Alma Acevedo

Of wars and women

Alma Acevedo
By Alma Acevedo

October 17, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - The war metaphor, a staple of electoral rhetoric, is again at full blast on American soil. There are strategies and stratagems; retreats, regrouping, and capitulation. This rhetoric summons supporters, rallies troops, and props up the leaders’ boldness. The Democrats’ “Forward” battle cry, though indeterminate (forward to where?), is unabashedly combative. The Republicans’ “We Believe in America” is substantial and affirming, a reveille of defining values. Battleground states are relentlessly fought over. On November 6 there will be victors and vanquished.

War rhetoric, expressive of conflicting views, may become insidious. This is the case with the so-called “war on women” brandished against pro-life Republicans by pro-choice Democrats and their allies, such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League). Obamacare’s HHS (Health and Human Services) mandate requires that every employer health plan provide free sterilization, abortifacient drugs, and contraceptives. Refusing on religious or conscience grounds triggers stifling fines. The Blunt Amendment, which would have offered some accommodation in these cases, was defeated at the Democrat-controlled Senate. So-called abortion and related reproductive rights are, pro-choicers contend, a stronghold at risk of usurpation.

Besides being a vilifying ploy, the “war on women” rhetoric is demeaning and inconsistent. It assumes that women’s votes are driven solely by sex-specific issues, overlooking those that affect everyone. Another questionable assumption is that contraceptives and sterilization are necessarily “preventive health care” and, therefore, health insurance must always cover them. Is the government waging war against its citizens because it does not exact coverage of their aerobic classes? Of their toothpaste and multivitamins? Aren’t these, too, preventive health care services and products?

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How can illusory rights be confiscated? Basic human rights are inalienable and universal. Every human being is so entitled. Grounded in the reality of the human person, fundamental human rights protect core human goods and enable human flourishing. The rights to life and to freedom of conscience and religion are thus not reducible to choices or individual preferences. The right to freely exercise our religious faith is essentially different from a choice between chicken or beef. Just as our right to freedom does not imply that we may choose to kill our teenager or spouse, it does not imply that we may choose to kill our unborn baby.

The “war on women” battle cry conveniently overlooks practices that are quietly accepted, or even actively promoted, by pro-choicers’ positions. These practices, if not altogether war, certainly resemble it. With the White House’s blessing, a House of Representatives bill that would have made performing or coercing a sex-selective abortion a federal crime was recently defeated. Isn’t sex-selection abortion, whose victims are mainly baby girls, an assault on women? Isn’t abortion, no longer tolerated as “rare” but touted as “safe,” in spite of its negative physical and emotional effects, such as increased risk of breast cancer, infertility, hemorrhages, future miscarriages, depression, and even death? Aren’t on-demand sterilization, the morning-after pill, and other abortifacient contraceptives, even for minors? In all of these cases, women (and men) suffer serious physical, social, and psychological wounds.

Furthermore, the underlying socialistic oppressor vs. oppressed narrative clashes with democratic values. It approaches issues in terms of class or power struggles between social groups. The polarizing and reductionist “class warfare” tactic profits from the old divide and conquer rule. This pitting of human groups—men vs. women, rich vs. poor, bourgeoisie vs. proletariat, whites vs. nonwhites, public vs. private sector, secular vs. religious, humans vs. nonhumans—expects to gain from dwelling on class conflict, rivalry, and hostility, rather than from building upon the complementariness, cooperation, and commonalities of persons in a human society. It may too be devastating, as witnessed by that other infamous Great Leap Forward (1958-61)—the People’s Republic of China’s radical socioeconomic transformation that cost countless lives and unspeakable misery.

In spite of its early promises of enlightened bipartisanship, the war rhetoric seems to be a favorite of the Obama administration. The President’s “We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will” heads the White House’s website. In 2011 Obama decreed that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman) was “unconstitutional” and instructed the Department of Justice not to defend it. Vice President Joe Biden admonished a group of southern Virginia followers that “[Republicans and Wall Street] are going to put y’all back in chains.” At a NARAL Pro-Choice America fundraiser, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said “We’ve come a long way in women’s health over the last few decades, but we are in a war,” referring to critics of federal funding for Planned Parenthood and the health reform law. This war rhetoric pits executive vs. legislative and judicial powers, government fiat vs. religious and conscience rights, capitalist vs. working class. Moreover, donning the mantle of justice, it disturbingly legitimizes illicit intrusion.

Just wars are prudently waged against oppressive, unfair systems, not against the human person. So too the war metaphor is best employed when there is just cause and moral means. Let us judiciously combat policies that undermine the respect for human life and dignity and the inalienable human rights that protect and affirm them. Let us also oppose those policies that subvert democratic and constitutional tenets. Let the just war be waged and won.

Alma Acevedo, PhD, teaches courses in applied ethics and conducts research in this field. This article reprinted under a Creative Commons License.

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

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By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

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By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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