Loyola Marymount, Pope Francis and Following the Church

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It’s interesting how people with an agenda can take anything and use it for that agenda’s purposes.

A few commenters on this blog, as well as more than a few commenters in the news media, have drawn unsupportable conclusions that Pope Francis’ comments that the Church shouldn’t focus on abortion to the exclusion of other Gospel teachings means that Catholics should be silent on the subject.

The Pope’s comments were a much-needed call to a healthy return to the full Gospel teachings of Christ. They did not abrogate 2,000 years of Christian teaching, or call Catholics to abandon the cause of the sanctity of human life. To do or say that would be tantamount to saying that the Sermon on the Mount and most of the parables, as well as the message of the cross were all a sham.

The Pope did not do that, and he is not going to do that.

Some people, have, through ignorance of Gospel teachings and reading the hypered-up press coverage, honestly drawn the wrong conclusions. Other people have made the wrong conclusions simply because it serves their purposes to do so.

I do know know which group the author of this article from the New York Times falls into.

LOS ANGELES — Not three weeks have passed since Pope Francis said the church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, declaring, “We have to find a new balance.” But on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, overlooking this city’s west side, a fight over abortion now threatens to rip the school asunder.

Trustees of the Jesuit university will decide on Monday whether to remove coverage for elective abortions from the faculty and staff health care plans. The coming vote has exposed a deep rift over just how Catholic a Catholic university should be in the 21st century … 

All I know is that the author is mistaken if he believes that the Pope’s comments in any way meant that Christians in general or Catholics in particular should abandon the fight for the protection of the sanctity of human life.

All this leads me to a smaller point, which is the main one the article is about. The trustees of Loyola Marymount, a Jesuit university in California, voted yesterday to cut abortion coverage from faculty and staff insurance.

The article I linked to above was written before the vote. By putting an inaccurate interpretation of the Holy Father’s statements in the lead of the story, the author implies that this board of trustees is somehow defying the Church by refusing to pay for abortions. The implication is that those people the article calls “religiously conservative professors and alumni,” meaning, I would guess, faculty and alumni who want this Catholic university to follow Catholic teaching, are somehow out of step with the Church.

This is absolute nonsense.

The author goes on to declare that a vote to refuse to pay for abortions will “tear the school asunder.”

If that means that some of the faculty and staff who oppose Church teaching on core issues such as the value of human life quit their cushy jobs and go elsewhere, I don’t think it would do the school anything but good. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath, waiting for them to do this.

On the other hand, if it means that some of these faculty and staff try to destroy the school with lawsuits, threats and by inciting the student rebellion, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what happens. The same kind of scorched-earth, spoiled-brattedness we see in our Congress is rife among those who hold most of the really great jobs this country offers. Their sense of entitlement is endless.

For instance, LMU Sociology professor Anna Muraco gave at least one interview before the vote even took place saying that she would “consider legal action” if the board didn’t vote the way she wanted.

According to the Cardinal Newman Society, she said,

“The fact that the university seems to be able to dabble in our healthcare sets a very dangerous precedent,” she said. “I would not be against filing some sort of legal action.”

Burcham, in an open letter, recently warned against “intellectual bullying or intimidation, whether the source be internal or external.”

According to The Argonaut, she said that the decision by the administration to drop the coverage is not in line with the Jesuit tradition of social justice telling the publication, “There cannot be social justice without reproductive (coverage).”

Muraco, who recently penned a piece on this issue for the pro-abortion rights website RH Reality Check, seemed surprised that this was an issue at all.

“If women cannot control their reproductive lives, then there is not workplace equity,” she reportedly said. “Why are we still having these conversations?”

- See more at: http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/DetailsPage/tabid/102/ArticleID/2592/LMU-Professor-Opposed-to-Dropping-Abortion-Coverage-Weighs-Legal-Action.aspx#sthash.n3SkLH2H.dpuf

Presumably Professor Muraco knows that she is employed by a Catholic university and that the Catholic Church has a constant teaching going back 2,000 years opposing abortion. Yet she issues veiled threats about “intellectual bullying or intimidation” which mean who knows what, and then announces she may sue her employer for following the mandate on which the institution is based.

Why did the school hire this professor in the first place? Is there a shortage of applicants for these jobs that I haven’t heard about? One of the primary purposes of Catholic education is to provide a high quality education in a Christian atmosphere that is consistent with Catholic teaching. How would this lady, with her viewpoints, be able to contribute to that?

It sounds like Loyola Marymount is making an attempt at much-needed reform. But it also sounds like they are a lot of work to do to make that happen.

Culture of Death News

Buckle your seat belts.

The list below contains a few headlines from the culture of death. Look at them and remember why we fight this fight.

 

Wendy Davis, winner of the Texas pro choice filibuster, runs for Governor

UK Takes Step Toward Three-Parent Babies

Belgian Transsexual Dies of Euthanasia After Botched Sex Change Surgery

Number of Dutch Deaths by Euthanasia Rises by 13% 

 

Abortion  Contracts and $45,000 for abortions

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Pope Francis Plans Major Reforms of the Curia

Pope Francis is planning to do more than tweak the way the Vatican is organized. He’s going to make  a major overhaul.

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We’re Not Living in Mad Max Land

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The shut down continues.

The stock market responds to the shut down with a rumble, but basically keeps its head (so far), and people around the world are scratching their heads over the American shenanigans.

I hadn’t thought much about the response of non-Americans to all this. But for those who are wondering: We aren’t living in Mad Max land here in the USA. Our governance, and the powers that go along with it, is divided into so many pieces that it can clank along quite nicely, even if the money from Washington is cut off for a while.

In that sense, it is a misnomer to call this a “government shut down.” What it is, is a (hopefully temporary) stoppage in federal funding for select programs. I say select programs because Congress has evidently made a list of things that it will fund despite the fight.

The shutdown is entirely partisan in nature. The Ds and the Rs are fighting over who’s the boss. All the issues and rhetoric are just fluff. That’s what the fight is really about. I think it’s quite clear that the side that decided to throw down was the Rs. They initiated the fight. When they claim otherwise, that’s just spin.

The Ds, for their part, appear to be unwilling to talk with their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Everybody hates everybody else, and nobody cares about much of anything outside their personal vendettas against one another.

What the Rs have in this battle is veto power. They control one house (the House of Representatives) in Congress. The Ds control the other house (the Senate) and the presidency. It takes all three of these bodies to make a legitimate law.

Legitimate laws are different from Presidential executive orders, which are end runs around the legitimate authority of Congress. Legitimate laws are also different from agency rules, which are not always, but can be, another end run around Congressional authority. These orders and rules amount to a kind of presidential fiat which, in my opinion, subverts the power of the people and turns the president into something akin to an elected dictator. For a list of President Obama’s executive orders, go here.

For instance, the First-Amendment-busting HHS Mandate is not a law. It is also not an executive order.  It is an agency rule, written by an appointed committee and signed by the president. Congress has always had the power to reject this rule without even addressing the underlying Affordable Health Care Act. It simply has not — primarily because of blind partisan loyalties — had the will. It is interesting that this HHS Mandate has fed significantly into this budget crisis.

The Rs can’t pass anything into law without the support of the Democrats in the Senate and the signature of the Democratic President. The Democrats can’t pass anything into law without the support of the Rs in the House.

The Ds and the Rs both have enough clout to unilaterally stop laws from passing. Neither of them can pass a law without the other. The increasing abuse of executive orders by each subsequent president for the past several decades has shorn Congress of much of its legitimate Constitutional power. When Congress refuses to enact a law, the President often just writes an executive order and does whatever he wants, anyway.

Congress has also ceded much of its war-making powers to the president. In fact, Congress has ceded most of its power as a policy-making body to the presidency. I think the major reason for this is that members of Congress no longer act as individuals. They are entirely divided along partisan political lines, the country be damned. They have eschewed their rightful concern for the American experiment in representative democracy to promote party ideologies.

The battle of the budget is over one of the few major powers that Congress has not, in its blind party loyalties, ceded to the presidency: The power to fund government.

The Rs are using their veto power to stop the bulk of the federal budget from passing into law. But they are allowing funding for a select groups of agencies and functions. I believe this is largely determined by the political heat they feel when they don’t fund these things.

Congress has become so divided along partisan lines that it is no longer able to assert its policy making authority, except in these destructive partisan standoffs that damage both the country and the institution of Congress itself. This creates a vacuum of power that is increasingly being filled by presidential fiat.

I, for one, would support moves by Congress as a body to reassert itself and its rightful authority in the governance of this country. However, these party-loyalty bear and bull fights do not enhance Congressional powers. They make a mockery of them. Until the people we elect can see beyond party loyalties and begin to act on behalf of the needs of this country and its people, Congress is only going to grow weaker and the presidency will move further toward an elected dictator.

You can find contact information for members of Congress and the President here.

See shut down news from around the web. Keep in mind that even though one house of Congress passes a bill, it is not law until the other house passes it and the president signs it:

House Approves Back Pay for Furloughed Workers

66 Questions and Answers about the Shutdown

Shut Down will Stall Home Loans for Thousands

Shutdown Losers and Not Quite Losers

Boehner: No End to Government Shutdown without Concessions

Stock Market Shaken by Shutdown, but Debt Default Would be Much Worse

Don’t Believe the Debt Ceiling Hike: The Federal Government Could Survive Without an Increase

Global Reaction to Shutdown: USA Looks Dumb and Dumber

What the Rest of the World Thinks About the Shutdown

Will the Shutdown End Soon?

Will the shutdown end soon? It just might.

Here’s why:

GOP Donors Revolt Against Republican-Led Shutdown 

Is the Communion Burger in Poor Taste?

 

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Is the communion burger in poor taste?

When I first saw that headline, (in which, I guess, the pun was intended) I was dumbfounded. I still don’t have a lot to say, except that we live in a post Christian world, and this is part of our new reality. Obviously, this restaurant does not care if Christians forego eating there, but I certainly hope that Christians will forego eating there.

From CNN:

Kuma’s Corner, a heavy-metal themed joint with an “Eat beef; bang your head” ethos, says its new burger is an homage to Ghost, a Swedish band that performs satanic songs in Catholic clerical garb.

“The Ghost” burger features a “Communion wafer garnish,” a white, unleavened disc bearing the imprint of a cross and a crown.

Ghost’s new album comes complete with grape juice and a mock Communion wafer. Not coincidentally, the Communion burger at Kuma’s comes with a red wine reduction.

….   Luke Tobias, director of operations for Kuma’s, said the restaurant’s Communion wafers are not consecrated, and thus, not really holy. “It’s more or less a cracker with a cross on it,” he said. The restaurant bought the wafers online from an e-Bay-type website.

They’re not trying to make a big religious statement, Tobias said, just trying to have fun honoring a band they like.

“If there is a God, I’m sure he has a sense of humor.”

Some of God’s peoples seem to get the joke, according to Kuma’s.  A Presbyterian minister who ate the burger yesterday posted a message on Facebook saying that “sacrilege never tasted so good,” Tobias said.

Shutdown News


A few tidbits of news on the shutdown. Caveat: These lists are almost certainly incomplete since the situation is constantly changing.

Which Lawmakers are Giving up Their Pay During the Shutdown

What’s Affected by the Shutdown? 

While We’re Living with This Shutdown, the Big Brains in Congress are Already Planning the Next One

The Real Reason for the Shutdown: They Hate Each Other

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Republicans Blaming the Democrats

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President Obama Blaming the Republicans

Time Out

I’m going to take a couple of days off to tend to some personal concerns.

I won’t be gone long, and I already miss you.

In the meantime, keep up the excellent conversations. You are an impressive group of thinkers.

In Christ,

Rebecca

Book Review: What Are You Afraid Of?

To join the discuss about What Are You Afraid Of?, or to order a copy, go here

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What Are You Afraid Of? by Dr David Jeremiah seeks to provide a workable life theology for believers who are facing the inevitable rough spots in life.

It is a fact of existence that some people skate through life without experiencing overwhelming tragedy. It is also a fact that other people suffer one tragic even after another. Another unwelcome fact is that the course of a person’s life can change from sunshine to tragedy in a moment.

You never know.

It is this not knowing that creates much of the fear we have to live with as we traverse our days. It engenders all sorts of fear in people. Dr Jeremiah focuses his book on some of the most common fears, beginning with one I’ve had some recent acquaintance with: Natural disasters.

Dr Jeremiah not only focuses on natural disasters, he uses a description of the May 20 tornado that flattened a large part of South Oklahoma City (where I live) just a few months ago. People I know are still rebuilding their homes, grieving their dead and trying to put themselves back together from this tornado.

So, why does one person skate through a disaster like this without so much as smudging their mascara and another come out of it permanently paralyzed, or facing the loss of home and loved ones? Is there a balance in the cosmos that makes this right?

I’ve read about people who respond to these things by turning their back on God. But I’ve only known one person who did this in my whole life, and he found his way back to God later. In truth, it’s the people who aren’t suffering who use the tragedies of life to make jibes at God. The ones who are in the throes of the pain are far too busy clinging to God with all they’ve got to find energy or time to denounce Him.

Dr Jeremiah retells the story of the Tower of Siloam, which fell on a group of people in Jesus’ time, killing several of them. Jesus tells his disciples that this didn’t happen to the people who were killed because they were sinful. “God makes his rain to fall on the just and unjust,” he said, which I suppose, was Jesus’ way of saying that stuff happens.

Does that mean that God is uninvolved in what happens to us?

Anyone who has ever walked with the Lord knows this is not true.

That leaves all of us with unsatisfactory answers to these things. I think this is primarily because our perspective is temporal. God sees things from outside time.

What Are You Afraid Of? is an interesting book that seeks to answer one of the deepest questions of humankind: How do we balance the innate, existential fears that are encoded into us with the certainty of God’s promises and eternal life?

All Work for God Begins with Prayer

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I had a small discussion with one of Public Catholic’s most faithful — and interesting — readers the other day.

I had published this post calling for prayer for persecuted Christians. This particular reader said that we need to do something about this and not just pray. It made me smile when I read that because he’s right: We need to do something.

And we will.

If we pray.

Why would anyone recommend prayer in the face of this onslaught of slaughter? One reason is that the persecuted Christians themselves ask for prayer. Every time I talk to someone who lives in an area where Christians are subjected to violent persecution, I ask them how I can help them. Invariably, they ask for prayer.

Why?

You’d think they’d ask for a rocket launcher, or at least a few grenades.

Why prayer?

I think the answer is that these people are people of faith, just like us, only they no longer carry around the burden of the accoutrements of faith that weigh us down. Every person I have ever talked to who has been through violent persecution for Christ has both a strength and a gentleness that sets them apart.

The things we think are so important have been stripped away from them as they come face to face with the question that we all wonder how we would answer: Will you die for Him?

I think that once a person looks into the reality of that question, not as a hypothetical, but as an actual life or death decision that they are making, they are changed. The fires of persecution seem to burn away the chaff of people’s lives and the ones who persist and do not yield learn what sustains in time of grave peril.

I think that is why they ask for prayer.

That is one reason to pray, because the people we want to help have asked us to pray.

Another reason is because entering into this arena of Christian persecution paints our faces on the devil’s dart board. We will be assailed and attacked, slandered and maligned for speaking out for persecuted Christians. This is the natural course of things when anyone defends God’s children. We need prayer for the strength it gives us as we do this work.

The next reason to pray is because we need direction. Not only that, but we need God to raise up Christians everywhere to fight this plague of violence. We need to pray and pray and let God work.

Prayer is the key to doing God’s will. Not that He is likely to put a burning bush that is not consumed in our paths. But that prayer keeps us in contact with grace. If we want to do something about persecuted Christians — and I hope sincerely that every one who reads this does — begin with prayer. I don’t mean one Rosary or some small bit of jingoistic something you learned as a child. I mean walking with the Lord in prayer day after day after day.

Just pray and wait. If God wants active work from you, you’ll know soon enough. If, on the other hand, He wants you to be a permanent prayer warrior, do that.

I was thrilled with what the reader said that day. Excited. Because I think he’s the kind of person who actually will do something. I do not want to stifle anyone in that. I only ask that in all the doing, we pray and wait on the Lord lead us first.

All work for God begins with prayer. That’s a truth of life in Christ as I know it.


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