Fr. Rosica v. Vox Cantoris: Foretelling or Totally Random?

I have no idea. But I think you should know about it.

A Canadian Catholic blogger who operates the blog Vox Cantoris has been a rather outspoken critic of Vatican spokesman and fellow Canadian Fr. Thomas Rosica. In particular, VC hasn’t pulled any punches in connection with Rosica’s comments concerning the Synod on the Family. VC’s rhetoric is somewhat, er, strident. Fr. Rosica retained counsel who wrote a threatening letter. Read the letter here. In one word: “Wow.” Not just any (parish) priest, but a rather powerful one, threatening litigation against a Catholic layman for criticizing the priest’s public statements. I’m not a Canadian lawyer, but I think there are some (legal) problems with the positions taken in the letter. I also think (not entirely knowing the merits of Rosica’s claims) that regardless of whether Fr. Rosica has the sanction of Fr. Lombardi (and Pope Francis), this was a truly unwise tactical move that is going to backfire. I smell fish. Once the light hits it, the stink will be incredible.


Oral Argument Today: Little Sisters of the Poor

On the courthouse steps, this statement:
Pray for them. And pray for our Republic.

Houston’s Mayor and Her So-Called “Bathroom Bill”…..

…..Must be marinating in the stench of bovine feces, for trying to flush out and publicly shame Christian pastors. Suggest anyone who wishes to address the Mayor and City Council stand at the back wall of the chamber to avoid the noxious odors. Or better yet, wear a gas mask.

14801535173_f06e3cb5e0_oHouston’s new “non-discrimination” law provides, inter alia, that it’s discriminatory for men to be required to use the men’s restroom and for women to be required to use the women’s restroom at public places.

Opponents of the law filed a lawsuit against the city. The city, ostensibly at the direction of its mayor, issued subpoenas to a few of the pastors of the 400 area churches involved in a coalition opposed to the law (but who are not parties to the litigation), demanding copies of “any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor.”

Because only Christian haters are guilty of bullying and intolerance.

Same-Sex Marriage Violates the Rights and Dignity of Children

As a matter of natural law, a child possesses a right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to one another in marriage. (CCC 2376). No one has a right to a child; rather, “only the child possesses genuine rights: the right ‘to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,’ and ‘the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.'” (CCC 2378).

The ubiquity of children born or raised outside traditional marriage is not a valid defense for its legitimacy. Such situations are not optimal for children, although some situations may be better in some fashion than other potential circumstances. 

Same-sex “married” couple Bob and Joe can engage in same-sex activity a million times and will never make a baby. Babies come from a father’s sperm and a mother’s egg. In terms of procreation, “parents” can never be so unless one parent is a mother and the other a father.

Today I received an e-mail alert concerning California Assembly Bill 1951, which is currently sitting on Governor Brown’s desk, awaiting signature. This bill represents an advancement of the euphemistic, erroneous, and illusory claims of those seeking to normalize same-sex relationships in the context of the human family; it is an assault upon the sanctity of the family and the human personLegality is not the same as justice for those affected. 

If signed, AB 1951 will modify gender-specific labeling on every certificate of live birth recorded in the state. Birth certificates will have lines for two “Parents”. Each designated “Parent” will provide a checkbox option to identify if the parent is a “Mother”, “Father” or “Parent”. According to the Legislative Analysis of the Bill (go here and search ‘1951’), the law:

Requires the State Registrar, beginning January 1, 2016, to modify birth certificates to recognize same-sex couples, allowing for a gender neutral option on the certificate
identifying a “parent.”

….the current practice in completing a birth certificate
limits the choices for a same-sex couple, forcing same-sex parents to inaccurately place one of their names in the “Father” or “Mother” field.

….this bill will allow same-sex parents to accurately identify each parent as Mother, Father, or Parent in check boxes, allowing for birth certificates to reflect two mothers or two fathers, as well as a gender-neutral parent option.

Equality California, the sponsor of this bill, writes that it will allow same-sex couples to eliminate inaccurate designations on California birth certificates, stating that the current forms that designate parents as just “mother” and “father,” regardless of the gender of the parent are confusing, often inaccurate, and do not reflect the realities of modern families.

