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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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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