• Leaving Rome

    Leaving Rome

    We’re flying back from Rome after six weeks in Italy this summer. We started with a week in Rome in June, spent July in Florence, and spent the past week and a half visiting Milan, Lake Como, Assisi, Teramo, and other parts of Abruzzo before these final two days back in Rome.

    We stayed at Hotel Mecenate, across from the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, for our final two days in Rome. And last night we made our way back to where we started, a short walk from Saint Peter’s Basilica, for dinner at Arlu. We ordered the rocket and pears salad with walnuts and parmigiano reggiano cheese as an appetizer and MaryKate and I each savored our entrees of sliced beef with rocket and parmesan flakes.

    We were fortunate to have a fantastic view from Room 301 at the Hotel Mecenate. We had our windows open to enjoy the fresh air and sounds of Roman life, and were struck by the grandeur and solemnity of the bells of Saint Mary Major.

  • Pescara


    We spent yesterday in Pescara, an Adriatic coastal city and the largest in Abruzzo with a 120,000-person population. Our view from the Hotel Esplanade’s Room 411 offered two panoramic views of the Adriatic, from windows floor-to-ceiling windows that we opened on arrival and didn’t shut until check-out. The warm sea air wafted throughout our room, and the view and closeness gave us something like the feeling of camping on the beach.

    We spent the afternoon at the public beach, washed up, had dinner nearby, and finished the night with gelato. We’re on our way by train and bus back to Rome today.

    I set up my tabletop tripod for my iPhone 13 Pro on our balcony, hoping that no early morning winds would abruptly carry my phone down four stories to the ground. It took nearly three hours of filming in Timelapse mode to capture these 37 seconds of sunrise.

  • The value of a college degree may or may not be diminishing, but we’ve known for a few years now that there is a growing gender imbalance on college campuses. Colleges are attracting more women than men.

    Where are young men to go? One answer: into trades where they can integrate mind and body in something closer to what the ancients would have called a real (meaning holistic) education.

    I learned recently of the founding of the College of Saint Joseph the Worker in Steubenville, Ohio, and their aim is just this sort of mind/body integrative experience:

    The College of St. Joseph the Worker forms students into effective and committed members of their communities by teaching them the Catholic intellectual tradition while training them in skilled and dignified labor. We teach our students to think, but also to pray, to love, and to build.

    Their vision statement is worth reading in its entirety. I’ll highlight just this:

    Students of the College of St. Joseph the Worker will graduate with a BA in Catholic Studies as well as a solid foundation in the skilled trades. Our goal is to produce faithful Christians who are virtuous citizens, intellectually formed, and capable of building up the Church in their communities. 

    Another integrated institution I learned about recently is Harmel Academy of the Trades, which is “a residential, Catholic, post-secondary, trade school for men” in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their mission in

    – Helps students grow in holiness through a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
    – Prepares students to be technical experts in their chosen trade.
    – Supports business and industry by providing well-trained, hard-working, dependable and ethical workers.
    – Helps students understand and apply Catholic Church teachings on work.
    – Equips students with the skills and support to lead their future families.
    – Creates associations of Catholic tradesmen, with mentorship, fellowship, and social action.

    We need colleges and schools like these in every state. The more of these we have, the more the gender imbalance will, on the whole, resolve.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade triggered a wave of corporate pledges from Fortune 500 companies. Now that Roe is dead, states can go their own way on the issue of abortion. At least 26 states have or are moving in the pro-life direction, and the remainder are attempting a middle way or are pledging to become more pro-abortion than ever before.

    And lots of companies are doing what Disney, Mastercard, and Tesla are doing: offering to pay for their employees to travel from pro-life states like Texas to pro-abortion states like Illinois in order to ensure a child never sees the light of day.

    Fortunately, some companies are responding in an uplifting and empowering way: increasing parental leave, instituting child-care benefits, and even offering financial support for employees who would prefer to make an adoption plan.

    Meanwhile Jim Harbaugh, Michigan’s head football coach, made headlines this week for promoting radical hospitality:

    Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh had social media abuzz with his remarks during an anti-abortion event last week where he was the guest speaker. The former NFL coach has since doubled down on his stance on ESPN, saying that he and his wife will “raise the baby” if family members, players or staff should a have an unwanted pregnancy.

    During a Right to Life event in Plymouth, Michigan on July 17 that both Harbaugh and his wife Sarah attended, the Wolverines coach told the audience why he’s “pro-life.”

    “In God’s plan, each unborn human truly has a future filled with potential, talent, dreams and love,” Harbaugh said according to multiple outlets including Sports Illustrated. “I have living proof in my family, my children, and the many thousands that I’ve coached that the unborn are amazing gifts from God to make this world a better place. To me, the right choice is to have the courage to let the unborn be born.”

