Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Homily: Mary, Mercy, and the Eucharist

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers a homily at the Mary, Mercy, and the Eucharist Conference in 1996.

“Behold this heart that so loves man.”

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Homily: Losing Your Life To Save It

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers a homily at the Defending the Faith Conference in the summer of 1995.

This homily includes the story of when Fr. Scanlan met Mother Teresa of Calcutta and of praying with Pope John Paul II.

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Jerusalem Fire Rally

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers the homily on the opening night of a FIRE Rally in Jerusalem, on November 10, 1992.

“(In) every suffering, every glory, every joy, every disappointment… you will see the steps of a disciple.”

“God is clearly leading me.” – Fireside Chat with Father Mike Scanlan, TOR

Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, president emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, sits down for a fireside chat and discusses his experience of being grasped by God and giving his whole life to God while in law school at Harvard.

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: 40 Years of Household Life

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, former President and Chancellor of Franciscan University of Steubenville, shares a special message for the celebration of the 40th year of Household Life on campus.

Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Honored, Named President Emeritus

During commencement on May 14, 2011, Franciscan University chancellor and former president, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, was named president emeritus by Father Terence Henry, TOR, current president of the University.

Fr Mike on Conferences | 40 Years of Steubenville Conferences

The founder of our summer conferences, President Emeritus of Franciscan University Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, on the impact of the conferences.

Franciscan University of Steubenville will celebrate 40 years of conferences this summer. Since the first gathering for Catholic priests in 1975, the University’s conferences have grown to provide spiritual renewal each

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, Catholic Charismatic Conference, 2010

Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, delivers a homily during the 2010 Catholic Charismatic Conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Fr Mike Prays Over Conference Attendees

Fr Mike prays over conference attendees

“The Pro-Life University” – Fireside Chat with Father Mike Scanlan, TOR

Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, president emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, talks about the many instances where the prayerful and peaceful activism of Franciscan students has resulted in the closure of numerous abortion clinics. He discusses the time he and Steubenville Bishop Ottenweller were arrested with 45 others for their protest in front of the abortion clinic in Youngstown, Ohio.

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Homily: Do Not Fear

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers a homily at the “Taking the Higher Ground” Catholic Men’s Conference in 1996.

“Do not fear. The Holy Spirit is the source of courage.”

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Homily: Give Your Life to the Lord

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers a homily at the “Taking the Higher Ground” Catholic Men’s Conference in 1996.

An exhortation for men to become “Godly Men” in the face of the corrosion of family life, marriage fidelity, and sexual immorality.

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Now is the Time for Prayer

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers a talk at the Prayer and Intercession Conference in June of 1989.

“Be a man of prayer, be a woman of prayer, and you can change the world.”

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR: Sources of Courage

Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, President Emeritus of Franciscan University of Steubenville, delivers this talk about the seven sources of courage at the Charismatic Leaders Conference in June of 1994.

50th Anniversary of Solemn Vows Tribute Video, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR

Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, passed away on January 7, 2017.

This video tribute from 2011 celebrates the 50th anniversary of Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, making his solemn religious vows. Most Rev. Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., Father Francis Martin, Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Regis Martin, Mrs. Charlotte Fletcher, Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR, Ralph Martin, Dr. Alan Schreck, Father Michael Higgins, TOR, Ms. Mary Kay Lacke, Sister Isabela Bettwy, Dr. Mary Salter, Dr. Maryann Sunyoger, Dr. Ed Bessler, The Hon. Jeff Fortenberry, Sister Ann Shields, Most Rev. R. Daniel Conlon, and many others express their sincere thanks, poignant stories, and well wishes to Father Mike.

Franciscan University Symposia Celebrates 25 Years of Ex Corde Ecclesiae

The 1960s through 1980s saw a dramatic shift in Catholic higher education as numerous Catholic colleges and universities declared themselves outside the authority of the magisterium.

Having personally witnessed the breakdown of education while a student during WWII, Pope John Paul II recognized the negative effects of this modern crisis on modern students. The year 1990 saw the pope’s release of Ex corde Ecclesiae (“From the Heart of the Church”), an Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Higher Education, aimed at bringing Catholic colleges and universities back to their roots in the Catholic faith.

On November 14-15, 2014, Franciscan University of Steubenville will begin the celebration of Ex corde Ecclesiae‘s 25th anniversary with the first installment of the Fidelity and Freedom Series—a free three-symposium series continuing into 2015.

The November symposium, titled “Academic Freedom and Revealed Truth” is open to all interested in better understanding and implementing Ex corde Ecclesiae.

“The primary aim of the Fidelity and Freedom Series is to reflect on Ex corde Ecclesiae so that we might develop a deeper appreciation for, and understanding of, the central issues at the heart of this apostolic constitution,” says Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, president of Franciscan University. “We will address the themes of the relationship between academic freedom and revealed truth, the dialogue of faith and reason, and engaging the culture.”

Father Sheridan expressed his hope that “the deliberations we pursue on our campus will be of help not only to us, but to other universities and to the culture at large.”

