Tag Archives: california

California Missions Still Advancing The ‘Great Commission’

In 1769, Spanish Franciscan St. Junipero Serra crossed from Mexico into what is today California and founded the first of 21 in a chain of missions that would run up the length of the state. The purpose of Franciscan missions was to teach California ’s Indian tribes the Catholic faith, improve their standard of living, and make them citizens of the Spanish state. The missions prospered in their early years, winning Indian converts and often thriving economically.

But after Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, the missions were taken from the Church and their lands sold off to private parties. After California became a U.S. state in 1850, many of the mission buildings were returned to the Catholic Church, but they had passed from being a center of Catholic life in the state to decaying remnants of an earlier era.

 Yet by the latter half of the 19th century and into the 20th century, preservationists began to take the initiative to restore many of the mission sites, preserving disintegrating adobe buildings, repairing or replacing rotting wooden window frames and doors, and going in search of mission artifacts that were held in private hands. Throughout the state today, the missions are often popular tourist attractions, their original structures preserved to varying degrees. They contain some common elements, such as mission-style architecture, adobe buildings, arches, fountains and winding pathways, gardens, and Spanish colonial-era art. But each has its own unique characteristics and history. Here is a glimpse at three.

 Mission San Juan Capistrano – best preserved, bells still ring

The seventh of nine missions founded by St. Junipero Serra, California’s most famous missionary, Mission San Juan Capistrano is the “best preserved” of any mission in the state, according to docent Bob Spidell. Legatus’ San Juan Capistrano Chapter holds its meetings at the Mission every month, and hosted the 2019 Summit’s opening evening there.

Established in 1776, its 9-acre site includes Serra chapel, an adobe structure that is one of California’s oldest buildings. The long, narrow chapel is still used for daily Mass, and includes ornate Spanish art that predates the mission itself.

Another of the Capistrano mission’s unique features include its Great Stone Church, an impressive stone structure completed in 1806, but which collapsed in a massive earthquake during morning Mass on December 8, 1812. More than 40 worshippers were killed in the disaster.

 Among the Capistrano mission’s most notable features are its historic bells, rung annually on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19, during the mission’s most famous celebration, the Return of the Swallows.

Other structures on the grounds include 18th-century soldiers’ barracks, a kitchen, storage house, and dining room. There are also remnants of the mission work areas, such as its winery and metal smelting area.

The Capistrano mission calendar shows many impressive annual events, such as its Music Under the Stars summer concert series. The historic mission site is located alongside a new parish mission church and the parish school; take a stroll into the new church and see its magnificent Golden Retablo (altarpiece) installed in 2007.

Mission Santa Barbara – CA’s first Catholic Cathedral

The tenth of California’s missions, this is the first not founded by Fr. Serra himself. Fr. Fermin Lasuen, a protégé of Serra’s, established the Santa Barbara mission in 1786 after the saint had died. It served the Chumash Indians; during the period 1786-1846, over 4,700 Chumash were received into the Catholic faith.

 Popular features include the Sacred Garden with its tall palms and fountain; the oldest quadrangle of the mission that was originally a work area, but was transformed into a garden in the 19th century. The 1820 mission church with its neoclassical façade is another noteworthy feature. It is actually the third adobe church built on the site, and it replaced a previous church which collapsed in an 1812 earthquake (a few weeks after the one that destroyed the Capistrano church).

 Other original buildings include a convento wing where the mission’s museum is housed, with a second story added later in the 19th century. The museum depicts the role of baptized Chumash as artists, musicians, singers, and artisans, said Mónica Orozco, the mission’s executive director, and it houses a recording of the acts of faith, hope, and charity recited in Barbareño Chumash by Ernestine Ygnacio-De Soto, whose mother was the last fluent speaker of Barbareño Chumash.

The mission’s 15-acre site also includes a cemetery and historic mausoleum. Look for the large Ficus tree dating back to the 19th century, and the plaque marking the site where the famous Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island was buried (she lived alone on an island off California’s coast for nearly 20 years before coming to the mission; the children’s novel The Island of the Blue Dolphins is based on her story). Also enjoy an olive grove with Stations of the Cross, and La Huerta, a historical garden.

A recreated 17th-century kitchen gives visitors the chance to see the original building materials of adobe and sandstone, and a treasures room includes the mission’s original tabernacle and altar constructed by Chumash artisans in 1789.

The mission is home to 23 Franciscan friars and the order’s Franciscan Novitiate Program. It also served as the state’s first Catholic cathedral, and was the residence of its first bishop, Bishop García Diego. He is buried behind the altar in the church.

