Thank You, Bristol Palin, for Your Courage.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skadmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skadmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Bristol Palin, fellow Patheos blogger and daughter of former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, announced on her blog that she is expecting a new baby.

I’ve read a few comments about her pregnancy on other blogs that disgust me. I won’t reiterate them here. I will just say this:

Thank you, Bristol Palin, for your courage.

You could have killed this baby and no one would be the wiser. That’s what many young women in your situation would have done. Instead, you chose to face the inevitable judgments and cruelties of people with an axe to grind about your politics, your opinions or about your mother, and give life to your child.

This took courage. It is a hard-core, pro-life-when-it-hurts commitment to your baby. You will be subjected to verbal trauma from the cruel people in this world. You may even have to face anger from your family because they, too, will get a dose of the same bitter treatment.

But you will never have to live with the miserable fact that you have murdered your own child to avoid hardship yourself. Your child will know that he or she has a mother who walked through sorrow and shame for his or her life. Your baby will never have to doubt how much he or she matters to you.

Bravo, Miss Palin.

And congratulations on your new baby. May you love and enjoy this child every day of what I hope will be your long and happy life.

 

 

 

Kathy Schiffer has written an excellent post about Miss Palin’s new baby here.

Ok. Let’s Talk Gun Control.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Ok. Let’s talk gun control.

I’m writing this post for one purpose. That purpose is to talk about what so many of you evidently need to talk about: Gun control. It’s a big issue for these times, one that isn’t going to go away. We really do need to discuss it at Public Catholic, at the intersection of faith and public life.

This post is an attempt to separate the discussion from the post I wrote about the tragedy in Charleston. Getting into the gritty stuff of political discussion on that post makes me a bit queasy. I react as if we’re engaging in the mud pie throwing of a political discussion at a funeral.

I’m going to delete the posts that are incoming over there. Please move them here.

Now. To gun control.

The issues are black and white to everyone, on both sides of the argument. As usually happens in this time of terminal personal self-righteousness and culture war, everyone thinks the people on the other side of the debate are unreasonable demagogues with the consciences of serial killers.

I think — for what my thinking is worth — that both sides are trying to deal with the intractable problem of evil, manifesting itself in human actions, without acknowledging that this is what they are dealing with.

I am personally opposed to limiting second amendment rights beyond a few reasonable legal codicils. As usual, I have the votes to prove it.

But that does not mean that I think that people who favor gun control are acting out of ignorance or a craven desire to limit American freedoms. I think that they are good people who are focusing on a different set of dangers than I am.

That is a key point in this discussion: Both sides of the debate are advocating a dangerous position, and both sides refuse to see that their position is in fact a dangerous one to take. There are no easy, harmless solutions to the problem of the human propensity to murder other humans.

Among the dangers inherent in gun control is that it is first of all a cavalier approach to limiting a basic Constitutional right. It ignores the increase in the reach of government power and oversight of Americans that would be involved in such a change in the laws.

America is not Europe or even Canada. We are a heavily armed people. Here in Oklahoma, just about every home has at least one gun and most homes have several. Most Okies not only have guns, they know how to use them. They do use them, for target practice and hunting.

I’m pretty sure that this same situation prevails throughout most of the South and the Southwest. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t also exist in other parts of the country, as well. The political realities of gun control legislation seem to indicate that there are a lot of Americans out there who keep and bear arms.

The bureaucratic measures of filling out forms and undergoing checks of various sorts that office holders keep proposing would not dent the gun violence and mass killings we’ve seen. Ideas about limiting access to ammunition have been floated. But the political realities of that idea are probably even more extreme than those for gun control.

Not only that, but a lot of Okies are perfectly capable of making their own bullets. They do it now, as a hobby. I imagine that’s true of other, non-Okie folks, as well.

Removal of guns, such as has happened in other countries, is where this argument has to go. That would result in draconian government intrusion into the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It would also be even less effective than Prohibition was. The resistance from the public is not something I want to contemplate. Not only that, but, once again, Okies are perfectly capable of making their own guns, as are a lot of other people, I’m sure.

We need to be careful about making criminals of law-abiding citizens as a means of getting at a few individuals who are in the grip of a killing fever that the rest of us can’t explain or understand.

