Ethics

The Catholic Teenager Who the Media Lynched at the March for Life

Deal W. Hudson

January 21, 2019

The mainstream media, with few exceptions, have become haters. They don’t hesitate to ruin a person’s life if they think it will score points for the Democrats and against President Trump. Case in question: a young man at the March for Life, a student from Covington Catholic High School (Kentucky) was excoriated by all the big media outlets, except for Fox, for something he didn’t do, namely, castigate and racially demean Nathan Phillips, a native American activist.

The young man whose life has been permanently changed is Nick Sandmann, a high school junior, whose statement explains what actually happened. While waiting for their bus to return, the Covington students were taunted by four African-American protestors who called them “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.”

They asked one of their chaperons if they could sing a school chant to drown out the harassment. “At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants. I did not witness or hear any students chant “build that wall” or anything hateful or racist at any time. Assertions to the contrary are simply false.”

That’s when Nathan Phillips and other Native Americans protestors stepped forward. Phillips puts his face in front of Nick’s face, invasively so, while he and his group beat native drums and sing tribal chants. “He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.” Nick did not speak to him and did not make any rude gestures. Things were said by the Native Americans, such as “you stole our land” and you should “go back to Europe.” But Nick remained never reacted to any of this aggression.

“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.” Subsequent videos of the episode corroborate Nick’s statement. But that was after a video went viral making it look like Phillips was being mocked. Conservatives are always quick to betray their own. Some prominent Catholic bloggers swallowed the hook and had to apologize later on. Even National Reviewpiled on: NR’s writer Nicholas Frankovich wrote, “it appears” that the students “mock a serious frail-looking older man and gloat in their momentary role as Roman soldiers to his Christ.” The headline read, “The Covington Students Might as Well Have Just Spit on the Cross,” The article was later pulled.

Naturally, both the Catholic Diocese of Covington and the high school both issued apologies before knowing the facts: much better to sacrifice the reputation, and ruin the future, of a Catholic teenager than being associated with the charge of racism. Institutional Catholicism lacks all backbone except when it comes to global warming and open borders.

Writing for Fox News, Todd Starns declares that none of the major media outlets who ganged up on the student from Covington Catholic High School will apologize. Even though, “now, thanks to irrefutable video evidence, we know that the entire story was a hoax – a flat-out lie.”

How many teenagers going to the March for Life expect to become a national object of hate while riding back on the bus to their home town? Nonetheless, Nick had the largeness of heart to congratulate the man who maligned him for his service to the nation: “I have read that Mr. Phillips is a veteran of the United States Marines. I thank him for his service and am grateful to anyone who puts on the uniform to defend our nation. If anyone has earned the right to speak freely, it is a U.S. Marine veteran.”

Faux Catholic conservatives like the New York Times columnist Ross Douthat pontificated, “Don’t let your Catholic school’s students wear MAGA hats on a field trip for the March for Life.” Seriously? Blaming the victim is bad enough but singling out for blame a “Make America Great Again” hat only confirms the media’s all-out effort to make support for our President toxic. Would Douthat blame Obama hat wear if white extremists taunted marchers in a Martin Luther King parade? No.

From the Book of James, Chapter 3, verses 5-6. ” Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” The lies were deliberately told and encircled Nick Sandmann so quickly they could not be called back. I hope the Catholics of Covington, KY, and perhaps elsewhere, will take this young man under their care. He will need support and prayers, and in the future, he will need friends who will defend his reputation and secure his place in the community.

The lesson to be learned here is not the supposed bad judgment in wearing a MAGA hat. The lesson is this: If you are a Christian and pro-life, the media hates you. And that’s a reality not just for those in the public eye, but any of us.

When Catholics Lost Their Cultural Clout — A Lesson for Today

Deal W. Hudson

September 21, 2018

Catholics of my generation probably only dimly remember, if at all, the furor provoked among Catholics by films in the 1950s directed by Luis Buñuel, Los Olivados (1950); Roberto Rossellini, The Miracle (1951); Otto Preminger, The Moon is Blue (1953); Elia Kazan, Baby Doll (1956); Roger Vadim, And God Created Woman (1956); and Billy Wilder, Some Like It Hot (1959).

Most people to think of today’s “culture wars” began in the 60s — Vietnam War protests, Hippies, and Nixon’s Watergate — but the tremors of that struggle can be traced back to the postwar period when major filmmakers decided to free themselves from the bonds of the Catholic-inspired Motion Picture Production Code that had governed Hollywood productions since 1930.

It was Hollywood’s fear of Catholic opinion that led to the creation of the Code in the first place. Martin Quigley, a Catholic layman and film writer, had been pushing for such a code since the early 20s.  He asked Rev. Daniel Lord, S.J, of St. Louis University to draft something for moguls at Warner Brothers, MGM, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, and RKO. Father Lord had already been a technical advisor to Cecil B. DeMille for his silent film version of King of Kings (1927). What Father Lord draftedis far from a puritanical screed. Though it does set definite limits on what films can show on the screen, especially about sex, the MPPC is highly sophisticated in a way that reflected the work of a deeply educated and aesthetically sensitive Jesuit.

The major studios, however, assumed they could play fast and loose with the Code’s requirements, but Catholics, in particular, did not let them get it away with ignoring it. The National Legion of Decency was founded by Catholics in 1933 to fight against the immoral influence of Hollywood films, which, it must be said, were challenging the moral boundaries of mainstream America. That led to the hiring in 1934 of another Catholic layman, Joseph Breen, to head of a new Production Code Office.  (The films between 1930 to 1933 are now called the “Pre-Code” era mainly due to the sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, and unredeemed violence that they portrayed.)

Breen had to approve every script before it went into production which gave him considerable power. Breen himself was neither a prude nor an unreasonable man, but producers, directors, screenwriters, and actors naturally grew weary of his ‘censorship.’ One magazine wrote in 1936 that Breen had “more influence in standardizing world thinking than Mussolini, Hitler, or Stalin.”

The power of the Production Code Office held sway through the end of WWII. As the “Mad Men” decade of the 50s began, filmmakers began to challenge Breen, the Code, the power of the National Legion of Decency. The first direct challenge came from the Italian director, Roberto Rossellini and the U.S. film distribution company that brought to film to be screened in New York City.

It was 1950, Rossellini’s film, The Miracle (Il Miracolo) opened at the Paris Theater, on 58th just west of 5th Avenue, one of the oldest ‘art houses’ in the United States. The National Legion of Decency denounced the film as “anti-Catholic” and a “blasphemous mockery of Christian-religious truth,” giving it the C rating — signifying “condemned” — a judgment that was previously feared by Hollywood studios. The Legion’s rating led the New York State Board of Regents, in charge of film censorship, to revoke its license to be shown in movie theaters.

Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York never saw the film but issued a statement to be read at every Mass in every parish of the New York Archdiocese.  He condemned it as “a despicable affront to every Christian” and “a vicious insult to Italian womanhood,” eliciting demonstrations in front of the theater where it was being shown. The protesters carried signs which read, “This Picture Is an Insult to Every Decent Woman and Her Mother,” “Don’t Be a Communist,” and “Don’t Enter the Cesspool.” Nine years earlier, Cardinal Spellman’s public condemnation of Greta Garbo’s Two-Faced Woman (1941) had caused MGM to withdraw and re-release an edited version.

But a sea-change had occurred in American culture following World War II, and the movie’s distributor Joseph Burstyn, sensing this, initiated a lawsuit that made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson, the Court ruled the film’s artistic expression was guaranteed by the First Amendment — freedom of speech. At the same time, the Court’s decision overthrew legal precedents going back to 1915 that allowed the public censorship of films.

The Supreme Court decision marked not only an end to the power of the Code but was also a sign that the cultural clout of Catholics was coming to an end. However, by putting it so bluntly, I don’t want to be misleading. It was a certain kind of clout, a form of Catholic Puritanism, that was defeated.

The sophistication seen in the original Code written by Rev. Daniel Lord, S.J., had been turned into a fear-driven attempt of the Legion to act as parents looking out for a nation of impressionable children. In doing so, the Legion’s condemnations showed no appreciation of, or respect for, film as an art form, in the manner contained in Rev. Lord’s original Code.

It was by “crying wolf” too often about artistically important, well-made films, the Legion and its supporters became irrelevant. These denunciations were based not on seeing the actual films but what was read about them. Thus, a simple, one-sentence summary of The Miracle, certainly makes the condemnation sound plausible: “A poor shepherdess named Nanni who believes herself to be the Virgin Mary is seduced with liquor drink by a wanderer whom she thinks is St. Joseph.”

Yet, after viewing the film itself, one Catholic critic called The Miracle a story of “unregenerating suffering.” What is still considered a consummate performance by Anna Magnani, as a “holy fool,” demonstrates how easy it is to caricature in verbal terms what is far more complex when seen on the screen. As was mentioned, Cardinal Spellman never saw the film about which he required all his priests to read a statement from their pulpits.

It should be added that the same year, 1950, Roberto Rossellini made what is arguably the best film ever made about the life of St. Francis, The Flowers of St. Francis (Francesco, giullare di Dio). Also co-written with Fellini, the film about St. Francis was called, in l995 by the Vatican, one of the 45 greatest films ever made.

The moral of the story? Catholics lose cultural influence when they act like parental arbiters of public taste, especially when they refuse to acknowledge excellence in works of art they find somehow objectionable or dangerous.

Less than a decade after the furor over Rossellini’s film, the United States would elect its first Catholic president, and during the same period a number of Catholic writers would become celebrated among the elites of the literati, including Flannery O’Connor, J. F. Powers, Graham Green, Muriel Spark, Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, and Paul Horgan. All of these writers would not have passed the scrutiny of those at the National Legion of Decency.

Merely contrasting the work of these celebrated Catholic writers with the narrow Catholic mentality behind the condemnation of films by Buñuel, Rossellini, Preminger, Vadim, Kazan, and Wilder provides a lesson that many Catholics, 67 years later, have still not yet learned.

Further reading:

William Bruce Johnson, Miracles and Sacrilege: Roberto Rossellini, the Church and Film Censorship in Hollywood, University of Toronto Press, 2008.

Laura Wittern-Keller, Raymond J. Haberski, The Miracle Case: Film Censorship and the Supreme Court, University Press of Kansas, 2008

Washington Post Praise for McCarrick in 2014 Contains an Ironic Comment by Pope Francis

Deal W. Hudson

September 4, 2018

When Pope Francis refused to comment on the letter by Archbishop Vigano enumerating his cover-up of ex-Cardinal’s sexual abuse, the public was bemused, if not angered. Now the Holy Father has explained the reason for his refusal — it’s too mystical to talk about.

In his Monday homily at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis pronounced, “the truth is humble, the truth is silence.” At first glance, this is strange comment given the issues at hand — charges he ignored the criminal past of McCarrick and sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI that McCarrick that end his public ministry. 

How can the truth be ‘silence’ on these charges? Pope Francis either did, or his didn’t know about McCarrick’s actions.  

Yet, Pope Francis goes further, he identifies this claim with the virtue of humility — “truth is humble.” What is he recommending here? Perhaps he believes that anyone possessing truth should never express it publicly? He may have in mind the humility described by St. Thomas Aquinas, which, “Consists in keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior” (Summa Contra Gent., bk. IV, ch. lv.).  

However, Pope Francis would be contradicting himself according to St. Thomas — his notion of humility would imply the Pope does not know if Vigano’s charges are true or not. The Pope, however, would not not be going outside of “one’s bounds” in addressing the charges: Pope Francis knows the answers, and he won’t say anything about them. Why? Because, presumably, the truth is humble and silent.

Even more strange is how the Pope concocted his description of truth from Luke 4:16-30. In this passage, Jesus begins his ministry by visiting the Synagogue in Nazareth where he reads a passage from Isaiah and concludes, “This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears, adding, “ Amen I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country.” When the crowd was angered and wanted to throw him out of the city, “he passed through the midst of them and went away.” 

The passage does not mention Jesus’s silence, rather Pope Francis infers it and bases his entire commentary on it. In doing so, the Pope is comparing himself to Jesus under attack for his claim that he represents the prophecy of Isaiah.  How is that a fair comparison? In the passage from Luke, Jesus had just proclaimed the truth about himself — he did not remain silent, he spoke the truth aloud, and it provoked the anger against him! 

Yet, Pope Francis ignores what Jesus said and focusses on his supposed silence after he had spoken to those in the Temple. The Pope, evidently, thinks Jesus was able to pass “through the midst of them” because he remained silent. Didn’t those in the Temple just see him and identify him while he was speaking? “Isn’t he Joseph’s son?”

It doesn’t make any sense to credit a supposed silence for Jesus getting away from the crowd when it was his speaking that aroused the crowd in the first place.  Clearly, for Jesus Christ, the truth is NOT found in silence. 

So what does Pope Francis really mean? Those familiar with the Catholic traditions of spirituality will know that ‘silence’ has a privileged place. As with the celebrated “silence” of St. Thomas, it denotes that boundary between what the mind can grasp, conceptual, and discuss and the supernatural reality that exceeds its power.  

St. Thomas Aquinas stopped working on his Summa Theologiae after telling his longtime secretary Reginald of Piperno, “After what I have seen today I can write no more: for all that I have written is but straw.”

Remaining in silence about what lies beyond the power of the mind, about a vision of the Divine, is revered in the tradition of Christian, and non-Christian, mysticism. 

What do the facts about the McCarrick scandal have to do with mysticism, with the silence provoked by an encounter with the supernatural? Pope Francis’s attempt to play a mystical trump card would be laughable if it were not so pathetic.  

One can imagine those hearing it on Monday at the Casa Santa Marta: the groupies present would start tearing up, others would scratch there heads, while others would be thinking, “How can he equate an experience of God with the facts about McCarrick’s sexual abuse of young men and boys?”

What’s next? Will all Catholic clergy be given the command – “the truth is silence” – regarding Archbishop Vigano’s letter about Pope Francis?

From 2002 — Washington Post Calls Cardinal McCarrick, ‘Vatican’s Man of the Hour’

Deal W. Hudson

July 25, 2018

I am posting this article from the Washington Post as a reminder of how Cardinal McCarrick took hold of drafting the sexual abuse policy adopted by the U.S. Bishops at their June 2002 meeting. I have bolded some of the more interesting observations made by the authors, Carlyle Murphy and Alan Cooperman — about McCarrick’s ‘zero tolerance policy’; his ‘not tainted by scandal’ record; his filling the ‘leadership vacuum’; and how he would want ‘wiggle room’ in cases where the victim was not a child but an adolescent.’ The remainder speaks for itself as well.

Deal Hudson, Publisher/Editor, The Christian Review.

Vatican’s Man of the Hour

By Caryle Murphy and Alan Cooperman

Washington Post, April 28, 2002

Resplendent in their red hats and elegant black robes, the American cardinals stepped into the Roman sunshine and swept down the stairs of the fortresslike Pontifical North American College. Most passed in silence before a gaggle of TV crews and boarded a shuttle bus to their next meeting.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick was in no hurry, however. On a shady patch of grass off to one side, the 71-year-old Washington archbishop chatted amiably with reporters last Tuesday. After a half-hour, his press secretary gently stepped in to warn him that he had to move on — or he might miss the bus.

At a time when many leaders of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church have been criticized as arrogant, secretive and uncaring, McCarrick has given the scandal-battered institution what it so badly needs: an attractive public face.

Assuming the role of leading spokesman for the U.S. cardinals during their meetings with Pope John Paul II on the sexual abuse crisis, McCarrick came across to many as candid, compassionate and committed to strong reform. In one interview after another, he spoke of a uniform national policy of “zero tolerance” toward priests who molest minors.

“I think he has emerged as a national leader, and I thought his voice was the most sensible voice,” said Scott Appleby, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. “He does get it, and he understands the depth of the problem and the need to address it transparently. . . . If his style of leadership were emulated, I think the church would be in better shape.”

But at times it seemed that McCarrick’s public outspokenness was greater than his influence behind the scenes. A few hours after he told journalists that the U.S. cardinals had agreed on a “one strike you’re out” policy toward priests who abuse children, the cardinals issued a final communique that did not go that far. And though he was one of the four men who drafted the communique, McCarrick did not seem to realize, until a reporter pointed it out, that the document did not contain any reference to lay involvement in disciplinary decisions.

“We had it in there last night, but words are in and words are out,” he said, momentarily flustered. “We certainly want to tell the laity they must have a role.”

McCarrick’s political skills will be put to the test over the next six weeks. He will be actively involved in drafting proposals on sexual abuse policy that will be presented to the nation’s nearly 300 active bishops at their June 13-15 meeting in Dallas. The bishops’ challenge will be to adopt a policy tough enough to satisfy Catholics angry about past leniency toward priestly abuse, yet acceptable to Vatican officials who are protective of priests’ due process rights.

McCarrick, a former university president who speaks five languages, arrived in Washington 16 months ago after serving 14 years as archbishop of Newark. Although the Rome summit gave him a new prominence, he is a veteran of politically sensitive missions. The New York-born prelate has made Vatican-sponsored trips to China, Vietnam and Eastern Europe, among other places, and he has been an advocate for the church on human rights, religious freedom and Third World debt relief.

While in Newark, he also won favor with the pope by ordaining more priests than any other U.S. bishop. And he has been a prolific fundraiser, demonstrating an ease with the rich as well as the poor.

At last week’s meeting of the U.S. cardinals, McCarrick filled a leadership vacuum. Traditionally, the most influential voices in that group have been those of the most senior U.S. cardinal, currently Boston’s Cardinal Bernard F. Law, and the archbishop of New York, now Cardinal Edward M. Egan.

But Law and Egan are embroiled in the sexual abuse scandal, facing criticism for failing to report priests’ misconduct to civil authorities and for shuttling the priests from one parish to another. Another prominent cardinal, Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, riled the Vatican just before the summit by calling for a reconsideration of mandatory celibacy for priests.

By contrast, McCarrick does not question papal doctrine. He is a staunch defender of celibacy and the male-only priesthood. He is effusive in his praise of the pope. And he has not been tainted by the scandal.

When he arrived in Washington, the archdiocese had stringent child sexual abuse policies that had been in place for several years. They require the reporting of allegations to police and immediate suspension of the accused from priestly duties. As archbishop of Newark, McCarrick instituted similar policies there in the early 1990s.

Before that, as bishop of New Jersey’s Metuchen Diocese, McCarrick allowed a priest from Boston who had pleaded guilty to raping an altar boy to work in Metuchen parishes for seven years. McCarrick said he had been assured by the Boston archdiocese and by medical personnel that the priest was rehabilitated. The priest was not accused of sexual misconduct again. In a recent interview, McCarrick said he “would never” agree today to accept such a priest.

Although McCarrick achieved his visibility at the Rome summit in part by default, his folksy style and affable personality also played a part.

“He’s got a winsome way about him,” said the Rev. James Coriden, who teaches at Washington Theological Union, a Catholic seminary in Northwest Washington. “He’s articulate, cheery . . . and he speaks in ordinary human language, not like a lawyer. He sounds like a pastor.”

Part of McCarrick’s charm is his self-effacement. “It’s the dumb ones who give a lot of interviews,” he said last week of his propensity to talk with the news media. “I believe in the ultimate goodness of people, including the press.”

The five-point program that McCarrick wants the U.S. bishops to adopt in June includes reporting all allegations of child sexual abuse to civil authorities; placing the accused priest on administrative leave pending an investigation; having the priest undergo therapeutic evaluation; caring for the victim; and appointing a review board of lay people to advise the bishop on the priest’s future.

Yet while urging a policy of zero tolerance last week, McCarrick also sought some flexibility on that issue, introducing what some may see as necessary nuance and others as wiggle room.

McCarrick said he supports zero tolerance for future instances of abuse. But, like many bishops, he left open the possibility that some priests accused of abuse in the past might be allowed to remain in ministry if the incident took place long ago and there had been no whiff of misconduct since. He also suggested that some leniency might be appropriate if the victim was an adolescent rather than a small child.

“If the person has been diagnosed as a pedophile, goodbye. But if he hasn’t been diagnosed as a pedophile and if there have been no other incidents, do you say, ‘One strike you’re out’? I don’t know the answer to that,” McCarrick said. He added that in such cases, he would pray for guidance and “talk to the laity.”

McCarrick could well have been describing a recent case in his own archdiocese. Last month, Monsignor Russell L. Dillard, the popular pastor of St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Northwest Washington, was placed on administrative leave after a woman accused him of having a romantic relationship with her almost 20 years ago when she was a teenager. McCarrick has not decided Dillard’s future.

McCarrick’s high profile in Rome last week was evident to his flock, the half-million Catholics living in the District and five Maryland counties that make up the Washington Archdiocese.

“Hey, what about Theodore McCarrick? I tell you, he’s front and center!” said Andy Ellis, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County police and a Catholic. “I think it’s a positive thing.”

Although there was some griping among Newark’s 1.4 million Catholics that McCarrick spent too much time traveling and was perhaps too close to the rich and glamorous, those complaints have not followed him to Washington. In his brief tenure so far, he has won points with priests for asking their advice and showing his appreciation of their work, sometimes telephoning them to pass on a compliment. He also has made it a goal to visit every parish, hitting two or three on many Sundays.

Within weeks of his installation in January 2001, McCarrick hosted a dinner at his home for newly arrived President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. The archbishop demonstrated his political savvy, noted one observer, by also inviting to the dinner the then-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The really important thing to say about Theodore is that he is a collegial fellow,” said the Rev. Raymond Kemp of the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington. “He is a great believer . . . that all the guys together will make more sense out of this than a few cardinals.”

McCarrick’s performance in Rome was not without blemishes. He used a poor turn of phrase while describing the pope’s love for children, saying that “the Holy Father is turned on by children.”

“I didn’t know whether to cringe or laugh,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Catholic magazine America. “But when people see him on TV, they say, ‘This is an honest man who is answering the questions that are given to him to the best of his ability.’ “

Bishop Gracida Calls Excommunication Over Immigration Policy “Scandalous”

Deal W. Hudson

June 20, 2018

In a radio interview taped today with me, Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, sharply criticized comments made by Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tuscon regarding canonical penalties for civil servants implementing present immigration policy.

“It’s scandalous for the bishop to say that! They did not write the law but are enforcing it….it’s absurd and it’s idiotic.”

In the early 1970s, Bishop Gracida was appointed Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration and Tourism with the responsibility for overseeing the work of the large Migration and Refugee Services Department of the N.C.C.B.  During his spent 14 years in that position, he worked with both the United States and Mexican governments, and their border patrols, on immigration reform — “to relieve the suffering of people crossing the deserts led by ‘coyotes.’”

He knows what he is talking about.

Bishop Gracida went on to say that Catholics must recognize, first of all, that the “current administration is charged with enforcing laws passed by President Obama.” Neither the Trump Administration nor the GOP has passed any immigration laws, he added.

This above is only a portion of what Bishop Gracida had to say about the present controversy over immigration. The conversation naturally turned to the issue of abortion which he said had become “toxic” among his fellow bishops.

My interview with Bishop Gracida on ‘Church and Culture‘ will be broadcast on the Ave Maria Radio Network this Saturday at 3 pm and Sunday at 7 am.

Prepare for some straight talk!

Tim Kaine must not get away with styling himself a ‘Pope Francis Catholic’

Deal W. Hudson

August 9, 2016

With the nomination of Senator Tim Kaine, American Catholic voters once again face a decision about whether to send a pro-abortion, dissenting Catholic to Number One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the Vice President of the United States.

For the past eight years Vice President Joseph Biden has lived there, an abortion supporter for sure, but he never pitched his Catholic credentials to the voters in the way that Hillary, her surrogates, the Democratic Party and Kaine himself have done from the get-go.

Kaine, unlike Biden, was chosen because he’s Caucasian and Catholic. But not just any Catholic. He’s a product of a Jesuit education: Rockhurst High School in Kansas City and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Honduras. As Mayor of Richmond, Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Virginia, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Virginia’s sitting Democratic senator, Kaine has remained true to the now dominant Jesuit version of Catholicism: love the poor but don’t make a fuss about the unborn. The poor deserve “preferential treatment” but the babies belong to Herod, so let him have them.

From the perspective of Catholic teaching, of course, this is schtick of the deadliest kind. A recent, and very telling, example was published in the Jesuits’ own magazine, America, following the announcement by the Clinton/Kaine campaign that the vice-presidential nominee would join Hillary in eliminating the Hyde Amendment. (The amendment, first passed in 1976, prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of incest, rape or to save the life of the mother.)

The editors of America found Kaine’s capitulation a bit too much for the newly nominated Catholic VP candidate, so they opined, “Defend the Hyde Amendment”. Why? They explained: “The only nuance Mrs Clinton has shown on abortion in this campaign may be in her selection of Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate.”

As I said earlier, Kaine was chosen because he was Caucasian and Catholic, the intended effect being to mollify enough “swing” Catholic voters to ensure control of the White House. But Kaine’s sudden willingness to completely compromise all Catholic principle to be on the presidential ticket spurred the editors at America to demonstrate their political savvy by hauling their student into the boiler room for a few hard whacks.

It worked. The next day America magazine proudly reported that Senator Kaine did, in fact, support the Hyde Amendment in spite of what was announced by the campaign.

To cover his tracks, however, Kaine had to adopt another Hillary tactic: outright lying. When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper about the flip-flop, Kaine replied: “That is not accurate, and I don’t think Robby has said that, Jake.” (“Robby” Mook is Hillary’s campaign manager, and here is a tweet that tells a different story.)

Lest the reader be moved to congratulate America’s editors for their success, I should point out that the editorial is just another example of eloquent Jesuit schtick. They rightfully take on Kaine’s dichotomy of being “personally opposed” to abortion but publicly supportive, but spin it this way: “But incoherent as it is, being ‘personally opposed’ at least maintains some minimal contact with the difficult moral reality of abortion” (emphasis added).

Are we to conclude that the editors of America consider Kaine’s “minimal contact” enough to rescue his Catholic conscience, and theirs, and make him worthy of America’s support as well as that of Catholic voters?

Indeed, America’s editorial suffers from another sort of dichotomy. How can the magazine not conclude that Kaine, viewed as a Catholic politician, has failed to meet the minimal standard of the values a Catholic politician should represent?

“But as long as Mr Kaine refuses to recognise the unborn among the marginalized and to include them among the children for whom he promises to fight, he has not yet fully embraced the mission of social justice,” the editorial says. “As long as he continues to accept the moral myopia that pretends abortion can fix our society’s failure to offer women the support necessary to feel secure even in unplanned or difficult pregnancies, he has not yet fully responded to the Gospel’s call to care for those in need.”

I’m all for incrementalism, but this stretches it beyond breaking point. Kaine’s “minimal contact” with the “moral reality of abortion”, coupled with his 100 per cent pro-abortion voting record and his full support for abortion provider Planned Parenthood, provides no foothold at all upon which to work towards even the lowering the number of abortions – a position espoused by America’s editors.

Kaine is already on the stump reaching out by name to “Pope Francis Catholics”, as he did in Philadelphia on August 1. The last time I looked, Pope Francis had not changed the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception or, for that matter, the selling of a dead child’s body parts – all of which Kaine implicitly supports.

Will the editors of America, and the Jesuits in general, allow Kaine to describe Pope Francis in this way? Or will Pope Francis, and his Vatican spokesmen, allow Kaine to describe Pope Francis in this way?

I’m guessing that Senator Kaine will get bitten for invoking the Pope’s name – and he should, for a multitude of reasons.

Deal Hudson is the publisher and editor of The Christian Review

Pete Buttigeig: What You See Is Not What You Get

Deal W. Hudson

March 31, 2019

Mayor Pete Buttigeig of South Bend, Indiana is a full-blown relativist. He views the world through the lens of multiculturalism, historicism, gay rights, and radical feminism.

Buttigeig hopes to secure the Democratic Party nomination in order to become President of the United States. If elected, there would be no First Lady. He married his partner Chasten Glezman in June 2018.

His candidacy is showing traction, as Buttigeig puts it, “There’s this intangible energy you can just feel when I walk into a room.”

Like Bill Clinton, Buttigeig attended Harvard and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Like Bill Clinton, he speaks well, dresses conservatively, and has sizable charm. And also like Bill Clinton, what you see he is not what you get.

Like Barack Obama, Buttigeig opposes laws forbidding partial-birth abortion. In spite of allowing newborns to be killed, Buttigeig believes in “inclusion and love”! For Buttigeig, love means ignoring Scriptural teaching that “reflect the moral expectations of the era in which they were recorded.”

I wonder where Buttigeig stands on “Thou shall not kill”? Do we toss that out too? Sorry, I forgot, Buttigeig already tossed that out by supporting partial-birth abortion.

His reason? Buttigeig worries “the involvement of a male government official like me is not helpful.” I’m not sure why maleness should preclude us men from objecting to killing babies at the moment of birth.

An Episcopalian, Buttigeig also ignores the scriptural teachings on marriage and homosexuality as a product of the past. My gut tells me being in a gay marriage will help him get the nomination. If the Democrats can’t elect the first woman president, they would settle for the first gay president.

Charles Kaiser writing for The Guardian describes a plausible scenario which pro-life Catholics should take seriously:

Is it too much to imagine that America could elect a gay president? I don’t think so. If the disaster of George Bush’s administration was sufficient to elect the first black president, I believe the catastrophe of Donald Trump could be just enough to put the first openly gay man in the White House. Especially a man like this.

The new ultra-liberal leadership of the Democratic Party would be ecstatic to have a gay nominee. They’ve thrown any notion of truth out the window, especially if it benefits Donald Trump.

Case in point, another Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, refused to recognize the devastation of Venezuela by President Maduro and support the global effort to legitimize Juan Guaidó.

If elected President, Buttigeig hopes the United States will take the lead on LGBT issues. In the same interview, Buttigeig accuses the Trump White House of dividing the country with “white identity politics.” He promises a “political rhetoric to make people feel big-hearted.”

I guess the protection of innocent babies isn’t part of feeling “big-hearted.”

As mayor of South Bend, Buttigeig has been a leader in denying the rights of pro-life groups. He used his veto power to negate a zoning decision of the South Bend city council allowing a pro-life organization to relocate to property next to an abortion clinic.

That’s the kind of “inclusion and love” we can expect from Buttigeig if he’s elected President.

Buttigeig has made it clear he will talk about his faith on the campaign trail. He believes there is a “Religious Left” which will help him get to the White House. That’s the same crowd who backed Hilary Clinton to the hilt on the issue of immigration.

From a Catholic perspective, Buttigeig can count on the Nuns on the Bus,AmericaCommonweal, and the National Catholic Reporter. No doubt ninety percent of the Notre Dame faculty will pitch in to help.

Having watched Buttigeig interviewed, what struck me the most what his calm response to challenging questions. Buttigeig doesn’t depend on the histrionics of Bronx Congresswoman of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to make his point. This will earn him the attention of a public tired of the screaming.

We are tired of far-left politicians flailing us with hardly-repressed anger and hardly-disguised accusations of bigotry. Buttigeig knows this, and his communications strategy is to get his foot in the door just by projecting a nice-guy image.

Make no mistake, this is a nice guy who wants to strip America of a moral legacy that he considers outdated. He will use as excuses his sensitivity to the ways whiteness and maleness have “misshaped” our cultural attitudes.

Buttigeig promises “inclusion and love” for everyone who agrees with his pro-abortion and pro-LBGT agenda. The rest of us will be dismissed as “divisive” and “puritanical.”

At present, Buttigeig is enjoying the “intangible energy” he feels walking into a room of supporters. Buttigeig, if nominated, will find the waters less calm, and his earnest conviviality will be tested by encounters with less infatuated voters.

Immigration and the Golden Ticket

Deal W. Hudson

February 24, 2019

In the last decade, the topic of immigration has become as divisive in the Catholic Church as the issue of abortion. Like abortion, immigration is now at the center of national politics—it was the centerpiece of the 2016 presidential election. The election of 2020 promises more of the same debate but more fierce in tone and, also, more significant for the future of our nation.

Some argue that the principle of solidarity should inform a public policy that allows immigrants to enter the United States with only a minimal challenge at the border. The USCCB has consistently taken this position as stated in “Welcoming the Stranger: Unity In Diversity” (November 2000). The Bishops’ “call to solidarity” calls for the utilization of all governmental and church services to provide total care for immigrants who cross the border whether or not they cross illegally. In “Welcoming the Stranger,” the Bishops explain it this way:

“Without condoning undocumented migration, the Church supports the human rights of all people and offers them pastoral care, education, and social services, no matter what the circumstances of entry into this country, and it works for the respect of the human dignity of all—especially those who find themselves in desperate circumstances. We recognize that nations have the right to control their borders. We also recognize and strongly assert that all human persons, created as they are in the image of God, possess a fundamental dignity that gives rise to a more compelling claim to the conditions worthy of human life.” (Emphasis added)

In other words, although the Bishops recognize the right of a nation to control its borders, they trump that right with a “more compelling claim.” That claim is nothing less than persons are created in the image of God. Possessing the imago Dei, persons can claim “the conditions worthy of human life,” meaning enter the United States freely and receive all the goods and services “worthy” of their human dignity.

If the need for secure borders and national security is overridden by the created nature of each person, one wonders how far the Bishops want to extend this as a principle. Does the imago Dei get people released from jail?

If the imago Dei is a “Golden” ticket enter the United States illegally and remain here illegally, then the imago Dei is being made the enemy of the rule of law. Without laws, human solidarity is impossible. Solidarity demands order and respect for lawful authority. Look at countries like Mexico where the rule of law is ignored and see the human misery that results. This is a very dangerous principle to put in place.

The Catechism teaches that persons should be subject to the governmental authority that “seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it” (#1903). Why, then, are those who support secure borders, even the building of a protective wall, so quickly accused of contradicting the principle of solidarity? In other words, it’s the prerogative of the government to create and enforce laws consonant with the common good of society.

The more specific question is whether the Bishops consider the present immigration laws as “morally licit” when immigrants are stopped, questioned, and housed before the U. S. government makes a decision about admitting, or not admitting, them to the country. From all that I have read and heard the answer is ‘no.’

What we see right now at our all-too-porous southern border is beginning to resemble Mexico: sex trafficking, drugs, crime, gangs, not to mention potential terrorists. The Catechism recognizes the necessity of laws to regulate immigration:

The common good requires peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense. (Emphasis added, #1909)

The Bishops’ statement also brings us back to passage in the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the obligation of wealthy nations, “to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin” (Emphasis added, #2241). Who decides the “to the extent they are able”? Answer: Our Congress and President working cooperatively to weigh national resources against the needs of immigrants.

The Bishops, as they often do, are attempting to influence both lawmakers and voters to regard our nation as able to provide more resources than are doing. With all due respect, they are not in the position to know the requisite facts regarding the nation’s resources. They do, however, know better than anyone what the Church can do at the diocesan and parish level. I’m certain they would not want politicians judging their use of resources.

The Catechism makes it clear whose job it is to make these prudential judgments: “Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions.  . . . ” (Emphasis added, #2441).

The Catechism, at least, states that a nation’s laws should me obeyed by persons, regardless of their imago Dei.

So Much for Dialogue: Cardinal Tobin Talks Past Trump

Deal W. Hudson

January 31, 2019

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin published an opinion piece in the New York Times about “The ‘Ethics’ of Trump’s Border Wall” (January 30, 2019) Tobin’s argument is presumptuous, accusatory, and riddled with factual errors. In that way, it’s no different from most of what we read and hear from liberals who attack President Trump.

Tobin starts by asking if the border wall is moral. In his conclusion, he admits, “A wall itself is not immoral,” but can be immoral if “it can be constructed for an immoral purpose.”

That explains why Tobin spends his 800 words struggling to explain why President Trump is operating with an “immoral purpose.” Just what does he count as evidence for proving the President’s immoral purpose?

First, the bishop writes, we must consider the wall’s “effect on humans.” OK, but for the sake of argument, Tobin narrows that down to the possible “harm” to immigrants and refugees at the Southern border of the United States. And, oh yes, let us remember they “are equal to us in the eyes of God.” I’m pretty sure President Trump would agree with this statement—in fact, he hasn’t said anything to the contrary.

Tobin worries that a wall would repel immigrants to “more remote areas of the desert or mountains, possibly to their deaths.” It seems to me if those immigrants were smart enough to view the US as a place where a better life might be had, they wouldn’t suddenly become stupid and head for the desert.

Then Tobin says something very perplexing. He claims since the mid-1990s nearly 8,000 migrants “have died in Arizona and parts of Texas since the construction of the San Diego and El Paso sectors of the wall….” Scratching my head, I want to ask the bishop how he can blame the wall—they died on the other side of the border, in the US!

Tobin then describes the recent immigrants from Central America who, as we have seen, have been organized into caravans of thousands. He argues they are “in compliance with our domestic and international laws” when, pay attention to the wording, “they cross the border and ask for protection.”

That’s true. However, the purpose of the wall is to keep them from crossing the border. Those who successfully cross, whether legally or illegally, are being treated according to the law.

Tobin recognizes this, noting a wall would present them from crossing the border, which he calls “their right under law.”

Wrong. No one has a legal “right” to cross our border. Their legal rights begin when they succeed in crossing. The only group that has ever been granted the right to cross US borders are Canadian-born Aboriginal citizens according to the “Jay Treaty” of 1794.

I agree with Tobin when he says we should seek “more humane ways to achieve border security” through technology. But Tobin has something different in mind, such as “additional legal avenues for entry and policies that address the factors pushing migration.”

In other words, change the law.

At this point, Cardinal Tobin argues we must look “at the intent of someone who wants to construct a wall to determine its morality.” What he claims next about President Trump is factually wrong and morally presumptuous: “In this case, it is clear that Mr. Trump wants to deny entry to anyone crossing the southern border, even those who have a right to cross and seek protection and are no threat to us.”

“Clear?” It’s not clear to me or the millions of American who voted for President Trump. When has the President even hinted that he wants to end all immigration at the Southern border? I’ll tell you: Never!

When anyone attacks a public figure, who he does not know, about that public figure’s “intent,” we know it’s personal.

Tobin wants to indict President Trump’s personal moral character. Somehow the bishop has seen into the President’s heart and knows he intends to keep anyone from entering the US from the South.

And having claimed this, Tobin doesn’t stop: “Mr. Trump is not acting with concern for the impact of the wall on their lives, including those of children, who would remain subject to danger.”

Just how does Cardinal Tobin know that? Is he the new Padre Pio, a reader of souls?

For some reason, unexplained, the bishop adds that the wall will have an “adverse impact” on the environment, causing harm to “wildlife and vegetation.” True, the wall will cast a long shadow in the morning and late afternoon, blocking the full heat of the sun.

Whether this is a welcome respite for plants and animals could be debated, but environmental arguments don’t belong in this column.      

Tobin castigates the “Remain in Mexico” policy that keeps immigrants outside the US until their hearings because “that could keep them vulnerable to organized crime for months or years.”

Other than the fact that some illegal immigrants have brought crime to the US—the M13 gang from El Salvador—Tobin doesn’t mention anything about the responsibility of other countries to protect their own citizens from harm.

If you want to address “root causes,” as Tobins suggests, why can’t the US help these nations shut down their organized crime?   

Tobin makes another broad claim, that the President wants “to rid the United States of as many immigrants—legal or otherwise—possible.”

He cites as evidence the ending of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and doesn’t mention the the district court decision that determined that DACA was very likely “unconstitutional,” because Congress never passed it, or that the President recently offered Democrats a plan to reimplement DACA permanently in exchange for border wall funding.

Tobin also laments the change in Temporary Protected Status. He doesn’t mention TPS was created to help refugees to enter the US from countries where conditions have become extremely unsafe. The recent changes under this administration only extend to Yemen, Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador, and are not intended as permanent.

If anyone doubts Cardinal Tobin has made this personal, read this:

The way in which Mr. Trump has argued for a wall also is instructive. In trying to secure funding, he has cast all immigrants as criminals and threats to national security by spreading misleading and inaccurate information about them.

As a rhetorical flourish, this is overkill and weakens his argument. He goes on to accuse President Trump of “lies and smears,” yet that is precisely what Tobin is doing to Trump.

Then Tobin makes this factual claim: Trump “fails to point out that immigrants commit crimes, including violent ones, at a much lower rate than [US] citizens.”

What Tobin says is factual, if his two cited studies–reported by the Washington Post–are true. Except for “gambling, kidnapping, smuggling, and vagrancy,” immigrants were convicted of far fewer crimes than native-born residents, according to the Cato Institute 2015 study. I think this fact should become more prominent in the public debate. It surprised me.     

Cardinal Tobin ends with the example of the Berlin Wall, “which prevented millions in the Soviet Bloc from seeking freedom in the West.”

He also could have mentioned the wall built by Israel to lessen terrorist attacks, which it has, from the Occupied Territory of Palestine. Also not mentioned was the 14-mile wall built south of San Diego over twenty years ago. This wall succeeded in lowering illegal immigration from 100,000 per year to 5,000.

Then there are the great walls of history: The wall of Jericho recorded in the Book of Joshua; Hadrian’s Wall; and the Great Wall of China. Each did the job it was intended to do: protect those who built it from harm.

The Vatican Wall is sometimes laughed at when brought into the discussion, but should not be. It was built 39 feet high during the 9th century as a barrier against Muslim pirates who attacked from Southern Italy, which they controlled.

All this makes the point: When danger threatens, who blames the potential victim for building a wall?

To tell the truth, the bishops have shown little or no concern for border security. A common argument against border security is taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2441): The “first duty” of the government is not to protect its citizens but,

to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the human person. Persons have the right to immigrate, and thus government must accommodate this right to the greatest extent possible, especially financially blessed nation.

What bishops, like Tobin, often forget is that what the Catechism calls the “second duty:” “to secure one’s border and enforce the law for the sake of the common good” (2441).

The language of the Catechism will startle those who have been listening to the bishops on immigration during the past few years:

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially concerning the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.

If only bishops like Tobin would embrace the wise balance of the Catechism’s social teaching rather than ranting about the horror of the Wall.

That’s why there are two duties, to make sure that generosity does not become a danger, or that national security does not close our open arms.  It’s the responsibility of President Trump–and a Catechetical mandate–to “enforce the law for the sake of the common good.”