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Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Francis Beckwith

"Leading up to the Kennedy funeral last weekend, and in its aftermath, many so-called lovers of life and activists in the pro-life movement, as well as well-known colleagues in Catholic television broadcasting and media in North America, have revealed themselves to be not agents of life, but of division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment and violence. ... Through vicious attacks launched on blogs, a new form of self-righteousness, condemnation and gnosticism reveals authors who behave as little children bullying one another around in schoolyards- casting stones, calling names, and wreaking havoc in the Church today!"

In other words, don't emulate Ted Kennedy. Who can argue with that?

Jack Smith

Carl, thanks for this post. One clarification - The impetus for my post on CHA and Sr. Carol Keehan was an August 4 CNS story which included this:

"In an Aug. 3 interview with Catholic News Service, she decried the "deliberate distortions" about health care reform being circulated by "those who for whatever reason don't want health reform to succeed."

The worst of the distortions, Sister Carol said, is that CHA and Catholic Charities USA are "working at cross-purposes" with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the abortion issue in health reform.

So my source for saying CHA "is accused of being at odds with the USCCB and the prolife cause," was Sister Keehan herself. Both America and NCR ran that CNS article, so it is disingenuous for them to act like they didn't know where that line came from.

Rich Leonardi

Allen's "analysis" pieces are almost universally bad.

He ought to stick to reporting stories, a task at which he shines.

Blake Helgoth

Sounds like Allen is grasping for arguments to quell a disturbed conscience. If pro-lifers are bad then I can ignore their argument, so I'll convince myself they are bad and go on my merry way.


"Now I understand: only pro-lifers are uncivil." huh? No.

"dubious motives"? No. I thought Allen made several points that needed to be made. Bravo!

Bob Christian

Your partisan hackery is sad.


SC, what points did you think needed to be made?

Carl E. Olson

Bob: Your inability to distinguish between "partisan hackery" and sound thinking is sad.

Mark Brumley

I see no evidence that prolifers on the whole are any more prone to the problems Mr. Allen refers to than any other group of activists. As Carl observes, we could substitute any number of other groups for "prolifers" in John Allen's remarks. Having worked as a social ministries office director with lots of "issue" people, I can say that all sorts of people--"peace and justice" Catholics, migrant advocates, homeless advocates, environmentalists, and many others--all have their extremists and are tempted to go overboard. Nothing in my experience tells me that prolifers are more inclined in that direction than others.

Catholic Femina

Universal health care is not the answer and not all the bishops support it...
I understand the debate has been ugly, but we are fighting for those that have no voice. Self-indulgent people like Sr. Keehan believe they are going to be important and continue to blindly promote health care reform; CHA has been producing pro-Obama care advertisements... I hope these have not confused anyone and I hope that people understand that the pro-life movement is not acting uncivily! ABORTION IS UNCIVIL!


Oh please, Jack Smith.

For the record, here are your words:

"For her public support of the president's pro-abortion appointees to her campaign to enact health care reform now, she is accused of being at odds with the USCCB and the prolife cause, both of which have serious reservations about current health care proposals."

Kindly own them. Don't try to attribute them to someone else.

Ed Peters

When Allen's good, he's very, very good; and when he's bad, he's awful.

Matt C

I have no problem with Fr.Rosica (or anyone for that matter) pointing out destructive and ineffective behaviour. There were no doubt some catholics who showed a lack of charity towards Senator Kennedy after his death, but after reading comments (on a few sites) I think those individuals were in the minority.

That being said, Fr.Rosica and Mr.Allen do a disservice to the Church by muddying the waters of debate. To equate objection to Senator Kennedy's public funeral (complete with eulogies) with a lack of charity and disregard for his immortal soul, is insulting and completely absurd.

David Deavel

Is it my imagination or is John Allen going back to the bad old NCR days?


Allen has a divided mind.


One would think therefore that all Catholics are their own worst enemies because aren't all Catholics pro-life, at least those who present themselves for Communion on Sunday.

David , Chicago

You know, in a very real way, we Catholics ARE our own worst enemies. Truth is, many of us are being uncivil--even uncharitable--in our discourse these days, and such behavior does little to echo Christ's call to conversion or invite non-Catholics into the church.