Questions to be addressed at the symposium include “What is academic freedom?” “Does a Catholic university support a different type of academic freedom than a secular university?” “Does the Catholic university, and in particular the academic freedom it maintains, provide the model for university education generally?”

Presenters who will discuss these questions at the November 14-15, 2014 symposium include Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, JD, JCD, serving as symposium host; Dr. Terrence Tilley, professor of theology at Fordham University in New York and the Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, Chair in Catholic Theology; Dr. Reinhard Hütter, professor of Christian theology at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina; Richard Jusseaume, president of Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio; and Father Peter French Ryan, SJ, executive director, secretariat of doctrine and canonical affairs at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Symposium commentators will be Franciscan University professors Dr. Stephen Hildebrand, director of the Graduate Theology Program; Dr. Scott Hahn, the Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization; Dr. Daniel R. Kempton, vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of political science; and Dr. John Crosby, director of the Graduate Philosophy Program.”Fidelity and Freedom: Academic Freedom and Revealed Truth” begins on Friday, November 14 at 2:45 p.m. and ends on Saturday, November 15 at 1:00 p.m.

For more information and to register, go to the Fidelity and Freedom Series webpages.

There is no charge to attend the Fidelity and Freedom Series, which is sponsored by the Franciscan University Henkels Lecture Series.


What’s Behind Pelosi’s Attack on Archbishop Cordileone

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the U. S. House of Representatives Minority Leader, and one of the most powerful Catholic politicians in the United States, has recently warned the Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, the Archbishop of San Francisco, to cancel his plans to speak at the June 19 National Organization for Marriage march on the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Calling the event “venom masquerading as virtue,” Pelosi urged Archbishop Cordileone to stay away from the event, and “join us in seeking to promote reconciliation rather than division and hatred.”

Pelosi has partnered with other self-described Catholics including California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and progressive Catholic activists like Fr. Ray Bourgeois, Marianne Duddy Burk, Mary Hunt, and Jeannine Grammick in protesting in a letter the Archbishop’s appearance at the pro-marriage rally.

And, while the parade of progressive politicians and Catholic dissidents is not surprising, Catholics should be much more concerned about the real power behind Pelosi’s attacks on the Archbishop.

Read more from Dr. Anne Hendershott’s latest at Crisis Magazine.

When the Government Takes Your Children

Many people who have followed the Justina Pelletier case—largely ignored by the mainstream media, by the way—have thought that there has to be more to it, or that it’s an outrageous out-of-the-ordinary affair. This is the case where the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families forcibly took custody from her parents over a year ago of a teenager who had been treated for years for mitochondrial disease (a genetic disorder), when they brought her to Boston Children’s Hospital for consultation about a related gastrointestinal problem and resisted a quickly-made diagnosis by a medical resident and a psychologist there that she instead had a mental problem. Justina has been confined to Children’s Hospital for over a year and then DCF assigned her to a group home and then foster care and a juvenile judge awarded the agency custody of her until she turns eighteen. Justina has written that she feels like a prisoner and she has been denied both schooling and the opportunity to attend Mass or receive Holy Communion—all this, while the hospital and DCF claim they’re “helping” her. Her parents’ have engaged in a protracted legal battle with DCF and now their attorneys have filed a habeas corpus action.

Read more at Crisis Magazine

Lenten Meditation: Mantegna’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ

By Linus Meldrum

An anomaly both then and now, Andrea Mantegna’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ, c. 1480, has often been called a tour-de-force of perspective.  This small tempera painting was found by Mantegna’s son in the artist’s personal collection at his death. The Early Renaissance masterpiece likely disturbed its viewers with its strangeness—the composition, the point of view, and the insistent description are unnerving.  Jesus had never been seen quite like this.  Christ, having been removed from the cross has been placed upon a marble slab.  Rather than the typical embrace of His Mother, we see Mary at the side, age-appropriate and weeping.  The other figures are likely St. John, with his mouth agape, and Mary Magdalene, given her relationship with the anointing of Jesus and the presence of an alabaster jar at the rear of the slab.  Christ, lightly covered by a damp cloth, rests His head upon a pillow.  We see His wounds. His hands are pulled up in near-gesture.  A barely discernable halo flickers around his head. The Lamentation is sometimes paired with Mantegna’s drawing in the British Museum titled Man Laying on a Stone Slab.  The drawing depicts a man in a reclining pose, eyes closed, yet lifting himself—like a sleepwalker about to rise.  My mind forms a question: did this drawing spark Mantegna’s imagination to conceive an image of Christ which helps us to anticipate the Resurrection?

Read more at Crisis Magazine

Buffalo’s New Bishop Confronts Politician’s Duplicity on Abortion

By Anne Hendershott

Faithful Catholics in Buffalo were discouraged to read in their local paper late last month that their allegedly pro-life Catholic senator Tim Kennedy (D-63rd District) intends to vote in favor of New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo’s expansion of abortion in the State.  Kennedy won his seat in 2010 by running as a pro-life candidate ousting then-Senator Bill Stachowski—a Democrat with a strong pro-life record.

Claiming that his position on abortion has “evolved” after much thought and prayer, Kennedy joins a long list of self-described Catholic politicians like Governor Cuomo himself who claim that they are “personally opposed to abortion,” yet would never stand in the way of those who choose abortion.

Read more at Crisis Magazine

When Life Imitates Art – A Cautionary Tale

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman at age forty-six from a heroin overdose early last month (Feb. 2) has sent the usual shock waves through the highly publicized stage and screen worlds of Hollywood and New York.  And while it was hardly the first time a life was lost to heroin addiction among the glitterati, it happened this time around to someone singularly gifted in the performing arts.  Here was a star whose nimbus clearly outshone all the others.

“What have we been robbed of, by his death?” asked Anthony Lane in a glowing remembrance in The New Yorker (Feb. 17 & 24).  “Not so much a movie star, I think, as somebody who took our dramatic taxonomy … and threw it away.  Leading man, character actor, supporting player: really, who gives a damn?  Either you hold an audience, so tight that it feels lashed to the seats, or you don’t.”

Read more at Crisis Magazine

The Ukrainian Struggle: Freedom with Dignity Over Corruption and Power

By Dr. Alexander R. Sich

In 1998 my family returned to the U.S. from our first home leave overseas, for what eventually ended up being twelve years living and working in Ukraine—including experiencing first-hand Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. News reports in recent days have rekindled memories of our Ukrainian experiences. My own personal recollections lead me to believe that what Ukraine is experiencing now is not, as some outsiders might think, merely a new chapter in an old Cold War struggle between East and West. The protestors are fighting for more than freedom for freedom’s sake, but a freedom with dignity that has been out of reach for far too long.

Read more at Crisis magazine

The Supreme Court: Activism and Abdication

Serious Catholics and political conservatives since the 1950s have strongly criticized the Supreme Court for making public policy and acting as a kind of “super-legislature” to further a leftist socio-political agenda, instead of interpreting the law and judging. We have seen such judicial lawmaking on pornography, abortion, legislative reapportionment, sodomy laws, and the list could go on. While this has certainly been a valid and much-deserved ongoing criticism of the Court, cases in each of its last three terms indicate a new, contrary problem: over-deference to the political branches on both the federal and state levels.

In 2011, the Court decided the companion cases of Camreta v. Greene and Alford v. Greene, which concerned whether a child protective system (CPS) operative and a law enforcement official who backed him up could be sued under federal civil rights laws for an aggressive interrogation of a nine-year-old girl—which under international norms possibly constituted psychological torture—to get her to say that her father abused her. Along with many other organizations, the Society of Catholic Social Scientists filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the girl’s claim (I drafted the brief), mostly because we wanted to focus the Court’s attention—as we tried to do over a decade before in the important parental rights case of Troxel v. Granville—on the CPS’s systemic misconduct that in one article I called “a grave threat to the family.”

Read more at Crisis Magazine

Heinrich Pesch and Solidarism: Time to Be Rediscovered?

The passing of the eminent American Catholic economist, Dr. Rupert J. Ederer, at the age of ninety on Thanksgiving Day 2013 calls attention to the great, but equally unsung, economic thinker and system that he devoted most of his career to furthering: Heinrich Pesch, S.J. and solidarism. Pesch, who died in 1926, was thought to have inspired Pope Pius XI’s great social encyclical Quadragesimo Anno five years later. In spite of Pesch’s relative obscurity, Ederer called him an economic “system builder,” on par with Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes—although the system he constructed was based firmly on Catholic teaching and the natural law. The word “solidarism” rings of the principle of solidarity, which has been stressed more recently in Catholic social teaching. In fact, solidarism is also referred to as “the solidarity work system.” There is some indication that Pesch’s solidarism influenced the famed Solidarity trade union movement in Poland that rose to prominence a generation ago and led the way to the collapse of Eastern European communism.

Read more here

The Christmas Miracle

I picture him as a tall Texan, his outsize appearance easily eclipsing everything in sight, save only the immense shrine that he and a busload of tourists have come to Rome to see.  And then, throwing up his hand at the end of an exhausting exploration of the world’s most beautiful basilica, I hear him asking the expert guide the one thing he’s come all this way to know:

How much does it weigh?

I love that story.  In fact, I imagine him wandering endlessly about the Eternal City in witless search of answers to all sorts of endearingly absurd questions.  The Coliseum, for instance, about which he would surely want to know, “Why wasn’t it finished?”  Or the Pantheon, whose opening in the ceiling would have utterly mystified him.  “What’s the point of a dome unless you’re going to close the freaking thing?”

As a species of reductionism, however, revealing the mindset of a man for whom the merit of anything can best be measured by the ton, it is priceless.  One thinks of C.S. Lewis skewering that fellow in one of his books because, in surveying the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, he can only imagine it as raw material for cornering the salt market.  Reductionism, as someone once said, is the sin of seeing the pearl as the oyster’s mistake.

Read more at Crisis Magazine

John Paul II’s 1983 Visit to Poland: Anniversary Reflections

It was sixty years ago that the Hungarian émigré historian, John Lukacs, published his first book, The Great Powers and Eastern Europe, a masterful treatment of the subject, whose conclusion, including an elegy on the lost world he left behind, has haunted me for years.   Surveying the wreckage of that shattered and divided world, he declared that “only the magnetic force of a rejuvenated, remade, and truly united Western Europe, one that has recovered the erstwhile spiritual greatness of that Christian continent, can eventually develop enough attraction to penetrate the steely barriers separating the West from Eastern Europe’s modern police state.”

That was written in 1953, beneath the cloudless skies of the Eisenhower years, which means that thirty-five more years would need to elapse before the world could witness the final and conclusive collapse of the Soviet Empire in Europe.  It all started a quarter century ago, in other words, beginning with the so-called Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in November of 1989, which smashed the fist of the single-party Communist state, leaving the rest of us, especially those smugly ensconced amid the flesh pots of the capitalist West, in a state of stunned surprise.

How, we asked ourselves, could a people divided for more than forty years by such a massive and impregnable symbol of Soviet sanctioned oppression as the Iron Curtain, come suddenly together in spontaneous and joyous fashion to dance atop the ruins of the Berlin Wall?

Read more at Crisis Magazine

Let Us Not Forget the Wonder of Creation

In his fantastical account of “The Unthinkable Theory of Professor Green,” G.K. Chesterton invites us to imagine an astronomer regaling his audience in great and gorgeous detail about a strange new planet he’s just discovered.  Only gradually do we realize that this utterly amazing place is in fact our very own world, replete with wonders we’d scarcely been aware of before.

Isn’t this the whole point of travel?   Not to poke around places and people of such weirdness that you’d swear you’d wandered onto a sci-fi movie set.  Do we really want to run into a community of pod people while on holiday?   Wasn’t it bad enough watching “The Night of the Living Dead” on television?  Who needs a close encounter with the real thing on a vacation?

Again, Chesterton has the sense of it.  “It is not,” he tells us, “to set foot on foreign land; it is to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”  And isn’t this the challenge that awaits us all?   How to arrest the attention sufficiently to allow us to stand in silent awe before the real world?  When jadedness sets in, we need a sudden jolt to set the circuits going again.  We need to open up the hood and let the wind sweep out all that is sour and stale on the inside.   Indeed, without a sense of wonder, and at least some minimal capacity for surprise and delight, we will never awaken to that “dearest freshness deep down things” (Gerard Manley Hopkins).

Read more at Crisis Magazine.

Holder May Undermine Rule of Law with Challenge to Zimmerman Verdict

The aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial has brought an expected, but very disturbing, reaction. From all indications, the jury weighed the facts of the case carefully and applied the law (as it was presented to them) to the facts correctly. The prosecution had more than its fair share of opportunities to make its case, and one following the trial could not help but to think that they simply did not come anywhere close to providing proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, the lead-up to the case was troublesome. The police and the prosecuting attorney’s office did not think they even had probable cause to make an arrest, and Zimmerman was charged only after misleading media coverage, the bringing in of a special prosecutor (who later fired an employee after he testified that she had withheld evidence from the defense in the case), allegations by the lead detective in the case that he was being pressured to make an arrest despite the lack of evidence, and the firing of the police chief because he believed the same. The reaction of certain groups, elements of the public, and the Obama administration since the verdict has shown how the coveted American principle of the rule of law has fallen victim to the imperatives of identity politics.

Read more at Crisis Magazine.

When Politicians Allow the Murder of Infants

By Dr. Anne Hendershott, Professor of Sociology at Franciscan University of Steubenville

Now that the verdict is in on Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist convicted of delivering live babies—most of them African American—and killing them, perhaps President Obama might finally be willing to respond to the horrific crime.  Silent on the facts of the case, it is curious why neither the President nor the First Lady have been willing to comment on the house of horrors Gosnell presided over.

Prior to the Gosnell case, President Obama was quite willing to involve himself in violent cases—especially when the cases involved African American children.  In the days following the death of Trayvon Martin, the teenager who was shot last year by a neighborhood watch captain in a gated community in Florida, President Obama told a gathering of reporters in the Rose Garden that “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” And, in a speech last month that addressed youth violence in Chicago, First Lady Michelle Obama compared herself to Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl murdered there: “Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her.”

Read more at Crisis Magazine.

A Cardinal Boycotts Boston College

By Dr. Anne Hendershott, Professor of Sociology at Franciscan University of Steubenville

At Boston College’s commencement ceremony on Monday, Cardinal Sean O’Malley won’t be in attendance. The leader of the Boston archdiocese announced on May 10 that he would not deliver his traditional graduation benediction at the Catholic school because the college had invited Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny—a supporter of abortion rights in Ireland—to deliver the graduation address and receive an honorary degree.

