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As God says to us in Isaiah, “Come, let us reason together.”

At the start of the Synod on the Family it seems as good a time as any to address those who are less than pleased with Pope Francis and his style, a style that has left me exasperated at times as I have had to repeatedly tell people, “No, that’s NOT what Francis was really saying.” It begs the question, “What is Francis really saying?”

To any reasonable observer of the current pope, Francis has not said anything that is contrary to the faith. He has spoken forcefully against women’s ordination. He has spoken forcefully and repeatedly about our obligation to the poor and the least (Big mistake in some self-righteous, pro-life circles). He has spoken forcefully against the dissolution of marriage, stating that it is impossible to dissolve a marriage that exists. So how can a pope say such a thing, yet streamline the annulment process? Easy. Consider for a moment this example set by a pastoral pontiff.

Annulment is not merely a church-sanctioned divorce. It isn’t a divorce at all. It is a process of investigating the condition of the couple at the time that vows were exchanged and coming to a determination of whether or not there were impediments that prevented the couple from being able to freely enter into holy matrimony, to confer the sacrament on one another. The deacon or priest is there to witness on behalf of the Church and to invoke God’s blessings. Sometimes the tribunal finds that there were factors that nullified the exchange of vows, and sometimes they don’t.

A streamlined process does not change the historical facts of each case. Either the exchange of vows was valid, or it wasn’t. Getting to that resolution sooner rather than later is pastorally wise and most merciful. I have walked that road with friends going through the process, and it is searing. It’s never easy to look back over what so very many divorced people identify as the greatest failure of their lives, to relive the worst of it before a tribunal, and to accept that perhaps the problem was on that person’s part.

It’s heartbreaking.

Worse than that are the modern day Pharisees, who point to their own interpretations of the law, who throw stones at the divorced, and at the bishops who preside over an ever-rising tide of annulments. But is this rising tide such a mystery? As the world disintegrates around our ears, as more and more pathology besets the family, is it really all that shocking, or a stretch to suggest that more and more people are unprepared to enter into holy matrimony? And to the greatest critics, the question must be asked, “What would you have the Church do about it?”

What is an acceptable solution to screening for marriage, beyond the Premarital Investigation the Church already performs? Many of the factors that nullify the exchange of vows are not so visible at the outset. Yet, Francis has been pilloried in many quarters for overseeing the streamlining of the process that finds the facts and renders a yes or no decision. That doesn’t make it easier for a marriage to fail. It makes the process less crushing for those who suffer through it.

So, as we say in Brooklyn, “What’s the problem here?”

For many, Francis is no John Paul II or Benedict, and this blog addressed those concerns here. This blog has also addressed the ultimate reality regarding this pope:

He. Is. Peter.

One simply cannot claim to have been properly formed by John Paul II or Benedict XVI and treat this pope with the sort of disdain that has cropped up on the political right in the Church in alarming proportions. At least wait for him to actually do something heretical before lighting that stake he’s been tied to. And that brings the focus back to the current synod on the family. Francis inherited a Church filled with bishops chosen by John Paul and Benedict who are in open rebellion, whose proposals at this synod are dangerous and destructive. He must deal with them, but make no mistake, they are John Paul and Benedict’s legacy to him, along with all of the good and holy bishops, along with all that these two giant popes have written and taught.

The synod will no doubt be filled with men who propose all manner of codification of modern error in sexuality and family life. Rather than see this as an occasion of the Church’s demise, it ought to be used as a opportunity to teach the world what our Catechism holds on marriage. It also points to a laziness on the part of some who identify as orthodox (small O), or conservative, of being disciples of John Paul and Benedict.

It’s easy to be against abortion if one would never have an abortion, to be against birth control, if one would never use it, to be against gay ‘marriage’ when one is heterosexual. Those can be easy virtues because they do not challenge us. They can be easy to personally oppose, and that goes for this heterosexual, married, pro-life blogger who has never used birth control. They can be difficult to proclaim and suffer the slings and arrows from family, friends and colleagues, and that goes for this heterosexual, married, pro-life blogger who has never used birth control. But even proclaiming the truth in these matters is not enough. Jesus says very clearly in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who calls, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven.”

Francis sees this clearly, and challenges us to focus on the poor and the least. But we don’t want that focus, the one God repeats over, and over, and over from Leviticus to Revelation. Many pro-life Catholics believe that the fetus takes precedence. God and Francis disagree. They identify with all of the oppressed, including the militant gays and lesbians inside and outside of the Church.

Francis understands that Jesus died for them as well, that we have an obligation to them in love. So Francis adopts an inviting posture. He receives them, and their gay and lesbian ‘spouses’ and their families. He doesn’t require conversion and adherence to our catechism and code of canon law as a precondition for being welcomed. But that roils a great many of John Paul and Benedicts’ disciples, whose opprobrium is exactly that of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. If we marvel at how the Pharisees had Jesus in their midst for 33 years and missed the boat, it’s really no different with many disciples of John Paul and Benedict who had them for 35 years. A heart of stone that doesn’t want the challenge of personally living out the will of God by getting their hands dirty with sinners should check again under their fingernails. Whose dirt is that?

Those who speak openly and repeatedly of an impending schism are themselves its author if it ever comes about. Such talk, when coupled with the fact that this pope’s greatest sin is lack of talking point discipline in a 24-hour news cycle and instant communication, is sinful and dangerous. It is scandalous and caustic, and tears at the Body of Christ. Talk of schism before a synod convenes is thuggish Chicago politics of intimidation. It won’t work in the City of Rome or the Kingdom of God. If schism be our lot, then good riddance. John Paul and Benedict wouldn’t have recognized them anyway.

For the rest of us, the same Jesus who promised His Apostles to send them the Holy Spirit who would lead them to all truth, keeps His promises, Chicken Littles notwithstanding.

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Oh, Francis…


For traditional Catholics, for pro-lifers, the visit by Pope Francis has been a series of missed opportunities. In his address to Congress not only did he make fleeting reference to abortion by stating the need for Americans to respect life at every stage of development, he then followed that with immediate specific reference to capital punishment. If he didn’t mention the unborn specifically, at least they are in good company. He didn’t mention Jesus, either. (Though he did mention “God,” which invites non-Christians to the table.)

The list of complaints on social media is endless. In sum, they paint a picture of a pope who has ignored the red meat issues of American Catholicism’s troubles in favor of a left-wing socio-political agenda. How do you solve a problem like Francis? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? (Cue the Sound of Music)

But as this papacy has unfolded, something about traditionalists’ complaints over Francis calls attention back on the traditionalists and their hero popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In thirty-five years of these two giant popes, we have witnessed all of the heavy-lifting both philosophically and theologically on the sexual revolution and the decline of the status of human persons in the twentieth century. We’ll be unpacking their writing for decades to come. As western civilization has crumbled, we clamor for more writing, more words, more defense of the sacred. And we get to the point where this author needs to ask, “What more needs to be said?” How many more words? How many more documents? How many more encyclicals? How many more speeches, homilies, press conferences?

In the span of two years I lost my two great mentors in life, one personal and one scientific. It’s a cold and lonely feeling to have them gone, to have the book closed on more words, more thoughts, more wisdom, more direction. But at some point the mentors, the parents, the elders have said and done all that needs to be said and done. At some point it’s time to leave the nest, to become the mentor for the next generation, to employ all that has been imparted and to add one’s own wisdom and experience. At some point, more words become just that: more words.

Words, words, words…

We don’t need more John Pauls and Benedicts. And this pope is right. It isn’t necessary for popes to always talk of sex and abortion. Where he comes from, those are secondary in magnitude to the evil of avoidable poverty, and all of the secondary violence and evils spawned by abject, grinding poverty. And to be brutally honest and completely fair to Francis, in 35 years of John Paul and Benedict, I heard comparatively little in traditional circles about third world poverty and the social justice teaching of the Church.

I have put my doctorate on the line in the service of the Gospel of Life. I have been a warrior in the cause. I have blogged for six years and rebuked my own scientific community for ignoring the truth of science in the headlong pursuit of assuring the slaughter of 60 million human beings in the womb. But I also worked for seven years with runaway and homeless teens in the bad and wild days of Times Square, New York in the 80’s.

And I and others see clearly what Francis sees clearly.

Jesus isn’t just being butchered in the womb. He’s dying 760,000 times a year of diarrheal disease (children under age five). Jesus faces the great dilemma tens of thousands of times per week in India of having just enough money to either buy food or firewood. If food, there is no fire to cook it, or boil the water to make it safe.

Jesus lacks basic medical care, shelter, or even a dignified place to die from His poverty and neglect.

Gay marriage is an affront to God, as is abortion and euthanasia, as is Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in fetal human remains-remains often harvested from babies still alive. But the issues Francis will not allow to remain in the shadows are just as pernicious, and even more perilous for the souls of traditionalists.

I didn’t marry a man. I married Regina 23 years ago. We didn’t abort our babies, we welcomed them with open hearts. We did it right. But I would be a liar if I said that patches in our marriage weren’t characterized by a lack of charity. I’d be a liar if I said that we did it perfectly, or even well at times. But for all that we have done right on the life issues, for Regina’s 25 years as a pediatric nurse and my work in the pro-life movement, we are called to place equal emphasis on the poor and the least.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have not done so on this pro-life blog, that the focus has been pretty tight on abortion, euthanasia, assisted reproduction, and marriage. No one person can do it all.

But no one Catholic has grounds to excoriate a pope for bringing matters of at least as great an importance out from their second-class status and into the heart of his papacy. How else do we combat the assertion of the proaborts when they charge us with only caring for babies until they are born?

If society crumbles, if the life issues move from bad to worse, we cannot lay that at the feet of the popes, or even most bishops. We are the ones responsible for evangelizing, for presenting the truth in a compelling manner. And to be fair to us, we have.

In six years of blogging on the scientific front, it is safe to say that we have won the debate on the human identity and status of the embryo and fetus. We have won the debate on chemical contraceptives and their harmful effects. We have won on every major scientific issue by revealing the scientific literature in every field. But for all that we have won, the truth has emerged that the other side never cared about the facts. Now, under Obama and company, it is the exercise of raw political power and will. Now it is simply about Choice as a virtue, rather than choice being the mechanism that takes us to either virtue or vice. All decisions are moral because all are the product of choice.

Perhaps Francis knows something that we do not. Perhaps Francis sees that we are still fighting the last war. We are trying to correct the vision of the blind. What is needed now is not so much a pro-life apologetic. That was John Paul’s papacy. The ground has shifted seismically since then. What is needed now is a new evangelization altogether.

We are arguing for the dignity of the unborn to those who do not see, and even disavow their own fundamental dignity, who sneer at even the Natural Law of the secular Enlightenment philosophers. We are faced with the malevolence that John Paul foresaw and trembled at the thought of.

So, perhaps Francis is on to something. Perhaps it is easier to awaken the world to its collective humanity, its fundamental dignity by addressing all of those criteria Jesus said He would judge us by in Matthew 25. One thing, though, is for certain.

The life issues didn’t improve (though our understanding of them did) in 35 years of John Paul, Benedict, and the ascendency of traditionalism. In fact, it has become much worse. That is through no fault of those popes, or of us in the traditionalist and pro-life camps. But there is one thing else that is for certain…

It isn’t Francis’ fault, either.

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0816 julian bond

The passing of a man who missed the chance to really advance his people.

I admired Julian Bond, and all that he did, but I believe future generations will place an asterisk next to his name. Why he never spoke out forcefully against abortion remains a mystery, even when we made it known a few years ago that 60% of black pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion. The silence was deafening.

Why Bond never really addressed the fact that between 15-20 million black babies have been aborted since 1973, that the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood operate over 70% of their “clinics” in inner-city neighborhoods. Given the loss of all those black lives to abortion, and the offspring they would have produced, we are shy about 30 million more blacks in the US today.

That’s remarkable when one considers the 2010 US Census figures. Out of 308.7 million people, 38.9 million identified as black alone. That’s only 13% of the population. If we had the 30 million who were either aborted, or would have been born to those aborted, the percentage of blacks in America would be more than 20%. Approaching 1/4 of the population would be a game-changer for the black community, and America. While it is not inconceivable that there are those who wouldn’t want that, it is unfathomable that Bond and the others in black leadership would tolerate what has been done to the black community, largely by its own hand. While it would have been nice to see the NAACP and the SPLC militate against the legality of abortion, at the very least they could have mounted a sustained campaign to encourage black women to choose life. They could have militated for funds to establish black pregnancy resource centers. They could have spoken vehemently against race suicide.

They didn’t. They tolerated voices on the left suggesting that black abortion is the answer to black criminality and black poverty. Worse still, Bond actually equated the right to abortion with the right to sit at a lunch counter. See the video and hear him say it.

Abortion as a civil right. Shredding black babies in their mother’s wombs as the equivalent of eating at the same lunch counter as whites! He polluted the entire civil rights agenda in one breathtaking statement.

I can understand if the KKK held out abortion as a strategy to reduce black poverty, but to have such expressed sentiment in certain quarters tolerated by so many black leaders, and to hear nothing from Bond and his Southern Poverty Law Center was ghastly. The deaths and nonexistence of 30 million blacks has done nothing to end poverty in the inner-city, or to end the black-on black violence that make those neighborhoods far more vicious than they were in the Civil Rights era. So, by the calculus of death and nonexistence, the answer is what? MORE death and nonexistence for those currently alive? Clearly not. Death is never the answer.
How such a brilliant man couldn’t see that 30 million fewer blacks means permanent minority status is just beyond imagining. Was his embrace of abortion the price to pay in the Democrat Party for a seat at the table?
The key to ending abortion lies with the African-American community. When blacks have had enough, they will dictate to the DNC that this business of abortion is over, or they will withhold their votes, votes without which democrats cannot survive. And not until that day, will abortion be dropped as a planck at the DNC. If that never comes to pass, then it is hard to see black America being a viable force in two generations. As Lincoln once said in his Young Mens’ Lyceum address:
“This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.
“How then shall we perform it?–At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

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60 Minutes.

