Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Victory in Iraq Day - Nov 22!!!!

Those wonderful patriots over at are declaring Nov. 22nd as Victory in Iraq Day. It is a great tribute to the troops and well deserved. Here at The Dumber Ox, we'll be celebrating this day along with other blogs. So get ready and take a look at what Zombietime has to say HERE.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Public vs Private Sinner - The Question of Denial of Communion

I was recently asked by a friend on Facebook for my reaction to some articles:

Hey Aaron: I'd like to hear your reaction to

It seems much like this:

Because Wall-to-Wall discussions on Facebook limit space too much I'll answer it here for my friend.

There are some doctrinal nuances here that are important to keep in mind. We have three things to compare. The first is the denial of a politician of communion for pro-abortion stance. The second is this quote from Bishop Sheridon:

“Any Catholic politicians who advocate for abortion, for illicit stem cell research or any form of euthanasia ipso facto place themselves outside of full communion with the church and so jeopardize their salvation,” Sheridan wrote. “Any Catholics who vote for candidates that stand for abortion, illicit stem cell research or euthanasia suffer the same fateful consequences.”

And the last is what Father Newman said in South Carolina in the other article:

"Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation."

First lets discussion the denial of communion to a politician who is publically pro-abortion. The key here is "publically". One must understand first the difference between private and public sin and private and public penance or absolution. The politician is a public figure and in the case of Senator Kerry as in the article, he publically supported a pro-abortion position. His sin, therefore, was public. Because it was a sin to involve oneself in the instrinsic evil of abortion, he is denied communion. Because it was done publically, the priest or bishop may publically announce this denial. Now the private person who privately, in the voting booth, votes for a pro-abortion candidate (when there is a choice between a pro-abortion and a pro-life candidate) has also involved themselves in the intrisinc evil of abortion. Therefore communion is denied that person until they receive absolution. Now because it was a private act, that person could keep taking communion even without absolution because the priest cannot read people's hearts when they come up for communion during Mass. If that person consequently publically declared they voted for the pro-abortion candidate, than the priest could deny communion publically until absolution was granted.

In the LA Times article the columnist says:

His letter is likely to have little practical effect, since most people receiving communion aren’t quizzed about their political beliefs beforehand.

Which is incorrect. People are NEVER quizzed about their political beliefs beforehand, while this statement suggests that it does happen by saying "most people". The most egregious sinner could step up and receive communion, and will receive it if the priest is unaware of the state of their soul. None of the priests in these articles have stated that they will question people's vote or political beliefs. They have only said what the Church has said for 2,000 years. If your soul is in a state of sin, you jeapordize your salvation and place yourself out of full communion with Christ until you receive absolution and commitedly contrite. If we were talking about stealing or adultery or any number of other sins, they would say the same thing. What is really being talked about with the politicians and public/private sin is something called Canon 915, part of canon law. I won't get into the legal definition of it because well ... its a legal definition. But here is a good description of what we're talking about here with an example that someone posted on a canon juris forum:

"Conduct is never a sin. Sin requires conduct AND knowledge AND consent of the will. If knowledge and consent of the will are lacking, then the conduct may be sinful but there's no sin. You have to engage in conduct that is sinful, knowing it is sinful, and deciding to do it anyway.

Canon 915 deals primarily with scandal, so it addresses conduct which would be sinful if done deliberately and with full knowledge. Canon 915 also deals with conduct that appears sinful, but is not.

Example: Peter and Mary Jane live in a small community and are Catholic. They fall away from the faith and move in together. At this point, since everybody knows they're not married and cohabitating, the ministers may not give them Communion. Now imagine that through the pastor's heroic efforts Peter and Mary Jane understand the problem. They receive sacramental absolution, agree to live as brother and sister until their wedding night, and move into separate bedrooms. Well, now they are not in a state of sin. However they still can't receive Communion publicly because the public does not know that they've changed their heart, received absolution, and ceased sinning. You now have a situation where there's no sin, but canon 915 still applies."

So back to the South Carolina case which is the most recent. Here is what the priest said again:

"Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation."

He is saying that those people who voted for a pro-life candidate "should not receive Holy Communion". He is not saying, "I will question each communicant on how they voted and deny them Holy Communion accordingly." The burden of action here lies on the sinner, not the priest. They must realize what they did and willfully deny themselves communion until they receive absolution, just as they willfully sinned by acting in "material cooperation with intrinsic evil." This statement could have easily read "Driving the getaway car during a bank heist constitutes material cooperation with an intrinsic evil ... etc." Stealing is a sin.

