Piero Tozzi

Paul Ryan and the Children of Keynes

Piero Tozzi
By Piero Tozzi
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Note: This article first appeared at The Bell Towers.

September 25, 2012 (TheBellTowers) - Mitt Romney’s nomination of Catholic congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate has generated criticism from certain members of the “Catholic Left,” who accuse Ryan of being a ”cafeteria Catholic” – a charge more typically levied by the orthodox against those who deviate from church teaching on issues of sexual morality – by ostensibly ignoring the poor.

For his part, Ryan, the architect of the GOP’s budgetary “Ryan Plan,” has engaged Cardinal Timothy Dolan in his role as head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, explaining why his budget proposals were consistent with Church social doctrine, with the Cardinal extending the reciprocal courtesy of a thoughtful reply.

This sets up a Left/Right division over which faction bears more authentic allegiance to “Catholic Social Teaching,” or doctrine on social justice issues such as poverty and the right ordering of relations between man, mediating institutions and the State.

Conventional thinking gives Ryan and his party the advantage when it comes to “subsidiarity” – the principle that political and economic decisions are best made at the level closest to those affected by them rather than by a top-down centralized bureaucracy – while crediting the Democrats for their commitment to “solidarity” – acting on behalf of the most poor and marginalized out of an assumed authentic altruism.

Such conventional thinking is only half right, however, for Ryan – at least when not in junior Randian mode – has the better argument not only with respect to subsidiarity, but solidarity as well.

For solidarity cannot be thought of solely in horizontal terms, arms outstretched to the poor who dwell among us – though it certainly does (and should) include that.  It is also vertical, extending into the future and touching the welfare of our children and grandchildren and generations yet to be conceived.

That social justice mandates a “preferential option for the poor” is beyond cavil, but does our vision of the vulnerable extend beyond the here and now to include those yet visible?  A true notion of solidarity must be multi-layered, and not flat.

What happens to the poor when the public fisc empties?  What is the effect of deficit spending counted in the trillions upon our children and their children? What does Standard & Poor’s credit downgrade auger? What about inflationary monetary policy, currency devaluation, and the ineluctable march toward a single-payer health care system?  What do events in Greece portend?

One must ask of politicians who count on the continued innumeracy of a citizenry baffled by numbers larger than twenty – the point at which one runs out of fingers and toes – whether it is all “sustainable,” to borrow a cant phrase.

John Maynard Keynes – whose “pump priming” economic theories, more than six decades after his death, animate the Obama administration’s stimulus policy, as does the “fatal conceit” of a command economy characterized by socialized medicine– was once asked whether such policies were sustainable in the long run.  Keynes’ famous reply: “In the long run, we are all dead.”

To which the proper rejoinder would be: “But our children and grandchildren won’t be!”

The beggaring of generations yet to be begotten was not an apparent concern of JMK, whose indifference might be attributable in part to sexual proclivities not ordered to the propagation of the species.

Which raises the connection between economic and moral profligacy…

Social issues are profoundly economic, and vice versa; the surest way to ensure that the next generation of citizens be well-integrated and productive is to strengthen the family unit headed by a biological father and a biological mother – see the social science research of Pat Fagan, David Blankenhorn and many others on this point – while the surest way to encourage social dysfunction and economic dependency is to undermine the nuclear family.

Yet when confronted by the cost of a health care plan to be borne by future generations, the default solution offered by President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius is to embrace sterility, pushing birth control to eliminate future generations of government dependents. One might also point out that such a reductionist calculus overlooks the fact that such future citizens, were they allowed to come into existence, might also be productive taxpayers as well.  Why the default assumption that they must be tax-consuming wards of the Welfare State?

Catholics who must by moral necessity be concerned with true social justice, balancing the harmonic interplay between subsidiarity and solidarity, should question where authentic allegiance to the common good leads.  Is ObamaCare designed to extend health care to those who lack it? Is the push to increase food stamp rolls designed to alleviate hunger? Is the move toward eliminating workfare requirements at the state level an attempt to promote the dignity of those who receive government assistance by removing stigma?  Or is the aim to foster a culture of Julia-like serfdom while voicing the rhetoric of compassion (and sternly rebuking “greed”), cynically calibrating things to create a dependency caste of 51% that can give one a perpetual governing majority, while squeezing the productive minority?

Members of the modern day Party of Obama are Keynes’ spiritual heirs in ways that the Party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt never fully were: not only are they economic profligates clamoring for an economic policy which threatens to crush future generations under mountain of debt, but they are also moral libertines who, like Keynes with his sexual dalliances, willingly embrace an anti-Culture of sterility, ne’er thinking of the morrow, for when it comes we shall all be dead.  Carpe diem, indeed.

Thus the hootenanny in Charlotte gave us Sandra Fluke and Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards touting mandated funding of contraception by churches and citizens who conscientiously object, and a call for the funneling of billions to Big Abortion.

Abortion, of course, is the starkest violation of intergenerational solidarity, Medea and Agave ripping asunder the mother-child bond.  But so too is every act of contraception, every act of sodomy, a betrayal of future generations.  And, when the top of the inverse pyramid becomes too heavy, due to the children who were never born not being there to help sustain the burden of caring for their elders, the temptation to euthanize – another act of intergenerational violence – arises.  What are the implications of the rationing of health care advocated by Ezekiel Emanuel in his 2009 Lancet article? What are the implications of a party platform that is built upon a right to contraception, abortion and “gay marriage,” coupled with massive government debt?

One cannot build, nor sustain, a culture upon such foundations.

As with Ozymandias, it is the “fatal conceit” of theorists of liberal autonomy to think that civilization with all its contemporary trappings – the iPhones, the “carbon neutral” childless vacations, home delivery of the Financial Times – will remain the same fifty years hence.

Yet they persist in their folly, and label it a virtue.  A number of years ago The Daily Mail ran an article, in which a young woman who worked for an “environmental charity,” related her rationale for aborting her only child and then undergoing sterilization:

Having children is selfish. It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet. . . . I didn’t like having a termination, but it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world. . . . [We] have a much nicer lifestyle as a result of not having children. . . . Every year, we also take a nice holiday — we’ve just come back from South Africa. We feel we can have one long-haul flight a year, as we are vegan and childless, thereby greatly reducing our carbon footprint and combating over-population.

The mystery writer P.D. James once wrote a dystopian novel entitled Children of Men – the title echoes Psalm 90:3 – where the world was struck by a baffling plague of sterility, and the remnant generations noted the dwindling of humanity each year since the birth of the last Omega cohort, a progression toward the Darkness.

The Children of Keynes, who have chosen their sterility and celebrate it, shout “Forward!”

“Forward,” one asks, “toward what?”

Piero A. Tozzi is Senior Legal Counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, where he practices international human rights law.  His areas of responsibility include Latin America, the Caribbean and the United Nations.  He also serves as Senior Fellow with the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

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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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