Deal Hudson

Substance and smirks

Deal Hudson
By Deal Hudson
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Co-authored with Deacon Keith Fournier

DANVILLE, KY (Catholic Online) - Thursday evening’s debate between the vice presidential candidates was historic in the history of American politics: Never before have both vice presidential candidates professed membership in the Catholic Church and claimed with pride the name Catholic as an accurate description of their Christian faith. 

Yes, both Ryan and Biden profess the Catholic faith. However, there is a certain irony in the timing of their debate. On the day when Pope Benedict XVI commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council - and presided over the opening of the Year of Faith - the two Catholic participants in this political debate show the stark contrast right within the Catholic Church which the events in Rome addressed.

There are Catholics like Joe Biden who claim to follow what is too often called the “spirit” of Vatican II, while rejecting the very foundations that important Council proclaimed. Then, there are others, like Paul Ryan, who grasp the implications of what it means to infuse the values informed by their Catholic faith into their political participation on fundamental moral issues such as the Right to life.

Paul Ryan’s Catholic faith grew and matured during the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II. Congressman Ryan was only eight years old when John Paul II assumed the chair of St. Peter and 35 years old when the Pope died at age 84. Even those who disagree with him on some of his positions acknowledge his sincere effort to be morally coherent.

Vice President Biden, like many Catholic politicians of his generation, succumbed to the pressure of the secularist culture, switching positions on foundational issues and compromising the very teaching of His Church. This is most evident in his retreat from the defense of the Right to Life and his rejection of the truth about marriage and family.

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Joe Biden promotes the profane notion that there is a “right” to abortion when every abortion violates the Natural Law Right to Life. He recently endorsed the oxymoron of “same-sex marriage”, rejecting the clear teaching of His Church as rooted in the Natural Law. While claiming, as he did in tonight’s debate, that he endorses the “social doctrine of the Catholic Church” he directly dissents from it and then tries to use it to his political advantage by claiming he follows this same “social doctrine”.

Rep. Paul Ryan has faithfully represented the teaching of Blessed John Paul II in his historic encyclical entitled The Gospel of Life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the clear teaching of the magisterium, the teaching office, of the Catholic Church. Though Ryan made his reputation as an expert in economics and budgetary planning, his voting record on the settled moral issues contained within the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church is entirely faithful.

During the debate he made it clear that he understands that what the Catholic Church proclaims about the dignity of every human life is not simply a “religious” position. Rather, it is confirmed by reason and science. His anecdotal story of how he and his wife, after viewing an early sonogram of their daughter, were led them to nickname her “bean” was compellingly presented. Biden seemed to squirm in his chair and stopped smirking for a while.

The simplest way to summarize the difference between Biden and Ryan is this: Biden considers all political issues of equal importance. He ignores the distinction between the moral issues concerning intrinsic evils - such as procured abortion - and those which involve the exercise of prudential judgment, meaning Catholics of good will can come to different conclusions in the application of principles, such as economic applications.

Ryan accepts Catholic teaching that the consideration of intrinsic evils must take priority over all other issues, whether the area considered is immigration, national security, or health care reform. Biden rejects this primacy and, while engaging in open dissent from his Church, clothes himself in the label Catholic as a part of his effort to present himself as some kind of “middle class champion”.

We have both commented previously on the differences between the vice presidential candidates concerning their understanding of the obligations of their faith and its undeniable call to moral coherence in their public service. The faceoff between Biden and Ryan on national television was our first opportunity to look more deeply at the differences between these two men in their demeanor or carriage and the manner in which they present their positions. This says a lot about the character and capacity of a leader.

What immediately struck both of us was the contrast between Ryan’s civility and Biden’s attempt to distract the audience with childish facial expressions and head-shaking. His smile often devolved into a smirk and his incessant reference to his debate interlocutor as “friend” was condescending and seemed arrogant.

Ryan, the younger man, never took the older man’s bait. He never descended into unpleasant mugging for the camera. Ryan came across as courteous, kind, smart, and very well prepared. Biden, on the other hand, acted like he was ready for a verbal brawl and looking for every opportunity to strike.

Biden was so unpleasant that, at times, he gave away one of his most winning qualities—he’s always seemed a likable guy—even to those who disagree with him politically. He did, however, have his good moments, such as when he pointed out that Ryan had requested money from the stimulus package for his constituents.

Ryan’s best moments were his clear responses to questions like the one concerning the future of social security—when Ryan calls something an “indisputable fact” his expertise, especially in economic matters, is obvious. Biden’s response was to ignore the coming bankruptcy of the program, look at the camera directly, and ask “seniors” to remember the level of benefits they are receiving.

Who is more compassionate? The man who wants to avoid the financial train wreck that is inevitable for both Social Security and Medicare, or the man who ignores what lies in the future, a future that will be faced by our children and grandchildren. This is a future that will not only have to deal with the possible loss of the “safety net” but also a crushing national debt that has tripled since the Obama/Biden ticket was elected.

It didn’t help, by the way, that the moderator Martha Raddatz cut Ryan off in the middle of several of his best comments, unlike Jim Lehrer, the moderator of the previous debate, who was extremely fair. Raddatz did not interrupt Biden a single time that we can recall.

When Ryan pointedly asked Raddatz, “So you want to get into defense now?” it was an overdue pushback. And she didn’t allow Ryan to elaborate on the budgetary issue she raised while letting Biden drone on and on.

At certain points in the debate, Raddatz completely lost control, allowed Biden to filibuster and, to his detriment, display a lack of manners. It was interesting to see the comparison of the number of minutes each of them had to speak after Biden’s complaint during his closing statement. In fact, he had more time than Ryan.

Raddatz, however, should be thanked for her question about the two candidates Catholic faith and abortion; she gave Catholic voters a chance to watch and hear each candidate talk about what matters most. Ryan’s answer was nearly perfect, referring not merely to the teaching of the Church but, as mentioned above, to the evidence of science and reason, as well as the personal experience of his family.

Biden gave the predictable answer of the Catholics in public life who have compromised on truth. He “refuses to impose” his personal religious beliefs on the American people—the classic Drinan-Kennedy-Cuomo-Pelosi dance step.  Biden further denied the violation of religious liberty caused by the HHS mandate and Raddatz cut Ryan off when he asked Biden why so many Catholic institutions were suing the Obama administration over the mandate.

Biden’s brief excursus on the Supreme Court, his direct slap at Justice Scalia, further betrayed his sense of moral and intellectual superiority—“we are open-minded”—to conservatives in general and pro-lifers in particular. This embedded attitude is the source of the arrogance that continually emanates from the loftiness of the Obama/Biden message.

In fact, if any strong impression is left by this debate it is the contrast between arrogance and courtesy, between empty accusation and rational explanation, between religious duplicity and faithfulness.

Biden did himself no favors tonight, and Ryan showed himself to be a man worthy of being elected to help lead our nation.

This article reprinted with permission from Catholic Online. The opinions contained in the article are the personal opinions of the authors only.

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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

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
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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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
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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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