Social Teaching

The Bishop’s and Pope’s concern for immigrants is bogged down in politics

At NEWSMAX, I discuss how unintelligible it is when Pope France says the rights of immigrants “always” override national security concerns. That makes no sense at all if you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

https://www.newsmax.com/dealhudson/alitalia-chartered-children-holy/2018/07/06/id/870296/

Pope Can’t Equate Caring for Immigrants With Abortion

Deal W. Hudson
April 10, 2018

Pope Francis get’s it. He understands why 52 percent of Catholic voters helped to elect Donald Trump in the face of fierce resistance from nearly all the of the U.S. Bishops, and the pontiff himself.

What Pope Francis gets is precisely what has historically pushed Catholic Democrats to vote for Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump — the abortion issue.

To remedy this, the pope has published an Apostolic Exhortation, On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World,” with the resulting headline from The New York Times: “Pope Puts Caring for Immigrants and Abortion on Equal Footing” (Jason Horowitz, April 9, 2018).

The headline, unlike most on the Catholic Church, is not an exaggeration, as seen in the following from the Pope, “Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned.”

This is no mere throw off line; he reiterates it, connecting the issue of abortion and immigration directly to politics: “Some Catholics consider it [migrants] a secondary issue compared to the ‘grave’ bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. (Emphasis added) “Such a thing is understandable,” yes, Pope Francis gets it — he realizes that a political candidate who is pro-life will attract Catholic voters when pitted against a rival who supports abortion-on-demand while insisting our national borders remain porous for the thousands of illegal immigrants who cross it each month.

The context of these statements in an exhortation on the “Call to Holiness,” suggests Pope Francis realizes the issue of abortion for Catholic voters is not a “single issue” at all — abortion connects to concerns about the moral dissipation of the culture in general.

Catholics regard a pro-life candidate as someone who will stand against the increasing tawdriness of culture which mocks religion and puts deviance on display. In other words, a pro-life candidate resonates with the still socially conservative America. (This is why I predicted pro-life Catholics would support Trump as early as February, 2016).

In 2016, Catholic voters rocked the liberal, Democrat-aligned, Catholic establishment by ignoring the nonstop attacks on Trump and his “wall” by Catholic bishops, priests, nuns, professors, and journalists. Indeed, their voices chimed in with the same message throughout the campaign: Immigration is a “life issue,” putting it on par with the defense of innocent life. Pope Francis now seeks to codify that message. But it won’t succeed, and I will explain why.

His apostolic exhortation ignores the basic moral problem in equating immigration with abortion: prudential judgment (see my explanation here). Any Catholic’s opinion and action on what the bishops have called “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us” has no single answer.

Do we support the “catch and release” ordered by President Obama? Do we support enforcing our laws pertaining to entering the United States? Do we build walls? No church teaching obligates a Catholic to a specific answer to these questions of public policy.

On the other hand, the question about whether to abort or not to abort has only one answer — no. Abortion is not a prudential matter. Some have called it one of the “non-negotiables,” others a “settled issue,” but the moral difference is clear.

Certainly Pope Francis is right about this: at a general level, both abortion and immigration do meet on equal ground — the principle of loving one’s neighbor. But, as has been explained, that moral equality doesn’t confer equality on type of moral judgments Catholics are obliged to make, one is liable to a variety of answers, the other is not.

To give an example of the distinction, here is a portion of letter written by then President of the USCCB, Archbishop Wilton Gregory to President Bush about the Iraq War: As Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, then president of the USCCB, wrote to President George W. Bush: “People of good will may apply ethical principles and come to different prudential judgments, depending upon their assessment of the facts at hand and other issues” (“Letter to President Bush on Iraq,” Sept. 13, 2002).

I’m not convinced that Pope Francis recognizes the “good will” of those Catholics who disagree with his view of immigration. As he puts it, “This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad. In today’s world too, we are called to follow the path of spiritual wisdom proposed by the prophet Isaiah to show what is pleasing to God.”

Pope Francis has done his best to prop up the those Catholic Democrats who continue to promote abortion, support government funding of Planned Parenthood, and ignore the church’s teaching on life. His apostolic exhortation does not to change Catholic moral teaching because, as I have shown, the claim the Pope is trying to make cannot be rationally defended.

