Father Kenneth Walker, FSSP, RIP

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GLEN COVE, NY –   Most people have heard that a priest was killed in Phoenix, and another priest was badly injured. They have heard almost nothing about the victims.

The badly injured priest was Father Joseph Terra, FSSP, the pastor of Mater Misericordiae Mission; the murdered priest was his assistant, Father Kenneth Walker, FSSP. Father Walker would have been 30 years old next year. Both were members of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, a society of priests with their own superior general, somewhat like an exempt order, created by Saint John Paul II. The fraternity’s greatest charism is the preservation of the older form of the Roman Mass in Latin.

Father Walker’s three great passions were preserving the older form of the Roman Mass, protecting the unborn, and defending human dignity. He was a leader of the Phoenix and Glendale right-to-life movements and its forty days of prayer for life. Both Fathers Walker and Terra were conspicuous for their participation in peaceful gatherings to pray the Rosary at Planned Parenthood clinics and similar facilities in Phoenix and Glendale.

Father Walker entered the seminary with a remarkably well-formed and mature vocation. In his application for entry into the seminary, he wrote:

“God, in His infinite love, desires all men to be saved and so to achieve their true end. Along with the Church, then, I am deeply grieved by these errors concerning the nature and dignity of man accepted by so many people in the world. On full view of the situation in the world, then, the only vocation that I could be satisfied with, as a work, would be one that would be dedicated to bringing people to salvation in whatever way God wills for me to do so.”

The murderer has been arrested. The crime seems to have started as an attempted burglary. Father Terra was badly injured but is making a full recovery.

There is great sorrow at Father Walker’s death in the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, both in Europe and America. A Requiem Mass was celebrated in Kansas. A Requiem Mass without the body present was celebrated in Phoenix. Votive Requiem Masses were celebrated in Europe and other locations in America. These were all in the older form that Father Walker so loved. Television reports of a “Mass of Christian Burial” were inaccurate.

The press and electronic media have not done their job. They have given expansive coverage to the crime and virtually none to the victims. Even the round-the-clock Catholic cable networks fell short of adequate coverage; they essentially ignored the funeral.

Father Walker’s young death must renew our dedication to his causes – preserving the noble liturgy, protecting the unborn, and defending human dignity.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Hubris, Hamartia, And Nemesis In The Shinseki Tragedy

GLEN COVE, NY –   In classic Greek tragedy, the protagonist is a good and decent man; but he has an inherent and fatal flaw (hamartia). He often succumbs to pride (hubris) through his belief in his own ability to correct the errors that result from his flawed nature, or perhaps his pride leads him into the errors. The result is his downfall (nemesis). This downward spiral also describes General Shinseki’s service as Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs.

General Shinseki served as Commanding General of the First Cavalry Division and as Commanding General of the United States Army in Europe. Good generals know what is happening in their command. Sometimes, they go out to a guard post in the dead of night to check on it. Sometimes, they share a drink with a private and talk to the guard. Sometimes, they allow anyone in their command to come to them during a given 15-minute period each week. Of course, their main source of information is what their key colonels and lesser generals tell them; but they never isolate themselves completely from finding things out on their own.

Generals believe what their subordinates tell them. Military service is an honest profession. It could not be otherwise. It is possible that a single e-mail or radio message from a 19-year-old soldier might be the deciding factor in an important decision, and that decision could determine whether that young soldier is killed in combat. Lying is simply contrary to what military service is all about.

General Shinseki ended his military career in the second highest position in the Armed Forces — Chief of Staff of the Army. When he assumed the job of Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs, he seems to have assumed that he was fully prepared. After all, the Army is larger than the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. He actually did a lot of good things to improve services for women veterans and homeless veterans, for example.

What he did not do is find out what was going on in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Commanding the United States Army in Europe is different from running the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in at least one important respect. Only about one-third of the veterans’ bureaucracy has ever served in the armed forces. The employees are unionized and have long had a deceptive culture — and an insubordinate one.

He failed to appreciate the nature of his bureaucracy and to determine whether his subordinates were regularly committing misdeeds that prevented veterans from receiving needed care.

His pride prevented him from realizing that his civilian job was not the same as a military command of the same size. It seems never to have occurred to him that he was getting false briefings and reports, and that elaborate deceptions were being used to avoid work. It seems to have been beyond his imagination that his workforce was shredding claims instead of deciding them, and that waiting lists for doctors’ appointments were routinely falsified in facilities around the country. He was sitting on top of a mountain of deceit that would be unthinkable in the Army.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Fixing The Department Of Veterans Affairs

GLEN COVE, NY –   Fixing the problems of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (V.A.) will be a long, difficult, and complex undertaking.

The greater use of private hospitals is a step in the right direction, but it is a very small step. Although the V.A. has an established process for the use of private hospitals, it has only used this option for the cases that it absolutely cannot treat, not for the cases that it cannot treat in a reasonable time.

The private hospital process has its own difficulties. I had a client who did successfully benefit from the process, but it took him well over a year to get approval for it. Once it was approved, it took months for me to find someone at the V.A. medical center (VAMC) who understood the process; it took him more than a month to get the necessary V.A. form from another VAMC that had a stock of the right form.

Another measure to relieve the burden on the V.A. medical centers is to allow their pharmacies to fill all veterans’ prescriptions, not just those written by V.A. doctors–who often have to rewrite prescriptions already written by outside doctors.

The first step in reforming the V.A. is to understand the Byzantine nature of veterans’ benefits. When the V.A. replaced the former Veterans Administration (both are called V.A.), it did not receive jurisdiction over all veterans’ issues.

Military hospitals and veterans’ hospitals are completely different entities. Contrary to popular belief, the former Walter Reed Army Hospital (now part of the Walter Reed Armed Forces Medical Center at Bethesda) is not a veterans’ hospital. It is a military hospital. In order for veterans to use a military hospital, they must fall into one of the following categories:

*       Have served honorably on active duty for 20 or more years

*       Have served honorably for 20 or more years on a combination of active and reserve duty and be over 60 years old

*       Have been 30 percent or more disabled on the day they finished active duty

*       Held an important office, like President of the United States.

If the Army or Marine Corps thinks a veteran is 20 percent disabled on his last day of active duty, and the V.A. determines that he is 30 percent disabled the next day, he cannot use the military hospitals. Those who can use the military hospitals are still subject to a maze of regulations as to when they can and cannot use the military hospitals.

One part of the V.A. runs most of the national cemeteries where veterans are buried in the United States. Some cemeteries, however, like Arlington and West Point, are run by the Armed Forces; and some are run by state and local governments. Americans killed in action and buried where they died are in cemeteries under the control of the American Battle Field Monuments Commission, not the V.A.

There are V.A.-run nursing homes at the VAMCs, but there also nursing homes run by state governments.

The Veterans’ Employment Training Service (VETS) is part of the Department of Labor. Attempts to move it to the V.A. over the years have all failed, due to the bad reputation of the V.A. The V.A.’s 21 (Veterans’ Integrated Service Networks [VISN]) serve as an extra level of bureaucracy to filter any bad news before it gets to Washington, as well as another level at which standards can be changed.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Hate Speech And The Internet

GLEN COVE, NY – The United States government is planning to abandon its role in regulating the Internet in 2015. It promises that no government or international organization will have a role in regulating the Internet after that. This lack of regulation would be welcome if the promise could be believed, but nature abhors a vacuum. We need to understand the dangers that would be involved if international regulation replaces us.

The American legal system is fairly permissive on the issue of freedom of speech. We cannot obtain money through false advertising; in some cases, we have excessive regulation to prevent such fraud. We cannot damage each other by intentional false defamation. We cannot disclose the military secrets entrusted to us. We cannot send 1,000 people an email blast that their houses are on fire. We cannot threaten to kill each other.

The record on pornography is more mixed; we have gone from one extreme of customs agents seizing copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover to the opposite and worse extreme of allowing everything except the most vile child pornography.

On the whole, however, we have relatively broad freedom to say, email, write, or post whatever we want.

We are a leader in championing the protection of intellectual property and copyrights, unlike many other countries, which try to dilute international law on these issues.

Most countries do not enjoy a comparable freedom of speech. In Italy, for example, neither truth nor notoriety is a defense to a charge of criminal defamation. A person can be imprisoned for saying something about another person that everyone knows is true.

An Italian archbishop was even convicted of defamation for referring in a sermon to a civilly married couple as “concubines.” Italy also has speech crimes, like “apology for Fascism” and “defamation of the Resistance.” One who is acquitted of a crime in Italy can be convicted for accusing the police of third-degree tactics.

Austria imposes harsh prison terms for “denying” the holocaust, even if the denial was retracted years before the arrest. Curiously, the denial does not have to take place in Austria.

Canada also punishes the denial of the holocaust. It, however, also punishes a lot of other speech, anything that inspires hatred. Presumably singing a popular song against short people can land one in jail in Canada. Certainly, saying that Indians scalp white people is enough for a jail term in that country.

It has long been easy for a plaintiff to get a judgment for libel in England and Wales. Britain has recently added its own restrictions on “hate speech.”

