Monday, September 20, 2004

There Must be a God — Look at the Jews

by Steve Ray on September 20, 2004

In one hour Janet and I leave for the airport to fly to Israel where we will spend a week in Jerusalem — my favorite city in the world (with Rome a close second). I love Israel for many reasons but one is that it proves and confirms the existence of God. You don’t find Hittites, or Jebusites, or Amorites any more. But even without a homeland for almost 2,000 years, this wandering people has existed and not only existed but thrived. It is the promise of God fulfilled even 4,000 years later.

I found the article below very interesting — statistics about the Jews. So few in number yet so powerful in world affairs: media, business, finance, entertainment, etc. A persecuted race, decimated again and again for 20 centuries, yet they rise to the top no matter where you place them. God has gifted this people — the Jews — and to me it proves not only that he exists, but that he keeps his promises.

The Jerusalem Post, 09/14/04. On the eve of the Jewish new year, there are 13 million Jews living worldwide, including 5.2 million in Israel.

According to Jewish Agency figures, 5.6 million are living in North America, 1.2 million in Europe, 413,000 in the former Soviet Union, 401,000 in South America, 84,000 in Africa, 107,000 in Australia and New Zealand, and 19,000 in Asia.

Meanwhile, Israel’s 5.2 million Jews make up 81 percent of the country’s 6.8 million people, according to a Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) census published Tuesday.

Read on…

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It’s about Time to Vote — Vote, and Vote Well

by Steve Ray on September 20, 2004

A Voter’s Guide


Pro-choice candidates and church teaching.
See Catholic Answers Voters Guide at www.catholic.com

BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN J. MYERS
Friday, September 17, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

Amid today’s political jostling, Catholic citizens are wondering whether they can, in conscience, vote for candidates who support the legalized killing of human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages of development by abortion or in biomedical research.

Responding to requests to clarify the obligations of Catholics on this matter, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, under its prefect, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, released a statement called “On Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion.” Although it dealt primarily with the obligations of bishops to deny communion to Catholic politicians in certain circumstances, it included a short note at the end addressing whether Catholics could, in good conscience, vote for candidates who supported the taking of nascent human life in the womb or lab.

Cardinal Ratzinger stated that a “Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of a candidate’s permissive stand on abortion.” But the question of the moment is whether a Catholic may vote for a pro-abortion candidate for other reasons. The cardinal’s next sentence answered that question: A Catholic may vote for a pro-abortion Catholic politician only “in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

What are “proportionate reasons”? To consider that question, we must first repeat the teaching of the church: The direct killing of innocent human beings at any stage of development, including the embryonic and fetal, is homicidal, gravely sinful and always profoundly wrong. Then we must consider the scope of the evil of abortion today in our country. America suffers 1.3 million abortions each year–a tragedy of epic proportions. Moreover, many supporters of abortion propose making the situation even worse by creating a publicly funded industry in which tens of thousands of human lives are produced each year for the purpose of being “sacrificed” in biomedical research.

Thus for a Catholic citizen to vote for a candidate who supports abortion and embryo-destructive research, one of the following circumstances would have to obtain: either (a) both candidates would have to be in favor of embryo killing on roughly an equal scale or (b) the candidate with the superior position on abortion and embryo-destructive research would have to be a supporter of objective evils of a gravity and magnitude beyond that of 1.3 million yearly abortions plus the killing that would take place if public funds were made available for embryo-destructive research.

Frankly, it is hard to imagine circumstance (b) in a society such as ours. No candidate advocating the removal of legal protection against killing for any vulnerable group of innocent people other than unborn children would have a chance of winning a major office in our country. Even those who support the death penalty for first-degree murderers are not advocating policies that result in more than a million killings annually.

As Mother Teresa reminded us on all of her visits to the U.S., abortion tears at our national soul. It is a betrayal of our nation’s founding principle that recognizes all human beings as “created equal” and “endowed with unalienable rights.” What evil could be so grave and widespread as to constitute a “proportionate reason” to support candidates who would preserve and protect the abortion license and even extend it to publicly funded embryo-killing in our nation’s labs?

Certainly policies on welfare, national security, the war in Iraq, Social Security or taxes, taken singly or in any combination, do not provide a proportionate reason to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

Consider, for example, the war in Iraq. Although Pope John Paul II pleaded for an alternative to the use of military force to meet the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, he did not bind the conscience of Catholics to agree with his judgment on the matter, nor did he say that it would be morally wrong for Catholic soldiers to participate in the war. In line with the teaching of the catechism on “just war,” he recognized that a final judgment of prudence as to the necessity of military force rests with statesmen, not with ecclesiastical leaders. Catholics may, in good conscience, support the use of force in Iraq or oppose it.

Abortion and embryo-destructive research are different. They are intrinsic and grave evils; no Catholic may legitimately support them. In the context of contemporary American social life, abortion and embryo-destructive research are disproportionate evils. They are the gravest human rights abuses of our domestic politics and what slavery was to the time of Lincoln. Catholics are called by the Gospel of Life to protect the victims of these human rights abuses. They may not legitimately abandon the victims by supporting those who would further their victimization.

Archbishop Myers heads the archdiocese of Newark.

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Pope John Paul II Cultural Center

by Steve Ray on September 20, 2004

On Saturday we visited the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington DC. My wife and I took our daughter Emily and our grandson Dominic (18 months old). I had mixed emotions about the center. On the positive side I loved the Mountain of the Lord display with models of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, the Temple of Solomon and Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. We will use these in our next video/DVD David and Solomon: Expanding the Kingdom because pictures and models of Solomon’s Temple are rare.

On the other hand, I don’t usually like modern, cold architecture. I don’t know why architects can’t design beautiful buildings anymore and why they have to make them look random, stark, and unwelcoming. Maybe I am alone in thinking the Cultural Center is such a building but at least my wife seemed to agree with me. I was glad to find it warmer on the inside, better than what the outside promised.

There were some wonderful things inside but it was empty of people. Except for the store keepers and a few guards, we were the only ones walking through the cavernous rooms and hallways. It was a little strange, but around noon I noticed two other couples walking around. I was told that it is often full of people – receptions and such are held there. We enjoyed the hundreds of pictures and memorabilia of John Paul II and the room for little kids was nice. I could tell a lot of thought and work had gone into the center. The gift shop was too small for my liking since I love to wander among books and Catholic treasures.

I am glad that the Catholic Church is presented in such a grand way and I’m glad I visited, but I’m still not sure what to think of the place.

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