The western legal tradition owes its existence in large part to the Catholic Church

Catholicism’s impact on Western law is considerable. It was the medieval development of canon law that retrieved, transformed, and then represented the long-forgotten Justinian Code of the Roman Empire to emerging European polities in dire need of good juridical models. Specifically, the emergence of ecclesiastical courts after Pope Gregory VII prompted civil courts to imitate and eventually supersede them.

This imitation can be seen in several areas, beginning with the very idea of the rule of law. Although this principle may be found in ancient civilization, it was reintroduced to the West thanks to the medieval Church. Catholicism’s belief, for instance, in the reassuring rationality of a divine Logos was instrumental in weaning Europe’s barbarian tribes off of such practices as trials by ordeal.

Catholicism is also discernible in the Anglo-American common law tradition. As John C. H. Wu observes, while “the Roman law was a deathbed convert to Christianity, the common law was a cradle Christian.” It was this derivation that cultivated the notions of equity, intent, and liability in the West, just as it was the Catholic teaching on marriage that provided the foundations of modern contract law. And when the Catholic conscience confronted the evils of New World colonialism, it responded with the development of international law by 16th-century theologians like the Dominican Rev. Francisco de Vitoria.

The West has borrowed from Catholic patrimony in smaller areas as well. Take, for example, the judge’s black robes: The judicial gown hearkens back to clerical garb and the days when all law students, even laymen, dressed as clergy during their matriculation. In other parts of the world, such as Canada and Great Britain, the indebtedness to medieval church custom is even more conspicuous: The wig worn by justices and barristers in Commonwealth countries is a substitute for the skull cap worn by medieval clerics, and when a British magistrate sentences a guilty person to death, he is required to put on his black hat — in imitation of the priest, who was once required to wear his biretta when hearing confession. Even the term “clerk” is an abbreviation of “cleric.”

But perhaps the single most important contribution of Catholicism to Western law is the one that is so fundamental, it is the easiest of all to overlook: concern for the victim.
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Christ among the Haiti ruins

Archbishop of San Francisco once again sets Pelosi straight

In a recent interview with Eleanor Clift in Newsweek magazine (Dec. 21, 2009), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about her disagreements with the United States Catholic bishops concerning Church teaching. Speaker Pelosi replied, in part: “I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have the opportunity to exercise their free will.”

Embodied in that statement are some fundamental misconceptions about Catholic teaching on human freedom. These misconceptions are widespread both within the Catholic community and beyond. For this reason I believe it is important for me as Archbishop of San Francisco to make clear what the Catholic Church teaches about free will, conscience, and moral choice.

Catholic teaching on free will recognizes that God has given men and women the capacity to choose good or evil in their lives. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that the human person, endowed with freedom, is “an outstanding manifestation of the divine image.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 17) As the parable of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, makes so beautifully clear, God did not want humanity to be mere automatons, but to have the dignity of freedom, even recognizing that with that freedom comes the cost of many evil choices.

However, human freedom does not legitimate bad moral choices, nor does it justify a stance that all moral choices are good if they are free: “The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1740) Christian belief in human freedom recognizes that we are called but not compelled by God to choose constantly the values of the Gospel—faith, hope, love, mercy, justice, forgiveness, integrity and compassion.

It is entirely incompatible with Catholic teaching to conclude that our freedom of will justifies choices that are radically contrary to the Gospel—racism, infidelity, abortion, theft. Freedom of will is the capacity to act with moral responsibility; it is not the ability to determine arbitrarily what constitutes moral right.

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“If you want it Jesus, so do I.” Inspiring story of a young life (and death) dedicated to Christ

She doesn’t lose her luminous smile; holding hands with her parents, she faces extremely painful therapy and drags into that same Love everyone who comes near her.

After refusing morphine because it takes away her lucidity, she gives everything to the Church, the Diocese, the youth, those distant, the Movement, the missions… staying serene and strong, convinced that “embraced pain makes one free“. She repeated: “I have nothing left, but I still have my heart, and with that I can always love“.

Chiara lives her Christianity well, participating at daily mass, where she receives Jesus, whom she loves so much; with the reading of the Word of God and meditation. She often reflects upon Chiara Lubich’s words: “I’ll be a saint, if I’m a saint now”.

Ever since she was little, she had committed to “not give Jesus to her friends with words, but through behavior”.  All this is not easy; in fact sometimes she would say: “It is so hard to go against the current!” And to overcome every obstacle she says, «For you, Jesus!».

To those who visit her she expresses her ideals, always putting others first.  She shows a particular affection for “her” bishop, Mons. Livio Maritano; during their last, short, but intense meetings, a supernatural atmosphere embraces them:  in Love they become one; they are Church.  But her illness gets worse and the pain increases.  Not one complaint from her lips:  “If you want it Jesus, so do I”.

Chiara gets ready for the final meeting: “It is my Spouse who comes to visit” and she picks out her bridal dress, the songs and the prayers for her Mass; the service must be a feast.

Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist for the last time, she appears totally immersed in Him and she asks that they “recite that prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, send us a ray of your light from Heaven”.

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Is the Single Life a Vocation?

Here is the problem: “vocation,” in the sense the Church understands it, means “to give oneself completely.” The Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes says that man finds himself only through a sincere gift of himself. John Paul II, in Mulieris Dignitatem, speaks of the “spousal disposition of women.” We – women and men — were made to give ourselves, in love, to others. That’s where we find happiness.

Don’t singles give? Of course we do – often more than most. But vocation doesn’t mean “being a generous person.” It means giving our lives completely to another – either to a spouse in marriage or to God in consecrated virginity. And singleness doesn’t do that. In fact, the single state is defined by the lack of that gift. We are unattached, un-given.

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The Dictatorship of Relativism

In the modern political world, one can trace this construct of rebellion back to the French Revolution. Though Voltaire and his minions fancied themselves as intellectuals their rebellion against God (pretending He didn’t exist) became child’s play. Much like children sometimes exclude a child they don’t understand or wish to play with from their midst, so do the modern atheists. Because they can’t understand God’s vastness, they simply pretend He isn’t there. Adults generally don’t reward their children when they exclude others, but sadly the intelligentsia of the modern world (liberal religious included) often hangs on to the militant secularists every word.

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Why There is No “Gay Marriage” in the Catholic Church

Catholic Theology on Marriage

A legal and binding contract called “marriage” can be performed by a Notary Public or Justice of the Peace and this contract bestows certain rights and responsibilities on the parties who agree to the contract. According to the State, marriage is simply a legally binding contract. But the Church sees marriage differently, as a sacrament instituted by Christ, which may include but is not limited to the State’s definition of marriage.

According to the Catholic Church, marriage, as created by God, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman. It is a not only a legal contract; marriage is a sacrament, a sacred bonding between humankind and God. This sacrament is intended to bond one man to one woman because the holy Scriptures define it as such.

Bad vibes about the Pope’s upcoming trip to Scotland

Are the Scottish Catholic bishops putting enough effort into preparing for the Pope’s visit? Do some of them secretly wish he wasn’t heading north of the border?

That might seem a crazy suspicion to harbour, but I’m picking up some seriously bad vibes about certain Scottish bishops’ apathy and unpreparedness for the visit. “Basically, they can’t be bothered with it,” says a church source. “They want an easy life, and Benedict spells trouble for them.

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Terrorist who shot Pope John Paul II to get out of jail

Ali Agca will leave a high security Sincan prison in Ankara after serving a 29 year sentence in Italy and Turkey for the attack on John Paul II and the murder of a Turkish journalist.

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A society that masks ‘totalitarianism’ with ‘hope’ will destroy itself, warns Archbishop Burke

In our culture, “the law more and more dares to force those with the sacred trust of caring for the health of their brothers and sisters to violate the most sacred tenets of their consciences, and to force individuals and institutions to cooperate in egregious violations of the natural moral law,” he said. “In such a society, the administration of justice is no longer a participation in the justice of God, an obedient response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but a façade cloaking our own selfishness and refusal to give our lives for the sake of the good of all our brothers and sisters.”

“It is a society which is abandoning its Judeo-Christian foundations, the fundamental obedience to God’s law which safeguards the common good, and is embracing a totalitarianism which masks itself as the ‘hope,’ the ‘future,’ of our nation. Reason and faith teaches us that such a society can only produce violence and death and in the end destroy itself,” Archbishop Burke warned.

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Seen on the web: Plenty of blame to go around for abortion

“One must remember that problems within the Church laity have their roots in those within the clergy.

A crew of Jesuit intellectuals devised the “I’m personally opposed but” mantra which was picked up by the Kennedys and Mario Cuomo in the ’70’s and several years later in a speech at Fordham University, Chicago’s prelate and hierarchal prince, Joseph Bernadin minimized oppostion to pre-natal infanticide with his “Seamless garment” rationale (which was meant to defuse anti-abortion activity by New York’s John O’Connor.

This also gave a cover for Democratic Catholics who switched sides in droves to avail themselves of Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List Funding.

Here in Arizona, the Diocese’s then Legislative Liasion would lecture out raged pro-life legislators that they were no morally better since they opposed public welfare programs and progressive taxation.

Rome should clean up the problem at its source, but it seems that doctrinal discipline went out the window after 1958.”

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New York doctor works to deliver care consistent with Catholic values

By Beth Griffin
Catholic News Service

NEW YORK – “Catholic women in many communities feel they have no access to health care that is consistent with their values,” said the founding director of a new women’s medical center in midtown Manhattan that will provide “authentically Catholic” primary care, obstetrics, natural family planning and infertility treatment.

Dr. Anne Mielnik said Gianna – The Catholic Healthcare Center for Women is the first dedicated practice in New York and one of only a handful in the country to offer a combination of effective infertility treatment alternatives to morally objectionable assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization.

The facility, sponsored by St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, opened Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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Catholics Should be Upset CCHD Still Funding Pro-Abortion Organization

Only a few months ago, it was revealed that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development was funding organizations actively promoting abortion and same-sex marriage. As a result, several organizations were defunded, and the CCHD was declared back on track.

But with regard to at least one CCHD grantee, The San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP), that doesn’t appear to be the case. Last fall, Bellarmine Veritas Ministry caught SFOP receiving a $200,000 grant for a clinic offering both birth control and emergency contraception.

CCHD and the Archdiocese of San Francisco subsequently investigated SFOP and reaffirmed their support, adding their admiration for its initiatives toward creating a model program for universal health care.

American Life League, in coalition with Reform CCHD, then took a closer look at these insurance initiatives — Healthy San Francisco and Healthy Kids. Both programs heavily promote and provide funding for abortion, birth control, and comprehensive sex education. (For evidence, see p. 42 of San Francisco Health Plan, the Healthy San Francisco mailer, the Healthy Kids Web site, and the recent investigation by Bellarmine Veritas Ministries.)

During a public hearing, the California Catholic Conference stated its full support for Healthy Kids, in spite of the fact that “family planning” services, including contraception and elective abortion, are being offered to young people in San Francisco with this program. The lone opposition to Healthy Kids was the California Right to Life Committee, which argued, “Teenage girls will be brought into government-funded programs promoting birth control and abortion services without parental consent.”

The continuing support of SFOP by the CCHD has serious implications. First of all, Bishop Roger Morin — the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the CCHD — was simply incorrect when he called Reform CCHD Now’s accusations “untrue” and “outrageous.” Clear cases of inappropriate funding were discovered, and that funding was removed. The San Francisco Organizing Project should be defunded as well.

CCHD says it thoroughly investigates each group that applies for funding and never funds a group in opposition to Church teaching. How, then, did SFOP remain in good standing, when it is responsible for programs like Healthy San Francisco and Healthy Kids? Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco also came out fully supporting the SFOP.

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March for Life and White House Protest Part of Pro-Life Events Marking Roe

Washington, DC ( — When the calendar reads January, the majority of Americans who consider themselves pro-life according to several 2009 polls can count on one thing. That’s the annual March for Life that sees hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates heading to the nation’s capital.

They gather for the event — which sees a 20-30-person-wide sea of people for block after block parading down the main streets of Washington — to mark their opposition to abortion.

Specifically, the event is a condemnation of the 1973 Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton that, together, ushered in an era of abortion on demand that has resulted in more than 50 million abortions and tens of millions of women injured physically and emotionally.

This year, for the first time ever, organizers of the March for Life also plan a White House protest.

They will hold a two-hour rally the night before the March for Life at Lafayette Park, across from the White House, in an attempt to show strong opposition to the pro-abortion record of President Barack Obama.

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NRLC Letter: Six Ways Senate Health Care Bill Results in Abortion Funding

Washington, DC ( — As Congressional Democrats work on merging the House and Senate versions of the government-run health care bill, a new letter from the National Right to Life Committee details six ways in which the Senate version mandates taxpayer funding of abortions.

The details are important because the Senate version of the legislation, especially when it comes to language concerning abortion, is expected to form the basis of the merged bill.

The letter to members of Congress comes at a time when pro-life groups are hoping to urge pro-life Democrats to hold fast against any final bill that includes abortion funding.

The NRLC letter says the “House-passed bill (H.R. 3962) and the Senate-passed bill (H.R. 3590) are far more divergent on abortion policy matters than one would understand on the basis of accounts in the news media.”

While the House bill contains the Stupak amendment to stop abortion funding, the Senate bill contains the Nelson-Reid deal that allows states to force taxpayers to finance abortions.

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Pro Life Protesters Shine the Light of Truth On Pa. Senator Casey’s Pro Abortion Votes

By Amy Worden


The protesters said they were with Washington, D.C.-based Insurrecta Nex, the group formerly known as Operation Rescue. Outside the Capitol building they accused Casey of selling out his constituents and his Catholic faith for supporting the health care bill and appropriations bills that they contended make funds available for abortions overseas.

“He votes the pro-abortion agenda,” said Suzanne Doller of Carlisle. “He’s a disgrace to his church.”

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Watch the video

Editor’s note: These brave protesters  from Insurrecta Nex should be commended for an extraordinarily “gutsy”, well planned, disciplined, well-reasoned public plea for life. The Senator obviously had no defense against the truth, and these brave souls spoke out clearly and forcefully for the truth of  the Catholic faith, as well as the truth of the Natural Law.

It’s this kind of public discourse that makes shady politicians cringe, and we need much more of it, if we ever hope to destroy the Culture of Death.

If you want to fax a letter to EVERY U.S. SENATOR OR HOUSE MEMBER, here are the links:

The Collapse of the Catholic Church in France

The IFOP Institute has just made a survey on Catholicism in France for the daily La Croix. The result is mind-blowing:

  • Whilst, in 1965, 81% of the French declared themselves as Catholics, they were no more than 64% in 2009.
  • More serious: whilst 27% of the French went to Mass once a week or more in 1965, they are no more than 4.5% in 2009.
  • At a doctrinal level, generally, it’s a catastrophe: 63% of practicing Catholics think all religions are the same; 75% ask for an “aggiornamento” of the Church on contraception and even 68% for abortion.
  • As for communion with the Roman Pontiff, the situation is no better: only 27% of practicing Catholics consider that Benedict XVI “rather well” defends “the values of Catholicism” (personally, I don’t even understand the question, but that doesn’t matter) when 34% think he defends them “rather badly”.

That’s the least we could say, that in view of the figures, it is urgent to change the strategy and reunite the living forces of French Catholicism to re-evangelise the former Eldest Daughter of the Church! To find all the survey data (in French): “La Croix“.

Read more in The Anglo-Catholic

Attacks in Malaysia designed to ‘annihilate’ Christians, warns Vatican official

Rome, Italy, Jan 11, 2010 / 12:59 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said last week that the recent attacks against Christians in Malaysia are designed to annihilate and reject “those who believe in Christ.”

The archbishop made his statements on Vatican Radio after Muslim extremists firebombed four Christian churches on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The attacks came after a controversy over whether to allow Catholics to use the term “Allah,” a traditional Malay word, in referring to the Christian God.

Archbishop Sarah also pointed out that “the fact that it has been forbidden to say the name of God is like considering them (Christians) to be pagans and therefore ‘in need’ of converting to Islam. That’s what is behind this,” he said.

“We must pray for these Christians who live in Muslim lands and suffer greatly,” the archbishop concluded.

New program increases altar server involvement in Mass by 500%

Boy altar server involvement in Mass increases 500% by making rules more demanding [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

By returning to more demanding altar server practices, two men were able to increase participation at their parish from 10 to 60.

“Altar serving at Holy Family allows boys to be more fully integrated into the Mass and gives them a chance to experience Christ’s sacrifice up close. Holy Family provides an environment that makes them feel welcome and necessary and is an excellent experience”. Carson Lind, 19 year old, 7 year veteran

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Pro-Life Attorney Bryan Brown Alleges Religious, Political Discrimination in Indiana

Indianapolis, IN ( — ArchAngel Institute Executive Director Bryan J. Brown recently filed a federal action against the Indiana Supreme Court and others alleging that he was subjected to unconstitutional processing through their application program due to his pro-life identity and adherence to Natural Law jurisprudence.

Brown, a Kansas licensed attorney in good standing since 1996, is also a member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court and was found of sufficient good moral character and mental fitness to be admitted to any state bar by the National Board of Law Examiners in 2006. Missouri invited Brown to sit for their bar exam in 2006.

The Supreme Court of Indiana, through its Board of Law Examiners, refused to acknowledge this National finding and instead ran Brown through a full mental health assessment, after which they denied him entrance in a five sentence order that cites no facts and cites no case law. Brown documents a troubling process fixated upon his religious, political and pro-life perspectives.

Brown notes that “it was clear through the processing of my case that the Indiana authorities were demanding that I recant from my allegiance to the Higher Laws concept that defines Christian political science. This I refused to do. For this faithful recalcitrance they have punished me in various and sundry ways, culminating in an order that I not even seek admission to the Indiana bar again until 2014, a full seven years from my previous petition.”