In spite of the headlines, the Pope’s gift to the Democrats will not be of much use to them in propping up their Catholic credentials. Lay Catholic voters will see through this claim just as they saw through the church’s barrage of anti-Trump rhetoric in the historic 2016 presidential election.

Read Newsmax: Pope Can’t Equate Caring for Immigrants With Abortion | Newsmax.com
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NEA Funds Anti-Christian ‘Jerry Springer’ Play With Taxpayer Money

Deal W. Hudson
January 30, 2018

Once again the National Endowment for the Arts is in hot water, and deservedly so. A musical entitled, “Jerry Springer, the Opera,” is now being performed in previews at an off-Broadway theatre, The New Group. The musical is ferociously and deliberately anti-Catholic, while The New Group receives substantial NEA funding.

The question being raised by Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, at his January 23 press conference is simple: if the government is forbidden from funding projects that promote religion, why is the NEA allowed to fund a project that directly attacks religion?

Donohue is no stranger to this debate. Over the years he has led the fight against government funding of other anti-Catholic artists such as Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, and David Wojnarowicz. His success in challenging all of them is a tribute both to his ability to influence public and elite opinion by razor-sharp arguments rather than emotional outrage.

His strategy is this case is similar. Rather than calling for protests or boycotts, he has written a letter to President Trump asking that the next chairman of the NEA “not continue to fund anti-Christian grantees, exhibitions, or performances.” The present chairman, Jane Chu, will be stepping down in June, and Trump will likely be announcing his replacement nominee in February.

Donohue has also written to Dr. Jane Chu asking two questions: why she funded the “most obscene anti-Christian play ever performed,” and why she funded The New Group in a way that violates NEA guidelines which clearly state no funding can be provided for “general operations or seasonal support.” Yet, Chu signed off on a 2009 $50,000 grant to The New Group because of “the current economic downturn.”

This grant evinces blatant disregard for the responsible use of taxpayer money because some sort of favored status of the theatre group in the eyes of its chairman. Donohue has also written a letter to chair of the Congressional Committee responsible for NEA oversight, Cong. Ken Calvert pointing out Dr. Chu’s “clear violation” of NEA funding regulations.

Jerry Springer, the Opera” is no opera, it’s a 2003 Broadway-style British musical first performed in London and eventually winning four Laurence Olivier Awards. That such an adolescent and musically-dull musical could have won such prestigious awards is bizarre. I watched the entire 2-hour BBC production. Its entire narrative is adolescent and it’s musically completely undistinguished.

It relies on one repeated conceit: the juxtaposition of profanity in the context of a Broadway musical devoted to religious issues. In other words, when a character steps forward, Sondheim-style, to deliver a love song, we are treated to a description of how she urinates on a naked man in her bathroom. Yes, that kind of thing is repeated over and over until the BBC audience itself stops laughing out loud and fails to applaud at the “big moments.”

Act I of the show is an actual Jerry Springer TV show where the participants talk and sing about the various iterations of their sexual lives and their hatred of the Christian faith. One repeated refrain of all the characters is “Eat, excrete, and watch TV.” One male character, Montel, dressed in a diaper, sings to his girlfriend that he would prefer she treat him as her “baby,” and proceeds to defecate in his diaper.

After a brief Act II stop in purgatory, the show moves to hell in Act III, and the Montel character, still in a diaper, is now called Jesus. He squares off against Satan who declares the injustice afflicted upon him by God. Satan is joined by Eve who also complains of being too harshly judged and grabs Jesus by the genitals under his diaper. (I’m using the least offensive examples from the musical in order to spare the reader.)

The NEA funding to The New Group is an embarrassment on artistic grounds and a direct insult to Christians.

Established in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts reached its apogee of funding in 1992, over $170,000,000. Then it suffered a deep decline to under $1,000,000,000 due to similar controversies generated by its grants. Funding did not begin to recover fully until the appointee of President George W. Bush, Dana Gioia, became Chairman of NEA. Gioia, who served from 2003-2009, demonstrated how the NEA could fulfill its original mission, “to strengthen the creative capacity of our communities.”

