Pope Francis is Here!

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. Their website states: "Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes." (English translation: All content on this website is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License unless specified otherwise and content replicated from other sources.)

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency.
Their website states: “Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes.” (English translation: All content on this website is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License unless specified otherwise and content replicated from other sources.)

I’m watching Pope Francis greet the children outside the nomenclature in Washington, DC.

He looks well-rested, and to my eyes, beautiful. He’s posing for selfies with a number of the kids and taking his time while he goes down the line. Pitter patter goes my heart.

I love me some Pope Francis

I’m watching EWTN. I flipped through the cable channels and all the political carping about the pope was too disgusting. Thank goodness for EWTN.

If you want a brief round-up of the pope’s schedule, go here.

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Left Wing Media Tries to Hijack Pope Francis for Its Secular Agenda

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/

Redefining Francis to fit their political agenda is the new game of the left. It is an attempt to deify what are in fact callous and money-driven political positions.

If their ideas had to stand on their own merits, neither political party would do so well. In fact, if they were shorn of the god-gloss that counterfeit clergy obligingly spray all over them, We the People would have an easier time seeing through their charades and demanding better of them.

Pope Francis, as he is deliberately misinterpreted by left-wing media, bears no resemblance to Pope Francis the Vicar of Christ that he is. However, facts, reality and truth will not stop the msm in its quest to make him into an apologist for their secular values.

The Washington Post published an article today which is an example of these brazen attempts to hijack the pope for left wing politics.

I wrote about it for CatholicVote. 

Here’s part of what I said:

Back in the dark days of AIDs, when a diagnosis of HIV positive was a death sentence, someone I loved dearly got the bad word that this killer virus was crawling through his immune system.

He cried. I cried. We both believed his doctor who said that in three years he would be terribly ill, and within five years, he would be dead. We struggled to fit our understanding around this reality.

My friend called me one day during this coming-to-terms time. He had heard some flat-liner preacher on the radio saying that AIDS was God’s punishment to the gays, and that they were getting what they deserved. I still remember the anguish in his voice.

My friend was not religious, yet this diatribe from a radio preacher cut him to the bone. It is a terrible thing to tell people that God hates them. It is also, always, untrue. This preacher who said that AIDS was God’s punishment on the gays and that they deserved what they got was misrepresenting God.

“That’s why I’m a Christian,” I told my friend. “So that I don’t get what I deserve.”

Read the rest here.

 

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We Can Convert this Culture. The Only Thing Lacking is Leadership.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/

We can convert this culture. The only thing lacking is leadership.

That’s my take in a post I wrote for the National Catholic Register on two of the most recent polls about the Catholic Church in America today.

Here’s part of what I said:

… The trouble with “opinion” polls is that interpretation of the results rests in the hands of the interpreters. That’s why a recent poll that indicated that fully 90% of Catholics approve of the Pope, and a whopping 89% of Catholics also approve of their Church, received a headline from the Washington Post announcing that “The vast majority of US Catholics who left the Church can’t imagine returning.”

Their bias is showing.

I spent my entire legislative life looking at polls like this and then doing what I thought was best, despite the poll. I knew that poll results were indicators, not hard thinking. In the final analysis, polls didn’t matter. What mattered was whether or not I could communicate my vision to the people I represented. To put it another way, what mattered was whether or not I could exercise leadership.

I look at the same polls that Catholic bashers mine for nuggets to throw at the Church, and I see attitudes, situations and off-the-cuff reactions to disparate realities. I also see enormous opportunity for conversion of this culture.

The poll I cited earlier was a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. Pew Research Center released another, slightly different, poll showing much the same results. The emphasis of the poll by the Public Religion Institute was the impact that the so-called “Francis Effect” was having on American Catholics. The Pew Research poll was mostly focused on Catholic attitudes about family.

It’s impossible to create parallels between the two polls because their respective definitions of “Catholic” are so different from one another. The Pew Research poll opens the spigot wide, noting that up to 45% of the American population is in some way “connected” to the Catholic Church.

The poll also reveals that 90% of American Catholics believe that the best family situation for raising children is “a household headed by a married mother and father.” I’m not sure what slice of their sampling they used to get this number. Was it everyone they consider Catholic? Or was it just regular Mass-going Catholics?

Pew Research basically defines anyone as a Catholic who says they are Catholic. This includes people who haven’t been inside a Catholic Church in decades right alongside those who attend daily Mass.

