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FIRST THINGS: Obama and the Bishops
First Things ^ | November 11, 2008 | Magdalen

Posted on 11/11/2008 11:57:40 AM PST by magdalen

Obama and the Bishops By Richard John Neuhaus

Friday, November 7, 2008, 8:16 AM (As) the American bishops of the Catholic Church hold their annual fall meeting in Baltimore. High on the agenda is how Catholic bishops can better communicate Catholic teaching on social justice both in the Church and in the public square. It is understood that the priority issue of social justice is the protection of innocent human life—from the entrance gates of life to the exit gates, and at every step along life’s way. The most massive and brutal violation of justice is the killing of millions of children in the womb.

In recent months, an unusually large number of bishops have been assertive, articulate, and even bold, in their public affirmation of the demands of moral reason and the Church’s teaching. Some estimate the number of such bishops to be over a hundred. Critics of these bishops, including Catholic fronts for the Obama campaign, claim that bishops have only spoken out because prominent Democrats stepped on their toes by egregiously misrepresenting Catholic teaching. Why only? It is the most particular duty of bishops to see that the authentic teaching of the Church is safeguarded and honestly communicated.

Not all bishops covered themselves with honor in the doing of their duty. Ignoring their further duty to protect the integrity of the Eucharist and defend against the faithful’s being led into confusion, temptation, and sin by skandolon, some bishops issued statements explaining why they had no intention of addressing the problem of public figures who claim they are Catholics in good standing despite their consistent rejection of the Church’s teaching on the defense of innocent human lives. Some such bishops took the position that publicly doing or saying anything that addressed that very public problem would be viewed as controversial, condemned as politically partisan, and misconstrued by those hostile to the Church. Therefore, they explained, they were doing and saying nothing except to say why they were doing and saying nothing. Such calculated timidity falls embarrassingly short of the apostolic zeal exemplified by the apostles whose successors the bishops are. Fortunately, these timorous shepherds seem to be in the minority among the bishops.

Others seem to have taken to heart in this Pauline Year the counsel of Paul to Timothy: “Fight the good fight . . . I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

After the election, some Catholics with itching ears who are manifestly embarrassed by the Church’s being out of step with the new world of “the change we’ve been waiting for” have gleefully pointed out that the assertiveness of the bishops had little political effect. In the presidential and other races, Catholics voted for pro-abortion candidates. So what? It is not the business of bishops to win political races. It is the business of bishops to defend and teach the faith, including the Church’s moral doctrine. One hopes they will keep that firmly in mind in their Baltimore meeting.

The reading for Mass on the day following the election was Philippians 2, in which St. Paul prays that the faithful “may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” That is as pertinent now as it was in the first century, and will be until our Lord returns in glory. It is the business of bishops to help equip the faithful to let the splendor of moral truth shine through their life and witness as lights in the world. If, on occasion, that coincides with political success, it is to be viewed as an unexpected, albeit welcome, bonus. It is a grievous degradation of their pastoral office, as well as a political delusion, for bishops to see themselves as managers of the Catholic voting bloc.

Earlier this year, the bishops issued “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” It was, as I wrote at the time, a fine statement in almost every respect. But its elaborate attention to nuance and painstaking distinctions made it a virtual invitation for the Catholic flaks of Obama to turn it upside down and inside out. The statement was regularly invoked to justify voting for the most extreme proponent of the unlimited abortion license in American presidential history.

That unintended invitation to distort, eagerly seized upon by those with a mind to do so, was especially evident in the statement’s treatment of a “proportionate” reason to support pro-abortion candidates. The bishops must do better next time. To be sure, any statement must be carefully reasoned, as Catholic moral theology is carefully reasoned. Yet an episcopal statement is not an invitation to an academic seminar but, above all, a call to faithfulness. The task is to offer a firm, unambiguous, and, as much as possible, a persuasive case on the basis of revelation and clear reason.

The events of these months have once again exposed deeper problems in the leadership of the bishops, although certainly not of the bishops alone. To cite an obvious instance, only 25 to 35 percent (depending on whose data you believe) of the 68 million Catholics in this country regularly attend Mass. That means that, except for a few bishops who have larger media access, bishops are being heard by only a minority of their people. Moreover, many parish pastors and priests are embarrassingly eager to avoid controversy, and others are openly disdainful of the Church’s teaching and/or its implications for public justice. Some bishops are tremulously intimidated by their presbyterates. Such bishops and priests need to read again, and with soul-searching prayer, Paul’s counsel to Timothy.

There are deeper problems. In the last four decades, following the pattern of American Protestantism, many, perhaps most, Catholics view the Church in terms of consumption rather than obligation. The Church is there to supply their spiritual needs as they define those needs, not to tell them what to believe or do. This runs very deep both sociologically and psychologically. It is part of the “success” of American Catholics in becoming just like everybody else. Bishops and all of us need to catch the vision of John Paul II that the Church imposes nothing, she only proposes. But what she proposes she believes is the truth, and because human beings are hard-wired for the truth, the truth imposes. And truth obliges.

It is not easy to communicate this understanding in our time, as it has not been easy in any time. In the twentieth century, the motto of the ecumenical movement was “Let the Church be the Church.” The motto was sometimes betrayed by that movement, but it should be courageously embraced by the bishops meeting in Baltimore. The bishops must set aside public relations and political calculations, and be prepared to surrender themselves anew to the task for which they were ordained, to uncompromisingly defend and communicate the faith once delivered to the saints.

Which brings me, finally, to another and related matter that will surely be discussed in Baltimore and deserves to be on the agenda. The Campaign for Human Development (CHD) is an annual collection in parishes, usually on one of the last two Sundays in November. It used to be called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development but the Catholic was dropped, which is just as well since it has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it. Some bishops no longer allow the CHD collection in their dioceses, and more should not allow it. In fact, CHD, misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice, should, at long last, be terminated.

Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians. Now it turns out that CHD has long been a major funder of ACORN, a national community agitation organization in support of leftist causes, including the abortion license. ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is under criminal investigation in several states. In the last decade CHD gave ACORN well over seven million dollars, including more than a million in the past year. It is acknowledged that ACORN, with which Sen. Obama had a close connection over the years, was a major player in his presidential campaign. The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church’s tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.

What most Catholics don’t know, and what would likely astonish them, is that CHD very explicitly does not fund Catholic institutions and apostolates that work with the poor. Part of the thinking when it was established in the ideological climate of the 1960s is that Catholic concern for the poor would not be perceived as credible if CHD funded Catholic organizations. Yes, that’s bizarre, but the history of CHD is bizarre. The bishops could really help poor people by promptly shutting down CHD and giving any remaining funds to, for instance, Catholic inner-city schools. In any event, if there is a collection at your parish this month, I suggest that you can return the envelope empty—and perhaps with a note of explanation—without the slightest moral hesitation.

After this week’s elections, we must brace ourselves for very difficult times, keeping in mind that difficult times can be bracing. As for the meeting of bishops next week: Let the Church be the Church, and let bishops be bishops.

Richard John Neuhaus is editor in chief of First Things.


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: bishops; chd; morality; orthodoxy

1 posted on 11/11/2008 11:57:41 AM PST by magdalen
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To: magdalen

He’s not Obama he’s “The Creature” or “President Creature” after 1/20/09


2 posted on 11/11/2008 12:02:19 PM PST by HarryCrowel
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To: magdalen

Read later


3 posted on 11/11/2008 12:10:24 PM PST by adc (Rush '08All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently oppos)
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To: magdalen
The Campaign for Human Development (CHD) is an annual collection in parishes, usually on one of the last two Sundays in November. It used to be called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development but the Catholic was dropped, which is just as well since it has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it....Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians. Now it turns out that CHD has long been a major funder of ACORN....The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church’s tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.

The Human Fund
"Money for People"

4 posted on 11/11/2008 12:13:55 PM PST by Alex Murphy ( "Every country has the government it deserves" - Joseph Marie de Maistre)
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To: magdalen

Excommunicating Kmiec would be a fine start.


5 posted on 11/11/2008 12:16:27 PM PST by stop_fascism
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To: magdalen

>>High on the agenda is how Catholic bishops can better communicate Catholic teaching on social justice both in the Church and in the public square.

How about this: “Abortion is murder? Don’t believe it; find another church.” OR “Pro-choice is a mortal sin.” OR “0bama’s lying, babies are dying.”


6 posted on 11/11/2008 12:27:50 PM PST by NTHockey (Rules of engagement #1: Take no prisoners.)
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To: magdalen; NYer

One can only pray and hope that the Bishops get the backbone of Pope Benedict XVI and speak out forcefully against the culture of death in the USofA.

“If we do not protect life, there is no reason to fight for any other cause.” Should be the motto of the Bishop’s Conference.


7 posted on 11/11/2008 12:30:30 PM PST by HighlyOpinionated (The Court is very jealous of its power - even over presidents, even over presidents-elect.”)
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To: magdalen
At my Catholic church, during mass on the Sunday before the election, our priest was very clear and direct during his homily that the pro-life vote was the primary issue, and he received applause from the congregation when he concluded. I am greatly saddened that the majority of Catholic voters went for zero on November 4.
I am also despondent that God WILL damn America, just like the Reverend Wright has requested. We are losing “Life”, we are losing “Liberty” on a path to socialism, so we can all forget “the Pursuit of Happiness.”
8 posted on 11/11/2008 12:33:55 PM PST by boycott_msm
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To: stop_fascism
Excommunicating BIDEN would be a fine start.
9 posted on 11/11/2008 12:35:34 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: magdalen

Excellent piece — but then Neuhaus always is!

Thanks for posting!


10 posted on 11/11/2008 12:38:03 PM PST by maryz
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To: magdalen

Why doesn’t the Vatican simply excommunicate all the Cafeteria Catholics and the liberation theologists? We would be a smaller, but infinitely stronger faith. Those thrown out can create a new quasi-religious entity named the Charismatic Apostate Catholics of America, or CACA for short.


11 posted on 11/11/2008 12:58:07 PM PST by Dionysius (Jingoism is no vice.)
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To: boycott_msm

Personally, what I’d like to see done is that we find the names of ever single Congressman/woman and senator that purports to be a Christian, whether Catholic, Baptist, etc. and we WRITE THEM personally about the great conflict b/t what they supposedly believe and what they actually do.

I think if enough of us did that, we might make some impact. Only God really knows. The important thing, however, would be that the letters can’t be stuff like “you’re going to hell.” I never understood it when people do stuff like that (even when it is likely true). It’s like those old Chick tracts - just too strident for my tastes.


12 posted on 11/11/2008 1:06:58 PM PST by Paved Paradise
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To: Dionysius

Because they’d have to excommunicate a lot of their own priests (sorry to say) like the guy that kept telling my mother-in-law that Satan was a story and a fantasy.


13 posted on 11/11/2008 1:08:10 PM PST by Paved Paradise
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To: magdalen

Excommunicating any politician who votes for a measure that funds, protects, or encourages abortion or the destruction of human embryos for research or on the basis of applying a notion of ‘property rights’ to them would be a splendid start.

If that doesn’t make it clear, excommunicate any politician who votes against measures to prohibit or restrict abortion or destructive research on human embryos.

Deposing any clergy who make ‘pro-choice’ statements after being warned by their bishop, and anathematizing them if the continue to make statements purporting to speak for the Latin church after their deposition would also make the message clear.

Us Orthodox need to do the same.


14 posted on 11/11/2008 1:09:12 PM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: Paved Paradise

I expect that they would be the first ones defrocked and sent packing.


15 posted on 11/11/2008 1:23:01 PM PST by Dionysius (Jingoism is no vice.)
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To: NTHockey

Needs to be repeated, week in and week out. I know that canonically, the homily must be related to the readings of the day ... but there’s absolutely no reason not to tie those readings somehow into opposing the abortion holocaust.


16 posted on 11/11/2008 1:27:37 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: HighlyOpinionated; magdalen; NYer
One can only pray and hope that the Bishops get the backbone of Pope Benedict XVI and speak out forcefully against the culture of death in the USofA.

Too bad the pope cannot do more with his backbone. He sits in Peter's chair. He hired them, why can't he fire them? You need Donald Trump as pope.

17 posted on 11/11/2008 1:48:03 PM PST by topcat54 ("The selling of bad beer is a crime against Christian love.")
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To: magdalen; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
In the last four decades, following the pattern of American Protestantism, many, perhaps most, Catholics view the Church in terms of consumption rather than obligation. The Church is there to supply their spiritual needs as they define those needs, not to tell them what to believe or do.

This is relativism - essentially, to their way of thinking, all things are relative. This results from a constant diet of msm. It parallels the mindset of "I am not a sinner. I have not murdered anyone."

The Holy Father addressed this beginning with his homily at the pre-conclave Mass before he was chosen pontiff. On his trips, he continues the mantra to bishops and congregants alike. But, just as they do with their faith, they 'pick anc choose' what to hear and what to screen out.

I don't know that the bishops can resolve this problem at this meeting but it should be made a permanent aspect of discussion at all future meetings until they can formulate a plan of attack. Ultimately, the biggest challenge is not so much the pew Catholics but the ones who are lapsed but still consider themselves Catholics. How to reach them!

18 posted on 11/11/2008 1:49:40 PM PST by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: ArrogantBustard

I won’t argue, but I think people who pretend to be Catholic are less harmful than those who deliberately distort Catholic teaching for personal gain.


19 posted on 11/11/2008 1:52:15 PM PST by stop_fascism
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To: topcat54
Church isn't a corporation, Pope isn't a CEO.

Somebody or other had a great article on why the Pope can't "just fire those bishops". I'll look for it.

20 posted on 11/11/2008 1:55:10 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse - TTGS Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother
Church isn't a corporation, Pope isn't a CEO.

Yes, I realize RC bishops are more like semi-autonomous vassals with life tenure.

But yet a bishop can fire a priest.

21 posted on 11/11/2008 2:04:42 PM PST by topcat54 ("The selling of bad beer is a crime against Christian love.")
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To: NYer

Maybe they could all get together and create a Catholic college or university which actually teaches Catholicism
since there isn’t one where they are now? Just an idea. Not sure what they think will happen without Catholics educated in the faith. Just more Obamas?


22 posted on 11/11/2008 2:24:32 PM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: magdalen
I think the bishops realize that a public prohibition from receiving communion of a CINO politician would effectively launch them onto a whole new path away from their comfort zone. Moreover, it would be a path which might lead through some very rough countryside. In short, there would be a heck of a hullabaloo. They're not ready for that yet.

Faithful Catholics would be greatly heartened and encouraged, of course but here in the USA, where anti-Catholic sentiment lurks just below the surface, accusations of Church interference in secular government would begin to fly thick and fast. Battle lines would be drawn. Questions would be asked about tax exemptions. Money might become scarcer. *Shudder*.......let's try gentle persuasion first.......

We've made a good start. Episcopal spine has been more in evidence than for quite some time (due in good part to the housecleaning of homosexuals from ministry and seminaries, IMHO) but we're going to have to wait a while for someone to press the "nuke" button.

23 posted on 11/11/2008 2:37:50 PM PST by marshmallow
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To: topcat54
And if the bishop is one of the vertebrate variety, he will.

We're just still suffering from Abp. Jadot fallout.

24 posted on 11/11/2008 2:37:59 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse - TTGS Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Dionysius

One can hope. As Pastor Tony Evans has said (my favorite quote): “Where does the Devil sit?”
“In the first pew”

Anyone who does not think Satan is an expert on scripture is seriously deluded.


25 posted on 11/11/2008 3:26:48 PM PST by Paved Paradise
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To: boycott_msm
I am the deacon at my parish in Rhode Island. Both my pastor and I preached this message for weeks before the election and it was well received...but not by all. And lets face it. There are RINOs and there are CINOs...catholic in name only. In our state, Obamanation got 75% of the vote which tells me in a state made up of 65% Catholic more than half those Catholics voted for Zero. Not much that preaching can do to change the hearts and minds of those who no longer attend church and have dumped their faith for a new religion called Hedonism.

We all have a huge uphill battle and challenge...to bring the grace of conversion to the pagans...

26 posted on 11/11/2008 6:22:25 PM PST by ThomasMore (Hedonism cast its vote and we ended up with an ObamaNation!)
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To: HighlyOpinionated

EXCELLENT MOTTO- I AM ADOPTING AS MY OWN, WITH YOUR PERMISSION. caps intentional- heart actually skipped a beat when I read someone write what I felt..........


27 posted on 11/11/2008 6:27:40 PM PST by wombtotomb (since its "above his paygrade", why can't we err on the side of caution about when life begins?)
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity

I understand Christendom College is a good, solid Catholic school.

It’s a shame I can’t think of more. I should be able to rattle ‘em off like crazy.

Regards,


28 posted on 11/11/2008 7:36:33 PM PST by VermiciousKnid (Wake up and smell the incense!)
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To: VermiciousKnid

Maybe they could meet in Front Royal next time.
Just seems kind of farcical that they do nothing about liberal modernism, dissent, and apostasy at the colleges and universities and complain at these meetings about Catholics not following the faith. Most have never been taught it at an adult level.


29 posted on 11/11/2008 7:41:14 PM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: marshmallow
Episcopal spine has been more in evidence than for quite some time (due in good part to the housecleaning of homosexuals from ministry and seminaries, IMHO)

More like a house cleaning among their own ranks. Most of it was through attrition, but they're still gone.

30 posted on 11/11/2008 9:12:10 PM PST by Desdemona (Tolerance of grave evil is NOT a Christian virtue (I choose virtue. Values change too often).)
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To: stop_fascism
The Bishops are standing up for life after the election. And yes, they are on Kmiec's tail, too.