It will therefore be possible and legally permissible for any birth certificate to state that a child is born of two “parents”, but not also a mother and father. This is, of course, something entirely contrary to Truth and the natural rights of the human person.

The basis given for this assault upon the rights of the human person is that this will better “reflect the realities of modern families”, which is a euphemistic way of identifying less than just 1% of the state’s population.

According to 2010 Census data, in California there were 494,058 children age “0” (i.e., newly born) statewide. There were 23,346 children under the age of 18 living in households headed by male same-sex couples in 2010. There were 37,841 children under the age of 18 living in households headed by female same-sex couples in 2010. In total there were 61,187 children living in households headed by same-sex couples.

Assuming an even distribution of ages in those households, and dividing the total by 19, there were 3,220 children “born” to same-sex couples in the same period that there were 494,058 children born statewide, or just 0.65% of the total children born in the state.

This isn’t about fairnessconfusion, or even a proper reflection of the realities of modern family. This is about forcing society at large to affirm and normalize the bad “choices” of a tiny minority of individuals. These choices — and society’s affirmation of them — harm children.

As a result of the passage of AB 1951, any children born in this state will be potentially deprived of official recognition from their government that they have a FATHER and a MOTHER. Further, every child, regardless of the options selected by his or her “parents”, will be deprived of official recognition from their government that they have a right to a FATHER and a MOTHER.

Same-sex marriage affects my marriage. Same-sex marriage affects the rights of everyone. This is just one example.




There is No Legitimate “Right to Privacy” in making “Personal” Pornography

Recently computer hackers managed to break into the personal iCloud accounts of various female celebrities. These hackers stole digital photographs, including pictures of the celebrities naked.

The hackers committed a crime. Thou shall not steal.

Secular media (prompted by some of the celebrities themselves) states that “empathy” for victims is required because the “Right to Privacy” was violated, and that this violation is tantamount to sexual assault.

I object.

I don’t empathize with stupid. I pray for it. I ask for God’s mercy in connection with it. But I don’t empathize with it. The notion that I must have empathy is repellent to me, especially when many of these celebrities have already put themselves in the gutter by being filmed or photographed immodestly, earning a considerable amount of money and notoriety doing so.

To “empathize” in this instance is really euphemism: what’s demanded is that we condone and affirm poor choices and terrible conduct.

In Evangelium Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II states that in our secular culture, the human body is no longer perceived as “…a properly personal reality, a sign and place of relations with others, with God and with the world.” Rather, “it is reduced to pure materiality: it is simply a complex of organs, functions and energies to be used according to the sole criteria of pleasure and efficiency. Consequently, sexuality too is depersonalized and exploited…. it increasingly becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts.” (para. 23).

The penetrating influence of the media results in “… extremely serious and mortal danger: that of confusion between good and evil, precisely in relation to the fundamental right to life. A large part of contemporary society looks sadly like that humanity which Paul describes in his Letter to the Romans. It is composed ‘of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth’ (1:18)…. when conscience, this bright lamp of the soul (cf. Mt 6:22-23), calls ‘evil good and good evil’ (Is 5:20), it is already on the path to the most alarming corruption and the darkest moral blindness.” (para. 24).

Citing to a fundamental “Right of Privacy” as the basis to generate “personal” pornography places society in an extremely serious and mortal danger that confuses good and evil. But since we’ve developed such a tolerance (and perhaps even appetite for) public pornography, the point is almost lost on us.

Creating pornography is not an exercise of freedom. JPII cites St. Augustine who writes, “the beginning of freedom is to be free from crimes… like murder, adultery, fornication, theft, fraud, sacrilege and so forth. Only when one stops committing these crimes (and no Christian should commit them), one begins to lift up one’s head towards freedom. But this is only the beginning of freedom, not perfect freedom”. (para. 75).

