U.S. Notes & Quotes

Ten Commandments are ‘Hot Right Now’

SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE, Oct. 27—“The Ten Commandments are … hot, right now,” said a recent wire report printed in the Detroit News and elsewhere.

As evidence, it listed the current very public debate over the 7th and 9th commandments (6th and 8th in the Catholic numbering): adultery, in the Oval Office, no less; and perjury, by the president, no less.

But also, “legislators and legions of social activists are fighting over whether it's legal to post this particular top 10 list anywhere in the public square,” it said, referring to the Ten Commandments Defense Act in Congress.

And now, radio superstar Laura Schlessinger has written a book titled The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God's Laws in Everyday Life, with her rabbi, Stewart Vogel.

Dr. Laura, who dispenses advice to record nationwide audiences, finds in the commandments a distillation of “real life,” said the report. Her co-author, Rabbi Vogel, agrees.

“Without a God … you end up with a subjective morality. There's no way around that,” said the rabbi, who leads Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, Calif. “To believe in God is to believe that human beings are not mere accidents of nature. … Without God, there is no objective meaning to life and there is no objective morality. I don't want to live in a world where right and wrong are subjective.”

“One thing leads to another,” he said. “So people commit adultery and then they have to lie to cover it up. So No. 7 leads straight to No. 9. … And when people start lying, they are really setting themselves up as idols. So we're back to the issue of God. People are saying that they get to set up their own standards for what is right and wrong and it doesn't matter what happens to others. They put themselves in the place of God.”

Y2K: The Final End or a New Beginning?

WIRED NEWS, Oct. 22—Pope John Paul II has declared the Church's intention to use the anniversary of Christ's birth in the Jubilee Year 2000 to start anew: atone for sins of the past and recommit the faithful to the New Evangelization. He expects that a “new springtime” of the faith will follow.

But other Christians focus on the “Y2K” — year 2000 — bug that they say will cripple society as computers programmed to count years by their last two digits fail to make the leap from “99” to “00” and shut down. “I'm hearing everything from end-of-the-world predictions to head-in-the-sand denial,” Lawrence Roberge, of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, who has been studying the predictions, told a computer news service, wired news.

One vision of the future was offered by evangelical Rev. Billy McCormack: “President Clinton will declare a state of emergency. He will invoke executive power beyond our wildest imagination. He will become our very first dictator. He will seize control over utilities and industry. He will federalize the National Guard. It will ration food, gasoline, etc. Your money will be declared illegal …” the service quoted from his essay, which recommended stockpiling food, water, clothing, and ammunition.

Kate Allen, of Atlanta's Joseph Project 2000, also sees trouble ahead; but her group also sees evangelizing opportunities. “We feel that Christians need to be prepared to minister to the needs of the people both in a physical sense as well as the spiritual sense,” she told the news service.

“We think it's an opportunity disguised as a problem. When people get into a tight spot, they start looking to the Lord as a source of light … If the Christian is not prepared, when the problem arises they'll be in just as much turmoil as the non-believer.”

J.P. McFadden, Defender of Life, Eulogized

NEW YORK POST, Oct. 22—“A truly great American, James Patrick McFadden, was laid to rest yesterday after a Requiem Mass in the Church of St. Agnes,” wrote columnist Ray Kerrison of his friend.

“Jim McFadden did not build skyscrapers or write his name in Broadway neon. He didn't run City Hall or preside over a corporate empire. … He was a director of National Review magazine, editor of a scholarly quarterly titled Human Life Review, and editor and writer of a blazing little newsletter called catholic eye.

“Most of all, he was a rock of a man who served God, family, and country. He devoted most of his working life to protecting human life — even as he clung to it by one flimsy thread after another.”

Kerrison briefly remembered the résumé of the man who in death drew so many to his funeral. McFadden was a reporter in Pennsylvania, a military intelligence officer in Europe, a “lowly assistant in the circulation department” of National Review who rose to associate publisher, husband to Faith Abbot, and father with her of five children.

Said Kerrison, “The U.S. Supreme Court forever changed Jim's life when it legalized abortion in 1973. He started up the Human Life Review, a studious, common-sense, pragmatic magazine dedicated to the defense of life.

“At St. Agnes yesterday, the pastor, Monsignor Eugene Clark, said Jim McFadden was a strong, logical Catholic, highly intelligent, punctilious, and interested only in doing what God wanted him to do. He took whatever the Lord sent. [Lawyer] Tom Bolan said Jim was an incredible man with an unbelievable spirit. He got all his affairs in order. He only hoped he had the strength to face death. In a tender obituary, Bill Buckley, a pallbearer, would say Jim McFadden was the prime exhibit of G.K. Chesterton's dogged insistence that piety and laughter are inseparable.”

In conclusion Kerrison said, “Life, born and unborn, was everything to Jim. He defended it for others and fought desperately for it for himself. It was a privilege to have known him.”

Cardinal O'Connor Baptizes El Duque's Daughters

CBS SPORTS, Oct. 25—It isn't often that CBS sports covers a Mass. It did recently, though, when New York's John Cardinal O'Connor celebrated a Mass attended by Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, star pitcher for the world champion New York Yankees.

The cardinal was instrumental in uniting Hernandez with his family at the celebration of the Yankees' recent World Series win. Hernandez had not seen his family since he defected from Cuba in December to play for the team.

“We are grateful to President Castro,” Cardinal O'Connor said at St. Patrick's Cathedral. “He also has stated explicitly that the family is free to return to Cuba.” The cardinal also thanked Attorney General Janet Reno, FBI Director Louis Freeh, and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

“This Mass is in honor of God,” the cardinal said. “Give thanks to him for having ‘El Duque’ and his family here.” Said CBS, “After Mass, the Hernandez family had brunch in O'Connor's residence. At that time, the pitcher planned to ask the cardinal to baptize his daughters, 8-year-old Yahuamara, and 3-year-old Steffi.

“They could not be baptized in Cuba, where the Roman Catholic Church was oppressed for 40 years under Castro's rule.”