Bill Donohue, like President Trump, believes the NEA should be eliminated. The Congress, however, disagreed with the president and included NEA funding in the 2018 budget. Thus, a new chairman will soon be appointed.

I strongly suggest the president and those responsible for choosing the nominee look closely at the extraordinary programs created by Dana Gioia at the NEA. Those include: “The Big Read” which was designed to address the national decline in literacy with a “one city, one book” approach reaching over 25,000 communities; “Poetry Out Loud” is a national poetry recitation contest attracting over 375,000 students each year; “NEA Jazz Masters” created the highest award in the jazz world and sought to raise the visibility of jazz artists; and “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” offered writing workshops for veterans and their families leading to the publication an anthology, Operation Homecoming.

I’m a Catholic conservative who believes passionately in the power of the arts to benefit all of us individually and collectively. The amount of federal money being spent is minuscule compared to the monumental waste of taxpayer dollars elsewhere. The NEA needs to be given another chance to prove the worthiness of its cause.

Read Newsmax: NEA Funds Anti-Christian ‘Jerry Springer’ Play With Taxpayer Money | Newsmax.com
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Buckley’s ‘Republic of Virtue’ Chronicles America’s Fight for Integrity

Deal W. Hudson
December 18, 2017

Frank Buckley, a law professor at the Scalia School of Law at George Mason University, has written an extraordinary book that deserves to find a wide readership and, hopefully, to wield considerable influence on the future of U.S. politics. Why such large claims? Simply put, “The Republic of Virtue” pinpoints and clarifies the issue of political corruption responsible for the widespread confusion, frustration, and growing cynicism about the power of the presidency and the sadly comic mayhem exhibited by the Congressional branch of government.

What seems an impossible task is achieved by Buckley by skillfully weaving together seemingly disparate main narratives — the debates over the Constitution, the Clinton Foundation scandal, the corruption of the Mississippi judiciary, and the search for campaign finance reform. Several shorter narratives — the IRS persecution of Tea Party groups, the 1972 bribery trial of Sir Francis Bacon, and the 1976 Supreme Court case, Buckley v. Valeo, shed further historical light the issue of the corruption in American politics.

It’s interesting that Buckley relegated “corruption” to the subtitle of the book, giving pride of place to “virtue,” but his reason becomes apparent as he traces the self-conscious attempt of the Founders to write a Constitution that would avoid the corrupt practices that dominated the British political system. The end sought by the Founders was precisely a framing of what would become, “The Republic of Virtue.”

The word “virtue” throws many people off who immediately associate it with the Neo-puritan demands for men and women in politics who have never misstepped in matters either sexual or obedience to the demands of political correctness. The virtue the Founders had in mind both more simple to explain and reasonable to expect — to put the interests of the nation, its common good, ahead of personal interests such as money, power, and advancement. Republican virtue requires the sacrifice of self-interest to the good of the nation. The Founders took as the “ideal of Republican virtue” the founder of the Roman Republic (509 B.C..), Lucius Junius Brutus, who overthrew Tarquin the Proud but subsequently had two of his sons executed for attempting to restore the monarchy.

At the heart of his book, Buckley describes how the focus of the Constitutional Convention was to prevent “importing corruption” from the Britain they had rebelled against. Thus, they were determined not to have a strong presidency, a monarch-in-disguise. Thus, “Our government was designed to resemble a parliamentary regime, with the president selected by the House of Representatives or by electors exercising their own discretion.” Buckley argues for the superiority of a prime minister who must defend his government on a daily basis in a House of Commons, rather than a President who is nearly impossible to remove from office and are “relatively immunized from accountability.…”

This is not to suggest that the author, a Canadian by birth, is snootily anti-American — far from it. He points out that the final outcome of the Framers’ deliberation was masterful compromise between the competing faction of those wanting a powerful central authority — the Federalists — and those who wanted to preserve the power of the States. For example, when the Framers decided on “electors” it was assumed that presidential elections would end up in the House of Representatives where the president would be chosen, where an educated elite would make the final decision. This assumption preserved the kind of “filtration” process favored by James Madison and others would did not trust the unwashed and uneducated to elect a presently directly. “In essence, they [the Framers] thought they had agreed upon a Congressional elected president.”

Buckley lithely points out that the delegates could not have anticipated the broadening of voting rights to all adults, the direct election of Senators (17th Amendment), and the resulting choice of electors directly by the voters. The process of filtration was doomed without the delegates in Philadelphia knowing it, and as a result: “The Framers meant to produce a corruption-free government, but like a boomerang their Constitution flew back and hit us on the head.”

The growing power of the presidency, spurred by the introduction of the spoils system by Andrew Jackson in 1828, was not the only way the Constitution failed to meet its goal. The separation of powers itself, as Buckley argues, created a government susceptible to corruption “in ways the Framers would not have imagined,” for example, members of congress who are able to channel tax dollars to their local districts through “earmarks” Did you know, for example — I didn’t — that there over fifty Robert Byrd Centers “for This or That” in West Virginia? Earmarks are a way spending federal money without interference from the executive branch while buying the good will of voters for next election.

Interestingly, another result Buckley descries is “technological change and the rise of democracy broke down the electoral process that were expected to filter out ignoble politicians.” The author, as far as I can tell, does not tie this insight specifically to any of the further narratives; however, I see them closely connected to his discussion of bribes, “crony capitalism,” lobbying, and campaign finance through which money passes hands in exchange for political influence and, most of all, legislation.

What all these have in common are certain degrees of hiddenness, actions either deliberately secretive, hidden from view by legal means, or by the difficulty of tracing the paperwork. It’s commonsense, in my opinion, to think a person’s character, nobility or ignobility, is measured by what he or she will do when no one is watching or no one will find out (supposedly).

Buckley provides plenty of examples of financial corruption where large sums of money are taken by elected politicians in exchange for influence and legislation that will gain the buyer many times what was paid. But rather than spending much time of condemning these practices, he offers some very sensible suggestions for reform which could actually be done without causing further harm: 1) Require all political contributions be anonymous; 2) Restrict gifts from pay-for-play donors; and, bar certain donors from accepting positions in government and prohibit congressman and their staffers from becoming lobbyists after they leave government.

This gist of his argument, which I find compelling, is as follows: Actual anonymity would end the quid-pro-quo expectation between the donor and the politician. Donors groups such as government contractors should not be allowed to donate to the politicians who pass the appropriate bill, an obvious conflict of interest. Donors compete for various appointment goodies, such as ambassadorial posts which leads to wealthy but unqualified individuals representing the U.S. around the world, and former Congressmen and staffers are often influenced while in office by offers of employment in a lobby firm if they lose the next election or chose to “cash in” by stepping down.

“The Republic of Virtue” is a rich book, well-written, often humorous, and impossible to summarize in short review such as this. But as I said at the outset, Frank Buckley has put his fingers on what is alienating the American voters from politics, and he has offered both an explanation of what has happened and prescription for what needs to be done.

Read Newsmax: Buckley’s ‘Republic of Virtue’ Chronicles America’s Fight for Integrity | Newsmax.com
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Contempt for Trump Undermining European Civility

Deal W. Hudson
October 11, 2017

When was the last time you told a visitor from another country that their head of state was a “fool” or a “disgrace”? When is the last time you visited a country and lectured those you met on the “horrors” of their elected national leader?

The perpetrators of mass slaughter come to mind when such remarks would have been appropriate.

But after hearing President Trump excoriated each day on a 9-day trip to Germany and the U.K., I am left wondering if my manners need updating. Rudeness has become the accepted norm of behavior on the other side of the Atlantic when it comes to our president. This rudeness reveals an astonishing level of ignorance about the history of the United States and the deep division and repressed fury created by the Obama presidency.

President Trump has become objectified, stripped of any humanity, and made the target of any remark no matter how offensive to visiting Americans. Attempts to explain his election, or cast him in a positive light, are met with scornful astonishment rather than a listening ear.

Yes, there were exceptions — an Irish bookstore owner in Rye, a French businessman, a German entrepreneur, a British hotel clerk. All of them had one thing in common — a distaste for media groupthink.

This was a golf trip for me, three hickory tournaments in three different locations — South of Munich in Bavaria, the northeast coast of Edinburgh, and the historic town of Rye on the coast in Sussex. I liked everyone I met, without exception, even those who bashed my president around. I don’t require my friends to hold my political or religious beliefs.

But why do these comments arise at all? Part of the problem is that people commonly “google” those they meet and this would have led associating me with support for President Trump and, before that, President W. When these hooks are thrown towards me, I don’t bite which surprises them. They’ve become accustomed, evidently, to provoking Pavlovian political outbursts.

Did I defend my president? Of course, but in a very measured way, correcting some basic errors about his tweeting, the “popular vote,” and, sadly, his wife, Melania.

What kept me so detached? As I said, I don’t require friends to share my political convictions, that seems simple, doesn’t it? Second, I was on vacation from the world of Washington politics, in search of golfing euphoria, which I captured for a few moments along the way. Third, these accusers read and hear media that contains nothing but vituperative attacks on the president and his family, so I can understand what feeds their mindset.

What I cannot understand is their evident lack of self-awareness that their treating of an elected American president as if he was evil incarnate. Wouldn’t a moment of self-scrutiny raise questions about why Donald Trump won the election when absolutely no one, except the candidate and his inner circle, though he could win? Surely such a man and his achievement is deserving of a more understanding than condescending dismissal.

And, surely, the American visitor need not endure the implication that his own political judgment is foolish.

In my lifetime, I have watched as the social habits of meeting people and making friends has been misshaped by the intrusion of politics. As dearly held moral views became less and less a matter of faith, tradition, or, even, reason, a person’s political stances, or mere affiliation, became sole standard of judgment about whether he was worthy of a relationship or not. There was no longer a higher vantage point from which to judge a person’s character than his or her politics, no ground for toleration of opposing views.

Now all the pastimes where people of diverse opinions used to mingle freely have been affected. Communities once formed by faith, education, sports, hobbies, the arts, and neighborhoods have allowed politics to intervene — need I mention the recent mess in the NFL over “taking the knee”?

I recall my Shakespeare teacher at the University of Texas in the late 60s. He was an Englishman whose constant wit kept me on the edge of my seat. I forget the context, but I once asked him what he thought of Americans. “They lack urbanity,” he said. Once I looked up the word, meaning detachment, I understood what he meant because our Austin campus was constantly riven by protests over Vietnam and the Nixon presidency. Shouting protesters deliberately provoke police and intimidating passers-by had become culture heroes. The detachment had been replaced by existential engagement.

It was the issue of engagement that famously destroyed the friendship between Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. When Sartre pressed Camus to support Communism and its “necessary” use of violence, Camus demurred. The detachment required by friendship was sacrificed by Sartre for the sake of “the cause.”

Closer to home, we watched the always urbane William F. Buckley completely lose his composure during a near-violent exchange with novelist Gore Vidal at the 1968 Democratic Convention. The Buckley who often shared charming banter with liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith subsequently became embroiled in more acidic exchanges and subsequent libel suits. The Buckley-Vidal episode, like that between Sartre and Camus a decade earlier, showed that cultural currents were flowing which could test the detachment of our most-schooled public intellectuals.

Now nastiness is the norm on both sides of the Atlantic, though nastiness is easier to accept when it comes from Americans about America. There was a time when Americans looked to Europe and the UK for its civilizing norms of education and manners. That time is long past, and Americans should access the deeper wells of our own cultural legacy to recover the spirit of tolerance that made the Founding possible.

As de Tocqueville wrote, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”

Read Newsmax: Contempt for Trump Undermining European Civility | Newsmax.com
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Mass Hysteria Driving Attacks on the President

Deal W. Hudson

August 30, 2017

I know I am not alone in being bewildered by the daily pummeling of President Trump throughout the media. We are witnessing something more than the usual criticism any politician can expect. Instead, it’s become a kind of madness, where the president can be depicted with his head cut offstanding naked, or being hung from a tree.

All these images were reported by the major media. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, Virginia the president has been repeatedly called a “racist” in the mainstream media, including The Washington Post. But that’s not the worst. The president has also been routinely compared to Hitler and the Nazis.

