Archive for October, 2010

Video — a Forced Abortion in China

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

If you don’t think government-forced abortions happen, think again.

Please take a look at this video report from Al-Jazeera, which interviewed the father, construction worker Luo Yanquan, and mother, Xiao Aiying, who, while 8 months pregnant, was kicked and dragged screaming from her home near Siming, China by a dozen people to a forced abortion by injection. Xiao Aiying reportedly delivered a still-born baby on 10/14/10, 40 hours after the attack.

More details can be found at the following news story.

When Paul VI in his 1968 Humanae Vitae urged governments to respect the rights of families–

Appeal to Public Authorities

23. And now We wish to speak to rulers of nations. To you most of all is committed the responsibility of safeguarding the common good. You can contribute so much to the preservation of morals. We beg of you, never allow the morals of your peoples to be undermined. The family is the primary unit in the state; do not tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family those practices which are opposed to the natural law of God. For there are other ways by which a government can and should solve the population problem—that is to say by enacting laws which will assist families and by educating the people wisely so that the moral law and the freedom of the citizens are both safeguarded.

–sophisticated critics scoffed at predictions of government-forced abortions.

For further documentation of the scope of forced abortions in China, please see the book Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits, by Steven W. Mosher.

As recently as 2009, according to Chinese news sources, UN, Planned Parenthood, and other officials heaped praise on China’s family-planning policies.

If you’d like a different perspective on overpopulation, please see Overpopulation is a Myth.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


A letter to seminarians

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

As a former seminary teacher, I found the recent letter by Benedict XVI to seminarians both an inspiration, and a gateway to memory.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Halta Definizione’s high-definition Uffizi Gallery online

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Instead of something weighty and serious, I offer now something beautiful:

You may enjoy viewing Halta Definizione’s high-definition rendering of the Uffizi gallery online.

Why not ponder the Annunciation, by Leonardo da Vinci?

These images can be magnified to an amazing level of detail by using the menu that appears at the bottom of the image, when one hits the plus sign.

I understand that these images will be available until late January, 2011.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


“The greatest poverty is not to know Jesus Christ”: Cardinal George at the Catholic Charities Centennial

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

On September 25, 2010, Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, gave the homily in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, during the Eucharist celebrating the centennial of Catholic Charities USA.

His Eminence is one of the most thoughtful and insightful witnesses within contemporary Catholicism, whose contributions are often obscured from hearing by the media controversy of the day. His 9/25/10 reflections on charity and generosity within the context of the Catholic faith are worth lengthy consideration. I offer this report of them to you, first by this link to the official text of his homily, and then by my unofficial text below, which I transcribed from a television recording. The edition below includes a few of the Cardinal’s verbal insertions (there were only a few) into the official text, but is laid out visually closer to the way the homily was delivered (according to this witness):

Unofficial Transcription
Catholic Charities USA
Centennial Mass Homily – September 25, 2010
Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC
Francis Cardinal George, OMI:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It’s a great pleasure and a true honor, together with all of you, with Sr. Donna Markham, the chair of the national Catholic Charities Board, with Fr. Larry Snyder the president of Catholic Charities USA, and with all those associated with Catholic Charities in this country, all of us gathered today in our national shrine.

This centennial Eucharist is possible first of all because of a virtue. The Pope, in sending his congratulations for this anniversary, said that it will be an occasion for gratitude to Almighty God for the “abundant harvest of generosity, solidarity, and good works reaped.”

Generosity: Generosity is a virtue that has made possible the extraordinary record of help, and the even more extraordinary outpouring of hearts that we celebrate today.

The case statement for Catholic Charities is in the Gospel just proclaimed–the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, the prisoner, the least of Christ’s brethren–
We are commanded to see them and to respond.

But behind the cases and the case studies, behind the plight of the poor, behind the well-organized response to their needs through Catholic Charities, there is the Gospel and its imperative to love.

It is always important to give to a good cause. It is even more important simply to give, to be generous in imitation of the Lord himself, of Jesus who is generous to the point of self-sacrifice for our salvation. No matter the cause, disciples of the Lord Jesus have to give, are impelled toward generosity from the power of God’s grace working in them, in us. Salvation depends on this virtue.

St. John of the Cross reminds us in the evening of life we will be judged by love, examined in love. Made in God’s image and likeness, and created therefore out of infinite love, we will be asked how we have grown into the mind and heart of Christ, who saves us out of love. The One who loves us far more than we love ourselves will ask how we have loved those whom He also loves, and therefore have shown how we love Him.

If love, which is the form of every virtue, informs our life and our actions, we have nothing to fear in this life or in the next. So we are here, dear brothers and sisters, because of a virtue: generosity.

We are here also because of a motive: faith. It’s a particular faith, a faith, as St. James reminds us, that sustains works, a faith that becomes visible in works, a faith demonstrated by good works.

There are tensions, as we know, particular to such a faith and the good works that it motivates:

There is a tension between humanitarianism–helping the poor for the sake of the poor–and evangelization: helping the poor for the sake of Christ.

There is a tension between professionalism–helping others from the knowledge and skills that have the poor come to us on our terms, the terms of our social work, of our profession, of our health care–a tension between that kind of professionalism and ministry, which is going to the poor on Christ’s terms, and helping them as they want to be helped.

There is a tension even between charity and justice, especially when justice is interpreted as vengeance.

Pope Benedict solved this conceptually in his first encyclical, God is Love, Deus Caritas Est, when he pointed out very aptly, and very obviously when you think about it, but what the world has often forgotten, one cannot be just to someone you don’t love, and one cannot love someone without seeing to it that they are treated justly.

These and other tensions familiar to you are the stuff of many conversations–good conversations–but most of all, they are the stuff of daily life for Catholic Charities directors and staffs. And they are resolved in practice each day by many thousands of well-prepared and well-formed men and women who have put their lives, their careers, and often risk their livelihood in service to the mission of Catholic Charities.

Pope Benedict mentions them as well in his encyclical:

The personnel of every Catholic charitable organization want to work with the Church and therefore with the bishops so that the love of God can spread throughout the world by their sharing in the Church’s practice of love [the diakonia that Cardinal Cordes mentioned]. They wish to be witnesses of God and of Christ and they wish for this very reason freely to do good to all.

I take great pride in the Catholic Charities workers, the directors, those who are responsible for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese I serve. I take great pride because I see men and women could work in many places but who are in Catholic Charities because they know what the mission is, and more than that, the mission has transformed their own heart, and their lives in such a way that they they are trustworthy, that they can work out the tensions, that they can respond to the individual and keep the principles in mind and do so day after day, year after year. I take great pride in them, and to them especially, we owe a debt of gratitude today.

There remains always, of course, the temptation to resolve these conceptual and existential tensions by doing the works of charity–good works–as if God did not exist.

This form of self-secularization arises because the Church, especially in a time of great difficulty, can fall back on works that make sense on the world’s terms, on the critics’ terms. The Church is often praised for her schools, her hospitals, her charitable organizations and institutions–although not always. Two days ago I had to respond to an irate lady who was saying that Catholic Charities should close down its food kitchen in her neighborhood because the people made a mess when they came to eat there and her life was disturbed. We know as we try to sponsor low-income housing that this is always a very difficult kind of conversation, sometimes because people are genuinely afraid and that must respected–people have a right to security in their own homes. But often it is for other reasons as well that are hard to sort out.

So not every work that you do and Charities sponsor and I try to help in my own way, not every work is praised, and yet, yet, the Church is recognized for her works.

But concentrating on the good works doesn’t always save us from the comment that they are somehow in conflict with the Church’s doctrines, retrograde as they are. And that it’s just too bad one cant’ take only the works and forget the teaching, not to mention the teachers. However, we take what we can get from a world too often marked by self-righteousness that is, in Gospel terms, the sin against the Holy Spirit.
And we use the works to give us an opening. An opening for what?

We could not come together for this centennial Eucharist but for the virtue of generosity and the motivation of faith, both of which, however, are sustained and confirmed by a vision:

It is a picture of the Spirit of the Lord at work in the world, bringing good out of evil, hope from despair, life from death. It’s a picture proclaimed in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to comfort all who mourn, to give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit.”

This is the text, as you know, that was cited by Jesus himself in the synagogue at Nazareth when he first returned to his home town. In the fourth chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus, having finished the reading, speaks to his friends and neighbors: “Today–Today–this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Today–it’s a long day, a day that will last until Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead. It is His day, and in Christ, in Him, it is our day.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the greatest poverty is not to know Jesus Christ.

And the greatest challenge is to serve the poor in Christ’s name, with complete respect for their dignity and their personal freedom.

Today, then, on this anniversary date, our hearts are filled with gratitude to God, to our benefactors, to directors and staffers of Catholic Charities–to all of you–and all those whom you represent. And most of all, most of all, our hearts are filled with gratitude to the poor, without whom no one enters the Kingdom of God. God bless us all.

Catholic Charities USA
Centennial Mass Homily – September 25, 2010
Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC
Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Unofficial Transcription by Albert J. Schorsch, III

The Cardinal’s words call us to reflect, and to act:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the greatest poverty is not to know Jesus Christ.”

“And the greatest challenge is to serve the poor in Christ’s name, with complete respect for their dignity and their personal freedom.”

Also, His Eminence’s concept of “self-secularization” is worth pondering.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Aphorism XXIII: Our Age of Displaced Concreteness

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

We live in an age of displaced concreteness, in which words that are assigned power, usually pertaining to the past, displace our consciousness of and engagement with significant, living human suffering in the present.

I call this phenomenon displaced instead of misplaced concreteness because our own pride pushes concreteness aside for the sake of comfortable illusion.

Our age fawns on self-styled language shills instead of scientists and historians. It honors those who radicalize words instead of those who patiently seek truths. It highlights those who heat the medium of communication, instead of those who illuminate it. It takes all too seriously those who stake out new meanings for old words in order to manipulate and distort. It idolizes the famous for simply being famous, and ignores untold acts of kindness and of nurturing. It worships those who wound and alienate, instead of honoring and imitating those who heal.

For the sake of self-indulgence, we perpetuate disease. We seek to cure the sicknesses that represent constituencies and power blocks, rather than advancing the health of all through clean hydration and sanitation, beneficial nutrition, adequate exercise, and exclusive intimate relationships.

We continue to encourage the illusion that politics resolves poverty and ignorance, while passing over basic acts of committed parental love, such as prenatal care, breastfeeding, and reading daily to little children.

We argue about reparations for slavery from the past, but do not effectively intervene against present slavery and human trafficking that is on a quantum scale more massive.

We daily dissect a few hundred child abuse cases of the past, but do basically nothing comprehensive or systematic about halting the tens of thousands of child abuse cases that each new year brings.

We call those with whom we casually disagree fascists, yet we continue to collectively trade with and empower dictators as vicious as any in history.

Ours is an age of pride, that cannot countenance the overpowering meaning of suffering, so we attempt to talk it out of existence.

Ours is an unjust and cowardly age, an age of manufactured identity, and not one of revealed mercy made plain by Divine grace, by tested knowledge, and by courageous action.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Sudan bishop rings alarm bell

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio in Sudan released a public statement on 10/1/10, calling for the international community to prevent his region from “descending into violence.”

Source: Aid to the Church in Need

Sudan faces a critical national vote in January, 2011, which may lead to a separation of southern Sudan from the present Sudanese government. Despite a more hopeful June, 2010 message from Emeritus Bishop Paride Taban, fear of a violent confrontation in the Sudan is growing, and thus there has been a call for increased international involvement as Sudan approaches the January, 2011 referendum.

Sudan has seen millions perish since the 1980s. The crucifixion of Christians in Sudan was even reported in 2009 near the town of Nzara.

The government of China has been criticized for its involvement in Sudan. Sudan, with 967,495 square miles, is the largest African country, and rich in natural resources, with rapidly-advancing oil production.

It is important that we heed Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala’s call, and ask our governments to become involved in ensuring that Sudan’s important vote in January, 2011 does not indeed descend Sudan into violence.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


The White House 10/5/10 Summit on Community Colleges, and a comment on urban public education

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

The White House sponsored a Summit on Community Colleges on 10/5/10, attended by education and community leaders from around the US. Here is the background sheet for the Summit, which was also attended by Melinda French Gates, who simultaneously unveiled the competitive project designed to strengthen community colleges named Completion by Design.

During the closing session of the Summit (see minute 10:40 and following), the prominent business leader Penny Pritzker shared startling figures that 60% of students entering Philadelphia community colleges did not demonstrate sufficient literacy to be placed in classes, and that 90% of students entering Chicago City Colleges needed some form of remediation.

The urban US over the past two decades has seen a number take-overs of public schools by mayors and governors using the “CEO model” of school leadership by non-educators, now with mixed results. In Chicago in the mid-1990s, the public school system (CPS) directly marketed to Catholic school families (we received these mailings in our own home), and designed advanced schools to accommodate the children of Catholic school families after a dramatic capital campaign to build attractive newer schools. Arguably, these former Catholic and other private school children and their social networks helped raise the average test scores of the public school system, and the politicians declared victory. But also arguably, however, the low achievement of the poorest children by and large remained, and can be seen by the high levels of remediation needed by students trying to enter city and community colleges today to gain access to a profession.

I’m looking for a serious scientific study of public school achievement that separates out the addition of Catholic and private school families statistically to measure whether the poorest of the poor actually approved their academic achievement in urban public schools since the politician-led urban school reforms beginning in the 1990s. Please see the following account of a 2009 Northwestern University study, which apparently did not take into account the full impact of transfer of Catholic students into the public school system over the past two decades, and evidently used the Catholic schools as a control group. Here’s the link for the full Northwestern study, which assumes that the transfers of Catholic students to public schools was small after 2002, when in fact the exodus of Catholic students to public schools in certain urban school districts had begun much earlier.

Back on June 10, 2001, the Chicago Sun-Times published my letter on the departure of Paul Vallas as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, in which I wrote in part:

“Having taken the schools near the limit of improvements that can be based upon better facilities, Vallas showed a wisdom gained from experience in testing educational fads to their limits as well. CPS has ‘hit the wall’ in improvements, not because of Vallas, but because of the sad fact that children who do not read daily in their first three years of life face difficult barriers even state-of-the-art schools can’t easily improve.

Educational bureaucracies are in a league beyond that of park districts and libraries and mayor’s offices. Such leadership is not interchangeable. Once you fix the school buildings, only determined, incremental, decades-long bureaucratic trench warfare based upon knowledge of the trenches will produce improvements. History has shown that great advances in education are accomplished by those who spend the greater part of their careers at the task. Imagine where the universities of Chicago or Notre Dame would be with the presidencies of William Rainey Harper or the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh cut in half. Hesburgh talked a lot about the cemeteries being filled with indispensable people, but that was blarney. He kept the job for decades because his contributions were critical, and he knew it.

The Chicago Public Schools will not be advanced significantly at this point by bright new ideas brought back to Chicago from the last city that the mayor or his aides just visited. Vallas has learned enough to serve as the reality principle against rounds of educational gimmicks, and now this reality principle is about to go.”

For a sober series of scientific discussions on how to improve human capital policies to address inequality in our society, see Inequality in America:What Role for Human Capital Policies? edited by Nobel Prize economist James J. Heckman, Alan B. Krueger, and Benjamin M. Friedman.

Please see my earlier blog post on James J. Heckman, which is also pertinent to this topic.

Here’s an amazing and related statistic from Timothy Shanahan, Professor of Urban Education and Director of the Center for Literacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, on a study that showed the lag between children from low-income families and middle-class children when they start school, as quoted in the Sept. 29 Irish Times:

“One of the things they found was that the average middle-class first grader [aged five or six] had been read to for more than 1,200 hours. There were children in a lot of low-income families who would have been only read to 25 hours in their entire life. Think about that difference in terms of the amount of language experience.”

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Msgr. Reynold H. Hillenbrand, 1904-1979

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

I’ve finally put up a long-overdue Wikipedia page for Msgr. Reynold H. Hillenbrand, 1904-1979, a liturgical reformer and leader for social justice who greatly influenced Chicago and American Catholicism during the 20th century. As the Wikipedia article states (at least as of 1:10 AM, 10/3/10!):

“Msgr. Hillenbrand’s three-part approach of faithfully presenting papal teaching, calling lay apostles, and bringing laity through the Catholic liturgy to social action, helped form US Catholic leadership prior to the Second Vatican Council, which his liturgical reforms anticipated.”

For an in-depth look at Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand, see my scholarly article. From 1992-1994, I was blessed to serve as director of the former Reynold Hillenbrand Institute at the Chicago archdiocesan seminary, formerly Niles College Seminary, now called St. Joseph College Seminary at Loyola University, and learned much about this saintly man and his impact on those he mentored.

Please see the memorial website on Msgr. Hillenbrand maintained by the Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary of the Lake.

Rev. Robert Tuzik, PhD, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, has just published his long-awaited book on Msgr. Hillenbrand, based upon his 1989 dissertation, which drew upon the Hillenbrand papers at Notre Dame University. I’ll be offering a short review of this book in the next few weeks.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


The US 1946-48 Guatemala Syphilis Experiment

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Thousands of news articles and blogs worldwide are covering the shocking discovery by Wellesley College researcher Prof. Susan M. Reverby that US scientists engaged in a Tuskegee-style syphilis experiment from 1946-48 in Guatemala, during which persons were similarly and purposely infected with disease and left untreated without their informed consent.

Those who hold the naive Enlightenment idea that science automatically supports human rights against ideology, religion, and ignorance have now thus been in for another corrective shock.

It is not generally known what an immense ethical apparatus exists within governments and universities worldwide to prevent scientists from violating the rights of research subjects, from cheating on or misrepresenting scientific results, from appropriating the work of others, and from exploiting of the work of students and junior scientists, among other lapses, for the simple reason that scientists are human. The general public also has no idea of the number of scientific ethical breaches quietly disposed of annually worldwide within this government and academic ethical apparatus. This ethical apparatus grew in part after the shocking story of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. With the Guatemala Syphilis Experiment, the saga continues.

Science does not guarantee health or virtue or truth. Science only informs and corrects, and can make physical health more likely with the proper practice of medicine. Ethical and moral behavior, informed by science, help reveal and protect the truth. But the practice of informed virtue itself advances virtue.

Our compliments to Prof. Reverby for her discovery, which advances the cause of human rights and the protection of research subjects, and demonstrates the value of research.

Please see my earlier post also addressing the topic of the protection of research subjects.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved