Light and Darkness: Some thoughts on this Presidential Inauguration Rooted in another Inauguration in 1865

012013Many thoughts move through my mind on this third Monday in January. Just up the street from where I live, the Second Inauguration of President Barack Obama is taking place. Today is also the official celebration of the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And also, later this week, my rectory will be filled to overflowing with priests and seminarians here for the March for life, which takes place on Friday. Yes, so many thoughts: thoughts of civil rights and racial justice, thoughts of the unborn, and their right to life, thoughts of a president, and this nation. So many thoughts.

Somehow, my mind drifts back to 1865, to the 2nd Inaugural Address of President. Abraham Lincoln. Many things also came together on that day: the nation was reeling in the aftermath of the terrible war that killed almost 600,000 soldiers and others. (If that number were projected forward percentage-wise to today’s population, it would mean that over 6 million people in this country would have lost their lives).

President Lincoln, likely out of grief and surely out of reverence, kept his remarks brief that March day. He too thought of life, and he also thought of racial justice, and the connection of a great moral issue to the health of this nation.

Surely he, and the whole nation, was relieved that the war was ending, but President. Lincoln also reflected, in this brief Second Inaugural Address, on the Justice of God, and how that justice cannot ultimately stay silent in the face of grave evil. Lincoln ponders in the address, if the just concluded war was not somehow an exercise of God’s justice: God allowing the war as a way calling the question of the grave evil of slavery, and by extension, calling us to greater racial justice.

Looking ahead, Lincoln also seems to warn that our sufferings may not be ended if we failed to act with justice in the critical days of reconstruction that lay ahead.

I would like to present excerpts from President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and then apply some of it to us on this third Monday in January 2013, a day so filled with meaning regarding race, and life, and the fundamental question: “Whither our Nation?” Here are some excerpts:

[Slavery] constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war…[No one] expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained….Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but….The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” [Matt 18:7].

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses….He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” [Ps 19:9]

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. [Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865]

Yes, a grave injustice had bewitched this land, Slavery and racial injustice. And Lincoln saw something of the justice of God in allowing a terrible punishment to grip this nation, a punishment meant to sober us and avenge the injustice that long awaited God’s decisive action.

This is not to sanction every act of the North in the Civil War, only to say that injustice sets loose evil, and that, at some point, God delivers us to our collective iniquity and that we who would sow in the wind, must now reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). For every drop of blood exacted by the slave holder’s wrath, for every dollar gain through injustice, now the blood would be required back from an unjust nation, and from a nation that had profited on injustice every dollar would be paid back.

That was 1865. What of 2013? The blood of injustice still flows, especially through abortion. And many of the same arguments used for slavery are now used for abortion: personhood, privacy, personally opposed but unwilling to infringe on others rights (?!) to abort, etc. (More on that HERE) The blood has reached epic proportions and cries to heaven for vengeance, (Gen 4:10; Rev 6:10ff). God’s justice cannot remain forever silent.

It is a great irony that today a President is re-inaugurated whose presidency speaks to us of racial healing and justice, a theme that so occupied the mind of President Lincoln and the nation in 1865. And yet, that same president stands wholly in support of an equally and arguably worse injustice, a bloodshed whose numbers (in gallons of blood)  far outweigh the grave injustice of Slavery and Jim Crow.

As of today when I write this, 54,559,615 children have been unjustly murdered in this land by abortion. And it is not just the mothers who have done this that are culpable. It is this nation, collectively that is guilty. It is those who have sought abortion, those who perform them, those who pressure women to have them, those who vote to uphold this evil as a “right.” It is those who remain silent and those who vote for those who uphold this grave evil, or downplay its horrific reality. It is those who fail to provide reasonable alternatives and resources for women in crisis. It is those who live unchastely and fail to reproach those in their family members who live that way.

Yes, to a large extent few of us can fail to escape the fact that we have contributed to, even indulged in an unchaste, unjust and and unholy culture that leads to the death of millions every year. Abortion results largely from unchastity and the refusal of Americans, collectively to accept the consequences of our sin.

The President who stands before us today is largely a product of our culture. It is easy to demonize him. He is, in fact, the most virulent advocate of abortion who has ever occupied the Oval Office. So extreme is he in this view that many members of his own party cannot stand with him in this matter. He supported partial birth abortion, a procedure so grim that even “pro-choice” Americans are largely aghast. He also voted against legislation that children “born alive” i.e. children who survive the attempt to kill them in abortion, should then be allowed to live. No, said the President in his Senate days, such children who make it out of the womb alive after a “botched” abortion can still be killed thereafter, with impunity. Even most pro-choice Americans find this a bridge too far. Yet our President voted for such measures.

But as I say, he is a product of “us” collectively speaking. It is easy to demonize him, and he is certainly wrong. But blaming, or simply focusing on him, does not let the rest of us off the hook. We will have to collectively pay for our national sin. God’s justice will not remain forever silent.

And so, on this day of Inauguration, many thoughts flood my mind: prayers for a president, gratitude for racial healing, but also the alarming, ironic and paradoxical reality that a President (Mr. Obama) who points to the healing of one sin, but also points to a new and grave injustice.

We are so often selective in our moral assessments. God help our nation. For even as we celebrate a growing victory over injustice (slavery and racism), and it is/was a grave injustice, we tolerate another grave injustice with an even higher death toll.

President Lincoln rightly warned, with the searing drama of an ancient prophet that God would only tolerate injustice for so long. We cannot go on living outside of God’s justice and expect good results. Sooner or later we will encounter the consequences of what we do. Lincoln said that every drop of blood unjustly shed would be repaid, every dollar unjustly earned would be exacted, that we would pay to the full for our injustice. What was true in 1865 is no less true today.

Our only hope is collective and national repentance. Only then can the floodgates of mercy open. But, as our sad history often shows, collective repentance is hard to come by. Too many are on the take, too many profit by sin in a temporary and worldly way. The usual human story is that we are stubborn in our injustice, and only the severe measure of God handing us over to our iniquity has salutary effects.

Would that we could repent, but as for now the scales of justice are steeply tipped against us, our repentance seems unlikely, and the blood of the murdered cries ever louder from the rich soil of this land. God will not remain forever unmoved from that cry for justice.

I realize that it is not possible for me to write these remarks, or for you, dear reader, to read them, outside the prism of politics. But I want to be clear that as a Christian, and an American, I pray for our President (and nation) this day. I ask God’s blessing upon him, and his family. I pray that God will give him strength, and above all, wisdom. I cannot, and do not align myself with some Americans who seem to have a very personal dislike of President Obama, or who demonize him as though he were personally evil. I do not think this of him, nor do I dislike him. As a Catholic, I see it as my duty to pray for him in accord with the words of Scripture:

I [Paul] urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior. (1 Tim 2:1-3)

If the early Christians could pray for Nero, I can surely pray for our current leaders.

That said, it is clear that there are a number of positions and policies of our current president is gravely troubling, especially issues related to human life and religious liberty. Let me be clear though, my remarks in this blog should not be seen as directed and one man, President. Obama. My remarks are directed ultimately to us collectively as a nation.

As President Lincoln spoke of his concerns in 1865 for the nation, he did not simply focus his remarks on one man, e.g. Confederate “President” Jefferson Davis, or merely on one segment of the nation, the South. He spoke of a nation, and to a nation and summoned us to remember that we must act justly, and that if we chose to live outside of God’s justice, the toll, already so high, could become far worse.

And what of us today? Today we inaugurate for a Second Term an African-American President and we rightfully celebrate significant progress in racial justice. And yet, another, grave, and newer injustice has entered this land, the shedding of vast amounts of innocent blood in abortion. And this nation continues to legally sanction that very killing of the innocent as a “right.” This cannot stand.

I speak to day of the President only to pray for him and for his conversion in terms of the sacredness of human life, the proper understanding of Marriage and sexuality, and the proper respect for Religious Liberty. But in praying for him, I pray also for this nation, so soaked in blood. May we repent before it is too late, before the dam of God’s mercy breaks and we are drowned by the very innocent blood we have individually and collectively shed.

God bless our President and the Congress, and Go bless the United States of America.

34 Replies to “Light and Darkness: Some thoughts on this Presidential Inauguration Rooted in another Inauguration in 1865”

  1. You can draw a parallel between the sins of the nation of then and now, but the two presidents are about as diametrically opposed as water and fire. One stood for what was humanly right and to uphold the constitution of the United States. The other is secularist ideologue intent on circumventing the constitution. Trust me, we are all pleading for Divine Intercession..

