... throughout the hour was no mention of the sex abuse crisis, contraception, gay marriage, women’s ordination, the priest shortage or the dwindling number of Catholics in American pews. Instead, the pontiff spoke poignantly and passionately, as a pastor to his flock, about the necessity of courage, and the need for love, hope, and prayer. In one of the most improbable but thoughtful exchanges, he even talked about soccer.
That occurred when a 19-year-old named Ricardo Ortiz brought up problems with poverty and immigration; Ricardo himself, it was explained, had to take care of his family after his father became sick. Ricardo was later denied a scholarship because he was not a U.S. citizen.
The pope’s response:
I look to Jesus on the Cross,” he said “and discover the silence of God. The first silence of God is on the Cross of Jesus. The greatest injustice history and God was silent. That said, I’m going to be more concrete in the response on other levels, but don’t forget that God speaks to us with words, with gestures and with silences. And what you ask me is only understood in the silence of God, and the silence of God is only understood by looking at the Cross.
He went on:
We are all responsible for everyone, and to help ourselves in the way that each one can. … Speaking in soccer terms, I would say that the match is played between friendship in society and enmity in society. Each one has to make a choice in his or her heart, and we have to help that choice to be made in the heart.
Reading over the transcript of that response, I’m struck by another compelling aspect of this program: You just don’t hear people talk like that on American network TV.
You don’t turn on a major TV network and hear talk of God’s silence, Christ’s crucifixion, human moral struggles and the agony of the Cross. (In another sequence, the pope warmly praised a single mother for not having an abortion and for deciding, instead, to bring her children into the world. When was the last time that idea was brought up without any criticism or smackdown on network TV?) To hear these topics and others presented so straightforwardly on television, without a trace of cynicism or skepticism is rare. (And that it happened on ABC—which gave the world the gay-centric “Modern Family,” the transgender documentary series “Becoming Us” and the upcoming anti-Catholic “The Real O’Neals”—is downright incredible.)
This leads me to think something else is at work here—something unexpected and, just maybe, something miraculous. This surprising pope from Latin America has not only jolted the Church; he has made possible a media moment without precedent.
I'm continuing to marvel at the show some 3 days later.
I'd like to do a goback to one item referenced by the good deacon in the excerpt.
The pope didn't just warmly praise the single mother for not having an abortion. Here's the actual quote:
"I know that it's not easy to be a single mother, I know that people can sometimes look at you badly, but I tell you one thing, you're a brave woman because you were able to bring two daughters into the world. You could have killed them in the womb, and you respected life, respected the life that you had inside of yours, and for this God is going to reward you, and is rewarding you. Don't be ashamed, go forward with your head held high: “I did not kill my daughters, I brought them into the world.” I congratulate you, I congratulate you, and may God bless you.
No euphemisms there from il Papa. No attempt to downplay or mince words.
God bless his bluntness, his brutal honesty.
May he continue to speak truth boldly and may those whose toes are stepped on take the opportunity to be introspective about what's being said rather than reactionary.
In the wake of the fallout produced by the release of multiple Planned Parenthood videos proving that the organization is profiting from the sale of aborted baby bodies and parts, feminists are beginning to fight back and to do so under the oft repeated claim that they are motivated by the need to protect and promote women's health.
Just this week, two women, reportedly driven by this need, have gone to extreme and radical lengths, to raise awareness.
“The pill is the only drug that was developed to be given to a woman who was healthy to create a diseased state.”
Dr. Marguerite Duane, a family physician and professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine, describes perfectly the contradiction — the conundrum — that has existed since the advent of the modern oral contraceptive — the pill — some six decades ago.
Oral contraception is almost universally prescribed today, despite the fact that its dangers are now indisputable. The World Health Organization places the estrogen-progestogen pill on its list of Group 1 carcinogens, the most toxic rating it can impose, even as governments, international agencies and pharmaceutical companies push countries across the globe to embrace a contraceptive culture.
