With Good Reason

December 01, 2009
Death Panels?
By Father Thomas Berg

Earl Blumenauer is a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /Oregon. He took credit recently in the New York Times for authoring the now infamous end-of-life provisions which, in varying forms, are still alive in both House and Senate healthcare reform bills.  Most notorious among these was the 'death panels' provision as coined by Governor Sarah Palin.  

While over the top, the term 'death panel'...

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November 24, 2009
Thanksgiving 2009 and the End of the Decade
By Father Thomas Berg

Next Thanksgiving will find us, please God, at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century. Our present celebration this Thursday finds us at the close of the peculiarly enumerated decade of the '00s.  Not surprisingly, the New York Times' David Segal recently invited readers to get a head start on one of America's favorite intellectual fetishes: "name that decade."

"You know the rules," wrote Segal: "coin a pithy, reductive phrase that somehow encapsulates the multitude of...

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November 17, 2009
Of Bishops, Healthcare and the Stupak Amendment
By Father Thomas Berg

 

I must have missed it.

Apparently, late on the evening of Saturday November 7, as the U.S. House of Representatives was about to vote on the healthcare reform bill (H.R.3962), several Catholic bishops and a cardinal or two strong armed their way into the House chamber and forced a majority of the members (including 64 Democrats) to vote for an amendment (the Stupak-Pitts amendment) which would prevent the healthcare bill from opening new avenues for the federal funding of abortions.

Yes,...



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November 10, 2009
Fruits of the Same Tree
By Father Thomas Berg

Scientists can now make human eggs and sperm, no men or women needed. 

Let me repeat that:  as reported recently in the journal Nature, researchers at Stanford University have successfully produced human sperm and eggs from embryonic stem cells. This should come as no surprise since sperm and eggs are specific kinds cells, and human embryonic stem cells have the capacity to give rise to all cell types in the human body.  In fact, researchers have been working hard to make this happen for the...

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November 03, 2009
The Faith that Makes Us Human
By Father Thomas Berg

This is part seven of my reflections on Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger's book, Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures. If you missed the earlier columns, here are the links: part one; part two; part three; part four; part five; part six.


In Part III of Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, Pope Benedict turns to the question of Christian faith: "the fundamental act of Christian existence."

Why, we might ask, does he choose to draw his reflections to a close by turning to the...


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October 27, 2009
The Stakes in Afghanistan
By Father Thomas Berg

The war in Afghanistan and our continued commitment to that battle raises any number of moral issues. These were recently addressed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a letter sent to the United States government's National Security Advisor General James L. Jones USMC (Ret.).  Of course, America's military engagement of the Taliban has roots in the 9/11 attacks.  Most observers find the U.S. at a critical juncture, and are anxiously waiting for President Obama to make a decision...

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October 20, 2009
An Abortion Mandate in the Making
By Father Thomas Berg

Last week saw significant progress toward a final version of a healthcare reform bill which could be voted on by Congress as early as the end of October.  The path toward that final bill is so tortuous, however, that even experts disagree on just how it will be accomplished.  As explained to me by my colleague  Dorinda Bordlee, Executive Director and Senior Counsel for Bioethics Defense Fund, and editorialized in the San Francisco Examiner, the bill was taken behind closed doors in the...

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October 13, 2009
Some thoughts about public discourse
By Father Thomas Berg

Readers will forgive me for waxing philosophical for just one column. But let's take a step back from healthcare reform, unemployment, the economy, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Gitmo, water-boarding, gay marriage and stem cell research to think for a minute about just how the exchange of ideas is faring in the public square these days.

It is Christopher Tollefson, professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina, who has me thinking about this. His recently published and ...

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October 06, 2009
The 'Common Ground' Non-Argument
By Father Thomas Berg

Many within and without the Catholic Church have suggested of late that a "common ground" approach is the way to resolve our sharp cultural divide on the issue of  federal funding for abortions.  Within current debates over healthcare reform, "common ground" has taken on a more specific meaning, namely, to maintain the status quo on federal funding.  Supposedly this would be a reasonable way ahead, especially to open a path for healthcare reform we could all live with.  

Among advocates of...

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September 29, 2009
Some Objectivity on Abortion and Healthcare Reform
By Father Thomas Berg

Since I last wrote in August about the healthcare reform bills currently before Congress, there remains much public consternation and confusion as to whether these bills will or will not provide government funded abortion coverage. This concern is not surprising when public opposition to such coverage is mounting as demonstrated by recent polls. Last Tuesday, a new survey commissioned by the USCCB revealed that fully 60% of those who support health care reform oppose government funding for...

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