That’s all it will take. 60 minutes.

In one hour’s time, a documentary film maker can assemble a case so damning, so overwhelming against Planned Parenthood that it is doubtful the giant could survive. Over the past several years there have been several damning undercover sting operations and other revelations about this organization and its members. The problem is that the revelations have been too spaced apart, and the momentary outrage has not been sustainable. This time the trafficking in human body parts has touched a nerve, and just as in the physiology of how nerves fire, the stimulus has to be sufficiently large and sustained.

Here, now, the totality of the case for any interested film maker.

Center for Medical Progress Videos

The Center for Medical Progress, which at this writing is in the midst of revealing its videos of Planned Parenthood discussing aborted baby parts for sale, has a page archiving the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood discussing the altering of abortion techniques to maximize organ and tissue yield, as well as discussing pricing for said parts. That site is here.

Live Action Videos

Lila Rose and Live Action have produced several sting operations over the years that demonstrate a culture of what has been described as criminal negligence where child safety is concerned.

Covering Child Sex Trafficking. In Live Action’s words:

“Investigations found seven Planned Parenthood clinics in four different states were willing to aid and abet the sex-trafficking of minor girls by supplying confidential birth control, STD testing, and secret abortions to underage girls and their traffickers.” The seven videos may be seen here.

Child Sexual Abuse Coverup. In Live Action’s words:

“Investigations found eight Planned Parenthood clinics in five different states were willing to cover-up sexual abuse, disregarding mandatory suspected statutory rape reporting laws. Clinics also provided instructions on how to circumvent parental consent laws.” The eight videos may be seen here.

Gendercide: The systematic killing of girls. In Live Action’s words:

“Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen estimated that as early as 1990, approximately 100 million women were demographically missing worldwide due to sex-selection abortion, female infanticide, and other such practices. Current estimates now put that number at 200 million missing women and girls globally.

“U.S. Census data and national vital statistics show that indeed, sex-selection is a growing problem in America. Americans are employing sex-selection techniques in their reproductive decisions. A review of census and birth records by Professor Jason Abrevaya of the University of Texas showed that Americans have sex-selected thousands of baby girls.” The five videos of Planned Parenthood willing to selectively abort girls may be seen here.

Deliberate Medical Misinformation. In Live Action’s words:

“In a multi-state undercover investigation Live Action documented Planned Parenthood’s use of unscientific and fabricated medical information to convince women to have abortions. A series of hidden camera videos shot in clinics across the United States reveals the exploitative tactics abortionists and clinicians employ to conceal the truth about abortion from women who most need honest and accurate information. Leading embryologists have denounced Planned Parenthood’s conduct caught on tape as ‘erroneous and scientifically absurd.’ ” The videos may be seen here.

False Mammogram Claims by Planned Parenthood. In Live Action’s words:

“A series of undercover phone calls reveals that contrary to the claims of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and other supporters of the nation’s largest abortion chain, the organization does not provide mammograms for women.

“In the tapes, a Live Action actor calls 30 Planned Parenthood clinics in 27 different states, inquiring about mammograms at Planned Parenthood. Every Planned Parenthood, without exception, tells her she will have to go elsewhere for a mammogram, and many clinics admit that no Planned Parenthood clinics provide this breast cancer screening procedure. “We don’t provide those services whatsoever,” admits a staffer at Planned Parenthood of Arizona. Planned Parenthood’s Comprehensive Health Center clinic in Overland Park, KS explains to the caller, ‘We actually don’t have a, um, mammogram machine, at our clinics.'” The video of the calls may be seen here.

Taking Donations Specifically Earmarked for Aborting Black Babies. Live action offers the following transcript of one of several Planned Parenthoods willing to accept money earmarked for aborting a black baby:

Idaho Representative: Autumn Kersey, Director of Development

Idaho Donor: The abortion—I can give money specifically for a black baby, that would be the purpose?

PP Rep: Absolutely. If you wanted to designate that your gift be used to help an African-American woman in need, then we would certainly make sure that the gift was earmarked for that purpose.

Idaho Donor: Great, because I really faced trouble with affirmative action, and I don’t want my kids to be disadvantaged against black kids. I just had a baby; I want to put it in his name.

PP Rep: Yes, absolutely.

Idaho Donor: And we don’t, you know we just think, the less black kids out there the better.

PP Rep: Understandable, understandable.

Idaho Donor: Right. I want to protect my son, so he can get into college

PP Rep: Alright. Excuse my hesitation, this is the first time I’ve had a donor call and make this kind of request, so I’m excited, and want to make sure I don’t leave anything out.

The videos may be seen here.

Planned Parenthood Lying About Botched Abortions. In Live Action’s words:

“Live Action investigators called Planned Parenthood abortion clinics with recent cases of medical emergencies and botched abortions in 7 different states asking if Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice was safe and if women had ever been hurt at the clinics. Not a single Planned Parenthood abortion clinic acknowledged the recent injuries of women.” Listen to the calls here.

For a blog post I’ve written that details how Planned Parenthood has explicitly stated in publications that they seek to remove parental rights as a barrier to children seeking their services, read here. See page 23.

Then There is Planned Parenthood’s advice to children on their right to NOT disclose an HIV status to sex partners, and the right to have sex while drinking and doing drugs:

“You have the right to decide if, when, and how to disclose your HIV status.”

“There are many reasons that people do not share their HIV status. They may not want people to know they are living with HIV because of stigma and discrimination within their community. They may worry that people will find out something else they have kept secret, like they are using injecting drugs, having sex outside of a marriage or having sex with people of the same gender. People in long-term relationships who find out they are living with HIV sometimes fear that their partner will react violently or end the relationship.”

“Some people have sex when they have been drinking alcohol or using drugs. This is your choice.”

Get it all here.

So, whence cometh such vile filth and corruption? Certainly no documentary on Planned Parenthood could be considered complete without a good treatment of its beloved founder, Margaret Sanger, whose name is attached to the organization’s annual award. A number of articles dealing with the eugenic princess and her targeting of blacks in her infamous, “Negro Project.”:







And then there is this little gem in another Planned Parenthood publication, a stated goal:


Lest anyone doubt how young Planned Parenthood’s target audience is, try TEN YEARS OLD!! Get the documents here.

The time has come to assemble all of this material in a fast-paced, hard-hitting documentary about these people. Seen in context, it is all overwhelming, and 99% of the American people do not have this overarching perspective.

This article assembles all of the key data. Now who will produce the film that will show the undercover videos, play the undercover audio, and show who is really waging war on women and children in this nation? Now is the time, while CMP has captured the nation’s attention and sparked a revulsion.

Our women and children deserve better than Planned Parenthood.

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412px-Rood_in_Church_of_St._Vincent_Ferrer_(NYC) Dinner started off well enough, that is, until Jesus announced that one of the Apostles was about to betray Him. It set off a flurry of questions. “Could it be me Lord?” And we all know who left dinner early, who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, and who hanged himself in despair. It didn’t get any better when Jesus told Peter that before the night was through, he would Deny Him three times. It went from bad to worse when the Apostles, overcome with grief, fell asleep on Jesus repeatedly, and that, it turns out, was only the beginning.

There is much in tonight’s narrative that bears on the state of the Church in America today, much worth pondering. That Judas sold out Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, and used one of the most intimate expressions of love and affection as the signal for identifying him in the dimness of night is chilling. Credit Peter for brandishing a sword and slicing off the ear of one in Judas’ entourage. It was the Apostolic high water mark for the night. It would all unravel for the Apostles from that point on.Having been rebuked on the use of force, Peter would go on to deny Jesus three times, and all but John would head for the tall grass.

Only John followed his Master to the foot of the cross.

Meditating on these past events this week, and watching the drama of religious liberties play out on the national stage this week, it has become evident that Church today resembles the Church at 5 AM on Good Friday. It is a church at low ebb, with the successors of the Apostles as mute and bewildered as the men they succeed were when the gates of Hell were unleashed on the world, when all of the goodness that had gone on for the past  three years seemed to be swallowed up in a demonic cataclysm.

With religious freedom under threat from Big Gay, the Governors of Indiana and Arkansas sought to pass state laws that guarantee the same religious liberties as the federal law sponsored by Teddy Kennedy and Chuck Schumer, and signed into law by Bill Clinton. The demons in and through the media howled with rage and threatened boycotts of these states, which led the champions of religious freedom to…

wait for it…

…declare principled religious and moral objections to being forced into participating in gay/lesbian weddings a form of discrimination.

Allow that to sink in for a moment. The staunchest defenders of religious liberty not only went into retreat, but did Big Gay’s bidding for them by calling for laws that declare Judaeo-Christian moral norms a form of unjust discrimination.

Peter slicing off the ears of his fellow Apostles.

And the silence from our bishops has been deafening, especially when contrasted with a Cardinal leading a St. Patrick’s Day parade with a gay contingent who were out and proud, leading them smiling and waving right past the front doors of his Cathedral. It is the same silence that did not see the bishops unify against gay marriage in the several states, or speak out against the Boy Scouts of America leadership ignore the 67% of leaders polled nationally who opposed permitting openly gay scouts, and on, and on.

We see one brave bishop in San Francisco holding the line on Catholic teacher contracts and behavior. Archbishop Cordileone as John at the foot of the cross.

Meanwhile, the plight of so many Catholic business owners is that of Peter at the fire on Holy Thursday night, being sniffed out as “One of his followers,” taunted into denying Him. Credit those businesses who have not denied him and been handed their own crosses as a consequence.

Weep for the bishops who have locked themselves away in fear of the crowd, who have abandoned their sheep at the darkest hour.

Perhaps it’s time for the faithful to rally to these business owners’ sides, to counter boycotts with support, to become the new Pauline community, of whom it was said, “See those Christians, how they love one another.”

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This will be a long post to wade through, but the issue warrants the length. Our feckless leadership in the war against Ebola can best be understood through history, and a different kind of president.

In the early days of the US Civil War, President Lincoln needed to raise an army, and fast. He could look out of his window and see General Robert E. Lee’s house atop a hill just across the Potomac River in Arlington, VA. To his north, Maryland also wished to secede, and was kept from doing so by force. The nation’s capital was surrounded by forces determined to destroy the union. An army was needed to defend the capital and then preserve the union. Enter, General McClellan.

General McClellan was a dashing figure, filled with bravado, and a damned fine West Point graduate and engineer. He built and outfitted the Grand Army of the Potomac in record time. He wooed the ladies at the homes of the leadership with his assurances of how quickly he would dispatch the rebels and restore the union. But little Mac wouldn’t go out to fight. At the sound, or even the thought of a canon’s roar, he persuaded himself that Lee had him outnumbered at least three to one. The little general’s biggest battles were with Lincoln and the War Department, constantly calling for ever-greater numbers of troops and supplies.

At wits end with a feckless general, Lincoln relieved McClellan with these words:

My dear McClellan: If you don’t want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a while. Yours respectfully, A. Lincoln.

And so it is today that we have at the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a feckless bureaucrat in Dr. Tom Friedan. He may well have been a good peacetime administrator, a good little builder as McClellan was, but in the war on Ebola he simply won’t come out to fight. In some respects, he is worse than McClellan. Little Mac was loved by his troops because he had their best interests at heart. He was concerned about casualties in the ranks of those who did the actual fighting, who bore the horrors of war. When McClellan played the blame game, he went after his superiors.

This week a nurse who cared for Eric Duncan in Dallas was herself diagnosed with this dread disease, whose mortality rate has risen to 70%. Reflexively, Dr. Frieden blamed the nurse for “Breach of protocol.” This, despite the fact that CDC’s protocols are so shamefully inadequate as to be be of little value at all. If for no other reason than throwing this nurse under the bus, Dr. Frieden has forever branded himself a coward and compromised his ability to lead others in battle. But there is so much more to Frieden’s appalling ineptitude.

When voices have called for a travel ban on all people coming from the endemic regions in Africa, Frieden scoffed at the idea. He claims that restricting air travel would actually make matters worse by not allowing aid into the country. When repeatedly challenged on that assertion with the counter of having chartered flights for relief supplies and personnel, Frieden just dismisses the idea with the back of his hand. Watch the video interview below before reading on:

To be clear, we need to contrast the levels of protection promoted by Frieden here with what third world doctors are doing in the endemic regions. Consider this typical level of suiting up in Africa:


Note the use of a buddy system where the outer layers are first sprayed with bleach in order to destroy any virus that may be contaminating the surface. Note how there are layers of protective gear, and that no part of the body is exposed. Now watch the video produced by CNN medical correspondent Dr. Gupta as he demonstrates the frightening inadequacy of a protocol approved by Dr. Frieden.

The juxtaposition of these two levels of protection cannot be overstated, as CNN notes the casualty count among health care workers in Africa who are using the greater level of protection:

There are so many caregivers who’ve become patients. At least 416 health care workers have contracted Ebola, and at least 233 have died, the World Health Organization reports. In Liberia, the worst-affected country, the virus has killed more than 100 medical workers.

And we see that the CDC level of “protection” has gained us two infected nurses from one patient, and who knows how many more cases incubating. At a ratio of two infected healthcare workers per patient, it would be only a matter of months before we lost most of our physicians and nurses in a major outbreak.

And Frieden had the temerity to blame the nurse.

Then there are Frieden’s claims that one cannot contract ebola from sitting next to an infected individual on a bus. This while the airplane traveled on by the second nurse to contract the virus from Duncan (and cleared by CDC to travel with a fever!) is about to undergo its FOURTH cleaning! Yet CDC maintains the fiction that ebola can only be transmitted by direct contact with infected bodily fluids, while not acknowledging that surfaces contaminated by those fluids can maintain viable virus for hours to days, depending on temperature and humidity.

It goes without saying that to the extent Ebola is contained in the cloud of nasal spray in people sneezing on that bus (or anywhere), the virus is indeed airborne in that vicinity, and contaminates whatever surface the droplets land on.


Meanwhile, teams have been dispatched to clean and decontaminate the apartments of Duncan and nurse Pham. An airliner has been quarantined, and the passengers who flew on the next five flights in that plane have been added to a watch list that has risen to hundreds.

All from the index case of Eric Duncan, who lied to get here.

That historical fact must not be allowed to become historical footnote, as self-reporting at airports is the furthest Dr. Frieden is willing to go in order to reduce the viral load entering the United States. Of course any exposed Liberian or other African who desperately seeks entry to the US for treatment will be entirely honest about their exposure status and voluntarily elect to stay home to die.

Just ask Duncan.

Patients can take high doses of tylenol and motrin to knock down a fever, and even if they are asymptomatic, a 21 day incubation means that potentially thousands of infected individuals will come here and spread the disease.

Frieden’s repeated assertion that keeping ebola cases in Africa will not stop the spread (you read that right), while allowing for travel will not increase our risk here (you read that right as well) shows that he is not the doctor for this job. Consider him in his own words:

“The only way we’re going to get to zero risk is by stopping the outbreak at the source… Even if we tried to close the border, it wouldn’t work. People have a right to return. People transiting through could come in. And it would backfire, because by isolating these countries, it’ll make it harder to help them, it will spread more there and we’d be more likely to be exposed here.

So, paying no heed to increasing the viral load here (through unrestricted migration) is the best way to end the problem there.

Not exactly.

And then there is the threat posed by our very porous southern border… A topic for another day.

This nation is witnessing the unpreparedness we have for treating and containing ebola cases here. Our hospitals have been doing a miserable job at containing nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections in general, and antibiotic resistant pathogens in particular. In one study, it was estimated that the 2002 incidence of nosocomial infections was 1.7 million in US hospitals. In the medical literature, physicians and nurses are repeatedly identified as being weak when it comes to hand washing between patients.

When the fundamentals are not habitual, it strains credulity to hear the CDC director repeatedly claim that any US hospital is fully qualified to handle ebola patients. In Texas, the amount of medical waste from Duncan alone piled up with uncertainty and confusion about proper protocol for disposal. Not all hospitals have large autoclaves for the sterilization of the bulk waste generated from the care of even one patient.

It is a sad and scary spectacle to see the CDC Director being taken to task by journalists with a firmer grasp of the threat and how to minimize it than the nation’s top administrator in charge of infectious disease prevention. It is bewildering to consider why the Acting Surgeon General has not weighed in as the chief public health officer of the nation.

In fact, the only medical society to weigh in with the truth has been the Nurses union in Dallas, decrying the lack of protection, protocol, and training. Leave it to the nurses. They’re usually the ones to get the ball rolling on patient advocacy, and this loops us back to General McClellan and the need for us to get rid of the McClellans among us.

We don’t really need a mediagenic CDC Director. We need a fighter. We need someone who may have bumps and warts in their background, but can recognize and speak truth as a matter of habit, who can invite in the nurses union from Dallas and work collegially and rapidly to get a handle on this mess.

Lincoln would go through several incompetent commanders before he found Grant, who was the opposite of pretty boy McClellan. He was rough, and unkempt, a drinker, but he fought tenaciously. When one of McClellan’s sympathizers sniffed that Grant imbibed too much whiskey, Lincoln’s classic response was to find out what whiskey it was so that he might send a barrel to all of his commanders.

Lincoln was a wise man, and was willing to overlook the personal foibles of the commander, so long as the results were favorable in the fight for the life of the nation. It’s time for this nation and this president to get serious and follow that admirable example.

The events of the past three weeks have confirmed for us that we cannot get caught up in dithering over the rights of people to enter this nation while potentially harboring ebola. We need the following immediately:

A ban on all immigration from anyone who has been in the endemic regions for the last three months.

The immediate deployment (to the endemic regions) of 20,000 US troops to build enough ebola treatment and quarantine centers to accommodate by the end of November the case load projected for the end of December (Get ahead before it’s too late to catch up).

A series of quarantine stations offshore for a thirty day stay before American troops and aid workers can be physically repatriated here at home.

Three state of the art isolation and treatment centers here in the US designed and modified to handle treating ebola patients, incinerating waste, and decontamination suites and facilities that are second to none.

A cooperative arrangement between the Gates Foundation and other foundations willing to fund such facilities.

Extensive training in ebola protocols for Emergency Department workers at American hospitals, and the training of three crack treatment teams of physicians and nurses at the proposed specialized treatment centers.

Protocols for the rapid transfer of ebola cases from around the nation to the specialized treatment centers.

Quarantine stations here at home for those who have been potentially exposed to the virus.

Unfortunately for Dr. Frieden, he has thrown his credibility away. We need a new CDC Director, a real physician or scientist and not a bloodless bureaucrat, who can lead the way. We also need a president and congressional leaders who are willing to put aside politics for the sake of the life of this nation.

Without overstating the case, in light of WHO’s assertion that we have until December 1st in Africa before this spirals entirely out of control with 10,000 new cases per week, we may be looking at our last chance to get this right.

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He was a pro-life champion.

He was a great supporter of EWTN and Mother Angelica.

He was a huge booster for Franciscan University.

He was a tireless therapist/spiritual director/advocate for priests in trouble.

He was a lighthouse for fidelity and truth in the faith during the tumultuous 60’s and 70’s.

He was co-founder of Good Counsel Homes.

He was an early and active participant in the Charismatic Renewal.

He was a celebrated author with dozens and dozens of books, tapes, and DVD’s.

He was a co-founder of a reform religious community.

He was a Columbia University educated psychologist.

He was a seminary professor for over 40 years.

He was a spiritual director and sage who was very good to women’s communities.

He was an advisor to bishops from all over the world.

He was an international lecturer.

He was a retreat master without equal.

He walked with Saints John Paul II and Theresa of Calcutta.

He was a television host who boosted countless ministries on his show.

But for all of that, if he could have chosen to be remembered for anything, if any group could lay claim to this man of such broad appeal, he would want to be remembered for this above all things…

He was a good friend to and mighty advocate for the poor and the least among us.

He was a true son of Francis, a true son of the Church.

Father Benedict Groeschel was my professor when I was in the seminary in the late 1980’s. He taught us ascetical theology and gave us spiritual direction on retreat. His classes were in themselves mini-retreats, whose content I have spent a lifetime unpacking. When I left the seminary and told him that I was pursuing biomedical research, and that Columbia University’s post-baccalaureate pre-medical studies was my first step toward the Ph.D. he was delighted that I would be attending his alma mater. I continued to see him every now and then when I hit bumps in the road in the spiritual life. Several years later, when I finished the Ph.D., I drove up to Trinity Retreat House to have lunch with Fr. Benedict and talk about the uncertainties ahead, as well as our son Joseph’s newly diagnosed autism and my deep, deep fears around that whole issue. I was a burnt out mess.

Fr. Benedict came across the room to me with outstretched arms and congratulated me. He then shared that when he finished his doctorate he breathed a sigh of relief because he never had to write another paper again. When he said this I pulled back with an incredulous look, to which he inquired why. I said, “You’re kidding, right?” And he said, “No, why?” I responded that he went on to author 5,000 books! Fr. Benedict just smiled with the knowing twinkle in his eyes. We went in to lunch, and then I spent two hours pouring out my fears for Joseph, my doubts about my capabilities, and how utterly alone I felt, sensing the absence of God.

My old mentor took me through whence I had come spiritually, and then led me through the Dark Night of the Soul. When I was leaving, we exited his room, which opened into his secretary’s office. Fr. Benedict has shelves filled with the books he authored. It was the stock room, in a sense, for the books people purchased online and via mail order. He grabbed a copy of Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones, as well as Spiritual Passages and handed them to me. When I said, “Thanks, but I have them at home,” he said in reply, “Take two more!”

He was truly one of a kind. A session with Fr. Benedict could range from side-splitting laughter to dealing with being on the edge of the abyss. Whenever I saw him, he always asked for Regina, and then each of the children by name. He was gracious, and holy. His brilliance and incisiveness could easily be overpowering, had he not tempered them with his quick wit and self-deprecating humor.

When I began doing pro-life work in earnest, Fr. Benedict was there with wisdom beyond description. He mapped out all of the spiritual pitfalls I faced, and helped me avoid them all.

I could tell a number of other stories about Fr. Benedict, and what he did for elderly priests who needed the guidance and support to take them the rest of the way home, of how he was never too busy, never said no. But we’ll let those stories rest with all of those good men who found their way with Fr. Benedict’s guidance.

What will endure, more than anything, was the one great constant in all of our conversations: Fr. Benedict’s love for the poor and the least, his admonition to me that I never forget them and their needs, that they are the living face of Jesus.

A priest who met popes, walked with saints, advised the bishops and cardinals of the Church, and yet craved time with the lowliest in society, because that’s where he felt closest to his God.

I should feel some sorrow at his passing from us, but I can’t. Though I’ll miss him, I’m overjoyed that he now sees face-to-face the God he could only see tangentially as he walked among us.

Yes, I believe that Fr. Benedict went to Purgatory (as he insisted he would), but only to collect a few souls along the way home.

Thank you, Fr. Benedict Joseph, and please pray for us.

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