Many physicians, pharmacists and biologists have warned about the risks to women’s health posed by oral contraceptives, but their concerns have been ignored or suppressed by groups determined to use the pill as a tool of ideology, money and power.
One of the greatest surprises, for example, is that while it is one of the most heavily prescribed drugs in the world, oral contraceptives have almost never been the subject of medical and research experts coming together to discuss what exactly contraceptives do to the human body — most so women’s bodies. That fact alone made the research symposium entitled “Contraceptive Conundrum,” held in conjunction with the Edmund D. Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University on Aug. 8, so remarkable. As Dr. Kevin Donovan, director of the Georgetown Bioethics Center, said at the opening of the symposium, part of the goal of hearing from first-class researchers on oral contraceptives was to correct this massive gap in scientific inquiry.
There are, of course, profound moral questions pertaining to the use of contraception, but there is also an obligation to encourage the scientific and medical community to grapple with the mounting evidence of the impact of the pill on health.
Hormonal contraceptives are tied to lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases and blood clots. Even more alarming are the documented medical realities that women who take oral contraceptives face, as they are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer and 10 to 30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never took the pill, a risk that lasts for more than a decade after a woman ceases to use the drugs.
The many disturbing risks were detailed at the start of the symposium by Dr. Chandler Marrs, who wrote a report, “Birth Control, Big Money and Bad Medicine: a Deadly Trifecta for Women’s Health.” A noted research scientist, writer and women’s health advocate, Marrs argued that “we underestimate the risks of synthetic hormones by ignoring the vast reach hormones have on health.” And yet, as her talk documented, the vast majority of women between the ages of 25-44 are prescribed contraceptives by their physicians as a panacea for virtually every health problem even though the pill does not actually treat most of those conditions. Prescribing contraception for such a wide variety of medical issues makes, she says, no pharmacological sense, but she spoke convincingly about the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry in encouraging the world-wide distribution of the pill without detailing its many side effects.
There is much more and if you're a woman, or a man who cares about women, you'd be doing good things by reading the entire thing and passing it along.
The war against women, which in reality, is a war against humanity, is real and I think Pope John Paul II describes that war more than adequately:
“The heart has become a battlefield between love and lust. The more lust dominates the heart, the less the heart experiences the nuptial meaning of the body. It becomes less sensitive to the gift of the person, which expresses that meaning in the mutual relations of the man and woman.”
A few months ago, I spent a week in the hospital recovering from surgery, and for about three days, I was not permitted to eat any solid food. What amazed me was how rapidly my body shrank. The muscles of my arms and legs began quickly - and rather alarmingly - to atrophy, and it proved difficult even to cross the room and sit up in a chair.
Almost twenty years ago, I undertook, with a good friend of mine, a bicycle trip from Paris to Rome, covering about seventy miles a day. We really pushed ourselves to the limit. One day, somewhere in the south of France, after about five hours of pedaling, I hit the wall. Though I had heard of this phenomenon, I had never experienced it before. When you hit the wall, you don't gradually slow down or calmly realize that you have to take a rest; you just stop, your body simply unable to go on.
May I suggest that these examples are very exact analogies to spiritual health and spiritual nourishment? Without food, the body quickly collapses; without spiritual food, the soul atrophies. It really is as simple as that. Though materialists of all stripes want to deny it, there is a dimension of the human person that goes beyond the merely physical, a dynamism that connects him or her with God. Classically, this link to the eternal is called the soul. (We oughtn't to construe this, by the way, in the Cartesian manner, as though the soul is imprisoned by the body. Rather, we ought to follow Thomas Aquinas who said, "the soul is in the body, not as contained by it, but containing it.")
What the soul requires for nourishment is the divine life or what the spiritual masters call "grace." It is of this sustenance that Jesus speaks in John 6: "Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life." Most people are at least inchoately aware of the soul and its hunger, but they feed it with insufficient food: wealth, pleasure, power, and honor. All of these are good in themselves, but none of them is designed to satisfy the longing of the soul. And this is precisely why some of the wealthiest, most famous, and accomplished people in our society are dying of spiritual starvation.
