Friday, August 31, 2012

Bad news day for witch-hunters

The University of Texas - Austin has done a thoroughly good piece of work in vindicating Professor Mark Regnerus in the face of allegations of what amounted to professional misconduct. Perhaps its officials feel it is a pity that they cannot make counter-charges of time-wasting against those who trumped up the charges against him.

The  official University inquiry has found that Regnerus, the author of a research study on the effects of same-sex relationships upon children, “did not commit scientific misconduct” as alleged by a homosexual activist who disagreed with the study’s findings.

press release from the Alliance Defending Freedom notes:

America’s universities should always serve as truth-seeking, free marketplaces of ideas,” said Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. “Disagreeing with a study’s conclusions is not grounds for allegations of scientific misconduct; therefore, we are not surprised that those accusations were found to be baseless. This comprehensive, peer-reviewed research study consisted of leading scholars and researchers across disciplines and ideological lines in a spirit of civility and reasoned inquiry. We agree with the UT-Austin inquiry’s conclusion that the academy is the appropriate place for debate about this study.

Regnerus’ New Family Structures Study suggests that differences exist in outcomes for young adults raised in various environments with different family experiences. His university conducted an official inquiry after activist blogger Scott Rosensweig (who goes by “Scott Rose”) accused him of scientific misconduct in the study and in how the results were reported in a scientific article about the study’s findings. Because the inquiry found the allegations to be unsubstantiated, UT-Austin says it will not conduct a formal investigation.

statement from the University says that the inquiry  concluded that

Professor Regnerus did not commit scientific misconduct when designing, executing, and reporting the research reported in the Social Science Research article. None of the allegations of scientific misconduct put forth by Mr. Rose were substantiated either by the physical data, written materials, or by information provided during the interviews. Several of the allegations were beyond the purview of the inquiry.

(UT-Austin information page on Regnerus inquiry.)

This article is published by Michael Kirke and under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Glory of Rome 3. Salve Regina

  O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria!  

The “Hail, Holy Queen” in English — and one of the four principle Marian antiphons of the Roman Breviary — the Salve Regina dates at least to the 11th century. According to legend, St. Bernard of Clairvaux was moved by divine inspiration to add to the hymn the final three-fold petition to Our Lady. St. Alphonsus Liguori found this hymn so beautiful that he wrote an entire treatise on it in his book The Glories of Mary. Every Latin Catholic should strive to memorize this beautiful song of praise to our Mother.

Retrieved August 30, 2012 from

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How the Democrats Treat Women

Who proclaims to speak for women’s concerns in America? Both political parties are trying to answer that. The Democrats are staking everything on it.

Last week, experts were telling me the Democratic National Convention will be a celebration of abortion. This week, it’s starting to look more like they were right.

Take this ABC News report, for instance, with Sandra Fluke calling Republican policies “dangerous for women.” She allegedly “speaks for a new generation of young women.” At least according to that report.

But wait.

I’ve had a bunch of young women on my radio show who speak for themselves, and other young and multi-generational women for whom Fluke, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards and other pro-abortion women do not speak.

In fact, a movement of them sprang up to do just that, speak for themselves. They have quite a formidable presence on Facebook.

While Fluke and other Democrats try to make political hay with the frankly bizarre remarks of one lone Republican about abortion after rape, an interesting development has received virtually no coverage in big media from a group of women most qualified to speak to this subject.

Every year, legislators, judges, and other policy makers discuss the problems of women who have become pregnant as a result of sexual assault. These discussions take place without ever first soliciting our input. In most cases, it is only in the context of highly divisive debates over abortion that we are discussed. In virtually every case, those people who claim to be defending our interests have never taken the time to actually listen to us to learn about our true circumstances, needs, and concerns.

We are deeply offended and dismayed each time our difficult circumstances are exploited for public consumption to promote the political agenda of others. This is a grave injustice. In pursuing their political agendas, these exploiters have reduced our concerns, needs, and circumstances to a crude caricature.

Those who claim to represent our interests have never sought our authorization to represent us. They do not know us, understand us, or truly care about us. Just as we were once used, without our consent, to gratify the sexual desires of others, so we continue to be used, without our consent, to gratify the political goals of others.

Only we who have actually experienced a sexual assault pregnancy truly understand the trauma, fears, concerns, and needs of our sisters who are, or will someday become, pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

Each year, thousands of women will face this experience. Unless society at large begins to listen to us today, these other women will, like us, face great difficulty in finding authentic understanding and help…

We are the only ones who can bear witness to our real experiences and our real needs. How long will you refuse to listen to us?

They should be heard. Dignity and respect requires no less, and honesty demands that those who deign to speak for them first listen to them.
That’s just one problem for the Democrat’s convention so targeted to a liberal women’s agenda, which doesn’t speak for other women’s concerns, as theDemocrats for Life found out when they tried to have a voice in the party platform drafting process.

A Democratic committee has rejected efforts to broaden the party’s platform in order to acknowledge and welcome “differing positions” on the issue of abortion.
Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life of America, told CNA on Aug. 15 that there is a lack of understanding about the extent of pro-life support within the Democratic Party.

They will not be well represented at the party convention, as even some feminists concede in their own way when the edict against babies went out.

Feminists are denouncing a rule at the upcoming Democratic National Convention that will bar children, including breastfeeding babies, from entering the event without being credentialed.

Critics say that officials for the event slated to begin Sept. 4 in Charlotte make it difficult for moms to credential their children, leaving delegate moms at a loss as to how to provide for their tots.

Top feminist icon Gloria Steinem said that by not even offering child care at the event the Democratic Party will alienate female voters, and that the party should acknowledge that, where there are women, there are occasionally babies too.

Credit Steinem for being honest here.

“Women are the key to a Democratic victory, and sometimes, children are the key to women,” said Steinem in a statement noted by the Charlotte Observer. “It’s both right and smart for the Democratic Convention to behave as if children exist.”

Others spoke out too.

“The DNC requires children and babies to have a credential to enter the convention, and then denies these credential requests from moms,” said Hollywood NOW President Lindsey Horvath. “The DNC credentialing process is being used as a tool to prevent mothers from participating at the convention and is nothing short of discriminatory.”

Breathtaking, really, given the pitch for the women vote.

California Democrat Susie Shannon, 45, who planned to come to the convention with her 4-year-old daughter Gracie, called [convention spokeswoman Joanne] Peters’ response “not enough.”

“When the Democratic Party refuses to provide child care at the convention and denies automatic access for young children to join their moms who serve as delegates on the convention floor, an entire group of women are disenfranchised,” said Shannon. “Moms with young children 6 years of age and under who cannot be left at home, some of whom are breast-feeding, are relegated to second-class status within the Democratic convention.”

These next two weeks will be illuminating on many issues. This is a big one.

Retrieved and reposted here from the Sheila Reports blog by Sheila Liaugminas at MercatorNet -

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fr. Barron on Paul Ryan and Catholic Social Teaching - And My Response

I think talk of a 'balance' between subsidiarity and solidarity leads to a mistaken view in which subsidiarity is equated with the free market and solidarity with government programs.  As bad, the free market is associated with greed while government programs are not associated with their dangers of corruption, bureaucratization, and creation of dependency.  This is one-sided and not even a balance.

But the larger problem, as I see it, is that solidarity is expressed through subsidiarity, not counterposed to it or balanced by it.  We express our love of neighbor, responsibility for each other and the virtue of social justice through the associations we build voluntarily in civil society to achieve the common good.  Governments cannot love and government programs often substitute for and undermine solidarity as well as subsidiarity.  

The aim of government in this respect, should be, as the Center for Social Justice (UK) put it, to get out of the way of the armies of compassion, not to take them over, bureaucratize, or substitute for them.

While Catholics may not as a matter of principle oppose the concept of government aid to the needy, a secular welfare state that usurps rather than supports the role of family and local communities is not the same thing as a social welfare system animated by Christian charity and operated through local communities.

Neither the Catholic concept of social justice nor solidarity nor the common good entails statism of the kind suggested by Fr. Barron here in the way he invokes Mario Cuomo.

Update (9.12.2012):

Here are a couple of responses to Fr. barron's video and my response to them:

I'm sorry, but the evidence I have seen does not indicate that there are hordes of people waiting in line to help the poor but the big bad government is getting in their way. History shows that where government, with all its abuses, does not act to provide a safety net for the marginalized they are not supported by the great mass of individuals who say government is doing their job poorly and that they would do it better.
Paul Ryan's budget is a travesty of Catholic Social Teaching.
8/27/2012 8:20:56 PM
Patricia Wilson
My confusion stemmed from the video itself. I found it impossible to believe that Father Barron would append a Catholic Social Justice stamp of approval on Paul Ryan. The United States Bishops have sent several letters to Paul Ryan stating that the only moral measure of a budget is how it affects poor and vulnerable people. As Bishop Blaire wrote, Paul Ryan's budget failed to meet this moral standard.
8/27/2012 9:35:51 PM

Paul Adams
@Patricia Wilson, yes, but the question is how a budget actually affects the poor and vulnerable. That is not a matter of good intentions, but a prudential and empirical question, not one in which bishops and clergy have any particular expertise. We know that massive increases in programs intended to help those groups (except the most vulnerable, the fetal babies, of course) often produced the opposite of the intended effects, creating not safety nets but multigenerational poverty traps and bloated bureaucracies.

@Concerned, we know from both international comparisons (Europe vs. U.S) and group comparisons within the U.S. that government spending drives out private giving, that the most secular and liberal individuals are also the stingiest in terms of giving their own time, treasure, and talent while religious conservatives are the most generous in giving to secular as well as religious charities - and their giving is not imposing insupportable and unprecedented debt on our children and children's children. Both public and private giving may do more harm than good where it treats people as passive recipients rather than creative, contributing citizens.

And if the HHS mandate is not reversed, we may see countless charities, schools, and hospitals as well as small enterprises, driven out of business by government fines or taxes.

And despite Obama's Mediscare tactics, both his and the Ryan budget involved large cuts in Medicare, but Ryan sought to address underlying problems of program structure and sustainability. Neither seeks to abolish the program.
8/28/2012 6:46:57 AM

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Glory of Rome 2: Hymns Every Catholic Should Know

2. Tantum Ergo Sacramentum

Salus, honor, virtus quoque: sit et benedictio!
Really the last two verses of the larger hymn Pange Lingua Gloriosi, this sublime piece was written by the revered St. Thomas Aquinas, a talented hymnologist as well as theologian. Historically, the complete Pange Lingua hymn is associated most closely with the rites of Maundy Thursday and Corpus Christi. In more modern times, the Tantum Ergo has become a staple of the Roman rite of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Glory of Rome: 5 Latin Hymns Every Catholic Should Know; 1. O Sanctissima

1. O Sanctissima

Mater amata, intemerata: ora, ora pro nobis!
Believed to be a traditional Sicilian mariners folk song, O Sanctissima is most often heard today on Marian feasts. In Germany and Spain, this hymn has become closely associated with Christmastide.

Retrieved August 14, 2012 from

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hawaii democratic vote on marriage upheld

Court upholds democratic vote on marriage definition
Press release from the Alliance Defending Freedom:
HONOLULU — A federal court Wednesday upheld Hawaii’s definition of marriage as one man and one woman. The court rejected a lawsuit that sought to tear down the state’s law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman and Hawaii’s constitutional amendment that gives the legislature the power to maintain the timeless definition.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys defended the law and the amendment on behalf of Hawaii Family Forum, which the court allowed to intervene in the case in April.

“This ruling affirms that protecting and strengthening marriage as the union of one man and one woman is legitimate, reasonable, and good for society,” said Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt. “The people of Hawaii adopted a constitutional amendment to uphold marriage, and the court rightly concluded that the democratic process shouldn’t be short-circuited by judicial decree.”

The three individuals who filed the suit asked the court to declare the state’s constitutional amendment on marriage and the state’s law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman unconstitutional. The lawsuit also assailed Hawaii’s “civil unions” law, which became effective Jan. 1, arguing that nothing less than a complete redefinition of marriage would be satisfactory.

In its order in Jackson v. Abercrombie, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii concluded, “Throughout history and societies, marriage has been connected with procreation and childrearing…. It follows that it is not beyond rational speculation to conclude that fundamentally altering the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions might result in undermining the societal understanding of the link between marriage, procreation, and family structure.”

“In this situation,” the court continued, “to suddenly constitutionalize the issue of same-sex marriage ‘would short-circuit’ the legislative actions that have been taking place in Hawaii…. Accordingly, because Hawaii’s marriage laws are rationally related to legitimate government interests, they do not violate the federal Constitution.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie stated both publicly and in the lawsuit that he would not defend the state’s marriage law. His attacks on the law’s constitutionality prompted Hawaii Family Forum through its Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and local counsel James Hochberg to ask the court to allow it to intervene in defense of marriage in the state. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ethics, Expertise, and the Virtues

A danger of Anthony Esolen's argument in the previous post is that it can be taken to warrant a kind of populist dismissal of authority and excellence.  This is not what Esolen argues, but it is a prevalent trend in modern conservatism, a response to the overwhelming dominance of liberalism in the academy and media.  Because our institutional elites have become so culturally and ethically corrupt and nihilistic, themselves trashing the very idea of standards of excellence, the "populist temptation" - that of throwing out the idea of elites altogether - is particularly strong.

In this post at the Public Discourse poet and essayist Mark Signorelli poses the question like this:
Surely, though, it ought not to take much reflection to recognize how far the rampant egalitarianism of our age is implicated in the corrosion of standards throughout our society—in learning and the arts, in manners and in civil discourse. The refusal to admit any criteria of excellence has simply become a basic fact of our profoundly nihilistic culture, and one of the most obvious causes of its unrivaled degradation. No longer are we willing to recognize, for instance, that Bach was a musician vastly superior to any rock star, or that an education rooted in the reading of Shakespeare and Plato can impart far greater wisdom to a young mind than one rooted in the reading of faddish bestsellers. If conservatism, as a body of thought, has no remedy for such a stark illness, it is hard to see how it can possibly claim our allegiance, or even our interest, any longer. 
How can we subject our present institutional leadership to the kind of harsh criticism it so richly deserves, while retaining our principled belief in the necessity of standards of precedence in our institutional life? 
To answer this question, Signorelli draws on Alasdair MacIntyre's work on the virtues and social practices.  (See especially MacIntyre's After Virtue and Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry.)


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Anthony Esolen on Expertise and Ethics

Expertise and Ethics

One of the more puzzling things about contemporary arguments regarding what things a good or free society ought to allow and what things it ought to forbid is our turn toward the “expert,” the ethicist, the person who has made a professional career of teasing out deductions from moral premises. But what really qualifies such a person to be regarded as a beacon of wisdom? Aristotle famously said that the best way to learn about justice would be to observe a just man. The dictum is not tautological. In the life of a Mother Teresa, for example, we may learn literally countless—that is, not reducible to numbers—lessons in love and magnanimity, whence we may confirm true principles already held, and reveal others whose existence we had not suspected. We would be confronting the just life not as an academic exercise, but as an intensely personal challenge.
Who are these medical ethicists who recently have concluded, with wonderful logic, that parents have a right to murder their infant children—and who call it, with telling duplicity, “after-birth abortion?”  We would not turn to Larry Flynt or Hugh Hefner for a definition of decency; why should we turn to these people to advise us on which children we may kill and when? Are they crooked? Why should we follow the crooked, when we want to walk straight? 


Patriotism and Democracy: Why no one would be cheering for Team Europe

Is patriotism a virtue, asks Alasdair MacIntyre, and he argues that, rightly understood, it is.  Roger Scruton argues that the national idea, again rightly understood and distinguished from Enlightenment and 19th century nationalism, is inseparable from and necessary to the liberal democratic state.  Here the English MEP Daniel Hannan takes up the discussion in relation to the Olympics

No one would be cheering for Team Europe

The patriotic emotions stirred up by the Olympics are the basis of real democracy

Patriotism turns out to be a rather underrated quality. In Euro-correct circles, it is sneered at or feared as a prelude to ethnic hatred.
Patriotism turns out to be a rather underrated quality. In Euro-correct circles, it is sneered at or feared as a prelude to ethnic hatred.  Photo: Paul Grover
It is by the merest chance that we are cheering Team GB this week rather than Team EU. At the 1992 Barcelona Games, the European Commission demanded the creation of a united team that would compete in a blue-and-gold strip, mount the podium to the strains of Beethoven’s Ninth and tot up a European tally on the medals table. Fortunately, the scheme broke down in arguments between the EU and the IOC over money, though that didn’t stop the French President, Fran├žois Hollande, from insisting this week that “it’s the European medals total that counts”.
Only a politician or a Eurocrat could say such a thing. Sporting events are a reminder of the many and complex elements that define nationhood. Listen to the way people employ the pronoun “we”: “We’ve got a decent chance in the sailing”, “How many medals are we on now?” With what significance we freight those two letters. Our emotions are bound up, not only with the performance of our athletes, but also with the mood of our fellow countrymen. We form a nexus of identity – the identity that makes us call ourselves British or Portuguese or Swedish, but not European.  READ MORE

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cardinal George on "Chicago Values"

Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”

The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.” Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus. Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will? What are we re-defining?

 It might be good to put aside any religious teaching and any state laws and start from scratch, from nature itself, when talking about marriage. Marriage existed before Christ called together his first disciples two thousand years ago and well before the United States of America was formed two hundred and thirty six years ago. Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.

Marriage exists because human nature comes in two complementary sexes: male and female. The sexual union of a man and woman is called the marital act because the two become physically one in a way that is impossible between two men or two women. Whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital. Gender is inextricably bound up with physical sexual identity; and “gender-free marriage” is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle.

Both Church and state do, however, have an interest in regulating marriage. It is not that religious marriage is private and civil marriage public; rather, marriage is a public institution in both Church and state. The state regulates marriage to assure stability in society and for the proper protection and raising of the next generation of citizens. The state has a vested interest in knowing who is married and who is not and in fostering good marriages and strong families for the sake of society.

The Church, because Jesus raised the marital union to the level of symbolizing his own union with his Body the Church, has an interest in determining which marital unions are sacramental and which are not. The Church sees married life as a path to sanctity and as the means for raising children in the faith, as citizens of the universal kingdom of God. These are all legitimate interests of both Church and state, but they assume and do not create the nature of marriage.

People who are not Christian or religious at all take for granted that marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of family and, of its nature, for life. The laws of civilizations much older than ours assume this understanding of marriage. This is also what religious leaders of almost all faiths have taught throughout the ages. Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh” (Mt. 19: 4-6). Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society? One is welcome to believe that, of course; but it should not become the official state religion, at least not in a land that still fancies itself free. Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage.

Surely we can find a way not to play off newly invented individual rights to “marriage” against constitutionally protected freedom of religious belief and religious practice. The State’s attempting to redefine marriage has become a defining moment not for marriage, which is what it is, but for our increasingly fragile “civil union” as citizens.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago

Retrieved August 1, 2012 from Catholic Chicago Blog, hosted by the Archdiocese of Chicago