The foregoing are the civilized countries. In Moslem, Communist, and other tyrannical countries, merely teaching Christianity can get a person imprisoned, tortured, or put to death.

Some will object that the only thing America is giving up is control over the designation of website domains and names. Technically, this may be true; but it is highly likely that this will be followed by some kind of international convention, which, once ratified by us, has the force of law. Surely, such a convention will not respect the cherished American concern for freedom of speech.

 

Charles Mills, Esq. has a B.A. from Yale in Latin and Greek; a law degree from Boston College; and an LI.M degree from Touro College in which he focused on veterans’ benefits and Constitutional law.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

A Foreign Policy In Shambles

GLEN COVE, NY – American foreign policy is in the worst disarray of the past 195 years, and our Secretary of State thinks “climate change” (formerly “global warming” and before that “the new Ice Age”) is our greatest problem.

After the loss of Czechoslovakia and mainland China to the communists in 1948 and 1949, respectively, the United States adopted a foreign policy of “containment.” The goal was to stop Communist expansion by surrounding the Communist world with anti-Communist countries. This policy did not work well. Dean Acheson blundered into the Korean War. Dwight Eisenhower lost Cuba, part of Indochina, North Korea, Hungary, Algeria, and the Suez Canal. Even worse, he allowed the seeds to be sown for an anti-Western, anti-Christian revival of militant Islam in North Africa and the Middle East.

We never really got India on our side, and we lost Indonesia to a greater and lesser extent from time to time. Lyndon Johnson bungled Vietnam, and Richard Nixon legitimized the loss of mainland China. Perhaps the worst event was Jimmy Carter’s loss of Iran to Moslem extremists. For all of its failures, containment had one redeeming feature — its losses affected a small percentage of the countries in the world.

From 1949 to 1981, half of the Republican politicians and American conservative writers consistently opposed the policy of containment and argued for a policy of victory. In 1981, victory became our national policy; and the West subsequently won a spectacular victory in the European theater of the Cold War. Although the West did not defeat communism in Asia and Latin America, the defeat in Europe eliminated it as our main enemy.

Despite this gain, we soon began to incubate a new enemy. Under Carter, we abandoned an ally and installed a new government in Iran that was religiously absolutist, violent, deadly, lawless, and intolerant. It drove millions of Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians into exile. It imposed the death penalty for deviations from a strict form of Islam. It kidnapped diplomats. It is now set on a course to develop a nuclear weapon to destroy Israel.

After ridding itself of Communist rule, Afghanistan acquired a government that was as Islamic, deadly, and intolerant as the one in Iran. Saudi Arabia’s government had long enforced an extreme form of Islam by means of the death penalty. A form of Islam that did not respect foreign diplomats and diplomatic buildings; that severely punished minor deviations from rules about dress, prayer, and almost everything else; and that imposed severe restrictions on the rights of women, spread throughout Northern and Equatorial Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

From 1989 to 2009, the United States took some decisive action against the criminal government of Afghanistan and then withdrew. The United States waged two wars against an Iraq ruled by a vicious dictator. The second war may have been ill advised, but following it up by American interference in Iraqi politics was disastrous. During this period, the foreign policy of the United States focused on spreading democracy to the whole world. Our government began to place a higher value on universal suffrage than it did on freedom of religion, respect for diplomatic immunity, fair trials, the right to life, adherence to contracts, and most of the values that make a civilized society.

Under the Obama administration, the network of alliances and relationships has collapsed. We can count our real allies today on one hand. Our closest (but sometimes difficult) ally, Israel, is angry with us. Great Britain is incapable of mustering a parliamentary majority in support of the United States. A top State department official has vulgarly insulted the European Union. The United Nations (acting as if Alger Hiss received its charter on Mount Sinai) has insulted the Catholic Church. Pakistan, once one of our strongest allies, now hates us. The developing détente with Russia is being destroyed as Putin preaches Christianity to Obama. Our troops are dying in Afghanistan, sometimes shot in the back on American installations, while the supposedly friendly government refuses to negotiate with us. The justifications for our presence in Afghanistan are increasingly absurd. Ukraine is slipping into civil war; Russia (which murdered 2 million Ukrainians within the memory of living people) seeks hegemony over Ukraine. Our Syrian policy is an international embarrassment. Our President’s respect for basic diplomatic protocol is nonexistent. He even talks over the playing of the national anthem of the country he is visiting.

We need for some serious people to think about what our diplomatic objectives are.

 

Charles Mills, Esq. has a B.A. from Yale in Latin and Greek, a law degree from Boston College, and an LI.M degree from Touro College in which he focused on veterans’ benefits and Constitutional law.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom