Kim Davis meets the Pope

Pope Francis met when he was here with Kim Davis, the county clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  It’s strange to think of an Apostolic Pentecostal Christian, which Kim Davis is, holding much store with the Pope of Rome.  But that the Pope met with her puts flesh and blood to his rather vague statements on religious liberty.

He also made a point of meeting with the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have been fighting in court for the right not to comply with Obamacare contraception requirements.

The media emphasized the Pope’s liberal pronouncements, but not so much his conservative ones.  But his actions show that he supports religious accommodations for those whose conscience cannot accept culture war laws. [Read more...]

The “right of the environment”

We are mostly familiar with the concept of human rights.  In his address to the United Nations, Pope Francis affirmed that and arguably took it a little further, referring to “the right to existence of human nature itself,” which includes not only the right to life but also the right to “lodging, labor, and land.”  But he went on to assert  not just the rights of human beings but “the right of the environment.”

Can non-humans, such as animals have rights?  Can inanimate objects have rights?  In what sense can the environment have a right? [Read more...]

The Pope’s sermon to America

Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress, taking the opportunity to preach against tenets of both liberalism and conservatism.  Liberals were zinged by his remarks opposing abortion, redefining the family, and infringing upon religious liberty.  Conservatives were zinged by his remarks on the necessity of supporting immigrants, measures to combat climate change, the elimination of the death penalty, tempering the excesses of capitalism, offering help for the poor, and (interestingly) opposing “fundamentalism.”

To his credit, the Pope twice mentioned “vocation” in a more or less Lutheran sense (as opposed to the medieval Catholic application of the term to church professions alone):

A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk.

“Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129).

Here is an annotated text of the speech (click the yellow highlights for the annotations).  After the jump, a detailed account of what the Pope said and how Congressmen and Senators reacted. [Read more...]

The Pope gets here today

Today at 4:00 p.m. ET, Pope Francis will arrive in Washington, D.C.  The next day he will visit the White House.  On Thursday the pope will address a joint session of Congress, the first time that has ever happened.  Friday he’ll be in New York, addressing the UN, and Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia.

What do we make of this?  Is this political adulation appropriate for a religious leader?  Why wouldn’t the head of the Lutheran World Federation or the International Baptist Convention get–or want– this kind of treatment?

On what issues do you think the pontiff will pontificate?  (We know he will be pro-immigration, pro-environmentalism, and pro-life.  Will he be more help to liberals or conservatives?) [Read more...]

How Obama will get in the Pope’s face

To greet Pope Francis at the White House next week, President Obama has invited a pro-abortion nun, transgender activists, gay Catholic activists, and a gay Episcopal bishop. [Read more...]

The Pope makes annullments easier

Roman Catholics don’t allow for divorce, the dissolution of a marriage.  They do, however, allow for annullments, which deny after the fact that a valid marriage ever took place (despite how long the couple has lived together, if they had children, etc.).  After an annullment, the marriage is considered never to have existed.

The process to get one has been arduous, time-consuming, and expensive, given the tortuous logic that has to be engaged in, with couples having to provide evidence, for example, that they too young to know what they were getting into and so didn’t really have informed consent to the marriage, and similar rationalizations.

But now Pope Francis has issued the biggest changes to annulment proceedings in hundreds of years, making the whole process much easier.  This will surely mean that more Catholics will end their marriages.  But at least they won’t get a divorce! [Read more...]