Practically speaking (from the standpoint of this curmudgeonly Catholic), none of the images stolen by the hackers should exist. There should have been nothing to steal. Taking naked pictures for the purpose of depicting oneself as a sexual object is a sin. It denies the human dignity of the one objectified in the image, and it creates an occasion for sin in the one who sees it. Neither the viewer nor the producer is doing anything that advances them toward salvation.

We are called to live, dress, and act modestly, and this calling does not magically disappear as soon as we find ourselves behind closed doors.

The Catholic Church respects and supports the notion that individuals enjoy an expectation of privacy that must be respected by all. The Church teaches that “In the name of the common good, public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person… such as “the right to act according to a sound norm of conscience and to safeguard… privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion.” (CCC 1907).

But the purported “Right to Privacy” assumed to exist in culture today was not explicitly set down as one of the enumerated constitutional rights in our American jurisprudence. Rather, the Right to Privacy is a manufactured legal fiction adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court to provide a basis for legalized abortion. It is the product of a carving out of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was originally intended only to secure one’s privacy against state action.

This is not to say that privacy rights don’t exist; a right to privacy does exist, and under the section of the Catechism that discusses the Eighth Commandment, the Church teaches that “Everyone should observe an appropriate reserve concerning persons’ private lives. Those in charge of communications should maintain a fair balance between the requirements of the common good and respect for individual rights. Interference by the media in the private lives of persons engaged in political or public activity is to be condemned to the extent that it infringes upon their privacy and freedom.” (CCC 2492).

However, it is an abuse of the Right to Privacy to legitimize immoral and illicit behavior, including a variety of forms of deviant sexual activity (like the creation of pornography) or the products of such behavior, including abortion, contraception use, and so on. The Right to Privacy, properly articulated, does not mean that there exists a right to do things which violate the natural law simply because they are done in private.

There is a nuance here that is frequently missed by most, especially those in secular culture: freedom and rights are not synonymous. I may well have freedom, because God gives me freedom so that I might choose the good, but that does not mean that since I also possess the freedom to choose the bad, I also have the right to do so.

The exercise of a right presumes that the right exists, and we as moral actors do not ever possess the right to do evil, even when the law does not criminalize the evil in question. God may permit such actions, but he does not accept them or agree that they are a just use of our freedom. Legality — in civil terms — has the disastrous quality of eventually being equated with morality, which is why Catholics are called to participate in legislative activity and resist the creation or execution of unjust laws.

The Right to Privacy does not give license to behave however one likes so long as one does so privately. In Evangelium Vitae, St. Pope John Paul II cites to Aquinas on the question of the natural law and its relationship to the civil law: “human law is law inasmuch as it is in conformity with right reason and thus derives from the eternal law. But when a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; but in this case it ceases to be a law and becomes instead an act of violence”. And again: “Every law made by man can be called a law insofar as it derives from the natural law. But if it is somehow opposed to the natural law, then it is not really a law but rather a corruption of the law“. (para. 72).

Inasmuch as no person may permissibly make use of pornography under the natural law, likewise, no person – even the one depicted – enjoys a privacy right in its creation. Both the viewing and production of images for the purposes of sexual gratification are morally reprehensible acts. Any “Right to Privacy” that protects something which otherwise violates the natural law is not an authentic right, but a corruption of it.

Likewise, any demand for empathy toward the victims whose Right to Privacy has been violated is a corruption of the law as well, for one simple reason: no one should make oneself a pornographic object, even a “personal” or “private” one. Empathy — as much as creating a pornographic image, viewing it, or stealing it — makes one just another participant in the sin.

On seeking Freedom “from” Religion

Nevermind that Atheism is a Religion, because it Requires Faith and Belief.

There is a restaurant in North Carolina that received national attention after a story went viral concerning a 15% discount offered to customers who paused for a moment of gratitude before eating their meal. In a nutshell, staff that observed patrons pausing to pray or express silent gratitude before eating could give a discount, marked on the receipt as “Praying in Public”.

The “Freedom from Religion Foundation” (“FFRF”) claims to be a nationwide non-profit organization of over 21,000 members. According to its website, FFRF members are atheists, agnostics, skeptics and “freethinkers”. The membership of FFRF is militant, in the sense that time and again their effort is to repress and eliminate all public forms of religious expression, citing to the fallacious premise (embedded in the organization’s name) that a “freedom from religion” exists at law.

Freedom from religion is a legal fiction. The First Amendment was never intended to provide a “separation of church and state”. Rather, the First Amendment clearly states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Our U.S. Government is not duty bound to ensure that no forms of religious expression wind up in public places. Rather, our U.S. Government is constitutionally prohibited from establishing religion, or preventing the free exercise of it.

But this nuance is rather lost on FFRF. In a letter it sent to the owner of the restaurant that offered the “prayer discount,” a staff attorney represented that offering such a discount “violates the Federal Civil Rights Act” and that “Any promotions must be available to all customers regardless of religious practice on a non-discriminatory basis.”

42 U.S.C. 2000a, et seq. is part of the Federal Civil Rights Act that defines “public accommodations.” It holds that “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

A “public accommodation” as defined by FCRA includes “any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station.” (42 U.S.C. 2000a(b)(2)). As such, the diner in question likely constitutes a “public accommodation.”

We cannot forget Congress’ legislative intent in enacting the FCRA: making it illegal for businesses offering “public accommodations” to refuse to serve patrons on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion. Prior to this law, businesses could refuse to serve patrons for being black, or Hispanic, or Jewish, etc. Refusing to serve patrons on such a basis is wrong.

However, there is nothing at all illegal (or discriminatory) about offering an incentive — a discount — to any patron, regardless of religious belief, for expressing a moment of silent gratitude before eating a meal served on premises. Silent moments of gratitude are apparently bad things in the view of FFRF, and it is misstating the law and its right to insist that the “prayer discount” be ended in three principal ways:

  1. FFRF improperly suggests that the promotion offered at the diner was not made available to “all customers regardless of religious practice.” There was no showing of this in the letter itself, nor is there any proof given for it outside the letter. Any patron — including someone pausing for a moment to mentally recite Carroll’s Jabberwocky — would arguably have been just as eligible to receive the discount as a Catholic who prayed to God with folded hands and a made sign of the cross at the end. Apparently management never sought to define acceptable religious (or non-religious) practice in relation to the discount; it only sought to award patrons with a discount when they expressed some form of gratitude before eating. By this standard, the next target of FFRF will be our nation’s Thanksgiving Holiday.
  2. FFRF should know (before making representations about the law) that a case against the diner in question is not actionable without an actual “case or controversy”. Courts — particularly federal courts of limited jurisdiction — do not entertain cases that essentially amount to seeking an advisory opinion. There must actually be an injured plaintiff seeking redress for an injury. Here, FFRF cannot claim that management offered the discount in a discriminatory way: there was not even a requirement that the patron actually pray (how could the management even determine this, after all?). Rather, the discount was applied for patrons who momentarily paused to make a gesture of (apparent) gratitude before eating. FFRF cited not a single atheist who went to the diner, briefly paused to reflect on the goodness of the food laid before them, and who was refused a discount. FFRF did not write on behalf of a particular patron to demand that he or she receive the discount because management refused the patron’s request. Equal application of the discount would be the extent of the relief available in court (along with attorney’s fees), but equal application isn’t what FFRF sought. Rather, FFRF sought an end to the discount without citing even one potential plaintiff who could actually bring a claim.
  3. While FFRF can certainly assert its belief that the “prayer discount” is illegal under the FCRA, my research indicates that there are no reported cases that actually hold this. It is simply an unsupported argument being made by FFRF to scare business owners.

The reaction of this business to FFRF’s letter is certainly understandable; small business owners can’t be expected to become embroiled in costly legal battles when they are in the business of serving tasty food. But it is nonetheless unfortunate that a business whose only “crime” was encouraging gratitude has been made to believe that commercial activity in today’s marketplace precludes it.

On the Question of Use of Deadly Force against Citizens

From the Washington Times:

Directive No. 3025.18, “Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” was issued Dec. 29, 2010, and states that U.S. commanders “are provided emergency authority under this directive.”

“Federal military forces shall not be used to quell civil disturbances unless specifically authorized by the president in accordance with applicable law or permitted under emergency authority,” the directive states.

“In these circumstances, those federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” under two conditions.

The conditions include military support needed “to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order.” A second use is when federal, state and local authorities “are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for federal property or federal governmental functions.”

“Federal action, including the use of federal military forces, is authorized when necessary to protect the federal property or functions,” the directive states.

Read the rest here.

On May 28, our Holy Father addressed the 103rd Session of the International Labour Conference. In the message, Francis generally discusses the issue of the matter of human dignity. He says that “human labour” is both a gift and duty, as well as a “continuation of God’s creative work”.

He says that expanding solidarity for the laborer requires a renewal of commitment to the “dignity of every person”, which in setting out improved labour standards globally requires “focused development on the human person as its central actor and primary beneficiary.” The Holy Father is very clearly saying that while work is both a good and a gift, it must be recognized that work exists for — and because of — peopleand not vice versaUnder our American system of government, the same can be said; we are a government of, by, and for the People.

However, this Directive arguably implies that the lives of American citizens are expendable in order “to prevent… wanton destruction of property” and also “…when federal, state and local authorities ‘are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for federal property or federal governmental functions.’”

Due to the inequality of our economic system, there is a widening of the gap between rich and poor. An economic system that permits an exceedingly tiny fraction of the global population to possess almost all of the world’s wealth and resources while billions of people lack essentials like food, clean water, clothing, shelter, and basic health care is not a defensible system in its current form, especially when the system is supported by governments that create self-perpetuating policies in preference for things and power versus………….. PEOPLE.

It isn’t the fact that the government gives itself the power to “quell civil disturbances” that is so troubling; rather, it’s the fact that pursuant to this Directive the government may use deadly force against people in order to protect its own stuff and control, even in situations where human life is not in danger.

In our Preamble, it is We the People who form a more perfect union to promote the general Welfare to ourselves and our Posterity. That capital “P” in Posterity refers to our offspring — the People who come after us.

Proposed Amendment to the California Code of Judicial Ethics

If officially adopted, would bar sitting judges from participating in the Boy Scouts of America, because the revised Code would classify the Boy Scouts as practicing “invidious discrimination” against gay people.

Generally, each state adopts two codes of legal ethics — one for judges, and another for lawyers. Lawyers obviously have more autonomy than judges, because judges must avoid any appearance of misusing their official public position. Usually judges are held to the “highest” standard, although legal professionals have a duty to conduct themselves ethically at all times. Besides, ethics codes merely recite what a professional should already know and follow.

Don’t be deceived: the fight for “gay rights” isn’t about tolerance. It’s about making approval of gay lifestyle compulsory for participation in public life. The ultimate aim is about crushing dissent and expelling anyone who does not surrender their conscience. People have a hard time walking away from their livelihoods. Lawyers, doctors, and other professionals are next: various codes of professional conduct are being rewritten right now to say that there are no conscience protections for anyone on the issue of gay rights.

At each politically expedient turn, the revisions will be proposed, dissenters will be shamed, ridiculed, and ultimately destroyed, and Catholics — and any other people of conscience who remain — will lose any remaining places at the table.

Corruption, Hypocrisy and Scandal, Oh My!

State Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat representing San Francisco and San Mateo, was arrested and appeared in federal court yesterday in connection with charges that he was involved in trafficking in firearms with organized crime and scheming to defraud citizens of honest services.

One of his alleged co-conspirators is Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a notorious Chinatown gangster. I heard on the radio that “Shrimp Boy” also ran prostitution rings years ago. Evidently Mr. Yee is the third Democrat in the state legislature who has been arrested on corruption this year. Until today, Mr. Yee was running to become the California Secretary of State and previously ran for mayor of San Francisco in 2011.

According to this on Mr. Yee’s Facebook page, last year he “partnered with Catholic Charities” to help with “childhood arrivals” in immigration.

Mr. Yee was/is an outspoken advocate for gun control measures, including the outright banning of “assault rifles” in the state. If the charges against him are true, I guess now we know why.