Also, mass murder is not just a function of guns. Fertilizer and gasoline will make a bomb. You can kill many innocent people and maim many others with it. You can blow up big buildings and murder little children with it. Rwanda suffered a genocide that slaughtered hundreds of thousands in a short time with clubs and machetes.

We deny the power of human ingenuity if we seriously think that limiting access to a category of inanimate objects will stop these mass murders.

It is a simple historical fact that we did not suffer these repeated mass killings earlier in the history of this country. Guns were even more ubiquitous in our past, but the tragedy of one or two people randomly killing strangers, co-workers or fellow students for no apparent reason is a relatively recent phenomena.

It’s the people themselves who have changed. And this is a result of societal breakdown that evidently predicates toward the creation of psychopaths and rage killers.

This leads me to the dangers of opposing gun control. People are being killed. We know that what happened in Charleston has happened before. We know that it will happen again. And again.

We know, whether we will admit it or not, that it takes less time and is easier to pick up a gun than it is to build a bomb. It’s neater and cleaner to kill people with the squeeze of a forefinger on a trigger than it is to build a bomb, swing a club or wield a machete.

The trouble with this entire debate is that it is about inanimate objects which are only tools, rather than the tool wielders. I think this is because we do not want to face what we have wrought.

These killings are not about mental illness. Mentally ill people, like guns, have been with us long before these killings started. They are also not about poverty, or racism.

While one murderer may kill a school full of little Amish girls and another murders black people at a prayer meeting, their brothers in murder may decide to go on a military base and start shooting, or to their place of employment or even to the local McDonalds. They may, as I remarked earlier, build a bomb, put it in a truck and park the truck under a day care center.

The evil is not in the guns. The evil is not in the fertilizer. The evil is not in the truck.

The evil is in the young men who commit these murders. More to the point, the evil is in the society that built the young men.

The one constant is that the murderers are nearly all young men. Most of them are from privileged backgrounds. They are not hungry, battered, sexually molested or on drugs. We say they are mentally ill, and some of them may be. But others clearly are not. All of them have sufficient wits to plan and commit what are fairly complicated acts of mass murder.

This problem we are dealing with is a symptom of a larger societal sickness. And that is what we don’t want to face.

The entire gun control debate is ruse of sorts that lets us believe in the lie of simple solutions and one-off fixes. Focusing on gun control allows us the luxury of avoiding the deeper discussions of what has gone wrong in our society that, after around 150 years of gun ownership without these mass murders, has been plunged into the hell of seeing them happen over and over again.

That discussion, which would take us into the subterranean world of the things we dare not say, is one that we are willing to accept mass murder and maybe even give up our freedoms to avoid.

But it is the only discussion that has a hope of yielding ideas which might actually address the problem.

 

 

House Undoes What it Did and Passes Fast Track on Pacific Trade Bill

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

You just can’t get Congress to be Congress anymore.

A few days after the United States House of Representatives denied President Obama sweeping powers to put through the Pacific trade deal, it reversed itself and passed fast track in a separate piece of legislation.

I know this sounds cynical, but that lets the good Congresspeople claim that they voted with whoever they are talking to on this measure. If they are talking to those who favor the Pacific trade agreement, then they point to this vote. If they are talking to people who want to preserve American jobs, they can point to last week’s vote.

If an opponent in a re-election campaign attacks them for backing the Pacific trade bill (when they’re talking to We the People, they almost always have to deny supporting this thing) they can call them a liar and say they voted to stop fast track.

When they go to the corporatists with their hands out for campaign money, all they gotta do is explain that they were forced to vote against fast track in the first vote because the rubes in their district demanded it. But they made good on their real campaign promises to the money men with the second vote.

It will work. It always does.

From The Hill:

The House on Thursday took the first step toward resuscitating the White House’s trade agenda by passing legislation granting President Obama fast-track authority.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where the White House and GOP leaders are seeking to strike a deal with pro-trade Democrats.

The House vote was 218-208, with 28 Democrats voting for it.

This is the second time in a week the House has voted to approve the controversial fast-track bill. On Friday, the House voted 219-211 in favor of fast-track, which would make it easier for Obama to complete a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.

In last week’s vote, the House GOP paired the fast-track bill with a measure known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that gives aid to workers displaced by trade. Both measures needed to be approved in separate votes for the entire package to move forward.

House Democrats have historically favored TAA, but they voted against it on Friday to kill fast-track, which is deeply opposed by unions and other liberal groups.

The White House still wants both measures to reach Obama’s desk, but is now advancing a different strategy that would see the two bills move separately.

 

 

Where I’m From, We Call Our Father’s Daddy

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

This is a re-run of a post I wrote a while back. Happy Father’s Day Daddy. I love you. I miss you. I look forward to the day when I see you again.

Where I’m from, we call our fathers “Daddy.”

It’s not unusual to see 60-year-old cowboys, complete with the hat, the cattle and the big belt buckle, addressing their 80-year-old fathers as “Daddy.” It’s just the way we talk.

My Daddy was what pundits condescendingly refer to as “blue collar” or “working class.” What that means is that he was a highly skilled person who could pull an engine out of a car, take it apart, rebuild it like new, put it back in the car, test drive the car to see if all was right and still be home in time for eight hours sleep before he had to get up for work the next day.

The men I grew up around never worried about being man enough. The very notion of worrying about a thing like that was as foreign to them as worrying about being American or Oklahoman enough. They worked hard as mechanics, truck drivers, machinists, butchers and carpenters. Then they came home and put in gardens and maintained their houses. No one in my neighborhood would have considered calling a plumber, roofer or any other handyman to repair their homes. If the plumbing was broke (things were never “broken”; they were “broke”) they fixed it. If the roof leaked, they would get together with the rest of the boys from thereabouts and put on a new one.

My Daddy thought nothing of  getting together with my uncle and putting up a wall, complete with texture and paint, in one day. They could turn around and take it down the same way. They built their own garages, added rooms to their houses and dug their own tornado shelters.

Not one of the men I knew as a child would consider raising a hand to a woman. A man who would hit a woman was a coward, not a man, a nothing, in their eyes. Any man stupid enough to do a thing like that was very likely to have the other men thereabouts take them out some night and “knock some sense into him.”

It never entered my mind to be afraid of anything when I was little. Whatever bad was out there, I believed my daddy would make sure it never touched me. I can not remember a time when he didn’t seem as big and safe as a fort.

I also can’t remember the first time he lifted me astride a horse. I do remember sitting behind him on his horse as we rode for hours. I was maybe four or so when he got me my first horse, a gentle fellow named Shorty.

Owning a horse meant I had to learn to brush him down before saddling him, then brush him down again after the ride. I had to make sure he had water, hay and grain and that his hooves were free of rocks and other things that might harm him. I was responsible for soft-soaping my saddle and bridle, for cleaning the bits.

I didn’t know how to do all this at four, but I learned how from my daddy who taught me by doing it with me. He also taught me to never let the horse get the best of me by getting angry with the animal, jerking him around or failing to get back up and get on when I was tossed off.

He had a contempt that he imparted to me for the kind of man who would get panicky on a horse and then take it out on the horse by yanking the bits, yelling at the animal or digging his heels into the horse’s sides.

Shorty was a kindly horse with a lot of patience for little girls but not a lot of gas in his tank. As I grew from a tiny girl into a little girl, I became increasingly impatient with his lack of go. One day when I was about seven I decided I wanted to see if I could get a rise out of him.

I saddled up and climbed on Shorty, armed with a water pistol. I rode him for a while, then stood in the stirrups, leaned forward, and squirted. Sweet, gentle Shorty broke in half. I managed to ride it out, but I certainly did get a rise out of him. It was more than I bargained for, but it was fun. I finally got Shorty quieted and looked around to see my daddy standing across the lot, staring at me.

The word we use today is “busted.” I had been caught red-handed, abusing my horse. I had no idea what Daddy was going to do, but I expected something massive. What he did instead was much more effective.

“Becky Ann, you know better than that.” he said. That was all. He didn’t yell or threaten. He didn’t even ground me from riding; just, “you know better than that.” But it was enough. I have never abused an animal again.

Years before that, when I was a pre-schooler, I stole a pack of chewing gum from a store and got caught. Daddy didn’t yell at me. He took me back to the store and made me hand the gum to the clerk and say “I stole this.” That was a long time ago, but I can still feel the humiliation of that moment. Then, to add insult to injury, he bought the gum and gave it to me.

Another lesson learned. The temptation to steal left me that day and has never returned.

Daddy was teaching more than how to ride and care for a horse, more even than not to steal. He was teaching me a whole set of values. He was also, though neither of us was aware of it, teaching me about men. There wasn’t a plan in this. I feel confident that my daddy never read a single book on how to raise kids. He didn’t make dates to “have a talk” with me or attempt to manipulate me. He just talked to me as part of our daily interactions. Like I was a person. He spent time with me. That’s how he caught me with the stolen gum, how he saw me shoot water into Shorty’s ear; he was there.

Woody Allen has said that 90% of life is showing up. I think that more than 90% of being a father is being there. You don’t have to ride horses with your kids or break down engines to be a good dad, but you do need to be there. Share the one thing that is completely yours with your children: Share yourself. Teach them about men by being a safe and reliable man in their lives. Give them the gift of security by always being the dad on the beat, ready to protect and rescue them when they need it.

My father had a lot of faults. But he was there and he loved me without question. He used to embarrass me, bragging on me to people, but I realize now that having your very own Daddy think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread is loft to your wings for your whole life. Children, boys or girls, it doesn’t matter, need their Daddys. They need them home, with their Mamas, taking care of things.

My Daddy was there. And he loved me unconditionally. I’ve never read a child-rearing advice book that just plainly said that this is what children need, but it IS what children need. Nothing else will substitute.

President Obama’s Statement on Charleston Murders

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

President Obama combined his grief about the shooting in South Carolina with a call for gun control.

I considered just not putting this video on Public Catholic because of that. I don’t think this tragic situation is the time or place for a debate like that. I decided to go ahead and post this video of the president’s remarks because I trust in the goodness of Public Catholic’s faithful readers.

Please don’t excoriate the president or go at one another over gun control.

Let’s focus on the beautiful lives that were lost and the great hope that we in eternal life through Christ Jesus.

We can talk politics another day.

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Nine People in Charleston are Dead for No Reason. Does Anybody Understand This?

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Charleston. Photo Source Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Share Alike License by By Spencer Means from New York City, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Charleston. Photo Source Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Share Alike License by By Spencer Means from New York City, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Nine people at prayer.

A young man enters the church and sits down with them. Then, after an hour, he pulls out a gun and shoots them.

The murdered are African American. The murderer is white.

The motive is said to be race.

I don’t understand it. I mean, I really don’t.

How, why, would anyone do something like this?

It appears that the black people made the white guy welcome. That would be in keeping with the beautiful hospitality I have experienced every time I’ve attended a black church service.

What evil infects the minds of people who kill others for no reason?

I do not understand.

I’ve come to realize that I will never understand.

All I know is that those nine good people who had their prayers interrupted by their own deaths got the best of this. They are almost certainly in heaven right now, singing and dancing before the throne of God.

From The New York Times:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The man suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting at a historic black church in this city’s downtown area was caught on Thursday some 200 miles away in North Carolina, local and federal officials said.

After an intensive, 14-hour manhunt for the man who carried out a massacre that officials are calling racially motivated, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, “was arrested in Shelby, N.C., during a traffic stop” shortly after 11 a.m., said Greg Mullen, the Charleston police chief.

The police here say Mr. Roof, who is white, is suspected of being the gunman who walked into the prayer meeting Wednesday night, sat down with black parishioners for nearly an hour, and then opened fire.

 

For more commentary read Lisa Hendey’s Prayers for Precious Souls Lost in Charleston Shooting.  

Cafeteria Catholics Wear Red as Well as Blue

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

It was a rout.

They knocked one another down, running away from Him.

The temple guards tried to catch John Mark by grabbing his clothes. When his clothes tore lose, Mark ran away naked into the night like a panicked bunny rabbit.

A few days before, John and James had been arguing over who would sit at the places of honor in His Kingdom.

Now, they ran.

It was ignominious defeat, an end to all their boasting and bragging about their great loyalty.

Jesus has suffered many Gethsemanes since that night, many times when His followers ran from Him and straight into the maw of the world. People stampede the same as a herd of cattle. When they are panicked, they will run right over a cliff and to their destruction.

We are the weakest of followers for a Heavenly King. The question isn’t why we choose Him. The question is why He chooses us.

Given our behavior, that question is so confounding that only one answer is possible. That answer is love. He loves us, and love makes all things right, even our tawdry behavior.

The disciples ran that night because they were panicked, afraid for their lives. They also ran because, as Jesus told them, This is satan’s hour. 

But satan doesn’t have just one hour. His taunts and beguilements are an ever-renewing source of spite, hate, malice and lies. This time in which we live is every bit as much satan’s hour as that night in the garden.

Satan will use any doorway into us, including what we think of as our faithfulness to Him. One clear sign that we can use to discern that we are on the wrong path is when we begin to base our righteousness on the sins of other people.

That is the first sin of cafeteria Catholics, of the red and the blue, the left and right. They are forever attacking one another and claiming righteousness for themselves based on the sins of the other.

Cafeteria Catholics of the left claim, often rightfully, that those on the right ignore the cries of the poor, that their economic policies concentrate wealth in a few hands and impoverish all others. They are accurate when they say that this is not free enterprise, because it isn’t. It is corporate fascism, the corporatism that has been consistently condemned by every recent pope.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right claim, often rightfully, that those on the left attack the human, that they seek to destroy the very foundations of civilization with their destructive nihilism. Abortion, gay marriage, mutilating surgeries used on mentally ill people, euthanasia, egg harvesting, porn; these are the crimes of the left.

Both groups condemn the pope and the Church for violating the “teachings” of their side. The Pope is a sign of contradiction to this world. Cafeteria Catholics of both the right and left react violently when the Holy Father’s teachings contradict and lay bare their own departures from following Christ.

They don’t respond to this revelation that they are walking outside the faith with humility and a desire to change. They don’t even do as I often do when the Pope’s teachings contradict my shibboleths, by twisting and turning, arguing and complaining, before I ultimately give in and follow.

Hardened cafeteria Catholics respond to the teachings from the pope that contradict their politics by going into spittle-throwing, self-righteous rages. They attack and defame the pope himself for calling them to a conversion they do not want to make.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right have, for many years, condemned and excoriated anyone who departed from what they termed obedience to the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church.  Their brittle self-righteousness in condemning everyone who departed from their standard of faithfulness has driven many people from the Church, turned people away from Christ.

It was not their faithfulness that drove people away. It was their self-righteousness, their ugly use of the Church as a club to beat their political opponents over the head.

But when the pope, this Pope, dares to teach the truth about corporate fascism, they turn hard about 180 degrees and attack the Church, and the Holy Father themselves. I have deleted the most appalling comments about Pope Francis in the past 24 hours, comments that come from the pit of spiritual death.

That, of course, is nothing new. I delete appalling comments about the pope and the Church almost every day.

Cafeteria Catholics on the left chime in on a regular basis, letting me know that the Church has failed to live up to their self-righteous standards, as well. The Church, they say, is cruel and has no compassion because it “condemns” the sick and elderly to suffering when a good dose of poison would end it for them.

The Church is cruel because, while it admits anyone, including homosexuals, it will not tell homosexuals that their sins are not sins.

The Church supposedly hates women because it will not support them in killing their children with abortion.

Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, the red and the blue, abandon the Church founded by Christ the Lord to bend their knee and give their loyalty to the false gods of this world. Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, seek to limit the Church’s teaching to areas that goad the other guy’s ox and not theirs.

Jesus Christ doesn’t mean all that much to either side. They will abandon Him on behalf of their political philosophies anytime. Any time at all.

They do not follow the Vicar of Christ. They follow the pundits and talking heads who taught them this false gospel of self-righteousness and condemnation of others in the first place. They are comfortable in their mushy wallows of false doctrine and self-congratulation. They like pointing the finger at the other guy and declaring that he is not faithful, while, they proclaim, they themselves are absolutely faithful.

Left wing cafeteria Catholics loved to attack Pope Benedict XVI. They piled onto Pope John Paul II. But they’ve decided to patronize Pope Francis by misinterpreting what he says to fit their politics. They are attempting what the right wing accomplished by doing the same thing with the teachings of the earlier popes: Self deification.

Right wing cafeteria Catholics breathe fire at Pope Francis. I’ve deleted comments from them that say outrageous things about him. This is especially poignant, coming as it does from people who have long based their claims to righteousness on their faithfulness to the teachings of the Church.

In truth, neither group of cafeteria Catholics is looking for leadership from the Pope. What they both want is validation of their sins. That, and holy verbiage they can use to condemn their enemies in the wars of this world.

They aren’t looking for redemption and forgiveness. They have no use for salvation that comes at the price of a cross. They have convinced themselves that they don’t need it.

They are so certain of their theological omniscience that they lecture the pope on Church teaching. They are so proud of their righteousness that they use themselves for the measure by which they judge what is right and what is wrong.

Cafeteria Catholics are exactly like the political movements they have made the lords of their lives. The only difference is that the puppet masters at the top of these movements know what they are doing. They got their 30 pieces of silver.

Their followers down below do not have the respect of those on top these movements. These hapless souls who’ve sold their birthright for a bowl of pundit porridge are just things to be used by those they follow.

Do not run away from the Lord of all life. Do not feed your salvation to the dogs of this world.

The simplest way to know that you are following Christ is to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. Scripture tells us to Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. 

I would make that more explicit. I would say trust the Vicar of Christ and do not follow the pied pipers of the media and the internet to your own destruction.

Save. Your. Soul.

Turn your back on the death-dealing philosophies of this world, whether they are from the right or the left.

Choose Christ.

Climate Change Crosses Political Lines: What’s a Bishop to Do?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/125093371@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/125093371@N02/

So, Pope Francis has written a soon-to-be-released encyclical on the environment.

Long before we got this close to actually reading the document itself, we’ve been treated to histrionics and “instructions” to the Holy Father to mind his own pontifical business.

Rush Limbaugh took time away from counting his money to come out against the encyclical he had not read. Predictably, he based his thinking on his own greed-is-good theology. Now, he’s running his jaws, flapping about a “leaked” version of the encyclical, which, for all we know, a Vatican janitor pulled out of the trash. Of course, Mr Limbaugh repeats his slanders about the pope being a “Marxist” while he’s doing this.

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum chimed in a few weeks ago, instructing Pope Francis to “back off” talking about climate change. His logic? The Church should steer away from scientific questions. According to Fox News, an unnamed blogger at First Things “accused the pope of promoting ‘theologized propaganda’ on conservation — a post the journal’s editor later disavowed.”

According to WMAL, the GOP is on the verge of doing battle with Pope Francis over climate change. USA Today has written an article stating what is obvious to anyone who understands politics: The opposition to this encyclical is about money.

In the meantime, environmentalists and liberals are tuning up for their happy dance. I have no doubt that their interpretations of the upcoming encyclical will be as self-serving and inaccurate as those of Mr Limbaugh, et al.

Every pope in recent memory has spoken out about the environment. Every pope in recent memory has taken a strong stand against the evils of corporatism, which is organized greed wedded to government power. Why is Pope Francis any different?

The answer to that is as obvious as the answer to why corporatists oppose him with such venom: People are listening to this pope. They’re paying attention to what he says. For the first time in a long time, ordinary people see the Church as accessible. Pope Francis is a father figure to billions of people who never listened to the Church before.

He has shifted the Church away from the appearance of partisan alliances and given it the old-time Gospel outlook of a Church that is beholden to no political party or faction. That is exactly as it should be. The Church should have one Master, one Lord, and that is Jesus Christ.

Contrary to what the nay-sayers are yapping about, Pope Francis is entirely within his purview when he addresses the environment. Human beings were explicitly told from the beginning that we have “dominion” over this earth. We were commanded to care for it as good husbandmen, to lead it to be fruitful and to bring forth its goodness for all humanity, for all time.

Corporatism is the antithesis of this. Corporatism is evil, and like all evil, it only destroys. Corporatism rapes the environment. Corporatism cuts down the rainforests, and plunders the wealth of the ground, all the while displacing people, shutting them into economic slavery and destroying both their hope and their future. Corporatism destroys life on a global scale; wiping out whole species of beings like mowing down grass.

Of course corporatism’s well-paid mouthpieces fear this pope and his message. Of course, they are enraged by the very thought of this upcoming encyclical.

All this presents the American bishops with an unsettling conundrum, one that, like most of their problems, is at least partly of their own making.

America’s Catholic bishops sit on shaky thrones. Their prophetic voice has been chipped and scarred by the clergy sex abuse scandal. Their authority and ability to teach is compromised by the refusal of priests in the parish to carry the message on critical issues such as the sanctity of marriage.

The bishops were forced to reach over the heads of their priests and go directly to the people in the pews in the matter of the HHS Mandate. It is to the everlasting credit of the pew-sitters that they found loyalty and support there in this critical fight for religious freedom.

Now, with this encyclical, they have to go in y0ur face with their most loyal followers. The civil religion, which worships at the altars of the R and the D, is divided cleanly along party lines. The Ds support abortion, backed the HHS Mandate and have fallen over backwards into gay marriage. The Rs have become the only home that faithful Catholics feel they have in the political sphere.

Given that the level of teaching at many of our parishes tends toward a Hallmark card Christianity that no longer addresses the lived reality of many of those in the pews, serious Catholics have been taking more and more of their “teaching” on theological matters from the Republican Party.

This was frankly encouraged by the original founders of the religious right such as Jerry Falwell. Rev Falwell, and most of his fellows, imposed their own political beliefs on the Gospels. They did this even when those political beliefs ran counter to what the Gospels themselves plainly said.

As a result, the religious right deified corporatism. The Catholic Church did not join in with this heresy. But the bishops and the parish priests did not oppose it in the kind of clear language that is necessary to teach the people in the pews. They failed, at a critical juncture, to effectively teach the constant teachings of the Church. These teachings go back in a straight line, from one pope to the next, for hundreds of years. But the people in the pews never got the message.

This created a vacuum where there should have been legitimate Christian teaching. This vacuum left the people in the pews to make up their own theology. Over time, they were seduced by the civil religion of party politics. Faithful Catholics in the pews came to substitute the civil religion for Christianity in matters concerning economics. They exchanged the teachings of right-wing corporatists for the constant teaching of the Church in economic matters.

Now they are hardened in this heresy. And the bishops stand hapless, unable to figure out how to set things right.

At the same time, “progressive” churches did their part by bastardizing the Gospels on issues life, marriage, gender identity and the sexualizing of women and children. Left and right, they both cut their religion to suit their politics. The political heresy reigned.

Nobody in the religious sphere, other than the popes themselves, was teaching the whole Gospel of Christ.

Now, after decades of this, we are reaping the whirlwind.

Part of the damage of that whirlwind is that the American bishops are now faced with teaching an encyclical in parishes where the most faithful of the parishioners have drunk so deeply of the Republican Kool-Aid that they actually place more trust in the likes of Rush Limbaugh than they do the Vicar of Christ. These are people who are dying for leadership. They want to be led. They’ve settled on following the teachings of their political party rather than the teachings of their Church.

I haven’t read the encyclical Pope Francis has written on the environment. But I do not doubt that it is based on the simple fact that humanity’s dominion over creation is a responsibility, and not just an opportunity for destructive exploitation by the few to the detriment of everyone else.

Pope Francis is Peter. Think carefully before you follow the R or the D instead of the Church created by Christ the Lord.

As for the American bishops, my heart goes out to them. They are in such a mess, and they don’t appear, most of them, to be up to the task in front of them.

One thing I know: We don’t need institutionalized “company” men, at this time. We need men of God.

From The New York Times:

… With Francis expected to make the case that climate change, unchecked development and overconsumption are exacerbating the suffering of the poor, advocates for the environment and the poor are thrilled.

But the leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States may be harder to win over. At the spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops here last week, bishops from around the country said they were withholding their enthusiasm until they saw the document on Thursday.

Some said they were wary about getting the church enmeshed in the debate over climate change, a contentious issue in the United States. They also expressed concern about allying with environmentalists, some of whom promote population control as a remedy, since the church sees abortion and contraception as great evils.

Some bishops said they had received hate mail from Catholics skeptical of climate change. That has added to the bishops’ hesitation and confusion on the topic.

Pope Accepts Resignation of Two US Bishops Who are Charged with Sex Abuse Cover-Up

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of two more American bishops because the bishops were charged with sex abuse cover-ups.

The pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn in April after Bishop Finn was convicted of a charge of failure to report child abuse.

Now, he has accepted the resignations of Archbishop John Nienstadt and deputy bishop Lee Anthony Piche of St Paul Minnesota. Both bishops offered their resignations under canon law, which allows bishops to resign due to illness or other “grave” reasons.

From The Independent:

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of two bishops in the US who face charges of failing to protect children from a paedophile priest.

Prosecutors in Minnesota had charged the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis over an alleged sex abuse cover-up, accusing them of “turning a blind eye” despite repeated allegations against a priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys.

The Archbishop of St Paul, John Nienstadt, and a deputy bishop, Lee Anthony Piche, offered the Pope their resignations under a code of canon law which lets them step down due to illness or a “grave” reason leaving them unfit for office.

 

Pope Francis: Gender Theory is a Threat to Marriage

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Getting rid of gender difference is the problem, not the solution …  We must do much more in favor of women if we want to give more strength to the reciprocity between mean and women. It’s necessary, in fact, not only that women be heard more, but that their voices have real weight, an authority recognized in society and in the Church. 

Pope Francis, speaking on Gender Theory.

Pope Francis, spoke to the bishops of the Caribbean, and he did what popes must do. He spoke out against a destructive ideology that attacks the dignity and value of human beings. The ideology in question is the trendiest of them all right now: Gender Theory.

“The sacrament of marriage … must be defended,” the Pope said. He urged the bishops to “emphasize family pastoral ministry.”

The Holy Father encouraged the bishops to avoid “wasting energy in divisions and clashes” … and to also avoid wasting their “real passion for the Kingdom of God” on these things.

He emphasized that “the Church is not tied to any political system so that it may always safeguard the transcendence of the human person.”

This is not the first time Pope Francis has made these points. I doubt that it will be the last.

Just the same, I think it’s important to emphasize these teachings, for the simple reason that they are being so successfully challenged in today’s world.

Pope Francis said that gender theory is a problem because it attacks human dignity and human value.

He also said — and this is something I have written about a lot — that the Church is not (or should not be) tied to any political system. I think that applies to people and their political parties as well. I see the political heresy as a serious problem for Christian witness and authenticity here in America.

In addition, he emphasized the dignity of women and the need for women’s voices to be heard in the Church. All I can say to that is Amen.

There is nothing new in Pope Francis’ statements. He’s made all of them before, and I trust that, given the world in which we live, he will have to make them many times again.

The question for bishops everywhere is how they will lead their priests in teaching, preaching and living out what the Pope is giving them. The work of the Church is to empower the laity so that the laity can convert the world, one person at a time.

There is a rubber meets the road point between parish priests and their parishioners that has to work if the Church is going to be the Church. It is a function of the trickle-down teaching that goes Pope, to bishop, to priest, to us; and from us to the world.

Only the laity lives in the world and intersects with the heart of the world at 2 billion points of light.

The Holy Spirit has sent us a holy Pope for these times. I pray for an army of holy bishops and holy priests to follow through on what he is teaching them by teaching us in turn.

From Vatican News:

The sacrament of marriage is one of the Latin American people’s most important treasures, the Pope says, and it must be defended. He urges them to emphasize family pastoral ministry in order to counter “serious social problems” such as “the difficult economic situation, migration, domestic violence” and  “unemployment, drug trafficking and corruption.”

No to gender ideology, protecting the complementarity between men and women

The complementarity between a man and a woman is being questioned by the so-called gender ideology in the name of a freer and more just society, the Pope observes. In fact, he warns, the differences between men and women are not a question of “opposition or subordination but rather of communion and generation… always in the image and likeness of God.” Without mutual giving- he adds – neither can have an in-depth understanding of the other.

Bishops are united to face the country’s problems

The Pope invites the Church leaders not simply to pray but also to reach out in friendship and “fraternal aid” to address the many serious problems facing Puerto Rico. And, he warns them against “wasting energy in divisions and clashes.” “The more intense the communion…the more it favors the mission,” he says.

Pope Francis encourages the bishops to distance themselves from any ideologies or political trends that can “waste their time and a real passion for the Kingdom of God.” Because of its mission, he points out, the Church is not tied to any political system so that it may always safeguard the transcendence of the human person.

 

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