Deborah Gyapong: July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

More on Cardinal Kasper at Lambeth

Here's CNS Vatican correspondent Cindy Wooden's piece via

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Anglican Communion needs to find a way to affirm the dignity of all people and encourage the active role of women in the church while remaining faithful to the Christian tradition and Scriptures, said Cardinal Walter Kasper.

The cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke July 30 at a session for bishops attending the Anglican Communion's Lambeth Conference, which is held once every 10 years, in England.

Offering "Roman Catholic Reflections on the Anglican Communion," the cardinal told the bishops he spoke "as a friend" representing a church committed to dialogue with Anglicans and praying that the Anglican Communion does not split as a result of differences over ordaining women and over homosexuality.

The ordination of women bishops, the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of an openly gay bishop in some Anglican provinces are seen as practices that will make Roman Catholic-Anglican unity impossible, in addition to straining relations among Anglicans.

The text of his presentation was published in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

In his address, the cardinal said, "We hope that we will not be drawn apart, and that we will be able to remain in serious dialogue in search of full unity so that the world may believe."

Zenit has Kasper's full text here:

What we are talking about is not an ideology, not a private opinion which one may or may not share; it is our faithfulness to Jesus Christ, witnessed by the apostles, and to His Gospel, with which we are entrusted. From the very beginning we should, therefore, keep in mind what is at stake as we proceed to speak about faithfulness to the apostolic tradition and apostolic succession, when we speak about the threefold ministry, women’s ordination, and moral commandments. What we are talking about is nothing other than our faithfulness to Christ Himself, who is our unique and common master. And what else can our dialogue be but an expression of our intent and desire to be fully one in Him in order to be fully joint witnesses to His Gospel.

It has often been said, and is worth restating, that the dialogue was dynamized by the desire to be faithful to Christ’s expressed will that His disciples be one, just as He is one with the Father; and that this unity was directly linked to Christ’s mission, the Church’s mission, to the world: may they be one so that the world may believe. Our witness and mission have been seriously hampered by our divisions, and it was out of faithfulness to Christ that we committed ourselves to a dialogue, based on the Gospel and the ancient common traditions, which had full visible unity as its goal. Yet full unity was not and is not an end in itself, but a sign of and instrument for seeking unity with God and peace in the world.


I know that many of you are troubled, some deeply so, by the threat of fragmentation within the Anglican Communion. We feel profound solidarity with you, for we too are troubled and saddened when we ask: In such a scenario, what shape might the Anglican Communion of tomorrow take, and who will our dialogue partner be? Should we, and how can we, appropriately and honestly engage in conversations also with those who share Catholic perspectives on the points currently in dispute, and who disagree with some developments within the Anglican Communion or particular Anglican provinces? What do you expect in this situation from the Church of Rome, which in the words of Ignatius of Antioch is to preside over the Church in love? How might ARCIC’s work on the episcopate, the unity of the Church, and the need for an exercise of primacy at the universal level be able to serve the Anglican Communion at the present time?

Rather than answer these questions, let me remind you of what we stated at the Informal Talks in 2003, and have reiterated on several occasions since then: “It is our overwhelming desire that the Anglican Communion stays together, rooted in the historic faith which our dialogue and relations over four decades have led us to believe that we share to a large degree.” Therefore we are following the discussions of this Lambeth Conference with great interest and heartfelt concern, accompanying them with our fervent prayers.


Since it is currently the situation that 28 Anglican provinces ordain women to the priesthood, and while only 4 provinces have ordained women to the episcopate, an additional 13 provinces have passed legislation authorising women bishops, the Catholic Church must now take account of the reality that the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate is not only a matter of isolated provinces, but that this is increasingly the stance of the Communion. It will continue to have bishops, as set forth in the Lambeth Quadrilateral (1888); but as with bishops within some Protestant churches, the older churches of East and West will recognise therein much less of what they understand to be the character and ministry of the bishop in the sense understood by the early church and continuing through the ages.

I have already addressed the ecclesiological problem when bishops do not recognize other’s episcopal ordination within the one and same church, now I must be clear about the new situation which has been created in our ecumenical relations. While our dialogue has led to significant agreement on the understanding of ministry, the ordination of women to the episcopate effectively and definitively blocks a possible recognition of Anglican Orders by the Catholic Church.

It is our hope that a theological dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church will continue, but this development effects directly the goal and alters the level of what we pursue in dialogue. The 1966 Common Declaration signed by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey called for a dialogue that would “lead to that unity in truth, for which Christ prayed”, and spoke of “a restoration of complete communion of faith and sacramental life”. It now seems that full visible communion as the aim of our dialogue has receded further, and that our dialogue will have less ultimate goals and therefore will be altered in its character. While such a dialogue could still lead to good results, it would not be sustained by the dynamism which arises from the realistic possibility of the unity Christ asks of us, or the shared partaking of the one Lord’s table, for which we so earnestly long.


In that vein, I would like to return to the Archbishop’s puzzling question what kind of Anglicanism I want. It occurs to me that at critical moments in the history of the Church of England and subsequently of the Anglican Communion, you have been able to retrieve the strength of the Church of the Fathers when that tradition was in jeopardy. The Caroline divines are an instance of that, and above all, I think of the Oxford Movement. Perhaps in our own day it would be possible too, to think of a new Oxford Movement, a retrieval of riches which lay within your own household. This would be a re-reception, a fresh recourse to the Apostolic Tradition in a new situation. It would not mean a renouncing of your deep attentiveness to human challenges and struggles, your desire for human dignity and justice, your concern with the active role of all women and men in the Church. Rather, it would bring these concerns and the questions that arise from them more directly within the framework shaped by the Gospel and ancient common tradition in which our dialogue is grounded.

More on Cardinal Kasper's address to Lambeth

I find it astonishing that this reporter notes that Kasper spoke in a room designed to hold 50 people. There are about 650 bishops at the Lambeth Conference.

The Guardian reports:

Homosexuality is a disordered behaviour that must be condemned, a Vatican
official said yesterday.

Walter Cardinal Kasper made the remarks during an
address at the Lambeth conference, the once-a-decade gathering of the world's
Anglican bishops in Canterbury.

Kasper, who is president of the pontifical council for promoting Christian unity, reminded delegates of the catechism of the Roman Catholic church on homosexuality: "This teaching is founded in the Old and New Testament and the fidelity to scripture and to Apostolic tradition is absolute."

Quoting from a key document on Anglican and Catholic relations he
said: "Homosexuality is a disordered behaviour. The activity must be condemned;
the traditional approach to homosexuality is comprehensive ... A clear
declaration about this theme must come from the Anglican Communion."
Such a statement would "greatly strengthen the possibility" of the two churches giving common witness regarding human sexuality, something that was "sorely needed in the world of today".

Kasper was saddened that dialogue between the Anglican
Communion and the Roman Catholic Church had been seriously compromised over the issues of women's ordination and homosexuality. These developments had also
caused the Communion to enter into a period of dispute, he observed.
"Many of you are troubled, deeply so, by the threat of fragmentation. In such a scenario, who will our dialogue partner be? How can we appropriately and honestly engage in conversations with those who share Catholic perspectives on the points
currently in dispute, and who disagree with some developments within the
Anglican Communion or particular provinces?"

Great piece by Douglas Farrow on Humanae Vitae

Douglas Farrow is one of Canada's unsung prophets. Here's an excerpt of his piece at the National Post's Full Comment section. Read the whole thing.

Forty years ago, on 25 July 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his seventh and last
encyclical letter, which was addressed not only to the bishops, clergy and
faithful of the Catholic Church, but to all people of good will.

The letter was on “the regulation of birth,” and its promulgation was eagerly
awaited. A new and instantly popular method of contraception had appeared
ten years earlier –- the Pill was introduced in 1958 –- and many fervently
hoped the pope who oversaw the Second Vatican Council, in which the Church had
thrown open its windows to the modern world, would now signal his approval of
its use.

Their hopes were dashed. Humanae vitae reaffirmed the traditional
teaching of the Church: acts of artificial contraception are “intrinsically disordered, and hence unworthy of the human person, even when the intention is to safeguard or promote individual, family or social well-being.”

The outcrywas overwhelming and is said to have broken the Pope’s heart. Among christian leaders of international standing, only the Ecumenical Patriarch rose to his defence. Most protestant denominations -- starting with the Anglicans at their 1930 Lambeth Conference -- had begun making their peace with artificial contraception some years earlier.

So of course had many Canadian Catholics, including the Québécois, who were already enjoying their Quiet Revolution. (Between 1959 and 1971 the birth rate in Quebec plunged from Canada’s highest to its lowest.) Consternation was felt right
across the country. On September 27th, barely two months after the encyclical’s
promulgation, Canadian bishops released their Winnipeg Statement as an act of
damage control.

B'nai Brith calls for overhaul of Human Rights Commissions

This just popped into my email box. I have bolded some of the release for emphasis. I think all of these recommendations would be excellent. But more needs to be done:


‘Major overhaul of human rights commissions urgently needed,’
says B’nai Brith Canada

TORONTO, July 31, 2008 – B’nai Brith Canada, an organization long concerned with the defence and improvement of Canada’s human rights system, is calling for “urgent reform” of human rights commissions. The Jewish human rights group has successfully brought cases before human rights commissions and tribunals, which it says “have historically played an important role in combating Nazism and neo-Nazi ideologies”. B’nai Brith Canada has called on the Canadian Human Rights Commission to seize the opportunity provided by the current review it has undertaken to “make real changes that will ensure its relevancy into the future”.

“We are calling for a much-needed overhaul of the protections offered by the human rights commission system,” said Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President of B’nai Brith Canada. “We have to ensure that commissions do not become abusers of the very human rights they are charged with protecting.

“New challenges demand new solutions. Only through a process of modernization and reform can Canada’s human rights system continue to play its vital role in protecting Canadians from hatred.”

David Matas, B’nai Brith Canada’s Senior Legal Counsel and world-renowned human rights activist, has called on the commission system to “implement urgent reforms as a matter of top priority.”

Among the changes that B’nai Brith Canada is advocating, Matas highlighted the following:

“Commissions cannot become avenues of harassment in which complaints are simultaneously made in several jurisdictions. The remedy is to introduce rules that will allow for one jurisdiction only.

“Commissions do not operate in a vacuum and must have an understanding of the geo-political context within which they operate. The remedy for ignorance is education and training. Investigators must be required to undertake compulsory in-house courses that meet these needs. They must always be able to distinguish between hate and protected political speech.

“Costs must be levied against those whose clear aim is to abuse the system by launching attacks designed to harass bone fide respondents. This would be a deterrent against those who deliberately seek to hijack and corrupt the human rights system in pursuit of their own ideological bent.”

B’nai Brith Canada will shortly be submitting a full brief on this issue to University of Windsor Law Professor, Richard J. Moon, who was hired by the Canadian Human Rights Commission to conduct a review of the Commission’s mandate to combat hatred.


For further information contact Karen Lazar, Director of Communications:

416-633-6224 X 140 office / 416-312-9173 cell

B’nai Brith Canada has been active in Canada since 1875

as the Jewish community’s foremost human rights organization

Cardinal Kasper--the good cop of ecumenism--tells the hard truth at Lambeth

The Roman Catholic Church has finally ended all hope that Anglican priestly
orders will ever be recognised as valid.

In an address to the Lambeth Conference of 670 Anglican bishops from
around the world, the cardinal who heads the Council for Christian Unity said
the dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics would be irrevocably "changed" as a
result of the ordination of women and the recent vote to go ahead with
consecrating women bishops.

Cardinal Walter Kasper also reiterated the Vatican's stance that
homosexuality is a "disordered" condition.

In a well-attended closed session at the conference at the
University of Kent University, Canterbury, Cardinal Kasper said relations
between the two churches are now deeply compromised. He urged bishops to
consider their shared inheritance, which he said was "worthy of being consulted
and protected."

In 1896 Pope Leo XI issued a Bull, Apostolicae Curae, in
which he condemned all Anglican orders as "absolutely null and utterly void".
Soon after that bishops from both churches began talks in an attempt to achieve
reconciliation between the two churches, separated since the Reformation in the
16th century. When Archbishop Michael Ramsey visited Pope Paul VI in 1966, hopes
were unprecedentedly high that some means could be found of achieving
full,visible unity.

Even today, the churches work closely together at the grass roots. Rome
is understood to be looking at way of receiving as a collective body the
Anglo-Catholics in England who might want to leave the Church as a result of
women bishops. A similar formula is being sought for traditional Anglicans in
the United States who have already left the Episcopal Church.

[My addition: The Vatican is also studying seriously a formal
request by the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) to come into corporate
communion with the Holy See]

Cardinal Kasper spoke yesterday afternoon in English but conference
organisers and the Vatican refused to release the text to the media, who were
barred from attending the event. His speech was subsequently posted by
L'Osservatore Romano in Rome in Italian. The Times has arranged its own
translation back into English.

According to this translation, the Cardinal said: "Although our
dialogue has led to a significant agreement on the idea of priesthood, the ordination of women to the episcopate blocks substantially and
finally a possible recognition of Anglican orders by the Catholic Church."

You're a racist if you do not vote for Obama

Gateway Pundit lists the number of times Obama himself has implied that McCain is going to use race against him, thus implying that anyone who votes for McCain is a racist.

Sorry Barry, but I would love to have a black president of the United States. Just not you, because you seem to be channeling the same goofy weakness that animates Jimmy Carter. It is because you are on the far left, it's because for most of your life you have associated with people who hate America (or have never been proud of her until you came on the scene).

It amazes me that those who have fallen under Obama's spell think that he is going to unite Americans. No, comments like these are divisive and dangerous. There is something terribly dangerous about the hubris that Obama exudes, the presumptuousness. Like you are a terrible heretic if you fail to bow down and worship him.

Lots of Americans are tired of being called racist for merely disagreeing on policy matters.

If the guy loses, many will blame America's racism. But they will be wrong.

Mark Shea on the theology animating atheists like Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, in a fairly typical misreading of the Judeo-Christian tradition, is fond of pointing out that "the Jewish people did not get all the way to Mount Sinai under the impression that murder and theft and perjury were okay." Oblivious to the Church's entire tradition of the natural law, he fancies he's scored a crushing debate point when he informs us that the people with no access to revelation have always known that murder, theft, etc., are wrong, and therefore God is an unnecessary hypothesis. Indeed, Hitchens, like all the New Atheists (who are, in fact, creakily decrepit Old Atheists of a school that nearly died out), is well described by Pope Benedict in Spes Salvi:
The atheism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is -- in its origins and aims -- a type of moralism: a protest against the injustices of the world and of world history. A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering, and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God. A God with responsibility for such a world would not be a just God, much less a good God. It is for the sake of morality that this God has to be contested.
St. Thomas can find only two good arguments for atheism in the history of human thought, and Hitchens et al. combine them to create the moralism Pope Benedict describes. The arguments can be paraphrase thus:
1. Bad stuff happens, so there's no God.
2. Everything works fine by itself, so there's no God.
Hitchens's we-don't-need-God-to-explain-morality is a sample of the second argument. Alloyed with his outrage about evils in the world, he displays precisely the sort of moralism Benedict describes above, becoming not merely an atheist but an "anti-theist."

Great piece in the Globe by Patricia Paddy

It's the ultimate irony.

A young man - co-host of a TV show - competing to determine "who can piss off the most people," commissioned a plane to fly over Canada's largest city trailing the message, "Jesus Sucks!"

All in a quest to create entertaining television.

It's ironic, because the people he chose to offend are those who follow the man who famously prayed for his persecutors: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And that while nailed to a cross.

Interesting review of George Weigel's latest book

The war against jihadism itself reflects a more fundamental war: the war between a faith, Islam followed by over a billion people around the world, usually seen as impervious to reason and the West, which increasingly trumpets a reason divorced from faith.

It is Weigel's contention that the West cannot win the war against terror unless and until it resolves its own internal metaphysical conflicts.

Here the author's potent analogy is the West's approach to Communism after 1945. We believed it was a bankrupt political system compared to ours and we believed that ordinary people behind the Iron Curtain would eventually come to know this if they did not do so already. Confidence, patience and diplomacy were to prove us right.

At first we need to understand and respect Islam, which is difficult when the US government is dominated, as Weigel says, by a "genteel secularity". In Britain it is less genteel than aggressive; both are inadequate responses. "Islam has given meaning and purpose to hundreds of millions of lives that have been nobly and decently lived,"he states.

What ideas of nobility and decency can we offer to Muslims when our western societies seem increasingly dominated by secularism, consumerism and moral relativism and when we "do not take religious ideas seriously as a dynamic force in the world's history"?

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Regensburg address, pointedly remarked that "a reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering the dialogue of cultures".

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Zenit writes on the Cardinal Levada letter to the Archbishop Hepworth

VATICAN CITY, JULY 30, 2008 ( The Holy See is following with "serious attention" the request from the Traditional Anglican Communion for "full, corporate, sacramental union" with Rome.

This was affirmed by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada, in a July 5 letter to the primate of the Anglican group, Archbishop John Hepworth.

The letter was written before the beginning of the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade gathering of Anglican leaders that is under way in England through Aug. 4. The Lambeth Conference is facing unprecedented controversy, and some bishops boycotted it altogether.

The conflict within the Communion has arisen over debate about the possibility of ordaining homosexual bishops and blessing homosexual marriages. A synod decision this summer to pave the way for the episcopal ordination of women has further alienated some Anglican leaders, many of whom were in disagreement with the Communion's decision to ordain women as priests.

According to Cardinal Levada's letter, "over the course of the past year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has studied the proposals which you presented on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion during your visit to the offices of this dicastery on Oct. 9, 2007."

John L. Allen Jr. on the Pope vs. the Pill in the NYT

FORTY years ago last week, Pope Paul VI provoked the greatest uproar against a papal edict in the long history of the Roman Catholic Church when he reiterated the church’s ban on artificial birth control by issuing the encyclical “Humanae Vitae.” At the time, commentators predicted that not only would the teaching collapse under its own weight, but it might well bring the “monarchical papacy” down with it.

Those forecasts badly underestimated the capacity of the Catholic Church to resist change and to stand its ground.

Down the centuries, Catholics have frequently groused about papal rulings. Usually they channeled that dissent into blithe disobedience, though occasionally a Roman mob would run the Successor of Peter out of town on a rail just to make a point. In 1848, Pope Pius IX was driven into exile by Romans incensed at his refusal to embrace Italy’s unification.

Never before July 25, 1968, however, had opposition been so immediate, so public and so widespread. World-famous theologians called press conferences to rebut the pope’s reasoning. Conferences of Catholic bishops issued statements that all but licensed churchgoers to ignore the encyclical. Pastors openly criticized “Humanae Vitae” from the pulpit.

In a nutshell, “Humanae Vitae” held that the twin functions of marriage — to foster love between the partners and to be open to children — are so closely related as to be inseparable. In practice, that meant a resounding no to the pill.

Read it all.

Today, many are taking a new look at Humanae Vitae and seeing how prophetic Paul VI was.
Mary Eberstadt writes in First Things magazine:

Let’s begin by meditating upon what might be called the first of the secular ironies now evident: Humanae Vitae’s specific predictions about what the world would look like if artificial contraception became widespread. The encyclical warned of four resulting trends: a general lowering of moral standards throughout society; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women by men; and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments.

In the years since Humanae Vitae’s appearance, numerous distinguished Catholic thinkers have argued, using a variety of evidence, that each of these predictions has been borne out by the social facts. One thinks, for example, of Monsignor George A. Kelly in his 1978 “Bitter Pill the Catholic Community Swallowed” and of the many contributions of Janet E. Smith, including Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later and the edited volume Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader.

And therein lies an irony within an irony. Although it is largely Catholic thinkers who have connected the latest empirical evidence to the defense of Humanae Vitae’s predictions, during those same forty years most of the experts actually producing the empirical evidence have been social scientists operating in the secular realm. As sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox emphasized in a 2005 essay: “The leading scholars who have tackled these topics are not Christians, and most of them are not political or social conservatives. They are, rather, honest social scientists willing to follow the data wherever it may lead.”

John Pacheco at SoCon has republished the encylical. Read it with an open mind.

Bishop Mouneer Anis of Eygpt on Lambeth

I find that many of our North American friends blame us and criticise us for bringing in the issues of sexuality and homosexuality but in fact they are the ones who are bringing these issues in. Here at Lambeth, you come across many advertisements for events organised by gay and Lesbian activists which are sponsored by the North American Church. If you visit the marketplace at the conference, you will notice that almost half the events promoted on the noticeboard promote homosexuality and are sponsored by the North Americans. And in the end, we, the people who remain loyal to the original teaching of the Anglican Communion, which we received from the Apostles, are blamed. They say that we talk a lot about sexuality and that we need to talk more about poverty, about AIDs, and injustice. They are the ones who are bringing sexuality into this conference. It’s not us. We want to talk about the heart of the issues which divide us, not only sexuality. That is just a symptom of a deeper problem.

They talk about the slavery and say that 200 years ago Christians were opposed to the freedom of slaves and they compare us to those Christians for our attitude to gay and lesbian practises. To be honest, I think this is inviting us to another kind of slavery, slavery of the flesh, to go and do whatever our lusts dictate.

More on the Traditional Anglican Communion and Cardinal Levada's letter

Here's the Catholic News Service version of the story I filed to Canadian Catholic News:

OTTAWA (CNS) -- The Vatican has assured a group of traditionalist Anglicans that it is studying seriously their request for full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, also linked the issue of corporate unity for the Traditional Anglican Communion to larger issues within the Anglican Communion.

"The situation within the Anglican Communion in general has become markedly more complex," Cardinal Levada said in a letter to Archbishop John Hepworth of Blackwood, Australia, primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion. "As soon as the congregation is in a position to respond more definitely concerning the proposals you have sent, we will inform you."

Last October, Traditional Anglican Communion bishops from around the world met in plenary session in Portsmouth, England, and signed a letter "seeking full, corporate, sacramental union" with the Holy See.

The Traditional Anglican Communion, formed in 1990 as a worldwide body, represents so-called continuing Anglicans who left the Canterbury-led Anglican Communion over the ordination of women. It has been in informal talks with the Vatican since the early 1990s.

While the Traditional Anglican Communion seeks unity with Rome, the much larger Anglican Communion headed by the archbishop of Canterbury is wrestling with issues such as the ordination of active homosexual bishops, blessing same-sex unions and, more recently, a Church of England decision to ordain women bishops. At least twice during the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference that began in July, Vatican officials have warned of the consequences some of the Anglican decisions have on Anglican-Catholic unity.

Here's a Catholic News Agency report:

.- An exchange of letters between Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion shows warming relations between the two Churches as they begin to consider proposals for corporate reunion.

Archbishop Hepworth, writing in the Messenger Journal, has announced that he has responded to a letter “of warmth and encouragement” he received on July 25 from Cardinal Levada. The archbishop said the entire Traditional Anglican Communion should be encouraged by Cardinal Levada’s letter, which was written to assure the archbishop that the Congregation is giving “serious attention” to the “prospect of corporate unity” raised in a 2007 letter from the Anglican primate.

In his letter, which was dated July 5, Cardinal Levada told Archbishop Hepworth that the Congregation has studied the proposals Archbishop Hepworth presented on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion. The proposals had been presented during the archbishop’s October 9, 2007 visit to the Congregation’s dicastery offices.

“As the summer months approach, I wish to assure you of the serious attention which the Congregation gives to the prospect of corporate unity raised in that letter,” Cardinal Levada wrote.

The cardinal noted that the situation within the Anglican Communion in general “has become markedly more complex” since the archbishop’s visit. He wrote that the Congregation will inform Archbishop Hepworth as soon as the Congregation is in a position to “respond more definitively.”

Cardinal Levada closed the letter with a blessing, saying “I assure you of my continued prayers and good wishes for you and your brother bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion.”

To see the Levada letter and Archbishop Hepworth's response go here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some good fisking of Obama's Berlin speech

Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton does some great analysis of Barrack Obama's speech in Berlin. He writes:

Perhaps Obama needs a remedial course in Cold War history, but the Berlin Wall most certainly did not come down because "the world stood as one." The wall fell because of a decades-long, existential struggle against one of the greatest totalitarian ideologies mankind has ever faced. It was a struggle in which strong and determined U.S. leadership was constantly questioned, both in Europe and by substantial segments of the senator's own Democratic Party. In Germany in the later years of the Cold War, Ostpolitik -- "eastern politics," a policy of rapprochement rather than resistance -- continuously risked a split in the Western alliance and might have allowed communism to survive. The U.S. president who made the final successful assault on communism, Ronald Reagan, was derided by many in Europe as not very bright, too unilateralist and too provocative.

But there are larger implications to Obama's rediscovery of the "one world" concept, first announced in the U.S. by Wendell Willkie, the failed Republican 1940 presidential nominee, and subsequently buried by the Cold War's realities.

The successes Obama refers to in his speech -- the defeat of Nazism, the Berlin airlift and the collapse of communism -- were all gained by strong alliances defeating determined opponents of freedom, not by "one-worldism." Although the senator was trying to distinguish himself from perceptions of Bush administration policy within the Atlantic Alliance, he was in fact sketching out a post-alliance policy, perhaps one that would unfold in global organizations such as the United Nations. This is far-reaching indeed.

Second, Obama used the Berlin Wall metaphor to describe his foreign policy priorities as president: "The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down."

This is a confused, nearly incoherent compilation, to say the least, amalgamating tensions in the Atlantic Alliance with ancient historical conflicts. One hopes even Obama, inexperienced as he is, doesn't see all these "walls" as essentially the same in size and scope. But beyond the incoherence, there is a deeper problem, namely that "walls" exist not simply because of a lack of understanding about who is on the other side but because there are true differences in values and interests that lead to human conflict. The Berlin Wall itself was not built because of a failure of communication but because of the implacable hostility of communism toward freedom. The wall was a reflection of that reality, not an unfortunate mistake.

Tearing down the Berlin Wall was possible because one side -- our side -- defeated the other.

Frank Gaffney adds more:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s single most illuminating statement in the course of a just-completed overseas tour was his self-description during the stop in Berlin as a “citizen of the world.” Widely interpreted as nothing more than an innocuous expression of solidarity with his adoring, post-nationalist hosts, this declaration is actually just the latest indication that Senator Obama embraces a vision of his own country and its role in the world that should be exceedingly worrisome to America’s citizenry.

The appellation “Citizen” has a checkered past. French revolutionaries used it first to distinguish the common man from the reviled aristocracy, then to enforce their reign of terror on both. Orson Welles entitled his classic film modeled on the life of William Randolph Hearst Citizen Kane – depicting an unscrupulous demagogue who, despite his privileged background, nearly obtained high elective office on a populist platform.

Now Citizen Obama uses a turn of phrase with no less troubling overtones. The notion of world citizenship has become a staple of transnationalists who seek to subordinate national sovereignty and constitutional arrangements to a higher power. They are working to replace, for example, our directly elected representatives operating in a carefully constructed system of checks-and-balances, with rule by unaccountable elites in the form of international bureaucracies, judiciaries and even so-called “norms.”

Citizens of the world can have their rights circumscribed or even eliminated without their consent. For instance, in March the Organization of the Islamic Conference – what amounts to a Muslim mafia organization – demanded that the UN Human Rights Council (dominated by the OIC’s members) amend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The effect was to alter the foundational freedom of expression so as to prohibit speech that offends adherents to Islam.

h/t Scaramouche

Poking Christians in the eye takes real "daring"

So some jerk gets a plane to fly over Toronto with a sign that says a certain sacred-to-millions religious figure "sucks."

Well, you can just guess which religious leader it was extremely safe to say such a thing about.

Charles Lewis at the National Post has more here, plus a link to an interview with the puerile instigator of such a "daring" (read not daring at all) stunt.

Charles writes:

And just to be clear, I also think that you should be able to fly around with any banner you want. Including something that reads: “It’s Amazing What Passes For Humour.”

People should be able to laugh at anything they want, even Heil Hitler, but it’s the implicit double standard that bugs me. It’s not a case of being politically correct. That’s an easy way to dismiss anyone who doesn’t get the antics of a moron.

Maybe moron is going too far, but I’m paraphrasing what Mr. Hotz told the Post today.

“Our show is stupid and we’re stupid.”


Now I wonder if the National Post would have run a picture of the plane's banner if another religious leader had been so, well, demeaned. I am inclined to doubt they would. Yup. Even though I think they are certainly within their rights to print the picture in this case. And while I would prefer people did not run banners saying stupid or nasty things about other peoples' religions, I do not think government should get involved in stopping it.

Interestingly, the cartoonist who did the New Yorker cartoon of Barrack Obama dressed in Muslim clothing in the Oval Office has now gone into hiding, according to this column by Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente.

She writes:

Should cartoonists get danger pay? Maybe it's time. Canada's own Barry Blitt has gone to ground after his infamous, satirical New Yorker cover depicting the Obamas as gun-toting Islamic militants. Obama fans hated it. Other cartoonists hated it. But Muslim groups hated it even more. The Council on American-Islamic Relations declared it "inflammatory." A commentator for the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram called it "racist" and Islamophobic.

Fortunately Mr. Blitt works in the United States, where the worst they can do is denounce you. Here in Canada, they can take you to a human rights commission. That's what happened in April when Halifax's Chronicle-Herald ran a political cartoon by Bruce MacKinnon. It shows a burka-clad figure identified as Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal, a woman who demanded a large amount of compensation after her husband was arrested in an anti-terrorism raid and later released. She holds a sign that says, "I want millions," and her speech bubble says, " I can put it towards my husband's next training camp." Outraged, a local Muslim group complained to the human rights commission, and, for good measure, called the police.

"Cartooning itself has become a bit of a dangerous area," says Dan Leger, the paper's news director. He invited the group in for a meeting and explained that a cartoonist's job is to make fun of everybody. The meeting ended on a friendly note, and with luck that will be the end of it. "Cartoons are meant to piss you off," says Mr. Leger. "Otherwise they're no good."

But it's Europe where cartooning and Islam really don't mix. In the Netherlands, eight police officers showed up recently to arrest an obscure cartoonist for sketching offensive drawings of Muslims that appeared mainly on his own website. He spent two nights in jail, and Dutch authorities are deciding whether to charge him with inciting racist hatred.

Interestingly, Obama himself said he thought Muslims would find the New Yorker cover offensive. Way to go, Barrack! A not-so-subtle message to all political cartoonists about what they may draw in the future.

In his first substantive talk about the magazine's inflammatory cartoon depicting him and his wife as fist-bumping terrorists, Obama told CNN's Larry King the image fueled misconceptions and insulted Muslim Americans.

"I know it was The New Yorker's attempt at satire. I don't think they were entirely successful with it," Obama said. "But you know what? It's a cartoon ... and that's why we've got the First Amendment."

The presumptive Democratic nominee said he wasn't personally stung by the cartoon.

"I've seen and heard worse," Obama said. "[Still], in attempting to satirize something, they probably fueled some misconceptions about me instead."


These fallacious e-mails and The New Yorker cartoon are "actually an insult against Muslim Americans," he said. There are "wonderful Muslim Americans" across the country, Obama said, and "for this to be used as sort of an insult, or to raise suspicions about me, I think is unfortunate."

Of course the stated intent of the cartoonist and the New Yorker was the use the cartoon to lampoon those who tried to make too much of Obama's father's Muslim roots, or the fact that he for a time attended a Muslim school in Indonesia and attended mosque from time to time with this Muslim stepfather. Is the guy tone deaf to the danger he put this cartoonist in? Or was this deliberate?

Meanwhile on the Desecration of the Blessed Sacrament front, the Curt Jester has "desecrated" a microscope in the spirit of getting even. (H/t FFofF)

Heh heh heh. Great satire.

I find it absolutely abhorrent that some have resorted to death threats against Myers. I renounce those people no matter what faith they claim. No one who is serious about their Christian faith should ever do such a thing. It is unChristian.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Protecting our human rights

So....the human rights industry is busy making sure our human rights are not violated by various laws to protect us from terrorism, while at the same time acting to take away the human rights of people who make us aware of terrorists.

Does this mean the human rights of people who might endanger our country trump the rights of citizens to freedom of speech and freedom of religion?

Bizarre. I'm all for old-fashioned civil rights being protected. And even perhaps having the anti-terrorism laws checked out for that reason. But not by this illiberal bunch.

Don Butler, Canwest News Service

Published: Saturday, July 26, 2008

OTTAWA - Current laws do not effectively protect against human rights violations by Canada's security intelligence agencies, concludes a study undertaken for the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

The commission asked four Toronto human rights lawyers to examine the extent to which the RCMP, CSIS, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and the bodies that monitor them are legally obliged to consider human rights issues when discharging their duties.


My LOL video of today

Check out the Chimp video over at Little Green Footballs. It's hilarious. And no, it is not about George W. Bush.

Great minds think alike

From the Sheepcat:

There's no particular reason that different forms of disagreement with Church's understanding of human nature should be mutually consistent, and yet I can't help but be struck by the irony: in an era when some people are arguing that homosexual acts should be approved because gay and lesbian people are "born that way," other people (or occasionally the same people, just depending on whether the tides are high or low) are arguing that biological maleness and femaleness are basically irrelevant to what sort of people we are. To the latter camp, suggesting otherwise is the great sin of essentialism. "Biology is not destiny" was one of the classic feminist slogans.

Think about it.

We are sometimes asked, on the basis of far-from-conclusive evidence of "gay genes," to revise longstanding Church teaching on the morality of homosexual behaviour. It's simply not true that sexual "orientation" cannot be changed, even if most people's sexual tendencies remain relatively stable over time. But the significance of the incontrovertibly genetic matter of biological sex? So often, progressive folk both outside and within the Church treat differences between men and women as boiling down to culture and socialization.

Brian Lilley on helicopter parenting

My friend Brian Lilley has a great essay up on free-range kids vs. helicopter parenting. Enjoy.

I have long known that I should hang onto my ties, both fat and skinny ones, because eventually they would be in style again. I did not realize, however, that the way my wife and I bring up our kids -- a style closer to past generations than that of many of my contemporaries -- was something that might swing back into vogue, never mind being hailed as a radical new philosophy.

It seems that, without knowing it, my wife and I have been free-range parents, raising free-range kids. Those terms do not sit well with me. They generate images of the whole family heading outside to scratch in the ground for food, like the chickens on an organic farm. But as a series of recent articles point out, free-range parenting has nothing to do with chickens or any other farm animal.

The term comes from New York City writer Lenore Skenazy, who decided to let her nine-year-old son ride the subway home alone from a Bloomingdale’s store. The negative reaction of friends initially shocked her, but then provided plenty of fodder for a new blog -- on raising children without hovering over them at every turn. Skenazy says her childhood was spent without the fear of something ominous lurking around the corner; freedom and risk were just part of life and growing up.

Could Levada letter to Hepworth have wider implications?

Fr. Warren Tanghe of Forward in Faith International writes on the significance of Cardinal Prefect William Levada's letter to Traditional Anglican Communion Primate Archbishop John Hepworth:

On July 5th, the Prefect of the CDF, William Cardinal Levada, sent a letter to the Primate of the TAC, Archbishop John Hepworth, in which he assured the TAC "of the serious attention which the Congregation gives to the prospect of corporate unity raised in that letter", and assuring it that "as soon as the Congregation is in a position to respond more definitively concerning the proposals you have sent, we will inform you".

The simple fact that such a letter was sent might be thought significant. Rome rarely acts quickly, but it does not seem that it often proffers such an interim assurance. The fact that it did so in this case, would itself seem to confirms the CDF’s statement that it takes the TAC initiative seriously.

The reason the Cardinal gave for the Congregation’s delay seems peculiar: "the situation within the Anglican Communion in general has become markedly more complex during the same period". Despite its close relationship with Forward in Faith and with bishops in the Communion who have not compromised the historic faith, the TAC is completely outside the Anglican Communion. Why, then, should the situation within the Communion affect the Congregation’s handling of the TAC petition? That it has done so might seem to confirm the statements of several TAC bishops that their initiative is not simply about the TAC, but about opening a gateway for any and all Anglicans, within or outside the Communion, who may wish to live out their Anglican identity in communion with the Holy See. This would mean that the response must be set within the larger context of Rome’s ongoing relationships with the Anglican Communion.

The letter confirms that the TAC’s petition, or at least "the prospect of corporate unity" which it raised, has the "serious attention" of the Congregation. But a senior Roman Catholic source cautions against reading too much into the letter: it may really mean no more than, `we’re onto it, please be patient’.

There were three TAC bishops, including Hepworth, who presented the formal letter requesting full communion with the Holy See last October 9.

The desecration of the Blessed Sacrament

P.Z. Myers, an atheist professor, got someone to obtain a consecrated Host from a Catholic Church so that he could desecrate it. He threw it in the trash along with some torn pages of the Koran--desecration of the Muslim holy book.

So far the outcry against him is mainly from Catholics. Some are writing his university to get the professor fired from his job. Others refuse to link to the post because they find the picture of the Blessed Sacrament in the trash so offensive. Worse, some people have resorted to making threats.

This latest controversy offers a good opportunity for all of us to reflect on the Muslim cartoon controversy. From the perspective of some Muslims, who believe that any depiction of their prophet is blasphemous, the decision of a Danish newspaper to deliberately commission cartoons was on the same level as Myers' decision to desecrate a Host and publicize a picture of the deed.

I Googled Myers because I wanted to see a picture for myself. I read his blog post. Meh.

I believe Jesus Christ is physically present in the Blessed Sacrament, so Myers took aim at what is sacred to me. But maybe I'm desensitized. I am so used to anti-Christian and especially anti-Catholic vitriol in the news media and elsewhere, I frankly have no visceral reaction about this. I think what Myers did is sad. It reflects on his lack of faith and lack of civility.

But it also makes me reflect on the whole freedom of speech and freedom of religion issue. I think we all need to develop thicker skins and sharpen our awareness of how our actions affect others at the same time.

Remember that when the Mohamed cartoon controversy was raging, many Christians came forward to express their solidarity with offended Muslims. I believe we can stand up for freedom of expression while at the same time exercising personal restraint and sensitivity to the cherished beliefs of others.

I have read some tracts about Mohamed written by Muslims that are so full of devotion that they remind me of how Christians write about Jesus. I would not want to step all over that devotion through ridicule or by deliberately making disparaging remarks about their beloved prophet.

I do not agree, however, that Mohamed is on a par with Jesus, because I believe Jesus is the Son of God, which is blasphemy to Muslims. But when I state my faith in this way, it is because I am free to do so and I believe it is the Truth, but I do not do so to deliberately offend believing Muslims. I believe they should be free to say God has no son and that belief in the Trinity is tantamount to polytheism. I think we should be able to agree to disagree even on these most profound sacred truths and I think we can do so if we practice mutual respect for each other's humanity. We need to respect at the core human dignity and freedom of conscience.

Thus I think if I were the editor of that Danish newspaper, I would not have commissioned the cartoons but I also believe that newspaper still should have been free to do so.

I do agree, however, with Ezra Levant's republishing the cartoons once the embassies started burning and people started dying in riots. Those cartoons became news at that point. He was not deliberately setting out to be offensive, he was showing the public what the fuss was all about.

Thus if a news outlet decided to reprint Myer's photograph of the desecrated Host and Koran pages to show readers why this is so controversial, I would not lump the editors who do so in with Myers. They are showing the news.

I think we all need to practice a little more Golden Rule when it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. To think not only about doing unto others as we would have done unto us, but also not doing unto others what we would not have done unto us.

The last thing I want though is some government body stepping in as referee on these issues.

I think a certain amount of self-censorship, also known as civility and tact, is a good thing. But that self-censorship needs to spring from freedom and virtue, not intimidation and cowardice.

It's too bad, really, that tolerance has become the only "virtue" our elites want to inculcate in us, but other virtues, the old-fashioned ones of prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice are getting undermined.

In the meantime, I send up a prayer for Myers. He sees a wafer and he wants to desecrate it because to him nothing is sacred. How sad. I see Jesus and He brings me great joy, peace and consolation.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Anchoress on President Bush

She writes: I still like President Bush. And I don’t actually give a crap what anyone thinks about that.

Me too. In fact, as victory in Iraq is now in sight, maybe Bush's legacy will have to be rethought sooner. I expect though that in 20 years time he will be revered as one of America's great presidents.

There are some great pictures of President George W. Bush at that link. The Anchoress writes:

It is amazing to me that this president, who has a very full plate and carries the stigma of being “the most vilified and hated being in the entire world” - more hated than Mugabe, Chavez, Castro, A-jad, Kaddafi, Jong Il, or the rest - manages to keep his sense of humor and more importantly his humanity.

Obama could take a few lessons from Bush.

It is easy to be loved when you look good, give a great speech and do nothing, and it’s easy to be hated once you’re actually engaged in making decisions and standing by them. A real leader has to - like a parent - be willing to be hated. I’ve always thought Bill Clinton’s greatest weakness as a president was his need to be loved. It kept him beholden to polls instead of possibilities.

The thing is, one has to follow one’s own lights - do the best one can with whatever wisdom and sense the Holy Spirit has lain upon you - and not worry too much about polls and op-eds. Polls are both malleable and fickle, op-eds are designed to provoke. If you’re doing your honest best, you can sleep at night, and shake off the hate, day-by-day. If you’re not, and you know you’re not, the hate rankles.

McCain had it right; Obama had it wrong

Even Associated Press is now recognizing the victory in Iraq. (H/t SDA)

BAGHDAD (AP) — The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost.

Limited, sometimes sharp fighting and periodic terrorist bombings in Iraq are likely to continue, possibly for years. But the Iraqi government and the U.S. now are able to shift focus from mainly combat to mainly building the fragile beginnings of peace — a transition that many found almost unthinkable as recently as one year ago.

Despite the occasional bursts of violence, Iraq has reached the point where the insurgents, who once controlled whole cities, no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of the central government.

That does not mean the war has ended or that U.S. troops have no role in Iraq. It means the combat phase finally is ending, years past the time when President Bush optimistically declared it had. The new phase focuses on training the Iraqi army and police, restraining the flow of illicit weaponry from Iran, supporting closer links between Baghdad and local governments, pushing the integration of former insurgents into legitimate government jobs and assisting in rebuilding the economy.

U.S. presidential candidate John McCain:

Eighteen months ago, America faced a crisis as profound as any in our history. Iraq was in flames, torn apart by violence that was escaping our control. Al Qaeda was succeeding in what Osama bin Laden called the central front in their war against us. The mullahs in Iran waited for America's humiliation in Iraq, and the resulting increase in their influence. Thousands of Iraqis died violently every month. American casualties were mounting. We were on the brink of a disastrous defeat just a little more than five years after the attacks of September 11, and America faced a profound choice. Would we accept defeat and leave Iraq and our strategic position in the Middle East in ruins, risking a wider war in the near future? Or would we summon our resolve, deploy additional forces, and change our failed strategy? Senator Obama and I also faced a decision, which amounted to a real-time test for a future commander-in-chief. America passed that test. I believe my judgment passed that test. And I believe Senator Obama's failed.

We both knew the politically safe choice was to support some form of retreat. All the polls said the "surge" was unpopular. Many pundits, experts and policymakers opposed it and advocated withdrawing our troops and accepting the consequences. I chose to support the new counterinsurgency strategy backed by additional troops -- which I had advocated since 2003, after my first trip to Iraq. Many observers said my position would end my hopes of becoming president. I said I would rather lose a campaign than see America lose a war. My choice was not smart politics. It didn't test well in focus groups. It ignored all the polls. It also didn't matter. The country I love had one final chance to succeed in Iraq. The new strategy was it. So I supported it. Today, the effects of the new strategy are obvious. The surge has succeeded, and we are, at long last, finally winning this war.

Senator Obama made a different choice. He not only opposed the new strategy, but actually tried to prevent us from implementing it. He didn't just advocate defeat, he tried to legislate it. When his efforts failed, he continued to predict the failure of our troops. As our soldiers and Marines prepared to move into Baghdad neighborhoods and Anbari villages, Senator Obama predicted that their efforts would make the sectarian violence in Iraq worse, not better.

Didn't I see something about Tibetans being responsible

You know those bombings on buses in various cities in China? The ones officials hinted might be due to violent Tibetans?

I always thoughts something was suspicious about that. Now a story comes out about a group claiming responsibility. And warning about taking their violent campaign to the Olympics.

A MILITANT Islamic group has threatened to attack the Beijing Olympics with suicide bombers and biological weapons and has claimed responsibility for a string of fatal bombings and explosions in China over recent weeks.

In a video released by IntelCenter, a terrorism monitoring group, a bearded man identified as “Commander Seyfullah” is seen reading a declaration of jihad against the Olympics and warns athletes and spectators, “especially Muslims”, to stay away.

It was issued by a group calling itself the Turkestan Islamic party. The group may be allied with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – designated a terrorist organisation by the US, China and several other countries – which seeks independence for the Muslim Uighur people of China’s far west province of Xinjiang, which Uighur separatists call East Turkestan.

“Commander Seyfullah” said the group was responsible for three bombs last week on buses in the city of Kunming, which killed two people, and for two bus bombings on May 21 in Shanghai, which killed three.

What losing a shared conception of the common good means

Ron Dreher at his Crunchy Con blog has a most interesting post reflecting on the meaning of the breakdown in civility indicated by a professor's deciding to desecrate a Communion Host. (The professor also says he desecrated a Koran, but that seems to have been lost in the shuffle.)

Please read the whole essay because it touches on some themes that have animated my blogging on the whole freedom of speech issue. I firmly believe in civility and respect being granted to people with whom I disagree and I do not believe a pluralistic democracy can exist unless people voluntarily exercise their freedoms--including freedom of speech-- with restraint and a voluntary doing unto others as we would have done unto us.

Dreher tells of the ominous developments can take place if a kind of voluntary social consensus breaks down. We're seeing first draconian implications here in Canada with the widespread intrusion of so-called human rights commissions where government starts putting a muzzle on what people can say or not say, and of course that muzzle is ideologically motivated. Here's an excerpt of Dreher's post. Please read it all.

BTW, I do not support the government taking legal action against this offensive professor's action. I just wish he would experience some of the kind of censure that football player received when it was discovered he organized dog fights and didn't treat his animals well.

Yesterday while driving around, I listened on CD to a 2005 lecture given by James Davison Hunter, the University of Virginia sociologist who specializes in studying the culture war (it was Hunter who coined the phrase "culture war.") The thesis of the lecture was that the cultural conditions that brought about the founding of the American Republic no longer exist. Hunter explained that even though American at the founding contained people who believed religious faith was the source of ultimate authority for the government, and those who believed pure reason was, the American settlement was sufficiently opaque to accomodate both sides. The reason? A shared commitment to a broad understanding of what constituted the common good. Whether you believed an understanding of the Good derived primarily from religious dictates, or natural reason shorn of the distorting lens of religion, there was broad agreement on where society ought to be headed.

That's over, Hunter says. The Enlightenment dream that Reason alone can disclose authoritative truths to live by has been shown to have been empty. All Reason alone gives us is radical subjectivity. It has shown us how and why to doubt everything, but does not show us why we should believe in anything (other, I suppose, than the truths disclosed by science -- which aren't moral truths at all). Hunter says the students he teaches at UVA have never read the postmodernist philosophers, but they, by virtue of living in contemporary America, are as postmodern as any Derrida.

What does this mean for the future of democracy? Hunter says that we're at a pretty risky time right now. We've lost a shared understanding of the Common Good; and moreover, we're getting to the place where we don't have the civic conviction that life in a pluralistic democracy demands a certain degree of mutual respect, and respect of the forms we've developed for working out our differences in public.

America The National Catholic weekly looks at Lambeth and TAC

Neither of those questions is relevant if the bishops at Lambeth cannot agree to the proposals. If they can – and it would be because they believe they are on the cliff edge, and are shrinking back in horror -- this would mark a new departure for the Anglican Church, which has traditionally spurned a central doctrinal watchdog and “authoritarian” (as many would see them) ecclesiological structures.

It would be a huge vindication for Dr Williams, and delight Rome – this is precisely the path which the Vatican has been urging Anglicans to go down.

Conversely, if the proposals fail, the Anglican Church can expect a long dark night of balkanisation and Rome will all but give up on structured ecclesial dialogue. Whom would Catholics be talking to, and what would be the point?

If Dr Williams’s proposals fail, the way opens for serious negotiations with traditionalist Anglicans for some kind of corporate reception. Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has written to traditional Anglicans here to tell them it is open to their ideas for some kind of “corporate unity” – but definitely not yet.

Read between the lines – and take a note of the letter’s timing. The Vatican will do nothing pro tem to interfere with Dr Williams’s attempts to tighten up his Church and everything to encourage them. But if the attempts fail, the Catholic Church will be open to the Traditionalist Anglican Communion (whose head is the Australian bishop John Hepworth) coming over en bloc.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Reaction and speculation begins on Levada letter to TAC

There is some interesting commentary here:

PKTP writes:
They have really accepted all Catholic teaching now. The only sticking point is that they have married bishops. But their Primate, John Hepworth, has signalled that, if need be, their 'bishops' will accept rank as priests so that the Pope can promote to bishop unmarried priests from among them.

They are seeking to be the first uniate Western Catholic Church. In my considered view, they will get this, probably by October. This is the logical way to bring in the conservatives from the Church of England, those who presently reject 'bishopettes' and inverted marriages. These new converts, led by the Church of England Bishop of Ebbsfleet and ten other Church of England bishops, could simply cross over into a uniate TAC (Traditional Anglican Church) under the Pope. This is the way to go. In the near future, the leader of the Third World Anglicans (GAFCON) will probably bring in about one-third of the world's Anglicans.

The Anglican Use in the U.S.A. is definitely NOT the way to go. A prelature for the recent Church of Englanders under a Catholic bishop in England is also definiately not the way to go.

The Holy Father will have to decide if he'll let them keep their married bishops. They will accept his decision on this.

They will get to keep most of their Anglican traditions but must submit to an acceptable Eucharistic Liturgy (already achieved) and the rule on confessing sins once a year, and the rule against divorce & re-marriage. These are no longer stumbling-block. They will have to 'lose' St. Charles the Martyr but might be able to 'keep' King St. Henry VI.

Marjorie Campbell reflects on children and sexuality

Please read the whole essay. Campbell writes:

Dawn Stefanowicz's Out from Under takes on gay parenting from one child's perspective. It is her candid account of life growing up "under" an exploitative father whose same-sex attraction blasted his life and the life of his wife and three children like a hurricane. Stefanowicz's early, explicit, and continuous exposure to sex-obsessed gay subculture generated the subtitle of her chronicle, "The Impact of Homosexual Parenting."
With an amazing, faith-driven charity, Stefanowicz offers explanation, even understanding, for the lifestyle her father imposed on the family:
In many ways, he seemed as stubbornly wedged in the confusion of early adolescence as I was. He was never content with himself and was constantly trying to improve his appearance. He was often narcissistic, self-absorbed, and very needy for male affirmation and affection. His ideal sexual partner was someone who would be very subordinate to his demands without being effeminate. He used power in these relationships, often with men ten years his junior. . . . He carried a lot of unresolved anger . . . and had numerous and anonymous sexual partners . . . involved in many different kinds of sexual behavior, including group sex. So, of course, there would be jealousy and hurt feelings from time to time . . . there was that legion of spurned ex-partners who would no longer come around.
The article is not about gay parenting, it is about a collapse in the moral consensus that used to protect children from undue exposure to adult sexuality. I am sure most gay parents go out of their way to protect the children under their care from exposure to adult sexual behavior just as conscientious heterosexual parents do. And there are, obviously, heterosexual parents who don't, who even exploit children through incest. But when you see sexualized images of young girls in advertising campaigns, you can see where society is moving.

Shrinkwrapped analyzes Obama's facility with words

When Barack Obama expressly contradicts himself within minutes of making a comment, there are several possible explanations for his facility with the language:

1) It is possible, perhaps likely, that Obama simply does not believe it is wise or necessary for him to admit an error. This is an accusation that has been made about President Bush on a regular basis, and has contributed to the tribulations of the Bush Presidency.

2) Obama may well be able to convince himself, probably post facto, that his words mean just what he wants them to mean, a la Humpty Dumpty, and therefore doesn't consider the contradictions to be significant.

3) He may believe that he still lives in a world dominated by the MSM, that they will continue to cover for him as they have done since the beginning of his campaign, and that there is no need for him to maintain any consistency or explain any contradictions.

4) In the worst case scenario, he may well be an opportunistic sociopath who lies because he thinks he can get away with it.

I suspect that his behavior represents a combination of these possibilities, plus some other possibilities I am probably neglecting. Since an intellectual educated in a post-modernist university starts from the premise that reality is constructed by those who have power, he assumes that his words, mellifluous and powerful, are enough to determine reality. This would fit with Obama's history; after all his most common vote while a State Senator was "present" suggesting that taking responsibility for actions was considered a liability rather than an asset. Now that the seat of greatest power lies within reach he is already behaving as if he has attained his goal. He acts as if once President, his descriptions of reality would trump reality. This is also in line with the world of George Lakoff who is very influential within the Democratic party for his theory that the problem of liberalism lies in the words and framing of their arguments rather than in the content of their ideas.

Reaping in actions what we sow in ideas

Some sobering reading out there in the blogosphere. Here are some links of posts that remind me how ideas have consequences and how sadly and dangerously truncated are views of the human being have become with awful results.

From Denyse O'Leary's Post-Darwinist blog--always a good source of thoughtful and challenging information about the real Intelligent Design debate, not the made-up one of mainstream media spin doctors--some quotes from Victor Frankl via historian Richard Weikhart who says:

Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor who endured the horrors of Auschwitz, astutely commented on the way that modern European thought had helped prepare the way for Nazi atrocities (and his own misery). He stated, "If we present a man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present man as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instinct, heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone. I became acquainted," Frankl continued, "with the last stage of that corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment--or, as the Nazi liked to say, of 'Blood and Soil.' I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers."

Ron Dreher at his Crunchy Con blog talks about athletes at a high school simulating gang rape on younger students in the showers, 20 feet away from the coach's office. He writes:

I don't know enough to say where the buck stopped in that school. But at some level, adults failed to protect these kids. At the end of our conversation today, I told the superintendent that I know there never has been a golden age of teenage boy behavior, but the idea of simulating anal gang rape is just off-the-charts bizarre. One mom told me she and her husband moved their family to Sunnyvale, which is an upscale community, to escape the rough environment in a more downscale suburb's schools. And look what those sicko athletes did to her kid!

The superintendent said he's about the same age as I am (I'm 41), and that if I haven't spent much time around teenagers since my high school and middle school years, I'd be shocked by the ideas and behavior that are normal now, but that weren't as recently as the 1980s, when we were in school. I should make it clear that he wasn't trying to blame anybody else for what happened in the school with this bullying, but was saying (as I heard him) that the restraints that used to be in place in this culture until almost yesterday are badly frayed.

I believe him.

So do I. What has happened to internal restraints that came from religious instruction? What has happened to virtues like self-control?

The more we have this kind of internal lawlessness, the more the busybodies in the Nanny state think they need to control our lives. The more we think freedom is absence of self-restraint, the more destruction we leave in our wake that almost demands that the state comes in to fix up the mess we've left behind.

Getting rid of human rights commissions is not going to be anything but a band-aid solution. We have to reclaim the notion of human freedom. We have to re-inculcate the old-fashioned meanings of what it means to be a human being---made in the image and likeness of God--and our notions of what freedom for that human being looks like in its highest and most noble aspect.

Jesus said the Truth shall make us free. That is freedom indeed, not the kind of libertine excess that is really slavery to animal appetites and addictions to ugly passions that we are afraid to admit about ourselves.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cardinal Levada responds to the Traditional Anglican Communion

Cardinal William Levada, the Prefect for the Congregration for the Doctrine of the Faith, has written to the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion concerning the TAC's formal request to come into corporate unity with the Holy See.

There is more at

Note the letter was written July 5, well before the Lambeth Conference, but it is my understanding Archbishop Hepworth only received it yesterday via the Australian Nuncio.

25th july 2008

Levada to TAC

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mass man--Joseph Bottum looks at Ortega y Gasset's concept

Joseph Bottum revisits Ortega yGasset's "mass man" over at First Things.

Ortega’s accomplishment in that book was to identify a new sociological species: mass man. As The Revolt of the Masses explains, the mass man is not just an ordinary man, and he is not associated with any particular class. He is, rather, a product of European historical development, a kind of human being born for the first time in the nineteenth century.

The description Ortega gives is not particularly enjoyable. The mass man lives without any discipline, and—as Ortega remembers from Goethe—“to live as one pleases is plebian.” The mass man “possesses no quality of excellence.” He demands more and more, as if it were his natural right, without realizing that what he wants was the privilege of a tiny group only a century ago. He does not understand that technological wonders are the product of an intricate cultural process for which he should be grateful. “What before would have been considered one of fortune’s gifts, inspiring humble gratitude toward destiny, was converted into a right, not to be grateful for, but to be insisted on,” The Revolt of the Masses claims.

What Ortega understood is that the nineteenth century created the kind of human being who would become the dominant social force in the twentieth century—and thus that there is no way back to the aristocratic style of politics that dominated history for millennia. Mass man, fortified by an array of rights, is in charge of historical destiny.

The danger of that fact, however, lies in mass man’s lack of even a rudimentary understanding of culture. Here Ortega draws a critical distinction between civilization and culture. Civilization is the sum of the technical and technological tools that make life as we know it possible. And culture is that civilization’s underpinnings—the set of ideas, motives, and religious truths that gave birth to civilization.

So, for instance, mass man is oblivious to the fact that much of what is known in modern times as science started as a theoretical or theological game in the seventeenth century. The serious underpinnings of science were apparent to René Descartes, for instance. One of the founders of modern science, Descartes points out in several of his letters that his philosophical conception of God is indispensable for his new conception of science—since it is a view of God as capable of changing even the truths of mathematics.