An interesting post on the rationality of evil

Dennis Prager , in this episode of his Prager University series of videos, takes on an ever popular heresy:  evil is irrational.  This heresy is popular for any number of reasons but doubtless it all boils down to the belief, completely unfounded in human experience, that reasonable people will agree on what is good and what is evil.  The experience of the last half century in the West should have knocked that bit of foolishness into a cocked hat.  Agreement on good and evil in practice is largely a matter of convention.   If the social norms of a people come under challenge, we quickly see apparently reasonable people disagreeing on such fundamental questions as whether an unborn child has a right to life, or whether sex outside of marriage is evil.

Concepts of good and evil are either based on revelation from God, or are matters of opinion to be argued about.  Fewer people in our society believe in revelation, hence good and evil become matters of opinion for debate.  When the debate is joined we often find that there is little agreement on goals and that therefore what is rational to each individual takes varying paths to differing goals.  Widespread disagreement on good and evil also causes the State to grow ever larger to enforce the version of good held by those in power in the State.

Text and video

An interesting article on law and justice, particularly as it applies to the Catholic Church

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Moses receiving the Ten Commandments

The Catholic understanding of law that dominated the Western world for approximately a millennium and a half differs radically from the concept of law that emerged around the time of the Enlightenment. In fact the Catholic understanding, albeit a less precise articulation of it, traces its origins to the pre-Christian ancient world.[1]

God created not only the visible, tangible universe but also created law. The eternal law which is the rational plan of God for the universe is the first created law. As one medieval commentator expressed it, “God is himself law and therefore law is dear to Him.”[2] God did not create an unruly cosmos but one permeated with this eternal law which directs all of creation to its appointed end.

The summit of visible creation is Man. He is graced with a nature that reflects the Divine Nature itself. Man is thus called to participate in the eternal law and thus participate in God’s governance of creation. Not only does God entrust Man with the task of naming visible creatures, he is called to participate in the formation and promulgation of the laws by which Man himself will be ruled and guided to his due end. Just as a name brings greater specificity to an entity, so too Man’s participation in law will involve the task of particularizing the precepts of the eternal law.

Through his intellect, the point of contact with the eternal law, Man has the ability to come to know the most general legal principles, the precepts of Natural Law. These precepts command and forbid actions which conform to and obstruct, respectively, the attainment of Man’s natural and supernatural ends. Yet, these precepts are framed in general and universal terms. As a result of the Fall, Man’s participation in this process is afflicted by the wounds of sin and thus God promulgated an additional law, the divine law, to aid Man in his acquisition of knowledge of the primary precepts of law.

The Decalogue is the prime example of the divine law which did not alter the moral status of the operations specified in its ten precepts but which merely provided revealed knowledge of these precepts. Thus revelation and reason together provide Man with a means of knowing the fundamental precepts of the law which rules the universe.

Yet, the precepts of natural and divine law remain general in their formulation. They require further specification to be useful in guiding particular human action. It is to this task that Man has received a Divine call to participate. Ecclesiastical and secular authorities are commissioned by God to determine more particular principles and precepts of the divine and natural law to guide with greater specificity human action.

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The divine institution of the natural law

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From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

II. THE VISIBLE WORLD

337 God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity and order. Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine “work”, concluded by the “rest” of the seventh day.204 On the subject of creation, the sacred text teaches the truths revealed by God for our salvation,205permitting us to “recognize the inner nature, the value and the ordering of the whole of creation to the praise of God.”206

338 Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. The world began when God’s word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun.207

339 Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection. For each one of the works of the “six days” it is said: “And God saw that it was good.” “By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws.”208 Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.

353     God willed the diversity of his creatures and their own particular goodness, their interdependence and their order. He destined all material creatures for the good of the human race. Man, and through him all creation, is destined for the glory of God.

354     Respect for laws inscribed in creation and the relations which derive from the nature of things is a principle of wisdom and a foundation for morality.

V. THE PROLIFERATION OF SIN

1865 Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root.

1866 Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices.138 They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.

1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,139 the sin of the Sodomites,140 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,141 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,142 injustice to the wage earner.143

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

– by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

– by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

– by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

– by protecting evil-doers.

1869 Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. “Structures of sin” are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a “social sin.”144

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The commencement speech President Obama should have delivered at Notre Dame

By Laurie Higgins, DSA Director –Illinois Family Institute

I can think of no more fitting way to conclude the school year than with excerpts from the retirement speech delivered by retiring Glenbrook North High School social studies teacher, James McPherrin, who is retiring after 33 years of teaching.

The words he expressed put to shame countless commencement speeches by celebrities who have little to offer students other than pedestrian cliches. It would behoove administrators, faculty, and students to hear Mr. McPherrin’s speech at the start and end of every school year.

Mr. McPherrin offers wisdom and erudition through eloquent prose that points those who have ears to hear toward truth:

St. Thomas More, the intrepid 16th century chancellor to King Henry VIII of England, once said, “When statesmen forsake their own private consciences for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.” Now, I would suggest that the very same quotation might be tailored so as to apply directly to teachers. It would read, “When teachers forsake their own private consciences for the sake of their public school duties, they lead their students by a short route to chaos.”

Thomas More was among the sterling individuals in the western intellectual tradition who understood well the necessary relationship between the natural law and the human law, and that circumstances often challenge us to acknowledge the rational demands the former places upon the latter. More, as we know, would later sacrifice his very life in defense of that compelling idea. In essence, dear colleagues, please consider that our cardinal duty as instructors of the young is to shepherd them in their journey towards truth.

Whether it be European History, English Lit, Calc, Phys Ed, or Music, our task is to foster in students a love for and desire to acknowledge what is true. If such a premise does not inspire our efforts, then I’m afraid they might well be for naught. Make it your purpose to ignite the element of intellectual longing that exists in all young people; that desire to know, that desire to bring order out of chaos. Give them that education to which the English writer, G.K. Chesterton, alluded, when he said, “Many are schooled, but few are educated.” There is a difference, and it would behoove us all to acknowledge it openly.

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While the general outlines of natural law are clear to the honest thinker, original sin tends to make us fuzzy about the details

Natural law is the moral code any rational person can deduce purely from reason. It is the “law written upon the human heart,” to which we can hold anyone, Christian or pagan. Consequently, in a state without an official church — in a place like America — natural law arguments are the appropriate ones to make to our fellow citizens. . . . It’s ironic that natural law is meant to be the language we use when speaking to non-believers, since it seems that nowadays only Catholics really believe in natural law — or that those who accept the latter end up becoming the former.

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Submitted by Doria2

Father John Trigilio: Civil law is not the supreme law.

The pope is the head of an independent and sovereign nation as well as head of the Roman Catholic Church. As the ruler of the Vatican City, he is subject to no other national laws anymore than the President of the United States would be subject to laws outside America. Even if there were no Vatican City or former Papal States, the pope is supreme head of the Church and his spiritual authority to teach and his supreme authority to govern the Church all over the world has no equal and no superior, save God Himself.

Democracies and republics work well for the common good and are much, much better than socialist, fascist or communist forms of government. Yet the world has seen both good and bad examples of monarchy throughout history, so we cannot infallibly say democratic republics are the only moral way to govern. If democracy was the perfect form, Jesus would have founded His Church with such a structure. He chose, rather, a hierarchical system, with the pope as head and the bishops to assist him. That is why we cannot fall into the trap of thinking all democratic-republic governments are impeccable. Slavery, segregation and abortion all took place within a democratic republic. In comparison, our current form of government works well and better than the alternatives.

Read more at Matt C. Abbott’s Column

Seen on the web: The U.S. Constitution and the political philosophy it implies is essentially a Catholic document, even though Protestants put it to paper.

Comments by conservative commentator
George Kocan (slightly edited):

    ‘As a former libertarian, I offer some comments. The Constitution and the political philosophy it implies is not a libertarian document. It is a Catholic document, even though, ironically, Protestants put it to paper. This assumes certain truths about the human condition. It assumes the active existence of original sin, a Catholic doctrine. It assumes that man was created in the image and likeness of God, a condition requiring respect from other men. It assumes the relevance of the moral law, which means the moral law exists and cannot be ignored by any government. (For example, the libertarian assumption that all economic activity is morally based on free exchange rather than fraud or violence is part of the moral law.)

    ‘One of the implications of the moral law is that homosexuality is immoral and that institutionalizing it in a legal union is absurd. That is to say, the government has no right to re-define marriage as it has no right to re-define a dog as an elephant. It means also that society, acting through the government, has an obligation to suppress blatant immorality, especially when it takes on the dimensions of a mass political movement.’

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Bishop Warns of “A systematic deconstruction of the structures of Marriage and Family.”

I-Today’s Challenges to Marriage and the Family

It is commonplace to qualify Western society of today as permissive. Effectively, in the matters of social mores, sexuality, and marriage, we are well within a permissive society where subjective or partial values are exalted, values that in reality are not experienced at an ethical level.  Among them, absolute individual liberty, well-being under its hedonistic form (the search for the greatest possible pleasure), or still the casting off of moral constraints; within the sphere of the affective life, only immediate emotion, affective well-being and physical desire are so considered to be constitutive of the nature of love.  A strict separation is worked between liberty and nature.  Eventually, this contributes to the destruction of the structural and foundational link between marriage and family.

a) A systematic deconstruction of the structures of Marriage and Family

We see today a total separation between the traditional and religious conception of Marriage and the so called new family model proposed by the post modern culture. Traditionally, there was no difference between what the civil authorities and the religious families understood about the concept of marriage. Till 30 or 40 years ago, when a man and a woman would come to the Mayor to be civilly married, they were asked to take the same vows a Christian couple does in a Christian marriage. They promised each other fidelity, and manifested their openness to welcome eventual fruits of their love; and naturally marriage was fundamentally understood as the union between a man and a woman. The only difference was the Christian education the Christian couple commit had to give to their Children.

It is important to note that the Church never changed in this. Still today she requires the same from the engaged couple who come to the parish to receive the sacrament of Marriage. The Church with all the due preparations assures the spouses of her support and acceptance as a new couple in the Christian community and helps them in building a better family. In all this, the Church remains perfectly relevant and consistent. She has always recognized the fact that the family is founded upon a contractual commitment between a man and a woman called marriage, an institution inscribed in the nature of man: a fact that even the entire body of legislations accepted until several decades ago.

On the contrary we can say that a systematic deconstruction of the institution of Marriage and Family is at the fore; to wit, in some countries, marriage does not mean anymore the union between man and a woman but “between persons”. How is this possible? Simply by denying the existence of two different ways of being human, masculine and feminine; and sexual difference is reduced to a mere question of choice and culture. It is exactly what the ideology of the gender proposes. But where does this bring us?

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Church continues counter-attack on Mexican Supreme Court for allowing same-sex ‘marriages,’ adoptions by homosexuals; cardinal sued for his remarks

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 18, 2010 (CNA) — The Archdiocese of Mexico City has ripped the country’s Supreme Court for ruling to allow adoption by same-sex couples and warned that its members have become “accomplices of the psycho-emotional and moral tragedies that in the future may fall upon innocent children who are victims of this kind of adoption.”

In a statement signed by spokesman Fr. Hugo Valdemar, the archdiocese also noted that countless Christian families lament “the reckless, irresponsible and unjust decision” of the court, which issued its ruling on Monday “ignoring the international scientific studies against the adoption of children by same-sex couples.”

He said that some members of the court have gone to the extreme of acting against the natural law and against children. “All those responsible for their unfortunate decision which has now become law will have to answer to the Supreme Court of God, to their families and to history itself,” the priest warned.

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Homosexuality, birth control, academia, Catholicism … and the natural law.


It all started this past May with an email composed by an undergraduate student in “Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought,” a course offered in the Religious Studies department at the University of Illinois. The student forwarded to the department chair an email the class had received from the instructor, Catholic theologian Kenneth Howell, discussing the relative merits of utilitarianism and Natural Law in assessing the morality of homosexuality.

Howell’s letter, reprinted here, explained why Catholic Natural Law doctrine maintained that sexuality must not be separated from procreation, and did bleed into some preachiness. Howell argued that because anatomical differences between men and women were part of the “real” world, sexual morality ought not be governed by utilitarian ethics but by the “inherent meaning” of the act.

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Editor’s note: This is a pretty comprehensive report of what happened at the University of Illinois, and of the various philosophies that have come into play there, regarding the Howell affair.

It appears that Professor Howell accurately explained Catholic doctrine, in response to an email request from a student. Taken within the context of the course work, there should have been no problem with that.

When Professor Howell’s email was (deliberately) taken out of context (by a third party … or parties) he quickly ran afoul of today’s overwhelmingly liberal academic establishment, along with the homosexual subculture, both of which are typically, unalterably opposed to anything (particularly the Catholic Church) that might stand in their way.

The age-old argument against homosexuality… based on the natural law … which … interpreted in light of Catholic tradition … serves as the logical basis for human morality … as well as most western concepts of law and justice … is simply unacceptable to those who wish to create a new order of things … in their own seriously disordered image … and so, in their eyes … it (and Howell) must be strongly opposed and hopefully, destroyed.

Margaret Sanger and the eventual wide-spread acceptance of artificial forms of birth control set the precedent for cultural paradigm shifts of this type, and the homosexuals (and their liberal supporters) hope to achieve nothing less.

What these radicals do not understand is that should they actually succeed, they will be attempting to legitimize their perverted and destructive behavior at the expense of the unalterable truth. Professor Howell pointed this out, and now he is suffering the consequences.

Should that sad day actually arrive, it would mark the end of civilization, as we presently know it … since the natural law is (and always has been) as fundamental to the smooth workings of society … as is gravity (and all the other various physical laws) to the smooth and proper functioning of the universe.

Ironically, Margaret Sanger’s perverted view of things, along with her explicit rejection of the natural law, proves this … since nothing that Sanger ever did, said, or promoted  … even when coupled with huge sums of money, provided through widespread government and private subsidies … ever served to accomplish anything other than making it legal for desperate, misguided people to (cheaply and efficiently) kill huge numbers of innocent human beings (mostly babies).

In short … ANYTHING that runs counter to the natural law MUST (by nature) be a lie or a falsehood … so it should be rejected.

Thanks to the widespread ignorance and/or rejection of the natural law in today’s society, the ideological linkage between the pro-death, pro-homosexual, anti-family and anti-church movements continues to become stronger and stronger. And that, my friends … is the type of CHANGE that Barack Obama (along with liberal Democrats, Republicans, academics and clergy) have been peddling, for lo, these many years!

Supreme Court Nominee Kagan and the Abandonment of Natural Law

Natural law theory is the conceptual backbone of the Western legal tradition. It guided the framers of the American Constitution. Despite what some imagine, it isn’t a doctrine of the Catholic Church, though Catholic thinkers were largely responsible for its elaboration for centuries. A thumbnail sketch of it might be along these lines:

Human rights and duties arise from human nature. The conceptualization of this body of principles expressing fundamental conditions for individual and communal human fulfillment (not instant gratification but longterm happiness) is called natural law. Manmade laws don’t create these rights and duties but are meant to express and defend them. When manmade law fails to do that-when rights and duties are products only of the ideological preferences of lawmakers-society is ruled by a curious mix of relativism and power politics.

Natural law theory began to pass out of favor well over a century ago under the influence, among others, of that eminent relativist Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935). Now, practically speaking, in elite law schools and generally on federal courts peopled by their alumni, it is as dead as the proverbial dodo.

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Feminism’s “Gendercide”

Feminism’s “Gendercide”
By Joseph Meaney

Wondrous news! The mainstream media and even the United Nations have “discovered” the 30 year old crisis of “missing girls.” The Economist (the recent edition entitled, “Gendercide”) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) came out with the “news” that over 100 million girls and women that should be alive are not.

The culprits are parents who want to have sons only and use sonograms to identify the sex of their child in the womb. The end result is millions of sex-selection abortions of unwanted girls every year.

Pro-lifers have denounced this “slaughter of Eve” in the strongest terms for some time now. It is undoubtedly the greatest campaign of deadly discrimination against women in history. Incredibly, with few exceptions, the problem of sex-selection abortion is steadily worsening in Asia and around the world!

Shockingly, The Economist’s recommended solution is more feminism: more propaganda from the same folks who brought you abortion, but this time directed toward somehow improving the public image of women and daughters. Basically, they are saying that a big PR blitz is needed to highlight the positive contributions of women to society.

Of course, any society that does not value female children or women in general, as much as men, is in serious need of a change of heart on the subject. Can anyone take seriously, however, the proposition that those who trumpet abortion as a paramount right of women are the best ones to lead us in recovering a sense of the dignity of womanhood?

The Economist points approvingly to modernization and societies which have abortion on demand but no sex-selection abortion crisis. Putting aside the fact they acknowledge that Chinese and Japanese-Americans are having recourse to sex-selection abortions, these same “progressive” societies have embraced myriad other assaults on female dignity: pornography, contraception, “sex education” which teaches the objectification of the human person, and so on.

If they are seriously proposing that the solution to the eradication of women in the developing world is a more complete embrace of the very ideology that has so obviously harmed women and men, then we must point out the absurdity of this view as many times as it takes to sink in.

Radical feminists willingly sacrifice the health and lives of mothers on the altar of abortion-on-demand. It is only one step further to stand by while unborn girls are killed for the “crime” of being female. Some “pro-choice” feminists are understandably uncomfortable with this, but they are trapped by their sinister ideology which affirms that no one can tell anyone else their “choice” to abort is wrong.

A turning point in my pro-life education regarding so-called “women’s rights” organizations came while attending a March 2007 meeting deep in the bowels of the United Nations headquarters in New York. South Korea’s government proposed that the full assembly of the UN Commission on the Status of Women adopt a resolution to condemn sex-selection abortion. The vast majority of international delegations were initially favorable to this proposal; then the feminists unleashed their fury.

The self-proclaimed “defenders of women” lobbied hard and successfully to have the European Union and others abandon preborn girls to their fate and kill the largely symbolic UN resolution. Their logic was essentially this: If we accept that some abortions must be stopped, then all abortions are in danger, and our goal is to spread, not limit, abortion.

The way to end sex-selection abortion is to convince the world of the truth about the human person. All children are created in the very image of God, and as such have profound dignity and a right to life regardless of what doctors, parents, society or the State “choose.” No PR campaign can compare with this Natural Law standard when it comes to protecting the lives of unborn girls.

The lie that these feminist hypocrites are defending women or girls must be exposed and denounced in the strongest possible ways. They are defending abortion, period. They are not part of the solution – they are part of the problem – and millions of girls’ (and boys’) lives are being snuffed out every year because of them.

Incoherent liberalism

If illegal aliens have rights, including the right to become citizens, it should be clear that the rights they are claiming here cannot be rights that flow to them through their citizenship. For they are emphatically not citizens. The people posting the ads on the bus, the immigrants earnestly asserting their “rights,” must be appealing then to some body of law quite apart from the positive laws, the laws that set forth the distinct rights that flow to citizens (such as the right to use the town library). Now what could that body of rights be if not – gasp! – a body of “natural rights”?

We insert the gasp because nothing has been more abhorrent to the Left in the academy or our politics in recent years that the notion of “natural rights.” As the line has gone these days, “natural rights” offer nothing more than an ideology to cover the patriarchal rule of white men. Natural rights imply an enduring human nature, but we know, they say, that “nature” is “socially-constructed” from one place to another, according to the vagaries of the local culture. Natural rights imply objective moral truths. But the Left claims to know that there are no moral truths that hold in all places, and so those “natural rights” are not truly rightful, you see.

This denial of moral truths has been critical to the Left in denying the ground on which the law may cast judgments, and impose restrictions, on those matters of personal freedom most dear to them: the right to sexual freedom and abortion. But stripped of the moral logic natural rights, that “right to abortion” becomes no more lofty than the right to use the squash courts at the Club. James Wilson, one of the most notable of the American Founders, raised the question: If we have natural rights, when do they begin? And his answer was: As soon as we begin to be. Which is why, he said, the law casts its protection over life “when the infant is first able to stir in the womb.”

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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.

The Natural law= bigotry? Please.

Baloney. What’s being retrofitted here is old-time anti-Catholic bigotry, tarted up in the guise of tolerance and extended to those who think there are moral truths built into the world and into us—truths that we can grasp by reason.

Ken Cuccinelli is a serious, practicing Catholic. He’s also a sophisticated politician who knows that you don’t argue public policy in the public square on the basis of uniquely Catholic theological premises. Rather, you make your arguments in a public vocabulary, accessible to all. That’s the grammar and vocabulary of the natural moral law: the basis on which Thomas Jefferson argued the case for American national independence, Martin Luther King, Jr., promoted the civil rights of African Americans, and John Paul II passionately and effectively defended the religious and political rights of all.

Was Jefferson a bigot when he staked America’s claim to independent nationhood on “self-evident” moral truths derived from “the laws of nature?” Was King a bigot when, in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” he argued that “an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law”? Was John Paul II a bigot when, at the United Nations in 1995, he suggested that the truths of the natural moral law—“the moral logic which is built into human life”—could serve as a universal “grammar” enabling genuinely cross-cultural dialogue? Please.

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A ‘cultural axis of evil’

rterry

“The child-killing movement and the ‘homosexual marriage’ movement have formed an unbreakable bond – a ‘cultural axis of evil’ – because they both spring from the same root: the rejection of God’s Law and Natural Law concerning human sexuality and procreation’.” – Randall Terry

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Pope Benedict sets Pelosi straight

.- House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s photo-op with Pope Benedict XVI turned sour when the Pontiff used the 15-minute meeting to reaffirm the teachings of the Catholic Church on the right to life and the duty to protect the unborn.

“His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”

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Background information from CNA