
The November 5 Republic story said "sources say [McBride] has resolved that situation by going to confession. She declined to answer a question about the excommunication."
One might wonder at the depth of McBride's repentance in light of her expressing PRIDE at the Call to Action award HONORING her involvement with the abortion that had separated her from the Church.
EWTN news reported last December that a member of the Phoenix diocesan medical board, William Chavira, MD, said the baby died when the placenta was removed - a direct abortion, not a treatment for the mother's hypertension.
Once again illustrating its strange ways with the news, the Republic became reluctant to refer directly to the abortion of this baby as being an abortion. Its November 5 story on McBride's award referred instead to a "lifesaving [sic] medical procedure that the bishop DEEMED an abortion."
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