The German magazine Stern published a cover depicting President Trump giving a Nazi salute while draped in an American flag. In England, The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland said, “We thought the Nazi threat was dead. But Donald Trump has revived it.”

Freedland went on to predict an American outbreak of anti-Semitism based on the fact that many white supremacists have free speech rights. Entertainers fantasize about “killing the president.” Rosie O’Donnell tweets to her 1,000,000 plus followers about a game she plays, “Pushing Trump off a cliff.” A New York Times reporter calls The first lady a “hooker.”

These attacks defy the standards of commonsense and public civility. Their sheer viciousness points towards an deep and more disturbing explanation — a mass hysteria elicited by the surprise defeat of Hillary Clinton. One could hardly find a better description than this published by John Waller of the British Psychological Society, “‘[M]ass hysteria’ are cases in which groups of people act upon beliefs which gain exaggerated credence in times of social and economic distress.”

This hysteria outbreak should have been widely recognized the day after the election.

Recall how college campuses across the nation responded to the election of President Trump with support groups, cancelled classes, creating “safe spaces,” and “self-care guides.”

Dan Gainer of Fox News described the media’s reaction to the election as a “primal scream.” In California, Washington, and Oregon, efforts are launched for those states to secede.

The central symptom of hysteria is “ungovernable emotional excess,” which in this case has become a case of mass hysteria, one largely due to the incessant use of social media to wage political and ideological war.

Writing in The Atlantic,  Laura Dimon connects increasing outbreaks of mass hysteria, or mass psychogenic illness (MPI), with the impact of Facebook and Twitter. Formerly people had to be in the same room to share in the hysteria, but that’s no longer the case. Today, social media has become “extensions of our eyes and ears.” It has made hysteria a global phenomenon.

Just think about it, Rosie O’Donnell has over 1,000,000 followers on Twitter. Many Trump-haters have far more. Katy Perry has over 100 million followers; Justin Bieber, 99,000,000, Rhianna, 76,000,000; Ellen DeGeneres, 70,000,000; and Lady Gaga, 69,000,000.

High-minded conservatives who sniff at these numbers and their cumulative influence are dissociating themselves from the way we live today.

Writing in Psychology Today, Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D., describes the symptoms of mass hysteria: including having “no known organic basis,” meaning no basis in fact; occurring in a specific group; extreme anxiety; spread by world of mouth or popular media; spread from older to younger victims; and predominately female.

Regarding the last symptom, I would offer the observation that both the viciousness and sobbing character of the anti-Trump hysteria does have, at least to me, a curious female aspect. Just as Esther Goldberg has described former FBI Director James B. Comey as talking “the way high school girls talk,” the catty displays of commentators like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews are positively feline, “One good thing Mussolini did was execute his son-in-law,” said Matthews — referring to Jared Kushner.

Some theorists of mass hysteria say that these outbreaks usually pass quickly. That’s not been our experience. The hysteria over the bogus Duke University rape allegation did not subside until all charges were dropped over a year later. Similarly, it took over a year for the Charlottesville, Virginia police to find no evidence of the rape on campus reported by Rolling Stone for which they paid heavily in civil damages. In the meantime, in both cases, all the mainstream media joined in the chorus of defamation.

Who will play similar role in the case against President Trump? Who will help calm the hysteria? Perhaps, it will be people like Sen. Diane Feinstein , D-Calif., who recently stunned an audience in San Francisco with her refusal to support impeachment, saying Trump “could be a good president.” A reporter at the meeting said, “the crowd reacted with stunned silence, broken only with scattered ‘No’s’ and a few hisses and some nervous laughter.”

It’s in a moment of silence like the one elicited by Sen. Feinstein that the much-needed injection of reason and civility can take place and the mass hysteria can begin to pass.

Read Newsmax: Mass Hysteria Driving Attacks on the President | Newsmax.com
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Vatican Stance on Procreation Appears at Odds With Church Teaching

Deal W. Hudson
March 7, 2017

On March 3, many Catholics were shocked to read that Vatican conference speaker, Peter Raven remarked, “Pope Francis has urged us to have fewer children to make the world more sustainable.” The notion that the Pope would say such a thing strained credulity. However, the clarification published three days later does not put the mind at rest regarding the current Vatican thinking on life issues.

LifeSiteNews now reports that Peter Raven, the botanist/environmentalist who addressed the Vatican conference, said the following: “We need at some point to have a limited number of people which is why Pope Francis and his three most recent predecessors have always argued that you should not have more children than you can bring up properly.”

This comment makes two assertions I find very troubling, as do, I am sure, many other Catholics. Just what is meant by “you should not have more children than you can bring up.” Am I assuming incorrectly that that this refers to, among other things, an appraisal of financial resources? If so, and I believe I am correct, good Catholics should consult their bank accounts and their earning ability before bringing a new life into the world.

I want to ask Pope Francis these questions, “What is the financial formula for making such an appraisal? Just what, in your opinion, does a child cost to ‘bring up properly'”?

While I am not denying the commonsense of the matter, I am questioning the wisdom of attributing to the Holy Father an assertion containing the words “should not” regarding the conceiving of children, especially when the determinative factor is financial. To say “should” implies those addressed should feel a duty, an obligation, to regard children in this way. Such a duty makes conception first an act of “deciding’ rather than freely given love between a husband and wife.

How is this different from the logic of the population-control crowd who are always espousing abortion and contraception in order to “save the earth”? How is this different from the assumptions of the 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” written by Paul Ehrlich who was also recently hosted at the Vatican conference?

I began looking randomly at the family backgrounds of famed Catholic prelates and quickly found that “Dagger John Hughes,” the Archbishop of New York City, was the third of seven children to an Irish tenant farmer and his wife. The family was so poor that John was taken out of school and put to work, first on the farm then as an apprentice gardener. As Archbishop between 1842 and 1864, “Dagger John” fought off anti-Catholicism, founded the first independent Catholic school system, and laid the cornerstone for St. Patricks Cathedral.

Such examples would be easy to multiply by the thousands if one were to trace the lives of children, not only Catholic, from large, impoverished families. And this is not to imply that large families are justified by the accomplishments of their children, but rather to illustrate how the admonition of Genesis 1.28 — “be fruitful and multiply” — contains a superior internal logic to that of considering the cost of raising a child “properly.”

The second troubling implication of Raven’s comment is his claim that the three previous popes — Benedict XVI, St. John Paul II, and John Paul I — similarly argued that parents should determine the cost of raising a child before “deciding” to bring one into the world. In “Familiaris Consortio,” St. John Paul II wrote, husband and wife “…..become cooperators with God for giving life to a new human person. Thus the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother” (FC 14).

Benedict XVI encouraged large families on a trip to Valencia in 2006, eschewing the kind of calculation described by Raven and seconded by Pope Francis. At one parish he was presented with several families — “one family was virtually a ‘parish,’ it had so many children! The presence and witness of these families really was far stronger than any words. They presented first of all the riches of their family experience: how such a large family truly becomes a cultural treasure, an opportunity for the education of one and all, a possibility for making the various cultural expressions of today coexist, the gift of self, mutual help also in suffering” (August 31, 2006).

During his short papacy, John Paul I delivered only one formal address on marriage and the family during an “ad limina” visits of bishops. It contains nary a mention of calculating the cost and deciding on the conceiving of children: “Let us never grow tired of proclaiming the family as a community of love: conjugal love unites the couple and is procreative of new life; it mirrors the divine love, is communicated, and, in the words of Gaudium et Spes, is actually a sharing in the covenant of love of Christ and his Church (par. 48). We were all given the great grace of being born into such a community of love; it will be easy for us to uphold its value” (Emphasis added).

Peter Raven, thus, is dead wrong to claim that the three popes before Pope Francis agree with him on the “need at some point to have a limited number of people” so they can be raised “properly.”

Such thinking coming out of the Vatican presently, from Pope Francis and his closest advisors to those being feted at Vatican conferences, bears an ideological stamp rather than that of Church teaching. It appears to me that the Vatican is channeling the spirit of George Soros rather than any other.

Read Newsmax: Vatican Stance on Procreation Appears at Odds With Church Teaching | Newsmax.com
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