Welcome to the Reading Room

Here are some news stories and articles which might be of interest to you. I've posted the opening section, and if you want to read more, you can click on "Read the whole article" to go to the original item. You'll find a variety of things here -- current news, political analysis, opinion pieces, articles about religion -- things I've happened to read and want to share with you. It's your Reading Room, so take your time. Browse. You're certain to find something you'll want to read.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

An Important Quarrel in Rome

by Dr. Jeff Mirus

You probably remember the case of the abortions performed on the Brazilian girl who was impregnated with twins by her step-father last year. Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho publicly stated that the doctors who performed the abortions would incur excommunication. But the President of the Pontifical Academy for life then wrote an essay in L’Osservatore Romano in which he sharply criticized Archbishop Sobrinho for an alleged lack of sensitivity to the difficulties of the situation, especially for the girl. Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella argued that the Church would have been better served by a strong display of mercy and tenderness rather than a pronouncement of justice.

If this had been all that was said, it would be a case of two prelates disagreeing about the best pastoral approach to a serious situation, something in itself as unobjectionable as it is common. It would have been rare and troublesome only because of the serious and rather obviously deliberate faux pas of an archbishop in Rome unilaterally using the Vatican’s newspaper to criticize the archbishop on the scene—a criticism which was also ill-informed, none of his business ecclesiastically, and leveled without any effort to discuss the issue in advance with his Brazilian brother. Moreover, his Brazilian brother was already under heavy secularist attack. If this was circling the wagons, then Fisichella is an Apache.

But, in fact, this isn’t all that was said, for Archbishop Fisichella also went on to wring his verbal hands over how difficult the moral case was, and how the conflicting values involved required that the moral decision be left to the doctors alone. Not only is this false; it is false in a way that should never be misunderstood by the man who leads the Pontifical Academy for Life. Nobody likes the fact that a prematurely fertile nine-year-old girl was raped repeatedly by her step-father until she became pregnant with twins. Nobody likes the horrible situation this put the girl in. Nobody likes the available options. Nobody likes the suffering each of those options entails. But the moral truth is exceedingly clear. The innocent babies in the womb cannot be murdered in order to lessen the immediate suffering of the girl or her family. Earth to Fisichella... Read the whole article.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent 2010. Pope Benedict's Ash Wednesday

His torment is the disappearance of faith. His program is to lead men to God. His preferred instrument is teaching. But the Vatican curia doesn't help him much. And sometimes it harms him.

by Sandro Magister

ROME, February 17, 2010 – Today, Ash Wednesday, is the beginning of Lent according to the Roman rite. And the bishop of Rome is entering it, as he does every year, with ashes on his head, with a penitential procession, and with a Mass celebrated in the ancient basilica of Saint Sabina.

Today Lent has mostly faded from the general mindset of the West, where the Muslim Ramadan makes more of an impact. But Benedict XVI is visibly driven to restore meaning and vigor to this season of preparation for Easter.

This year, in addition to the message to the faithful reproduced further below with the general audience and the homily for Ash Wednesday, pope Joseph Ratzinger is also opening Lent with a double "lectio divina." He held the first of them a few days ago with seminarians of Rome, and will hold the second tomorrow with the priests of the diocese.

"Lectio divina" is a reflection on the meaning of the Sacred Scriptures, done by selecting a biblical passage and commenting on it. Pope Benedict usually improvises them, in the style of the ancient Church Fathers and of the great theological masters of the Middle Ages, but always with an attentive eye on today's culture.

Last Friday, February 12, commenting on a passage from chapter 15 of the Gospel of John for the seminarians of Rome, the pope referred to a letter written to him by a professor at the University of Regensburg, contesting the Christian view of God... Read the whole article.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hot Enough for You?

Global warmists used to love talking about the weather.

by James Taranto

It's been a slow week for news because it's been a big week for weather. The East Coast is covered in snow, and Time magazine blames global warming. No, seriously: "There is some evidence that climate change could in fact make such massive snowstorms more common, even as the world continues to warm." The New York Times says the same thing, though two-sidedly: "The two sides in the climate-change debate are seizing on the mounting drifts to bolster their arguments."

The Time story notes that climate is not the same thing as weather:

Ultimately, however, it's a mistake to use any one storm--or even a season's worth of storms--to disprove climate change (or to prove it; some environmentalists have wrongly tied the lack of snow in Vancouver, the site of the Winter Olympic Games, which begin this week, to global warming). Weather is what will happen next weekend; climate is what will happen over the next decades and centuries. And while our ability to predict the former has become reasonably reliable, scientists are still a long way from being able to make accurate projections about the future of the global climate.

Wait a minute, "scientists are still a long way from being able to make accurate projections about the future of the global climate"? We thought global warming was settled science, and anyone who doubted it was a knuckle-dragging lackey or handmaid of Big Oil! (Sorry for the mixed metaphors, but at least we're gender inclusive.)

To be sure, the global warmists are right to distinguish between weather and climate. A short-term condition sometimes can run counter to a long-term trend, as when a growing economy goes through a recession, or a generally healthy man suffers an acute illness (though in the long run, we're all dead).

The problem is that for years, global warmists have claimed that the weather proved their claims about the climate. This is a New York Times story from June 24, 1988:

The earth has been warmer in the first five months of this year than in any comparable period since measurements began 130 years ago, and the higher temperatures can now be attributed to a long-expected global warming trend linked to pollution, a space agency scientist reported today.

Until now, scientists have been cautious about attributing rising global temperatures of recent years to the predicted global warming caused by pollutants in the atmosphere, known as the "greenhouse effect." But today Dr. James E. Hansen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration told a Congressional committee that it was 99 percent certain that the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere.

Dr. Hansen, a leading expert on climate change, said in an interview that there was no "magic number" that showed when the greenhouse effect was actually starting to cause changes in climate and weather. But he added, "It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here."

Breitbart.tv has a collection of clips from the past decade depicting Democratic congressmen blaming global warming for shortfalls of snow. But perhaps the classic of the genre is a piece from the Boston Globe, dated Aug. 30, 2005, which begins: "The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming."

The author, Ross Gelbspan, goes on to blame global warming for "a two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles"--something that never happened--along with high winds in Northern Europe, droughts in the American Midwest and Southeastern Europe, rain in India and even a heat wave in Arizona... Read the whole article.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


by James Bowman

It will come as no news to readers of The American Spectator that science is now no longer just science but has become a religion-substitute for a large number of Americans. This faith, perhaps, claims even a majority of those in some other liberal democracies of the West. And if science, and its political arm, environmentalism, is the new religion, Charles Darwin is its Christ figure, despised and rejected of (theist) men and persecuted for the Truth he sought to bring to set men free of their inherited chains. These are not the bonds of sin and death but of the superstition and ignorance which supposes the world to have had any Creator at all or any Redeemer other than Darwin himself. That is what we mean by myth: a story that explains the world, whether or not the story happens to be true, and the Darwinist myth now comes closer to an explanation that people are prepared to accept than any other since the Redemptive history in the Christian interpretation of the Bible.

For this reason Jon Amiel's Creation, written by John Collee from a family memoir by Randal Keynes, Darwin's great-great-grandson, has something of the odor of piety about it that has hardly been seen on screen since the days of Cecil B. DeMille's Biblical epics. The movie would have us believe that Charles Darwin (Paul Bettany) lost his always rather uncertain religious faith on account of the death of his beloved daughter Annie (Martha West) and only then allowed himself to be persuaded by a group of hard-line atheist friends, led by T.H. Huxley (Toby Jones), to finish the long-delayed writing of The Origin of Species. Furthermore, their ideological interest in his doing so became his own over time and fully congruent with the atheistic triumphalism in Huxley's words of proleptic appreciation for the Origin: "You have killed God, Sir."

That sounds dubious enough, even coming from the historical Huxley, but then the filmmakers can't resist making him add: "Good riddance to the vindictive bugger" -- the v.b., that is, being God. At once we are made aware that we are no longer in anything that is even meant to look like the 19th century except in the most superficial ways. Instead, the film is quite self-consciously taking up the cudgels on behalf of the Dawkins-Hitchens faction in the theist-antitheist debates of our own time. The movie-Darwin tentatively protests at first about how society is held together by religion and, though it is a frail bark, it nevertheless manages to float; he is also restrained by the still-powerful religious belief of Mrs. Darwin (Jennifer Connelly, the real-life Mrs. Bettany) -- until she reads the book in manuscript and urges him to publish it. But in the end his own atheism is as confirmed as Huxley's. Or, more to the point, Richard Dawkins's... Read the whole article.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pro-Choice Anti-Choicers

by David N. Bass

It's a case study in the conundrum of liberal ideology: radical feminist groups declaring that a woman's choice to not have an abortion is, somehow, anti-choice.

The far left Women's Media Center put out a press release last week doing just that. The group ripped CBS for accepting a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam.

The ad, sponsored by the Christian group Focus on the Family, draws attention to Pam's decision to bring her pregnancy to term despite health complications that threatened her life.

Millions of viewers will find that pro-family message a welcome relief from the typical raunchy fare aired during the nation's top sporting event. But feminists, apparently, don't appreciate the break from racy beer commercials. In fact, they're enraged by it.

"An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year," Jemhu Greene, president of WMC, told the Associated Press.

Given the rhetorical firestorm, you'd think Tebow and his mom were using the ad to encourage Congress to enact the national "Keep Women Barefoot and in the Kitchen Act of 2010." Instead, Pam will explain her decision to have Tim despite doctors' advice to the contrary... Read the whole article.


About Me

My photo
Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.