Thursday, September 11, 2008

requiescat in pacem

September 11th, 2001

a day of infamy

As we mark the seventh anniversary of 9-11, it behooves us as Catholic Americans to remember and to practice our faith. Justice without mercy is un-Christian; mercy without justice is irresponsible. We must pray and work for justice tempered by mercy. Justice demands that we protect and defend ourselves and the defenseless. Justice also demands we capture, incarcerate and punish the guilty for their violent attack on the innocent. Mercy demands we pray for our enemies and love those who hate us. The Gospel challenges us to pray for the conversion of sinners and evildoers. Are these not spiritual works of mercy: to admonish the sinner, to forgive injuries, to comfort the mourning, to counsel the doubtful, to instruct the ignorant, to pray for the living and the dead and to bear wrongs patiently? Yet, mercy does not negate nor contradict justice. Good is to be encouraged and rewarded while evil is to be condemned and punished. That is for the common good of everyone. As Catholc Christians, we can and must pray for our worst enemies, the terrorists. That does not mean that no one is to hunt them down and bring them to justice. It means we pray for their spiritual conversion that they repent of their former evil and pledge to live good and holy lives in the present and the future.

The innocent victims from the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the crashed plane in Shanksville, PA, deserve justice as do their surviving families. The brave men and women who rushed in to save people and who died in the process merit our prayers, thanks and respect. The brave members of our military who died in battle in Afghanistan and Iraq deserve our prayers and gratitude as well. Too many innocent people have died at the hands of a few, radical terrorists who pervert religion for their own political tyranny. Anytime evil is done, the guilty need to be identified, found, and punished. As Christians we are not asked nor required to give evil a blank check. Our faith does not even suggest we give carte blanche to al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. It does ask us to PRAY for these wicked men. Pray for justice and pray for mercy. Mercy in that they repent and stop doing evil and that we protect more innnocent lives.

I remember the nuns telling us in parochial school to pray for the conversion of Russia. We prayed every day one Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory Be for the Communists in the USSR and on mainland China to convert from atheism and to embrace Christianity. We also prayed for our brave men and women who defend and protect us in the military. There was no contradiction then and there is none now. People have distorted mercy into a pathetic pity party where the criminal is given more rights and respect than the victims. They have perverted mercy into a wishy-washy, naive and irresponsible delusion that society does not need penal sanctions to preserve order or protect the common good. Contrition and confession are never enough. There must be firm purpose of amendment and some form of penance.

Others have distilled and reduced justice into a primiaeval lex talionis (quid pro quo) and remove any vestige of humanity, mercy or possibility of repentence and reform. This cold blooded form of justice is not Christian nor is it human. Justice and mercy need to coexist. God practices both and so must man. A Christian nation would still have police and prisons, courts and trials, etc. What our faith adds to society and culture, however, is PERSPECTIVE. We are commanded by God to BALANCE justice and mercy without sacrificing one for the other. This is why denying Holy Communion to unrepentant pro-abortion politicians is not a violation of mercy. It is just in that they are openly defying Church doctrine on the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception and on the immorality of abortion at any stage. It is also mercy in that as an EXPIATORY sanction it seeks a REMEDIAL outcome, i.e., the change of heart of the politician to turn back to being pro-life. Justice demands that wrongdoing be condemned and punished but mercy demands we give the guilty a chance to repent and amend their ways. Our modern culture only sees extremes on either end of the spectrum. Catholic Christianity, however, synthesizes justice and mercy together in the same moral life.

It is not easy and it takes a lot of effort but we have no choice. Peace is NOT the absence of war. It is the tranquility of order, Saint Thomas Aquinas said. Order is the correct relationship between parts. When there is harmony it is a consequence of everything and everyone working properly and doing their appropriate job (work). When we defend and protect innocent life, as in the case of the unborn in the womb or the terminally ill in the hospitals and nursing homes, we are doing the right thing for the right reason. When people kill innocent human life, they disrupt the harmony God intended. When we allow terrorists to spread their hatred, lies and oppression, we are neglecting our duty to defend and protect as well. Loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors (that they repent and amend their lives) is a command from God, not an option. Love does not mean being blind or deaf to evil being committed, it means doing what we can to stop evil, for the sake of the victim and the criminal, both of whom are children of God.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Logic 101

Senator Joe Biden should get his money back from his alma mater since they evidently did not teach him real and true philosophy. His argument on Meet the Press was a complete fallacy. Truth is the correspondence of our intellect and reality.

Empirical truth is the proper object of science which employs observation and experimentation.
Rational truth is the proper object of philosophy known by using human reason.
Theological truth is the proper object of religion and is rooted in divine revelation known by faith.

While theologians from different denominations and religions can argue and debate on the immortality of the soul, objectively speaking, the Natural Moral Law is known by REASON and not by faith. Hence, the intrinsic evil of a moral act can and is known by any human person since it is self-evident. While it is true that the Bible and the Magisterium condemn certain acts as sinful, even an atheist or agnostic cannot dispute the innate wickedness of moral evils like murder, rape, genocide, etc.

Senator Biden erroneously claims that only faith informs us about the sacrosanct nature of the human soul from the moment of conception. If it were only known by faith (like the dogma of the Trinity or the Incarnation), then of course, this cannot be imposed on all citizens since not everyone espouses the same religion. On the other hand, as the post WWII war crimes trial in Nuremberg proved, most moral truths are known by reason alone even when reaffirmed and reiterated by divine revelation. Hence, no Nazi soldier or general could claim exemption to incurring moral guilt whenever they engaged in outright mass murder vis-a-vis the Holocaust. Ethical behavior for human beings is based on the law written in the heart and knowable by reason. St. Paul admits this in his own epistle (Romans 2:14). The pagan (pre-Christian Roman) philosopher Cicero stated in his De Republica:

There is truly a law which is right reason, fitted to our nature, proclaimed to all men, constant, everlasting. It calls to duty by commanding and deters from wrong by forbidding ... It can neither be evaded nor amended nor wholly abolished. No decree of the Senate or people can free us from it. No explainer nor interpreter of it need be sought but itself. There will not be found one law at Rome and another in Athens, one now and another later, rather one law, everlasting and unchangeable, extending to all nations and all times, with one common teacher and ruler of all.

Abortion has been consistently condemned since the Apostolic era (cf. the Didache, circa 50 AD) and formally defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) in #2271. Yet, Senator Biden claims that protecting the lives of unborn human babies is an imposition of religious beliefs on others who may not share our religious tenets. If morality were ONLY know via faith and revelation, then he would be right. HOWEVER, Nuremberg proved that morality is also if not primarily known via the natural law and by the use of reason. Otherwise, how could anyone enact civil laws forbidding slavery, segregation, apartheid, genocide, etc.? Is slavery a moral evil ONLY because Christianity says so? The Supreme Court at one time legalized slavery (Dred Scott decision in 1857) and explicitly stated that African-American slaves were not and could never become U.S. citizens. The majority opinion said that laws which freed slaves violated the Fifth Amendment since it deprived slave owners of their legal PROPERTY. It took the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments (and a Civil War) to defend the inalienable rights of black persons.

Biden and Pelosi and others maintain that another Supreme Court decision has precedence, Roe v. Wade. Biden goes so far as to say anti-abortion laws or amendments would violate the 'privacy' clause of the Fourth Amendment. See any similarity between Roe v. Wade and Dred Scott v. John Sanford? Both claimed to have jurisdiction over human persons (the former over black Americans, the latter over unborn Americans). Both denied the inalienable rights of certain human beings.

Slavery had been legal and is now considered un-Constitutional. Abortion is now legal and must also be declared un-Constitutional. The same Natural Moral Law and the same human reason which every sane human person possesses knows that it is wrong, it is immoral and it is evil to treat a whole race or a whole class of people as less than human. Whether black or white, born or unborn, believer or atheist, liberal or conservative, democrat, liberal or independent, all human beings have human rights, and the first and foremost is the right to life.

Fascism is a political philosophy that refuses to recognize the dignity and sanctity of the person and which glorifies the State. It is not fascism to end slavery, segregation, apartheid or abortion, even if there are some citizens who erroneously believe these are legitimate enterprises. Fascism is when the government forces doctors, nurses and health care personnel to provide facilities and procedures for abortion even when those medical people have conscientious objections.

His clan is being fascist when they force an immoral activity to be treated as a legally protected activity. No one is imposing religious doctrines when they condemn the evil of abortion anymore than one could accuse Martin Luther King, Jr., of being doctrinairre when he called for an end to racism and segregation. While he had spiritual reasons and motives, he also had moral and ethical ones rooted in REASON which no human being could refute. Likewise, Biden, Pelosi, Kerry, Kennedy, Giuliani, and Ridge (et al.) need to see that abortion has no rights, only human beings have rights. They come from our Creator and they are they are part of our nature, hence, no religion and no branch of government can ever take them away.

PRIVACY clauses are no different from PROPERTY clauses. Human beings are NOT property and their murder is not a private matter. Unborn babies are human just as are African-American, European-American, and Asian-American children and adults. Catholics who disagree are violating the Natural Law AND the Divine Law and should NOT approach nor receive Holy Communion.

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