A Cultural Earthquake

Cardinal Stafford was right.




CNN called Stafford’s remarks in a speech at Catholic University in November a “rant” and “diatribe.” Apparently one isn’t permitted in polite society to refer to Obama’s election as revolutionary unless the statement is meant positively.


Cardinal Stafford also made the mistake of taking Obama’s stated agenda and 100 percent pro-abortion voting record seriously.


“If Obama, Biden, and the new Congress are determined to implement the anti-life agenda which they spelled out before the election, I foresee the next several years as being among the most divisive in our nation’s history,” said Stafford. “If their proposals should be initiated and enacted, it would be impossible for the American bishops to repeat in the future what their predecessors described the United States in 1884 as ‘this home of freedom.’”


Doug Kmiec, former dean of Catholic University’s law school, dismissed Stafford’s comments as a “caricature,” and declared “that President Obama has far more in common with our great faith tradition than any political administration in recent memory.” He added that the “‘change’ President Obama speaks of is the same transformation of culture that the cardinal has worked for all his life in Christ’s name.”


That would come as a surprise to Obama’s most fervent supporters. It should also come as a surprise to anyone who visits www.change.gov, the “official Web site of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team.” There visitors are assured that Obama “has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President.”


The tremors of the cultural earthquake of which Stafford speaks appear here and there on the Web site: it promises, among other things, “research of human embryonic stem cells derived from embryos,” increased funding for “comprehensive sex education,” “full civil unions” for homosexuals, and an end to “insurance discrimination against contraception.”


Barack Obama measures progress not by growing adherence to the natural moral law but by its abolition. A small but telling sign of the radical relativism that underpins his plans for America is that change.gov contains a special section devoted to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community.


The section promises “to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions.”


What God has joined together, Obama intends to put asunder. Stafford’s speech holds up perfectly well. America is, indeed, moving toward division, not unity, and division of the deepest kind: a widening, institutionalized separation of America from God’s intentions for man. Obama’s stated agenda represents a broader and more ambitious rejection of the natural moral law than the country has ever seen.


Without the natural law to inform his eloquent phrases, they don’t mean anything. “Peace” isn’t built on violence against the weak. “Unity” isn’t achieved without objective truth. “Freedom” can’t survive the slavery of sin. “Rights” aren’t coherent if they cancel each other out. And true “hope” doesn’t exist in a country unless a person can be born into it without an attempt on his life.


The source of America’s promise lies in unfolding respect for rights and goods determined by God. That’s the measurement of hope. But where those rights and goods are uprooted or redefined by politicians in an affront to God and harm to man, that’s an index of despair.


In his victory speech, Obama spoke of realizing the “dream” of America’s founders and said Americans “may not get there in one year or even one term, but America—I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you—we as a people will get there.” But where is “there”? Is it the fulfillment of a dream or the beginning of a nightmare?


Some very dark shadows fall beneath Obama’s rainbow, and Church leaders like Cardinal Stafford are right to point them out.


George Neumayr is editor of Catholic World Report.

During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama’s supporters often cast his candidacy in sweeping terms, seeing

 in him the consummation of all things “progressive.” Obama, said his fans in a frequent refrain, is the “one we have been waiting for.”

In June of 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Web site posted a commentary piece by one supporter that called Obama a “Lightworker”—“that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet….”


Even Obama’s more sedate supporters, such as retired American general Colin Powell, described him regularly as a “transformational figure.”


So why, then, the furor over Cardinal J. Francis Stafford’s description of Obama’s election as a “cultural earthquake”? Why did the same media that had encouraged a dramatic understanding of Obama’s election suddenly object to a critic who saw it in similarly momentous terms?

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