Please be proactive and call your elected representatives tomorrow, Nov. 21. This is the day the Health Care bill will be voted on to advance to the final conference. In particular call any of the Catholic members of Congress or simply e-mail them.
Ed Habert, M.D.
My Dear Classmates, 11/20/09
Well it is time to fish or cut bait as we would say in Louisiana. We now have the raging debate over health care reform or health insurance reform or attack the medical profession reform or whatever term you wish to use. No serious tort reform however; a pass is given for the special lobby of the trial lawyers. There must also be specific language to forbid the Federal funding of abortion either in this country or abroad with taxpayer money. Multiple amendments have been voted down by the Democrats dealing with these issues in the past. It is a given that the Democrats will try to exclude the abortion issue from the final bill as it is debated in conference to form the final bill to be voted on by the House and Senate. A vote for cloture tomorrow is essentially a vote for the bill. The democrats need 60 votes tomorrow to send the bill to the final conference. In the final conference they will only need a simple majority and this is a given. The Stupak abortion amendment will be removed.
It was an interesting summer in my new parish of Corpus Christi in Destin, Fl. The midsummer parish bulletin published a five part article authored by George M. Searle, C.S.P. of the Paulist Fathers. He was Superior General of the order from 1904-1909. It was titled “Why the Catholic Church Cannot Accept Socialism.” In his view religion is a belief system of truths and duties coming to us from God, through Christ and His Apostles and committed to an organization founded by Devine authority and known to us as the Church. His view is the danger of an over reaching government into the lives of its citizens and in particular into the lives of the family. Who is to have charge of the family? His opinion is that the logical conclusion of the socialistic state would seem to indicate that ownership of it, as a property must reside in the State. This produces an irreconcilable difference with the teaching of the Church. The Church’s teaching is that the parents are the natural guardians of their own children, and the State must not take this natural and Divine right of guardianship from them.
Enter the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO.) The most glaring statement in this document is the recommendation that educators begin teaching students introductory reproductive and sexual subjects earlier than usual: between the ages of five and eight to include a discussion of masturbation. The guidelines in this document recommend that national governments, education ministries and school systems around the world provide students sex education. The other usual topics are present: contraception, abortion, AIDS and the more recent topic of vaccination against cervical cancer. Was Father Searle prescient? What else does government want to take over in our lives? How do you see religion in this narrative? How do you see persons in the autumn of their lives in this scenario; that’s us folks? If you don’t have a living will get one!
On a recent Sunday our Catholic Church bulletin contained a “Billy Graham Prayer for our Country.” ‘Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good’, but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and call it lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment… Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.’ Amen!
On a more recent Sunday in the bulletin we were treated to an article penned by Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family titled ‘We Want to See More Families like Obama’s.’ You remember that James Dobson was the founder of this organization. There are times when President Obama’s policies seem so diametrically opposed to his family values such as in the issue of the sanctity of life. There were quotes from President Obama, however, which were on the mark for fatherhood. “If we want our children to succeed in life, we need fathers to step up. We need fathers to understand that their work doesn’t end with conception; what truly makes a man a father is the ability to raise the child and invest in that child. Fatherhood “It’s about showing up, and sticking with it, and going back at it when you mess up, and letting your deeds show that you love them, that you’re always—they’re always your first priority.”
Throughout my parish life I have been blessed with outstanding homilists who lived their faith and communicated their faith in ways that demanded that you would be a better Christian when you walked out of that church. The message was clear, “crystal” as proffered in one of my favorite movies ‘A Few Good Men.’ They were always on message, well almost always. It was always difficult for my Kirkwood, Mo. parish or for that matter the bishops at large to give a clear message that there was no moral relativism of the greater good versus the lesser evil to vote for social justice under the guise of President Obama’s view of socialism versus the right to life of the unborn. Reread the Bishop’s little white booklet which was a guide for voters. We have such a vigorous outreach to the poor and needy in my old parish it is absolutely amazing. I attended church in this parish in 1947 for the first time. It is 175 years old. The history of social justice not socialism is deep in this parish. We truly try to follow the mission of the Christ that whatever you do for the least of my brethren you do for me.
Be that as it may my pastor in Kirkwood, Mo. could not bring himself to fish or cut bait. It was always the proposed social justice of Obama versus the right to life issue. My new pastor at Corpus Christi is never off message and there is never any hand wringing over the right to life issue. In Kirkwood shortly after the election the pastor gave a stirring homily wishing us “discontent” which evolved into a stirring antiabortion sermon which included an admonition that he had not done enough in support of this issue. There is a handicapped young priest confined to a wheelchair in Kirkwood who celebrated the seven-thirty Mass on Nov.2nd, the Sunday before the election, who turned the homily over to a young seminarian assisting at Mass who spoke about visiting graveyards and praying for our dead relatives or some other inane topic. He never mentioned the 50,000,000 aborted souls of Our Lord’s children! He never touched the topic.
Many of us wonder where our Catholic hierarchy was during the run up to the election. It could be argued that the Vatican was decidedly less openly critical of the Obama administration, that some Catholic Bishops tacitly supported prochoice Catholic politicians and continued to allow them to receive the sacraments publicly; there is the affront on our Catholic principles by the invitation of President Obama to speak at Notre Dame and the ostentatious ceremony of Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral. This is a man who has long led the battle for abortion rights, stem-cell research and gay marriage. He was rated 100% by NARAL indicating a perfect prochoice voting record including support of partial birth abortions. He voted no on banning human cloning in Feb. 1998. The “Lion of the Senate” voted no on notifying parents of minors crossing state lines for abortion or notifying parents of teens who get out of state abortions in 2008 and 2006 respectively. This is a man who received his first Holy Communion from none other than Pope Pius XII and was married to Joan Bennett in 1958 by Francis Cardinal Spellman, the Archbishop of New York. More than a decade later the marriage was annulled similar to another famous Catholic, John Kerry.
I have practiced my faith in the Archdiocese of St. Louis for most of my adult life. Many of the Archbishops in this diocese or in surrounding dioceses may be familiar to you on a national or international scale. These include Archbishops Carberry, May, Burke, Rigalli, Dolan and Gregory. The Bishop who stands out in my mind however, is Bishop Robert Hermann who was minding the shop between the departure of Archbishop Burke to the Vatican and his successor Archbishop Carlson. At the time of his installation at the St. Louis Cathedral Archbishop Carlson espoused a firm prolife position. The question is whether Speaker Pelosi attending mass at the Cathedral would be given the Eucharist by Archbishop Carlson. Either abortion is a grave moral evil or it is not. Res ipsa locquitur! Are we Catholic or not? Bishop Hermann served as Archdiocesan Administrator. He clearly and forcefully espoused the dignity and sacredness of human life for weeks before the election. He clearly enunciated the evils of FOCA or the Freedom of Choice Act and urged us to vigilant and to contact our Senators and Representatives when it is resurrected in the 111th Congress. He wrote and spoke eloquently on the morally relative issue of the promise of social justice visa vie the socialism of President Obama’s program and the prolife issues of today. Need we wonder about the resignation of Bishop Joseph Martino from Scranton, Pa. for his prolife advocacy and aggressive criticism of pro-choice Democratic politicians? This retirement comes a decade before the required age of 75. George Weigel wrote in the St. Louis Review, our diocesan newspaper that this year’s election cycle clarified decisively that the great public fissure in the United States is between the culture of life and the culture of death. In 1995 Pope John Paul II introduced the phrase “culture of death” in the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).” Until we regain respect for life and embrace the culture of life locally, nationally and globally we will continue with the carnage and turmoil of our day. Bishop Hermann wrote in January of this year in the Review “In our Supreme Court and in our Congress, we have a plethora of so-called Catholics who are failing to live their Catholic identity. Over 50 percent of our electorate voted for a president who is one of the most pro-culture-of death candidates from a major party to run for the highest office of the land.
Yes, we can thank one-half of our Catholics for bailing out on their faith!
After almost 50 years of having 50 percent of Catholics abandoning their Catholic identity, we cannot expect to turn this culture around by short-term political efforts. In order to bring about a transformation from a culture of death to a culture of life, we have to restore our Catholic identity.” This was taken from the St. Louis Archdiocesan newspaper, “The Review.”
“Toleration of pro-abortion or pro-choice behavior is totally unacceptable for any Catholic.”
Our Catholic leadership from the Papacy to the Parish has to step up and lead. “Faithful Citizenship” was a loss of leadership. There are 17 Catholic Senate Democrats and 9 Catholic Senate Republicans in the 100 member body; 98 Catholic house Democrats and 38 Catholic house Republicans of the 435-member body. The 162 Catholic elected members represent 30.3 percent of the total 535 representatives. There are now 6 out of 9 appointed Catholic Supreme Court Justices. Our Catholic identity has been lost as well as our Christian identity as a nation founded “under God.”
See if you recognize any of the current or recent Senate Catholic Democrats: Biden, Dodd, Durbin, Harkin, Kennedy, Kerry, Landrieu, Leahy, McCaskill, Menendez, Mikulski, and Salazar. The Senate Catholic Republicans include Brownback, Collins, Martinez, and Vitter. The Catholic House Democrats include Clay, DeFazio, Dingell, Gillibrand, Kennedy, Kucinich, McGovern, Murtha, Napolitano, Pelosi, and Rangle. The Catholic House Republicans include Boehner and King. Some of these folks have been selected by the President to serve in other appointments at this time. Some of these good Catholic politicians have come under ethics review.
For those of you who felt compelled to vote in favor of the presumed social justice program of Obama versus the right to life issue, there is no longer any perceived imperative to justify withholding your full support for the pro-life program. I urge you to contact your own local Congressmen as well as any and all of the Catholic representatives in office at this time. The quid pro quo should now be support in 2010 elections predicated on the absence of any Federal abortion funding locally, nationally or globally in any Health Care Reform Bill. It must be stated in the bill! All other right to life issues must be on the table and open to discussion.
Pope John Paul II said very clearly that life is the greatest priority: “The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” At the time of the encyclical Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (aka Pope Benedict XVI), head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, insisted that the encyclical’s strongly worded formulas condemning abortion and euthanasia were authoritative teachings but stopped short of saying they met the conditions of infallibility. The act of abortion has been held throughout the tradition of the Church as an intrinsically evil moral act as Speaker Pelosi learned from the Pope. Let us regain our Catholic identity. Contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators tomorrow!!!
The bottom line is that we all will have to answer the question I proposed to all of you in April at the alumni banquet. Where will you spend eternity??? There are only two answers. There is no wiggle room. God is the ultimate mystery for humanity. We have been given a small window through Jesus to discover the answer. Some of us are closer to the truth than others. Where will you spend eternity???
E. R. Habert, M.D.
950 Hwy 98 E, #7122
Destin, Fl 53241-2813