July 28, 2014

Response to the Patriarchal Address

While the Patriarchal address has much to commend it, the leveling of ideas it exhibits is troubling. The essay below was originally written as a comment, but I posting it here for comment and analysis. Frankly, the ideas in this speech are muddled. It sounds like it an American wrote it who has only a cursory understanding of the history of ideas. For instance, while the examples citing Ghandi and King are true, it is overlooked that the reason for Ghandi's success was that the English, despite their empire building in India, still responded to Ghandi's appeals that were shaped by and heard through the Christian moral tradition. The same holds true for King. He was successful because by drawing on the morality of the Christian tradition, particularly the inherent value of the individual, he awakened the conscience of nation shaped by that tradition. Ghandi's and King's success however does not translate into a universal appeal for non-violence, simply because non-violence … [Read more...]

A Patriarch who ‘Generally Speaking, Respects Human Life’

The Sweet Kiss icon

By John Couretas Reading Andrew Estocin's fine essay, "Constantinople's Moral Oversight," I was reminded once again of the long running institutional silence -- a scandal really -- from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese on sanctity of life issues. But that attitude of indifference comes down from the top -- the Phanar. Here is a direct quotation from a July 20, 1990, article, "SF Shows Off Its Ecumenical Spirit," in the San Francisco Chronicle. Metropolitan Bartholomais of Chalcedon is the current Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Asked the Orthodox church's position on abortion, Bartholomais described a stand more liberal than that of the Roman Catholic Church, which condemns abortion in all cases and whose clergy have, in some cities, excommunicated leading pro-choice Catholics. Although the Orthodox church believes the soul enters the body at conception and, ''generally speaking, respects human life and the continuation of pregnancy,'' Bartholomais said, the church also … [Read more...]

Brilliant

President Obama and Pope Benedict met in Rome today. As reported by Reuters: Obama and Benedict held private talks for about 40 minutes in the pope's frescoed study in the Vatican's apostolic palace and the Vatican said bioethics and life issues were a central part of the discussion. In a surprise move, the pontiff gave Obama a booklet explaining Vatican opposition to practices such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research, which Obama supports. The booklet was Dignitas Personae, described by the news service as the document that "defends life from conception to natural death." And a Vatican statement issued after the meeting said the topics discussed included "the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one's conscience." Here's what the president will find in the opening sentences of the document: The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great “yes” … [Read more...]

To Frank Schaeffer: ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t cut it

(HT: Orthodoxy Today) The State of Kansas vs Frank Schaeffer in the Murder of Dr. George Tiller By George C. Michalopulos Recently, the notorious abortionist Dr George Tiller was gunned down in his church in Wichita, Kansas. The killer was a man who appears to be a dysfunctional loner with grave psychological problems. Nobody in the pro-life movement has stepped forward to applaud him or his actions; routine condemnation has been the order of the day. One man however, has bravely stepped forward to take responsibility for this act. Frank Schaeffer, a self-described former member of the “Republican Party hate machine,” a group that included his father Francis Schaeffer, Jerry Falwell, and Ronald Reagan among many others, recently offered a mea-culpa in the left-wing journal The Huffington Post. Schaeffer believes that his life’s work as a young man in the Evangelical movement directly led to this incident because he helped create a "climate of fear" with his documentary … [Read more...]

Obama and His Pro-Life Apologists

At the National Press Club yesterday, the Catholic University of America hosted a discussion on "The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life: Is there a common ground on life issues? What is the right response by 'Pro-Life' Citizens?" One of President Obama's most prominent pro-life opponents, Robert P. George, engaged in a debate with one of his most prominent pro-life supporters, Douglas W. Kmiec. Public Discourse published an adapted version of George's remarks, excerpted below. You can watch a video of the George-Kmiec debate on the C-SPAN Web site here. Robert George: Because the President does not believe in the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family; because he does not believe that babies acquire human rights until after birth; because he does not see abortion as tragic because it takes the life of an innocent human being, he is utterly and intransigently unwilling to support even efforts short of prohibiting … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: Orthodox Advocate for Human “Exceptionalism”

afrvertical

Our culture is at a crossroad about the value of human life, argues author and human rights activist Wesley J. Smith in an interview with Kevin Allen on the "Illumined Heart" podcast (Ancient Faith Radio). Do we value human life simply because it is human, or do we value it based on notions and definitions of "personhood" including such characteristics as sentience, awareness, stages of biological development and others factors? The former allows for a universal definition of human rights. The latter reduces human beings to "subjects" that are bound to shifting and often capricious standards that determine who lives and who dies.   Listen here: widget here (43:38) It's a heated battle (one that even spills over into the comments of this blog on occasion). Often, the the level of vituperation in the attacks against religious defenders of human life arise because the utilitarians understand their view allows for no coherent defense of any human rights, Smith says. "They … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Iakovos Speaks Out on Illinois ‘Reproductive Health and Access Act’

Greek Orthodox Metropoiltan Iakovos has issued a "call to action" on an Illinois bill that right-to-life advocates describe as a state level Freedom of Choice Act. The metropolitan has posted a clear and forceful letter on the Metropolis of Chicago Web site condemning the proposed HB 2354 as unjust and a violation of "the very principles of our faith in Jesus Christ, the Life of the world." The metropolitan said HB 2354 "would affect all health care workers by removing their right to conscientious objection to abortion and related procedures, forcing them to participate in or provide abortions or face legal punishments. This bill would basically make the right to an abortion a fundamental human right in the State of Illinois." More: The forces that oppose religious freedom and are actually seeking to increase the number of abortions in our society are well organized, well funded, and well connected to the political process. It is high time for Christians to raise their own … [Read more...]

Obama, Stem Cell Research, and Orthodox Christianity

Earlier this week, President Obama issued an Executive Order repealing President Bush's August 2001 restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. This was no surprise, especially since, as Senator, he voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which was vetoed by President Bush. While, the issues surrounding the creation and use of embryonic stem cells remain substantially the same, this change in political policy affords us another opportunity to reflect on how we, as Orthodox Christians, might approach this topic in the context of the public controversy. There is no doubt that there has been a simmering resentment in the scientific community over these restrictions (spurred on in part by more general funding cuts for the National Institutes of Health). Obama gave voice to this during his campaign when he charged the Bush administration with "handcuffing" scientific progress. There is also no doubt in my mind that researchers themselves are most competent to … [Read more...]

Bishop Savas to head GOA Office of Church and Society

Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios announced yesterday that Bishop Savas of Troas, most recently the chancellor of the archdiocese, has been named director of the Office of Church and Society. The bishop will be charged with developing "programs and ministries that promote a creative Orthodox Christian engagement with contemporary societal and cultural realities." Readers of this blog will recall the effusive praise with which Bishop Savas greeted the election of Barack Obama, rejoicing that "this is the day that the Lord has made!" Yesterday, the Obama administration moved to rescind a Bush administration regulation, put in place in December, that cuts off federal funding for medical facilities that would force doctors, nurses and other health care workers to participate in practices, such as abortion, that "they feel violates their personal, moral or religious beliefs." The move to lift the so-called "conscience rule," which is subject to a 30 day public comment period, was … [Read more...]

Pope: Catholic politicians must protect life

Ed. GOA leaders could learn from the moral courage of Pope Benedict. They remained silent when Orthodox Senators Olympia Snowe and Paul Sarbanes voted against a ban on partial birth abortion. See: Senators Sarbanes and Snowe Betray the Moral Heritage of the Orthodox Christian Faith. VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday told U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic who supports abortion rights, that Catholic politicians have a duty to protect life "at all stages of its development," the Vatican said. Pelosi is the first top Democrat to meet with Benedict since the election of Barack Obama, who won a majority of the Catholic vote despite differences with the Vatican on abortion. The Vatican released remarks by the pope to Pelosi, saying Benedict spoke of the church's teaching "on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death." That is an expression often used by the pope when expressing opposition to abortion. Benedict said all … [Read more...]

“We have to stand up and make our voice heard.”

Met. Jonah of the Orthodox Church of America speaks at the 2009 March for Life. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-qzcPBaerg[/youtube] … [Read more...]

The Chain of Catastrophe

Fr. Aris Metrakos

Fr. Aris Metrakos, priest at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in San Francisco, California, delivered this address at a memorial service for the victims of abortion held at the St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral on the eve of the West Coast Walk for Life on January 23, 2009. In his talk, Fr. Aris offers reasons why abortion on demand became accepted in the culture, and what Christians must do to restore a culture of life. Listen now:    widget here … [Read more...]