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It is reported from Rome that Cardinal-designate William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, preached at the installation of the new rector of the North American College. His homily is described as a ringing defense of the recent instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education on not admitting homosexuals to the seminary and priesthood.

Levada said the instruction “is not directly related to the U.S. sexual abuse crisis, but it is not without relevance for it,” noting that a study commissioned by the U.S. bishops identified homosexual behavior as a component in many clerical sex abuse cases. He underscored that the instruction does not throw into question the validity of the ordination of priests with deep-seated homosexual desires, but is aimed at avoiding conflicts and confusions in the future.

In addition to the question of psychosexual maturity, Levada said, “the question also needs to be viewed from its theological perspective,” particularly in light of “the biblical image of God’s spousal relationship with his people and Gospel passages in which Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom.” He took note of “the situation of the gay priest who announces his homosexuality publicly, a few examples of which we have recently heard reported.”

“I think we must ask, ‘Does such a priest recognize how this act places an obstacle to his ability to represent Christ the bridegroom to his bride, the people of God? Does he not see how his declaration places him at odds with the spousal character of love as revealed by God and imaged in humanity?’” Levada added that this provides “a good example of the wisdom of the new Vatican instruction.”

The cardinal-designate also told the seminarians: “It is important for our people to hear us priests preach and teach about the fundamental character of God’s love imprinted upon humanity in the original act of creation: ‘God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.’”

The venue for Levada’s explanation of the instruction and the doctrine on which it is based was well chosen. Seminarians at the North American College, which is sometimes called the West Point of the American priesthood, are no doubt especially alert to the prominence of some American priests and theologians among those publicly opposing both the instruction and the Church’s teaching regarding the intrinsically immoral nature of homogenital acts and, therefore, the morally disordered nature of the desire to engage in such acts.

It seems readers are about evenly divided in response to my comment about that Joel Osteen television production. I am told that many people are inspired by his message, that he is a wonderful human being, and that (touché!) he makes a point of not criticizing others. I am prepared to believe all of that. The same can no doubt be said of many motivational speakers whose messages have—as I said of the Osteen program—“nothing whatsoever to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.” And please note that I qualified that by saying I don’t know if the program I watched was representative of his ministry. For a more extended consideration of Joel Osteen and others, see Mark Judge’s “Pollyanna Preachers” over on the Breakpoint site of Prison Fellowship.

Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, a British physician and writer, worries about some of the television advertisements used to support the recent banning of smoking in public and some private places by the House of Commons.

One advert features a young mother, clearly in the terminal stages of lung cancer, who expresses her feelings of guilt and remorse that a cancer caused by her own smoking will soon take her away from her children. In turn, her daughter expresses her anger and grief at the fact that her mother is expected to die shortly as a result of a disease resulting from her smoking. This advert is clearly designed to make parents who smoke feel guilty—and to make children of parents who smoke feel angry. Its objective is to use children as an instrument of the campaign to deter adults from smoking. The inevitable result is that the sort of scene [mentioned earlier] will unfold in households throughout the country.

It is a sign of the times that there has been no storm of protest over the increasingly manipulative and moralistic character of anti-smoking propaganda. In the crusade to reduce mortality from smoking it is considered legitimate to exploit the deepest fears of parents and children. While the law seeks to prohibit smoking in public, the new anti-smoking advert seeks to proscribe it in the private sphere, fomenting domestic strife to achieve this objective. At a time when a wide range of civil liberties are under threat it is alarming that the strategy of using children to police their parents’ behaviour—reminiscent of totalitarian regimes—provokes so little public disquiet.

Fitzpatrick goes on to note that in the British national health care system people with lung cancer or other smoking-related illnesses are increasingly treated as lepers. The attitude is, “They got what they deserved.” Despite the fact that many non-smokers get lung cancer. But his larger point is that, in a society that has largely lost its ability to speak of right and wrong and professes to be horrified by moral absolutism, the anti-smoking campaign has become the bearer of a particularly vicious form of self-righteousness. Needless to say, this development is hardly limited to the UK.

(Full Fitzpatrick text in Arts & Letters.)

The following from the Associated Press:

The Supreme Court dealt a setback Tuesday to abortion clinics in a two-decade-old legal fight over abortion protests, ruling that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used to ban demonstrations.

Anti-abortion groups brought the appeal after the 7th Circuit had asked a trial judge to determine whether a nationwide injunction could be supported by charges that protesters had made threats of violence absent a connection with robbery or extortion.

The 8-0 decision [Alito recused himself] ends a case that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had kept alive despite a 2003 decision by the high court that lifted a nationwide injunction on anti-abortion groups led by Joseph Scheidler and others.

Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said Congress did not intend to create “a freestanding physical violence offense” in the federal extortion law known as the Hobbs Act.

Social activists and the AFL-CIO had sided with anti-abortion groups in arguing that similar lawsuits and injunctions could be used to thwart their efforts to change public policy or agitate for better wages and working conditions.

The National Organization of Women and other pro-abortion groups felt they were riding high when they were able to enlist police power in enforcing RICO (racketeering and corrupt influence) laws against anti-abortion protestors. The unlimited abortion license was then thought to be so set in concrete that even to protest against it could be prosecuted as a criminal activity.

We all owe an immense debt to Joe Scheidler of Chicago and many others who, at great personal expense—including not a few personal bankruptcies—persisted in protesting this egregious abuse of the law. It took years, and at last they have prevailed. Step by painful step, the abortion regime imposed by Roe is being put on the defensive. Progress is excruciatingly slow, and the outcome is far from guaranteed, but more and more people believe, with good reason, that on the horizon they can see the prospect of a country embracing the goal of every unborn child protected in law and welcomed in life.

In addition to which :

Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal says this about Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth :

"This is the story of how one priest discovered the way of grace and glory that is being Catholic. Writing with eloquence, deep intelligence and wit, Father Neuhaus guides us past all the confusion and controversy and lets the splendor of truth shine through. If you’re a serious Catholic, if you want to be a serious Catholic, if you want to know what it means to be a serious Catholic, read this book."

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