Mission San Miguel – founded for Salinan Indians

Located about halfway between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area along the 101 freeway is Mission San Miguel, another mission founded by Fr. Lasuen, this one in 1797. Founded by Franciscans to serve the Salinan Indians, it was administered by diocesan priests for a time, but since 1928 has again been given to the care of the Franciscans.

Its old adobe church was built from 1816-21, and is notable for its interior frescoes created by artist Esteban Munras. There is an adobe kitchen, dining room, reception area, and large open courtyard. Exhibits tell the story of the Salinan people and life in the early mission era.

Mission San Miguel’s history includes the most appalling mass murder ever committed on the grounds of a California mission. In 1848, the mission was the residence of William Reed and his family. It was the start of the Gold Rush, and Reed bragged he had struck it rich. Six men came to the mission to steal his gold. An orgy of killing began when one of the killers struck Reed from behind with an axe (you can still see the fireplace in front of which he was murdered). They went on to kill the rest of Reed’s family and his servants, including an Indian boy who begged for his life. A total of 11 died. No gold was discovered. A posse caught up with five of the killers; two were killed in a shootout and three captured and later executed. The sixth was never found.

Also part of the San Miguel mission’s story is the 2003 earthquake that severely damaged its buildings and led to its temporary closure. The diocese raised $15 million for repairs, and the mission has since reopened to the public. But, as with all the missions, repair and restoration is ongoing.

When visiting California, make time to visit one or more of the missions. They are a rich part of the state’s history, and the birthplace of the Catholic faith in California. Check websites for hours, costs, and tour information. Most are functioning parishes, so look for Mass and Confession times. It will be a greatly treasured experience.

JIM GRAVES is a Catholic writer living in Newport Beach, California.

What’s the harm, anyway?

John Eastman says strongest case against same-sex ‘marriage’ is natural . . .

John C. Eastman

After nearly a decade of fighting with every branch of their state government over the definition of marriage, Californians finally got their say in 2008 when they approved Prop 8, the voter initiative that restored the traditional definition of marriage to the state’s constitution.

A lawsuit in state court challenging the people’s right to adopt the initiative failed, but then a federal suit challenged traditional marriage as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The proponents of the initiative have had to provide the legal defense on their own because their elected officials — then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and now Governor Jerry Brown — have refused to defend the initiative in court.

A show trial was held, and the federal judge who was assigned the case (and who after the trial admitted to being in a long-term homosexual relationship himself) held that traditional marriage was unconstitutional. The government refused to appeal the ruling, so the official proponents now stand alone in defense of the initiative. On Nov. 17, the state’s high court ruled that the Prop 8 campaign has standing to defend the law, noting that California courts have consistently allowed “official proponents” of an initiative to “to defend a challenged voter-approved initiative measures.”

An interesting question generated some particularly troubling discussion in the trial court’s order. “Just what harm will come to your marriage,” the trial court asked the official proponents, “if same-sex couples are also able to get married?” The U.S. Supreme Court recognized more than a century ago that traditional marriage, consisting of “the union for life of one man and one woman,” is “the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization.” It is “one of the cornerstones of our civilized society,” Justice Hugo Black added in 1971. (See related story.)

Since we embraced no-fault divorce in the 1960s, we have witnessed a huge increase in out-of-wedlock births, a huge increase in broken homes, and huge increases in juvenile delinquency, juvenile depression and child poverty. Call me crazy, but these seem to be related. We know, for example, that children raised by both of their biological parents perform better in school and are better prepared for life than kids who are not. By loosening the legal bonds of matrimony, the no-fault divorce movement also weakened the cultural bonds, and it launched a trend that has undermined the institution of marriage and the societal benefits that flow from it. Men are less responsible, women with children are less secure and our kids are worse off. What harm indeed!

Still, the proponents of homosexual “marriage” persist. “If marriage is such a beneficial institution, we should expand it to cover gays and lesbian couples as well,” they argue. Yet what they demand is not a mere expansion, but a fundamental transformation of the institution. No longer would marriage be defined by its primary historical purpose, fostering procreation and rearing of children in a stable familial relationship. Rather, it would now be all about the adults, and the tie between marriage and diapers wouldn’t just be weakened but entirely severed. As Judge Vaughn Walker noted in his ruling holding Prop 8 unconstitutional, gender will no longer be relevant to such an institution, and procreation was never really a part of it anyway. Can it really be so hard to see that such a move would exacerbate the collateral-damage-to-kids trend begun a generation ago? Perhaps even be the nail in the coffin of the once-venerable institution of marriage?