Quick cases in point: The American Life League saying that the Roman Catholic funeral of Ted Kennedy was "spitting on Christ;" (You can argue that it was wrong of Cardinal O'Malley to allow/be at the funeral, but you're off base when you accuse Catholics acting in good faith and within the bounds of canon law of spitting on Christ.) Mark Brumley calling Sister Carol Keehan DC, "self absorbed" (How is it that you know her soul?) Jack Smith putting the word "analysis" in quotes. (You can disagree with John Allen's analysis. You can critique it. But why the "quotes"? John Allen wrote an analysis.)

No, I am not advocating a "go-along-to-get-along" spineless kind of faith. Yet we must always remember that Jesus commands us to love our enemies and return good for evil. There are compelling ways to make our case and there are self-defeating ones. We can do better--be better--than we are present. (And just because this will always be the case at least until the Second Coming doesn't invalidate the point.)

And this is not to say that only pro-lifers or conservatives are being uncivil or uncharitable. Actually, I did not find John Allen making that accusation.

Wally Renneberg

One comment that Fr. Rosica made bothered me a bit. He made reference to the fact that our Bishops are our teachers.
He did NOT mention that they are also told to teach in accordance to our Pope's instructions!

Jack Smith

Irishlady - I own those words and all the rest of the post. The phrase in question, however, that CHA "is accused of being at odds with the USCCB and the prolife cause" is also supported by Sr. Carol Keehan. She says it is the biggest distortion in the healthcare debate. So I don't see why it is a matter of dispute. Obviously she thinks lots of people have made the charge - and that was before I had anything to say about CHA.


Gosh, Matt C, are you saying that NCR has reformed since its "bad old days"?

Pleas explain in what ways this reform is manifested, other than Allen's surprisingly even-handed reporting (when he sticks to reporting)?

Mark Brumley

Mark Brumley calling Sister Carol Keehan DC, "self absorbed" (How is it that you know her soul?)

When did I do that?

Carl E. Olson

When did I do that?

Never, of course. It's a misreading due to the somewhat confusing formatting in the comments section. I need to change it.

Ed Peters

Now, Mark, haven't I warned you about reading souls? And more than once?


Jack, you know very well that anybody can be "accused" of anything. Without even the courtesy naming her accusers, you have attempted to place her outside the mainstream, and even "at odds" with the USCCB.

So straight up, Jack. Is Sister Carol Keehan and the CHA operating at "odds" with the USCCB on the issue of health care reform? I can't see anything she has ever said on this issue that hadn't been said scores of times since Leo XIII.

David from Chicago has hit the mark. I might add that I have never understood the need to identify and drive out the "heretics" and "infidels" and even the "sinners," but when that drive pointed its finger at Sister Carol Keehan, then it had truly jumped the shark.

Mark Brumley

Never, of course. It's a misreading due to the somewhat confusing formatting in the comments section. I need to change it.

Oh. I was beginning to think I was too self-absorbed and that I was forgetting when I called people self-absorbed.

Bill Foley

Regarding health care legislation, is the USCCB not in conformity with the consistent papal magisterium's constant teaching on the principle of subsidiarity since Rerum Novarum. Note the following from John Paul the Great:

Centesimus Annus
Pope John Paul II
May 1, 1991

Number 48
Paragraphs 4 and 5

“In recent years the range of such intervention has vastly expanded, to the point of creating a new type of State, the so-called "Welfare State". This has happened in some countries in order to respond better to many needs and demands, by remedying forms of poverty and deprivation unworthy of the human person. However, excesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoked very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the "Social Assistance State". Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.100
By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending. In fact, it would appear that needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them and who act as neighbours to those in need. It should be added that certain kinds of demands often call for a response which is not simply material but which is capable of perceiving the deeper human need. One thinks of the condition of refugees, immigrants, the elderly, the sick, and all those in circumstances which call for assistance, such as drug abusers: all these people can be helped effectively only by those who offer them genuine fraternal support, in addition to the necessary care.


Thank you Carl. Great stuff.

Allen can be good. And as in here, betraying his implicit liberal bent, often not too good.

Conservatives do, however, seem to often shrill (I know I am!). I think of the Nat'l Review editorial/obit for Ted K. I just read last night. While I am no fan of the man's memory, after reading it I still felt, was *that* really necessary, much less charitable? Of course, the liberals do the same thing. Iver at Victor Davis Hanson's blog he has a good piece on the "Rise of Uncouth."

And I do not by that reference mean in any way to discourage or discredit the Rise of of Truth!

Matt C


your writing is clear like Mr.Allen's. Or should I call you John?


Two points, Bill.

Depending on which side of the ideological fence they are on, there are certain segments that believe that subsidiarity trumps solidarity and other segments that believe that solidarity trumps subsidiarity. They don't. They work hand in glove, but both principles often get distorted beyond recognition.

Second point, subsidiarity also includes an obligation of the "higher" authority to step in to solve issues that the "lower" levels cannot.

The debate we should be having is whether or not such action by the federal government is warranted, given the millions of uninsured in this nation, and the additional millions of insured who are still forced into bankruptcy by medical bills.

Wally Renneberg

As a Canadian, I'm always interested in the comments regarding Government Health Insurance.
Anybody who thinks that Government run Health Care is Utopia, should give his,her , head a shake.
You have the FDA which seemingly the Pharmaceutical Companies who want to run the show.
You have the Doctors, Some of who are in it for the money.
And then you've got the patients, some of who will run to the Doctor for every imagine illness just because it's "free".
Then you've got the beurocrats who want to run the show.

If someone could come up with a plan which would take the Money out of the equation, you could be on to something.

Mark Brumley

The question of which is prior, solidarity or subsidiarity, seems capable of resolution. What is the purpose of subsidiarity? Here is how Centesimus Annus describes subsidiarity, drawing on Pius XI: it is the principle that affirms that "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good" (CA 48; cf. CCC 1883).

Subsidiarity means not to impede people or groups from, but assisting them in, contributing to their good and the common good in ways they are capable of.

In other words, the principle is intended as a form of assistance--a not-doing for another in order to require or allow him to do for himself what he is capable of doing. Since solidarity is "a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all" (SRS no. 39), it seems that subsidiarity would be a means to the end of solidarity.

While both solidarity and subsidiarity are important and while there is a certain complementarity to them, it seems that subsidarity can be understood as the form solidarity takes in order to promote the common good in certain instances and under certain circumstances.


Interesting spin, Mark, but I challenge you to produce one document from centuries of church teaching that says categorically that subsidiarity is "prior."

So, "in other words," no responsibilities at all toward the hungry, thirsty, naked and imprisoned as long as we get out of their way and allow them to provide for themselves that which they could not provide.

Mark and Carl, you guys to a great job of convincing each other and your choir. And with that, I'm outta here.

I'd say it's been fun, but it hasn't.

Mark Brumley

Since I did not say that subsidiarity is prior to solidarity, but implied the opposite, it should not surprise readers that I won't spend any time trying to show that subsidiarity is prior to solidarity.

So, "in other words," no responsibilities at all toward the hungry, thirsty, naked and imprisoned as long as we get out of their way and allow them to provide for themselves that which they could not provide.

Who said that? How is that conclusion implicit in what I wrote? Before you post comments, Irishladdy, perhaps it would help if you read carefully and thought carefully about the items you wish to comment upon. At least in this instance, it does not seem that you have done so.

Since subsidiarity is a form of solidarity, it follows that solidarity is prior to subsidiarity. It does not follow that it is the only form solidarity should take and therefore it does not follow that government should never act in other ways to help the poor.


Fr. Rosica is owed an apology. A pro-life priest should not be receiving threats on his life from people who call themselves pro-lifers. I don't care what he said. All of this nonsense is just hard-hearted people who will not admit that what they have done is wrong. You're all talking yourselves in circles, and looking increasingly foolish. The good pro-lifers, the real pro-lifers, need to stand against this ridiculous behaviour. You need to set an example by extending Fr. Rosica an apology, not making these convoluted excuses and justifications.

Carl E. Olson

Daeron: If you are going to jump in these waters and claim that someone on this blog actually threatened Fr. Rosica's life, you had better have some hard, cold evidence. But, of course, you don't. None of the bloggers here (and I wrote this post and the majority of the others) would ever say any such thing, and none of the commenters did, either. So on what basis are you making specious and slanderous accusations? Or do you not know the different between responsible, sober criticism and death threats? Your remarks are truly ridiculous. You are the one who needs to apologize. But I suspect that isn't going to happen anytime soon...

Matt C. Abbott

Very good comments, Carl and Mark.

God bless!

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