May 2009


Notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller was shot and killed this morning at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, the congregation of which he was a member, this morning. According to AP:

Late-term abortion doctor George Tiller, a prominent advocate for abortion rights wounded by a protester more than a decade ago, was shot and killed Sunday at his church in Wichita, a city official said.

A City Hall official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak about the case told The Associated Press that the 67-year-old doctor was killed Sunday morning at Reformation Lutheran Church.

Police spokesman Gordon Bassham would not confirm the victim’s identity pending notification of relatives. He said the shooting occurred at 10:03 a.m. and the gunman fled the scene in a 1993 powder blue Ford Taurus registered in another part of the state.

Numerous pro-life organizations immediately issued statements denouncing the killing. According to LifeSite News:

Pro-life organizations immediately denounced this morning’s killing. Operation Rescue, which has helped spearheaded the effort to bring the charges against the abortionist, issued a statement, saying:

“We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller’s family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, who has also been closely involved in Tiller’s case, issued a brief statement saying simply that he and his coalition “condemn” the shooting.

Jim Hughes, the president of Canada’s Campaign Life Coalition, also reacted to the shooting with dismay. “Not only is this sort of violence seriously damaging to the pro-life cause, it is also deeply contrary to everything that is meant by the phrase pro-life,” he told LifeSiteNews.com. “Those of us in the pro-life movement do not want to see abortionists die, we want to see them convert.”

Hughes speculated that the shooter may be someone who has been personally affected by abortion and was seeking revenge against Tiller. “May God have mercy on his soul,” said Hughes of the abortionist.

Fr. [Frank] Pavone, the head of priests for life, also issued a statement, saying:” I am saddened to hear of the killing of George Tiller this morning. At this point, we do not know the motives of this act, or who is behind it…

“But whatever the motives, we at Priests for Life continue to insist on a culture in which violence is never seen as the solution to any problem. Every life has to be protected, without regard to their age or views or actions.”

This murder, like any other, is anathema, a horrific act that is contrary to everything that the pro-life movement stands. My prayers, and hopefully those of all Christian who oppose abortion, go out to his family, and to the police and courts for success in their effort to track down, try, convict, and punish the perpetrator.

UPDATE: Police have arrested a suspect, according to AP:

The gunman fled, but a 51-year-old suspect was arrested some 170 miles away in suburban Kansas City three hours after the shooting, Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said.

The suspect’s name was not released; police had been looking for a gunman who fled in a car registered in the Kansas City suburb of Merriam.

Stolz said the man was being brought back to Wichita, where he would likely be charged Monday with one count of murder and two of aggravated assault. Stolz said the gunman threatened two people who tried to stop him.

Our central mission in the days ahead will be of course to welcome Father Alberto, and to support him on his path, but we recognize as well that his very personal and spiritual decision offers a window into our own story – the story of the Episcopal Church.

and

The scandal surrounding Padre Alberto and his girlfriend was unfortunate but because of his joining the Episcopal Church it has brought us to the attention of the public. I pray that we might be able to take advantage of this appropriately but without throwing this in the face of our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church.

–Episcopal Bishop Leo Frade of Southeast Florida, writing about the reception of Catholic priest Alberto Cutié into the Episcopal Church, and doing a fair Elmer Gantry imitation in the process–Cutié left Catholicism rather than being disciplined after being photographed earlier this month in an amorous tryst with a woman (who turned out to be his girlfriend of two years standing)

(Via MCJ and Stand Firm.)

More and more, it seems that the United Nations is determined to turn itself into some kind of Orwellian parody of what it was originally conceived to be. The latest example comes from the UN committee that is supposed to insure compliance with the Convention Against Torture. Said committee has decided that denying women legal permission to kill their unborn children is torture. According to Catholic Exchange:

The United Nations (UN) committee charged with monitoring compliance with the Convention Against Torture has declared that Nicaragua’s full protection of fetal life violates the country’s obligations under the Convention. This is the first time this committee has reviewed Nicaragua since that government outlawed abortion for any reason three years ago.

The torture committee is the fourth UN committee to pressure Nicaragua with respect to its laws protecting unborn life, joining the committees charged with monitoring the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Critics are increasingly concerned with what they view as the politicization of the treaty monitoring system by committees charged with oversight. Neither the Convention Against Torture nor any other UN treaty mentions abortion, and it was not contemplated when such treaties were negotiated and ratified that countries were committing themselves to altering domestic legislation on abortion.

The convention that this committee is supposed to be overseeing actually has to do with this phenomenon:

For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Anyone who can get “torture” out of “prohibiting abortion” is a manipulator of language with a sure-fire future at the Ministry of Truth.

Oh, wait a minute. That’s where they already work.

(Via Mark Shea.)

The obstacles to the visible unity of all Christians, which our Lord names as His desire for His Church, are immense. Indeed, full unity may not be possible this side of the second coming. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate even small steps toward such unity. One such has been reported by the World Council of Churches (I know–can any good come out of Geneva? Just read on with an open mind) regarding the date of Easter. According to AP:

Christianity’s largest ecumenical movement expressed hope Thursday that churches were moving closer to a common Easter for the world’s Christians, despite a historical debate nearly as old as the religion.

Catholic and Protestant congregations will celebrate their belief in Jesus’ resurrection on the same day as Orthodox churches in 2010 and 2011 because of a coincidence in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The common holiday has happened three times this decade.

In case you didn’t know, the Eastern Orthodox churches still use the Julian calendar to calculate the dates of movable church feasts. Their refusal over the centuries to move to the Gregorian probably has more to do with hostility to the papacy (which introduced it in the West in 1582) than with an opposition to astronomical accuracy, but it’s still the reality.

The council said theologians from the Vatican and various Orthodox and Protestant churches endorsed a compromise on May 15 that Easter should be held for all Christians using an equinox based on accurate astronomical data.

Under the plan the unified Easter usually falls as it would under the Gregorian calendar used by Catholics and Protestants, said Dagmar Heller, an ecumenical professor in Switzerland heading the council’s faith and order commission.

In the next 15 years, the only time Western churches would have to change Easter is in 2019 from April 21 to March 24. The bigger adjustment would be for the Orthodox Church, which has experienced several schisms in its history over the question of dates.

There is still a schismatic Greek Orthodox Church that goes by the name of “Old Calendarists,” that not only refuses to use the Gregorian calendar even for secular purposes, but wouldn’t accept a revised Julian calendar promulgated by the official Greek Orthodox Church in the 1920s. I kid you not.

The caveat to all this is that the Orthodox participants will need to sell the agreement to the various national Orthodox churches, as well as to the ethinic branches in the United States. But it looks like there is at least a possibility that the entire Christian world will be celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord on the same day of the year in the future. Thank God for small blessings.

The California Supreme Court resisted the urge to legislate from the bench today, and upheld the propriety of the amendment process that has declared marriage to be one man-one woman in the Golden State. According to AP:

The California Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday, but it also decided that the estimated 18,000 gay couples who tied the knot before the law took effect will stay wed.

The 6-1 decision written by Chief Justice Ron George rejected an argument by gay rights activists that the ban revised the California constitution‘s equal protection clause to such a dramatic degree that it first needed the Legislature‘s approval.

The court said the people have a right, through the ballot box, to change their constitution.

“In a sense, petitioners’ and the attorney general’s complaint is that it is just too easy to amend the California constitution through the initiative process. But it is not a proper function of this court to curtail that process; we are constitutionally bound to uphold it,” the ruling said.

When the suit against Prop 8 was filed, I thought that the arguments it presented were a real stretch, and I think it’s safe to say that I was right, given that 6 of 7 members of one of the nation’s most liberal supreme courts not only wouldn’t buy them, but said:

Accordingly, we conclude that each of the state constitutional challenges to Proposition 8 advanced by petitioners and the Attorney General lacks merit.

The only dissent came from a justice who thinks his vote on the court outweighs that of California voters. According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

Justice Carlos Moreno, in a lone dissent, said a majority should not be allowed to deprive a minority of fundamental rights by passing an initiative.

Which means, essentially, that he voted to uphold the challenge to Prop 8, not because the arguments had merit, but because he doesn’t like the proposition. That’s a legitimate political position, but if the petitioners had thought that a legitimate legal argument, they would have made it. Sounds like Justice Moreno needs to resign from the court and run for the state legislature.

At the same time that they upheld Prop 8, the justices also allowed the 18,000 gay marriages contracted before the referendum was passed to stand. That was the only fair thing to do. The justices had committed a horrendous blunder last June when they ordered the state to register same-sex marriages at the same time they let Prop 8 go to the voters. It was a blatant move to change the facts on the ground judicially to try to force the political result the court wanted. It was a misuse of judicial power for them to do so, but that doesn’t mean the 18,000 couples who acted in accordance with the law as the court re-wrote it should be forced to pay the price. The justices who voted to let those marriages proceed should do so, instead, in the form of recall elections for every one who voted to abuse their power. But at least they got it right today.

UPDATE: With absolute predictability, Americans United for Separation of Church and State weighed in with disapproval of the California Supreme Court’s refusal to buy a bogus argument and legislate on behalf of its preferred policy position. But you’ve got to love how the Rev. Barry Lynn manages to insult and dismiss the majority of Californians who don’t happen to agree with him:

“Today’s ruling is unfortunate, but it’s not the end of the fight,” Lynn said. “I’m confident that Californians will rise up and reject the divisive agenda of the Religious Right.”

Which now apparently consists of just over 52% of all California voters, including large majorities of its Hispanic and African-American communities.

I have to admit that I laughed when I read this Christian Post story about an atheist bus advertisement campaign in Chicago:

Atheist messages have hit the third largest city in the country.

“In the beginning, man created God,” read ads posted on 25 Chicago buses.

The slogan “espouses the idea that man created God as well as all religions, and encourages public and critical examination of the merits of religious belief,” according to Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign.

I’m not sure how seeing a six-word slogan “encourages public and critical examination of the merits of religious belief,” but I suppose that anything that gets people thinking about God even for a moment is OK. Anyway, this is the part that I thought funny:

Members and supporters of the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign revealed two different motivations behind launching the ads. Some, the campaign reported, want to promote a positive message about atheism and encourage atheists to “come out” while others want to tackle religious belief head-on with science and evidence-based approaches.

So a six-word assertion, devoid of context, argument, or fact, represents what some atheists think is “tackl[ing] religious belief head-on with science and evidence-based approaches.” Nicely done, folks.

I read somewhere recently that Great Britain is rapidly slipping into something called “soft totalitarianism.” It’s a form of the state in which various legal sanctions short of the brutality that characterizes “hard totalitarianism” such as Communism or Nazism are used to enforce an orthodoxy from which no dissent is permitted. LifeSite News (quoting the Daily Telegraph) offers an example of the phenomenon at work:

British churches will be forced to accept practicing homosexuals or “transsexuals” in positions as youth workers and similar roles, under upcoming equality legislation, the government has said. The Labour government’s Equality Bill will prohibit churches from refusing to hire active homosexuals even if their religion holds such behavior to be sinful, said deputy equalities minister Maria Eagle.

The legislation is due to come into force next year, and churches fear that it will force them to act against their religious convictions in a broad range of areas. Eagle indicated at a conference called “Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia, & Human Rights” in London, that the legislation “will cover almost all church employees.”

“The circumstances in which religious institutions can practice anything less than full equality are few and far between,” she told delegates. “While the state would not intervene in narrowly ritual or doctrinal matters within faith groups, these communities cannot claim that everything they run is outside the scope of anti-discrimination law.

“Members of faith groups have a role in making the argument in their own communities for greater LGBT acceptance, but in the meantime the state has a duty to protect people from unfair treatment.”

The bill allows a religious exemption for roles deemed to be “for the purposes of an organised religion” but restricts this definition to those who conduct liturgical celebrations or spend their time teaching doctrine.

The Daily Telegraph quoted Neil Addison, a Roman Catholic barrister and expert on religious discrimination law, who said that the bill will leave churches powerless to defend the fabric of their organization. “This is a threat to religious identity. What we are losing is the right for organizations to make free choices,” he said

Equality commissioners include the homosexual lobbyist, Ben Summerskill, the head of the leading British homosexualist activist group Stonewall. Summerskill has called for churches to be forced to employ homosexuals and for the police to stop Christians who were peacefully protesting against ‘gay rights’ laws outside Parliament.

I don’t imagine that churches that balk at these regulations will see their vestry sent to concentration or labor camps, but “re-education” camps, featuring third degree sensitivity training, might be on the horizon.

Dawn Eden offers for public view a campus announcement that was sent to her by a “university insider”:

From: CampusNews
Sent: Wed 5/20/2009 8:05 AM
To: Faculty-Staff
Subject: Faith and Reproductive Justice

The Institute of Public Service invites you to join a thoughtful conversation about how people of different faiths and backgrounds perceive reproductive justice. The discussion will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, in Bannan Auditorium (room 102).