It’s important to note that this defense of traditional marriage is not drawn from biblical injunction, though it certainly coincides with it. Neither is it grounded in “anti-gay bigotry,” an accusation that has been so frequently leveled against the defenders of traditional marriage. One need not wade into the dispute about the morality or immorality of homosexual conduct to recognize, as Chief Justice Margaret Marshall did in her opinion for the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts imposing same-sex “marriage” in that state back in 2003, that the capacity for unassisted procreation is an “unbridgeable difference between same-sex and opposite-sex couples.”

By redefining marriage to bridge that unbridgeable difference, the generative function of marriage will become legally irrelevant, and the social and cultural norms, already on the skids, will not be far behind. It’s hard to imagine a greater harm to society — or one of more lasting consequence.

Dr. John Eastman is a Professor of Law at Chapman University School of Law, the Chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, and a member of Legatus’ Orange County Chapter.

Half century of holiness

Music-making monks at St. Michael’s Abbey mark 50 years in Southern California . . .

Southern California is known for many things: sunshine, surfing, movie stars and the modern life. Few people would associate this part of the country with monks singing Gregorian chant at a monastery — something more closely associated with the Middle Ages in Europe. Yet that’s exactly what you will find in Orange County.

The real deal

St. Michael’s Abbey boasts a vibrant community of 70 Norbertine priests — one of the fastest growing abbeys in the country. On any given Sunday, 40% of all parishes in the Los Angeles, San Diego or Orange dioceses have a Norbertine priest preaching at one of their Masses.

This group of white-robed men, who live according to the 900-year-old tradition of St. Norbert, give witness to their faith and how to live it out in the 21st century. And California Catholics can’t help but notice.

Travis King

Travis King, president of the St. Michael’s Abbey Foundation — the business arm of the Abbey — recalls his first meeting.

“When my wife and I converted, we were on fire with the faith,” he explained. “It was a breath of fresh air to meet the Norbertines. Everybody who meets them, without fail, says that they are the ‘real deal.’ They live authentically.”

King, a member of Legatus’ San Diego Chapter, recalls the effect on his own children when they went to a summer camp run by the Norbertines.

“I saw the biggest transformation in my kids. My son wouldn’t stop talking about them. ‘Let’s say the rosary,’ he would say to me. Or he would wake me up at 6:30 am and say, ‘Dad, let’s go to Mass.’”

King himself felt so drawn to the Norbertines that he eventually discerned that God was calling him to work with them full-time. Today he heads their foundation, which raises funds and provides financial transparency for the order.

Half century

St. Michael’s Abbey was founded by a group of seven Hungarian Norbertine priests who fled religious persecution in 1950. Communists had taken over Hungary in 1945 and began closing all Catholic schools. By 1950, they were arresting priests.

“They fled to several countries,” said Abbot Eugene Hayes, head of St. Michael’s Abbey. “Two went to France, two to Austria and three to the U.S. Finally in 1957, all seven were accepted into the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

During these years, the priests learned or improved their English. They also looked for land to build a monastery. In 1957, the priests were invited to teach at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. In 1960, they purchased a 37-acre property for what would become St. Michael’s Abbey.

Now, a half century later, the Norbertine community has grown to 70 men. The Abbey is home to a boarding high school called St. Michael’s Preparatory School and a Norbertine seminary. Twenty-three men are in seminary formation. The rest teach at the high school, seminary or other schools — from elementary to college level — in the dioceses of Orange and Los Angeles. Saint Michael’s Abbey also runs a summer camp. Norbertine priests regularly speak to Legatus’ four Orange County chapters and beyond.

Music men

What impresses most people is the fact that these men live the same way that their founder, St. Norbert, did in the 12th century. They live a communal, monastic life — and own nothing. Once they enter the order, they live a life of poverty. They sing the choral office and Mass every day.

“We get up at 5:30 am every day and process into the Church,” said Abbot Hayes.

Their morning prayers are all done in Gregorian chant. The Norbertines go into their chapel a total of seven times a day, singing every time. All their singing is done acapella, which led to the idea of recording the men’s voices.

“In 2002, our founding abbot heard us sing the tracts of the Easter Vigil,” said Fr. Jerome Molokie, director of development. The tracts are chants sung between the seven readings from the Old Testament. Abbot Ladislas Parker was taken by their simple beauty.

“He made a motion during a summer meeting to record the chants for our own archives. I was musical director since 1994, so I said that we needed recording equipment. I got a microphone and CD burners and we recorded the track.”

Once they finished, the Norbertines were pleased with the result.

“So we decided to go on and record polyphonic pieces, not just Gregorian chant,” Fr. Jerome explained.

The monks burned several copies of CDs and gave a few away to friends of the community. They thought this was the end of their musical endeavors, but Divine Providence had other plans.

Recording career

In 2007, Fr. Jerome’s office assistant gave him a curious message from Jade Records. The company was interested in the monastery’s music. Father Jerome called back, somewhat embarrassed, because selling musical CDs was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind at St. Michael’s Abbey. Nevertheless, he sent them a copy of a homemade CD.

After Jade’s director Stefan Karrer got the disc, he immediately called Fr. Jerome back and told him that his people had “flipped out” over the recording and wanted to market it internationally.

The Norbertines of St. Michael’s Abbey decided to go for it. To date, they’ve recorded three discs — Christmas music, Gregorian chant and an anthology, which includes chants and polyphony.

The recordings have become a form of apostolate, Fr. Jerome said. “The CDs have brought in thousands of dollars, but that wasn’t why we did it. We did it so that we could become better known.”

Besides singing, teaching and preaching, the Norbertines have another project on their minds these days: moving and building a bigger abbey. They recently discovered that the entire property upon which the abbey was built is geologically unstable. The monks need to move or they may find themselves at the mercy of a mudslide.

They’ve set in motion plans to build an abbey that would house 100 men. Since more and more men enter the Norbertines every year, housing has become a problem. But it’s a good problem.

Tim Busch, a member of Legatus’ Orange County Chapter, knows the Norbertines through work they’ve done at two schools he and his wife Steph founded: St. Anne’s Elementary School and JSerra High School.

“They are awesome. They stand for faith and hope,” Busch said. “What can Catholics learn, in general, from their way of life? They have a life right from the Middle Ages, but their lives are pertinent to today. Many feel the Norbertines are out of touch, but they are really the only ones in touch.”

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.

Impact culture for Christ

Connolly was inspired to found a new university dedicated to changing the culture . . .

If there’s one thing Dr. Derry Connolly can attest to, it’s that God works in mysterious ways. Connolly’s chance visit to Franciscan University of Steubenville 10 years ago led to what he believes was a divine challenge to found John Paul the Great Catholic University.

JP Catholic, as it’s commonly called, has a mission so singular that its student body is growing rapidly and the college expands its programs annually. That mission (in the words of its motto) is to “impact culture for Christ” by heeding Pope John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization and articulating the faith through modern media with a spotlight on transforming the entertainment industry in Hollywood — based 120 miles north of its San Diego campus.

Franciscan inspiration

Dr. Derry Connolly

Dr. Derry Connolly

The idea for JP Catholic came when Connolly took time off from his administrative duties at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and traveled to Steubenville, Ohio, to visit a prospective college that his high-school aged children wanted to see.

“I was at Franciscan with my kids, but very much against my will,” recalled Connolly. “But I was blown away by what I saw”— as was his daughter, who would enroll there and today is married to the son of a Franciscan philosophy professor.

Connolly saw a vibrantly Catholic campus, cheerful in the faith and serious about academics. He was also impressed by a book that he “randomly” picked up in the university library: The Challenge and Promise of a Catholic University by Fr. Theodore M. Hesburgh, the University of Notre Dame’s influential activist president who led a movement of Catholic schools away from ecclesiastical authority.

Their manifesto, the “Land O’ Lakes Statement” of 1967, demanded “autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical.” The realization of such autonomy has contributed to the mission drift and confused identity wracking Catholic higher education today.

Flipping through the book, Connolly was taken aback by the author’s contention that “a great Catholic university must begin by being a great university.” Are not being great and being Catholic simultaneously achievable, he wondered, not to mention doubly desirable? Indeed, are they not as complimentary as faith and reason?

Praying before the Blessed Sacrament the next night, Connolly had an inspiration: to replicate Franciscan’s fervent but reasonable faith on a new campus back in San Diego.

“‘God, no!’ I thought to myself,” the native Irishman said in his melodious brogue. He tried to trample the idea, which would alter his professional and personal life, but the seed was planted and continued to germinate. After three years, he decided it was time to take God’s challenge seriously. “I thought I had better give it a try, and if I failed I would tell God that I gave it my best shot.”

New university

Connolly, now 56, launched into the project with Irish passion, aided by a skill set atypical of college founders: a Ph.D. in applied mechanics from Cal-Tech, 15 years working for IBM and Kodak with eight patents to his name and over a decade as a professor and UCSD administrator. But this combination of technical expertise, entrepreneurship and administrative ability would serve him well.

Today, four years after JP Catholic opened its doors, with one graduating class already in the field (the second class graduates on Sept. 11) and a current enrollment of about 160 students, Connolly sees no imminent prospect of admitting defeat.

“John Paul II hit the nail on the head when he said that nothing impacts modern culture like the media,” he said. “And we’re showing we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Connolly’s enthusiasm for the school and its cause are contagious, perhaps all the more so because he tempers his enthusiasm with realism. He recognizes that it takes a new university up to 20 years to achieve significant size and status. (A 1,600 student body is JP Catholic’s enrollment goal.) Results to date, however, have already engendered the confidence of benefactors and industry professionals.

Steve McEveety

Steve McEveety

“They’re definitely fulfilling a need for the Church,” said Steve McEveety, a Hollywood producer with such movies to his credit as The Passion of the Christ and Braveheart. His production company, Mpower Pictures, has hosted JP Catholic interns.

“A powerful way to draw souls to Christ — or turn them away, unfortunately — is through the mass media,” he explained. JP Catholic “might be a baby now, but because it’s doing good work and continually getting better, I expect it to be around for a long time … working toward the long-term goal of bringing more light to the entertainment business.”

Cultural impact

Accordingly, JP Catholic has a practical approach geared toward teaching students the technical and artistic skills necessary to create media projects — and the entrepreneurial skills to market them. Additionally, whether undergraduates major in business or media (the two undergrad majors now offered, with another in technology being devised), they all take a liberal arts core of philosophy, theology, literature, art and music taught by faculty who affirm Catholic orthodoxy.

Before graduating, students work in teams to complete a Senior Business Plan, planning viable start-up companies that some graduates already have founded. A new MBA program will further hone skills in such areas as producing movies and budgeting, and a master’s program in biblical theology is intended to better prepare students to plant seeds of faith in a field that needs religious nourishment.

JP Catholic’s unique mission to impact culture for Christ through the intersection of business, media and technology is the primary motivating factor for students to attend, according to Matthew Salisbury, a member of the school’s inaugural class. The former seminarian graduated last year with extensive experience — including a web-based reality program (BUMP+) focusing on women facing crisis pregnancies. The program drew national media interest from The Washington Post and The Laura Ingraham Show.

Currently enrolled in the MBA program, Salisbury is also working on a screenplay about the Shroud of Turin that he and several colleagues — including JP Catholic students and faculty — will pitch to studios this fall.

“Our faith celebrates some of the most powerful stories ever told,” Salisbury said. “Building works of historical fiction around what we know of them in this medium seems to be a perfect fit. This is exactly why I was drawn to JP Catholic in the first place: to impact the culture, to witness to Christ through entertainment media.”

Matthew A. Rarey is Legatus Magazine’s editorial assistant.

Formed for eternity

Parents must not abdicate their responsibility to form their children . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Five California high school students were threatened with suspension for showing up to class wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the American flag on Cinco de Mayo last month.

According to Fox News, the vice principal at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Calif., asked the boys to remove American flag bandannas and to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out, saying the shirts were “incendiary.” The boys, some of whom were Mexican-American, opted to leave school and go home for the day.

After the dust settled, the vice principal apologized. But this political-correctness-run-amuck is symptomatic of the illogical and hypersensitive thinking so prevalent in America’s public schools every day. This sensitivity, however, stops when it comes to any sort of patriotic or Christian expression. In 1962 (and again in 1963), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prayer led by school officials is unconstitutional, and the results have been devastating. In some areas, schools have become virtual war zones with metal detectors and a heavy police presence.

When it came time for my wife and I to decide where to educate our children, the choice was a relatively easy one. My wife is a former school teacher and has the necessary skills to homeschool. But even more importantly, we were not about to abandon the rearing of our children to a secular system that is quite often hostile to the faith. The Catechism says that parents are responsible for their children’s “moral and their spiritual formation. The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute” (#2221).

Clearly, homeschooling is not for everyone. Some parents don’t have the patience, skills or time to effectively carry out a home-based curriculum. Single parents depend on family or other childcare during the day and have precious little time after work. Dual income parents may depend on a second income just to get by. Others may send their kids to exceptional Catholic schools, faithful to the teachings of the Church and able to provide children with a balanced education.

Whether parents opt for a public, private or home-based education for their children, the Church urges them to remember that “parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children [and that] the home is well suited for education in the virtues” (CCC #2223). The family is the primary building block of society, and the home is where most of life’s lessons are learned (and taught) whether we intend it or not.

If parents abdicate their responsibility to form their children in the faith, the world is certainly ready, willing and able to form them according to the secular, humanistic worldview so prevalent these days. It’s a wise Catholic parent (or grandparent) who works hard to ensure that the youngsters in their lives are formed to fight the good fight and bring more souls along for the ride.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.

The Roe v. Wade of marriage

The decision in California’s Prop 8 trial could impact marriage nationwide . . .

It could turn out to be the Roe v Wade of marriage.

Perry v Schwarzenegger opened in a federal district court in San Francisco on Jan. 11, with expectations that the case will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

If it does, the high court could decide on the constitutionality nationwide of same-sex “marriage.”

Constitutionality

California’s Supreme Court ruled in May 2008 that a ban on same-sex “marriage” violated the state’s constitution. Californians responded by getting Prop. 8 on the ballot. It passed in November 2008, and the state Supreme Court upheld it.

Meanwhile, the American Foundation for Equal Rights filed suit on behalf of two same-sex couples in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to challenge Prop. 8’s validity.

State attorney general Jerry Brown declined to defend the law, saying he agreed with the plaintiffs. So private legal groups have stepped in to defend the amendment, including the Alliance Defense Fund.

The plaintiffs were represented by Theodore Olson and David Boies, who argued their case for same-sex “marriage” largely on civil rights grounds. They tried to demonstrate that Prop. 8 passed on the basis of anti-homosexual bias.

“The arguments being made by the pro-same-sex-marriage side are extreme interpretations of the Constitution that should be rejected by the court,” said Jordan Lorence, senior counsel for Alliance Defense Fund, who was part of the legal team defending Prop. 8 in court. “For example, that there is a constitutional right for an individual to force the government to redefine marriage.” The Supreme Court already rejected that approach, he said, when polygamists tried to do just that in the 1880s.

“Prop. 8 was a reasonable decision by the voters,” Lorence explained. “If it’s struck down, it will give a legal basis to challenge the decision in the 30 other states where voters have passed measures defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman,” as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law and provides that no state shall be required to give effect to a law of any other state with respect to a same-sex “marriage.”

Religious liberty

In the estimation of Alan E. Sears, president, CEO and general counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund, the challenge to Prop. 8 raises important questions, such as whether citizens have a right to govern themselves.

“Does a society have the ability to define its own order?” he asked. “The family is the first institution. It precedes all other forms of government.”

Sears, a member of Legatus’ Phoenix Chapter, is also concerned about religious and civil liberties. If same-sex “marriage” is legalized, will others have the right to conduct their affairs according to the dictates of their conscience? Elane Photography, for example, is one of the Alliance Defense Fund’s clients. Its owner, Elaine Huguenin, was ordered by New Mexico’s human rights commission to pay damages to a woman who had asked her to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. Huguenin refused because of her religious convictions.

“Adopting same-sex ‘marriage’ would make it discriminatory to even advocate that marriage between a man and a woman has some higher value to society,” said Bill May, chair of a lay Catholic coalition supporting Prop. 8.

The three-week trial was presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker.

Observers were cautiously hopeful of the outcome.

“The record is being made,” said proponent Charles LiMandri, a San Diego attorney who had been active in the Prop. 8 campaign. He was referring to the testimony and data that will be examined in the almost-certain event that a higher court will take an appeal from the losing side in this trial.

“We want to get a good testimony and good exhibits out there, so they’ll say this proves that voters had the right to decide the issue and it’s not based on any animus against gays,” said LiMandri, a member of Legatus’ San Diego Chapter.

There are “tons of sociological data supporting the fact that marriage is good for those involved in it” — and for any children who are produced by it. “No society has survived that has adopted another model,” LiMandri said.

John Burger is a freelance writer and the National Catholic Register’s news editor.

Summit challenges the culture

John Hunt writes that the Feb. 4-6 event will be the highlight of the Legatus year . . .

John J. Hunt

John J. Hunt

You’re invited! The consummate Legatus experience of any year is our Annual Summit. In just three months, the next Summit will be held in Dana Point, Calif.

The Feb. 4-6 event promises to be the highlight of the Legatus year. If you’ve never experienced a summit, you haven’t enjoyed the full benefits of your membership. Legates who return from their first Summit are in awe of the entire experience, and they return again and again. Come and see for yourself.

The upcoming Summit’s lineup of speakers is an extraordinary sampling of the finest Catholic hierarchy — and lay men and women — who will inspire and motivate Legates to Challenge the Culture, the gathering’s theme.

The sight of our Legatus chaplains concelebrating Mass with Francis Cardinal George, archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and Bishop Tod Brown, Diocese of Orange, will be a moving representation of our quest to grow in the faith. Enjoy a breathtaking liturgy in the exquisite San Juan Capistrano Basilica, and revel in the Old Mission’s history.

2010-summit-250The Summit, however, is more than a spiritual event. You will be challenged to embrace your role as Catholic laity in a culture that seeks to minimize our faith, values and even human life itself. You will return home emboldened to defend life and all the tenets of our Catholic faith after hearing from Patricia Heaton, a pro-life Emmy Award-winning actress. You’ll hear reflections on the state of the economy from Thomas Donohue, president of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.

All of this, coupled with the fellowship of Legates from across the United States and beyond, will give you an experience you’ll never forget.

PS: As you read this message, we approach that time of year when your Legatus membership is about to renew. I’m sure that the enjoyment of the monthly chapter experiences, enhanced by your growth in the faith is a gift to be treasured. Renew today to assure yourself another year of spiritual refreshment!

John Hunt is Legatus’ executive director. He and his wife Kathie are members of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter.

Marriage and religious freedom in America

First Amendment rights on collision course in three states

There is an old saying: “As California goes, so goes the nation.”

If the saying holds true, then the greatest fight in America’s culture wars will take place on Nov. 4 when Californians vote on Proposition 8 — a state constitutional amendment which defines marriage as being solely between one man and one woman.

Although California’s Supreme Court legalized same-sex “marriage” last May, Prop 8 could overturn that ruling. Voters in Arizona and Florida will also decide on constitutional amendments to protect traditional marriage on Election Day.

Persecution

Should the amendments fail, experts say the Catholic Church can expect severe repercussions in these states.

“The religious persecution against the Church will be staggering if Proposition 8 fails,” said Legatus member Charles LiMandri, general counsel for the National Organization for Marriage, one of the leading groups defending marriage in California.

LiMandri has been fighting the battle to protect marriage for years — in and out of the courtroom. He bemoans the fact that many Catholics simply don’t understand the repercussions of legalized same-sex “marriage.” He cites SB777, a California law passed a year ago, which bans anything in public schools that could be interpreted as negative toward homosexuality, bisexuality and other alternative lifestyle choices.

“Textbooks are being rewritten so that they don’t talk about moms and dads anymore, only spouses,” said LiMandri. “The language has to hold up homosexuals as having parity to heterosexuals. California sells textbooks all over the country. Children are being told in schools to reject their parents’ values.”

The same thing happened in Massachusetts after the courts legalized same-sex marriage in 2003. In that state, preschoolers are being taught that gays can marry and that gender does not matter. Parents sued, but they lost.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain supports marriage amendments. Democratic nominee Barack Obama does not.

During a Democratic debate last fall, Obama said he had no problem with children learning about homosexuality. He was asked about King & King, a children’s book about a prince whose mother pressures him to find a princess, but instead he falls in love with and marries the brother of one of the prospective brides. The book is used in Boston’s public schools.

Faith-based hate crimes

American Catholics will likely face the same legal issues as those in countries where same-sex “marriage” is legal. Catholics in Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden have been forced to defend the faith in court.

Priests who explain Church teaching on homosexuality have been charged with “hate crimes.” Religious institutions are not allowed to discriminate in hiring “married” homosexuals. Fair housing laws require faith-based universities to grant housing to same-sex couples. Public accommodation laws require churches to rent their halls for same-sex “marriages.”

Parishes and dioceses could also face the prospect of losing their tax-exempt status for not teaching that homosexuality is normal. Religious schools would be required to change their curriculums. Religious institutions may be excluded from providing social services. Boston’s Catholic Charities stopped facilitating adoptions last year because they would not give children to same-sex parents.

Religious hospitals would also face a host of challenges for not performing sex-change operations or artificial insemination. In San Diego earlier this year, two Christian physicians lost a suit after refusing to artificially inseminate a lesbian woman.

“What it boils down to is this: If a sacrament of your faith is declared to be a form of hatred under law, it sets in motion an inexorable logic,” said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage. “This leads to the silencing of your faith.”

Dangerous precedents

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has referred to same-sex “marriage” as the single greatest problem of our times.

“The problem — and it’s a very serious one — is this: Anything that weakens marriage weakens society at large,” he said. “Marriage is the foundation of the family, and family is the foundation of society. For Christians, marriage has two equal purposes: The unity and love of the spouses and the rearing of children. But long before Christianity, marriage as an institution was tied to sexual fertility and existed primarily for the protection of children and their mothers who create the future with new life.”

While most Catholics believe in the value of marriage, some are hard pressed to see the danger of same-sex “marriage.” But anything that redefines it from its unique legal and social status endangers society, said Archbishop Chaput.

“Homosexual persons cannot together conceive children, and therefore cannot enter into a marriage,” he explained. “This is not an issue of ‘equal rights’ or a judgment on the virtue of homosexually oriented persons.Marriage is a reflection of human nature and biological fact, codified by culture and history.When we tinker with the meaning of something so basic to our everyday life, we’re asking for trouble.”

Activists from across the country have been pouring money into efforts to defeat California Prop 8. The ACLU has given millions. The other side doesn’t have the same resources.

“There are two ways to look at this,” said Daniels. “After 30 years of social disintegration, all the problems in society from teen pregnancy to crime can be closely tracked to the family’s breakdown. It is the single most consistent factor — more than race or economics. This is a struggle to protect the legal foundation of the family and its social status.”

Daniels points to the inconsistency of declaring that not having a dad or a mom is now irrelevant.

“This is completely at odds with 30 years of social research,” he said. “Bad ideas have bad consequences. This is a terrible idea. Look at all the kids whose lives have been devastated by the lack of a father. And now the law is saying this is a good thing.”

Sabrina Arena-Ferrisi is a staff writer for Legatus Magazine.

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Florida

Florida Marriage Protection Amendment (Amendment 2), will require 60% in favor for passage.

Arizona

In 2006, Arizona became the first state to reject constitutional protection for traditional marriage. Prop 17 also rejected domestic partnerships and civil unions. This year’s ballot measure simply defines marriage as being only between one man and one woman.

California

In 2000, 61% of the Californians voted for Prop 22, which defined marriage as one man/one woman. Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex “marriage.” Prop 8 could overturn that decision.

Resources:

protectmarriage.com, nationformarriage.org, allianceformarriage.org

California court clamps down on religious freedom

Supreme Court ruling crosses the line, critics say

The California Supreme Court ruled that patient demand for nonessential, electice care trumps physicians’ freedom of conscience and their ability to practice medicine in accordance with their religious or moral beliefs.

According to the court’s Aug. 18 ruling, physicians’ constitutional right to practice their faith doesn’t exempt them from following state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

That holds true, Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote in the 18-page decision, “even if compliance poses an incidental conflict with the defendants’ religious beliefs.”

If a doctor wants to refuse a service on religious grounds, the court found, he or she must refuse all patients or provide a doctor who can provide the service to everyone. The decision comes only three months after the same court struck down a ban on same-sex “marriage.”

Catholics were quick to dispute the ruling.

“No one has the right to demand a nonemergency medical procedure from someone who finds that procedure morally unacceptable or religiously objectionable,” said Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry. “This case did not involve a life-and-death situation but only a possible inconvenience — one which required the patient to ‘walk across the office.’”

Guadalupe “Lupita” Benítez, a lesbian, filed suit after a San Diego-based clinic refused her a fertility treatment in 1999. The doctors, who are Christian, said that they denied the treatment because Benítez was unmarried, and that they were allowed to do so under the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion.

Kenneth R. Pedroza, who represented the doctors, said the ruling would probably cause many physicians to refuse to perform inseminations at all. Pedroza said his client did not violate the law because it did not bar discrimination on the basis of marital status in 1999. The state law has since been amended.

The Capitol Resource Institute, a California family policy advocacy group, said in a statement that “the California Supreme Court’s decision proves that these activist judges are willing to deny our First Amendment religious freedom in order to create rights for homosexuals.”

“This case starkly demonstrates the take-no-prisoners approach of the gay rights movement,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, a legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom. “They will not stop until they have silenced or bankrupted every voice of conscience who disagrees with them.”

This article includes reporting from LifeSiteNews.com and Catholic News Service.