    During an interview with ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski on Saturday, July 23, Harbaugh elaborated on his comments.

    “I’ve told [them] the same thing I tell my kids, boys, the girls, same thing I tell our players, our staff members,” the college football coach said to ESPN. “I encourage them if they have a pregnancy that wasn’t planned, to go through with it, go through with it. Let that unborn child be born, and if at that time, you don’t feel like you can care for it, you don’t have the means or the wherewithal, then Sarah and I will take that baby.”

    He continued when asked about his part in the rally.

    “Faith, family, football … those are my priorities. I just think that … the abortion issue is one that’s so big that it needs to be talked about. It needs serious conversation. What do you think? What do I think? What do others think?

    “It’s a life-or-death type of issue. And I believe in, and I respect, people’s views. But let’s hear them. Let’s discuss them because there’s passion on both sides of this issue. So when you combine that with respect, that’s when the best results come. … [I’m] just contributing to that conversation and that communication, which I think is really important, in my opinion.”

    What corporations, institutions, and leaders have to contribute to the conversation over abortion will shape the country—lives will be saved and lifetimes will be lived the more that we speak up for the natural right to life and our common responsibilities to one another.

  • Venice


    We caught an early morning train from Florence Santa Maria Novella to Venice Santa Lucia station. We walked the narrow streets of Venice, prayed at the tombs of Saint Mark and Saint Lucia, enjoyed a latte and gelato at Cafe Lavena, and dipped our feet into the Venetian Lagoon before catching one of the last trains back to Florence.

  • Sohrab Ahmari writes on the threat that the New Right will be co-opted into the old right.

    In the wake of Roe v. Wade’s reversal, I think it’s worth considering what the old right has delivered culturally and politically. The answer that comes to mind is: accommodation. The reversal of Roe v. Wade was achieved for distinct and apparently unrepeatable reasons, including decades of moral clarity and political campaigning by pro-life advocates who often had to lead the political establishment reluctantly in its direction on the issue. On nearly every issue other than abortion, the old right has offered what it considers prudential accommodation to cultural and political degeneration and decay. Its institutions fought, but rarely won.

    American culture has shifted markedly, and almost never due to the wishes of voters. The New Right, as far as I can tell, proposes to reverse this dynamic, and for that reason its dynamism and health should be protected from those who would wear it as a sort of costume.

    This doesn’t need to mean hostility and it doesn’t need to mean suspicion of tactical alliances. But it should involve clarity and frankness about the costs of continuing to engage in the politics of accommodation on a host of issues versus recovering the politics of regeneration.

  • Dr. Christina Francis and Catherine Glenn Foster write in Newsweek that physicians can save pregnant women’s lives without abortion. I think this is an important piece, because it helps to clarify what abortion is.

    Abortion is a specific intervention whose direct and intentional purpose is to end the life of a preborn child. This is why abortion laws hinge in intent.

    If a medical intervention is not done with the primary intention of ending a child’s life—even if the foreseen but unintentional result of that intervention is the demise of the child—then it is not an abortion:

    We are now living in a post-Roe v. Wade America, and women are already being bombarded by heavy-handed pro-abortion messages suggesting that abortion bans will block access to authentic medical care and treatments. Women in states that enact legislation protecting life, fear-mongering pro-abortion voices shout, won’t be able to receive treatment for pregnancy complications that thousands face every year—from ectopic pregnancy to miscarriage. …

    The main problem for the pro-abortion narrative is that abortion is, in fact, not necessary to treat pregnancy complications. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an induced abortion is a procedure intended to terminate a pregnancy so that it does not result in a live birth. In other words, the specific purpose of an induced abortion is to end the life of a preborn child. From a medical standpoint, this is never necessary. This fact is clear in the case of miscarriage management, which in no way involves ending a life, only the removal of an embryo or fetus who is already deceased.

    Other difficult pregnancy conditions may require doctors to separate a mother from her preborn child to save her life—but this is not the same as an abortion. For example, even Planned Parenthood acknowledges that managing an ectopic pregnancy—in which the embryo implants outside of the uterus, often causing life-threatening hemorrhage—is not an abortion. Other pregnancy complications, such as chorioamnionitis—an infection of the fetal membranes potentially leading to sepsis—must be treated by separating the mother and preborn child via premature delivery. These treatments are done with the explicit intent of saving the woman’s life. They allow doctors to attempt to preserve the child’s life—or, if that’s not possible, to treat them with the dignity they deserve. Abortion offers preborn children no such respect.

    There is a crucial disconnect between how abortionists define abortion, and how physicians and lawmakers define abortion, and this piece speaks in to that to connect some of the dots for folks who wrongly believe, for instance, that miscarriage management involves abortion.

  • Peter Thiel once famously observed, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” referring to Twitter. “We are no longer living in a technologically accelerating world,” Thiel said nearly a decade ago. “There is an incredible sense of deceleration.”

    Despite so much happening in the world of software and information technology, there has been relatively little in the way of transformation innovation—little in the way of truly new technology. We appear to be in an area of iterative change, of mimicking, of competitive copying. But even Amazon, as Gladden Pappen notes in the talk I’m sharing today, is little more than an iterative take on the mail order catalogue, reimagined in light of changed circumstances:

    I notice when it takes nine months for construction workers to replace one worn-out escalator, as it did this past year at the Brookland-CUA WMATA Metro station near my home. This is an example of Pappen’s observation that, letting alone entirely the question of new technologies, we seem to be struggling simply to maintain past innovations.

    “The point, I think, that is the one I’m attempting to make in response to modern innovation,” says Pappen at the 39:30 mark, “is that for Aristotle, aiming at innovation causes destruction. Aiming at preservation, allows and requires the right kind of change, or fosters the right kind of change.”

  • Dr. John Bruchalski, a physician who previously performed abortions, was the recipient of Notre Dame’s 2022 Evangelium Vitae Medal:

    Dr. Bruchalski founded, alongside his wife, Divine Mercy Care and Tepeyac. I’ll be speaking with Dr. Bruchalski in an episode of AUL’s “Life, Liberty, and Law” in the coming weeks.

    “Dr. Bruchalski is a shining example of the Church’s untiring commitment to directly serving mothers, children, and families,” said O. Carter Snead, director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. “His personal conversion story is a compelling example of the power of God’s grace to transform hearts, and his visionary work at Tepeyac OB/GYN over the past 27 years is an invitation to each of us to employ our talents in service to building a civilization of life and love.”

    My wife and I were drawn to Tepeyac through word of mouth from friends. We can attest: it’s a praiseworthy and distinctive medical practice. I wish more medical practices were like Tepeyac.

  • Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO of Americans United for Life, writes today in First Things on the grim reality of how abortionists dispose of their victims:

    In most jurisdictions, the victims of abortion are denied the dignity of a humane burial or cremation. Once those children’s bodies have been reassembled in bloody pieces on an examining table—for the macabre purpose of ensuring that the abortionist has left no part of the dead child in her mother—that child’s body is unceremoniously sealed up and callously labeled as medical waste. This treatment is itself a tragedy that reflects the dehumanizing logic of abortion culture. Yet it also raises urgent moral questions: What happens to that “medical waste”? And how do we know, precisely, whether the medical waste in our community includes the bodies of the human victims of abortion? …

    The CDC’s ambiguous language surrounding medical waste provides further political cover for abortion businesses to dispose of victims as a form of solid waste. CDC guidelines describe medical waste as the equivalent of household waste: “No epidemiological evidence suggests that most of the solid- or liquid wastes from hospitals, other healthcare facilities, or clinical/research laboratories is any more infective than residential waste.” “Precisely defining medical waste,” the guidelines state, “is virtually impossible.” The CDC’s ambiguity, combined with abortion businesses’ lack of oversight in most jurisdictions, means abortion providers are often free to do whatever they want when it comes to the bodies of their victims. …

    In 2016, Fox News reported on leaked footage from National Abortion Federation conferences. The footage showed a Michigan abortionist stating that there were “about 45 [abortion] clinics in the Detroit metropolitan area and many of them were using garbage disposals” to dispose of human remains, citing “a 40-year-old law in the state of Michigan that said medical waste was fine to go in the sewer system.” …

    Earlier this year, activists from Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) announced at a press conference that they had recovered the remains of 115 aborted children killed at Washington Surgi-Clinic, an abortion facility in downtown D.C. The bodies of the children, contained in a large box (labeled “Curtis Bay Energy” and “Biohazard”), were allegedly turned over to the activists by an employee of the Curtis Bay medical waste company. Curtis Bay publicly disclosed on its website that it manages “the largest medical waste incinerator in the US” and “utilizes Waste-to-Energy incineration to safely convert infectious/biomedical waste and non-hazardous pharmaceuticals into useful energy.” After PAAU’s press conference, Curtis Bay’s website was scrubbed of any reference to its Waste-to-Energy program. The “Our Process” page now simply references their “sustainable and consistent environmental processing technology.” …

    We know that human victims of abortion are treated as medical waste by abortion businesses. We know, too, that medical waste is routinely incinerated, increasingly through “waste-to-energy” initiatives. Abortion businesses are never going to advertise that they dispose of aborted persons as medical waste. Waste disposal companies, for their part, have little incentive to track the precise journey of solid or medical waste originating from abortion businesses, let alone to publicly disclose such information. But lawmakers, regulators, and investigative reporters can and should connect the dots. 

    This is one of those things no one really wants to think about. But we must think about it, for the sake at least of the health and safety of our utilities and waterways, and much more directly for the sake of our humanity.