Pray for LIFE!

CNN’s Rick Sanchez: Does the GOP ‘Have to Be Anti-Abortion’?
Catholic bishops plan to forcefully confront Obama
Niece of Martin Luther King Jr.: "The Dream" Is Not Yet Fulfilled
Barone: Media wanted Palin abortion
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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's Niece{Dr. Alveda King]: Abortion Means Obama Doesn't Fulfill Dream
Bishops to present concerns on abortion, other issues to politicians
Kneeling Before the World [Catholic Caucus]
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life Receives Post-Election Death Threat

Barone: 'Liberal media' wanted Palin to abort
BISHOPS APPROVE BLESSING FOR CHILD IN THE WOMB
FIRST THINGS: Obama and the Bishops
Head of U.S. bishops says no compromise on abortion
Washington Post Admits Bias for Obama, Calls Pro-Life Policies "Offensive"
Washington Post Admits Bias for Obama, Calls Pro-Life Policies "Offensive"
Novena for the Protection of the Unborn
Carving Out a Better Respect Life Position
Prez Herod (post election reflection)
Wash Post: Pro-Life Views "Ideologically Offensive"

Election of Obama a Disaster for Pro-Life Fight in EU and Africa: Prominent Kenyan Physician
Bishops will not skip debate on abortion and politics
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MCCL [MN's largest pro-life organization] achieves nearly all pro-life goals in 2008 election
No "Presidential sleight of hand" on stem cells
Voting for Reproductive Freedom (NYT pro-abort alert)
Abortion Groups Confident Obama Will Push His Pro-Abortion Agenda
Obama reviews Bush orders on stem cells, drilling
Obama reviews Bush orders on stem cells, drilling (Be prepared for the gas prices to go up)
Let us Celebrate Barrack Obama, Let us Celebrate Life

Obama Positioned to Quickly Reverse Bush Actions Stem Cell, Climate Rules
Pro-Life Dem Breakthroughs (Bad News for FOCA?)
Stopping FOCA: EWTN TV w/ Gianna Jessen, Sister Nirmala, Archbishop Burke, among others(?)
Dr. Alveda King to Pro-Lifers: Forward, March
What America Has Done (Was the election about racial equality or the right to life?)
The Freedom of Choice Act: Radical Attempt to Prematurely End Debate over Abortion
Becket Fund to Award Canterbury Medal to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap.
Doug Kmiec to give election ‘post-mortem’ at Calif. seminary [Catholic Caucus]
Fighting FOCA (the time to act is now!)
Billy Graham Won't Advise Obama Because of Strong Pro-Abortion Position

Bishop Carlson: Our witness must grow stronger (Statement on election results)
Back to the Drawing Board (several bishops calling for Faithful Citizenship to be overhauled)
On Eucharistic Consistency (Florida bishop urges Biden to examine conscience before Communion)
Future Obama abortion legislation will violate conscience rights, PRI president says
THERE IS STILL A GOD IN HEAVEN!
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A Post – Election Reflection: Pray, Plan and Participate
Payback Time: What Planned Parenthood Expects from Barack Obama
Life will not go on

Catholic Leaders React to Obama Victory, Offer Advice
Archbishop Chaput Eager to See Kmiec Deliver a Pro-Life Obama
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[Electing Obama] A Grave Mistake and an Abiding Hope
Fight FOCA (Unlimited Abortion) Sign the Fight FOCA Petition ASAP Get Involved!!
Douglas W. Kmiec on 'Obama's Miracle'
"The Killing Must End”: Christian Defense Coalition to Launch Major Post-Inaugural Pro-Life Campaign
Pro-Life Advocates Urged to Renew Efforts Against Abortion After Election Loss
Obama Pushes Abortion on Day One With Emanuel Pick
Warriors with Our Eyes Fixed on Heaven (Bishop Finn's Excellent Column) [Ecumenical]

31 posted on 11/11/2008 10:22:11 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Paved Paradise

I agree about writing to my rep and will do just that! He is a “Catholic” who conveniently hides behnd the argument that he is upholding the laws of the land. I wish our church would excommunicate these politicians.


32 posted on 11/12/2008 5:25:17 PM PST by boycott_msm
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To: wombtotomb

Surely, you have my permission, I stole it from another FReeper, I do believe.

Appropriated not stolen. LOL

Now I’ve appropriated another phrase from a FReeper.


33 posted on 11/13/2008 6:59:27 AM PST by HighlyOpinionated (Psalm 66:7b "He watches every movement of the nations. Rebels will not be able to oppose Him.")
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