Michael Voris and I Agree Again: This Time on the Press’ Mis-Quotes of the Pope


Michael Voris has put out another video that I agree with.

I don’t now if this is going to become a habit or not. I can tell you that I don’t always agree with Mr Voris. But when he steps out in the face of personal attacks against himself and supports the pope, I support him. When he works to clarify the fog of inaccurate reporting about our Holy Father, I gratefully support him.

Here’s the video and its discussion about the ways in which Pope Francis’ statements have been mis-quoted, mis-interpreted and mis-used.

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Knights of Columbus Win Prize for Ethical Business Practices

 

Hooray for the Knights!

Ethisphere Institute has named the Knights of Columbus life insurance company to its 2014 World’s Most Ethical Companies. The Knights were one of only two life insurance companies to earn this honor.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- The fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus has been recognized as one of the world’s most ethical companies by a research center on best practices in corporate ethics and governance.

“This really speaks to the fact that a company can be committed to Church teaching, committed to Catholic values, and still provide a top quality service and be very successful at what they do,” Andrew Walther, vice president for communications and media with the Knights, told CNA March 21.

Timothy Erblich, CEO of the Ethisphere Institute, announced the award March 20, saying, “the Knights of Columbus join an exclusive community committed to driving performance through leading business practices. We congratulate everyone at Knights of Columbus for this extraordinary achievement.”

The institute named the New Haven, Conn.-based Catholic fraternal organization and life insurance company to its 2014 World’s Most Ethical Company list. The Knights is only one of two companies in the life insurance category to be recognized.

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Hobby Lobby Founders Discuss the Supreme Court Arguments on the HHS Mandate

 

I’m not going to do a post mortem on the arguments the Supreme Court heard on the Hobby Lobby/HHS Mandate case.

I won’t give you a run-down of which justice twitched, which one pulled his or her earlobe and who coughed. Trying to divine how the Court will rule by studying the questions justices asked and the expressions on their faces has become a kind of sport, like handicapping a horserace. Only it’s not nearly so accurate.

I think we would know just as much about what they’re going to do if we slaughtered a goat and studied its entrails.

Besides, I’m too nervous about this one to do that. The Court hasn’t exactly been a friend to people with traditional Christian values for a long time now. In fact, the Court has made itself the architect of this brave new baby-killing, marriage-is-meaningless world we inhabit. To a great extent the whole social mess is of the Supreme Court’s devising.

But this decision is one of the really big ones. Will we be free after this ruling?

It depends.

On how they rule.

The Court can destroy religious freedom with this ruling. It can also do as it did with the gay marriage ruling last summer and just put out a row of dominoes for others to knock over and destroy it in succeeding months.

What are the chances that the Supreme Court will actually rule in favor of religious freedom?

Will we be free after this ruling?

It depends.

On them.

 

The owners of Hobby Lobby spoke about yesterday’s arguments before the Supreme Court. Here is what they said.

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Missing Airplanes, Deep Water Ports and Russian Union at Gun Point

I haven’t written much about the mess with Ukraine/Crimea/Russia. I haven’t written at all about the missing airliner.

The reasons are simple.

I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share about Ukraine/Crimea/Russia, and I don’t know what’s happened to that airliner.

My guess is that Russia wants a sort of alliance with its former satellites states; something akin to the European Union. I doubt that Russia wants to re-occupy those countries. They’ve already done that. And it didn’t work out.

On the other hand, creating an economic alliance that resembles the European Union would greatly enhance Russia’s economic clout. This is especially true if Russia is the absolute, unchallenged first among equals with the member states of that “union.”

Russia, being Russia, doesn’t seem to have gotten the drift of negotiation in developing this economic union. They’re more into gunpoint diplomacy than the give and take of actual negotiating.

Of course, negotiating with people who were, until a couple of decades ago, Russia’s slaves, would be tough going, even for the most delicate of debaters. Russia has what might be called a bad rep among their former satellites. The brutal police states they ran that impoverished people, destroyed their freedoms and ended many of their lives in gulags make people chary of being their pals now. These folks aren’t too eager to go back under the Russian lash.

It appears that Russia is still the child of its evil past. The response to frustrating displays of disregard for what Russia wants in its satellites seems to bring that evil child to the fore. Russia’s means of conversation is to bring in the tanks and troops.

In addition to economic hegemony, Russia also wants and needs something that Crimea — and only Crimea — has. Americans, who live in one of the other great continental nations, take our plethora of deep water ports for granted. We’ve got so many of them, and they are all ice free year round, that the whole question is not a question to us. We don’t think about what it would be like to be a continental nation without a single ice-free, deep-water port.