    1. Lincoln opposed the Constitution by refusing to allow the South to secede from the Union. There is nothing in the Constitution forbidding States from seceding and whatever powers not specifically given to the Federal Government are given to the states.

      1. I do not believe Lincoln did not really oppose the constitution on seceding, as the matter is not clearly defined in the constitution and has it’s roots as early as 1790.

        Almost immediately upon entering the Union, with the ratification of the Constitution in 1789, states began threatening to secede. In 1790, the House of Representatives received a petition from a group of Pennsylvania abolitionists that included Benjamin Franklin. In response, members of the Georgia and South Carolina Congressional delegations intimated that if Congress attempted to manumit slaves, their states would leave the Union.

        The threat was taken seriously. Congress denied the Pennsylvanians the relief they sought, an immediate abolition of the slave trade. Moreover, in response to the petition, a House resolution was passed affirming that Congress lacked any power to abolish slavery.For the rest of the pre-Civil War period, arguments for secession were typically made by Southerners such as John Calhoun whenever it appeared that national action to limit slavery was under contemplation.

        Hence when the nine initial states petitioned to secede from the union the argument was thus.
        The U.S. Constitution does not expressly recognize or deny a right of secession. Accordingly, the argument for a right of unilateral secession begins (and pretty much ends) with a claim about the very nature of the Constitution.

        That document, by the terms of its Article VII, only obtained legal force through the ratification by nine states, and then only in the states so ratifying it. Because the Constitution derived its initial force from the voluntary act of consent by the sovereign states, secessionists argued, a state could voluntarily and unilaterally withdraw its consent from the Union.

        In this view, the Constitution is a kind of multilateral treaty, which derives its legal effect from the consent of the sovereign parties to it. Just as sovereign nations can withdraw from a treaty, so too can the sovereign states withdraw from the Union.

        Lincoln argued thus,

        First, Lincoln asserted that the fundamental law in every national government rejects the idea of its own termination. And indeed, as of 1861, no national constitutions expressly provided for their own dissolution. But this argument does not respond to the secessionists’ claim that the U.S. Constitution’s Article VII impliedly provided for the possibility of dissolution.

        Second, Lincoln denied that the Union was a mere voluntary association–and claimed that even if it were, ordinary principles of contract law would bar unilateral secession. Lincoln noted that while one party can breach a contract, the consent of all parties is required to rescind a contract. But secessionists analogized the Constitution to a treaty, not a contract–on the ground that each state was more like a sovereign nation than a human being. And under treaty law, unilateral rescission is permissible.

        Third, Lincoln claimed that the Union was older than the Constitution. In his view, it dated as far back as the Articles of Association of 1774, when the signatory parties were all colonies of England. Lincoln’s claim, however, does not respond to the secessionist argument rooted in Article VII; on the secessionists’ view, the Constitution implicitly affirmed a right to secede from the Union, regardless of the pre-Constitution character of the Union.


        But as University of Texas Law Professor Sanford Levinson observes in a recent article in the Tulsa Law Review (and in condensed form in an April 2003 column on this site), Lincoln’s case against a unilateral right of secession is hardly airtight.

        Texas is the only state that the Federal Government of the United States of America, will recognize as legally being able to secede from the union, as they became a state in the Confederacy and their constitution states they have the right to secede at anytime, this clause was never taken out, and it is recognized by the Federal Government as being legally binding.

        To add, as it has recently been argued after the 2012 election, any other state can secede at anytime with a majority of voters, of the state agreeing to such succession and the state pay’s the Federal Government any and all monies owed to them, by the seceding state.

        To long

  2. The very blood, the blood of the innocents cry out of the ground, the ground we till to produce so that it can supply life. So how is it now that our soil and even the weather contrive to prevent the land from being productive? Is it justice? Why would the land yield when the very mouths it has to feed were violently extinguished by the very mothers and fathers who should nurture them? May GOD have mercy on America, which is supposed to be the bastion of faith when it declare its motto, “GOD bless America.”
    We pray with you, Monsignor.

  3. An admirable post. Yes, it’s easy to hate Obama but he reflects us. As Orwell said, “We’ve found the enemy and it’s us”. Only repentence, pray and God’s mercy can sort this one out!

  4. Abortion and the right to live, is the new civil rights issue. Thank you for this beautiful post, and the excerpt of Lincoln’s speech. Very powerful. Prayers, indeed. The rosary is my weapon.

  5. Excellent post. “Love your enemy” is perhaps the hardest commandment. I pray for the conversion of President Obama’s heart, but I cannot deny that I despise him. I list my anger at him among my sins when I confess; even moreso my anger at my fellow Catholics who voted for him, thereby helping to assure that the slaughter of the innocents continues unabated. We are a vile nation; we are awash in the blood of the unborn; we are the Culture of Death. We deserve whatever judgment the Lord decides to wreak upon us. I beg that He will be merciful.

  6. I could argue that racism is much worse today than in the Civil War. Why? Because proportionally the highest number by far of babies aborted are black. There is a another kind of racism afoot, anti-human-racism, as shown by declining birthrates in the West. As Lady Gaga takes the stage for the inaugural ball, I don’t expect many in attendance to turn their thoughts back to Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. I pray for the president and this nation, too. Let us all do that.

  7. I too have to pray every day that God will spare me and keep me from hating Obama. To me he is the one who
    perpetrates horrendous evil and is the “leader of the pack.” I find much consolation in praying Psalm 58 where
    the psalmist calls upon God to deal with the wicked. “The wicked go astray from the womb; deviant from birth, they speak lies. Their venom is like the venom of the snake; they are like a deaf viper stopping its ears, lest it should hear the snake-charmer’s voice, the voice of the skillful dealer in spells. O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of these lions, O Lord! Let them vanish like water that runs away; let them wither like the grass that is trodden underfoot. Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime, like a woman’s miscarriage that never sees the sun.—-Before they put forth thorns, like a bramble, let them be swept away, green wood or dry! The just shall rejoice at the sight of vengeance; they shall bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked. The people shall say: “Truly, there is reward for the upright. Truly there is a God who judges justly on the earth.”” As followers of the Lord of the Universe we know and believe that when push comes to shove
    THE VICTORY IS OURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Do you really like a person ( I intentionally did not use the title man) who supports the killing of the unborn, and post born in some cases, who supports the distruction of the beauity and truth of marriage as our loving God gave it to us, and who would denie all Americans, not just Catholics the ability to live their faith s they are called to. We are called to love him and pray for his conversion, which I do, but I do not like him, nor quite frankly do I understand how you can.

    Father, I enjoy your posts and benefit from the wisdom you share with us. But according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, to be likeable a person must “have qualities that bring about favorable regard”. Mr. Obama does not inspire in me any favorable regard.

  9. Thank you for this insightful commentary, Msgr. Pope. I am in complete agreement…. Although I respectfully must point out that President Obama is not African-American (as often erroneously reported in the media). He is half African-American and half white…’mixed-race’ or ‘biracial.’

    This is no less notable — we should be proud that our nation has moved forward in race relations to this point. After all, President Obama’s parents’ marriage would have been illegal in much of the U.S. under anti-miscegenation laws when he was born (including, regrettably, my own home state of Virginia). I’m proud to live in a country where such things don’t matter so much anymore, even as I am saddened to live in one that has developed such a culture of death.

    But still, in the name of accuracy, and out of respect for BOTH of President Obama’s parents, we should be honest about his race — neither black nor white, but both.

    God bless!

    1. Well, I am not sure of course but I am going to presume that you are (like me) a “white guy.” And while I too live for the day when these things don’t matter, I want to say that no so long ago, barely within my life time, there was a time when the notion of being “half white” would have made no difference for a Black person. In fact, if you were even a tiny portion Black, Jim Crow laws applied to you and you had the use the “colored” waiting room. In the deep south there were Quadroons (1/4 black), Octoons (1/8 black), Weesorts (= we sort this and we sorta that), etc. In the end if you had a little black, you were black, now off to the end of the line for you. Perhaps you can see how when two “white guys” like you and me talk about him being “half black” or “half white” that such talk is both ironic and infuriating. To anyone’s eyes, President Obama is a black man. Frankly there are very few blacks (and very few whites) who have no admixtures, and if you tell me some one is “pure” I’m going to think you’re lying to me.

  10. Msgr. Great post, however I pray God will do the same in countries that still deal in the slave trade, whether it be in the slave trade of human workers, or prostitution.

    I would also like to comment on the fact that we cannot demonize President Obama, as he is a product of our culture as I am, and I do not want abortion. I have read two of President Obama’s’ books and I know his sense of right and wrong, moral and immoral, have been shaped by many different people in his life, and the majority of them have been and still are members of the American communist party. I was taken aback when my Sister, a lobbyist for a non-profit in D.C. (she lives in Georgetown), was way to excited when he first ran, as she is a member of the American socialist party and she protested against the Viet Nam war with some of the people the President mentions in his book “Dreams of my Father”. This is my opinion only.

    She has the same thoughts on the killing of babies as he does, except she believes parents should be allowed to abort(kill) their children up to one year of their life.

    In this society I cringe when I hear about the woman that became a man, so to be the first man to be pregnant. That same person is now in a contest with their new partner to see who can get pregnant first and if the become pregnant the same time one will abort the child. The games we play in our society, or the games they play in a secular country such as ours is, believe me Msgr. Pope they do not represent me and my christian culture, however they reflect the culture we are from but not for.

    Amen I say to you Msgr.
    my nephew, a seminarian may be will be in D.C. this Saturday and will be marching but do not know where, so if a 6’5″ Nikolaus introduces himself that will be him.

  11. Predictable criticism from several commenters on President Obama (for whom, incidentally, I have never voted and whom I do not support). It is fine to view abortion with clarity as a moral issue – it’s wrong, it will always be wrong, there is no defence. But it is by no means a straightforward legal, cultural, or political issue.

    Two points. Firstly, the Supreme Court, not the President’s office, decreed that abortion is legal. We have several Catholics on the Supreme Court. Vent your spleens at them; and at groups like Catholics for Choice; and the millions of Catholics who regularly vote for pro-abortion (or at least non-interventionist) politicians.

    Secondly, commenters are living in a fantasy land if they think anyone will get elected to senior office, let alone the Oval Office, on a 100% pro-life agenda. The political reality is that most voters do not care about abortion; most will put taxes, jobs, benefits, etc. as higher priority issues; and key voter blocks (like us Catholics) are in disarray.

    Rather than waste energy trying to overthrow a Supreme Court decision (on what grounds? – no one forces anyone to have an abortion), Catholics should put their energy into relentless prayer for those considering abortions; transformation of those working in the abortion industry; and efforts to change the landscape for those most likely to view abortion as an unavoidable step – poor, teenage, and other vulnerable mothers.

    1. Dr. Martin Luther King took the legal route and also used the moral authority of the Office of President. SCOTUS isn’t the only route we need to take to be sure, but we do have to work to overthrown the current interpretation rooted in penumbras and emanations of the “right to privacy” Stare Decisis is currently a tough hurdle to scale, but it just gets harder every year, hence our fight. You ultimately set up false dichotomies in your final paragraph. The fact is both the legal and the social aspects have to be addressed.

      Avoid words like waste, fantasy, vent your spleens, “by no means.”

    2. All your arguments could be (and in fact were) used to justify slavery in 1850. It wasn’t a straightforward legal, cultural, or political issue, the President’s office didn’t decree slavery to be legal, no one could possibly be elected to senior office on a 100% abolitionist agenda, most voters didn’t rank slavery as important as many of issues that affected their everyday lives, no one forced anyone to own slaves, etc. Nevertheless slavery was the greatest evil perpetrated on Americans in the nineteenth century and needed to be outlawed and, despite your arguments, abortion is the greatest evil perpetrated on Americans today and needs be outlawed as well. BTW, “no one forces anyone to have an abortion” perhaps, but every aborted baby was forced to be aborted. Pax tecum.

    3. Presidents appoint Supreme Court justices; thus presidents also share some of the blame for SCOTUS decisions like Roe and cases which do not limit Roe.

      Presidents don’t make appointments by drawing names out of a hat. Obama has made 2 appointments already. Kagan will surely be a reliable vote for ‘reproductive rights,’ and Sotomayer will almost as likely be just as reliable, though one may perhaps have some hope in her case since she is Catholic.

      Prayer is our most important weapon yes; that doesn’t mean we should forget about political action. Deeds count too. And it is right to want to overturn Roe because it is right for the law to protect innocent human beings from death without due process. Since Roe prevents that from happening, we should want to and try to overturn it. In part, that means voting for Presidents that also will want to overturn it by appointing Justices of that mindset.

      Even better from a legal perspective would be to convince enough of our countrymen of the wrongness of abortion so that we could pass a constitutional amendment to the effect that killing your baby is not a constitutional right. Why would that be wasted effort or time? Isn’t it rather one of our duties as a spiritual work of mercy?

      1. All your points/comebacks are fair and well taken. Of course the president has a role – albeit an indirect one – in changing the legal framework to protect life. And there is value in presidential speech – though, let’s be real about this, it’s a long way from a speech to a changed law.

        I would like to address one final point. Many commenters here protest against the current president’s view of and stance on abortion. Many are, I suspect, viewing his stance/actions through a very Catholic lens in which, of course, abortion is a grave sin and unjustifiable. Yet the president is not a Catholic – he is best described as a ‘generic’ Christian (I have no idea if he belongs to a specific church) – so why should he be guided by Catholic doctrine? Several other Christian faiths do not share the very strict Catholic view on life from the moment of conception. So, my question is not on the inter-denominational differences, but why anyone expects a non-Catholic to ascribe to Catholic doctrine?

  12. You are correct. He is a reflection of a citizenry that has substituted the State for God and looks to its new idol for direction and material support in all aspects of their life (cradle to grave as people like to say). Will the idolaters turn back to Christ when the unsustainable entitlement state collapses under the weight of its exponentially increasing debt? In the meantime, we (the Church that is) need to salvage what we can for future generations, just as our forefathers in the Church did after the collapse of the western half of the Roman Empire.

  13. JMJ The Souls in Purgatory. I remember reading one of the many books about one of the children’s teen age friend (sorry unable to recall her name) was in Purgatory until the end of time, What (Mortal? and how often) sins could a Child that young have offended God with? I ask this because of the Deadly sins committed by Rev. Martin Luther King, They are Public record.Denied by his Family and Friends. Also he was for Abortion on Record, check the facts. We give Praise and Glory to him a Sinner, I wonder how many of his own Family Pray for him often today and Since his death, Sleep? Pro-Life, something to think about. A report from the United Nations World Health Organization (Sorry i’m unable to remember what year, it’s been a few years ago) claimed Over100 Million tobacco (People, Nicotine Addicts) users have died in the 20th Century, even the Catholic church is culpable, Newspapers (Especialy), Doctors, the People (oops, the Goverment, can’t blame the people). Raised in Catholic orphanage where the “Brothers” (Not other Children) introduced me to Tobacco, 12 years old, do I fault them not Fully even at that age i should have not started, it was my decision. Today I don’t blame the Tobacco companies, etc., even though they Lied, etc. I haven’t sued them, I’m more at fault. So much for Pro-Life, life/death isn’t about Abortion Alone the organization should be Against all deaths, Suicide (Smoking) Murder (Abortion). If anyone here has Read the Contitution than You should Know that President Obama is a Liar (He Lied when he swore an Oath To God and us) that he would defend the Constitution! His whole political life was/is a Lie. Had a good teacher (?) when it’s about Evil Mr.Sal Alinsky. Thank you. Respectfully with Love. Joseph J. Pippet, N. Cape May, N.J., U.S.A.

    1. Not sure where you think MLK was pro-abort. As far as I know he did not publically address the issue at all. Abortion was illegal at the time and not a matter of wide discussion like it is today. As for your allegation he was pro-abort, his niece says otherwise. As for his sins, not sure, but it is hard to insist that people, even prophets must live sinless lives to be worthy of any credibility, let alone admiration. I honor MLK for what he did and also what he taught. He was a great preacher and a modern prophet, he also exemplified courage for his positions. If he did sin by infidelity or, I do hope he repented. And you J Pippet, and me Charles, ought to repent every day too.

  14. JMJ I forgot to Thank you for this article. As you wrote: “Many thoughts move through my mind…” After reading your Eloquent (?) article my mind was moved to think about how we sin against God and Harm the body of Christ and All Humanity and God’s Creation. Thoughts came to me about Fatima, a Pamphlet by St. Ligouri “Uniformity With God’s Will” at Tan Publishing with Ligouri Press, I think I’m right. I see reading that how far away from God I have been. The rain is good, sent by God, Hurraicane Sandy Sent by God, (the Will of God) should You/I be angry/Upset about this event than we Sin against God’s Will, We gladly accept (often without Thanksgiving) the Sun and Rain, Food and Clothing, etc. . My sickness (Brought upon myself Living according to my Will) Finally I can Honestly say to Jesus, Thank You Hesu and I pray that I keep my Will United (Not just in Conformity) to His Wil, Very hard at times, I’m 76 an I lived my whole Life it seems according to My Will, Look where I am now, a Long Term Care center for the rest of my life! Unless God Wills differently. Thank you. Respectfully with Love, Joseph J. Pippet, N. Cape May, N. J., U.S.A.

  15. Please remind me of what the Bush Administration did to stop legalized abortion. Thank you.

    1. Mostly nibbled at the edges. For example, no abortions using US tax dollars, here. Forbade US Aid money to pay for abortion. No abortions in military hospitals here or oversees, etc. Struck down laws requiring med students to train to abort, or Doctors to refer abort. Also nominees to Federal bench were pro-life.

      1. Thank you. Both political parties have a long way to go. I’ve always believe more in personal rather than political means of reducing and eventually ending selective abortions. A woman who is poor, abused, alone, unloved, without options or personal dignity is less likely to see the dignity in her unborn child. A frightened or questioning woman with no supports would be more likely to seek help from a loving community than from a political action committee. We all have a long way to go.

  16. JMJ I been bothered about what I wrote here, It dawned on me I forgot to put Jr. when I was writing about Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. I Apologize for the error. Respectfully with Love, Joseph J. Pippet, N. Cape May, N. J., U.S.A.

  17. Great piece Msgr Pope. The answer to the problem is a grass roots reformation of our national culture. It must start with “We the People.” We need a new American Code of Moral Integrity. While being non-binding on American citizens, it must be convincing as to what is right (moral) and wrong (immoral), and there must be a benefit associated with doing the right (what is moral) and a dire warning assoiciated with doing the wrong (what is immoral). We need a grass-roots movement to initiate this non-binding code of morality in America and teach our children to honor it and live by it and it must not conflict with the basis of our moral beliefs – our authentic Deposits of Faith.

    1. I like the idea, but wouldn’t it be better to convert the nation to Christ and His Holy Catholic Church?

  18. “[A] punishment meant to sober us and avenge the injustice that long awaited God’s decisive action. This is not to sanction every act of the North in the Civil War…”

    My reading of Lincoln is that he is saying punishment is falling on the South and the North alike and equally. This quote makes it sound more like you are placing the North in the role of the [not entirely, but mostly] innocent executor of punishment against the South, which is not what Lincoln is getting at, by either my understanding, or put much more eloquently by Hadley Arkes in his various writing and lectures on this speech.

    1. Not that it is a big issue; I just think Lincoln’s point was a bit fuller than N vs S.

  19. “Every society gets the government it deserves.” -Joseph de Maistre.

    I keep reminding Americans that the politicians don’t suck. The people suck. It’s easy to point out Obama, Biden, Pelosi, and so forth as paradigms of modern sin. And they are. But so are most Americans, even those that don’t support these terrible people.

    1. Very true, but those in authority also bear some extra responsibility because of the far reaching influence and power that they wield.

      Nice to see someone reference de Maistre these days.

  20. If our country is going to “hell in a hand bucket” morally it is primarily the voters’ fault. On the other hand leaders also bear much of the blame for a country’s direction and they, by putting themselves up for election, are asking for the heat in the kitchen or to be a lightning rod. Thus they deserve little sympathy when they contribute to and magnify the evils of a society and others strongly and rightfully object.

  21. Good article.

    As individuals, we are still picking up Eve’s tab. Aren’t all nations of Adam eternally unworthy of heavenly birthright? I hope for the sake of Jesus not to be cast into hell for the crimes of others. God gifted our bodies with suffering for the sake of Jesus. What an awful foresight! And how forgiving He is.

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