Will the Kavanaugh Affair Wreck the Democratic Midterm Hopes?

Women Voters See Through Democrats

The Democrats declared war on Brett Kavanaugh in the name of women’s rights. But not only did the left’s attempt to deny Kavanaugh a place on the Supreme Court with last-minute allegations of sexual misconduct fail, the tactics employed have also wrought immeasurable and long-term damage on victims of sexual assault.

Since Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that now-Justice Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago, while they were both high school students, Democrats have portrayed her mere allegation as proof conclusive of Kavanaugh’s guilt. “We must believe survivors,” became the battle cry. And Democrats, such as Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, citing the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, warned that Kavanaugh’s confirmation will “send a message to every victim of sexual violence that their pain doesn’t matter, that they do not deserve justice, and that for them, fair treatment is out of reach. This will only serve to drive victims into the shadows, and further emboldening abusers.”

Democrats’ posturing will hurt at the polls

The left’s political posturing has broadcast to victims a devastatingly untrue message, and Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Saturday has now cemented that lesson in the conscious of countless victims, leaving them convinced that speaking out about sexual abuse is futile.

However, rather than continuing to push this false narrative, what Democrats need is an incarnation of the moderatepro-choice Republican Sen. Susan Collins — someone willing to proclaim the difficult truth: Ford’s claims of sexual assault were not believed because they were not believable.

Beyond Ford, Democrats further harmed the cause of justice for sexual abuse victims by propping up Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick’s charges of sexual misconduct as “serious allegations.” Ramirez, who claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while they were both freshman at Yale, came forward with her allegation only after spending a week chatting with attorneys and thinking over her decades-old memory of a drunken night. And every person with direct knowledge of the supposed assault denied Kavanaugh’s involvement. Swetnick’s ridiculous gang-rape charge advanced by lawyer Michael Avenatti, of Stormy Daniels’ fame, further proved the political motivation behind these unbelievable 11th-hour claims.

Every fake rape claim, from Tawana Brawley‘s tale in the late 1980s that four white men kidnapped and raped her, to the fiction Rolling Stone magazine perpetuated when it told “Jackie’s” tale of being raped by University of Virginia fraternity members, increases the public’s skepticism of sexual assault allegations. And skepticism quickly hardens to cynicism when the story screams it is a partisan hit job.

The cynicism, however, will not be limited to high-profile cases with clear political motivations. That is why the Democrats’ failed attempt to keep Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court will also backfire electorally when women flock to the polls next month for midterm elections.

Women see allegations as a risk for families

The extreme left of the Democratic Party may celebrate leaders’ no-holds-bar attempt to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but swing suburban moms are appalled by the Democrats’ ill-use of Ford, Ramirez and Swetnick.

In Ford, women saw a distraught and damaged woman paraded before the Senate, her privacy in tatters, because her sexual assault allegations were leaked to the news media at the most politically opportune moment. And as Ford’s story fell apart following her testimony, women saw the obvious harm the Democrats’ tactic will inflict on real victims of sexual assault.

Moderate women voters also find Democratic senators’ utter disregard for the men affected by false claims of sexual assault terrifying. Women watched as Kavanaugh spoke forcefully to defend his name and honor, and in Kavanaugh, women saw their innocent fathers, husbands, brothers, or sons, falsely accused, condemned and left with a reputation irreparably damaged. And in Kavanaugh’s loving wife, young daughters and distraught mother, women saw themselves and their families.

Women also saw the future of a society that puts politics over the principles of fairness and the presumption of innocence. And they saw Democrats leading that charge.

Democratic politicians, professional protesters and reproductive-rights activists are so blinded by their rage at how President Donald Trump succeeded in appointing a second originalist justice to the Supreme Court, they cannot see the anger they unleashed in the apolitical populace across America. They will see it, though, come November

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What To Do About Bad Bishops

Some more ideas on how the faithful can respond to the scandal can be found in: When Bishops Lose Their Authority.  Read the whole thing here.

