Sunday, May 10, 2009


Peter Steinfels

Peter Steinfels

In a recent article in the New York Times
by Peter Steinfels
("Roman Catholics' War Over Abortion", NYTimes, May 9, 2009)
Steinfels attempts to "explain" the concerns of Roman Catholics
over the invitation to President Obama to speak and receive
an honorary doctorate degree at Notre Dame University
by marginalizing that opposition.
While his remarks may come off as classic dissident American Catholic and is a bit "tacky",
he is probably accurate to describe these efforts as exemplifying a "civil war"
among American Catholics.
And it's about time ... if not too late.

Classic American Catholic dissent: all one has to do is observe the category for this Steinfels article in the New York Times: "Beliefs" -- the effort being to frame the debates (which they always do so successfully) by assuring the readers that abortion is just a "belief", that one only believes that abortion kills innocent human beings. And like any belief, in our democratic, pluralistic, multicultural society one person's or groups beliefs must not be allowed to outweigh the beliefs of the rest of those in society (or, as in the mini-version of utilitarian ethics called "communitarianism", where the beliefs of the majority in a community outweigh the beliefs of the minority in a community). Forget the objective scientific facts of human embryology (that should be clear by now!). They take it one step further, just in case: let's make sure that the human embryology is so corrupted and falsified that no one will ever find out the real truth. For starters, take a look at the list of pseudo-human embryology (not to mention pseudo-philosophy) I addressed in my doctoral dissertation almost 20 years ago; i.e., the early human embryo is:

"a pre-zygote vs. an embryo; a pre-embryo vs. an embryo; a being on the way vs. an already existing one; a seed vs. an organism; a phase sortal vs. a substance sortal; information content there vs. information capacity there; a biological individual vs. an ontological individual; a transient nature vs. a stable human nature; a biologically integrated whole vs. a psychologically integrated whole; a biological life only vs. a personal life; an unconscious biological life vs. a conscious personal life; a lower-brain life vs. a cortical-brain lif"; no one home vs. some one home; a zoe vs. a bios; a possible or potential human being vs. an actual human being; a possible or potential person vs. an actual human person; an object vs. a subject; an evolving member of the human species vs. an actual member of the human species; no rational attributes or sentience there vs. rational attributes or sentience there; no human cognition vs. human cognition, a ball of cells vs. an organism. Politicized terms such as spare or left-over embryos or products of conception are often used. Further rhetoric includes the false distinction between therapeutic and reproductive cloning, the deconstruction of therapeutic cloning to mean stem cell research, the deconstruction of totipotent to mean pluripotent, the redefinition of "conception" to mean "implantation (5-7 days post fertilization) -- even in the law, and "natural law" was reduced to "proportionalism" (starring Jesuit Fr. Richard McCormick)." [See mini-version of the 400-page doctoral dissertation, Irving, "Scientific and philosophical expertise: An evaluation of the arguments on 'personhood'", Linacre Quarterly February 1993, 60:1:18-46]

Note too that probably half of the co-authors on these 1991-era bioethics arguments for "delayed personhood" are Catholic scholars or Catholic clergy. Indeed, the inventors of the now infamous and fake "scientific" term "pre-embryo" were Jesuit Fr. Richard McCormick and Catholic layman and California frog embryologist Clifford Grobstein. The same has continued since then to the present, with literally dozens of ever new and exciting "pre-embryo substitutes" claimed (the term "pre-embryo" isn't used but the fake human embryology is in order to attain the same goal).

No wonder so many people are so confused about abortion - and therefore, about the use of abortifacients, pre-natal genetic diagnosis, the use of aborted embryonic and fetal cells and tissues in scientific research and in the production of vaccines, IVF and other ARTs, human embryo research, human cloning, human genetic engineering, etc. And all these arguments at the beginning of life were immediately transferred by American Catholic Bioethics to issues at the end of life. As I was "taught" by a Catholic physician at a bioethics seminar at Georgetown University, the reverse of "personhood" takes place at the end of life. First the rational soul leaves the body, then the sensitive soul, and finally all that is left there is a human "vegetable" - and therefore one can transplant the human vegetable's organs, do experiments on this human vegetable (albeit, "respectfully"), and euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, etc., are all quite ethical. The degree to which all of this fake human embryology and dissident bioethics has been propagated and taught fiercely by dissident Roman Catholics - lay and clergy alike - for so many decades without correction or clarification is nothing less than globally scandalous. [See Irving, "Human Embryology and Church Teachings" (September 15, 2008)]. And Notre Dame University has been one of the leaders of this dissent for decades.

Then there is always the Jesuitical factor: Doubt. If we're not certain, then we CAN do it. If we don't and can't know for certain as an empirical fact that abortion kills innocent human beings, then the entire issue is reduced, again, to belief. This is the real message of Steinfel's missive.

Peter Steinfels (and his wife, Margaret) knows better than most about this strategy of deconstruct and doubt, which I discovered, unfortunately, coincides with the "birth" of bioethics in 1978. Dissident Catholic leaders (and followers) found a welcome home with the birth of bioethics, which always assured them a "seat at the table" - the secular bioethics table, that is. These dissident "scholars" are often referred to by those of us who constituted the first formal bioethics graduate students in bioethics at Georgetown as "the good cops", or "the religious voice" of bioethics (i.e., they used different "principles" but arrived at the same secular bioethics conclusions). Since its "birth" in 1978 bioethics made huge efforts immediately to sweep the Catholic seminaries and institutions of learning. (I saw this while I was teaching full time as full professor in two seminaries). And because bioethics is literally "federal ethics", it pervaded all local, state and federal levels with lightening speed. By 1993 there were over 500 centers for bioethics globally - more often than not staffed by "religious" proponents, including Roman Catholics! Indeed, the first formal degree offerings in secular bioethics and the first university to create a bioethics center was none other than the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at the Roman Catholic Georgetown University. [See Irving, "What is 'bioethics'?" (June 3, 2000)]. Notre Dame holds nothing over Georgetown University.

Steinfels, along with many other Catholic lay "scholars" and clergy, were central to this "big sweep", publishing and teaching 24/7 on how abortion is not necessarily an inherent evil. The popular book, Abortion and Catholicism, by Patricia B. Jung and Thomas A. Shannon (New York: Crossroad, 1988), in which the Steinfels are featured, is literally a "Who's Who" of dissident American Catholic scholarship. And immediately the Catholic Health Association, the theological institutes, Catholic prolife and parish organizations and similar institutions were similarly infected. Steinfels' and similar arguments by Catholics and non-Catholics alike for "delayed personhood" (based on false science) constituted quite a reading list within a very short period of time. Just a few of those efforts included the following by 1991:

The arguments for "delayed personhood" addressed in my 1991 doctoral dissertation included: RICHARD MCCORMICK, "Who or what is the 'preembryo'?", Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 1991, 1:1:3-15; CLIFFORD GROBSTEIN, "The early development of human embryos", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1985, 10:213-236; H. TRISTRAM ENGLEHARDT, The Foundations of Bioethics, New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, 111; WILLIAM A. WALLACE, "Nature and human nature as the norm in medical ethics", in Edmund D. Pellegrino, John P. Langan and John Collins Harvey (eds.), Catholic Perspectives on Medical Morals, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishing, 1989, pp. 23-53; NORMAN FORD, When Did I Begin?, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988, p. 298; JOHN A. ROBERTSON, "Extracorporeal embryos and the abortion debate", Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy 1986, 2;53;53-70; ANTOINE SUAREZ, "Hydatidiform moles and teratomas confirm the human identity of the preimplantation embryo", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1990), 15:627-635; CARLOS BEDATE AND ROBERT CEFALO, "The zygote: to be or not be a person", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1989, 14:6:641; THOMAS J. BOLE, III, "Metaphysical accounts of the zygote as a person and the veto power of facts", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1989, 14:647-653; ibid., "Zygotes, souls, substances, and persons", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1990, 15:637-652; HANS-MARTIN SASS, "Brain life and brain death: A proposal for normative agreement", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1989, 14, (same article also in Bioethics News 1990, 9:3:9-20); PETER SINGER AND D. WELLS, in D. GARETH JONES, "Brain birth and personal identity", Journal of Medical Ethics 1989, 15:175; MICHAEL LOCKWOOD, "When does life begin?", in Michael Lockwood (ed.), Moral dilemmas in Modern Medicine, New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 10; ibid., "Warnock versus Powell (and Harradine): When does potentiality count?", Bioethics 1988, 2:3:187-213; MICHAEL C. SHEA, "Embryonic life and human life", Journal of Medical Ethics 1985, 11:205-209; R.M. HARE, "When does potentiality count? A comment on Lockwood", Bioethics 1988, 2:3:214; KAREN DAWSON, "Segmentation and moral status", in Peter Singer, Helga Kuhse, Stephen Buckle, Karen Dawson, Pascal Kasimba, Embryo Experimentation, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 58; STEPHEN BUCKLE, KAREN DAWSON AND PETER SINGER, "The syngamy debate: When precisely does an embryo begin?", in Singer et al, Embryo Experimentation, New York: Cambridge University Press 1990, pp. 213-226; STEPHEN BUCKLE, "Biological processes and moral events", Journal of Medical Ethics 1988, 14:3:144-147.

For additional arguments for "delayed personhood" not addressed in my dissertation, see, e.g.: CLIFFORD GROBSTEIN, "The status and uses of early human developmental stages", in Darwin Cheney (ed.), Ethical Issues in Research, Frederick, MD: The University Publishing Group, Inc.; ibid., "The early development of human embryos", Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1985, 10:213-236; ibid., Science and the Unborn, New York: Basic Books, 1988, p. 61; ibid., "When does life begin?", Psychology Today 1989, pp. 43-46; ibid., "External human fertilization", Scientific American 1979, 240:57-67; ANNE MCLAREN, "Why study early human development?", New Scientist 1986, 24:49; ibid., "Where to draw the line?", Proceedings of the Royal Institute of Great Britain 1984, 56:101-120; PAUL RAMSEY, "Reference points in deciding about abortion", in J.T. Noonan (ed.), The Morality of Abortion, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970, pp. 60-100; CHARLES E. CURRAN, "Abortion: Contemporary debate in philosophical and religious ethics", in W.T. Reich (ed.), Encyclopedia of Bioethics 1, London: The Free Press, 1978, pp. 17-26; CAROL TAUER, The Moral Status of the Prenatal Human 1981, Dissertation in Philosophy, Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University (Sister Tauer later went on to become the ethics co-chair of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel 1994); ibid., "The tradition of probabilism and the moral status of the early embryo", in Patricia B. Jung and Thomas A. Shannon, Abortion and Catholicism 1988, New York: Crossroad, pp. 54-84; LISA S. CAHILL, "Abortion, autonomy, and community", in Jung and Shannon, Abortion and Catholicism 1988, pp. 85-98; JOSEPH F. DONCEEL, "A liberal Catholic's view", in Jung and Shannon, Abortion and Catholicism 1988, pp. 48-53; JAMES F. CHILDRESS, "Human fetal tissue transplantation", Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 1991, 1:2:93-122; RICHARD MCCORMICK, "The preembryo as potential: A Reply to John A. Robertson", Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 1991, 1:4:303-306; ibid., "Health and Medicine in the Catholic Tradition", New York: Crossroad, 1984 (the "Catholic tradition" is defined here mostly in terms of "proportionalism"; contains references to other Catholic theologians arguing for "delayed personhood"); ANDRE E. HELLEGERS, "Fetal development", Theological Studies 1970, 31:3-9; KEVIN WILDES, "Book Review: Human life: Its beginning and development", L'Harmattan, Paris: International Federation of Catholic Universities 1988; JOHN A. ROBERTSON, "What we may do with preembryos: A response to Richard A. McCormick", Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 1991, 1:4:293-302; ibid., "The case of the switched embryos", The Hastings Center Report 1995, 25:6:13-24; ibid., "Symbolic issues in embryo research", The Hastings Center Report 1995, Jan./Feb. 37-38; RUTH MACKLIN, "Personhood in the bioethics literature", Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly Health and Society 1983, 61:1:37; R.M. HARE, "Embryo experimentation: Public policy in a pluralistic society", in Proceedings of the IVF Conference, Australia: Center for Human Bioethics, Monash University, 1987, pp. 106-123; ROBERT C. CEFALO, "Book Review: Embryo Experimentation, Peter Singer et al (eds.); 'Eggs, embryos and ethics'", Hastings Center Reports 1991, 21:5:41; MARIO MOUSSA and THOMAS A. SHANNON, "The search for the new pineal gland: Brain life and personhood", The Hastings Center Report 1992, 22:3:30-37; MICHAEL SHEA, "Embryonic life and human life", Journal of Medical Ethics 1985, 11:205-209; JOHN M. GOLDENRING, "The brain-life theory: Towards a consistent biological definition of humanness" Journal of Medical Ethics 1985, 11:198-204; TOMASINE KUSHNER, "Having a life versus being alive", Journal of Medical Ethics 1984, 10:5-8; MICHAEL V.L. BENNETT, "Personhood from a neuroscientific perspective", in Edd Doerr and James Prescott (eds.), Abortion Rights and Fetal "Personhood", Long Beach: Crestline Press, 1989, pp. 83-85.

See also these additional arguments for "delayed personhood": KAREN DAWSON, "Introduction: An outline of scientific aspects of embryo research", in Singer et al, Embryo Experimentation 1990, p. 3; ibid., "A scientific examination of some speculations about continuing human pre-embryo research", in Singer et al, Embryo Experimentation 1990, p. 26; ibid., "Fertilization and moral status: A scientific perspective", Journal of Medical Ethics 1987, 13:173-177; PETER SINGER, "Technology and procreation: How far should we go?", Technology Review, 1985; PETER SINGER and KAREN DAWSON, "IVF technology and the argument from potential", Philosophy and Public Affairs 1988, 17:87-104; PETER SINGER AND HELGA KUHSE, "The ethics of embryo research", Law, Medicine and Health Care 1986, 14:3-4:133-138; HELGA KUHSE and PETER SINGER, "Individuals, humans and persons: The issue of moral status", in Peter Singer et al, Embryo Experimentation 1990; MICHAEL TOOLEY, "Abortion and infanticide", in Marshall Cohen et al (eds.), The Rights and Wrongs of Abortions, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1974, pp. 59, 64; Helga Kuhse, "Thinking about destructive embryo experimentation", in Proceedings of the IVF Conference, Australia: Center for Human Bioethics, Monash University, 1987, pp. 96-105; Dame Mary. Warnock, "Do human cells have rights?", Bioethics 1987, 1:10-12; MICHAEL LOCKWOOD, "Human identity and the primitive streak", The Hastings Center Report 1995, Jan./Feb., p. 45; ALAN TROUNSON, "Why do research on human pre-embryos?", in Singer et al, Embryo Experimentation 1990, pp. 14-25; STEPHEN BUCKLE, "Arguing from potential", in Singer et al, Embryo Experimentation 1990, pp. 90-108.

Yet, as I've mentioned elsewhere, new, clever and ever erroneous scientific claims and linguistic rhetoric continue to confuse and darken the human conscience. Josef Pieper, a contemporary Catholic philosopher and theologian, recently wrote an amazing small book concerning the advertising and communications industries, The Abuse of Language - Abuse of Power, that is astonishingly applicable to the rhetoric found in these related debates about the abortion and the human embryo today. Such rhetoric, he notes, is not new. Plato attributed it to the Sophists whom he described as, "highly paid and popularly applauded experts in the art of twisting words; able to sweet-talk something bad into something good and to turn white into black." The truth itself cannot in all honesty be the decisive concern of those who aim at verbal artistry, he notes. Rather, as Plato forces Gorgias to admit, "such sophisticated language, disconnected from the roots of truth, in fact pursues some ulterior motives." Language is thus invariably turned into an instrument of power. "The place of authentic reality is taken over by a fictitious reality; my perception is indeed still directed toward an object, but now it is a pseudo-reality, deceptively appearing as being real, so much so that it becomes almost impossible any more to discern the truth." This is precisely what bothered Plato with his own contemporary Sophists. What makes the sophists so dangerous, said Plato, is that they "fabricate a fictitious reality." That the real world in which we all live can be taken over by pseudo-realities whose fictitious nature threatens to become unnoticed is truly a depressing thought. And yet this Platonic nightmare possesses an alarming contemporary relevance, for the general public is being reduced to a state where people not only are unable to find out about the truth but also become unable even to search for it. (Pieper 1992, pp. 7, 18-20, 34-35).

This darkening of the human conscience on these various but related issues concerning the early human being is of considerable concern to the Church:

The end result of this is tragic: not only is the fact of the destruction of so many human lives still to be born or in their final stage extremely grave and disturbing, but no less grave and disturbing is the fact that conscience itself, darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning, is finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life. ... [W]e need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception. ... Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 1995, pars. 4 and 58).

What is needed, the Church recognizes, is a cultural transformation: "The first and fundamental step towards this cultural transformation consists in forming consciences with regard to the incomparable and inviolable worth of every human life." It is especially important to "re-establish the essential connection between life and freedom" and "between freedom and truth," because when freedom is detached from objective truth "it becomes impossible to establish personal rights on a firm rational basis." In turn, this lays the ground for society "to be at the mercy of the unrestrained will of individuals or the oppressive totalitarianism of public authority." In particular, "there is a need for education about the value of life from its very origins" (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 1995, par 96).

Yes, at least to this extent I would agree with Peter Steinfels: we are indeed immersed in a cultural war - including an American Roman Catholic civil war. But it's been going on for over 40 years now. What's new is that the Church is finally responding.
“Steinfels 'War Over Abortion' and Notre Dame University”
by Dianne N. Irving
May 9, 2009


Barry Soetoro aka Barack Hussein Obama
is a
because he is not eligible to be President of the United States
because he is not a Natural Born Citizen
as required by Article Two, Section One, Clause Five
of the United States Constitution.
This is a fact regardless of
where he was born (Mombassa, Hawaii, Chicago, or Mars).

He is not a Natural Born Citizen
because he was not born of
at the time of his birth.
His father was a subject/ciitizen
of Kenya/Great Britain at the time of his birth and afterwards.

His mother was too young to pass on her US citizenship
according to the law in effect when he was born.

Check it out:

His usurpation cannot be corrected by Congress,
it can only be corrected by his resignation, his removal
by an amendment to the Constitution
which will never happen.


April 1, 2009

AP- WASHINGTON D.C. - In a move certain to fuel the debate over Obama's qualifications for the presidency, the group "Americans for Freedom of Information" has released copies of President Obama's college transcripts from Occidental College. Released today, the transcript indicates that Obama, under the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate at the school. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California. The transcript shows that Obama (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship. This document would seem to provide the smoking gun that many of Obama's detractors have been seeking.

The news has created a firestorm at the White House as the release casts increasing doubt about Obama's legitimacy and qualification to serve as president. When reached for comment in London, where he has been in meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Obama smiled but refused comment on the issue. Meanwhile, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs scoffed at the report stating that this was obviously another attempt by a right-wing conservative group to discredit the president and undermine the administration's efforts to move the country in a new direction.

Britain's Daily Mail has also carried the story in a front-page article titled, "Obama Eligibility Questioned", leading some to speculate that the story may overshadow economic issues on Obama's first official visit to the U.K.

In a related matter, under growing pressure from several groups, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear arguments concerning Obama's legal eligibility to serve as President in a case brought by Leo Donofrio of New Jersey. This lawsuit claims Obama's dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. Donofrio's case is just one of 18 suits brought by citizens demanding proof of Obama's citizenship or qualification to serve as president.

Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Obama's campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records. Mr. Kreep indicated that the investigation is still ongoing but that the final report will be provided to the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder. Mr. Holder has refused to comment on the matter.

According to Associated Press story shown below, Obama's tramscripts from Occidential College show that he was an undergradraduate at the school under the name Barry Soetoro, and received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia. I did a search using "Smoking gun finally found."
Here are a few of the websites that came up. None said it was false.;article3895;title=APFN

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