"We are seeing in the presidential debates the rhetorical limits of a pro-life movement based on 'rights.' As a national political movement, a culture of life cannot be sustained as a rights claim by stem cells and embryos. It is rather to be organized as a culture of piety and protection—a culture built on reverential duty to God who authored the sacredness of the human soul and safeguards it by structuring man’s communal nature. The protective duties of adults toward the gift of life have been passed down through the Christian millennia and the American centuries as distinctively gendered assignments. Natural law is best understood not as rights claims of individuals, but as the covenantal organization of duties and authority.
"We can’t be too harsh in our blame of the four candidates for their weak and unsteady answers [see below]. Religious men and politically conservative intellectuals have failed to properly articulate the relationship of the desacralization of sex and the abandonment of traditional duties of protective sex roles. This makes us halting in answering the accusations of feminists and homosexuals who are clear, consistent, and full of moral umbrage. They hold parades while we stammer. Over one hundred American women have been killed in combat in Iraq. This exceeds female casualties in all the American wars of the twentieth century—and legions of women served in uniform in those wars. These shameful deaths hardly blow a bugle for more women ever closer to modern warfare’s fluid front. Their sacred graves are markers for men not present. They bespeak a breakdown of the entire American military tradition that men take the bullets -- not women and children.
"The most important cultural force in America sustaining a sexual order of duty and authority should be the Catholic Church. (I would add that Mormons are a close second. The source of cross-generational continuity of Mormonism is their highly structured and successful socialization of males in their priesthood model).
"Our Catholic sacraments of Holy Orders and Marriage are grounded in the nature of masculine communion (hierarchical groups under a leader) as well as male-female communion (life-long monogamous marriage).
"But, when was the last time you heard an argument that our sacramental order is grounded in an anthropological truth which can inform our common life as a nation? Catholics have a special duty to teach our fellow Americans -- not to ape their inversions and apologize for our own sacred order!"
From the Debate:
JOHN KING (Moderator): Let's move our conversation now to the important responsibilities one of you gentlemen could have in just 11 months as the commander-in-chief of the United States.
And Governor Romney, I want to ask you first: Eleven months from now, if you're successful, you would be our commander-in-chief. The Pentagon recently announced plans to open up 14,000 new jobs to women, putting them closer and close to the front lines of combat. Senator Santorum says he sees a lot of things wrong with this.
What do you think?
MR. ROMNEY: I would look to the people who are serving in the military to give the best assessment of where women can serve. We've had over 100 women lose their lives in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I was with Governor Bob McDonnell. His daughter has served as a platoon leader in Afghanistan. He said that she doesn't get emotional when she faces risk, he's the one that gets emotional as she faces that kind of risk. And I believe women have the capacity to serve in our military in positions of significance and responsibility, as we do throughout our society.
I do think that the key decisions that are being made by this administration, by President Obama, however, related to our military are seriously awry. This is a president who is shrinking our Navy, shrinking our Air Force, wants to shrink our active-duty personnel by 50,000 to 100,000, is cutting our military budget by roughly a trillion dollars.
The world is more dangerous. It is not safer.
North Korea is going through transition. The Arab Spring has become the Arab Winter.
Syria is in flux. And, of course, Pakistan, with 100 nuclear weapons or more, represents a potential threat. Northern Mexico is a real danger area.
I mean, looking around the world, you have Hezbollah in Latin America and Mexico. I mean, we face a very dangerous world. The right course is to add ships to our Navy, to modernize and add aircraft to our Air Force, to add 100,000 troops to our active-duty personnel, and to strengthen America's military.
KING: I want to get to some of those hotspots Governor Romney just mentioned, but Speaker Gingrich, on the question of a more prominent role for women, good idea or bad idea?
MR. GINGRICH: Well, look, I think it's a misleading question in the modern era. You live in a world of total warfare. Anybody serving our country in uniform virtually anywhere in the world could be in danger at virtually any minute. A truck driver can get blown up by a bomb as readily as the infantrymen.
So I would say that you ought to ask the combat leaders what they think is an appropriate step, as opposed to the social engineers of the Obama administration.
But everybody needs to understand -- and by the way, we live in an age when we have to genuinely worry about nuclear weapons going off in our own cities. So everybody who serves in the fire department, in the police department, not just the first responders, but our National Guard, whoever is going to respond, all of us are more at risk today, men and women, boys and girls, than at any time in the history of this country. And we need to understand that's the context in which we're going to have to move forward in understanding the nature of modern combat.
I think this is a very sober period, and I believe this is the most dangerous president on national security grounds in American history.
KING: Congressman Paul?
MR. PAUL: The problem is the character of our wars. And I don't like to think of people in groups. Individuals have rights, not groups. You don't have women's rights or men's rights.
And we still have draft legislation. What I fear is the draft coming back because we're getting way over-involved. And the draft -- we keep registering our 18-year-olds. So when the draft comes, we're going to be registering young women, and because of this they're going to be equal.
Now, the wars we fight aren't defensive wars, they're offensive wars. We're involved in way too much.
They're undeclared, they're not declared by the Congress, and so we're in wars that shouldn't be involved. So I don't want even the men to be over there. I don't want women being killed, but I don't want the men being killed in these wars.
But because now we have accepted now for 10 years that we're allowed to start war, we call pre-emptive war, preventive war. Well, that's an aggressive war.
I believe in the Christian just war theory that you have to morally justify the wars in defense. Now, if we're defending our country -- and we need to defend, believe me -- with men and women will be in combat and defending our country, and that's the way it should be. But when it's an offensive war, going where we shouldn't be, that's quite a bit different. So it's the foreign policy that needs to be examined.
MR. SANTORUM: I actually agree with the comments made by the two gentlemen to my left, that there are different roles of women in combat. They are on the front line right now. Their combat zone is, as Newt said, everywhere, unfortunately, in that environment.
My concern that I expressed, I didn't say it was wrong. I said I had concerns about certain roles with respect to -- and particularly in infantry.
I still have those concerns, but I would defer to at least hearing the recommendations of those involved. But I think we have civilian control of the military, and these are things that should be decided not just by the generals, but we should not have social engineering, as I think we've seen from this president. We should have sober minds looking at what is in fact the best proper -- proper roles for everybody in combat.