OpinionFri Oct 12, 2012 - 12:10 pm EST
Substance and smirks
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.
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life.
“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September.
“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote.
Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds.
The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again.
After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test.
“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five.
“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”
“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.
Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.”
“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”
“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.”
“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.”
“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born.
The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well.
UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react
GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads.
The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution.
“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.
“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.
But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it.
The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms.
“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added.
Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born.
“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.
“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.
Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’
DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.
"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.
That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.
“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."
Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.
All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.
On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”
Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.
But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.