The cardinal said the invitation has caused “confusion, disappointment and harm” by ignoring the U.S. bishops “who have asked that Catholic institutions not honor government officials or politicians who promote abortion with their laws and policies.”

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

Superhero films: a search for moral greatness

By Emily Stimpson

What movies such as “Iron Man” and “Spider-Man” say about our culture and about human nature

(An Interview with Dr. Jonathan Sanford, Professor of Philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville)

With summer just around the corner, there’s already buzz about what this season’s blockbuster films will be. At the top of the list of sure-fire hits are the superhero movies: “Iron Man 3” hits theaters May 3; “Man of Steel” (Superman) will be released June 14; and “The Wolverine” comes to the big screen July 26. It’s clear Hollywood has found success in showcasing movie heroes who fly. Or scale tall buildings. Or wield mystical hammers. Basically, they fill the screen with super-powered heroes, then watch the money flow in.

Why is that? Why do films like these never fail to attract moviegoers of all ages, sexes and socioeconomic demographics? What explains our culture’s perennial love of superheroes, a love that only has seemed to grow in recent years with the popularity of the latest Batman trilogy, the Iron Man films and even television series such as “Smallville”?

Read more at Our Sunday Visitor.


Mass Evangelization

Sharing faith with the Eucharist

Within the first few weeks of his papacy, Pope Francis won widespread praise for his emphasis on “a poor church” that is “for the poor.” His warm and casual disposition, personal simplicity and tender outreach to “the poorest, the weakest, the least important,” as he expressed it in the homily at his inauguration Mass, may prove to be a defining feature of his papacy.

It is undoubtedly true that Pope Francis’ personal style is distinct from that of his immediate predecessors. How could it not be so? Inevitably each pope has his own personality, context and point of emphasis. But what is equally true is that the content and purpose of Francis’ outreach are in clear continuity with the legacy of the Second Vatican Council and especially Blessed John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI; the new pope’s outreach is an embodiment of the new evangelization.

Read more at America.


Memo to Lady Gaga: “Born This Way” Doesn’t Mean “Act This Way”

It remains unclear whether sexual orientation is genetically determined. Even if it is, that doesn’t justify advocacy for same-sex marriage.

A growing laissez-faire libertarian attitude toward social issues among Americans is arguably the most important weapon available to same-sex marriage advocates. Certainly there are LGBT militants with unwavering commitment to the issue, but the vast majority of those who “support” same-sex marriage can hardly be said to support anything. They just have a hard time saying no. They much prefer the sanitary hands off approach—let them live out their sexuality as long as I don’t have to get involved.

Read more at Public Discourse.


The Right to Redefine Marriage?

The main argument proposed by those seeking to redefine marriage so that same-sex couples can be legally declared married is that homosexual persons are being unjustly denied a fundamental right. Everyone has a fundamental right to marry — the argument goes — but homosexuals are denied this right.

But this argument simply begs the question; it presupposes a particular — and false — answer to the question: What is marriage? A right to marry does not give people the right to compel everyone else to treat an entirely different kind of relationship they might have as if it were marriage.

The Causes of Violence in America

The airwaves and the opinion columns continue to discuss the terrible December 14 school massacre in Connecticut and have brought us additional stories of senseless multiple murders in places like Oregon and western New York. Much of the discussion is now focusing on renewed calls for more gun control. As I go on to say, there are certainly some serious public policy issues that must be debated. There are, however, other deeper questions that are being raised by a few commentators, but are unlikely to receive much attention in the media generally—even though they represent the crux of the problem.

Within a couple days of the Connecticut massacre, the secular left raised their predictable demand for gun control. While most people would have thought that respect for the dead—even more so because most of them were children—and their families would have inhibited political commentary and clamoring for legislation so soon, the left was not deterred. It seemed to be another situation of not letting a crisis go to waste; it was a prime opportunity to promote an ideological and policy agenda. To its credit, the major organizational opponent of gun control, the National Rifle Association, held its tongue for a week before stepping up to call for armed security guards in all public schools. Even then, it seemed reluctant to get a full-scale debate going that soon after the tragedy by refusing to answer media questions at its press conference.

Read more at Crisis Magazine.

Say No to Physician Assisted Suicide

Howard Ball’s lead essay on this issue is clear and helpful. Yet I think the term “Physician Assisted Death” is evasive and euphemistic. Physicians have for centuries helped patients to die—that is, to endure the process that ends in their death. The question is whether physicians should help them kill themselves—and whether the law should allow physicians to do so. Thus I will use the term Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS). This raises a moral question (Is PAS morally right?), and a legal question (Should PAS be against the law?).

Read more at Cato Unbound.

The Ethical Use of Supervision to Facilitate the Integration of Spirituality in Social Work Practice

By Dr. Jerry Jo Gilham, Associate Professor of Social Work at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

This article appears in Social Work and Christianity, vol. 39, no. 3 (Fall 2012).

Since the 1980s, the social work profession has experienced a renewed interest in spirituality and religion (Canda & Furman, 1999). The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics mandates that social workers obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of diversity and oppression with respect to religion (NASW, 2008). Current Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) standards require schools of social work to demonstrate their commitment to diversity throughout their curriculum. Furthermore, graduates must demonstrate competence in engaging diversity and difference in practice (CSWE, 2008).

Continue Reading.

Priest treks across U.S. on pro-life pilgrimage

By Emily Stimpson.

Father Dan Pattee spent his summer spreading Gospel of Life and witnessing firsthand the devastation of abortion.

Rising at dawn and offering Mass is nothing out of the ordinary for any priest. Walking 30-plus miles after the Mass, across America’s highways and byways with a bunch of college students, however, is a little less ordinary — unless you’re Father Dan Pattee.

In the summer of 2012, Father Pattee, a professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, teamed up with Crossroads for the second time (the first was in 2007), and walked across America, from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., on a pro-life pilgrimage.

Read more at Our Sunday Visitor.

The Year of Faith: The Bible, the Eucharist, and the New Evangelization

A biblical theologian and Franciscan University professor discusses the recently-begun Year of Faith.

The new evangelization was never meant to be a short-term project.  That much should have been clear to anyone paying attention to Pope John Paul II in 1983.

That year, while addressing the Latin American Bishops’ Conference in Haiti, the Pope called for the Church universal to embark on a new evangelization of the post-Christian West.  He didn’t, however, simply call for a new evangelization: He also laid out a timeline.

Read more at Franciscan Way.

The Mondale Act and Its Aftermath: An Overview of Forty Years of American Law, Public Policy, and Governmental Response to Child Abuse and Neglect

A chapter discussing U.S. laws regarding child abuse, from Child Abuse, Family Rights, and the Child Protective System: A Critical Analysis from Law, Ethics, and Catholic Social Teaching, edited by Dr. Krason.

Public policy in the United States on child abuse and neglect and the formation of what we now call the child protective system (CPS)—which this article argues has been deeply troublesome—was shaped by a landmark piece of legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon in 1974 called the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), or the “Mondale Act” (after its prime sponsor, Senator and later Vice President Walter F. Mondale). The Act made federal funds available to the states for child abuse prevention and research programs on the condition that they passed laws which mandated the following: reporting by certain professionals (such as physicians) of even suspected cases of child abuse and neglect; the setting up of specialized child protective agencies, usually housed within state and corresponding county public social service or child welfare agencies, to deal with abuse and neglect; the granting of complete immunity from criminal prosecution or civil liability for the mandated reporters and CPS investigators regardless of their actions and even if the allegations are grossly erroneous; the insuring of confidentiality of records and proceedings in each case; and the providing for appointment of a guardian ad litem in judicial proceedings for children alleged to have been abused or neglected. Effectively, CAPTA transformed public policy with respect to child abuse and neglect by means of a new federal grant-in-aid program to the states, the way in which public policy in so many different areas from the early twentieth century onward has been reshaped. CAPTA’s mandates encompassed all kinds of known and suspected child maltreatment, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and psychological and emotional maltreatment. CAPTA never defined these terms, however, and there has not been and is not today any widely accepted definition of them even among professionals working in the field. (As we shall also see, the problem of definition has been a major reason for an ongoing explosion of false abuse/neglect reports.) CAPTA further required the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (later Health and Human Services) to establish a National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect to act as “a clearinghouse for the development of information and dissemination of information about child protective research and programs.” The center, initially headed by noted child abuse expert Douglas J. Besharov (later, as we shall see, he became a major critic of current child abuse/neglect policies), used most of its funding for research and training grants to individuals and for special grants to the states. Although the latter comprised only about 20% of the available funds, it emerged as the most important part of the statute for the future of child abuse/neglect enforcement in the U.S.

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America’s “Parchment Regime”: The Original Character of the American Democratic Republic and the Culture Supporting It

A chapter on the origins of America’s governmental system from Dr. Krason’s 2012 book, The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic.

We hear it said often that the practice of something does not measure up to the theory behind it. This is the case with political orders as with other types of entities, as well as with individual persons.

In Federalist 10, James Madison says that in “a pure democracy…there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention…and as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” With such an utterly unflattering assessment by the main author of the Constitution, one wonders how we might be able to refer to the United States as a democratic republic? Martin Diamond, Winston Mills Fisk, and Herbert Garfinkel, in their book entitled The Democratic Republic, say that the U.S. is “democratic”—in the representative, not pure, sense—because it features majority rule, and is “republican” because it was intended to demonstrate such characteristics as restraint, sobriety, competence, and liberty. There was intended to be majority rule, to be sure, but within the context of preserving minority rights; that is, the minority could not be suppressed or its liberty destroyed. As Diamond, et al. say, our Constitution is “faithful to the spirit and form of democracy…[but] guards against its dangerous propensities.” The latter are not just the tyranny referred to by Madison, but also folly, feebleness, and ineptitude. It seeks to “reconcile the advantages of democracy with the sobering qualities of republicanism,” and “to render a democratic regime compatible with the protection of liberty and the requisites of competent government.” The consent of the governed, then, is at the heart of the American political order, but its force is mitigated by the restraints of representative institutions, the rule of law, and social, cultural, and moral influences. This insures that the majority’s will not only is not abusive, but also that the common good of the political order will be promoted.

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Papal Teachings on the Family, the State, and the Social Question: A Summary

A chapter on Papal social teaching from Dr. Krason’s 2009 book, The Public Order and the Sacred Order: Contemporary Issues, Catholic Social Thought, and the Western and American Traditions.

This chapter summarizes the main elements of Catholic social teaching, as derived primarily from the papal social encyclicals. These elements provide one of the main criteria by which we go on to approach and evaluate the different public questions we take up later in this book. The elements fall basically into five categories: the family, the obligations owed to human life, the role of the state, the “social question” (involving the moral issues concerning economic activity and the relationship between capital and labor and the taking care of the welfare of the needy), and the “international question” (relations among nations, war and peace, and human rights). The limits of this chapter do not permit a detailed examination of all the social encyclicals. Instead, the major ones of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries⎯-from the time of the earliest social encyclicals in the latter half of the nineteenth century⎯-are focused on. The summarization of the social teachings, then, will come mostly from the following encyclicals: Rerum Novarum (The Condition of Labor) (1891), Quadragesimo Anno (Reconstructing the Social Order) (1931), Divini Redemptoris (Atheistic Communism) (1937), Mater et Magistra (Christianity and Social Progress) (1961), Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) (1963), Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples) (1967), Laborem Exercens (On Human Work) (1981), Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (The Social Concern of the Church) (1987), and Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year) (1991). Other Church documents, encyclicals, and secondary source materials will also be referred to at different points in the summary.

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HHS Mandate: Unjust (as well as Illegal)

To recap two major problems with the HHS mandate: it restricts the natural right of religious freedom and imposes a false view of religion.

In addition to being illegal by violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (see Ed Whelan’s posts at National Review Online about this starting here), the Health and Human Services contraception mandate is unjust for at least two reasons: it infringes the natural right of all citizens to freedom of conscience and religion (see Melissa Moschella’s Public Discourse article); and it attempts to impose on society a false—overly restrictive—definition of what religion actually is (see Gerard Bradley’s Public Discourse article). Here I want to sum up and defend these two crucial points.

First, on the right to religious freedom. The rightful authority of the political community is limited: it does not extend to every aspect of human life. We form political community only to promote the public good, that is: to protect natural rights, and to promote ends that serve all within society, and can effectively and appropriately be pursued by the political community (as opposed to ends—such as the adoption of a particular religion—that can best be pursued only by individuals, families, and voluntary associations). The protection of natural rights—grounded in genuine human goods or aspects of human flourishing—is an essential component of the public good, and part of what citizens consent to when they consent to the political community.

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The Case Against Pro-Life Physicians

Franciscan University biology professor Dr. Daniel Kuebler says the bias against pro-life medical students begins with the first interview for medical school.

Imagine yourself, a senior in college, sitting in the middle of your dream medical-school interview. Because you have done your homework, the interview is going exceedingly well. You seem to have established a rapport with the interviewer, and your answers are crisp, clear and intelligent. It’s going so well that you are starting to feel confident regarding your chances of gaining admission.

That is, until the interviewer hits you with this question: “Suppose a young pregnant woman and her boyfriend come to you seeking an abortion. What would you do?”

What would you do? How would you answer? For pro-life medical-school candidates, there is only one answer: You counsel the couple not to have an abortion. The problem is that, in some cases, this answer could ruin the candidate’s chance of admission.

It is routine for medical-school admission interviews to include open-ended questions on ethical issues. Primarily, these questions are included in the process to see if students can articulate clearly and defend adequately their thoughts on complex issues. If this were the sole reason for their inclusion, questions about abortion and abortion access could play a legitimate role in the interview process. But that is often not the intent of such questions.


Obamacare Overreaches on HHS Mandate

 A Catholic biologist weighs in on what is wrong about one aspect of the federal healthcare mandate.

It’s an understatement to say that the Obama administration’s announcement that it will require all health-care plans to include free coverage for contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs (abortifacients) and sterilizations did not go over as smoothly as planned.

While the new rule is similar to provisions already in place in 28 states, the administration distinguished itself by failing to include an adequate religious exemption.

As a result, Catholic charities, colleges and hospitals will be required to provide services that violate their religious beliefs.

The lack of a real religious exemption triggered a wave of backlash that appeared to catch the administration by surprise.

Opposition from many religious circles was to be expected, but the fact that publications such as USA Today and The Washington Post came out in opposition to the lack of a religious exemption could not have been anticipated.

Caught in a firestorm of controversy, the Obama administration tried to wordsmith its way out of the mess.


The Authority of Mystery: The Biblical Theology of Benedict XVI

Close study of the body of his writings suggest that, had Professor Ratzinger been left alone to pursue his scholarly interests and ambitions, his achievements would have rivaled or surpassed those of the greatest Catholic theologians of the last century.  

Never before in the history of the Catholic Church has a world-class biblical theologian been elevated to the papacy.  The election of Pope Benedict XVI, on April 19, 2005, brought to the Chair of St. Peter one of the world’s finest theological minds, a public intellectual long engaged in dialogue over the crucial issues of the modern period, especially the relationship between freedom and truth.

The former Joseph Ratzinger was a young academic theologian with a very bright future when, in 1977, he was chosen to be archbishop of the historic Bavarian diocese of Munich and Freising.  At the  time, he expressly identified a continuity between his scholarly work and his new service in the hierarchy of the Church, taking for his episcopal motto a biblical expression: “cooperators in the truth.”


First Comes Love: The Family Spirit (appendix)

Those interested in what Dr. Hahn has written about the Holy Spirit may read an online version of the revised and expanded chapter from First Comes Love (pp.152-174), including Sources and References (pp. 201-213).

The Church is our mother, and for that we should rejoice. Moreover, Jesus Christ has given us His own mother, Mary, to be our mother, too. Praise God for that—because if He has given us His mother as our own, He will surely deny us nothing! It almost seems an understatement to say He has not left us orphans. His gifts surely surpass all of mankind’s expectations for salvation.

Yet there is something penultimate in these gifts of motherhood. Great as they are, they point to a still greater gift that our Lord wants to give us.  Like all the good things of creation and the people and events in the Bible, these instance of holy motherhood are real, and we experience them powerfully, but God intended them to direct us to something still greater, something more real, something heavenly, eternal, and divine.  God intends for us to contemplate the biblical types and other creaturely images until we arrive at their uncreated origons. That, after all, is what creation is for, and that’s what revelation is for. It’s also what motherhood is for.

Read more at, reprinted with the kind permission of Doubleday Random House.

For the Sake of Our Salvation: The Truth and Humility of God’s Word

Though rarely stated in these terms, the Christian vision of the Bible must be determined by Christ’s vision of the Bible.

Christian tradition has always seen a close relationship between the pages of Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ. Both are designated the Word of God because both participate in the mystery of God revealing himself and his will in human form.  Scripture is the Word inspired; Christ is the Word incarnate. In the former, the divine Word is expressed in human language; in the latter, the divine Word is enfleshed in human nature. The two mysteries are interpenetrating and mutually illuminating.

The implications of this analogy may be drawn out in different ways. Most obviously, the doctrine of inspiration is akin to the doctrine of the incarnation because it entails a historical manifestation of the Word in a divine-and-human form. Further contemplation reveals that the inerrancy of Scripture is a parallel reflection of the sinlessness of Christ, for both are immune to the privations of truth and love which we call error. So too, on a hermeneutical level, the inspired Word must be read in a way that takes full account of its interconnectedness with the incarnate Word.  This is to say that biblical exegesis must investigate the historical meaning of Scripture as well as its theological meaning, the two being properties of its human and divine dimensions respectively.


Temple Sign and Sacrament: Towards a New Perspective on the Gospel of John

In this article, Dr. Hahn explores how the Gospel of John envisions Christ fulfillment of the Jerusalem Temple and its festivals through the sacraments celebrated by the power of the Spirit, especially the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist.

The significance of the Jerusalem Temple in John’s Gospel has been the subject of a large number of monographs in the last decade.  As a result of this work, scholars now generally accept not only that the Temple is a central theme in the Fourth Gospel, but that John is advancing what might be characterized as a “Temple christology”—that is, John wishes to show how the Temple and its liturgy find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, especially in his death and resurrection.

However, if our interpretation of John stops with that scholarly consensus—that John portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of the Temple—we are left with an apparently disconcerting situation; for, since Christ is now ascended, our Temple must be gone. And if this is true, the Church’s situation would be not unlike that of Judaism after 70 A.D. and the destruction of the Temple.  But John’s Temple Christology is not conceived so narrowly as to limit it to Christ’s immediate person and earthly ministry. Rather, the evangelist insists that Jesus’ ministry continues in and through the intermediaries of the Spirit and the apostles.


Cultic Kingdoms in Conflict: Liturgy and Empire in the Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel sheds a surprisingly contemporary light on political theology and Church-state issues.

Interest in political theology and the relationship between Church and state, and between religious faith and secular society have grown in recent years—in part in response to the challenge posed by militant expressions of Islam, the ongoing suffering of believers under atheist communist regimes, and the increasingly aggressive secularism of nations of the West. The theological issues being raised are as significant: What is the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the regimes of this world?  How are believers to live in times and places when the expression of their faith is outlawed, discriminated against or discouraged?  How should believers respond when the state commands the unconscionable?