But whatever sampling they used, that is a powerful percentage.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/discerning-the-thirst-for-god-in-the-latest-pew-survey/#ixzz3lFv6tPQw

 

 

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Pope Changes Annulment Process. What Does it Mean?

Sometimes, it's obvious that there was no sacramental marriage. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/outofideas/

Sometimes, it’s obvious that there was no sacramental marriage. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/outofideas/

My ignorance of canon law is showing.

Pope Francis issued two Apostolic letters, which are edicts affecting the entire Church this morning. These letters reform the process by which members of the laity — and those wishing to enter the Church who have  marital baggage from the pasts — can obtain an annulment.

I have questions out to canonists so that I can give you a more exact and accurate understanding of exactly what the Holy Father did, but there are a few things I can say, just from reading the documents. One critical reform that he has instituted is that the process of obtaining an annulment should be offered to the faithful without charge.

The diocese in which I live does not charge for annulments. That is the way it should be, everywhere. The reason I feel so strongly about this is that a complex marital arrangement can block people from entering the Church, and it can also keep them from taking Communion. That makes the annulment process a roadblock to Jesus. There should never have been a charge for someone seeking to partake of the Body and Blood of Our Savior.

If I understand what I read correctly, the Pope has put the annulment process in the hands of the local bishop, who has been given the option of appointing one person to act on his behalf in this matter. Pope Francis calls this person “a single judge under the responsibly of the Bishop.” One of the things I need to learn more about is how this would affect the existing tribunals.

The important point is a bit further down when the document states clearly “the bishop is judge.” I interpret that to mean that the local bishop is the first voice of appeal if there is disagreement about his designee’s decisions. It also means that the bishop is always directly responsible for the annulment process in his diocese.

The letters says that “a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed — in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use.” This simplified process “is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of martial nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments.” I interpret this to mean that this shorter process is for cases cases in which the facts say on their face that the marriage was not a sacramental marriage. That would probably include things such as common law marriage, forced marriage, child marriage, or marriages performed by atheists/pagans/justices of the peace/ship’s captains, etc.

As I said, I’ve asked people who are Canonists to help me understand what these changes will mean to the people in the pews. My guess is that these new rules will be abused by some, but will also help many people who are shut away from the sacraments by a past they cannot change. I think they will also remove what has been unmovable barriers to people who have messy marital pasts and who have converted and changed and are now following the call of Christ to enter the Catholic Church. I personally know people whose conversion to the Catholic church was blocked by their inability to fill out the paperwork required by the current process.

Marriage is a vastly important commitment. When you marry, you chose this one person as your life’s partner. You will create other people with them, people that are part of each of you, but are uniquely themselves. Your spouse is the one who stands beside you in life’s trials, the one who shares your future.

We have degraded and damaged marriage to the point that family itself has lost its meaning to many people. In many ways, these changes in the annulment process are a recognition of the fact that Western society has fallen into such deep and widespread marital sin that the necessity of reconversion means that we must accommodate these things in order to bring the converted to Christ.

Western society has fallen into depravity that has become the norm. But the message of the Gospels is unchanged. That message is simple and straight foward: Jesus Christ the Way to eternal life.  Not only that, but there is no sin we can commit that is greater than His forgiveness.

That’s what I think these changes are about. They are a way to telling people that no matter what kind of mess they’ve made of things, nothing they’ve done is greater than Christ’s mercy.

Here, from Vatican Radio, is the summary of the Apostolic Letters Pope Francis issued today:

  1. That there be only one sentence in favor of executive nullity – It appeared opportune, in the first place, that there no longer be required a twofold decision in favor of marital nullity, in order that the parties be admitted to new canonically valid marriages: the moral certainty reached by the first judge according to law should be sufficient.

  2. A single judge under the responsibility of the Bishop – The constitution of a single judge in the first instance, who shall always be a cleric, is placed under the responsibility of the Bishop, who, in the pastoral exercise of his own proper judicial power shall guarantee that no laxity be indulged in this matter.

  3. The Bishop is judge – In order that the teaching of the II Vatican Council be finally translated into practice in an area of great importance, the decision was made to make evident the fact that the Bishop is, in his Church – of which he is constituted pastor and head – is by that same constitution judge among the faithful entrusted to him. It is desired that, in Dioceses both great and small, the Bishop himself should offer a sign of the conversion of ecclesiastical structures, and not leave the judicial function completely delegated to the offices of the diocesan curia, as far as matters pertaining to marriage are concerned.

  4. Increased brevity in the legal process – In fact, beyond making the marriage annulment process more agile, a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed – in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use – which is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of marital nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments. In any case, the extent to which an abbreviated process of judgment might put the principle of the indissolubility of marriage at risk, did not escape me [writes Pope Francis – ed.]: thus, I have desired that, in such cases the Bishop himself shall be constituted judge, who, by force of his pastoral office is with Peter the greatest guarantor of Catholic unity in faith and in discipline.

  5. Appeal to the Metropolitcan See – It is fitting that the appeal to the Metropolitan See be re-introduced, since that office of headship of an Ecclesiastical province, stably in place through the centuries, is a distinctive sign of the synodality of the Church.

  6. The proper role of the Bishops’ Conferences – The Bishops’ Conferences, which must be driven above all by the anxious apostolic desire to reach the far-off faithful, should formally recognize the duty to share the aforesaid conversion, and respect absolutely the right of the Bishops to organize judicial power each within his own particular Church.

 

 

Deacon Greg offers an excellent news summary of the letters here.

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Poll Reveals Catholic Base is Strong in US

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Prayitno/Thankyoufor https://www.flickr.com/photos/prayitnophotography/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Prayitno/Thankyoufor https://www.flickr.com/photos/prayitnophotography/

It appears that reports of the Catholic Church’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

In fact, it appears that they are 180 degrees off the mark. American Catholics chalked up astronomical percentages of approval for both their Church and the Holy Father in a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Institute.

There were sighting of the usual Catholic confusion about their Church’s teachings. I think that’s to be expected. After all, the Catholic Church is both the largest church in the world and and the largest religious body in the United States. There are a lot of Catholics, which means there are also a lot of opportunities for addlepated thinking.

That’s what makes these survey results so compelling. If you can get 90% of a group of people this big to agree on anything, you’ve pulled off quite a coup. Considering the the Church has been under continuous attack and bashing and that it has managed to add a lot of fuel to those fires with its own clerical failures, the numbers are even more astounding.

I wrote about this for CatholicVote. Here is a bit of what I said:

How does the much-vaunted power of Pope Francis’ open-hearted approach to the papacy play with American Catholics? It turns out that it plays very well. The numbers reflect an almost universal love affair with this black-shoed, old-car-driving, selfie-taking man who is Peter.

American Catholics are happy their pope. Fully 90% have a favorable view of the Holy Father, and 89% also have a positive view of the Catholic Church. Those are power numbers that any world leader would envy. They don’t just reflect popularity. They speak of the sheer political power of the Church, of our ability to reconvert Western Culture, if we will just do it.

Any politician will tell you that their single most important demographic is their base. Most of the time, if your base turns on you, you are dead in the water. That is why it’s so hard to get an elected official to change their position on barn-burning issues such as abortion. A move like that is a little bit like jumping from one horse to the next in the middle of the Kentucky Derby. Chances are, both the jockey and horse are going down.

The Catholic Church may very well end up as the last lone soldier in the fight to re-convert Western civilization to traditional Christianity. This survey provides good news concerning that task. Our base is solid, if confused. Go here to read the rest.

NOTE: The opening sentence of this post is a paraphrase of a quote by Mark Twain.

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Why Would a Pro Life Catholic Stay in the Democratic Party?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel Lobo https://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel Lobo https://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/

Why would a pro life Catholic stay in the Democratic Party?

In my case, it was because, when I prayed about it, the direct and clear answer was that I had to stay. I didn’t understand it at the time. It was the exact opposite of what I expected, or at that moment in my life, wanted to hear.

But later on, I saw that God knew what He was doing. I was like a chess piece that someone moved into place for a design play and the play would only work if I was a Democrat.

Maybe God trusted me by leaving me in the lion’s den, trusted me not to cut and run, not to go all rubbery and waffle. Maybe He simply gave me an opportunity to make good the things I’d done wrong in my past. I only know that the way He used me was an extra measure of forgiveness that I did not deserve.

The point is that you can serve God from anywhere. You just have to be willing to do what He tells you, and then take the incoming flak for doing it.

I wrote about these issues for the National Catholic Register.

Here is a bit of what I said:

… That is the cautionary side of the story concerning Arkansas Representative Mike Holcomb. Representative Holcomb split with the Democratic party this week by changing his registration from Democrat to Republican. When you or I change parties, it’s just a matter of changing a letter on the voter ID. But when Representative Holcomb does it, he’s switching his entire House district, right along with himself. The next election will determine how his constituents feel about this.

Representative Holcomb’s reason for doing this this makes a lot of sense to any pro-life Democrat — he can no longer sit on the side of abortion. The Arkansas Democrats’ position on funding for Planned Parenthood is said to have triggered the move.

Arkansas Ds have been quick to announce that, so far as they are concerned, Representative Holcomb’s departure from their column is good riddance to bad rubbish. Their public statements are a classic case of “don’t let the doorknob hit you in the you-know-what on your way out.”

It’s easy for someone like me to read between these broadly-drawn lines to the personal acrimony and anger behind them. One article I read said that Representative Holcomb has been caucusing with the Rs, anyway.

I don’t know of course, but I can extrapolate from my own experience to what seems like an understanding of the name-calling, verbal hazing and threats that led to this situation. It can get ugly inside those caucuses, especially when one member paints a bulls-eye on themselves by refusing to do the due on something as explosive as abortion.

Nobody outside the inner world of elected officialdom can imagine just how personal and ugly the pressure can be on a pro-life elected Democrat.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/political-parties-have-group-think-but-we-have-the-mind-of-christ/#ixzz3jljChyd1

 

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Swiss Catholic LGBT Money Targets African Bishops Ahead of Synod

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Marcel Grieder https://www.flickr.com/photos/thegrid-ch/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Marcel Grieder https://www.flickr.com/photos/thegrid-ch/

Ka-Ching!

Politics of any sort runs on money, and the Church has its own politics. That’s a given.

The scandal — and it is scandalous — is that Catholic bishops are reported to be using monies raised from the faithful as part of Lenten almsgiving to put pressure on other bishops to accede to gay rights. I have said repeatedly — and I meant it — that I have no problem with homosexual priests. However, I have a major problem with insincere priests who do not hold an authentic faith in and followership of Christ.

It makes no difference to me if the priest is homosexual or straight. But they must be priests first.

I hope more details about this emerge quickly. If the Swiss bishops are mis-using alms in this manner, they need to be brought to heel. If they are truly engaging with outside groups to pressure other bishops to accede to external, secular, political agendas that run counter to Church teaching, that needs to stop, as well.

We need leadership in these times. This has the earmarks of self-serving misuse of power and mis-appropriation of funds that violates the trust of those who have given money to the Church. It also raises real questions as to whether the Swiss bishops are following Christ and teaching the Gospels, or attempting to lead the Church away from Him and His Word.

From The Catholic News Agency:

.- The Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund and a major U.S. foundation have helped fund an LGBT activist project intended to counter West African bishops at the Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family.

The Netherlands-based European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups originally planned to make a documentary film of self-identified LGBT Catholics in Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon.

“Reacting to the extremely negative influence from bishops from Western Africa on the final document of the Family Synod 14, we found it important to bring the voices of LGBT Catholics from this region to broader attention,” the European Forum said in its 2014-2015 activity report.

The forum’s activities report said the project was funded by the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund Fastenopfer and the Arcus Foundation. The wealthy U.S.-based foundation has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to LGBT activist groups to target the synod.

But Fastenopfer is a Catholic development organization. It traditionally raises its funds during Lenten almsgiving. Its Italian-language name is Sacrificio Quaresimale, which means “Lenten Sacrifice.”

Bishop Felix Gmur of Basel, Switzerland is president of the Lenten fund’s foundation council, which oversees the NGO’s directors group. Two of the nine members of the foundation council are named by the Conference of Swiss Bishops, with the rest being named by a separate body.

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Converting the World, Ending Abortion, the Jesus Way

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Koshy Koshy https://www.flickr.com/photos/kkoshy/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Koshy Koshy https://www.flickr.com/photos/kkoshy/

Mama is scheduled to come home from the hospital today. It’s a new reality. Most of what she could do before last week, she can no longer do.

I’ve enlisted the help of hospice, and they’ve already been great. They brought over a hospital bed, oxygen, and all sorts of helpful equipment. But I am concerned about my physical ability to do the lifting and such. I’m asking for your prayers.

In the meantime, I wrote this post for the National Catholic Register about the need to pray for those we would like to hate. I’m talking about pro choice politicians, in particular those who voted against the attempt to defund Planned Parenthood last week.

We can lose our souls while we’re trying to serve God if we become instruments of hate instead of love. Scripture tells us that God is love. So, if we do not love, including those we feel are the most unlovable, then we have no part in Him.

Remember that Jesus is God, and He showed us a new and history-changing dynamic. Jesus died for us, and we are not the least bit lovable by the yardstick we use to judge others. We are, if we will admit it, full of angers, petty grudges, lies, selfishness and greed. That is the best of us, those who do not commit the wrongs we read about on the internet or see on the news.

But He died for us. He came down from heaven and became human, with all its aches and pains, loneliness and hardship, and He did it for us.

That is an example of loving someone who doesn’t deserve it that goes beyond our understanding or capacity for understanding. We can try to approach it by thinking on the wholly human side of Jesus, that part of Him that understands us because He consented to be one of us. But we can not begin to understand what it meant to give up heaven, to go from being God to become a helpless baby and on through dying as a criminal, hanging on a cross.

We can’t comprehend that, but we can know that it calls us to more than just genuflecting and crossing ourselves and the showy stuff of empty piety. It calls us to emulate this divine love as best we can when we are given the opportunity.

Jesus told us without any equivocation to go out into the world and teach what He taught, to convert sinners and baptize them in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This was His commission to us. The mission statement for all of Christianity, everywhere.

He also told us to pray for those Who hurt us. Then He modeled that for us from the cross.

I applied that commandment from Our Lord directly to the political situation we are facing now. Here’s what I said.

From The National Catholic Register:

I was once one of them. The pro-aborts, I mean.

After my conversion, when I began to understand that abortion was wrong and, worse for me at that time, when I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to change, the major obstacle for me was pro-life people. I had been the Oklahoma Director of NARAL. I had been a pro-choice legislator who used my position to kill pro-life legislation.

I had made speeches, organized and worked for abortion rights with all my little heart. I was as sincere and committed in my pro-choice advocacy as anyone could be. Pro-life people in Oklahoma counted me as the enemy. And they came after me.

The trouble was, they made it into a personal fight against me instead of advocacy for the babies. Instead of speaking for the humanity of the unborn, they tried to hate me to death. They said I was a communist, a prostitute, a lesbian, a whore and a slut. They claimed all sorts of political positions for me that I did not hold, and that ultimately were proven lies by my actions.

These lies hurt me as a person and as a woman. They wounded me, and they hardened me in my pro-choice resolve. They also enraged people who know me and who knew full well that the pro-life people were telling creepy, hate-filled, low-life lies about me. What they did not do was convert anyone to the pro-life cause. To the contrary, they tempered all of us into pro-choice steel.

After my conversion, when the Holy Spirit began urging me to change on abortion, I was reluctant and fearful precisely because I didn’t know one single pro-life person who I thought was sane, much less trustworthy and nice. If God had asked me to jump into an active volcano, I could not have found it more dreadful.

I believe this same dynamic is at work with pro-choice politicians today.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/we-can-stop-abortion-only-with-christs-weapons-not-the-devils/#ixzz3iW2d3N1r

 

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The Future of the Catholic Church is the Same as Its Past

Father Stanley Rother Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Ok, so I’m the daughter of a mechanic, the granddaughter of a laborer who at one time dug ditches and was glad for the work on one side of my family, and a real-life horse-breaking, cattle-branding cowboy on the other.

My great-grandfathers were farmers and blacksmiths. Cherokee blood flows in my veins from a time when being Cherokee wasn’t cool.

I am working class from the soles of my dusty bare feet to the top of my frizzy hair. My generation was the first in our family to darken the doorway of an institution of higher learning, and I think we all felt considerably out of place there. Our background, the pond that spawned us, did not fit us for the many pretenses and — to us — absurdities of indirection of the intellectual world. At the same time, our education unfitted us for the world from which we came.

We were, all of us, doomed to wander through life as strangers in a strange land of social dislocation.

Patheos’ symposium on the future of the Catholic Church has some mighty fine thinkers contributing to it. All of them approach the question from an intellectual viewpoint. We have people telling us about how their ministries have informed them of the lacks in the Church’s outreach, others discuss how the future of the Church should be for gay people, or from the viewpoint of clergy.

But I don’t see anything there that even acknowledges the existence of people like me. The working class is right out in discussions of much of anything these days. The people that fight the wars, build the buildings, unstop the plumbing, lay down the roads, grow the food and keep the wiring from frying us, are invisible in almost all discussion of anything in this country, whether that be the ubiquitous “rights talk” that Mary Anne Glendon references, or, sadly, the future of the Catholic Church.

I am going to posit that the major failure of both American government and American Christianity in these past decades is the abject failure to protect, nurture and dignify the working class. It seems that every single thing we’ve done, whether it is the revision of our tax codes, our constant war-making, the destruction of the family or the la-la-la attitude of so much of our clergy, has fallen on the heads of the working class.

Make no mistake about it, our tax code is now constructed so that government is supported by the workers of this country, even while that same government exports jobs, and degrades our public education into a method of transmitting social values that are anathema to the survival of working class social structure and values. At the same time, our religious leaders, both of the right and the left, have gone off chasing after the whiff of close contact with the powerful and abandoned the full Gospel calls for justice and mercy.

How does this apply to the future of the Catholic Church?

It applies because of all the babbling voices of moral exhortation in our splintered and polarized society, the Catholic Church is the only one that speaks for the whole Gospel of Christ. Almost in spite of her clergy, the Catholic Church has refused to hew either to the right or the left, but has laid claim to the calls to human dignity that are inherent in the teachings of Christ for all people. This means that the same Catholic Church which speaks for the sanctity of human life also speaks for the dignity of the worker, the right of working people to earn a living wage and labor in an environment that treats them like people, not chattel.

Instead of following demonic influences that seek to deny the Beatitudes on the one hand or the Ten Commandments on the other, the Catholic Church recognizes that they are both the same and must be equally honored.

Right now, the Catholic Church in America is foundering like a horse that has gobbled down too much soft grass in the springtime. It has imbibed of the cultural riches and now many of its institutions, including its institutions of higher learning, flat-out refuse to honor Church teaching and be Catholic in a real-world way. When they are called to choose Christ or to choose Caesar, they choose Caesar.

Catholics as a whole have taken to heart the unspoken message of do-what-you-want that they frequently get from those in leadership positions in the Church who do what they want themselves. This feels like a kind of freedom to those who are doing well. But for those on the bottom side of the wheel, this moral dissolution leads to life destruction.

Working class people suffer from being disrespected by everyone from presidential candidates to the Church itself. While presidential candidates Obama and Romney both took a turn at dissing working people in private fund-raisers with rich folk, the Church disses them by ignoring them.

It is not enough to lobby for reversals in the legal shearing of working class lambs that has been taking place in government, although that is certainly salutary. It is also not enough to provide ministries of food, medical care, etc, to people who cannot afford them, although that is both necessary and wonderful.

The Church cannot simply “minister” to working class people in their physical needs and stop there. It must lead and convert the exploited and abused working class. I believe that is what Pope Francis has been saying when he tells bishops that they must get out among the people; that the church is not just another non-profit charity.

The future of the Catholic Church lies in the same place as its past. It lies in doing what Jesus directed Peter to do: Feed my lambs.

Too much of Catholic school education has become a rich kids’ privilege. It does not matter if the kids are Catholic or not. It does not matter if the teachers and officials in these schools follow Church teaching or not.

The Church needs to go back and provide Catholic education that is actually Catholic, and it needs to make sure that it is available to the people who need it most. People who are stuck holding down two or three McJobs simultaneously to support their families cannot nurture their children properly and often end up with failed marriages. Add the abominable inner city schools to this, and what you have is a recipe for one lost generation, going on to attempt to raise another generation which will be even more lost.

Meanwhile, the Church closes its parishes in the inner cities and builds both churches and schools in the rich suburbs “where the people are.” The fact is that the moving vans that trundle the vestments and hymnals from the slums to the wealthy neighborhoods are driving past tens of thousands of people who are in desperate need of the Church. They are being abandoned with the idiotic claim that they are not there.

Father Stanley Rother showed us the way, if we would but see it. We need priests who will go into the inner city and into working class neighborhoods with the same missionary fervor and loving heart that he took to Guatemala. We need a Church that ministers to working class people as if they were actual human beings. The bizarre otherness that has been imposed on them by those who are exploiting and using them has no place in a Church that follows Jesus the carpenter.

Father Rother, servant of God, is a true priest for our times. He embodies both the Church’s past and its future.

The Catholic Church is either a missionary Church, bent on conversion and mission, or it is a sacrament dispenser that has no part in the lives of its people.

I could go on and on about the plight of working people in America. I could, and I probably should, write a book about it one day.

The future of the Catholic Church in America could not possibly be brighter. This nation is imploding morally in both the social and the economic realms.  There is one answer to the anguish and misery this will create, and that answer is the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Church is the full repository of the faith. It does not trim the Gospels to suit secular power politics. As such, it is the one institution that has the prophetic and moral voice to speak for everyone.

As Jesus said, the fields are ripe for the harvest. What the Church needs is laborers who will bring in this harvest.

I don’t think it will find them in its various ivory towers and islands of privilege.

 

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10th Circuit Rules First Amendment Protections Don’t Apply to Little Sisters of the Poor

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Goat_Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/112363286@N08/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Goat_Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/112363286@N08/

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Little Sisters of the Poor are not affiliated with a specific church and they are a non-profit, so the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them.

Ditto for the Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, the Catholic organization through which the Little Sisters buy their insurance.

While that may sound a bit off-the cuff, it’s the gist of the ruling.

This is how the on-going war against people of faith is played out. It rides in on the back of the legal sophistry that the First Amendment only applies to recognized churches and then only to what is done within the aegis of that recognized church. The verbiage is to limit “freedom of religion” to “freedom to worship.” This kind of limitation effectively destroys our most cherished freedoms, including freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion.

The 10th Circuit has bought into this fiction big time, because … well … because they are idiots. Or rather, because they are ideologues. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, I repeat myself.

There is a growing — and I mean rapidly growing — opinion in this country that We the People should begin to ignore the courts. That is a dangerous notion that I will write about at length later. But the public attitude underlying it has its roots in this kind of absurd ruling. This is a re-writing and abrogation of the First Amendment that damages the freedoms and liberties of every American citizen today and into future generations.

The people who support this are throwing away their own freedoms for no other reason than a desire to get at someone whose opinion and beliefs they do not share. The courts are playing fool to this because — and this seems obvious — at least a number of members of the judiciary are ideologues with only a narrow understanding of their responsibilities to our country.

This particular move is a result of the HHS Mandate which is a result of the hubris of a president who seems addicted to an imperial view of himself and his office. How many times has President Obama made statements that he can enact policy without Congress? How many times has Congress answered him in the affirmative?

Congress has always had the power to rescind the HHS Mandate. They did not have to let it go into effect in the first place. They have not used this power in any way except as a campaign tool to win elections. If campaign promises were Congressional action, this would be an entirely different country. It would be a country in which We the People would have some hope of making a difference when we vote.

As it is, most of us have figured out that, no matter who we elect, they end up lying to us, ignoring us and doing things that hurt us. Why should we be surprised when the judges these folks appoint behave in the same way?

The 10th Circuit does not necessarily have the last say on this issue. The Supreme Court can chose to hear the case and overturn this ruling. The question is, will they?

As for the Little Sisters of the Poor, they intend to continue in their ministry and stay faithful to their faith. This is the challenge and the example for each and every one of us.

From CNA Daily News here at Patheos:

Disappointment follows ruling against Little Sisters in mandate case

Denver, Colo., Jul 14, 2015 / 11:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Little Sisters of the Poor have reiterated their commitment to following their conscience as they care for the poor and dying, following a federal appeals court ruling that they must obey the federal contraception mandate.

“As Little Sisters of the Poor, we simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith,” said Mother Provincial Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire.

“And we should not have to make that choice, because it violates our nation’s commitment to ensuring that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives. For over 175 years, we have served the neediest in society with love and dignity. All we ask is to be able to continue our religious vocation free from government intrusion.”

Sr. Maguire responded to a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the Little Sisters of the Poor on July 14.

The sisters are among several hundred plaintiffs that have challenged the federal contraception mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

Employers who fail to comply with the mandate face crippling penalties. In the case of the Little Sisters, the fines could amount to around $2.5 million a year, or about 40 percent of the $6 million the Sisters beg for annually to run their ministry.

Met with a wave of protest, the contraception mandate has undergone a number of revisions. However, the sisters say that it still requires them to violate their beliefs.

 

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