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Complex Joy

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Especially as our culture grows more hurried and harried and our means of communication grow ever faster, we like to think of simple joys and simple times. I like simple joys as much as the next person, but I also like joys that promise more complexity. For example, a Bach chorale prelude as much as a Gregorian chant. A Cabernet Sauvignon as much as a Pinot Grigio.
It has been announced that one of life's more enjoyable, complex pleasures is coming to Washington. To help commemorate the inauguration of the new President of Catholic University, John Garvey, on the Vigil of the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the university's patron, Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. will be preaching at the university Mass. Noon in the Crypt Church at the National Shrine. A DiNoia sermon is not to be missed and it is unlikely to be simple. But, I wouldn't want to miss it.

Kinsley Is Half-Right

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All political writers tremble to think they belong in the same category as Michael Kinsley. So smart, such elegant writing, so willing and able to break past the trench warfare of so much political argument and find a point of reason beyond the trenches. But, on the Tucson massacre fall-out, I think he is only half-right.
Kinsley is correct to say that the extreme right has a greater hold on thhe extreme left, that while it is correct to say that NPR or the New York Times leans left, they do not lean left the way Fox leans right. Indeed, while I recognize that someone like Rachel Maddow has ideological blinders that shade both what she chooses to discuss and how she chooses to discuss it, she does not do what Fox does, which is to just make stuff up. Remember the billions of dollars and dozens of Navy ships it was going to cost for Obama to go to India?

The Abortion Rate Drop Plateaus

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Ever since 1981, the abortion rate in America has been declining. Between 1973, when Roe v. Wade threw out all legal barriers to abortion, and 1981, the abortion rate had soared from 16 percent of all pregnancies to 29 percent. But, then something happened. The rate started to fall back, throughout the 1980s, throughout the 1990s, and then in 2005 it seems to have hit a plateau. That year, the rate fell to 19.4 percent and the next four years saw the rate hovering around the same total. In 2008, the rate stood at 19. 6 percent. You can read about this in today's Washington Post.

Of course, one abortion is one abortion too many. But, it is interesting to note that the abortion rate is currently not that much higher than what it was before Roe, 16 percent then, 19 percent now. Three percentage points is significant: This is not a poll, with a margin of error of 3-5 points. Each percentage point increase in the abortion represents tens of thousands of lost lives. In 2005, when the rate had fallen back to 19.4 percent, the actual number of abortions was 1.21 million.

Hudson On Subsidiarity

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Over at InsideCatholic, Deal Hudson has been wrestling with the principle of subsidiarity, and both of them seem to be losing.

In his latest post, Hudson writes of "the specific threat to the principle of subsidiarity represented by the health-care legislation that expanded the power of the federal government in a way unprecedented in my lifetime."

How many times must it be said: Subsidiarity is a two way street. It requires that social solutions be achieved at the lowest level of social and governmental organization possible as Hudson suggests, but it also demands action by higher levels of social and governmental organization when the lower levels fail to supply important human goods.

Unless I missed it, with the exception of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is not a state in the Union that has achieved what Pope Benedict, as recently as last month, said was a fundamental human right, the right to health care.

Dolan, Abortion & NOW

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Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York spoke at a press conference in Manhattan last Thursday about the outrageously high abortion rate in his see city. 39 percent of all pregnancies are terminated. Archbishop Dolan pledged the services of the Catholic Church to help any woman who did not want to have an abortion but felt compelled to do so by circumstance, economic or otherwise, noting that the Church has a vast network of social services to help women face crisis pregnancies. The interfaith event quite explicitly did not involve any political advocacy, not even a call for the overturning of Roe, but instead focused on the need to provide alternatives to abortion for women.

What Tucson Doesn't Mean

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The attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, which turned into a massacre, fills us all with sadness, horror and, God willing, resolve. We are sad because lives were lost, including those a nine year old girl who had recently made her First Communion and a federal magistrate who had just come from daily Mass, a staffer for the Congressman, and three other constituents. We are horrified anytime violence intrudes upon our domestic political discourse (although we Americans have a high tolerance for the intrusion of violence in our foreign policy). And, we should all be filled with resolve that anyone who seeks to terrorize Americans into curtailing the openness of our society or abridging the ease with which we approach our elected representative will be frustrated, that we will not permit one tragedy to deform our democracy or hobble its workings.

NRLC Silent on Real Death Panels

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Our friends at Vox Nova ask a good question: As a second person dies in Arizona because budget cuts removed them from the line of organ donors, where is the National Right to Life Committee? The NRLC ranted and raved about the health care reform law which might, if certain worst case scenarios played out, result in some federal funding of abortion. (Incidentally, those worse case scanrios have not, repeat not, come to pass and there is no evidence of any federal funds going to pay for abortions anywhere in America.) But, while real lives are being lost in Arizona because the governor out there has mistakenly concluded that almost all organ donations do not work, the NRLC is silent. Shame on them.

Abp Dolan: Call Your Congressman

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Over at Faith in Public Life, John Gehring has a sound recommendation for the Archbishop of New York. He wants him to call Rep. Peter King, who is Catholic, and urge him to tone down the anti-Muslim rhetoric and keep his planned hearings on the "radicalization of American Muslims" from turning into an appeal to start a new Crusade. (The first Crusades do not look so pretty in the rear view mirror of history, do they?) Even though King is not technically Archbishop Dolan's congressman, as the President of the USCCB, Dolan should not hesitate to call any congressman. And King's own bishop, Bishop William Murphy, might place a call too. The last thing the country needs is an increase in Islamophobia and the last thing the Church needs is a prominent Catholic politician stoking the flames.
While he is at it, Archbishop Dolan might mention King's desire to gut the 14th Amendment.

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