But Russia, despite its mammoth coastline, hasn’t got anyplace to park a fleet of big boats. It can’t ship goods by sea because there’s no way to get the goods onto the seas. I won’t discuss the issue of a Russian Navy at this point. I think it’s obvious that you’ve got to have ports to have an effective Nary.

Little Crimea is the proud possessor of a deep water port that is ice free.

Do I need to connect the dots here?

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At the same time that we’ve seen exhaustive and utterly confusing news reports about Russia/Ukraine/Crimea, we have also been partakers of the mystery surrounding a missing airliner. It seems that this airliner abruptly made a hard turn off its course, dropped to below radar level and flew on for several hours. Then, it vanished.

Nobody knows what happened. Nobody knows where it is now. Nobody knows anything except that the airliner, its crew and passengers are missing.

Speculation about hijackings and terrorists raises a hundred nightmare scenarios in all our minds.

We faced with other people’s tragedies as their countries are invaded and annexed for the use of more powerful nations. We imagine what it must have been like on that airliner. We feel for the families of these people. We speculate about whether or not the crew and passengers are still alive, and if they are still alive, what might be happening to them.

All this is laced with fear. Not lie-awake-at-night-and-churn-fear, but the cold frisson of fear that is part of living in an uncertain and dangerous world. There are so many good people. But the relatively few bad ones have the capacity to make a hell of this earth for all of us.

Both these situations seem to have a simple root cause, and that root cause is the assumption by some individuals and countries that other human beings are simple expedients to them getting what they want.

We deal with powers and principalities every day of our lives. We see the results of their control over human beings on the news every evening, and we live out the personal miseries they cause us in the dysfunctions of our relations with those around us.

I haven’t written about missing airliners and Russian tanks parked on the ground of other people’s countries because I’m not sure enough of the facts to say anything definitive. I decided to write about these things today because of the one thing I am sure of.

We will never get to the end of the evil that people do to other people in this life. That is why it is so important for us to remember that our primary citizenship is not in any country of this world. We are citizens of heaven, even now, as we live here.

I am not urging an otherworldly abandonment of our responsibilities in the here and now. We are charged with bringing the Kingdom. We are called directly and explicitly by Our Lord to be the light that shines in this darkness.

As Americans we have unique freedoms with which to do this. We need to use every opportunity we have to fulfill our call, and when we feel that frisson of fear that comes from living in a fallen world, we need to remember that we serve a risen Lord. This world is just the smallest part of our existence.

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Ukraine, Crimea, Russia: Is This a New Cold War?


Patriarch Saitsolav Shevchuk and Pope Francis say mass together.
Source Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation.

Patriarch Svaitsolav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church warned us a few weeks ago.

“Humanity may be on the verge of a new Cold War,” he said in early February on the Voice of America. “It is about the future of democracy in Europe.” Referring to Russia, he warned of the danger of “aggression, violence and interference from our northern neighbor.”

I didn’t write about it then because I didn’t — and don’t — understand the situation. I gather that the original protests were sparked by disagreements over the current Ukrainian economic situation and whether to ally economically with the European Union or with Russia.

As I understand it, the Ukrainian prime minister backed out of a promise he had made to sign an economic agreement with the European Union. He was under pressure from Russia, which included threats of trade sanctions, not to sign. Also, the agreement would have required the prime minister to release one of his political rivals from prison.

Was it more complicated than that?

I think so. I am surmising that the underlying considerations — and the cause of the demonstrations — were not just pure economics, but the question of who would control the country. Was Ukraine going to become a European democracy, or would it be pulled back into economic and political servitude to the Russian bear?

Were there other factors we don’t know about?

Almost certainly.

But what has happened since seems, at least in terms of the broad strokes, painfully obvious.

Ukraine exploded with prolonged and increasingly violent protests that have resulted in the deaths of Ukrainian citizens at the hands of their own government.

Now, Russia has invaded both Ukraine and Crimea. This armed invasion can not be viewed as anything less than an act of war.

The question rises almost immediately: Is Russia also going to invade other former Soviet satellite states? Will they eventually exit Ukraine and Crimea peacefully, or is this a military takeover and permanent re-colonization?

I wish I could give you a more intelligent read on this situation, but I feel hamstrung by the simple fact that I don’t know who to believe. I am not referring here to Ukrainian and Russian news sources, but rather to our own. There are so many agendas operating in American news, and our president has lied to us so many times, that I’m more than a little chary of taking what any of them say at face value.

One thing is clear: Patriarch Shevchuk understood the situation and spoke with prescient clarity.

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Money Talks. And Democracy Walks. Arizona Style.

I don’t know how accurate this is, but it does seem likely to be true.

NBC News is reporting that Governor Brewer will veto the religious freedom bill passed by the legislature this week. According to that same source, the governor does not want to jeopardize Arizona’s economic future.

Three Arizona senators who had voted for the bill re-read it in the light of all that reflected green and asked the governor to veto.

Everyone, it seems, was just confused originally and now they’ve seen the light.

Uh-huh.

It doesn’t matter if this was a good bill or not. It doesn’t even matter what the issue is.

Money talks. And democracy walks.

That’s the real story here.

From NewsMax:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will veto a controversial bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to gays and lesbians on the grounds of their religious conviction, NBC News is reporting via Twitter.

Brewer has been under intense pressure from business groups and political leaders to diffuse the situation and veto the legislation which they fear will draw unnecessary attention to Arizona a year before it hosts the next Super Bowl and following economic losses on controversial immigration stances.

At the same time, three GOP state senators who initially ratified the measure have written to Brewer, a Republican, asking her to reject Senate Bill 1062, according to The Los Angeles Times. 

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Will Arizona Let the Money Do the Talking?

 

The money men have lined up in what appears to be a concerted effort to make sure that gay couples can force every baker in the state of Arizona to provide them with wedding cakes.

This burning wedding cake issue, which has been likened to the Jim Crow segregation and lynchings that once plagued African Americans, has brought corporate interests from coast to coast into the argument. They are speaking with one voice, and that voice is demanding a veto of the religious freedom bill recently passed by the Arizona legislature.

Two Republican senators who voted for the bill have seen the dollar sign and are now asking Governor Brewer to veto the bill.

I have not read this legislation. I’ve been busy with legislation on which I am going to actually have to vote. But I can tell you from experience that the various chambers of commerce and money people tend to talk to Republican legislators who step out of line like they were dogs who fetched when they should have sicced. I don’t doubt for a minute that this is what changed the senators’ hearts and minds on this issue.

Even Newt Gingrich has chimed in, calling for the governor to veto the bill.

The power of money on the legislative process can be breathtaking.

Governor Brewer has until Friday to make a decision.

From Bloomberg Business Week:

Companies from Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) to American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL:US)called on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto a bill allowing businesses to refuse service on religious grounds, a measure that opponents say is meant to allow discrimination against gays.

The measure passed last week prompted tourists to cancel reservations and companies to say they would locate elsewhere if it became law. The bill threatens to reverse an economic recovery in a state among those hardest hit by the housing crash, opponents said, and to cement a reputation fostered by a 2010 anti-immigration law and a fight in the 1990s over celebrating the Martin Luther King holiday.

After residents and businesses protested the bill over the weekend, three Republican senators who voted for the measure changed their minds and asked Brewer to veto it. NBC News reported today that three people close to the governor said she is likely to do that. Brewer wasn’t immediately available for comment.

“There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far,” Doug Parker, chief executive officer of Fort Worth, Texas-based American, wrote in a letter to Brewer yesterday. He said that it has the potential to reduce the desire of companies to relocate in the state and to repel convention business.

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Book Review: Doing for the Least of These for Lent

BC MercyintheCity 1

To join the conversation about Mercy in the City, or order a copy, go here

Lent in the legislature is always a problem.

The Lenten season falls at a time of year when the legislative calendar is so full that I feel like I’m being drug by a runaway horse. There’s not much time for more than going to mass and snatches of hurried prayer that don’t connect up to anything resembling a coherent Lenten practice. It’s all about tired, over-stimulated hanging in there. Lent gets washed away in all this busyness.

Every stopover at mass is a sudden downshift to a slower rhythm. It is so different from the break-neck pace of the rest of the day that it jars more than soothes. Prayers at night and in the morning require an act of will; otherwise I’ll daydream through the words as I say them.

My Lent has thus been more a time of confusion than spiritual and moral clarity. In fact, there have been a number of years when I decided that doing the best I could on my job in the face of whatever came was my Lent.

Reading Mercy in the City inspired me to be more intentional about how I do Lent in the legislature. The book’s author, Kerry Weber, is a twenty-something who decided to give up the usual sweets for Lent and then added a resolution to perform each of the Corporal Works of Mercy during Lent, as well.

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy are:

  1. Feed the hungry.
  2. Give drink to the thirsty.
  3. Clothe the naked.
  4. Shelter the homeless.
  5. Visit the sick.
  6. Visit the imprisoned.
  7. Bury the dead.

That’s a tall order for a twenty-something with a full-time job and a dating life, but she managed to get it done. Her journey through the seven Works of Mercy is an illuminating read. Miss Weber learned a lot about other people as she handed out food, spent the night at a homeless shelter and visited with prisoners at San Quentin. