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January 2012 Archives

January 7, 2012

Edwin O'Brien appointed cardinal, in a confusing blow to the core non-violent message of Christianity

Breaking News--Heart Breaking News in More Ways than One
Rev Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, former military chaplain and former Archbishop of the Catholic Military Archdiocese of the United States, who to this day teaches that the Vietnam War was a war in accord with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Catholic Just War Theory--as were the war on Iraq and the war on Afghanistan--was named a Cardinal on January 6, 2012. Cardinal-designate O'Brien was ordained a priest by Cardinal Francis Spellman who was also an avid supporter of the Vietnam War and the Apostolic Vicar of the U.S. Catholic Military. Edwin O'Brien's first priestly assignment after ordination was as Catholic chaplain to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was ordained bishop by Cardinal John O'Conner, himself a former Catholic military chaplain with the rank of Rear Admiral and former Chief of Chaplains of the U.S. Navy, on March 25, 1996. During that part of the war on Iraq that began on March 19, 2003, O'Brien was the most outspoken Catholic hierarch supporting the war. From September 2005 to June 2006 while head of the Catholic Military Archdiocese he also acted as head of the Papal Visitation to U.S. Seminaries to insure they were teaching and implementing the Gospel correctly. On July 12, 2007, when he was appointed Archbishop of Baltimore, the Baltimore Examiner described him as "Army Jump-school qualified and troubleshooter for God at Catholic seminaries and remote Vietnam War firebases alike."


The College of Cardinals to this day remains free of infection by a single Cardinal who publicly believes and publicly teaches that Jesus' teaching of the Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is the Way of Jesus, the Way of discipleship, the only Way of doing what He did.

If those in Rome, who decide who gets the red hat, could ever overcome their fear of contamination of the College of Cardinal and of the Catholic Church by Christic Nonviolence, and would want a few names of Bishops who could be at least a token representative of an entirely acceptable and orthodox position within the Catholic Church, I would be happy to froward a few such names.

After all, the selection of Edwin O'Brien and the absence of a single Nonviolent Cardinal is as clear a communication of the truth that the leaders of the institutional Church believe, teach and abide by in the execution of their explicit commission from Jesus:

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Mt 28:18-20

January 20, 2012

Patrick Whelan MD PhD on new HHS regulations governing basic clinical preventive services under the Affordable Care Act

As a physician and pediatric specialist, I know that news of the HHS regulations today means that more women will have access to the kind of health care that has been denied to millions over the years because of the high cost. Over 50% of girls and women who use contraceptives take them for reasons other than the prevention of pregnancy. Since the beginning of his first presidential campaign in 2007, President Obama has emphasized the importance of preventing unintended pregnancy as the most moral approach to solving the abortion problem. These new regulations, providing for greater access to contraception, will certainly help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies across the country, and correspondingly are likely to further decrease the incidence of abortion.

It's well-established that over 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. Along with other measures incorporated into the Affordable Care Act, these new regulations are part of a concerted effort to support women and to help them avoid unintended pregnancy. Our study of expanded healthcare access in Massachusetts after 2006, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2010, showed that access to healthcare (and contraception) is associated with a significant further reduction in the rate of abortions.

President Obama has grappled with the deep moral dimensions of these important questions, and I think his determination to help decrease unintended pregnancies is among the chief reasons that he supported these new HHS regulations. Having interviewed Catholic priests who worked with President Obama as a community organizer, funded by the US Bishops' Campaign for Human Development, I know the President cares deeply about Catholic sensibilities. This Administration has expanded faith-based initiatives through its White House Office of Faith Based and Community Partnerships, and has provided record funding for Catholic efforts such as Catholic Charities -- over $500 million in 2010.

As a Catholic, I am aware that some Catholics will hear this news with mixed or negative emotions, including many bishops. At the same time, we know Catholic women, and by extension their families, use oral contraception at the same rate as the overall population. For over half a century, since the issuance of Humanae Vitae, Catholics and Catholic theologians have taken issue with the Church's teaching on birth control.

Today, many will use this decision to further their own political agenda. The need for the hierarchy, theologians, and the laity to come together and discuss these important issues has never been more pressing. This is particularly true at a time when our nation, and our Church, needs informed public debate on a range of moral issues, especially the economy, growing poverty, and the continuing "scandal of glaring inequalities" (see Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 2009).

It is our hope that both the Administration and the U.S. Bishops' Conference can come together over the next 18 months to develop policies-perhaps following the "Hawaii model"-- that better address the conscience rights of religious institutions while allowing women access to contraceptives without cost. Ultimately, the HHS regulations put the decision of whether or not to use contraceptives at the discretion of each individual woman and her informed conscience, and this is the ultimate test of religious liberty and the protection of conscience.

About Catholic Democrats
Catholic Democrats is an association of state-based groups representing a Catholic voice within the Democratic Party, and advancing a public understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and its potential to help solve the broad range of problems confronting all Americans. Patrick Whelan MD PhD is the national president, and is a member of the pediatrics faculties at Harvard Medical School and the Keck School of Medicine of USC. For more information about Catholic Democrats please go to www.catholicdemocrats.org
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Catholic Democrats | PO Box 290331 | Boston | MA | 02129


January 29, 2012

Archbishop Dolan and the invention of the "attack on religious liberty" idea

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the president of the USCCB, is leading a campaign against the Obama Administration rooted in the charge that the Administration is somehow infringing on the "religious liberty" of Catholics. In an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal, Archbishop Dolan cites Alexander Hamilton and the other authors of the US Constitution in an attempt to conflate expanded healthcare in America today with the concerns about established state religion in 18th Century England.


It is telling that the USCCB put out 17 press releases in January, eight of them dealing with "religious liberty." None of them dealt with poverty, despite January having been declared "Poverty Awareness Month" by the USCCB itself. At a time of continued economic duress for many Americans, the leaders of the bishops' conference seem to have lost interest in the one most unifying concern of Catholics: the plight of the poor. The USCCB webpage has numerous references to an attack on "religious liberty," and it urges Catholics to write to Congress to overturn HHS regulations insuring that workers for Catholic-affiliated institutions will have access to birth control like all other American workers. But with regard to poverty, the website merely urges that Catholics "Please visit and "like" our special Poverty Awareness Month Facebook page."

The bishops' "religious liberty" campaign derived its origins in part from a 2009 conservative political document called "The Manhattan Declaration," written by Princeton Professor Robert George and endorsed by a broad range of Republican activists. George was a leading architect of what can only be labeled a campaign of hate speech toward candidate Obama in 2008, repeatedly labelling him as "the most pro-abortion candidate of either major political party in history." Archbishop Dolan and several other bishops with strong anti-Obama views signed that document, which claimed that there was a growing assault on religious liberty in America because Democrats refused to adopt Republican views on reversing Roe-vs-Wade and other conservative postures. Some bishops have now signed-on wholesale to the Republican view that President Obama is somehow out to get Catholics, despite his having a cabinet with an unprecedented number of Catholics, and despite record spending through the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for Catholic charitable efforts.

At a moment when middle class Americans continue to suffer economically, with all the ramifications for family life, the president of the USCCB is speaking to the wealthy readership of the Wall Street Journal with words tarring President Obama as somehow unsympathetic to Catholic sensibilities. This politicization of the Church may please Republicans in the pews, but it may well accelerate the departure of other thinking Catholics who expect more from their Church leaders.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

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"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

First Inaugural Address, President Barack Obama

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