Steve Jalsevac

Al Smith dinner musings: who was funnier and have pro-life leaders been way too negative?

Steve Jalsevac
Image

Well, the Al Smith dinner has come and gone. The event received predictably massive media coverage. It was broadcast live on the C-Span Cable network and varying portions were broadcast on most other television networks, stations and major news websites and it was written up in many newspapers. The videos seemed to have sometimes been strategically edited to make one candidate (mostly Obama) look better than the other.

The totally predictable photos of an uproariously laughing Cardinal Dolan in the center of the two laughing presidential candidates were printed and broadcast far and wide. The Associated Press news service syndicated photo was perhaps the most notable example of the photo-op that many social and otherwise conservative or just plain patriotic Americans feared the most.

After watching the full speeches of both President Obama and Mitt Romney, it’s my opinion Romney trounced Obama in getting the bigger laughs and using humor to considerable political advantage. I didn’t expect that. Both candidates had admittedly really funny lines. Still, it seemed to me that the speeches were in some ways a replay of the first Romney/Obama debate. Obama was not nearly as funny nor as lively as Romney. Maybe I’m biased.

It appeared Romney had a better understanding than some of the great danger to America from a second Obama term. He may have understood that it was appropriate to exploit the opportunity, regardless of the otherwise acceptable polite traditions of the Al Smith dinner, to ridicule Obama to the maximum advantage of the American people. Humor can at times have a greater impact than straight debate.

Click ‘like’ if you want to END ABORTION!

There is still the question of the appropriateness (a matter of prudential judgment) of inviting Obama, especially at a time so close to the election. 

Cardinal Dolan’s reference to both Obama and Romney as men of honor and faith was very disconcerting. He stated at the dinner: “I’m privileged to be in the company of two honorable men, both called to the noble vocation of public service, whose love for God and country is surpassed only by their love for their own wives and children…” “two honorable men who love God and country?” Was there someone else in the room he was referring to? Those descriptions clearly do not in any way accurately apply to the “abortion president.”

That inappropriate praise reminds us of the New York cardinal’s similar praise for the Catholicism of the two vice-presidential candidates. Dolan stated, “We’ve got two men who - and you can disagree with one of them or both of them - say they take their faith seriously, who don’t try to hide it”. Joe Biden cannot possible be taking his faith seriously. Why this embarrassing, if not dangerous deference to anti-Catholic despots?

The ecstatic comments from our dear friend, Michael Sean Winters, of the usually dissident, “social justice” religion National Catholic Reporter are revealing. The enthusiasm of Winters and NCR colleague Tom Gallagher over the dinner outcome seems to confirm concerns of many Catholics and other Christians about the invitation to the “abortion president”. If many years dissident Winters thought the evening was “a great moment for the Cardinal-Archbishop of New York and for the Catholic Church and for the country”, then we should be asking more questions about the evening.

Judy Brown’s column presents an interesting, previously unknown tidbit of information about Cardinal Dolan’s judgments regarding appropriate dinner guests. Her experience is not uncommon.

Many outspoken, but usually still respectful Catholic pro-life, pro-family leaders have at one time or another been thrown out of bishops’ offices or harshly admonished in public or private for simply revealing disturbing information and encouraging needed action. The whistle-blower is all too often quickly labelled the real problem - an “all or nothing” “troublemaker” for putting the Church leader in such an uncomfortable situation. Prominent individuals, such as Obama, who distribute financial largess, are seen as much preferable opportunities for “charity” and “dialogue” that well informed pro-life, pro-family leaders themselves are frequently denied.

Mind you, I am not saying that Cardinal Dolan is not pro-life. He most certainly is and some notably positive changes are happening under his watch at the head of the USCCB. And a lot of the statements in this blog post are just my opinions.

Still, I wonder sometimes if we pro-lifers are insane for believing what the Popes and many bishops and leaders of various Christian denominations and other religions and cultures repeatedly emphasize - that every abortion is an unjust killing of an utterly innocent, totally human life. There are growing numbers of damaged post abortive women who are giving moving witness to that same belief from the real experiences in their lives.

Perhaps we are too negative and overdoing it and unnecessarily enduring ridicule from most of the elites as the man/God endured 2,000 years ago. I mean, He ended up getting nailed to a cross for his foolishness of continuing to make too many people in high places very uncomfortable. Not smart tactics many would think today. He was especially way too critical of religious leaders. Think of all the good He could have done for mankind had he not been such a troublemaker.

