culture of life and death

Libel, Damned Libel, and the Mainstream Media

The Setting

There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there’s the kind of thing reported by the mainstream media. I am referring here to three cases of sexual abuse, in neither of which is implicated the Holy Father, but both of which are constantly mentioning said Supreme Pontiff. The first is the case of the priest—Fr Peter Hullerman, sometimes referred to as “priest H.”—who sexually abused minors while serving in the Archdiocese of Munich. At the time, the archbishop of that diocese was Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). The second is the so-called Murphy Case, involving s priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, involving Fr Lawrence Murphy, who was accused (though never formally convicted) of molesting up to 200 children. The third and final case is a lawsuit one launched in Kentucky which “seeks to have the pope deposed over claims that the Holy See was negligent in failing to report abuse claims.”

It is of the utmost interest that justice be done in regards to all of the child abuse cases. People of good conscience can agree on that point in good faith, and can agree that the people who are directly involved can and should be prosecuted. The scandals themselves are widespread geographically (though everywhere involved only a very small number of the clergy—about 4% in the US by one account, and as small as 0.3% by another), and some occurred as recently as 20 years ago. Because of the sensitive nature of these cases, they ought to be dealt with both fairly and justly, being careful to separate those guilty of abuse from those not guilty, and those who actually harbored these molesters from those members of the hierarchy who were not involved in any cover-ups.

Unfortunately, this is not the approach taken by the mainstream media. These are much more interested in forming a witch-hunt, both against the Church writ large and against the Pope himself. Unfortunately, the negative effects of this media frenzy are already being felt here in the states, as people’s favorability of the Holy Father is dropping. The Holy Father, for his part, is scarcely implicated in these despicable deeds.

Poem on the Perfect Wife

A perfect wife- who can find her?
She plans beyond and co-signs a prenuptial.

Her husband has confidence in her,
from her he will derive no little profit

Earnings and not children she brings him
all the days of her life.

She is always busy with e-mail and with fax,
she does her work with eager hands.

She is like an armored car
protecting her assets day after day

She gets up while it is still dark
giving her stockbroker a call
giving orders to hurry up and buy

She sets her mind on a company, then she buys it
with what her hands have earned she plans to reinvest

How a Society Slips--Contraception

"Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil. That road goes down and down."
--G. K. Chesterton (The Innocence of Father Brown)

Professor J Budziszewski offers his own version of this quote (even citing the quote itself) in his books about the natural law philosophy. The good professor notes that just as no man can keep at a level of evil, neither can any society. We begin with our favorite sin--usually something specific like fornication or theft which is based upon something abstract such as lust or envy--and our refusal to repent of said sin. Yet, if we can't go through a normal and healthy repentance, we will be dragged through an abnormal, unhealthy form of repentance. Failing to confess the sin--and our guilt in it--we tell all of the sordid details about the sin, in gory detail. A simple sin seems to become an obsession--perhaps even a possessive one; but even having confessed every detail, even crying out "Peace, peace," we find that there is not peace to be had.

Abortion, Torture, and the Culture of Death

The Texas Alliance for Life—along with the Diocese of Austin—commemorated the infamous Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton decisions on Saturday. It was a day filled with Masses and marches, rosaries and rhetoric, statistics (over 50 million dead in the American abortion holocaust alone) and speeches—of prayer and politics. The problem in America—indeed, in what was and may someday again be Christendom—is one not merely of politics, but also of culture. The late (and perhaps great) president Ronald Reagan once referred to the Soviet Union as the evil empire; it was true, but the late and certainly great Pope John Paul II offered a more profound critique of culture when he called ours “the culture of death.”

Heretics: An Observation

Chesterton once remarked that a heretic is unable to truly have an original thought. His point was that the heretic was too busy tearing down to ever really build up, and it's certainly a good point to consider. In my own experience, however, the heretic's problem is not that he never has an original thought, but rather that once he has that singular thought he can think of nothing else.

A Malthusian Proposal

I have long been thinking about the problem of unwanted pregnancy. The solution proposed by most of the more old-fashioned Protestant Christians is just to abstain from sexual activity until marriage; and the oft-unspoken advice is to contracept in marriage to limit the number and timely arrival of children. Catholics, with all their fuss against contraception, have an abstain-until-you-are-married-and-want-children approach to this problem. Neither of these approaches deals fairly with the single biggest problem faced by people who don’t want children: unplanned sexual activity.

A Reflection Concerning "The Longing"

Before I begin, a word about my notation in this reflection. I did not take any notes, and thus have to rely on memory alone about what was said. Thus, I cannot use any direct quotes, only paraphrases; I thus will use italics and single quotations (‘ ’) to denote anything which I am taking as a paraphrased quote, and regular double quotations marks (“ ”) to mean things which are quoted directly, e.g. from other sources.

Abstinence, Chastity, and Sexuality

Two days and two columns from the Daily Sexan--err, I mean, Texan--about the subject of sex. I am, of course, not counting the weekly "Hump-Day" column in which Ms Mary Lingwall writes about how to have better (and often, more depraved) and sometimes "safer" sex; the explicit purpose of this column is to subvert traditional attitudes regarding sex, but I digress. Yesterday, we had Ms Anna Russo's "Who can be promiscuous;" today, we have Ms Ashley Shew's "Texas' failed sex education."

Planned Parenthood, Criminals, and a Second Chance

There was an article in the university paper today about a job fair in which criminals are given a "fresh start" (so says the article's title). Normally, i ignore these things, but then I saw this little gem:

"Planned Parenthood representative Cynthia Brown, who was at the event, said people with criminal records are encouraged to apply for a job at the organization" (emphasis mine).

Guilty Questions

Mark Shea has a great little post on "asking questions." His post is, of course, closely related to the Church's teaching about the supremacy of conscience in making moral decisions. Namely, the conscience is the ultimate thing which we must obey, but that conscience must be informed--indeed, it must go through formation in general. That does, of course, involve asking questions, but all to often the questions are not exactly innocent:

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