September - October

Notes from Across the Atlantic

"There are people here who, everything they do in public life, they gauge how The New York Times will react," says an unidentified New York City councilman, talking to The New York Observer in a story on political candidates' energetic pursuit of The Times' endorsement. The Times, the story explains, "is still seen as an unbiased arbiter".

Our eyebrows went up, too, but this is New York. The newspaper's kind of...

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Synthesis September-October 2012

FAITH Magazine September - October 2012

In this issue we introduce a new column entitled Continuity and Development: Notes and Quotes from the Year of Faith.

In this column we hope to chronicle some...

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Newman, Vatican II and the Imperative of Development

"Well, you seem quite healthy..." Thus the doctor summed up this writer's annual check-up and indicated the door. Patients want to be told that in all likelihood there is no...

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Catholic Involvement in Saving Marriage

Eric Hester is a retired headmaster of Catholic grammar and comprehensive schools and currently a lead inspector of independent schools. He writes about the practical response that Catholics could...

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The Unmasking of Planned Parenthood

Often the simplest answer is the true one. If recent claims [1] made against Planned Parenthood by the Alliance Defense Fund ("ADF") and the American Center for Law and Justice ("ACLJ") are...

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The Truth will Set You Free Some Questions About Penance

FAITH Magazine September – October 2012

Christopher Keefe from West Harrow has posed us the following questions. He seems to be requesting a little development of some traditional answers. As...

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Comment on the Comments

Comment on the Comments

When Archbishop Antonio Mennini was appointed as papal nuncio in London, observers of the affairs of the English Church had a good look at his record, for clues to what his policy would be in one...

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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

FAITH Magazine September – October 2012

JOHN PAUL THE GREAT?

Dear Father Editor,

I greatly enjoyed Joanna Bogle's article on Blessed John Paul II and far be it from me to argue with the...

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Continuity and Development - Notes and Quotes from the Year of Faith

To begin our new column, which develops from and replaces our "Road from Regensburg" column, Dudley Plunkett explores some implications and contrary forces in undertaking to spread the virtue of...

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Cutting Edge

Cutting Edge

In a recent press release (http://press.web.cern.ch), the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN in Switzerland-France presented their latest preliminary results concerning the search for the elusive...

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews

FAITH Magazine September – October 2012

Religion for Atheists - a Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion
by Alain de Botton, Hamish Hamilton 2012. 320pp, hardback,...

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  • Notes from Across the Atlantic

    David Mills FAITH Magazine September – October 2012

    ABORTION AND HEDONISTIC CULTURE I

    "There are people here who, everything they do in public life, they gauge how The New York Times will react," says an unidentified New York City councilman, talking to The New York Observer in a story on political candidates' energetic pursuit of The Times' endorsement. The Times, the story explains, "is still seen as an unbiased arbiter".

    Our eyebrows went up, too, but this is New York. The newspaper's kind of candidate is "somebody who is well-spoken, physically put together, has a sense of humour". Ideologically, he should be an on-the-one-hand-and-on-the-other kind of guy. "Be in favour of good government and the environment, but anti-development absolutists should run for community board president. Ideas for closing the income gap are encouraged, but so is responsible budgeting."

    Except, and you had to know this was coming: "Going wobbly on abortion rights or gay rights is a disqualifier." A political operative explains, "You get the sense that for the single mother who makes $29,000 a year, they [the editors] care a lot more about her right to an abortion than her right to decent health care from her union."

    ABORTION AND HEDONISTIC CULTURE II

    "We got to where he was letting me off, he turned off the engine, and he began jabbering incoherently about men and women. Then he lunged, shoving his tongue in my mouth while running his hands over my breasts and up and down my torso." Thus Emily Yoffe's youthful acquaintance with Fr Robert Drinan, SJ, friend of her family and in all his years in Congress (1971 to 1981) an ardent advocate of abortion "rights”. Yoffe is the "Dear Prudence" advice columnist for the liberal website Slate and someone whose report you'd think would be noticed.

    But not when she turns in a liberal icon. The story appeared on Slate.com on June 21, and as we write six days later, no report has appeared in the pages or websites of The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek, Time, or The New Republic. The Washington Post simply reprinted David Gibson's Religious News Service story on its website, as did The Christian Century and The National Catholic Reporter.

    SOME MODERN ANTI-CATHOLICISM

    Anti-Catholicism lives. In a glowing review of a movie called A Perfect Family, Rex Reed writes that the main character Eileen is "a devout, self-obsessed Catholic so enslaved by dogma and ritual that she crosses herself and gives thanks to God before she so much as eats a vegetarian tamale." We had thought gratitude a good thing worth expressing, but maybe we're self-obsessed and enslaved by dogma.

    Another example: "'What do you think?' someone asks. ’I don't have to think. I'm a Catholic,' says Eileen. I laughed like a loon." (Loons, of course, don't laugh.) The movie tells the story of a Catholic woman fighting to be named Catholic Woman of the Year while her dysfunctional family falls apart, and it apparently includes every cliché you'd expect, as well as teaching us about "misplaced faith" (Catholic) and "real family values" (not Catholic).

    According to the IMDB website, the movie grossed $108,000. Someone lost a lot of money making this movie, and, you know, that makes us happy.

    DISOBEYING THE LAW OF THE LAND

    In the heat of current controversies over religious freedom, it is rarely noted that the churches, and particularly the Catholic Church, have been the guardians of social order and even of pluralism. The churches have been reticent to impose their views on others - the Catholic bishops have not even suggested making contraception illegal - and quick to extend their services to anyone who needs them.

    But there are limits. And not just when the state tries to make the churches do things they can't do. Sometimes it tells them not to do things they have to do.

    Alabama's immigration law, still unsettled, "makes it illegal for a Catholic priest to baptise, hear the confession of, celebrate the anointing of the sick with, or preach the word of God to, an undocumented immigrant," as the Archbishop of Mobile, Thomas Rodi, said last year when he joined a suit against the law. It rules out anyone, priest or layman, encouraging them to go to Mass or giving them a ride to the church, letting them come to Bible studies or Sunday school, driving them to the doctor, giving them the food and clothing they need, counselling a pregnant woman against abortion or helping her take care of her baby.

    As Archbishop Rodi concluded, "No law is just which prevents the proclamation of the gospel, the baptising of believers, or love shown to neighbour in need. I do not wish to stand before God and, when God asks me if I fed him when he was hungry or gave him to drink when he was thirsty, to reply: Yes, Lord, as long as you had the proper documents."