Dr. Jeff Mirus

Catholics favoring Obama by 15-point margin is “a colossal Catholic failure”

Dr. Jeff Mirus
By Dr. Jeff Mirus
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October 1, 2012 (CatholicCulture.org) – Now that a Pew Survey shows Catholics favoring Obama by a 15-point margin, it is time to point out what is truly significant about the survey results. It isn’t significant that those who attend Mass monthly or yearly favor Obama 53 to 39 percent or that those who attend Mass seldom or never favor him by a 61 to 32 percent margin. These things, based on a combination of demographics and obvious spiritual apathy are to be expected.

Catholics who attend Mass infrequently cannot be expected to make Catholic moral judgments or to be champions of Catholic independence from government coercion. Most of these Catholics will have inherited sympathies for the Democratic Party based on ethnic group, family tradition or liberal media myths (Democrats care about people, Republicans don’t). They are almost inevitably influenced more by these attachments than by either coherent moral analysis or the needs and interests of their Church.

No, the most damning result of the poll is that Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly favor Mitt Romney by only nine percent (51 to 42). This compares with nearly a 30 point gap the other way for those who attend Mass very rarely or not at all. Why isn’t there a comparable gap against Obama by regularly practicing Catholics? This represents a colossal Catholic failure.

Obviously, one can allow for a certain apathy here. Mitt Romney does not impress voters as a man who has either a moral or a political clue. His position on abortion and related issues is confused and, as far as anyone can tell, self-serving. His ability to project a serious love and concern for our nation and its people ranges from weak to non-existent. He stumbles and backtracks constantly.

While there are many excellent moral reasons to vote against Barack Obama, there are few excellent moral reasons to vote for Mitt Romney. Moreover, there is always a strong reluctance on the part of those who depend on Federal largesse to admit the dangers of Federal power, a factor which minimizes support for Republican budget proposals.

But there is one huge issue that separates Obama and Romney, and it is the same issue which has been most forcefully identified by the country’s bishops—the HHS Mandate.

Obama is the architect of a law which forces Catholic organizations and individuals to financially support contraception, sterilization and abortion despite the Church’s teaching that it is deeply sinful to do so. In a similar way, Obama is the architect of policies which exclude Catholic organizations from traditional roles in social services because they will not do things like provide abortion referrals, recommend contraception, or facilitate adoptions for same-sex couples. But Romney has pledged to eliminate the HHS mandate immediately upon election, and has shown no propensity to continue Obama’s ideological exclusion of Catholic participation in public life.

Now, the American bishops have clearly identified the HHS mandate as a gross abrogation of religious liberty, and they have made it clear this violation is a key Catholic concern in the current campaign, the kind of concern that would prompt anybody with profound Catholic sympathies to vote against the Democrats. And yet only 51 percent of regular Catholic churchgoers state that they are willing to do so. This failure of churchgoing Catholics to defend their own religious freedom and the rights of the Church is the most significant revelation in the Pew poll.

There are, of course, several critical factors which work against the bishops here. First, with respect to doctrinal orthodoxy and Catholic identity, episcopal leadership has been notoriously weak and even directly counter-productive over the past fifty years. The American bishops have presided over a national, diocesan and parish infrastructure riddled with Modernism. They have been largely idle in the face of an abject secularization of Catholic colleges and universities. They have not worked to counter the loss of ecclesial fidelity in the nation’s religious communities. And they have done almost nothing to combat the universal acceptance of contraception which lies at the heart of the culture of death—and which makes the HHS Mandate seem innocuous.

Second, as Phil Lawler has pointed out several times (see, for example, The noise-to-signal ratio at the USCCB), while the bishops have spoken out strongly on religious liberty, they have spoken out again and again on so many other purely prudential topics that their concerns about religious liberty have been far too easily ignored.

Third, even the Fortnight for Freedom campaign was not implemented evenly across the country. There is still sufficient squishiness within the ranks for recalcitrant bishops and pastors to have ignored it, or for its message to go by without reinforcement.

For all these reasons, the American bishops have a long way to go before they will be able, over time, to effectively form the consciences of American Catholics. We are at the beginning of a long, slow and painful episcopal renewal in this country, not near the end.

The episcopal renewal will take even longer to bring renewal across the board, in all the structures and sub-institutions which shape American Catholic life, and in the laity themselves. Therefore, we can only wonder how much further religious liberty will suffer in American politics while the renewal develops—and whether increasing persecution will strengthen or weaken the Church overall.

The latest Pew survey is a reminder of this one essential fact: We are not at the end of a process here. We are at the beginning.

This article was originally published on CatholicCulture.org and is republished with permission.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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