While on the scaffold awaiting his execution, St. Thomas More famously declared, “I die the king’s faithful servant, but God’s first.” Throughout the controversy surrounding King Henry’s divorce and remarriage, More was adamant about one thing: he was a servant of the king, and accepted the king’s authority over the land. Although he could not consent to Henry’s rejection of the Church, More still acknowledged that he was the rightful king, and that as such, Henry had authority given to him by God.

That was the genius of More: he was able to distinguish the office of the king from the personal failings of the man who held that office. He didn’t call for the abolishment of royal rule; instead, he refused to support the sinful actions of the current king.

While we don’t live under kings anymore, Catholics today are faced with a similar dilemma. Some who exercise spiritual authority over us—our bishops—have shown themselves to be unworthy of this authority. As Catholics, how are we to respond? Do we simply ignore their egregious sins and say nothing, fearful that any criticism might be disrespectful of the episcopal office? Do we see the profound failings of these men and decide that the office itself is flawed and should be jettisoned? Or is there a third path for Catholics in this time of crisis?

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The Church’s hierarchy is in crisis. What has only been hinted in the shadows in previous years is now coming to the light of day. The Cardinal McCarrick scandal is likely only the tip of the iceberg. This crisis has led to a loss of the human authority of the bishops as a whole. Who, after all, takes them seriously anymore when they opine on political or economic matters? The USCCB belches forth document after document, grasping at relevance, while no one is listening. All the while too many bishops are keeping their heads in the sand about the rising indignation directed at them from the laity.

I would say that we’re in danger of another Protestant-style revolution happening, but the truth is that it’s already happened. The vast numbers of Catholics who have stopped practicing the faith in recent decades make the Reformation look like a warm-up act. All those fleeing Catholics didn’t leave simply because many bishops failed to live up to their office, but, if nothing else, they essentially put a doorstop in place to keep the exit doors open.

Opposing Bishops Without Undermining Their Office
So what can Catholics who want to remain in the Church do? Should we mentally reject the authority of bishops, yet attend Mass and receive the sacraments while keeping our distance from the hierarchy? I don’t think that’s the answer, for that way eventually leads to schism. It makes us no different than Henry VIII.

No, Catholics need to doggedly uphold the divine authority of the bishops. Yes, a Catholic can safely ignore the bureaucratic abomination known as the USCCB, for it has no divine authority. But we must always acknowledge—and submit to—a bishop’s legitimate authority in his diocese. While acknowledging this divine authority, we mustcall bishops to account for abusing their authority. Monsters like Cardinal McCarrick—as well as those who have enabled and promoted him over the years—must be exposed and removed from office. Although painful, the laity must continue to push to expose all the deep pink secrets the bishops have been hiding for so long. Only through shining the light of truth into these nasty crevices can the bishops hope to regain any semblance of credibility.

Ultimately, our goal is to replace the men, not the office. Cardinal McCarrick does no more to invalidate the divine authority of the hierarchy than any of the Borgia popes. Yet, in both cases, the scandal of their reigns must be opposed and brought to an end as quickly as possible, before countless souls are lost.

One practical way to do this is via the pocketbook. One of the primary concerns of a bishop is keeping the lights on in his diocese. He doesn’t want to be the bishop who had to declare bankruptcy. This underlying priority is behind many—if not most—of the decisions a bishop makes. Why do you think most bishops will assign liberal pastors to “liberal” parishes (and conservative pastors to conservative parishes)? Because to do otherwise would lighten the collection plate. This is not to accuse bishops of personal greed. It’s simply to state the obvious: it’s their responsibility to pay the considerable bills of the diocese, and to do so, they need a steady flow of donations.

So perhaps it’s time to dry up those donations. If bishops begin losing money, perhaps they will hear the cries of the laity to clean up their act. This doesn’t mean Catholics stop being charitable, of course. It means redirecting our contributions to non-diocesan apostolates. And it means we increase those donations to make those non-diocesan apostolates even stronger. So if you currently put $20 in the collection basket, consider giving $30 to the local pro-life pregnancy center or a solid religious order. Doing this has a two-fold impact: it lessons the power of the bishops to protect themselves from their misdeeds, and helps with the renewal of the Church going forward.

 

Detachment

“Detachment is an overwhelming attachment to God” – Mother Angelica

How does one appreciate and love the people and things of this world without becoming attached?  Detachment is sometimes described as “rightly ordered desires,” that is desiring God first and then other things in proper proportion, being willing to give them up if that is what God asks of us.  But what of having to give them up just because that is the way this world works? What if rather than clearly needing to forgo some worldly good for the better good God is calling you to, there doesn’t seem to be any “benefit” in losing something or someone?  Perhaps this is where redemptive suffering comes in (but that is a topic for another day) or it just illustrates the how fallen the world is.

God created for us a world full of goodness and beauty and urged us in his Word to contemplate all that is good, true, and beautiful (Philippians 4:8).  In this broken world, perhaps only Truth in its transcendent absolute form has a chance at permanence, but even those who love and seek it are sometimes deceived or have difficulty discerning it.  We are designed to appreciate and be drawn to that which is good and beautiful, but those things are often destroyed.  Every lovely thing in this world eventually ends, and despite our desires to the contrary, nothing lasts forever.

We are designed to seek community and to love other people, but other people let us down, they aren’t there for us when we most need them, even those who do love us often fail to love us well.  Friendships fail.  People die.  Truly we are alone.  And it hurts because it should not be so.  We were not created for isolation, sorrow, pain.

The natural beauty of God’s creation can inspire wonder and awe in us, both in its wilder and more cultivated forms.  When we encounter a beautiful place, we do not want it to change, not ever.  We feel this even more strongly when the place has a special hold on our affections because of its association with fond memories.  Alas, Nature often destroys her own wonders, sometimes suddenly, sometimes gradually over the years.  It seems especially bitter when people wantonly ruin her beauty.

Those who seek beauty, truth and goodness are often drawn to things that contain a hint of permanence.  We appreciate enduring literature, stories that seem to retain some of this truth, beauty and goodness.  We can always go back and read that lovely book again.  So too we are drawn to fine architecture, works of art, things that seem to last, that which is old and so appears almost permanent.

We long for permanence.  We do not want all things to pass away.  God created this world to be good and beautiful, and we are meant to appreciate these glimpses of goodness and beauty that can still be seen in this now fatally-wounded world.  When we see the beautiful come to an end it is painful, it is sad: the ancient oak cut down for no good reason, the pastoral loveliness of a childhood home marred by an ill-conceived development, the fine old house ruined by “remodeling,” another neglected then torn down.

Even the things that we think of as permanent have only just been lucky to survive a little longer than most.  Visiting Rome people marvel over its grandeur and beauty.  It seems almost eternal, but barbarians may burn it to the ground again sooner than we think.

Deliberate destruction of beautiful things is tragic, but how much sadder is the loss of people we love?  It is sometimes said that to love is to risk loss, but it would be truer said that with love, loss is guaranteed .

How do so many people not notice the tragedy we are living?  They numb themselves to it, never noticing the goodness and beauty in the first place so neither do they mourn its loss.  Their lives are poorer for it, but are they less painful?  It can be tempting to stop caring, to stop loving in an attempt to steel one’s heart against the pain of loss.

How does one peacefully surrender all that is good in one’s life without slipping into apathy or despair?  How does one love and yet be willing to let go?  How do we live in a temporary world, we who are made for a permanent one?

We are meant to care for and love the people in our lives.  We are meant to be good stewards of God’s creation.  We are meant to love what God gives us in this world, but we are meant to love God more.

Beloved people, fond places, beautiful things: they are gifts, but not possessions; they are, every one, only on loan.  Even we who have faith must mourn their passing, for this is not as it should be.  Even Jesus wept (John 11:35).

“Because God did not make death and he does not delight in the death of the living.  For he created all things that they might exist” – Wisdom 1:13-14

Piety and Patriotism

Archbishop Charles Chaput has these reflections for Independence Day:

The question arises:  Can the piety of an authentic Christian life and patriotism for a secular state coexist in such a conflicted time?

Scripture tells us to respect and pray for our civic leaders, even when we dislike them; even when they persecute us.  Jesus himself said that Caesar has a realm of legitimate authority.  That realm is limited in scope, but we have a duty to obey civil authority so long as it does not demand a kind of practical idolatry.  Christians were martyred not because they hated Roman power, but because they wouldn’t burn incense to the emperor’s “genius” or sacred spirit – in other words, they wouldn’t treat him as divine.

It’s true that in the first three centuries after Jesus, Early Church scholars like Tertullian, Hippolytus and Tatian all rejected military and even civil service for believers.  But that changed as the empire gradually became Christian, and changed radically after the Emperor Constantine converted from paganism.  From the late Fourth Century on, St. Augustine’s “just war” teaching on the legitimate use of force in situations related to self-defense came to dominate Christian thought.

Augustine also taught that Christian political engagement and public service can be morally worthy, so long as our expectations of remaking reality are modest.  All human structures are flawed by sin.  The City of Man can never be the City of God.

And that’s a wisdom we need to remember.  Christianity is not finally about our place in this world.  It’s about our place in the next.  We have duty to make the material world, and especially the people around us, better for our passing.  We can’t and shouldn’t try to escape from the challenges and responsibilities of the place where God plants us.  We need to be a leaven for goodness, here and now.  But our real citizenship, our real goal, is heaven.  We belong to heaven first.

So it’s worth unpacking those two words, patriotism and piety.

The word “patriotism” comes from the Latin pater (father) and patria (homeland, native soil).  As with any human father, the nation-state is not a little godling.  It can never require our worship.  It can never demand that we violate our religious identity and beliefs.  But properly understood, patriotism is a virtue and a form of filial love.  We’re sons and daughters of the land of our birth.  It’s natural and deeply human to love our home and be faithful to the best qualities in our native land.

The word “piety” comes from the Latin pietas, meaning humility and a devotion to the gods.  Pietas was the highest Roman virtue and a powerful force in shaping early Roman life.  It’s no accident that Rome’s ancient poet Virgil, in his epic work The Aeneid, described Aeneas, the legendary founder of Rome, as pious Aeneas repeatedly.

Aeneas and his piety are pertinent for this reason.  One of the great scholars of the last century, the British Catholic historian Christopher Dawson, demonstrated that all great human civilizations have started from some form of a religious founding.  And as the essence of that founding is lost, illness of the soul sets in.

Humans are addicts for meaning.  We’re also inescapably mortal, which means we instinctively look for purpose outside and higher than ourselves.  The “God question” matters because God made us.  Thus in our own country, from the very start, biblical language, belief and thought have provided our moral meaning.  The more we discard these precious things, the more alien we become to ourselves and to the nation we were meant to be.

Chuck Norris Endorses Christendom College

No joke.  Chuck Norris for Christendom College!

Well, I guess all that clamor about Christendom being a rotten rape-tolerating school hasn’t gotten around to Chuck Norris.  Or maybe that no one’s taking it seriously.

Norris, a New York Times best-selling author, warned students and parents about the progressive transformation of colleges in America, calling many of them “one-sided” in their educational offerings. Rather than blindly assuming that any college will do, Norris recommended that parents and graduates look at private and Christian universities instead.

“I’m asked just about every year to give a commencement speech somewhere. I couldn’t accept any invitations this year due to being outside the country, so I’ll state here what I want to say to every student who is graduating and their parents. It’s a warning and a call for wisdom. … And there’s more you can do…. To counter so much progressive indoctrination in American culture, you can also have your graduates consider attending a private, conservative or Christian college or university, such as Liberty University, Biola University, Hillsdale College, Christendom College, Westmont College or Grove City College,” wrote Norris.

Read more here