April 2009

Today is the feast day of St Gianna Beretta Molla, another courageous woman who offered her entire life for Love Himself.  For more about St Gianna’s story, head over here or here.

St Gianna is probably best known for giving her life for her unborn child, refusing surgery to remove a tumor in her uterus that would cause the death of her baby.  She died a week after giving birth to her daughter, Gianna Emanuela.  Gianna was present at her mother’s canonization in 2004.

While known for her death, it’s important to remember that you aren’t canonized for how you die, but for how you live.  St Gianna was only able to die for her child because she lived for her child.  All martyrs are only able to die for Christ because they lived their entire lives for Christ.  

Pope Paul VI called St Gianna’s sacrifice “conscious immolation” — “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation” — comparing Gianna’s act to Christ’s on the cross.  But her whole life was one of “conscious immolation” — spending her life as a physican serving the poor, the elderly, and mothers and their babies.  She fully embraced her vocation as wife and mother and pledged her life to “forming a truly Christian family.”

It was only with this vision for life — one of service, dedicated to the dignity of the human person, with a clear view of what her God-given vocation entailed– that Gianna was able to serve Christ to her death.  It was not with one heroic action that she acchieved sanctity, but through her embrace of the daily crosses and joys.

Daily crosses. Daily joys.  We all have them.  Are we waiting until our last breath to become a saint?  Or are we using what God gives us today?


This is for my mom. : )

[click on pictures for bigger views]

Mary Ann Glendon has been a role model of mine for some time now– it was such a thrill to see her regularly in Rome last spring.  She was always a heroine, always a voice for the Truth in this world– but this morning she stepped out once again, reminding us what it means to take a stand.

Just days before St Catherine of Siena’s feast day, Glendon gives us yet another model of strong womanhood.

The Bravery of Glendon

While some leading Catholic universities in America are so anxious to curry favor with the secular culture that they are willing to compromise their very identity, one woman stands unafraid…

By Andrew Rabel
MONDAY, APRIL 26, 2009 — Dear friends,

I am here late in the evening in the office of Inside the Vatican in Rome, and I have just learnt this fabulous news— that the former US Ambassador to the Holy See, the Catholic professor of law at Harvard, Mary Ann Glendon, has declined Notre Dame University’s invitation to attend its commencement in May and receive an award.

Let me tell you, I am no gymnast, but I have been doing cartwheels over the wooden floor.
But to be serious, this is one of the most extraordinary actions taken by a Catholic for a long time, due to the outrage she and many of us fellow Catholics feel at the decision to invite President Barack Obama to Notre Dame University to give the commencement address there next month, despite the fact that he is the most pro-abortion president the US has ever had.

I have just been on the phone to Mary Ann’s daughter, Elizabeth Lev, who works as an art historian and occasional columnist here in the Eternal City, and she is as delighted as I am.

Mary Ann was being used by the likes of Fr Jenkins (Notre Dame’s president) and company, to give the event some respectability.

After a succession of less than traditional Catholic American women in recent years, like Geraldine Ferraro, Nancy Pelosi, and Kathleen Sebelius, here is one American woman who shines with her love for Jesus Christ and His Church and who abhors this terrible destruction of lives in the womb.

Hopefully the spirit of St Thomas More will come back to more Catholics in public lif e, at this time.

Mary Ann, we are so proud of you. It can’t be a coincidence that you have the names of the mother and grandmother of Our Lord in your name. God bless.


Here is the complete text of Mary Ann Glendon’s historic letter. —The Editor

April 27, 2009
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame

Dear Father Jenkins,

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference=2 0of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their fami lies. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.

Yours Very Truly,

Mary Ann Glendon

Mary Ann Glendon is Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. She served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican from 2007 to 2009.

Interesting article. I’ve bold-ed the sentences which I read and then pumped my fist in the air.  Or bit my lip.  Or reacted in some other way.

On life issue, Cardinal George says Obama on ‘wrong side of history’

By Peter Finney Jr.
Catholic News Service

KENNER, La. (CNS) — President Barack Obama is a “very gracious and obviously a very smart man” but he is on the “wrong side of history” when it comes to his fervent support of abortion rights, Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George told the 2009 Louisiana Priests Convention April 21.

Cardinal George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told 200 priests from the seven dioceses of Louisiana that, while he wants Obama to succeed in his efforts to right the economy, enhance world peace and help the poor, the president needs to understand that the Catholic Church will not allow the life issue to be abandoned.

In a question-and-answer session that followed his keynote speech to priests on offering compassionate ministry to people who are hurting, Cardinal George offered a candid assessment of his 30-minute meeting with the president at the White House March 18.

“I think on the life issue he’s on the wrong side of history,” the cardinal said. “I think he has his political debts to pay, and so he’s paying them.”

Cardinal George said his conversation with the president was polite but substantive.

“It’s hard to disagree with him because he’ll always tell you he agrees with you,” he said. “Maybe that’s political.  I think he sincerely wants to agree with you. You have to say, again and again, ‘No, Mr. President, we don’t agree (on abortion).’  But we can agree on a lot, and we do, and that’s why there is so much hope. I think we have to pray for him every day.

Cardinal George said he told the president he was concerned about his decision to rescind the Mexico City policy, which resulted in providing taxpayer money to fund abortion overseas.

“He said we weren’t exporting abortion,” the cardinal said. “I said, ‘Yes we are.’ He would say, ‘I know I have to do certain things here. … But be patient and you’ll see the pattern will change.’ I said, ‘Mr. President, you’ve given us nothing but the wrong signals on this issue.’ So, we’ll see, but I’m not as hopeful now as I was when he was first elected.”

The church and the president find common ground on supporting social programs that lift up the poor, but Cardinal George said on the issue of abortion, “I think we’re up against something a little bit like slavery.”

“These are members of the human family, genetically individuated, (with) a human father and a human mother,” he said. “What their legal status is, of course, you can debate, and we have. … John Paul II says you cannot simply live comfortably with an immoral legal system, any more than you could live comfortably with slavery, and therefore you have to work to change the law.

“It’s a society-dividing issue, and on this issue, we’re with Abraham Lincoln and he’s with Stephen Douglas, and he doesn’t like to hear that, but that’s where he is.”

The cardinal was referring to the seven debates held in 1858 between Lincoln and his opponent for an Illinois seat in the U.S. Senate. Slavery was the main issue discussed in all of the debates.

If even the incremental restrictions on abortion — such as the ban on partial-birth abortion or parental notification laws — are rolled back, Cardinal George said pro-life advocates could feel desperate because they fear “abortion will be a human right, and of course, if it’s a human right, it can’t be qualified.”

Cardinal George said Pope John Paul II, with the help of Muslim and Latin American countries, successfully fought the Clinton administration’s efforts to declare abortion a fundamental “human right” at the 1994 U.N. population conference in Cairo, Egypt.

“Whether or not the present pope will be able to do this a generation later, I don’t know, because we’re going to be faced with it again,” the cardinal said. “But you can’t go on indefinitely. For 80 years we were a slave republic, and it took a terrible war to end that. And now for 40 years we’re in an abortion regime, and I’m not sure how that’s going to end.”

(Hat tip: Musings by Wurtz)

(For my own observations on the Lincoln-Douglas debates, see my October entry A little quiz.)

New information has come out about the Vatican’s preparation for Hitler’s attempt to kidnap Pope Pius XII.

Read more here:  The Lisbon Papacy


(And why, you might ask, would Hitler want to kidnap his BFF?   Yet another piece proving Pius XII’s opposition to the Nazi regime.)

Pope Pius XII, ora pro nobis!

Obama met with credit card executives today for credit card reform.

Perhaps I’m naive to think that credit card reform isn’t one of the roles of government.

Look at these statistics: “U.S. credit-card debt has increased by 25 percent in the past 10 years, reaching $963 billion by January, according to figures released by the White House. The average outstanding credit card debt for households that have a credit card was $10,679 at the end of 2008, according to CreditCard.com, an online marketplace designed to link consumers and card issuers.”

These are serious problems. What’s the remedy? Let’s pass a law for credit card reform!

These problems are certainly not caused by Americans who don’t know how to use a credit card, who don’t understand the nature of credit, who irresponsibly are spending money they don’t have, or who have lost any idea of self-control.

Of course not! It’s the fault of credit card companies, who are out to *gasp* make money off of people with no self-control!

Bad credit card companies! We must waste our time writing legislation to stop you!

Forget the fact that people need to learn how to control themselves and control their spending. Forget the whole idea of responsibility for one’s own actions.

If there’s debt, it’s not the fault of the person in debt! It must be the fault of the system!

Of course, these are the views of a president and Congress who irresponsibly are spending money they don’t have and who have lost any idea of self-control.

We can’t expect you to be accountable for your actions.  Here, have a condom.

Sometimes I want to go on a roadtrip… just so I can stop and eat at Chick-fil-A.  (It may be slightly criminal that the southern city I inhabit doesn’t have a proliferation of these things.  Should one really have to drive north to eat the best fried chicken sandwich ever?)

Anyway, a big hat-tip to my cousin— this video is hilarious!

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