Panelists:

Vincent Lachina- state chaplain, Planned Parenthood

Amy Johnson- professional life and parent coach, UCC

Yohanna Kinberg- rabbi, Temple B’nai Torah

Dan Dombrowski- professor of philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences

Jodi O’Brien- professor and chair of sociology, College of Arts and Sciences

“…The decisions we make about our reproductive and sexual lives, but most especially, the decision to have a child, are among the most important decisions that we, as human beings, can make. Having a child is a precious responsibility that changes our lives forever. The privileged in this world, for the most part, have unfettered access to the reproductive health and education services to decide for themselves when and whether to bear or raise a child. The poor and disadvantaged do not. Thus, the struggle for reproductive justice is inextricably bound up with the effort to secure a more just society. Accordingly, those who would labor to achieve economic and social justice are called upon to join in the effort to achieve reproductive justice and, thereby, help realize the sacred vision of a truly just society for all.”

- Clergymen for Reproductive Justice

“Reproductive justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women’s human rights.”

Loretta Ross

Mark Shea notes that all of the participants on this panel are pro-abortion. So, what’s the big deal, you say. State universities do this kind of thing all the time. Well, here’s the punchline: this comes from the University of Seattle, a Jesuit institution.

Makes Notre Dame’s honoring of Barack Obama look kind of tame, doesn’t it?

The Rev. Jim Wallis, long-time editor of Sojourners and self-styled “prophet,” has apparently decided that Speaking Truth to Power™ is for losers. According to Rebekah Sharpe of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, he’s rather be the Power:

Although not present in person at the April 26-29 Sojourners’ “Mobilization to End Poverty,” President Barack Obama, twice before a guest of Sojourners, sent a video-recorded message to the approximately 1,100 Sojourners gathered at Washington, DC’s Convention Center. President Obama told the crowd, “My administration is working to match your service with a commitment of our own: that the least of these will not be forgotten. That’s why we’re working to reduce poverty… why we passed the SCHIP bill to insure that millions of kids have the healthcare they need.”

Sojourners’ chief Jim Wallis joked about how his group’s relationship with the current administration was improved from that of prior presidencies. “I was talking to a reporter just the other day,” said Wallis, “And he asked me, ‘what’s the difference in this White House and previous White Houses?’ And I said well, sometimes with other White Houses they’ve been quite eager to arrest us. This one puts you on taskforces which sometimes takes more time.”

Wallis acknowledged that this political change had inspired him to reconsider the Biblical prophets with whom he identified. In past attempts to speak prophetically about policy matters, Wallis said, “When I think about how we relate to power my models and archetypes are Micah, Amos, Obadiah; it’s our paradigm, habit.” In contrast, “now we have a President and a Congress who want to seriously confront poverty… I think we need some theological reflection. We may have to learn from Joseph, and Daniel, who had the king’s ear.”

Joseph, you’ll remember, was the Egyptian pharaoh’s prime minister. Nothing like aiming high, Rev. Jim.

Rembert Weakland, the retired/disgraced former Catholic Archbishop of Milwaukee, has written a soon-to-be published memoir in which he deals with, among other things, the clergy sex abuse scandals in his own jurisdiction back in the day. It would seem that he demonstrates the adage that there are some people too stupid to be trusted with spiritual authority, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

In the early years of the sex abuse scandal in Milwaukee, retired Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland says in his soon-to-be released memoir, he did not comprehend the potential harm to victims or understand that what the priests had done constituted a crime.

“We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature,” Weakland says in the book, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church,” due out in June.

Weakland said he initially “accepted naively the common view that it was not necessary to worry about the effects on the youngsters: either they would not remember or they would ‘grow out of it.'”

I’m not sure what circles Weakland must have traveled in for him to think it a “common view” that molested children and teens either won’t remember or would “grow out of it.” Of course, this is a man who once said, “Not all adolescent victims are so innocent. Some can be sexually very active and aggressive and often quite streetwise.” Nice rationalization, eh?

But for him not to have known that sexual abuse of “minors” was not only evil (if it was evil, why continue to emply priests who’d engaged in such conduct?) but also illegal requires that an observer conclude one of two things about the archbishop: that he either is a brazen liar, or that he was so stupid as to not know something that anyone who has ever looked at a newspaper knows. Given Weakland’s long history of liberal political activism, it’s unlikely that his profession as a Benedictine monk kept him so sheltered that he never looked at a paper. I guess he just didn’t express much interest in news regarding sexual crime against minors.

The moral of this story: always make sure that the leaders of your spiritual community have some clue regarding what the law says about heinous conduct on their part or that of their subordinates before consecrating them. And that they can recognize the truth when it comes up and bites them on the backside. And that they have a moral sense somewhat higher than a hyena.

(Via Five Feet of Fury.)

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