Now reading the articles at face value one could read some sort of gestapo like questioning by the priests and bishops. But that is how the LA Times and AP have chosen to portray these statements. This type of reporting about the Catholic Church, where either through misunderstanding or willful distortion the Church is portrayed incorrectly is just something one needs to learn to parse through.

I apologize if this is all poorly explained. I am neither a canon lawyer nor a theologian. If anyone has further interests in Canon 915 or related matters please just let me know and I can point you in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Prayer for our United States

On this election day I think it would benefit us all greatly to keep in mind where our true source of our inalienable civil rights come from. And so whether a believer or not, Republican or Democrat and no matter how you vote, I just wanted to offer to all of you these prayers. The first composed by our first President, George Washington. The second is a Catholic prayer to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception who is the patron saint of the United States:

Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in thy holy protection, that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large.

And finally that Thou will most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

Grant our supplications, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And the second to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception:

“Most holy trinity: Our father in heaven, who chose Mary as the fairest of your daughters; Holy Spirit, who chose Mary as your spouse; God the son, who chose Mary as your mother; in union with Mary, we adore your majesty and acknowledge Your supreme, eternal dominion and authority.

“Most holy trinity, we put the United States of America into the hands of Mary immaculate in order that she may present the country to you. Through her we wish to thank you for the great resources of this land and for the freedom, which has been its heritage. Through the intercession of Mary, have mercy on the Catholic Church in America. Grant us peace. Have mercy on our president and on all the officers of our government. Grant us a fruitful economy born of justice and charity. Have mercy on capital and industry and labor. Protect the family life of the nation. Guard the precious gift of many religious vocations. Through the intercession of our mother, have mercy on the sick, the poor, the tempted, sinners – on all who are in need.

“Mary, immaculate virgin, our mother, patroness of our land, we praise you and honor you and give our country and ourselves to your sorrowful and immaculate heart. O’ sorrowful and immaculate heart of Mary pierced by the sword of sorrow prophesized by Simeon save us from degeneration, disaster and war. Protect us from all harm. O’ sorrowful and immaculate heart of Mary, you who bore the sufferings of your son in the depths of your heart be our advocate. Pray for us, that acting always according to your will and the will of your divine son, we may live and die pleasing to God. Amen.”

Monday, November 3, 2008

When Life Begins - A Civil Rights argument

I am having problems linking here so I am republishing this article from NRO. I have discussed this issue before on Facebook and said basically the same thing. Mr. George says it much better and brings scientific research to bear to back it up.

Update: I was able to fix it. You can link directly to the article here.

When Life Begins
Will politics trump science?

By Robert P. George

When does the life of a human individual begin? Although the question is of obvious importance for our public policy debates over abortion and embryonic-stem-cell research, politicians have avoided it like the plague. Of late, though, things seem to be changing. Recently some of our nation’s most prominent political leaders, from the Speaker of the House to both contenders for the office of president, have weighed in on the question.

Faced with the complicated and not-very-widely-known facts of human embryology, most people are inclined to agree with the sentiment expressed by Speaker Pelosi, who has stated “I don’t think anybody can tell you when… human life begins.”

Yet is Speaker Pelosi correct? Is it actually the case that no one can tell you with any degree of authority when the life of a human being actually begins?

No, it is not. Treating the question as some sort of grand mystery, or expressing or feigning uncertainty about it, may be politically expedient, but it is intellectually indefensible. Modern science long ago resolved the question. We actually know when the life of a new human individual begins.

A recently published white paper, “When does human life begin? A scientific perspective,” offers a thorough discussion of the facts of human embryogenesis and early development, and its conclusion is inescapable: From a purely biological perspective, scientists can identify the point at which a human life begins. The relevant studies are legion. The biological facts are uncontested. The method of analysis applied to the data is universally accepted.

Your life began, as did the life of every other human being, when the fusion of egg and sperm produced a new, complete, living organism — an embryonic human being. You were never an ovum or a sperm cell, those were both functionally and genetically parts of other human beings — your parents. But you were once an embryo, just as you were once an adolescent, a child, an infant, and a fetus. By an internally directed process, you developed from the embryonic stage into and through the fetal, infant, child, and adolescent stages of development and ultimately into adulthood with your determinateness, unity, and identity fully intact. You are the same being — the same human being — who once was an embryo.