So where and how do we find the divine life?
Fr. Barron goes on to attempt to answer his own question. Read the whole thing.
His piece brings me to what might certainly be a flawed conclusion but as I continue to try to rationalize the evils engaged in by Planned Parenthood, the apathy that seems to be the response from most and the willingness by far too many to actually defend what Planned Parenthood is doing, I can't help but see that all of it can be explained by an atrophied soul.
Does it not make sense that a soul so far removed from the nourishment provided by God would be a soul willing to either engage in or defend the depravity taking place in abortion clinics across the land? Would it not make sense that those who care little about it all are in the same boat?
There's a price to pay for malnourished souls. Sadly today, it's the innocent in the womb paying the steepest price.
Americans are divisible into two kinds of people, those who think I share something like this because I am secretly a Democrat longing to abort as many children as possible and those who get that I am a Catholic with common sense. The former are using unborn children as human shields to defend inhuman policies. The latter, Catholic or not, are defending sanity.
Growing conservative disaffection with Pope Francis appears to be taking a toll on his once teflon-grade popularity in the U.S., with a new Gallup poll showing the pontiff’s favorability rating among all Americans dropping to 59 percent from a 76 percent peak early last year.
Among conservatives the dropoff has been especially sharp: just 45 percent view Francis favorably today as opposed to 72 percent a year ago.
“This decline may be attributable to the pope’s denouncing of ‘the idolatry of money’ and attributing climate change partially to human activity, along with his passionate focus on income inequality — all issues that are at odds with many conservatives’ beliefs,” wrote Gallup analyst Art Swift.
But liberal fervor for the Argentine pope, who was elected to great acclaim in March 2013, has also cooled, dropping an average of 14 points.
Some observers have predicted that many who embraced the pope’s candor and his views on a range of social justice issues would temper their ardor as they realized he would not change church teachings on hot-button issues like abortion or contraception or gay marriage.
Seems to me that this proves the Pope's Catholicity... and given that I now regularly piss off both conservatives and liberals, it proves my own. It all takes me back to this older piece by Msgr. Charles Pope:
The goal is for every Catholic to learn the Catholic faith and be a principled adherent to the faith prior to any political allegiance, or worldview. Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. He is God and He does not fit into our little categories. Neither does the Church. And hence we are to some extent an “equal opportunity annoyer.” And while we may align with the views of certain political parties and groups in certain matters, we are just as likely to stand opposed to other views of the very same party in other matters.
Is the Catholic Church Republican? Democrat? And what are you? As for me:
I’m against abortion, and they call me a Republican
I want greater justice for immigrants, and they call me a Democrat
I stand against “Gay” “Marriage,” and they call me a Republican
I work for affordable housing, and stand with unemployed in DC, and they call me a Democrat
I talk of subsidiarity and they say: “Republican, for sure.”
I mention the common good, and solidarity and they say, “Not only a Democrat, but a Socialist for sure.”
Embryonic Stem cell research should end, “See, he’s Republican!”
Not a supporter of the death penalty, standing with the Bishops and the Popes against it…”Ah, told you! He’s really a Democrat!…Dye in the wool and Yellow Dog to boot!”
Hmm, and all this time I just thought I was trying to be a Catholic Christian. I just don’t seem to fit in. And, frankly, no Catholic should. We cannot be encompassed by any Party as currently defined.
True Catholicism cannot be tamed by any political party or interest group. True Catholicism will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. It will annoy both the right and the left, and will also affirm them, it has no permanent allies or opponents. As it was with Christ, most every one will have reason to hate the Church, and some will come to love the her. We are destined to be, with Christ, a sign of contradiction (Luke 2:34) that will often be opposed, for we do not simply fit into any on world agenda or party.
