February 2012

The Cincinnati Enquirer gives us a glimpse of tomorrow’s coverage of Ash Wednesday tonight:

When the cross is made on a person’s forehead, the priest or minister will typically say: “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.”

John Barber, a Xavier senior, will get his ashes this morning, if his schedule allows. He will get them later this evening if he must. But he will get them.

“It’s so simple and so humbling,” Barber said. “It reminds us that we are connected, and of our humility. We will all be dust.”

Christine Naderer, 21 and a graduate student, said that when she was a child growing up in West Liberty, she did not like to wear the ashes all day, and would sometimes try to rub them off.

“It was kind of embarrassing having the ashes,” Naderer said. “But now I like them. There is a sense of community. I wear them all day.”

There is also a story from Dan Horn, the Enquirer‘s answer to John Allen of the National Catholic Register, on Archbishop Schnurr’s call for a lenten “fasting protest” of the Obama administration’s assault on religious liberty:

Schnurr and his fellow American bishops have been outspoken critics of new Health and Human Services rules regarding contraception, arguing Catholic institutions will be forced to pay for services that violate Catholic teaching.

President Barack Obama revised the rules two weeks ago after a storm of controversy erupted over the first version. But the bishops and some other religious leaders say the changes don’t go far enough.

“We would still be forced to indirectly pay for services that we find morally unacceptable,” Schnurr said Tuesday. “Please join me in praying and fasting this Lent that wisdom and justice may prevail and religious liberty may be restored in our country.”

Twenty years ago, when I was a student in law school, my hero was Thomas Jefferson. They say that to know a man’s view of the world, one should review the events of his life as he enters adulthood. In large measure, my “events” were the books and, when it came to Jefferson, the letters I read. I lost interest in Jefferson as I became more familiar with, and repelled by, his deism, which struck me as a halfway house to atheism. Which is why I was so cheered this morning to read the following letter to a young man named after him, Thomas Jefferson Smith, written shortly before he died, on 21 February 1825, in Bill Bennett’s The American Patriot’s Almanac:

This letter will, to you, be as one from the dead. The writer will be in the grave before you can weigh its counsels. Your affectionate and excellent father has requested that I would address to you something which might possibly have a favorable influence on the course of life you have to run, and I too, as a namesake, feel an interest in that course. Few words will be necessary, with good dispositions on your part. Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. So shall the life into which you have entered, be the portal to one of eternal and ineffable bliss. And if to the dead it is permitted to care for the things of this world, every action of your life will be under my regard. Farewell.

byMark Tapscott  editor, Washington Examiner

French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as painted by Alan Ramsay, 1766 (Public domain). The ideological origins of President Obama’s wing of the Democratic party are rooted in Rousseau’s view that traditional institutions like the church are enemies of man’s natural freedom.

No matter the ultimate destination of Rick Santorum’s current surge in popularity in the GOP presidential nomination battle, his rise to prominence is sparking a renewed interest in “the social issues,” helped along by President Obama’s latest bureaucratic salvo against religious institutions.

There are two important points to keep in mind here as the campaign goes forward. First, the conventional wisdom has it that Republicans should at all costs avoid embracing the social issues – pro-family, pro-life and pro-faith-based institutions – because, otherwise, they will lose the all-important independent voter.

Better to keep the focus exclusively on the economic issues where Obama is most vulnerable and which most voters see as their top-priority issues. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ familiar suggestion that a “truce” be declared for now between social conservatives and economic conservatives, with the concerns of the former assemblies taking a temporary backseat to those of the latter groups, epitomizes this approach.

But the reality is, as supply-side economist and gold standard guru Jeffrey Bell reminds us in his forthcoming book – “The Case for Polarized Politics,” which is ably described today in The Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Interview by James Taranto* – Republicans are most successful in national elections when both sets of issues are prominently addressed, with neither given prominence over the other, and in conjunction with a third element, national security concerns.

In the WSJ interview, Bell tells Taranto that: “Social issues were nonexistent in the period 1932 to 1964. The Republican Party won two presidential elections out of nine, and they had the Congress for all of four years in that entire period. . . . When social issues came into the mix—I would date it from the 1968 election . . . the Republican Party won seven out of 11 presidential elections.”

This fact ought not surprise anybody familiar with the notion of GOP fusionism originally prescribed by National Review editor Frank Meyer in the early 1960s. Republican prospects depend mainly on the ability of the party’s presidential candidates to unite economic, national defense and social conservatives in one grand coalition. Failing to appeal to any one of these three legs to the stool results in defeat.

From this perspective then, Santorum’s embrace of social issues is a strength for the GOP, not a weakness, something to be heartened by, not threatened. He’s already strong on national defense issues, so his biggest vulnerability may well be on the economic side where his views have a distinctly mercantilist tone in some areas.

The second point here – also made prominently by Bell, as quoted by Taranto – is that nobody should be surprised that Obama initiatives so often have an anti-religious cast to them. Consider the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) recent assertion of authority to tell religious denominations who they can hire and fire as ministers. The EEOC met with a unanimous rejection by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Even so, the overwhelming EEOC loss didn’t prevent Obama’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, from issuing a proposed Obamacare rule forcing religious institutions, including churches, schools, charities and hospitals, to provide free birth control benefits in the health insurance they make available to employees, even if that coverage include abortifacients like the Morning-After pill that, for many, violates fundamental religious doctrines.

The HHS rule – including the subsequent “compromise” version – clearly violates the free exercise clause of the First Amendment and was greeted with an explosion of opposition from Catholic bishops, Protestant ministers, Jewish rabbis and legions of their followers in the pews. Odds are it will get a similar reaction in the Supreme Court as the administration’s EEOC initiative.

But the Left has been attacking traditional religious and family insitutitons for centuries, so, in relentlessly pushing these kinds of anti-faith initiatives, Obama is merely being true to his ideological roots. He is very much a product of the radical center of the Democratic Party, with its origins in the far-left student movements of the 1960s.

The intensity of reaction to the HHS rule likely confirmed for Obama and his strategists the rightness of their effort. As Bell puts it to Taranto, “they were determined to push it through, because it’s their irreplaceable ideological core. . . . The Left keeps putting these issues into the mix, and they do it very deliberately, and I think they do it as a matter of principle.”

The opening line of Jean Jacque Rousseau’s The Social Contract tells the story here: “Man is born free, but everywhere is in chains.” With that sentence, Rousseau captured the essential principle driving the Left’s view of society, economics, law, everthing: In the state of nature where men are born, complete freedom reigns.

But when men organize themselves into societies, convention (also known as habit or tradition) suffocates this natural freedom, making men slaves to kings, priests and tradition. Thus, the fundamental goal of left-wing ideology is always, in one way or another and to a greater or lesser degree, to liberate men from convention.

The virulence with which leftists have so long pursued their goals – particularly with regard to social issues and institutions – was perfectly captured long ago in the words of 18th century theorist and French Revolution light Denis Diderot: “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”

Remember that the next time you hear talk of a “compromise” on the latest anti-faith, anti-family initiative from the Left. As a prudential matter, of course, all but the most radical of them will try to dissassociate themselves from such sentiments (Recall Obama’s distancing response when Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s views became an issue during the 2008 presidential campaign).

But sooner or later, leftists like Obama – as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, etc. etc. – always push for more and more regulation. And off at the end, their ultimate purpose is to subordinate traditional institutions entirely to the bureaucratic dictates of the all-powerful state.

* Author’s note: In the original version of this post, I confused the book and the interview. The Bell quotes above are from Taranto’s WSJ interview, not the book. My apologies to Taranto and Bell, for the confusion.

In a front page article in today’s Dayton Daily News on the impact religion is having on republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s recent rise in the polls, Tony Stieritz, the troubled director of Catholic Social Action for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, was sought after as a “local church leader” and quoted several times.  Some of his thoughts:

Stieritz said the Catholic Church considers the economy an issue of religion as well, pointing to church teaching on economic justice and citing worries with most of the Republicans “on issues of the social safety net … and how we support the poor.”

from Sword of Peter

The Little Sisters of Limousine Liberalism

or as Fr Z calls them, the Magisterium of Nuns

By George Neumayr

How much is Sr. Carol Keehan worth to the pro-Obamacare Catholic Health Association? Answer: $962,467.

I called up the Catholic Health Association (CHA) yesterday. I wanted to nail down the exact compensation figures for some of its executives, including the salary and benefits of Sister Obamacare, also known as Daughter of Charity nun Carol Keehan, who last week helped Barack Obama engineer his latest con job — the bogus conscience “compromise” designed to hoodwink Catholics into voting for his reelection.

As it has been widely reported, Obama conferred with Sister Keehan before his announcement last Friday. Then, lo and behold, she praised his revision as an inspiring resolution to the thorny issue of “religious freedom” soon after the sham event concluded.

So let’s get down to brass tacks. How much is Sister Keehan worth for such political interventions? The checkered Catholic hospitals Keehan represents as chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association stand to receive gobs and gobs of cash from the federal government if Obamacare holds up past 2012. Consequently, the members of the association are more than happy to pony up huge salaries to executives skilled at manipulating the Catholic electorate for Obama.

Keehan is worth $962,467 to them in total salary and benefits, according to the Schedule J (Form 990) 2010 document sent to me by CHA. Theoretically, this is paid to the nun’s order, though CHA adds an intriguing caveat to its compensation figures:

The descriptions below provide an overview of the composition of the five compensation figure columns (B, C, D, E and F). Note that for Sisters Carol Keehan and Patricia Talone and for Father Tom Nairn, all amounts in column B, except for certain fringe benefits included in column (B)(iii), were paid to their respective orders.

In other words, not all the money goes to their religious orders. What are these “certain fringe benefits” to which the caveat refers? I didn’t get a comprehensible answer from CHA. But its spokesman assured me that these “certain fringe benefits” weren’t large. Maybe the Wall Street Journal should drill down into the numbers.

According to the form, base compensation for “Daughters of Charity for Sr. Keehan” was $682,982. “Bonus and incentive compensation” was $136,000. “Other reportable compensation” — which is the (B)(iii) to which the caveat refers — was $131,888. Nontaxable benefits were $11,597. All this adds up to salary and benefits totaling $962,467.

Presumably, her 2011 salary and benefits will exceed $1 million, if the past is any measure. (Her 2009 salary and benefits fell in the $850,000 range.)

It turns out that left-wing “Catholic Social Justice” is a good career move. Sister Talone, to which the caveat refers above, pulls down for the Sisters of Mercy “$416,623” in total compensation, while Fr. Nairn’s order, the Franciscan Friars, snatched $194,947.

Who knew that lobbying for the corporal works of mercy paid so well? Of course, the dirty little secret of secularized “non-profit” Catholic hospitals is that they rake in enormous profits. Hence, some of its executives garner salaries/benefits north of $9 million. Obamacare will release another avalanche of federal government cash with which to feather their nests.

“For where your treasure is, your heart will be also,” said Jesus Christ. A pedestrian reduction of the Son of God’s saying is: Follow the money.

But say this at least for Sister Obamacare: she displays gumption that the waffling U.S. bishops lack. She still wears the pants in the clerical family.

She spun Obama’s “compromise” effortlessly, while the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was caught flatfooted. In his tiresomely inane and people-pleasing way, USCCB president Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan initially praised Obama’s con job as a first “step in the right direction.” This gave the White House nearly a day of good publicity with which to confuse Catholics.

“Encouraging” words from the USCCB, declared CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last Friday. Other networks and newspapers soon followed with rosy reports that blared, “USCCB: Obama compromise a ‘step in the right direction.'”

Later that Friday, the USCCB issued a new statement pronouncing Obama’s revision “unacceptable.” But the damage was already done.

Keehan must chuckle at the cluelessness and doctrinal timidity of the bishops. The USCCB still can’t decide if “Catholic” pols whipping the Church in America on issues like abortion and gay marriage should be denied Communion. This is too tough a call for the USCCB, so no uniform policy exists. (In a typical comment from the USCCB crowd, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. has said that he won’t withhold Communion from Nancy Pelosi, as that “style” of confrontation makes him uncomfortable.)

While the bishops dither, Keehan ruthlessly organizes the Little Sisters of Leftism for Obama’s reelection. Her task is a little trickier this year but she could still pull it off.

In 2008, many bishops, priests, and nuns voted for Obama and they probably will again. At the end of the day, they are Democrats first and Catholics second. Besides, they agree with Obama on issues like birth control. They, too, view the Church’s teachings as passé.

Indeed, Saul Alinsky couldn’t have organized Obama’s Fifth Column within the Church any better than Sister Keehan and company.

“Obama is not a pro-abortion president,” Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of L’Osservatore Romano, said a while back, while former papal household theologian Cardinal Georges Cottier congratulated Obama for his “humble realism.”

Catholic Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, who got Keehan’s memo and is back on the team (not that he was ever off it) after Obama’s “compromise,” enjoys seeing traditional Catholics in America get their wires crossed with ostensible allies at the USCCB and Vatican. The “Vatican clearly views Obama through a broader prism,” said Dionne after the remarks of Vian and Cottier.

Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan told the openly heretical National Catholic Reporter that he supported Notre Dame’s decision to confer an honorary degree upon Barack Obama and could not understand the “big scene” of protests about it. Asked by NCR if other bishops agreed with him, he replied, “Of course, the majority.”

He declared that “we don’t want to isolate ourselves from the rest of America by our strong views on abortion and the other things.”

The rise of the Tea Party frankly scares these bishops. Nervous headlines they didn’t dare run in their diocesan newspapers after the election of Barack Obama suddenly appeared after the House Dems got clocked in November of 2010. Catholic San Francisco ran a headline after the election that read: “Social Justice Agenda in Jeopardy in US.”

America magazine, the Jesuit journal of dissent, also found the Tea Party-inspired results troubling. Steve Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America, wrote in a piece on its website that the Church’s “years of efforts in America to support public policies that reflect its moral vision were dealt a blow Tuesday evening.”

No doubt Obama will reassemble his “Catholic advisory committee” and continue to generate donations from Catholic colleges and universities. Last time around, the faculty at Jesuit Georgetown led all college faculties, religious and non-religious, in donations to Obama.

Several Jesuit schools joined Keehan in praising Obama for his HHS “compromise,” which was awfully big of them since they never needed it in the first place, given that they already hand out condoms and contraceptives to their students.

Obama’s 2008 Catholic advisory committee included such national co-chairs as Sr. Jamie Phelps, OP, professor of theology at Xavier University, and Sr. Catherine Pinkerton with the Congregation of St. Joseph. Surely, his 2012 one will be chaired by an even worthier champion — Sister Keehan, the Daughter of Charity worth close to a million bucks a year.

About the Author

George Neumayr is a contributing editor to The American Spectator.


Catholics (and non-Catholics) in the Miami Valley woke up this morning only to find on the front page of the Dayton Daily News the following information from the University of Dayton’s propagandist-in-chief Teri Rizvi :

“Our Catholic identity is at the heart of our institution’s mission, but, in light of the importance of the health of our employees and the prevention of disease, we entered into these [insurance] plans [in order to provide contraception and sterilization],” said Teri Rizvi, UD’s associate vice president for communications. “We are not changing our employee health care insurance coverage.

Rizvi said the coverage has been in place for at least 20 years

“The university is aligned with the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities’ position, which supports a balance between health care and religious freedom…”

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities said it is “encouraged” by Obama’s compromise

Now, compare UD’s media response to His Excellency Dennis Schnurr Archbishop of Cincinnati’s letter to the archdiocese on 26 January 2012.

Respectful thoughts on this matter can be sent to His Excellency at the following: archbishop@catholiccincinnati.org

Archbishop Schnurr refers in his letter to the violation of the conscience of Catholics.  What is up with UD’s conscience?  Do members of UD’s leadership have any?

Anyway, still no word yet from E. Eight Street in downtown Cincy…

Hattip: OTRITT reader/commentor- Greg

I found the following from the Cardinal Newman Society regarding the Congressional hearing yesterday on religious liberty.  Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings pointed to the above fact from a list of Catholic colleges provided to him by the pro-abortion National Women’s Law Centter, in response to Bishop William Lori’s testimony before the House Committee.

It’s worth noting several Catholic universities on the list directly contradict the UD communication director’s claim that UD must carry contraceptive and sterilizations for purposes of birth control because their insurers are unable to make a distinction between contraception for medical reasons and contraception for birth control.  However, several universities on the list supposedly are able to seperate these from their plans. They claim not to provide these products/services for purposes of birth control in their insurance plans.  Either UD is full of it, or sounds like they need new insurers.  Their apparent unfaithfulness in regards to these matters is now being used as a weapon by liberals against Archbishop Schnurr and his fellow bishops in an attempt to curb religious liberty.

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