It is true that each of us, in the embryonic and fetal stages of development, were dependent on our mothers, but we were not maternal body parts. Though dependent, we were distinct individual human beings. That is why physicians who treat pregnant women know that they are caring not for one patient, but for two. (Of course, in cases of twins and triplets physicians are caring for more than two!)

Why, then, do we seem so far from a consensus on questions of abortion and embryo-destructive research?

Perhaps because the debate over when human life begins has never been about the biological facts. It has been about the value we ascribe to human beings at the dawn of their lives. When we debate questions of abortion, assisted reproductive technologies, human embryonic stem cell research and human cloning, we are not really disagreeing about whether human embryos are human beings. The scientific evidence is simply too overwhelming for there to be any real debate on this point. What is at issue in these debates is the question of whether we ought to respect and defend human beings in the earliest stages of their lives. In other words, the question is not about scientific facts; it is about the nature of human dignity and the equality of human beings.

On one side are those who believe that human beings have dignity and rights by virtue of their humanity. They believe that all human beings, irrespective not only of race, ethnicity, and sex, but also irrespective of age, size, and stage of development, are equal in fundamental worth and dignity. The right to life is a human right — therefore all human beings, from the point at which they come into being (conception) to the point at which they cease to be (death), possess it.

On the other side are those who believe that those human beings who have worth and dignity have them in virtue of having achieved a certain level of development. They deny that all human beings have worth and dignity and hold that a distinction should be drawn between those human beings who have achieved the status of “personhood” and those (such as embryos, fetuses, and, according to some, infants and severely retarded or demented individuals) whose status is that of human non-persons.

A common error these days is for people to convert the question of when a human life begins from a matter of biology to a matter of religious faith or personal belief. Senator Biden recently asserted that while he believes life begins at the moment of conception, this was a “personal and private” belief deriving from his religion that may not legitimately be imposed on others “in a pluralistic society.”

Biden is perfectly correct about when a life begins — at conception. But he is wrong to suppose that this is a mere matter of personal opinion or a position deriving only from religion. It is a matter of biological fact. Politics should not be permitted to trump it.

In view of the established facts of human embryogenesis and early intrauterine development, the real question is not whether human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages are human beings. Plainly they are. The question is whether we will honor or abandon our civilizational and national commitment to the equal worth and dignity of all human beings — even the smallest, youngest, weakest, and most vulnerable.

— Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Manifesto & Other Thoughts - Election 2008

I am a conservative and a Catholic. I have never claimed Obama is anti-American. And strangely enough I'm not a mouthpiece for Rush Limbaugh and *gasp* actually have my own thoughts as a conservative. The trend I've found in all of the debates I get into with my liberal friends is people asking me to think for myself and stop repeating what the "Right Wing Conspiracy" doles out. Well I do think for myself quite fine thank you and this is what I think ... in fact I'll remove the kids gloves I usually have on when talking about Obama and say what I REALLY think. Ecco manifesto:

I think he finds the Constitution flawed and that he does desire it to be changed. I think he wishes to use either the courts or legislation to enact reparations. I think that he finds the only way to successfully implement reparations is through socialist redistribution. I do think the man has a dangerous political ego driven by ideaology and not averse to demagoguery. I do believe that a supramajority, one-party government is terribly dangerous. I absolutely believe that Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the rest of the lot have no problem with absolute rule in the government and have stated so recently. I do think that Obama is an inheritor of the Progressive movement in American. I do believe that the Progressive movement is fundamentally socialist and during its formation and beyond clung to the ideaologies of Marx, Lenin and Mussolini, whom they adored. I do think that Obama is a culmination of a hundred years of these Progressives taking over the Democratic Party. I do think that it is fascist in nature and deed. I do fear that my liberties as a conservative Catholic in this country are in danger because it has happened before (Germany under Bismark, Europe under the heel of the Fascists etc) under the exact same circumstances in the name of hope and change. And no I will not shut up about it, because I live in America and being mao-maoed by the Left only proves my point.

But hey what the hell does the Left care? The Left has over the years proven a disdain for religion, a hatred of the Church, no problem insulting my faith flippantly and jokingly believing that Catholics were not being insulted as it was all in good fun ... because hey its the Catholic Church. We can make fun of that. It is an accepted bigotry in this country and the likes of Obama and the rest of the progressive liberals have no problem taking that "acceptable bigotry" to whatever political level they want. Because that's what happens and its what has happened in the last couple of centuries. So EXCUSE ME if I don't want to vote for the man.

The majority of my liberal friends hold a disdain for the Catholic Church, while being respectful to it when around me; now mainly that's because American popular culture holds a disdain and we're all creatures of that monster. For instance: do liberals see piling feces on a statue of St. Mary as legitimate art to be displayed in public, or do they find that its offense to Catholics warrants a more critical view of the work? Is it okay to take a blessed Eucharist and desecrate it on YouTube for the world to see in the name of free speech? Does anyone even notice the multitude of misrepresentations of the Church in movies, tv and the news whose only goal is to shed it in a disfavourable light?

Now I am very practical about my friendships when it comes to my faith, as a majority of Catholics are. I love them all very much and genuinely care for them, and so I put aside the flippant Catholic jokes and the casual acceptance of anti-Catholicism in American society. But when that seeps into politics. When real policies which will concretely infringe on myself as a Catholic are put forward, I must start to protest. Lets take for example gay marriage. Why am I against it? Because legally it has a result which most people do not see nor probably care about. If the gay marriage movement was about civil rights, than the achievement of civil unions, something which I do support, would fulfill that goal. But for the movement its not enough. It must be marriage? Why? Its not for the sake of civil rights. So what is it really about? Because when marriage from a civil government standpoint becomes only a civil union, it undermines the legitimacy of religious marriages. Marriage has always been under the umbrella of religion and when one chooses to be married by a priest, rabbi or what have you, the state automatically recognizes that marriage as a civil union pursuant with a license. However, when you redefine marriage as ONLY a civil union legally and place it under the umbrella of the state, there is no longer an automatic recognition of religious marriage. And that is actually a purposeful goal of the gay marriage movement. Believe me I know.

Discovering that is what turned me against the movement when I lived in Massachusetts. And that applies to any political movement, such as progressive liberals, who wish to move issues of social justice and welfare as something the government PROVIDES rather than something it is designed to PROMOTE. It occurred in education. Our education system in America was partially founded on the principles of the Catholic school system, because Catholics in America had a real desire to make sure their children receive a proper and fruitful education. As the government took over education more and more, it subsequently devalued and undermined the Catholic education system. As another historical example, Bismark did the same thing in Germany in the 19th century with the Kanzelparagraf, what we in America know better as the Kulturkampf, or "culture war". Reform the government so that those institutions which were once maintained by churches are made political and secular and brought under the wing of the government ... thus undermining the influence of the churches in a move to eliminate them altogether. My older sister is a Franciscan nun whose order fled Germany to America in the 19th century because of those "progressive governmental reforms" which were brought about by the Deutsche Fortschrittspartei (Progressive Liberals).

Throughout the 20th century, governments have consistently undermined the religious institutions that provided for the people in an effort to ultimately eliminate religion. Communism, Fascism, Socialism, Progressive Liberalism, etc have all been successful in destroying religious life. So when I see a presidential candidate who proclaims himself as a Progressive, who is the inheritor of a branch of the Democratic Party which embraces the socialist policies of FDR and LBJ and wants to expand those entitlements. And I add to that an American culture and environment which has grown increasingly anti-Catholic ... I am more than concerned. And those concerns are legitimate and should not be ignored. Those who are not Catholic or deeply religious in America see these Progressive movements as something to herald and support. Because the majority of them do not see the implications of those policies for people of faith. And a minority are aware of its implications and actively work towards it.

That, above and beyond all the petty political attacks, the smear tactics, the accusations, the little details ... THAT is the reason why I cannot vote for Obama. And why I fear a supramajority of not Democrats (because I believe its not a fault of the Democratic Party), but a supramajority of progressive liberalism whose goals I have stated above.

The response I have received to this from liberal friends is, "Well that's okay. We understand that if you wish to place your religion and faith as a priority above government, that that is legitimate and a good reason not to vote for Obama." And they are right. It is the one thing that those of faith have comfort in; theknowledge that in the end, the eternal reality of our souls and the world is a place where none of the vagaries of this world and its increasing hostility towards our faith can touch. But also important to understand is that we participate in the political discussion because we are still deeply American and believe something fundamental about America: that it was founded primarily because of a need for religious freedom (not freedom from religion). And we take that liberty very seriously.

What we fear in this election is a government that will not recognize that a majority of its citizens are people of faith, and even if we weren't, that our religious liberty is not something the government or even the majority has the power to take away from us, because it is inherently ours. Yet we see it happening every day. Something very real is going on in America. Right now. And I honestly don't believe a lot of Americans, both those who have faith and those who don't, are really seeing it. It is an extension of what is happening in Europe and elsewhere: the methodical but purposeful destruction of religion.