Democracy

Let's Have A Referenda On Ten Commandments

Clearly, the Ten Commandments bother people. There are some that Americans seem to be ok with, others not so much. In Giles County, where the Ten Commandments were displayed in the "public" schools for a time, the debate over God's Top 10 is raging once again. Heaven forbid our kids be influenced by "though shalt not steal." The Supreme Court has split the baby, so to speak, on the issue. According to the anointed nine, if the motive for the display of the Commandments (on "public property") is secular, it's constitutional. If, however, the motive is "religious," cue the wreaking ball. It is up to judges to determine the motive. (Clearly that's what the Founders were shooting for).

Enter federal Judge Michael Urbanski. He's trying to get to the bottom of Giles County's motive, and has indicated that he's very, very worried that the display of the Ten Commandments might be motivated by, gasp, religion. So, he's come up with a unique suggestion.

Just display the six "non-religious" Commandments. Seriously.

If only Moses had thought of that first, imagine the trouble we could have avoided.

But then again, we're not doing so well with the "bottom six" are we? It seems that lots of Americans are pretty offended by the whole "don't commit adultery" thing. So here's my suggestion:

Let's put the Ten Commandments to a vote. Put all ten on the ballot, but you only get to keep five. The top five vote-getters stay, the bottom five, well, too bad. After all God, we know better than You about these things. Times have changed. We're, well, progressive. Your silly rules are just so oppressive.

Besides, we don't want some activist federal judge to decide which of the Commandments are still useful. That simply goes too far. We're Americans. We live in a democracy. Let's do what we do — put it to a vote.

May the best five win!

Hey, it's no worse an idea than Judge Urbanski's.

Ending "Disposable Marriage"

In yesterday's News Stand, we posted a commentary from CNN.com entitled, "Let's End Disposable Marriage," by retiring Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears. It is a startling piece about an issue that affects nearly every American family — divorce — yet is seldom addressed by the political class. In her column, Justice Sears wrote:

The coupling and uncoupling we've become accustomed to undermines our democracy, destroys our families and devastates the lives of our children, who are not as resilient as we may wish to think. The one-parent norm, which is necessary and successful in many cases, nevertheless often creates a host of other problems, from poverty to crime, teen pregnancy and drug abuse.

It has become too easy for people to walk away from their families and commitments without a real regard for the gravity of their decision and the consequence for other people, particularly children.

These are the words not of a "right winger," but of someone who has been mentioned as a potential Barack Obama nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court and who was a target of the Georgia Republican Party and Christian Coalition during her 2004 re-election. She has seen the catastrophic results of unilateral divorce both personally and professionally, writing, "As a judge I have long held a front row seat to the wreckage left behind by our culture of disposable marriage and casual divorce."

The tide is turning on the issue of no-fault divorce. Last fall, a poll found that 62 percent of Californians do not think that either spouse should be allowed to terminate marriage at any time for any reason. This from the state that gave us no-fault divorce in the first place! It is time that we address this issue head on, both in the church and in the arena of public policy.

Few can doubt the harm that unilateral divorce has brought to American families. Still, many think this is one of those issues where the most one can do is throw up their hands. It's not. 

The Family Foundation has proposed that mutual consent must be required for a couple to divorce when children are involved — meaning that one spouse cannot simply walk away without cause. Unfortunately, this proposal has met with little support from either political party in Richmond. In fact, when presented, most elected officials we've talked with have run for cover. But we will continue to advocate for this proposal until it receives a fair and complete hearing in the General Assembly and becomes law. 

We can talk all we want about fixing our tax code to help families. We can work toward "fixing" health care and all of the other economic challenges we face. But the fact is that we will not adequately address the issue of saving the American family until we address the issue of unilateral divorce. Until we elect representatives with the courage to tackle this issue we will be doing little to save the next generation from the same devastating consequences that we seek to overcome today.

Help Maintain Medical Conscience Protections!

Thanks to our friends at The Virginia Catholic Conference — who do fantastic work keeping up with federal issues, especially regulatory matters that don't require Congressional action and therefore aren't in a big a media spotlight — we have an urgent reminder that the Obama Administration is losing no time in trying to force medical workers of faith into providing services they find objectionable. On February 27, it announced its intention to remove current regulations, put in place by the Bush Administration late last year, that protect conscience rights in health care. On March 10, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a formal proposal to rescind these regulations, thereby activating a 30-day period for the public to submit comments. 

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment has devised an Action Alert explaining why the regulations should be retained and providing directions on how to submit comments to HHS (click here). E-mail messages can be sent directly through the NCHLA Action Center. A preset message is provided, to which the sender can add personal comments. 

Please submit your comments before the April 9 deadline! 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has set up a special Web site with that provides a wealth of information and resources on conscience protection (click here), including a link to the NCHLA Action Center message. We encourage you to visit that site and others to fully arm yourself on the issue.  

Churches are encouraged to display the NCHLA and USCCB links on their Web pages. Highlighting the critical importance of the current conscience regulations, Cardinal Francis George, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said:

They are "one part of the range of legal protections for health care workers — for doctors, nurses and others — who have objections in conscience to being involved in abortion and other killing procedures that are against how they live their faith in God." 

Removing these conscience regulations "would be the first step in moving our country from democracy to despotism."

The Obama HHS promises to be as destructive as ever toward the unborn. Its secretary-designate, Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic, was the most pro-abortion-on- demand governor in the country before her nomination. He extremist policy positions prompted Archbishop Raymond L. Burk to call her an "embarrassment" (Catholic News Agency). It will take every possible effort to counter the new adminstration's pro-abortion initiatives. Pro-life Virginia activists responded in numbers to impress upon the Bush Administration how important these medical professional conscience protections are (see previous commentary). A redoubled effort is required to convince the Obama Administration to retain them.

Christmas: The Triumph Of Light

From all of us at The Family Foundation of Virginia, to all of you, heartfelt wishes for a blessed, joyous and God-filled Christmas. May the  joy of His birth and the humility it represents refresh our lives to the true meaning and purpose of life, love and worship. We will be off for a few days, but will return as hard hitting, informative and snarky as ever. In the meantime, we leave you with this beautiful Christmas message from the Great John Paul II, from AD2000:

The Mystery of Humanity Redeemed By Christ

Pope John Paul II

Christmas 2000 homily

The words of the Apostle Paul — "The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor 15:45) — sum up the mystery of humanity redeemed by Christ. A mystery hidden in God's eternal plan; a mystery which, in a certain way, became history with the incarnation of the Eternal Word of the Father; a mystery which the Church re-lives with profound emotion each Christmas.

Adam, the first "living man", Christ, "a life-giving spirit": the words of the Apostle help us to look more deeply, to recognise in the Child born in Bethlehem the Lamb once slain, who unveils the meaning of history (cf Rev 5:7- 9). At his Birth time and eternity met: God in man and man in God.

The immortal genius of Michelangelo portrayed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel the moment when God the Father communicated the gift of life to the first man and made him "a living being". Between the finger of God and the finger of man stretching out to each other and almost touching, there seems to leap an invisible spark: God communicates to man a tremor of his own life, creating him in his own image and likeness.

Human Dignity

That divine breath is the origin of the unique dignity of every human being, of humanity's boundless yearning for the infinite. It is to that instant of impenetrable mystery, the beginning of human life on earth, that our thoughts turn, as we contemplate the Son of God who becomes the son of man, the eternal face of God reflected in the face of a Child.

Because of the divine spark placed within him, man is a being endowed with intelligence and freedom, and thus capable of deciding responsibly regarding himself and his own destiny.

The great fresco of the Sistine Chapel continues with the scene of original sin: the serpent, wrapped round the tree, persuades our first parents to eat its forbidden fruit. The genius of art and the intensity of the Biblical symbolism are perfectly wedded in order to evoke that tragic moment, the beginning for humanity of a history of rebellion, sin and sorrow.

But could God forget the work of his hands, the masterpiece of creation? We know faith's answer: "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4-5).

These words of the Apostle Paul ring out with particular eloquence as we contemplate the wondrous event of Christmas. In the newborn Child, laid in the manger, we greet the "new Adam" who became for us "a life-giving spirit". The whole history of the world tends towards him, born in Bethlehem in order to restore hope to every man and woman on the face of the earth.

From the manger, our gaze takes in all humanity, called to receive the grace of the "second Adam", yet still heir to the sin of the "first Adam". Is it not this first "No" to God, repeated in every human sin, which continues to mar the face of humanity? Children subjected to violence, humiliated and abandoned, women raped and exploited, young people, adults and the elderly marginalised, endless streams of exiles and refugees, violence and conflict in so many parts of the world.

We cannot but recall that shadows of death threaten people's lives at every stage of life, and are especially menacing at its earliest beginning and its natural end. The temptation is becoming ever stronger to take possession of death by anticipating its arrival, as though we were masters of our own lives or the lives of others. We are faced by alarming signs of the "culture of death", which pose a serious threat for the future.

Yet however dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the Light which appeared on that Holy Night at Bethlehem is stronger still. So much good is being done, silently, by men and women who daily live their faith, their work, their dedication to their families and to the good of society.

Encouraging too are the efforts of all those, including men and women in public life, striving to foster respect for the human rights of every person, and the growth of solidarity between peoples of different cultures, so that the debt of the poorest countries will be condoned and honourable peace agreements reached between nations engaged in tragic conflicts.

Message Of Christmas

To peoples in all parts of the world who are moving with courage towards the values of democracy, freedom, respect and mutual acceptance, and to all persons of good will, whatever their culture, the joyful message of Christmas is addressed: "Peace on earth to those on whom God's favour rests" (cf Lk 2:14).

You, Lord Jesus, born for us at Bethlehem, ask respect for every person, especially the small and the weak; you ask for an end to all forms of violence — to wars, oppression, and all attacks on life. O Christ, whom we look on in the arms of Mary, you are the reason for our hope. Saint Paul tells us: "The old has passed away, behold, the new has come!" (2 Cor 5:17).

In you, only in you, is humanity offered the chance to become "a new creation". Thank you, Child Jesus, for this your gift! Happy Christmas to all!

This is the edited text of Pope John Paul II's Christmas 2000 homily. With acknowledgement to Catholic Information Network.

"Pope" Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi leads a hard life. Look at all she has to do day-in, day-out: She's the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. That's tough enough. But she's just published a book (that's sold a whopping 4,000 copies); she's trying to "save the world" — her actual quote; and reassure jittery convention delegates that her choice for president, Senator Barack Obama, really doesn't have lousy poll numbers (a negative Biden bounce per today's Gallup Poll, an unprecedented decline after naming a running mate and after the first night of a convention). After all, she believes Obama was chosen by God Himself to rescue the world — from America. Adding to that slug of theology, Speaker Pelosi has added the responsibilities of Pope to her gig. On Sunday's "Meet The Press" on NBC, she responded to a Tom Brokow question about when life begins by declaring 2,000 years of Church teaching wrong. Seriously. (See it here, on YouTube.) 

Okay, I'm not being straight up. The fact is, to be completely honest . . . she out-and-out lied!

Ms. Pelosi, who was raised Catholic, had the Everest-sized chutzpah to say the Catholic Church is not clear on its teaching of when life begins and that it has lacked clarity since its beginning. She implied that it even accepts cases of elective abortion. Then she said she had "researched" the issue for years and certain Church doctors (i.e., philosophers) had declared life begins three months after conception. Ms. Pelosi (contact here) considers herself a practicing Catholic. She needs to practice harder. As in Michael Phelps hard.

Rebukes were swift, sure and sharp. Chief among them, His Eminence, Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York. Today he said, in part (click here to read in full):

Anyone who dares to defend that they (the unborn) may be legitimately killed because another human being "chooses" to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name. (Emphasis added.)

Yesterday, His Eminence, Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, and Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who head the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committees on Pro-Life Activities and Doctrines, respectively, issued a joint statement. It said, in part (click here to read in full):

In the course of a "Meet the Press" interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion. 

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (No. 2271) (Emphasis added.)

The Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Donald Wurhl, issued a statement which reads in part (read it in full, here):

We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: the current teaching of the Catholic Church on human life and abortion is the same teaching as it was 2,000 years ago. The Catechism reads: "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception . . . Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (Catechism, 2270-2271)

The Catechism goes on to quote the Didache, a treatise that dates to the first century: "'You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.'"

Never before has any Catholic politician, much less one in such high authority, been so heavily rebuked by so many Church authorities so quickly and universally, for such a blatant, purposeful misrepresentation of Church teaching. In the past, several bishops have said they would withhold Holy Communion from Catholic lawmakers who supported abortion on demand. However, those politicians never disputed Church teaching. Rather, they subjugated their proclaimed agreement with the Church to the perceived law of the land (i.e., "our hands are tied"). Pelosi has grossly surpassed this already grievous miscalculation by proclaiming her views equal to Church teaching.

In addition, the Archbishop of San Francisco, George Niederauer, of Pelosi's home diocese, published the USCCB statement on the archdiocese's Web site and will publish his personal response this Friday in the archdiocese's weekly, Catholic San Francisco. (Excellent reporting on all this is at American Papist.) So, Pelosi clearly has it coming from all corners, and justifiably so. Her comments, intended to minimize the authority of the Church and — worse — relegate it to nothing more than a subjective think tank with no more understanding of Church teaching than a hack who's done "some research" is appalling and ranks near blasphemy and sacrilege. 

Cardinal Egan said it best: She is not deserving of her position of leadership. Neither, we add, are any of those who agree with — or apologize for — her. If Speaker Pelosi firmly believes her secularized version of Catholicism is correct, she needs to start her own denomination. No one is stopping her. Then, she can wear a papal hat of her own and make any proclamation based on her "research" she wants. 

Like A Broken Clock

We don't know if yesterday's ruling by the California Supreme Court is more of a reflection of it being the proverbial broken clock or a reflection of the chutzpah of the radical element there that wants to legalize homosexual marriage. In a rare victory for pro-traditional marriage supporters in a California court, the same Supreme Court that ruled unconstitutional the state's statute prohibiting homosexual marriage, refused to take up a legal challenge by pro-homosexual rights groups to strike the proposed Marriage Amendment from this November's ballot. The proposal is a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Who can blame them? Since activist courts so willingly and often flout the separation of powers and legislate from the bench to encase liberal policies that cannot be won through the legislative or ballot process, leftist groups reflexively go to court every time they disagree with a legally gained action. Or, in this case, against a group that simply has a different opinion and wants the people to vote on it. (Democracy? Horrors!) After all, this same court refused to stay its 4-3 decision striking down the marriage statute until the Marriage Amendment could be voted on in November, breaking precedent — precedent being something liberals say courts must always follow when it comes to Roe vs. Wade. (Any ramifications for Virginia? See what The Los Angeles Times says.)

So we have a group that fought successfully in court against the will of the people (the original ballot-passed traditional marriage law) and that wants to prohibit the democratic process (tried to block November's Marriage Amendment vote), all in favor of the will of four people in black robes (the justices in the 4-3 ruling).

Even though the proposed California Marriage Amendment survived its ballot challenge — opponents went to court even though the amendment met all legal requirements for ballot access under California law, including well more than the required signatures; in other words, chutzpah — there is a frightening issue here: What are opponents of traditional marriage afraid of? A little voting? That's not surprising. The left is the biggest suppressor of free speech in the country. Just think of this attempt to silence a vote the next, albeit much larger, step in their politically correct speech codes already inflicted on college campuses that stifle true debate. They've accomplished their dictatorship of thought in that arena, where only one opinion is allowed legitimacy, and now they are attempting to do it in the body politic.