In the end we are called to be those who are “simply Catholic.” Every other party affiliation, membership, alliance, or connection must yield to the Faith and be judged by it. No worldly thought should ever trump the Faith which God has revealed through the Church. And, even in some matters (e.g. how best to care for the poor) that are prudential in nature, our alliance to the Church founded by Jesus Christ ought to win the day when it comes giving the benefit of any doubt. And while staying in a dialogue with our Bishops, we must also accept their leadership and respect their insights as those designated to teach, govern and sanctify. In the end we should be simply, plainly and essentially Catholic.
There continues to be much buzz in the 'sphere and in social media about Pope Francis and his strong criticism of free markets and capitalist economies. It's easy to dismiss the rabid who are quick to launch ad hominems and insults against him, the modus operandi employed revealing effectively their moral bankruptcy.
But there are those who, though restrained in the manner chosen to voice their critiques, are nevertheless increasingly troubled by what it is this Pope is saying. It is to these reasonable yet concerned people that Fr. Robert Barron speaks, as only he can, in this much needed video put out by the Word On Fire team:
Excellent stuff, as usual, from Fr. Barron who's making a trek to a local church here in a few weeks as one of a number of speakers headlining for the Bishop Keane Institute. I've already bought my tickets and look forward big time to his talk.
It was with enormous surprise that I received word of my appointment as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, but it is with a humble and joyful heart that I accept it. The Church of Los Angeles—the most populous in the United States—is energetic, diverse, and creative. Over the years, I’ve visited many times, including multiple trips to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim; most recently, I was in the Archdiocese for a lecture at Thomas Aquinas College. So though I can’t claim to know it well, I have been able to taste and see some of its richness.
The late Francis Cardinal George—the spiritual grandfather of Word on Fire—was a mentor and friend to me. The mission closest to his heart was the evangelization of the culture, bringing Christ to the arenas of media, politics, law, education, the arts, etc. I can’t think of a more exciting field for this sort of work than Los Angeles, which is certainly one of the great cultural centers of our time.
I hope this means we'll be hearing more, and not less, from this good man.
With the headline of this post alone, I've probably lost a vast number of knee-jerkers who'll not hear a tid-bit of anything that goes against what they perceive this Pope to be. He is, in their eyes, a de facto Marxist and no amount of substance to the contrary will budge them from their cemented (and demented) perspective.
This post is not aimed at that level of ignorance. Someone much smarter than I once proclaimed the folly of fixing stupid and I've learned, albeit slowly, to not make the attempt.
This is aimed instead at people who while wincing at the Pope's economic critiques are open to the notion that there might be solid reasons for his frequent harangues. Doing the aiming for us is Tim Hoopes over at Aleteia:
In their book Good Capitalism/Bad Capitalism William J. Baumol, Robert E. Litan, and Carl J. Schramm point out that there are four capitalist systems.
One is oligarchic capitalism—where the upper class gets capitalism and the lower classes get the shaft. This was the capitalism Pope Francis saw in Argentina, and he lived through the Great Depression that it sparked there. He hates it, and so should we.
Another is state-guided capitalism: This is the capitalism of China or Dubai—and, increasingly, of the West, where as Alisdair McIntyre put it, “What we confront today is a new leviathan: the state and market in a monstrous amalgam.” This is the system that marries corporate greed to government greed to our ruin, according to Francis.
Another capitalism is “Big Firm Capitalism.” This predominates in America, and Pope Francis specifically criticizes it, using the example of large firms crowding out small farming, hunting and fishing (No. 129) and diminishes us all: “This paradigm leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed freedom to consume,” he writes (No. 203). “But those really free are the minority who wield economic and financial power.”
The fourth kind of capitalism is Entrepreneurial Capitalism—the “business creativity” which Pope Francis praises and the subject of much economic thought recently, often using the moniker “think small.”
This is an economy that puts people in the first place, and values products by how they create real value in customers’ lives. What would this kind of economy look like? I think the old parable of the investment banker and Mexican fisherman sheds some light on the question.
The story goes like this: An Investment banker is vacationing in Mexico when he sees a fisherman pulling his boat onto shore in the late morning. “You fish for a living?” he asks. “Tell me, what’s your typical day like?”
“I wake up late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs,” he says.
The investment banker scoffs and offers him some advice: “You should start by fishing longer every day. Catch and sell extra fish, and buy a bigger boat. That means more fish and more money and you can keep adding trawlers until you have a fleet. Forget selling to the merchants in town. Get a contract with the processing plants in the city. Then you can leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York. In 10 to 20 years you can take your company public and make millions.”
“And after that?” asks the fisherman.
“After that you’ll be able to retire and live the good life. You can live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings playing guitar and drinking with your friends!”
Which man’s world do we live in? Which would we rather live in?
To fill out the story, you can imagine the “throwaway culture” the banker or the fisher-CEO would have to embrace to live his lifestyle: The international trips, the hotel stays, eating on the run, the damage to his family relationships and the relentless search for solace in entertainment.
As Pope Francis put it, “a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption” (No. 50).
Pope Francis does not reject capitalism—but he does reject the current system where some get rich off of speculation, while the rest of us live, rest and recreate in order to be better wage slaves for our god Mammon while suffering epidemic levels of anxiety-related disorders—or line up in government offices as de facto wards of the state.
You who are reasonable and thoughtful and who are still reading I hope will seriously munch on Mr. Hoopes words and inwardly digest them.
Disagreeing with the Pope on this is allowable of course but at least you get a better sense of what he's critiquing and what he's proposing while seeing that it's all quite Catholic and not Marxist.
The comments of [Archbishop Allen] Vigneron and Edward Peters, who teaches Catholic canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, are part of a polarizing discussion about gay marriage that echoes debate over whether politicians who advocate abortion rights should receive Communion.
In a post on his blog last week, Peters said that Catholic teachings make it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. And so, "Catholics who promote 'same-sex marriage' act contrary to" Catholic law "and should not approach for holy Communion," he wrote. "They also risk having holy Communion withheld from them ... being rebuked and/or being sanctioned."
Peters didn't specify a Catholic politician or public figure in his post. But he told the Free Press that a person's "public efforts to change society's definition of marriage ... amount to committing objectively wrong actions."
Peters, an attorney who holds the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 to be a referendary of the Apostolic Sinatura, which means he helps advise the top judicial authority in the Catholic Church. Peters' blog, "In Light of the Law," is popular among Catholic experts, but not everyone agrees with his traditional views.
Last month, Vigneron said at a news conference that maintaining views that oppose abortion and support traditional marriage are important for Catholics.
"Were we to abandon them, we would be like physicians who didn't tell their patients that certain forms of behavior are not really in their best interest," said Vigneron, who oversees 1.3 million Catholics in southeastern Michigan.
Asked by the Free Press about Catholics who publicly advocate for gay marriage and receive Communion, Vigneron said Sunday: "For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: 'I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches.' In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one's integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury."
Vigneron said the church wants to help Catholics "avoid this personal disaster."
It is a thousand times easier for a person to say and admit their religion is COMPLETELY WRONG, rather than to say and admit that their thinking and their life is WRONG.
It is much easier for a person to abandon their religion rather than their EGO, and they are always looking for a religion that does not jeopardize their EGO.
Profoundly counter cultural but necessary thinking there. And true. Completely. And sadly.
The final related piece is one that faithful Catholics (and those interested in faithful Catholicism) should particularly bookmark. It's a comprehensive, and that's an understatement, post put up by Leila Miller at Little Catholic Bubble that covers this topic most widely and deeply. Take a good gander at what she's put together. If you're looking for solidly Catholic pieces on the issues of gay marriage and same sex attraction, Leila's post is your go to place.