Saturday, May 23, 2009

Vatican Says Obama is not "Pro Abortion"

Hola Amigos: Feb 4, 2009 I argued on this blog that President Obama is not "pro" abortion. Seems I was ahead of the Vatican on this one! Those who erroneously charge that Obama is "pro" abortion now are out of tune with the Vatican. - Richard G. Malloy, S.J.

Editor of Vatican newspaper says ‘Obama is not pro-abortion’

.- The Editor-in-chief of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano explained today to Paulo Rodari, a Vatican analyst for the daily “Il Riformista,” that President Barack Obama’s speech to graduates of Notre Dame was very respectful and that he “is not a pro-abortion president.”

In the interview with Rodari, Editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian discussed his thoughts on President Obama at the University of Notre Dame. “Obama has not upset the world,” he said. “His speech at Notre Dame has been respectful toward every position. He tried to engage the debate stepping out from every ideological position and outside every ‘confrontational mentality.’ To this extent his speech is to be appreciated.”

Vian continued, “Let me be clear, L’Osservatore stands where the American bishops are: we consider abortion a disaster. We must promote, always and at every level a ‘culture of life’.”

“What I want to stress is that yesterday, on this precise and very delicate issue, the President said that the approval of the new law on abortion is not a priority of his administration. The fact that he said that is very reassuring to me. It also underlines my own clear belief: Obama is not a pro-abortion president,” he told Rodari.

Continuing the interview, Rodari stressed that L' Osservatore Romano ran two different stories on the same issue, one positive about Obama's speech at Notre Dame, the other extremely critical about his embryonic stem cell research position which quoted the concerns of the USCCB.

Vian answered: “This is our policy, the way we inform. If a national bishops’ conference says something, we report it.” However, he continued, it is “appropriate to present other perspectives” to the readers so they can accurately judge "international information.”

According to Rodari, "the words of Vian are important. Because they speak about a confrontation between Obama and the Catholic Church which for now seems to be limited mainly among part of the American episcopate. A confrontation that the Holy See neither approves nor disapproves. Simply observes.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Protests at Notre Dame Against President Obama are Useless.

Readers: Bravo to what Mr. Davich says below. The protests at ND will do nothing to stop abortion. If we want to stop abortion (and we do), it would make much more sense to talk with young people about their attitudes, aspirations and actions in the area of sexual morality. Peoples' choices to engage in sex have ramifications not just for themselves, but for all of society, especially when society is asked to condone the killing of the child in the womb, thus aborting the baby's and our future. Saturday nights have consequences for us all on Monday morning. We need to express concern and compassion for people, especially women, caught up in a culture that offers them abortion as an easy answer for their situation.

All this bloviating against politicians has done nothing to change Roe v. Wade. Even overturning Roe v. Wade will just send the issue back to each individual state, and thus abortion will be legal in at least some states (This is Sen. McCain's position on the issue).

Abortion will end when no one at the abortion clinic can make money aborting babies. The only way to stop abortions is to have our young people stop producing unwanted children, and empowering young women to give birth to any child they carry, and supporting their choice to give life. Adoption is always a better choice than abortion. Peace, - Fr. Rick


Just imagine if all the time, money, and energy wasted - yes, wasted - over President Obama's controversial appearance and commencement speech on Sunday at Notre Dame could be spent on more meaningful endeavors.

Think of it - what will really change after his speech and all the protesters - both in support and against his invitation there - go home for the night? Not much, if anything.

The pro-life supporters will return to their daily orbits, content in their efforts. The pro-choice supporters will return to theirs, feeling the same way. And media personnel will return to their offices to broadcast "the news of the day."

What, really, will be accomplished by all this? Besides higher TV ratings, bold headlines, and a lot of back-slapping, nothing really.

Instead, why don't those protesters spend their time, energy, and Christian compassion on, say, people in need of it. God knows, there are enough of them in this country.

Instead of standing outside the venue where Obama will give his speech, joining thousands of others, go alone or in a group to a homeless shelter and feed the hungry.

Instead of yelling in the streets and hoisting signs toward the heavens, find one person who is starved for human companionship, if only for that day.

Instead of publicly pontificating on the hot-button issues of abortion and stem-cell research - to no one in particular - visit a nursing home and talk to people who have no one to talk to.

I [Jerry Davich] get so fed up with people such as these protesters who want to change the world one policy at a time, Jerry Davich is the metro columnist for the Post-Tribune Newspaper. Since 1995, he's written thousands of columns and stories with one goal in mind: to create a dialogue with readers, not a monologue. He hopes this blog expands his goal into cyberspace. but who are clueless, or unwilling - or both - to do it one person at a time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yo Guys! Want to be Happy? REAL LOVE is the answer

The New York Times
Copyright 2009. The New York Times Company

They Had It Made
By DAVID BROOKS May 12, 2009 Op-Ed Columnist

In the late 1930s, a group of 268 promising young men, including John F. Kennedy and Ben Bradlee, entered Harvard College. By any normal measure, they had it made. They tended to be bright, polished, affluent and ambitious. They had the benefit of the world’s most prestigious university. They had been selected even from among Harvard students as the most well adjusted.

And yet the categories of journalism and the stereotypes of normal conversation are paltry when it comes to predicting a life course. Their lives played out in ways that would defy any imagination save Dostoyevsky’s. A third of the men would suffer at least one bout of mental illness. Alcoholism would be a running plague. The most mundane personalities often produced the most solid success. One man couldn’t admit to himself that he was gay until he was in his late 70s.

The men were the subject of one of the century’s most fascinating longitudinal studies. They were selected when they were sophomores, and they have been probed, poked and measured ever since. Researchers visited their homes and investigated everything from early bed-wetting episodes to their body dimensions.

The results from the study, known as the Grant Study, have surfaced periodically in the years since. But they’ve never been so brilliantly captured as they are in an essay called “What Makes Us Happy?” by Joshua Wolf Shenk in the forthcoming issue of The Atlantic. (The essay is available online today.)

The life stories are more vivid than any theory one could concoct to explain them. One man seemed particularly gifted. He grew up in a large brownstone, the son of a rich doctor and an artistic mother. “Perhaps more than any other boy who has been in the Grant Study,” a researcher wrote while he was in college, “the following participant exemplifies the qualities of a superior personality: stability, intelligence, good judgment, health, high purpose, and ideals.”

By 31, he had developed hostile feelings toward his parents and the world. By his mid-30s, he had dropped off the study’s radar. Interviews with his friends after his early death revealed a life spent wandering, dating a potentially psychotic girlfriend, smoking a lot of dope and telling hilarious stories.

Another man was the jester of the group, possessing in college a “bubbling, effervescent personality.” He got married, did odd jobs, then went into public relations and had three kids.

He got divorced, married again, ran off with a mistress who then left him. He drank more and more heavily. He grew depressed but then came out of the closet and became a major figure in the gay rights movement. He continued drinking, though, convinced he was squeezing the most out of life. He died at age 64 when he fell down the stairs in his apartment building while drunk.

The study had produced a stream of suggestive correlations. The men were able to cope with problems better as they aged. The ones who suffered from depression by 50 were much more likely to die by 63. The men with close relationships with their siblings were much healthier in old age than those without them.

But it’s the baffling variety of their lives that strikes one the most. It is as if we all contain a multitude of characters and patterns of behavior, and these characters and patterns are bidden by cues we don’t even hear. They take center stage in consciousness and decision-making in ways we can’t even fathom. The man who is careful and meticulous in one stage of life is unrecognizable in another context.

Shenk’s treatment is superb because he weaves in the life of George Vaillant, the man who for 42 years has overseen this work. Vaillant’s overall conclusion is familiar and profound. Relationships are the key to happiness. “Happiness is love. Full Stop,” he says in a video.

In his professional life, he has lived out that creed. He has been an admired and beloved colleague and mentor. But the story is more problematic at home. When he was 10, his father, an apparently happy and accomplished man, went out by the pool of the Main Line home and shot himself. His mother shrouded the episode. They never attended a memorial service nor saw the house again.

He has been through three marriages and returned to his second wife. His children tell Shenk of a “civil war” at home and describe long periods when they wouldn’t speak to him. His oldest friend says he has a problem with intimacy.

Even when we know something, it is hard to make it so. Reading this essay, I had the same sense I had while reading Christopher Buckley’s description of his parents in The Times Magazine not long ago. There is a complexity to human affairs before which science and analysis simply stands mute.

Men at 65: New Findings On Well-Being
By DANIEL GOLEMAN January 16, 1990

THE secret of emotional health among older men is not a successful career, a happy marriage or a stable childhood, new findings suggest. It lies instead in an ability to handle life's blows without passivity, blame or bitterness.

The findings, which contradict widely held theories about the importance of early life for emotional well-being in adulthood, are among recent conclusions of a study of 173 men who have been scrutinized at five-year intervals since they graduated from Harvard in the early 1940's.

The project, known as the Grant study after the W. T. Grant Foundation, which initially supported it, is one of a handful that have intensively assessed people at regular intervals through their adult years. Such studies are particularly valuable for the understanding of psychological development because they allow researchers to see what factors matter, for better or worse, later in life.

The researchers defined emotional health at 65 as the ''clear ability to play and to work and to love,'' and a feeling of satisfaction with life.

These were among their findings:
* Pragmatism and dependability are particularly important.
* Many factors in early life, even devastating problems in childhood, had virtually no effect on well-being at 65.
* Being close to one's siblings at college age was strongly linked to emotional health at 65.
* Severe depression earlier in life caused problems that persisted.
* Traits that were important at college age, like the ability to make friends easily, were
unimportant later in life.

The latest data were collected by George E. Vaillant, a psychiatrist at Dartmouth Medical School. He and his wife, Caroline O. Vaillant, a social worker, reported the findings in an article in the January issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry. In 1977 Dr. Vaillant published a book, ''Adaptation to Life'' (Little, Brown), based on findings of how the men fared at the age of 47.

The men hardly represent a cross-section of Americans. All were Harvard undergraduates, white, and in good mental and physical health when selected. The researchers say that by avoiding complicating factors like sex, economic status and race, they were able to focus on more subtle forces that propel one person forward while another lags.

One of the most surprising results, Dr. Vaillant said, was that having been close to one's brothers and sisters at college age strongly predicted emotional well-being in adulthood - far more strongly, for example, than having had a good marriage or successful career. Those who were only children or who said they were distant from their siblings at college age fared poorly at 65 compared with those who had at least one close brother or sister.

Before age 50, the most powerful predictors of adult mental health were an emotionally close home life as a child and parents who encouraged trust and initiative. But by 65 those factors faded in significance, and closeness to siblings in childhood ''became as powerful a predictor of later-life adjustment'' as three other factors taken together: family closeness, good relations with parents and the absence of emotional problems in childhood. Dr. Vaillant said researchers could only guess at the reasons. ''It's intriguing, a sleeper variable that didn't show up as important until the men reached 65,'' said Dr. Vaillant. ''I would guess that those who were close early in life had the seeds of a good relationship late in life.''

At the age of 47, the quality of relationships with siblings was not an important factor; having a good marriage and enjoyable job were more strongly related with life satisfaction and emotional health. But in the decade before retirement age, neither mattered as much as did having been close to a sibling earlier in life.

'Lots of Surprises'

By and large, those most satisfied at 47 were still happy at 65. But ''there were lots of surprises,'' said Dr. Vaillant. Poor health or alcoholism in that 18-year span set some men back; those with ''strong stoicism'' at 47 were doing well at 65.

The researchers found little evidence that several factors long assumed to be important in lifelong psychological development had much effect on well-being at 65. They included being poor or orphaned in childhood, having parents who divorced (or who were happily married) and having emotional problems in childhood or college.

For instance, of the 204 men in the original group, 13 felt troubled enough during college to have seen a psychiatrist. But by the age of 65 these men fared no worse than the rest of the group.

''In the long run, people are extraordinarily adaptable,'' Dr. Vaillant said. ''Given enough time, people recover and change; a half-century perspective shows that time heals.''
One of the most devastating experiences over the course of life was a severe depression, Dr. Vaillant found. Of the 204 men, 21 had such a depression at some point between the ages of 21 and 50. In the latest study, 15 of the 21 were chronically ill or had died.

''I expected that the men in the study would be better-adapted and protected than most,'' Dr. Vaillant said. ''If they got depressed, it would pass with little lasting effect. But depression led to a greater global disruption of life than any other single factor.''

Buffers Against Depression

Having close family relations may have been a buffer against depression, since the researchers found that having had a ''bleak childhood'' predicted depression later in life. But not all of those who had a difficult childhood became depressed. And for those who escaped depression, bad times in childhood seemed to have little long-term effect.

Only 7 percent of those who did well at 65 had not been close to a brother or sister, Dr. Vaillant said. Of the 21 men who became seriously depressed at some point in their lives, 12 were only children or said they were estranged from their siblings by college age.

Whether they were only children or were distant from brothers and sisters, he said, ''the effects of the isolation seem to be the same in later life.'' Psychoanalytic theories of depression hold that emotional warmth early in life, whether with parents or siblings, can be a buffer against depression later.

One of the most potent predictors of well-being at 65 was the ability to handle emotional crisis maturely. Immature reactions included becoming bitter or prejudiced, collecting injustices, feigning cheerfulness and chronically complaining without allowing anyone to help.

The best way to handle emotional crisis, the study found, is to control the first impulse and give a more measured response. ''It's having the capacity to hold a conflict or impulse in consciousness without acting on it,'' Dr. Vaillant said. ''You can acknowledge the clouds, but also see the silver lining.''

Two lifelong traits, pragmatism and dependability, also emerged as particularly important to emotional health at 65 - more so than being clever in analytic work or having a creative flair.

Those who in college had been seen as being good at practical organization in their course work, rather than as having a theoretical, speculative or scholarly bent, were among the healthiest in mind at retirement age, the study found. So were those who as college sophomores were rated by a psychiatrist as ''steady, stable, dependable, thorough, sincere and trustworthy.''

On the other hand, traits that seemed important for psychological adjustment in college mattered less and less over the years. Among these were spontaneity and the ability to make friends easily.

By 65, being pragmatic and well-organized was the trait that most strongly predicted well-being. ''It's another way of measuring perseverance,'' Dr. Vaillant said. ''At this age, perseverance is more important than whether you can run the bases fast.''

Friday, May 08, 2009

Vatican not all worked up about Ron Howard's Movie Angels and Demons

Pix at left: Howard, Hanks and Brown.

Vatican paper: 'Angels & Demons' film is harmless

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Reviewers at the Vatican's newspaper have passed judgment on "Angels & Demons," finding the religious thriller commercial and inaccurate, but concluding it is "harmless" entertainment and not a danger to the church.

L'Osservatore Romano ran a review and an editorial in Wednesday's edition, critiquing the movie based on the Dan Brown best-selling novel of the same name.

"Angels & Demons" had its world premiere Monday in Rome, after director Ron Howard charged that the Vatican interfered with getting film permits to shoot scenes in the city — a contention the Vatican said was a publicity stunt.

The newspaper wrote that the movie was "a gigantic and smart commercial operation" filled with "stereotyped characters." The paper suggested moviegoers could make a game out of finding the many historical inaccuracies in the plot.

However, L'Osservatore praised Howard's "dynamic direction" and the "magnificent" reconstruction of locations like St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Much of the film was shot on sets that painstakingly recreated church landmarks.

The film offers "more than two hours of harmless entertainment, which hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity," L'Osservatore's reviewer wrote. It's "a videogame that first of all sparks curiosity and is also, maybe, a bit of fun."

"Angels & Demons" features Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon of "The Da Vinci Code" fame, played by Tom Hanks. In the film, the Vatican turns to Langdon after an ancient secret brotherhood called the Illuminati kidnap four cardinals considered front-runners to be the next pope, and threaten to kill one an hour and then explode a bomb at the Vatican.

On Sunday, Howard said the Vatican had interfered with his efforts to get permits to shoot some scenes. A Vatican spokesman said the statement was designed purely to drum up publicity for the film.

Top church officials strongly objected to "The Da Vinci Code" because it was based on the idea that Jesus married and fathered children and depicted the conservative Catholic movement, Opus Dei, as a murderous cult.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

America's Editors Elucidate the Notre Dame - President Obama Controversy


America: the National Catholic Weekly Magazine.

The Editors. May 11, 2009

The clouds roll with thunder, the House of the Lord shall be built throughout the earth, and these frogs sit in their marsh and croak—‘We are the only Christians!’” So wrote St. Augustine about the Donatists, a perfectionist North African sect that attempted to keep the church free of contamination by having no truck with Roman officialdom. In the United States today, self-appointed watchdogs of orthodoxy, like Randall Terry and the Cardinal Newman Society, push mightily for a pure church quite unlike the mixed community of saints and sinners—the Catholic Church—that Augustine championed. Like the Circumcellions of old, they thrive on slash-and-burn tactics; and they refuse to allow the church to be contaminated by contact with certain politicians.

For today’s sectarians, it is not adherence to the church’s doctrine on the evil of abortion that counts for orthodoxy, but adherence to a particular political program and fierce opposition to any proposal short of that program. They scorn Augustine’s inclusive, forgiving, big-church Catholics, who will not know which of them belongs to the City of God until God himself separates the tares from the wheat. Their tactics, and their attitudes, threaten the unity of the Catholic Church in the United States, the effectiveness of its mission and the credibility of its pro-life activities.

The sectarians’ targets are frequently Catholic universities and Catholic intellectuals who defend the richer, subtly nuanced, broad-tent Catholic tradition. Their most recent target has been the University of Notre Dame and its president, John Jenkins, C.S.C., who has invited President Barack Obama to offer the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at this year’s graduation. Pope Benedict XVI has modeled a different attitude toward higher education. In 2008, the pope himself was prevented from speaking at Rome’s La Sapienza University by the intense opposition of some doctrinaire scientists. The Vatican later released his speech, in which he argued that “freedom from ecclesiastical and political authorities” is essential to the university’s “special role” in society. He asked, “What does the pope have to do or say to a university?” And he answered, “He certainly should not try to impose in an authoritarian manner his faith on others.”

The divisive effects of the new American sectarians have not escaped the notice of the Vatican. Their highly partisan political edge has become a matter of concern. That they never demonstrate the same high dudgeon at the compromises, unfulfilled promises and policy disagreements with Republican politicians as with Democratic ones is plain for all to see. It is time to call this one-sided denunciation by its proper name: political partisanship.

Pope Benedict XVI has also modeled a different stance toward independent-minded politicians. He has twice reached out to President Obama and offered to build on the common ground of shared values. Even after the partially bungled visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Pope Benedict, Vatican officials worked quickly to repair communication with her. Furthermore, in participating in the international honors accorded New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson in Rome last month for outlawing the death penalty (See Signs of the Times, 5/4), Pope Benedict did not flinch at appearing with a politician who does not agree fully with the church’s policy positions. When challenged about the governor’s imperfect pro-life credentials, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe responded on point, “We were able to help him understand our position on the death penalty.... One thing at a time.” Finally, last March the pro-choice French president Nicolas Sarkozy was made an honorary canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the pope’s own cathedral.

Four steps are necessary for the U.S. church to escape the strengthening riptide of sectarian conflict and re-establish trust between universities and the hierarchy. First, the bishops’ discipline about speakers and awards at Catholic institutions should be narrowed to exclude from platforms and awards only those Catholics who explicitly oppose formal Catholic teaching. Second, in politics we must reaffirm the distinction between the authoritative teaching of moral principles and legitimate prudential differences in applying principles to public life. Third, all sides should return to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI that in politics there are usually several ways to attain the same goals. Finally, church leaders must promote the primacy of charity among Catholics who advocate different political options. For as the council declared, “The bonds which unite the faithful are mightier than anything which divides them” (“Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” No. 92).

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