Saturday, February 9, 2013

The 3 P.M. Phone Call

On the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, American embassies and missions throughout the Middle East and Africa were attacked. In Cairo, capital of what was once the key American ally in the Arab/Islamic world, a mob stormed the embassy, sovereign territory of the United States, tore down the American flag and hoisted the pirate banner of Al Queda. Shortly thereafter, another Islamic mob committed the same breach of sovereignty in Yemen, again replacing the Stars and Stripes with a black pennant praising Allah.

And, of course, in Benghazi, Libya, the American mission and another installation came under a sustained military siege that lasted approximately seven hours. Four Americans--our ambassador, Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, a foreign service officer, and Tryone Woods and Glen Doherty, the ambassador's security men and former Navy SEALs, died during the battle.

The Battle of Benghazi began around 9:40 p.m. local time--twenty minutes to four in the afternoon in Washington. Once, there were questions as to President Obama's ability to handle the "3 a.m. phone call." After the testimony this week of outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Gen. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we know now that the president was not prepared to answer the "3 p.m." phone call.

For we now know from these men, in sworn testimony, that President Obama personally did absolutely nothing while American property and lives were destroyed across the Middle East in a riot of celebration marking the anniversary of Islamic terrorism's greatest victory.

In considering the shocking, almost incredible, testimony of Panetta and Mullen, it is worth first noting the scope and ferocity of the Benghazi assault. It commenced with scores of armed men descending upon the American mission from all sides, firing AK-47 rifles and tossing grenades. They used jerrycans of diesel fuel to set the facility ablaze, trapping the ambassador and others behind a wall of flames.

From the first moments of the assault, as the mission sought to protect itself and acquire aid, the State Department in Washington was aware of the crisis.

A CIA team, located in a nearby annex, came to the rescue of the mission. The CIA men were able to evacuate the mission, though they could not find Ambassador Stevens amidst the flames. They spirited the survivors back to the annex. As they drove from the mission to the annex, the CIA vehicle came under heavy fire and made it back only with two flat tires. They reached the annex around 1 am local time, more than three hours after the assault commenced.

The Americans were holed up in the annex for another three hours, taking fire from time to time throughout the wee hours of the morning.  Eventually, a small security force arrived from Tripoli to assist in evacuating the annex. At about four in the morning local time, just as the group hoped to depart, the annex came under heavy military assault. Mortars landed directly upon the building, killing Woods and Doherty who were manning machine guns on the roof.

Finally, approximately seven hours after the attack on the mission began, the survivors escaped to the airport and safety.

Now juxtapose the account of the prolonged horror of Benghazi with that of President Obama's response to the attacks. During those seven hours, President Obama spoke with Leon Panetta and Mike Mullen once, for a half-hour, as part of a pre-scheduled meeting that took place more than an hour after the attack began. Contrary to comments the president made in the weeks after the attack, he issued no formal orders. In fact, he gave no specific direction to the Defense Department at all.  Neither Panetta nor Mullen spoke to president again and never spoke with Sec. of State Clinton. Panetta testified that he assumed the president's chief of staff was keeping the president abreast of developments.

The Panetta testimony is almost unbelievable. To credit the testimony is to accept that the highest levels of the United States government, the leadership of the world's most powerful nation, were inert, listless, incompetent and unmoved in the face of raging, prolonged attacks on its sovereign property and the lives of citizens who were in its service.

To accept the testimony is to accept that the president, the commander in chief, was either uninterested in the crisis, or a cowardly Pontius Pilate, or some combination of both. Regardless, Panetta's testimony unarguably paints a portrait of man guilty of gross negligence, a man who failed to discharge his most fundamental duties to the best of his ability.

To paraphrase Hillary Clinton in the midst of her greatest theatrics since the vast right wing conspiracy act, why, at this point, does any of this matter? It matters greatly, as a moral principle and for its practical effects.

The practical consequences of the president's inaction and weakness are obvious and present glad tidings to both terrorists and enemy governments. If the president does nothing in the face of mob attacks, what is he expected to do in the face of Iranian determination to acquire a nuclear weapon? Why should Al Queda or Hamas or Hezbollah hesitate to attack American citizens or property anywhere in the world? The United States has a president who doesn't even bother to amble down to the Situation Room while mobs kill his ambassador and rampage through American territory.

But greater than any practical concern, grave as they are, is the moral failure of the president and the United States government. It is simply morally unacceptable for the president of the United States to absent himself from his duties as Barack Obama did. The government is not designed to act in these most serious moments without leadership from the president; without his direction and care, the ship of state cannot set a course and keep it. It is his duty to command; he shirked this obligation.

In the aftermath of the attacks, the president compounded his failures by his obfuscation and the lies of his Administration regarding the genesis of the assault. To this day, not a single person has been arrested or captured in connection with the attacks of September 11, 2012, rendering the president's day-after rhetoric on justice for the killers the mere empty talk of a man determined to arrive timely at his next union fundraiser.  

President Obama failed Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues not because he failed to save them that night, but because he did not use every power at his disposal to try to save them. He has failed them by his dishonesty in his refusal to take responsibility for the lack of security that led up to their deaths and his lack of interest in bringing their murderers to justice.

And in failing Stevens and Smith and Woods and Doherty, President Obama fails the test of the presidency. His dereliction of duty is an intolerable failure of the trust of the American people.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On New Year's Day, a Radical Faith for a Suffering World

As we begin 2013 this New Year’s Day, Solemn Feast of Mary, Mother of God, we look back upon a preceding year that, if nothing else, sadly reminded us of the evil and suffering that is abroad in the world. The mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, just before Christmas, senseless violence that took the lives of 20 small school children, shocked the country as no event has in the post-September 11th era.
The sadness that follows on the Newtown shooting, and the many other tragedies and outrages that have befallen us just in the last decade, force society to once more confront the ancient “problem of evil”—how could these events happen? If there is a God, why does he allow such things to occur? And what can be done about them?

Perhaps more so than in ages past, the modern world struggles to answer, or even approach, these questions. We are a rationalist and publically secular society. When confronted with a Newtown or Columbine, we turn almost immediately to various experts for answers. Experts on gun control—and so we argue about the wisdom and efficacy of laws that restrict access to firearms. Experts on mental health—and so we examine the need for better psychological treatments, commitment laws and the brand of mental defect that might explain the killer’s actions.
All of this is understandable and reasonable, to a degree. But these types of responses do not probe the ultimate question: why do these things occur and why must certain people, for no reason at all, undergo such profound suffering?

For those without faith, these random acts of violence and nihilism serve to confirm that there cannot be a God, and certainly not a good and loving one. The denial of God has a powerful appeal to the rationalist modern mind. Logic seems to hold that a loving and all-powerful God who cares for His Creation could never permit, for example, the random and horrific death of school children. Because we crave the “proveable”, this sort of thinking appears to offer a somewhat verifiable answer: evil acts demonstrate the absence of God.

The denial of God, however, is no answer. With the denial of God, one begs the question of whether the “evil act” may even be properly described as “evil.” For without a good and loving God who commanded “Thou shalt not kill”, it is not at all clear why murder—even the murder of innocent children—constitutes the moral outrage that we instinctively assign to it. The invocation of deistic or atheistic responses essentially confirms the nihilism of the evil it seeks to explain; it leads only to the conclusion that there are no conclusions.

For the faithful, the existence of evil poses perhaps the greatest and most longstanding challenge to Christianity. It is entirely true that the faithful man, like the doubter, cannot wholly and completely explain evil—why God allows it and why it visits some more than others. In fact, in this materialist and rationalist modern world, even the faithful often overlook the profound answer Christianity offers, opting instead for the vague comforts of religious traditions.

Yet, when fully embraced, it is the Christian world-view that gives the most coherent response to the problem of evil, suffering and death. In sum, the Christian answer is a radical faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Christian does not proffer a “comprehensive answer” in the sense the term would be used by the secular world. Christ’s Cross does not wholly explain why we suffer evil. Rather, the Cross instructs us that suffering and evil are a foundational reality of the created world, an essential aspect of human existence.

For Christ Himself, son of God, suffered in the most dramatic and horrific manner one might imagine. While we often focus on the excruciating physical pain He endured, the physical agony alone does not constitute the entirety of His suffering. Christ also suffered evil and unjust human actions against His person. He suffered betrayal at the hands of a close friend and follower. He suffered the caprice of the mob, senselessly denouncing him. He suffered under a callous and corrupt government that signed his death warrant as a matter of expediency with no finding of guilt.

So in the Passion and Death of Christ, the faithful are called to accept the reality of suffering in this life. We can speculate as to why God allows evil and pain—the price of man’s free will, for example—but in the Passion and in the Cross, we can know that suffering is fundamental to our human existence because the most truly human person who ever lived, Jesus Christ, endured suffering resulting from the evil acts of his fellow men. This is the lot of man, and in the suffering of His Son, God acknowledges this difficult truth of our condition in the most stark and dramatic way.

Yet it is not the entire reality. Christ’s Resurrection is as much of a part of the fundamental reality of our existence as is our suffering. And the Resurrection is not merely an event that happened to Christ, who returned to life after a death wrought by evil and filled with pain. Rather, it is the destiny offered to each person who suffers in this life loss, pain, grief and death. The Resurrection is the promise of eternal life.

And eternal life is the great equalizer. We all die. Some die with the awful notoriety of the children of Sandy Hook and the victims of September 11, 2001. Less noticed, by no less brutal, are the deaths of those who perish by accidents, fires, “routine murders” and disease each day. Others at last succumb to death in peace at an advanced age. There is no way to know the particular fate that awaits any particular individual. Neither wealth, nor power, nor righteousness, nor innocence, nor even age, is a guarantee of a prolonged or happy life.

But beyond death, however it may come, is the Resurrection and eternal life with God. The routes taken to this ultimate end are different, but we are all called to this terminus and, therefore, the way in which we meet God finally becomes unimportant. Eternal life makes sense of, and brings meaning to, any death.

This is a great and fearful thought. It causes us to admit that we having nothing approaching absolute control over our own lives. Faith does not offer us a shield against suffering, pain and death. It could happen to you, as they say.

But Faith offers us not only its sister virtue, Hope, but also intelligibility for our existence. Many generations of Catholic school children were taught by rote this simple but profound formulation of the meaning of life: “I was made to know and to love and to serve God in this life and to be happy with Him in the next.” The children of Sandy Hook, in their own ways, knew and loved and served God. This is evident in the light and joy that they brought to their families, who so dolefully mourn their passing. Now, fulfilling their very purpose, they are happy with God in eternal life, taking their place among the saints and their spiritual mother, the Queen of Heaven. Someday, she will wipe the tears from the eyes of their parents, as they are reunited at last and forever with their children in Paradise.

Can we believe this? It takes mere observation to know that there is suffering and evil in this world. But can we believe that such pain is not the end; that the same wonderful destiny awaits each son and daughter of God, just as Christ promised?

This we cannot prove, and such matters do not belong to the rationalist world. Still, for the Christian, this is the ultimate truth about our existence and, without it, there cannot be much, if any, truth in the world at all.

But to truly believe it requires the radical Faith of the Gospel. Among the several themes of Christ’s ministry perhaps none is of greater significance than the call to a radical Faith. That is, total trust in God. Faith the size of mustard seed can move a mountain; Faith allows you to walk to the Lord upon the water; Faith that knows that a mere word from the lips of Christ can heal—he need not enter under your roof. Get up, go home, your Faith has saved you!

The radical Faith of the Gospel teaches us to fear God, not man. It teaches us that God Himself suffered for us and with us, so our pain has meaning because it is form of unity with the Lord. And death, whenever and however it may visit us, is the gateway to life eternal.

This is the point and purpose of our life. If we can accept and embrace this truth, a truth of a different nature than that which we can grasp by reason or science, a truth that can be at odds with our own personal desires, we can make sense of even the most lachrymose happenings in this veil of tears.

It is this truth alone that enables us to say: Happy New Year

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Shoot First, Don't Ask Questions Later

"And I -- you know, Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that. That, you know, it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts. And that you've thought through the ramifications before you make 'em."
                                                                                               --President Obama

Well, well. President Obama was quick to join with his partisans in the media and the establishment
hand-wringers 10 days ago to decry a statement from Mitt Romney in which the governor dared to suggest that the Obama Administration was disastrously and pathetically apologizing for America in the face of terrorist murders.

With his common pomposity, Obama informed us that Romney didn't speak with all the "facts", where as he, foreign policy wise man and steady-handed president, would be far more judicious. Now it was never clear exactly how Romney's statement constituted a gaffe, other than that it was one of the first statements to truthfully describe the Administration's response to the Middle East riots. Of course, for the media, whatever Romney says or does is some form of a "gaffe."

But, oh, the irony. For the man who wanted "to make sure that the statements" given "are backed up by the facts" has spent these last days with his Administration spewing wild and absurd falsehoods about the nature of the attacks on our embassies and our citizens.

Whoops! It seems that the attacks were not the spontaneous combustion of a few deranged nuts, as the Obama Administration prolifically claimed, but planned terrorist acts of war that resulted in two separate battles in Libya, the first destroying our embassy and the second a firefight at a compromised "safe house" in Benghazi. Four Americans, including our heroic ambassador, are dead.

Yet, by the lights of Jay Carney, Susan Rice & company, for more than a week, the "facts" showed that these were the unplanned actions of a small mob, inflamed by a video, that got carried away. Then the "facts" changed--radically. According to the White House spokesman, the "facts" became "self-evident", like the truths of the Declaration of Independence. Suddenly,it was obvious that the murders were the result of planned terrorism.

But can you believe Mitt Romney! Shoot from the hip! Not ready for "prime time"!

Funny how certain "facts" about terrorism have never been of much interest to the president. As Steve Hayes aptly points out in the Weekly Standard, the denial of Islamic terrorism is a running theme of the Obama Administration. The president "shot first and aimed later" when he told the American people that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas "Underwear Bomber", was a lone wolf. Not so--he was an agent of Al Quada and an Islamic terrorist.

The Administration said the same of the man who tried to blow-up a car in Times Square in 2010, only to once more later admit that the would-be bomber was agent of the Taliban. They moved heaven and earth to cast doubt upon the motives of Major Hassan, the Allah-praising, Al-Quada-corresponding man who murdered 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood.

So, the truth is that Obama doesn't like the "facts" about Islamic terrorism and has routinely  and dangerously ignored them. The president and his acolytes, including Hillary Clinton, live in a bubble reality of preening moral vanity. For them, it is critical to appear at all times tolerant and open towards groups whom they imagine suffer some form of discrimination at the hands of their moral inferiors. This is the foundation of the morality of the Left--to show how good one is by fighting on the side of a group that prejudiced society loathes. In this bazaar world of moral equivalency, the murders of American citizens and officials should be condemned in the same breath and with the same force as insults to Islam.

Obama is a disastrous foreign policy president. It is apparent that he believed that the death of Osama Bin Laden would inoculate him against any criticism in this regard. He sadly and typically took perhaps the one substantive achievement of his tenure and reduced it to an arrow in the quiver of his relentless propagandists. He has used it as a smoke-screen to obscure his actual foreign "policy"--that is if one can divine a "policy" other than apology, retreat, rear-end kissing and sundry windbag empty denunciations of Russia or Syria. Consider that Obama is first man in history to announce the date for the end of a war in the midst of that war, a war to which he committed men to fight and die for a purpose in which he purports to believe.

Maybe next time Obama gives us a lecture on the facts, someone will bother to check the facts. But with Obama and the media, it's likely to be "Shoot first, don't ask questions later."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Where is the President?

As the Middle East burns, President Obama has only briefly interrupted his campaign and fundraising schedule to make perfunctory remarks regarding the crisis. Where is the president? Will we hear an address like this?

Good evening. I address you tonight during a period of tremendous unrest and violence across the Middle East. As you know, American embassies in a dozen countries have come under continuous assault. In Libya, a mob of Islamic extremists killed our ambassador, Navy SEALS and an American civilian. In Tunis, the mob ripped down our flag and replaced it with the black flag of Al Queda. In Cairo, words in praise of Osama Bin Laden were spray-painted onto our embassy.

Tonight, I speak both to you, my fellow citizens, and to those in the Middle East who would attack sovereign American property and threaten American lives.

As I speak, special teams of United States Marines are on their way to defend our installations in nations across the Middle East. I wish to make clear that the United States will not brook further violence to its property or its citizens. Those who would cause such harm should now know that they will not only reckon with the security forces of their own country, but with the Unites States Marines.

I have authorized the Marines to take whatever steps are necessary to protect and defend American territory and lives.

The Unites States has no wish to restrict the ability of any person to voice his opinion in protest of an offense to his religious beliefs, real or perceived. However, we will not tolerate rampaging mobs attacking our property and our citizens. In short, we do not care where, what or how you protest, so long as you do so in a way that does not threaten American territory or the lives of American citizens.

In addition, I wish to firmly state to the world that the United States will not permit the Iranian government to acquire even the capability to make a nuclear weapon. This country and its allies have been exceedingly patient with the regime in Tehran. Yet the regime has thwarted any and all good faith efforts to compromise on this grave matter.

As such, negotiations are at an impasse and they are finished. The United States will take whatever steps it deems necessary, at the time of its choosing, to protect its interests against a nuclear Iran. And this nation will stand with, and defend, its ally Israel against any Iranian aggression.

The people of the United States do not desire conflict with any nation. Rather, we wish to live in peace and to accord to the peoples of other nations the same precious God-given rights that we here enjoy--including the rights to free speech, public assembly and religious freedom. We do not wish to take any human life, and we respect the dignity of all persons created in the image and likeness of God. In the words so many Americans hold sacred, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."

Yet, it is also written "Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword." Those who wish to live by the sword should not mistake our desire for peace as a refusal to act in defense of our interests, our sovereign property and lives of our citizens. We will discharge our duty to our people and our allies without hesitation.

So let us stand united and resolved tonight, praying for peace, but warning those who would do us harm that they will suffer a grievous consequence for acts of violence.

God Bless you and our country.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Romney Responsible for U.S. Olympic Team's Chinese-Made Uniforms

Washington--President Obama's re-election team today questioned whether Mitt Romney is responsible for the fact that the uniforms of the U.S Olympic athletes for the upcoming London games were manufactured in China.

"Mitt Romney ran an Olympics and he's touted his experience at the Olympics as a reason he's qualified to be president. He was also involved in a business that may have invested in companies that make clothing. So it fair to ask if Gov. Romney had anything to do with outsourcing the U.S. team uniforms to China," said Obama advisor David Axelrod. "How do the American people know that he wasn't involved?"

Romney denied the allegations and there is no evidence to suggest his involvement in the decision to manufacture the uniforms in China. However, because the charge comes from the Obama campaign, it is ipso facto a serious matter that many wish to see investigated to the fullest extent possible.

Despite the longest period since the Great Depression of sustained 8-plus percent unemployment, record budget deficits, record government debt and near-flat economic growth, the presidential campaign has been dominated by key issues of Romney's character, leaving him on the defensive, unnamed experts say.

Press accounts have focused on whether Gov. Romney once picked on a classmate in high school, his wife's hobby of horseback riding and the precise date on which he resigned from his firm, Bain Capital.

Now comes the charge that Romney outsourced the Olympic uniforms. "This is an issue that could really hurt Romney," said one analyst who asked that his name be withheld because he loves Obama. "People just hear Romney and outsourcing. It really doesn't matter if its true. He's on the defensive." The source went on to add, "As I said, Romney is on the defensive. Please make sure to use that term in the story."

In related news, the president announced Friday that he was illegally gutting welfare reform, before flying off at taxpayer expense to give a major speech on the Olympic uniforms at a factory in Ohio.

Monday, May 28, 2012

All the Illogic That's Fit to Print

Let's try this one more time for the logicians at the New York Times editorial page:

On Sunday, the Times attacked Catholic dioceses and organizations for commencing lawsuits to the challenge the unconstitutional restriction on religious liberty embodied in the Obamacare contraception/abortafacient insurance coverage mandate.

The Times describes the legal action as "a pure partisan play. The real threat to religious liberty comes from the effort to impose one church's doctrine on everyone" (My emphasis).

Now let us attempt to look at this statement as a matter of logic and language as it might be explained to a fifth grade class.

The Catholic Church runs an organization--say a hospital. It employs people to work at the hospital in all sorts of jobs. The hospital offers the jobs, each with a certain description and level of responsibility. The hospital also sets the pay level for the jobs it offers, as well as the benefits provided to those who fill those positions.

Perhaps the hospital pays certain people more than others based upon seniority or job responsibility level. It may offer a health plan that provides insurance coverage for some services, but not others. Perhaps the plan offers dental insurance, but not coverage for eyeglasses. Perhaps there are co-payments for some kinds of doctor visits, but not others.

The hospital, of course, makes these decisions based upon the labor market for particular jobs, its economic interests and financial abilities, as well as a host of other concerns the institution may have from time to time.

A person who wishes to work for the hospital will accept the pay and benefits package, or perhaps try to negotiate better terms. If the hospital and the prospective employee cannot agree on terms of responsibility, hours, pay and benefits, the prospective employee will not take the job--he will try to work elsewhere.

This is the way in which things called private businesses and private labor markets generally function. As a rule, not every citizen in the country works for the same private business, so, as a rule, pay and benefit packages vary based upon the employer for whom one works and the kind of job one holds.

Now these circumstances were considered pedestrian--the basic way in which a market economy functions--until a few months ago when Mr. Government Official discovered that certain forms of insurance were deeply unjust.

Government Official, who knows what is fair and right for the entire society, meets the private business that is the Catholic hospital. Government Official doesn't like the hospital's health plan--you see, Government Official says that the people working for the hospital, through their own free will, must have a different health plan--one that Government Official says is superior.

But, protests the hospital, we don't cover eyeglasses because it's too expensive. "Too bad!" commands Government Official. "I know what's best for all of society. And the right to eyeglass insurance coverage is a basic right. Stop trying to impose your anti-eyeglass prejudice on everyone else."

But, protests the hospital, we don't cover contraception or drugs that cause abortions because we morally object to such products. "Stop imposing your morality on everyone else," says Government Official, echoed by his enablers at the Times. "We told you everyone has to have the same plan according to our command. If you refuse us, you are imposing your morality on society because you will not allow us to impose our morality on you! Get it?"

So there you have it. By objecting to a blanket fiat of the government, imposed upon all employers, the Catholic hospital is imposing its "doctrine" on others, including those person who freely work from the hospital in return for agreed-upon compensation. 

This opinion is truly pitiable, born of such completely corrupted logic, Orwellian language abuse and barely-latent distaste for Catholicism that, in truth, it makes basic dialogue with the Times and its fellow Leftists nearly impossible. One can merely observe that this intellectual bankruptcy is the inevitable result of an investment in the defense of the indefensible.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Georgetown, You Broke my Heart

Of all the controversial invitations from Catholic universities to speakers and honorees in recent years, none has ever been more outrageous, upsetting and mired in rank hypocrisy than Georgetown's invitation to Kathleen Sebelius to participate in part of its commencement exercises this coming Friday.

At the moment, the bishops of the Church in America are engaged in their most significant public political battle in memory. The episcopacy has rightly refused to accept the intrusion into the prerogatives of the Church and the attack on general religious liberty embodied in the Obamacare-based mandate that requires Catholic institutions to provide to their employees health insurance covering birth control and abortion-inducing drugs, free of charge, in contravention of the Church's teachings and moral precepts.

The author of the mandate is, of course, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Now, as the leadership of the Church girds for an unprecedented legal and political fight, the nation's oldest Catholic university gives a place of honor to the very person who is legally responsible for the policy to which the Church's authentic teachers of faith and morals have so vociferously objected.

This is not to say that everyone who works or studies at Georgetown is compelled to accept the bishops' position or to oppose Obamacare. It is to say, however, that, as a Catholic institution, Georgetown is morally bound to show a modicum of solidarity with the episcopal leadership, morally bound to show some minimal deference to the position of the Church's leaders on an issue so critical to them. In order to show such solidarity and deference, Georgetown needed only avoid making  an egregious frontal assault--is it so hard simply not to invite Kathleen Sebelius to campus?

The invitation to Sebelius was a deliberate provocation. It manifests a deep lack of respect for the Church and a sensational lack of humility.

Moreover, there are few persons in this country less worthy of celebration by a Catholic institution than Kathleen Sebelius. The cornerstone of her public life has been the promotion of abortion on demand, an act that the Church teaches is evil, a mortal sin. As governor of Kansas, she was a patron and protector of the notorious Dr. George Tiller, a man committed to the barbaric practice of late-term abortion. No one is closer or more committed to the agenda of Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby than Sebelius. "Abortion rights" is the issue that defines her.

And here is where the hypocrisy of Georgetown becomes so appalling. When Congressman Paul Ryan visited the campus several weeks ago to speak about his proposed federal budget, there was bedlam. Students protested his mere appearance (he was not honored). Ninety faculty members condemned Ryan's budget as an affront to Catholic social teaching because of the supposedly draconian cuts to the welfare state Ryan allegedly proposes. Father Thomas Reese, SJ decried Ryan's plan as contrary to the Gospel itself.

Last I checked, the right to be born forms a critical component of Catholic social teaching. Yet now, according to reports, only nine of Georgetown's 1,500 faculty members, and only three of the 55 Jesuits on campus, have uttered a peep in protest of the Sebelius invitation. Apparently, Fr. Reese believes Medicaid block grants are a sin; late-term abortion seems less of a concern.

Outside of my family, perhaps no group has influenced my life more than the Society of Jesus. My encounter with the Society in high school literally changed my life; through the Grace of God, the Jesuits gave me my faith. I've always had disagreements with members of the Society, but I have always loved it, too, for its history, mission and its affect on my personal life. My oldest child's middle name is Ignatius in homage to the Society and its founder.

And so it breaks my heart to see the Society of Jesus standby by while one of its most ancient American foundations commits this grave error. Tonight, as we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord and then Pentecost, I pray for the Society of Jesus and its sons.

"Lord, send down your Spirit and renew the face of the Earth!"