Most leaders have not been acting as though there really is an ongoing and expanding slaughter of innocents. And this attitude (with some notable exceptions) has been sustained for 40 years. We obviously haven’t been getting it right all these years. Why are we always so serious about abortion, euthanasia, the spread of the gay culture and all that, if most of our wise and learned leaders clearly aren’t terribly concerned about these issues? They have repeatedly shown that there are other, more important priorities.

Maybe we really should publicly joke and hysterically laugh and dine with those who promote, fund and use every power available to them to violently kill even more than the 50 million innocent lives ended in America alone since 1972. And then there is the massive collateral damage of the slaughter - a collapsing respect for human life, advancing euthanasia and assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, other aspects of moral collapse and much, much more.

Perhaps we should finally admit that, you know, there are other issues that we should be giving just as much of our time to - poverty, unemployment, unjust social structures, global warming, bottled water, mining in developing countries and so on. These aren’t nearly as disturbing and “complex” issues. With that change, maybe there will finally be more “dialogue” and the elites will welcome the opportunity to sit next to us at the head table of any dinner. We can finally start having a grand time.

Just saying.

Support hard-hitting pro-life and pro-family journalism.

Donate to LifeSite's fall campaign today


Share this article

Advertisement

Mugging by Catholic bloggers

Steve Jalsevac
Steve Jalsevac

Now and then various Church officials complain about deeply uncharitable and harmful discussions on some Catholic blogs. Facebook, blogs, Twitter and even email can each far too easily allow angry thoughts that cross people’s minds to be published for all the world to see without the sober second thought that would naturally accompany face-to-face or spoken communication.

There was a recent attack against LifeSiteNews from a very well known Catholic writer and another such writer and her husband. Using these means of unfiltered near-instant communications, they poured calumny and invective on LifeSiteNews and our talented and committed staff.

Critics who obviously know very little about us, how we function, and our editorial decision-making penned very harsh judgments about our motives and other aspects of our work.

Here are just a few samples of what was what posted on the Facebook pages of various well-known and prolific Catholic writers:

  • “Two sentences that make me turn on my bullshit detector: ones that start, ‘Guess what Pope Francis just did?’ and ones that start, ‘According to LifeSiteNews . . . ‘”
  • “lying assholes who attack the Church”
  • “lazy, biased, and stupid reporting”
  • “no respect for LSN as a whole”
  • “an organization with a bad reputation”
  • “no news sense and no conscience”
  • hang your “head in shame for attempting to bring division in the Church through inaccurate and dishonest reporting”
  • “anti-Catholic bias”
  • “They have a distorted view of reality, and no conscience when it comes to reporting lies in order to advance the agenda.”
  • “sleazier than the National Enquirer”
  • “They don't actually do any reporting. They rewrite a lot of other people's reporting without checking facts or giving attribution.”
  • “The narcissism and pride is epic.”

Criticism naturally comes with the territory of journalism and should always be expected. However, when this kind of crude assault is hurled so recklessly from fellow Catholics or other Christians, it does leave us unsettled. Moreover, when such vile language and character assassination comes from Catholics who are published at influential Catholic publications, it is also a concern for the writers’ own Catholic reputation and that of their employers.

LifeSiteNews does not claim to be a Catholic organization. We have many good and faithful Catholics on staff, but we do not claim to be a Catholic organization and our reporting is intended for people of all faiths and even no faith. 

Nothing written by LifeSiteNews ever remotely approaches the level of calumny in the condemnations and criticisms seen in the Facebook posts mentioned. We explicitly forbid our writers from making such comments and are constantly removing similar comments from readers commenting under our reports. That is not free speech. We consider it to be an abuse of freedom. We also have a policy of never responding in kind to such comments.

However, a natural response is: “Where is the Christianity in any of these comments?” It boggles the mind that anyone would publicly exhibit such a total lack of charity for all the world to see and think that they are thus exhibiting love of God or properly defending the Church or Pope Francis.

We often encourage our readers to be very respectful in any communications they make in response to our reports. We recognize that condemnatory, hostile, and disrespectful communications will always cause harm and hardly ever help advance the cause of life and family.

Why the scandal of such ad-hominem attacks are permitted by well-known Catholic websites is a puzzle. LifeSiteNews is only one of many victims who have been targeted and at times harmed by these all-too-frequent, very uncharitable, and careless blog postings over the years. 

Productive dialogue is impossible without mutual respect. Still, we never close the door to future communications if circumstances change. Many of us on the LifeSiteNews team have gone through major life conversions, so we understand the importance of forgiveness and charity.

One of our team did attempt to reach out and dialogue. Unfortunately, all attempts to respond to the criticism charitably, humbly, and privately, resulted in further, public attacks against the professionalism and integrity of LifeSiteNews, and on the personal character of LifeSiteNews personnel.

At LifeSiteNews we welcome feedback and reasoned, respectful criticism. When readers feel we are not doing the job, or are not doing it well, we take it seriously. We try to respond with charity, humility, and clarity.

The feedback we’ve received over the years has varied wildly from being told we are “doing the work of Satan” to the more usual one that we are doing God’s work. We‘ve been told more times than we can count, in emails and personal encounters with readers, that our reports are among the most reliable, trustworthy, and professionally written on the Internet on the issues that we cover. That is truly our aim. We pray and work every day to arrive at that lofty goal. And with your support, your prayers, and your constructive advice, I’m sure we can maintain our current high level of reporting while always striving to improve it even more.

Share this article

Advertisement

Thank Canada's Archbishop Richard Smith; watch excellent EWTN coverage of Ottawa march Sat.

Steve Jalsevac
Steve Jalsevac

Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith’s strong, blunt criticism of Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau’s outrageous announcement that pro-life candidates will no longer be permitted to run for the Liberal Party is a welcome change from the usual silence of Canada’s bishops on almost all such developments.

I really hope many pro-life Canadians thank Archbishop Smith for speaking out and encourage him to continue to publicly hold Canadian Catholic politicians accountable for their anti-life and anti-family pronouncements, votes and other actions.

Here is the archbishop’s contact information:

Most Rev. Richard SMITH
Archbishop of Edmonton
8421-101 Avenue

Edmonton (AB) T6A 0L1

Tel: (780) 469-1010
Fax: (780) 465-3003
Web Site
Message entry page

And PLEASE, don’t criticize him for not doing all that you think that he should have said and done about Trudeau. This was a positive step. Congratulations, gratitude and encouragement is what you should convey.

Hopefully, more bishops will start to publicly hold to account Canada’s Catholic politicians who have very badly betrayed the people of Canada by leading, as have Justin and many other Canadian Catholic politicians, the advancement of the culture of death in Canada. It has been a sordid, terrible record so far, probably worse than in any other nation in the world.

The archbishop proclaimed that Justin’s announcement of his pathetic policy just before the Marches for Life to be "slap" in the face for all those who would be participating in the various marches across Canada. How true that is and I hope Canadians do not conveniently forget this travesty when the next federal election finally comes around.

Voters have a strong tendency to forget these things, much to the benefit of the worst politicians. Hopefully, there will be more strong statements from Canadian bishops around election time in order to refresh memories.

By the way, the EWTN coverage of the National March for Life in Ottawa was really outstanding this year. If you missed it, I strongly recommend that you tune into the replay tomorrow (Saturday) from 1 to 5:30 p.m.

I wasn’t able to make it to the March this year, having just come back from 10 days in Rome and now preparing for Washington next week, but I did catch some of the EWTN coverage and was thoroughly impressed.  If you can’t get EWTN on your cable network I believe the program can still be viewed via the EWTN website. 

Give it a go.  It is a wonderful way to experience the march and a lot of the interviews were great. LifeSiteNews team members John-Henry Westen and John Jalsevac were among those interviewed.

And I must also mention that Sun News gave the Ottawa March for Life excellent, fair coverage. See a list of their video reports here.

Unfortunately, there was one begrudging report in the National Post, "Activists entrench on abortion", by what appeared to be a feminist writer, Meghan Hurley, consistently refering to "anti-abortionists", that had a pro-abortion edge to it. There was also a the predicatable accompanying photo of just a small portion of the massive crowd with emphasis on a large cross in the middle.

The article and the text under the photo presented the ridiculously far too low estimated number of persons present as only 6,000 to 8,000 persons. I don't understand why the Post would allow such obvious inaccuracy and poor reporting to be published as a supposed professional news report on the march.

To anyone who was there, the report really undermined the credibility of the Post. Any reasonably seasoned reporter who was at the event would have easily seen that the number was likely far closer to the march organizers' offical count of 23,000. the RCMP count has always been way off the mark as well and it has always been noticed that both the RCMP and Ottawa police are not not remotely enthused about having to cover the march every year. The pathetic police response to the Femen protesters this year really gave evidence to their atttitude towards the pro-life event - no matter how many Members of Parliament, Senators and Catholic bishops and cardinals are present.  

However, we do have to give the Post credit for publishing a lot of excellent commentaries on the Justin Trudeau statement that no pro-life candidates would be allowed to run for the Liberal Party while he is the leader.

Share this article

Advertisement

Legatus Summit blew us away

Steve Jalsevac
Steve Jalsevac
Image
Image

John-Henry Westen, Jon Fidero and I just came back from attending the annual Legatus Summit in Orlando, Florida that took place this past Thursday to Saturday. It was an astonishing event, in that every speaker was rock solid and of the highest quality from the pro-life and pro-family perspective.

For those of us from LifeSiteNews and many others who heard John Smeaton's talk titled, "Bishops are the first ones called to be untiring preachers of the Gospel of Life", his was the highlight of the conference. Smeaton's current-state-of-the-world speech was high calibre, very well prepared and revealed his thorough knowledge of developments in England, Ireland and much of the world that in the end give cause for alarm, but also for hope. I overheard a few Legatus members state that they were shaken by what Smeaton revealed.

Smeaton's presentation was about far more than just the subject of denying communion to pro-abortion politicians. It is a 13-page masterpiece overview of a world in major crisis regarding the value of human life and what must be done about this crisis. I have personally known this incredible man for several years and can vouch for his competence and the truth of all that he said in his talk.

Smeaton's talk is MUST READING for all good people in order to understand just where we are at at this alarming time in history. He was notably passionate while giving his erudite presentation because he knew he had to be. He knows what is at stake now regardless of the contradictory claims by some that abortion will soon be ended.

This particular audience was one that might be able to do something about the reality of the looming monsters that we are about to face unless strong actions are quickly taken, especially by the leadership of the Catholic Church. There is no way to overemphasize or exaggerate the gravity of the situation. PLEASE read Smeaton's full talk that is linked to at the bottom of the article and then pass it around far and wide. Thank Legatus for allowing John Smeaton this special opportunity to present his prophetic message for the world at such an opportune gathering.

But back to the rest of the conference. The many members of this Catholic Christian business leaders’ organization, founded by Domino's Pizza billionaire Tom Monaghan, that we met during our stay blew us away. It is rare to attend such an event where most people really get it about the culture war that has been raging in the world. We also found everyone we met to be especially warm and gracious personalities and very open to engage in conversation about the difficult subjects that LifeSiteNews covers, no doubt largely because of their personal commitment to live their Catholic faith in all that they do.

Legatus members want to learn more and do whatever they can to help evangelize the world with Christian principles and the saving truths of the Christian faith. We saw that this personally means a lot to these high level business CEOs and their families. We found them to have much higher principles than we normally associate with persons in top business leadership positions.

After having now attended our second Legatus Summit as exhibitors and sponsors, I would strongly recommend membership in Legatus to any Catholic business leader who meets its membership qualifications. Husbands AND wives are strongly encouraged to attend together to emphasize the importance of the married couple and their family as the foundation of society. Legatus is clearly not a typical men-only business organization.

The personal growth experiences and exceptional fellowship opportunities that it offers can only enrich the lives of its members and their families.  Legatus also provides a real benefit to the rest of us who are not business leaders in that these specially gifted men and women are being guided by their Legatus formation to take on larger roles than many of us are capable of to make this a better world. There was a lot of stress on the essential role of the laity, partnering with their bishops, in the evangelizing mission of the Church.

Hats off to Tom Monaghan and his team of leaders and also to the membership of Legatus for incorporating into their business life a high calling to life, family and faith, without which they realize all their other successes would be seriously lacking full satisfaction and meaning. Legatus helps them to open and keep their eyes on God’s rewarding expectations of them. That is a win-win for everyone.

Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook