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  • The Magnanimity & Humility of St. Ignatius of Loyola

    via Catholic Exchange

    by P. Bracy Bersnak

    p bracy bersnakWhen Pope Francis, the first Jesuit to become pope, celebrated Mass for the feast of St. Mark last April, he used his homily to exhort the Church to proclaim the Gospel with magnanimity and humility.  He noted that St. Thomas Aquinas taught that magnanimity, or great-souledness, means doing great deeds and seeking great honors.  Humility, far from being opposed to magnanimity, serves to temper it, because humility makes us recognize the great gifts that God has given to others.  Speaking of the boldness of the apostles, the Holy Father said “they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord acted with them.  The Lord works with all those who preach the Gospel.  This is the magnanimity that a Christian should have.  A pusillanimous Christian is incomprehensible: this magnanimity is part of the Christian vocation: always more and more, more and more, more and more, onwards!”  Though the Holy Father was speaking of the apostles, but he might have had the example St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) and his early companions in the back of his mind.

    By his own account, St. Ignatius struggled with the temptation to vainglory throughout his life.  When a young Jesuit confided his difficulties with vainglory to Ignatius, by then old and wise in the ways of the spiritual life, Ignatius tried to encourage him by revealing that he too struggled with the vice.  This had the unintended effect of encouraging the young priest so much that he and some other Jesuits implored Ignatius to write down the story of his life so that they could benefit from its lessons.  That story shows Ignatius’s proneness to vainglory and, through the grace of God, his triumph over it.

    St. Thomas Aquinas said that the desire for glory is not bad in itself.  On the contrary, he said that it is not a sin to know and approve one’s own goodness, or to be willing to approve one’s own good works.  In fact, he cited Matthew 5:16 to prove his point: “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  But the vice of vainglory is opposed to magnanimity because it is the disordered desire for glory.

    The desire for glory can be vain in three ways, according to St. Thomas: first, when one seeks glory for that which is unworthy of glory; second, when one seeks glory from another whose judgment is not worthy to confer it; third, when one fails to refer one’s glory to a proper end, such as when one seeks glory solely for oneself rather than for the glory God or the spiritual benefit of one’s neighbor (Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 132, a. 1).

    St. Ignatius had a heart that longed to do great deeds.  The first chapter of his autobiography, dictated to the young Jesuit, ignatius of loyolaopens by confessing that “he was a man given to worldly vanities, and having a vain and overpowering desire to gain renown, he found special delight in the exercise of arms.”  Fighting for the Spanish cause against the French, Ignatius found himself in a fortress surrounded by a superior force.  Though they had little chance of holding out against a siege, Ignatius persuaded his comrades to resist less they lose honor by surrendering.  The result was that, not only were the Spaniards defeated, but Ignatius was hit by a cannonball that shattered his right leg.

    Nevertheless, the humiliation of defeat did not immediately cause Ignatius to mortify his vanity.  The doctors had to break his leg in order to reset the bone, but when it was eventually healed, the injured leg was shorter than the other and the bone stuck out in an unsightly manner.  Finding this physical imperfection intolerable, Ignatius ordered them to saw off the offending bump and reset the leg.  This caused him greater pain than the original wound, but he was determined that it would not prevent him from cutting a dashing figure in the prominent households of Spain.

    While he was convalescing at his family’s home, Ignatius imagined himself doing chivalrous deeds and winning worldly renown when he recovered.  But he found that at home they had none of the books of courtly romance that he enjoyed reading, only books on the lives of Christ and the saints.  Reading them, he imagined himself imitating the great deeds of the saints, especially those of Saints Francis and Dominic.  Eventually, he experienced a conversion, and repented of his worldly ways.  After much prayer and reflection, he resolved to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem when he was well again and perhaps enter a monastery when he returned.  Ignatius’s family was alarmed at these plans.  They were noble, well-connected at the Spanish court, and had placed great worldly hopes in him.  But he was drawn to religious life by the profound consolations he had received in prayer.  Instead of adding to his own honor, or that of his family, Ignatius was determined that his deeds would now redound to the glory of God.

    Ignatius did many noteworthy pious deeds, like giving his possessions away to the poor, and making his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which were heralded with all the more acclaim because of his privileged background.  But he strove mightily to conceal them from others so that fame for holiness would not tempt him to vainglory.

    Read More

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”— July 31, 2014

    Talking about the “things that matter most” on July 31

    Today’s show is a Best of Kresta. We rebroadcast our June 20 show from the Acton Institute.


    4:00 – Hope for the Inner City


    As Founder of the Freedom & Virtue Institute, Ismael Hernandez has been working to raise those in inner-city poverty out of their trap. Ismael is here to examine strategies to improve the socio-economic conditions of inner cities in North America. Fragile urban infrastructures are often vulnerable to patterns that impede human flourishing. He presents an alternate vision for personal and communal uplift based on local entrepreneurial initiative.


    5:00 – Infiltrated: How to Stop the Insiders and Activists Who Are Exploiting the Financial Crisis to Control Our Lives and Our Fortunes


    A new wave of financial reformers has infiltrated our public institutions at both the state and national levels. A growing army of self-proclaimed activists, philanthropists, and politicians has infiltrated not only the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but the FDIC, the Treasury, and other regulatory agencies. Jay Richards is here to reveal the shocking truth about the latest financial regulations, The Dodd-Frank Reform Act, Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, consumer credit and debt and the war against free enterprise. This startling account walks you through America’s government and financial industry from the inside out—exposing the surprising history, the colorful characters, and the earthshaking events that got us where we are today. 

  • To be ‘less Christian’: Amending Church Teaching Does Not Lead to More Converts

    via Our Sunday Visitor

    by Msgr. Owen F. Campion

    Msgr. Owen F. CampionRussell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, made a rather frank, and very true, statement recently: “There has always been the message out there that if only Christianity were less Christian, we’d be able to reach more people. It doesn’t work. Otherwise, we’d be seeing a booming Episcopal church.”

    Moore made these remarks as American institutional religions discuss the acceptance of same-sex marriage.

    Overwhelmingly, Southern Baptists oppose same-sex marriage, believing that their views proceed from the Scriptures, especially the Gospels. On the same principle, they oppose cohabitation outside marriage and condemn any form of adultery. They are also against abortion, but they tolerate artificial birth control.

    The point here is not Southern Baptists and their beliefs. It is the argument by many Catholics that if their own Church relaxed its moral requirements and encouraged people to do as they wished then multitudes would swarm to Catholicism.

    This demand comes when birth control enters the picture, or cohabitation, or even same-sex marriage. Check the history and example of the Episcopal Church. Once upon a time, the Episcopal Church was quite firm in its moral teachings, and they differed little from those of the Roman Catholic Church.

    For instance, in 1936 the British Empire was rocked by the romance between Britain’s King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced woman whose husbands were still alive.

    The majority of people opposed the king’s marriage to a divorced woman. The Anglican Church, as Episcopalianism is called worldwide, denounced his marriage, insisting that divorce cannot be recognized. Edward VIII abdicated under this pressure.

    The Anglicans’ rigid position began to change, however. The Anglican Church eventually officially condoned birth control — but only under certain restricted conditions. Then the conditions went away, too. The Anglican Church waffled on divorce. Now many Episcopalians accept same-sex marriage.

    As Moore indicated, the Episcopal Church is hardly seeing a surge in new converts. Just the opposite.

    Catholics who want radical change in their Church should think about the Episcopalians’ experience and that of other Protestant denominations, such as United Methodists, Presbyterians and Lutherans.

    Yet it cannot be argued that merely standing firm and resisting change assures any church of a strong constituency. Church leaders have relentlessly held to traditional beliefs in once solidly Catholic societies, such as Austria and France, and the numbers of members are in free-fall. Other “modernized” Christian religions throughout Western society also are drastically losing adherents.

    Christianity always has called upon believers to swim against the tide. In Christianity’s earliest times, this meant the likelihood of persecution. Martyrdom fills the pages of Catholic history, from the days of the Roman Empire until now.

    Today, in this country and across the Western world, persecution is more subtle. The police do not search Catholics out, but the culture enveloping everything increasingly is anti-Catholic and indeed anti-God.

    All of us drink in the culture without realizing it. Without thinking, it infects us. All too often, it “just makes sense,” as a practicing Catholic told me yesterday about cohabitation. “Everybody lives together! Why not?”

    This allurement is the Gospel’s enemy. It offers nothing permanently rewarding, and it prevents a full grasp of the peace, joy and hope that come with knowing the Lord.

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 30, 2014—Hour 1

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 30, 2014—Hour 1

    + Segment #1 of 3

    The Catholic Writer Today

    • Description: With more than 68 million members, the Catholic Church is by far the largest religious denomination in the US. Yet Catholic contribution to the fine arts is virtually nil. Why is good Catholic literature, film, music and art such a rarity? Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, joins us.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Reading and Writing an Icon

    • Description: Icons play an important role in the history and tradition of the Catholic Church. How is an icon created? Why are icons so important to the Church? Fr. Thomas Loya is with us to discuss.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Fr. Thomas Loya
        Pastor of Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Parish, host of two radio programs; “Light of the East” on EWTN and “A Body of Truth” on catholicradiointernational.com
      • Resources:

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Reading and Writing an Icon (continued)

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 30, 2014—Hour 2

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 30, 2014—Hour 2

    + Segment #1 of 3

    The State of the Church in America

    • Description: It is a time of challenge for the Catholic Church in America. New laws attempt to restrict religious freedom. An increasingly secular culture wants us to confine our faith to our household and never proclaim it in the public square. Despite the challenges, this is a great time to be a Catholic layperson in America. As the culture declines, the Church becomes more distinguished. It becomes easier and easier to differentiate between Church teaching and the teachings of the culture. Mark Brumely, the CEO of Ignatius Press, joins us to discuss the state of the Church in America.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty and Health

    • Description: When the HHS contraception mandate became public in early 2012, the US Bishops immediately came together to fight against it. They were joined by hundreds of Catholic groups to push back against this attack on religious freedom. Dr. Philip Muñoz from the University of Notre Dame is here to talk about it.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Dr. Philip Muñoz
        Tocqueville Associate Professor of Religion and Public Life in the Department of Political Science and Associate Professor of Law at University of Notre Dame, author of Religious Liberty and The American Supreme Court: The Essential Cases & Documents
      • Resources:

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty and Health (continued)

  • If It Looks Like a Duck: The Islamist-Nazi Connection

    via Crisis Magazine

    by William Kilpatrick

    William KilpatrickOne of the great advantages we have over our ancestors is hindsight. With a clearer picture of the past, we can avoid making the same mistakes they made. But what if we’re not allowed to use our hindsight? What if we’re forced to pretend that what happened in the past bears no relation to what is happening now?

    Of course, there’s something to be said for learning from your own mistakes, but some mistakes are so costly that it’s far better to learn about them in history books. The appeasement of the Nazis prior to World War II is an example of the kind of mistake the world can’t afford to repeat. Yet there’s much to suggest that we are engaged in a similar folly today. The rise of Islamism in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere is eerily reminiscent of the rise of Nazism in Europe eighty years ago. By now, anyone with a passing acquaintance with history should have had that hmm-this-rings-a-bell moment. Thanks to our exquisitely sensitive educational system, however, the ranks of those who “don’t know much about history” has swollen to vast proportions. And even those who do know their history know that there are certain comparisons you are not supposed to make—like the one that obtains between Nazis and Islamists. To do so would be offensive to Muslims and to all sorts of other people as well. In other words, it’s not permissible to have the kind of discussion that might help us to avoid the fate suffered by Europe under the Nazis.

    As a general rule, it’s best to avoid the Nazi analogy. Nazism represents a uniquely evil moment in history. Labeling every politician you disagree with as a Nazi only serves to dilute the singular horror of the original. Yet in the case of Islamists, the analogy is appropriate. The similarities between the two ideologies are too close to ignore. Moreover, as a point of historical fact, prominent Islamists worked closely with the Nazis during the Second World War. What’s more, even today many Muslims make no secret of their admiration for Hitler. It may be a stretch to call Senator so-and-so a Nazi for employing dirty campaign tricks, but it’s less of a reach to notice a Nazi resemblance when Islamists are so willing to paste a Charlie Chaplin mustache on their upper lip—when, for example, an upscale Turkish mall features posters of Hitler as part of the décor, or when Muslim mobs in Paris attack a synagogue full of Jews, or when prominent imams express a desire to bat cleanup for Hitler.

    Finish Hitler’s work? Islamic theologian and scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi has Amin al Husseini bei bosnischen SS-Freiwilligenvoiced just such a wish. In a 2009 statement, he called the Holocaust “a divine punishment” of Jews: “The last punishment was carried out by Hitler… Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.” Of course, Sheik Qaradawi does not represent the views of all Muslims on the matter. On the other hand, it would not be accurate to say he is out of the mainstream. Qaradawi has held numerous high academic positions in various Middle-Eastern universities; he is chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars; he has received eight international prizes for his contributions to Islamic scholarship; and he finished third in a 2008 poll to determine the world’s leading public intellectual. Qaradawi also plays well with the non-scholarly crowd. His popular “Shariah and Life” TV program reaches an estimated worldwide audience of sixty million. In many respects Sheik Qaradawi is Mister Mainstream.

    Qaradawi is a relative latecomer to the Hitler fan club, and not even the most prominent. While the Sheik is limited to reaching across the years to congratulate the Führer, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, had only to reach across the table. There is a photo of Hitler and Husseini seated knee-to-knee in Hitler’s private office in the Reich Chancellery in November, 1941. The probable topic of conversation?—the quickest way to eliminate the Jews. Speeding up the “Final Solution” was an obsession with Husseini, and he spent hours discussing the matter with the likes of Joachin von Ribbentrop, Heinrich Himmler, and Adolf Eichmann.

    The Mufti was no maverick Muslim. According to historians David Dalin and John Rothmann, “With the possible exception of King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, al-Husseini was the most eminent and influential Islamic leader in the Middle East.” (Icon of Evil, p. 5) And he was treated as such by the Nazis, who provided him with five residences and a monthly stipend of over $10,000. In return, al-Husseini recruited more than 100,000 Muslims to fight in the European division of the Waffen-SS.

    Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and a friend of Husseini, was also impressed with the Nazis, and during the war he worked to establish a formal alliance with Hitler and Mussolini. Moreover, under directions from al-Banna, the Brotherhood Intelligence Service shared information with the Germans on the movements of the British Army.

    Islamists and Nazis also shared an interest in anti-Semitic literature. According to Dalin and Rothmann:

    Mein Kampf … remains a perennial best-seller in several Islamic countries. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli soldiers discovered that many Egyptian prisoners carried small paperback editions of Mein Kampf, translated into Arabic… (Icon of Evil, p. 113)

    Like the Nazis, the Arabs also shared a firm belief in the authenticity of the viciously anti-Semitic tract The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The first of many Arabic editions was published in 1921. It has been a best-seller in Islamic capitals ever since and remains required reading in many Arab universities. King Faisal was so enamored of the book that he ordered all Saudi hotels to put a copy in every room—presumably right alongside the Gideon Koran.

    Unfortunately, the Muslim-Nazi connection is not just of historical interest. Islamists all over the world are acting more and more like Nazis.

    Read More

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 30, 2014

    Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on July 30, 2014

    4:00 – The Catholic Writer Today

     With more than 68 million members, the Catholic Church is by far the largest religious denomination in the US. Yet Catholic contribution to the fine arts is virtually nil. Why is good Catholic literature, film, music and art such a rarity? Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, joins us.

    4:20 – Reading and Writing an Icon

    Icons play an important role in the history and tradition of the Catholic Church. How is an icon created? Why are icons so important to the Church? Fr. Thomas Loya is with us to discuss.

    5:00 – The State of the Church in America

     It is a time of challenge for the Catholic Church in America. New laws attempt to restrict religious freedom. An increasingly secular culture wants us to confine our faith to our household and never proclaim it in the public square. Despite the challenges, this is a great time to be a Catholic layperson in America. As the culture declines, the Church becomes more distinguished. It becomes easier and easier to differentiate between Church teaching and the teachings of the culture. Mark Brumley, the CEO of Ignatius Press, joins us to discuss the state of the Church in America.  

    5:20 – Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty and Health

    When the HHS contraception mandate became public in early 2012, the US Bishops immediately came together to fight against it. They were joined by hundreds of Catholic groups to push back against this attack on religious freedom. Dr. Phillip Muñoz from the University of Notre Dame is here to talk about it.  

  • 50 Shades: Lookin’ for Love in the All the Wrong Places

    via the Catholic Wife

    by Kate Sciba

    So let’s talk about this, shall we?

    Kate ScibaThe theatrical release of Fifty Shades of Grey is February 14, 2015 – Valentine’s Day; which is ironic. A holiday traditionally associated with love and romance is the chosen debut for a film devoid of either in the genuine sense; but under this pretense, will undoubtedly lure millions of dollars from thousands of viewers in search of both. The movie is adapted from the book series aimed toward female readers, which became a “worldwide phenomenon” selling over 100 million copies; and despite outrage from a few critic groups, countless admit to having read it, while others keep that part of their libraries secret. The first book (and movie) focuses on a relationship agreed to be violently sexual with no romantic strings – no love. No intimacy. And it’s this fact that makes me wonder why millions are picking it up or eagerly anticipating the movie. It goes without saying that sex sells and 100% of readers will say it’s just entertainment; but what is it about this trilogy that keeps women turning page after page?

    My friend and fellow writer, Mary Walker, has joined me in this collaborative effort. After gathering insights from fans and opposers alike, we’ve realized that avid 50 Shades readers are drawn to and seeking truly good things, but because of the nature of the books or movie, their pursuits will remain unfulfilled. Our list is hardly exhaustive, but the few items we’ve developed come hand-in-hand with solutions.

    1) There’s a passion to emulate

    Categorized within the erotic romance genre of literature, or what others 50 shades of grey posterhave dubbed “mommy porn,” there is consent from both camps that 50 Shades is steamy reading; unfortunately, the steam here goes heavy on bondage-discipline-sadism-masochism, which is a far cry from the natural and spiritual ends of sexuality; and unfortunately many have unnecessarily turned to the novels for inspiration for spicing things up behind the bedroom door. Good news, girls – there are other options. But first – a few lines from the reliable C-C-C on what the whole point of sexuality is…

    2362 ”The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; [...].”145 Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:

    The Creator himself . . . established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.146

    2363 The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.

    This may come as a shock, but the Catholic Church itself asserts that sex is supposed to be fun, and can achieve its purpose (union and procreation) within marriage. It doesn’t have to get boring or hit a rut, but the act itself calls for mutual respect and trust, which a reader/viewer will not find in 50 Shades. While it wouldn’t be a typical post from my site, I gladly refer those seeking to renew passion and explore healthy options for spicing things up to Hallie Lord’s post ”15 Ways to Spice Up Your Marriage Without 50 Shades of Grey.”  You’ll see that you don’t have to read steamy descriptions of sexual activity (violent or otherwise) to get closer to your spouse or venture out of the hum-drum.

    2) There’s a powerful man

    A key element of the craze has to be the character of Christian Grey. He’s a self-made billionaire and at first glance he seems to be the whole package: hard-working, rich, handsome, and powerful. He’s confident, strong, and knows exactly what he wants. In other words, he’s the antithesis of society’s portrayal of the 21st century man. As a culture, we’ve both emasculated men to the extent that they’re afraid to ask a girl out on a date and morphed chivalry into a false “machismo” mentality of faux masculinity. It’s getting easier and easier for women to push men around and, even though we’re guilty of doing the pushing, we hate it when they don’t stand up to us.

    Women love a man who is confident and strong. We love it when they know what they want and pursue it ruthlessly. This becomes a problem for Grey, however, when his power and desires fall far short of virtue. His desires aren’t good and pure; they’re base and shallow. He’s closed off to emotion, intimacy, and love and, as a result, his desires are completely misguided. What he wants the most is his own physical pleasure. A man with those ends has no hope of a happy, healthy relationship. Women are drawn to power and confidence, but unless they’re coupled with virtue and intentions worthy of trust, they’re useless and empty.

    Rather than fantasizing about a man who “has it all” only on the surface, take a look at the man you married. Where do his power and confidence lie? If you don’t perceive much of either, affirm his masculinity by telling him what you respect about him. So many women fawn over Christian Grey’s “true concern” for Ana Steele, claiming love on his part; but the contents and context of Book 1 fail to illustrate what love is (continue to point #3). Choose your husband – a real life man who works hard out of love for you – over a fictional character who wouldn’t know intimacy if it hit him over the head.

    3) There’s a pursuit from said powerful man

    We’ve established that Grey is powerful, and here’s what clinches it for so many fans – he pursues plain ol’ ordinary Ana.  Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge is one of my favorite books because of how affirming it is to the feminine mind. In short, the book articulates that every woman wants to know that she’s captivating, that she’s lovely and worth pursuing. The character Ana perceives herself as an average girl, and if a rich-n-handsome man condescends to offer what’s supposed to resemble a relationship, that’s gotta make her feel like a million bucks. The flaw with 50 Shades is a misunderstanding of lust. Yes, lust is a “disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure…sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes,” that’s applied to another person – i.e. a man can lust after a woman (CCC 2351). The flip side of the coin occurs when women mistake this kind of attention as love and acceptance, but it’s just not the case; lust seeks sex for sex. The end. Love perceives sex as an expression of itself – of closeness. When the powerful Christian Grey insists on sex without intimacy, there is no love. Love invites the whole person while lust will never see the whole person.

    Women want to know that we’re wanted and accepted as we are. Staci Eldredge writes, “As women we long to be loved in a certain way…We long for romance. We are wired for it; it’s what makes our hearts come alive” (p. 115). While it’s true that our relationships and marriages began with a sweet pursuit, it’s an at times disappointing fact that the pursuit dwindles. Spouses tire from careers, houses, kids, and time, which deplete even thoughts of wooing each other. The good news is that dwindled romance or even lifeless romance doesn’t have to mean dead and gone. The act of pursuit isn’t an effortless activity – it takes work of the will and concentration from both sides and sometimes you have to help each other out a little. It takes communication and knowing each other intimately so you can meet each other’s needs. It’s just as important for wives to romance their husbands as it is for husbands to pursue their wives, and you can find 41 ways to do that HERE. Show your man that he’s worth your time and has your respect, and he’ll respond.

    Read More

  • Media Repeatedly Deceives Public in Hobby Lobby Coverage

    via Crisis Magazine

    by James Agresti

    james agrestiIn the buildup to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, and even more so in its aftermath, prominent news outlets have been aggressively spreading falsehoods about key aspects of the case. Beyond logical fallacies about who is imposing their will on others, many reports and commentaries also contain statements that are discredited by the scientific facts at the core of this case.

    Although journalism standards give commentators “wide latitude” to express their views, this is not a license to mutilate the truth. In the words of New York Times deputy editorial page editor Trish Hall, “the facts in a piece must be supported and validated. You can have any opinion you would like, but you can’t say that a certain battle began on a certain day if it did not.”

    Yet, the New York Times and other media outlets have repeatedly broadcast demonstrably false claims about the Hobby Lobby case. Among the most frequent of these are as follows:

    • Medical science shows that the Obama administration’s “contraception” mandate has nothing to do with abortion.
    • IUDs don’t terminate human embryos.
    • Morning-after pills don’t kill human embryos.

    As detailed below, all of those claims are deceitful and derived from politicized, unauthoritative sources. In reality, data from highly credible sources shows that:

    • The Hobby Lobby case concerns the destruction of living, viable human embryos.
    • IUDs terminate viable human embryos.
    • Morning-after pills may kill embryos, and claims that they don’t are based upon crass distortions of scientific studies.

    What follows is the documentation of these facts, along with the details of how media outlets have flouted basic standards of journalistic integrity in their coverage of this case.

    What is an embryo?
    As explained in the medical textbook The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, an “embryo” is formed at “fertilization” and marks the “beginning of a new human being.” Per the American Heritage Dictionary of Science, the earliest stage of an embryo is also called a “zygote” or “fertilized egg.”

    During fertilization, embryos acquire the genetic information that makes each of us human. Per a 2001 paper in the Biochemical Journal, “Sexual reproduction in mammals results in the formation of a zygote, a single cell which contains all the necessary information to produce an entire organism comprised of billions of cells grouped into multitudinous cell types.”

    In more practical terms, the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancyexplains that the genetic material formed at fertilization “will determine your baby’s sex, eye color, hair color, body size, facial features and—at least to some extent—intelligence and personality.”

    Science has also revealed that each human embryo is biologically unique and irreplaceable. Genetically speaking, with the exception of identical twins, once a woman conceives an embryo, the odds against her conceiving the same one again are greater than 10600 to one. For comparison, there are roughly 1080 atoms in the known universe.

    Even among identical twins (who have exactly the same DNA), the burgeoning science of epigenetics has shown they still have biological differences that make each of them remarkably unique.

    What is an abortion?
    As described in various dictionaries, an “abortion” involves the termination of a pregnancy. There is little controversy over that. However, there is disagreement over when pregnancy begins, and this boils over into the issue of what constitutes an abortion.

    Some claim that pregnancy begins at fertilization, while others argue that it does not begin until the embryo implants in the uterus (which occurs 8-10 days after fertilization). Hence, under the second of these definitions, killing an embryo before implantation would not be considered an abortion. Instead, it would be called “contraception.”

    Does the Hobby Lobby case concern abortion?
    According to Annie Sneed in Scientific American, Anne Michaud in Newsday, and Jamie Manson in the National Catholic Reporter, medical science says that pregnancy does not begin until implantation, and thus, the Hobby Lobby case is not truly about abortion. In the words of Manson, “according to the medical definition, a woman is not considered pregnant until the developing embryo successfully implants [in] the lining of the uterus.”

    Those are but a few examples of many who have made absolutist claims to that effect, but in reality, the definition of pregnancy is highly disputed in the medical profession. For example, polls of obstetrician-gynecologists published in theAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine both show that doctors are divided over whether pregnancy begins at fertilization or implantation.

    Likewise, medical literature abounds with the use of both definitions. Here is just a small sample of the countless medical texts that define pregnancy as beginning at fertilization:

    • Human Reproductive Biology: “In most textbooks and in legal rulings about induced abortion (see Chapter 14), pregnancy begins at fertilization: We will also use that definition in this book.”
    • Medical Physiology: Principles for Clinical Medicine: “A mother is considered pregnant at the moment of fertilization—the successful union of a sperm and an egg.”
    • What Every Woman Should Know about Cervical Cancer: “The pregnancy begins with the fertilization of the ovum [egg].”
    • Medical Terminology Made Incredibly Easy: “Pregnancy results when a female’s egg and male’s sperm unite.”
    • Placenta and Trophoblast: Methods and Protocols: “Pregnancy begins with fertilization of the ovulated oocyte by the sperm.”

    Nevertheless, writing for Al Jazeera, Marisa Taylor quotes two people from the Office of Population Research at Princeton University—neither of whom have a medical degree—stating that Hobby Lobby and other companies “are really redefining what pregnancy is, and therefore what abortion is. … Either they are very stupid, or they don’t believe in science.”

    When Al Jazeera gives a platform to that kind of rhetoric while failing to report the countervailing facts, they violate a central tenet of journalism: to tell “the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it.”

    Most importantly, the precise definition of pregnancy is a semantic distraction from the core of the case. The Hobby Lobby lawsuit is about the owners’ objection to being forced to pay for items that terminate living, viable human embryos. Whether one calls this “abortion” or “contraception” does not change this reality.

    Read More

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 29, 2014—Hour 1

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 29, 2014—Hour 1

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Birth Choice: Providing Help to Unwed Mothers

    • Description: When Kathleen Eaton became a single mother in 1980, she felt she had no way out. She couldn’t find any clinic in her area that offered an alternative to abortion, and felt she had no choice. She founded Birth Choice to help other women avoid the pain she experienced from her abortion. Birth Choice offers pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, referrals and other services free of charge to women faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Kathleen is here to tell her story and talk about Birth Choice’s mission and future.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Birth Choice: Providing Help to Unwed Mothers (continued)

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Institute of Catholic Culture

    • Description: Several years ago, Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo was just one more of millions of “fallen away” Catholics and had no idea of God’s plans for him. He has since dedicated his life to making sure others don’t take lightly of God’s gift of eternal life. In order to restore the Catholic Church to her former glory, we must begin by educating the faithful in the Church’s great inherited tradition and we must once again reach out an evangelical hand to those outside the Catholic Church. Deacon Carnazzo joins us.
    • Segment Guests:
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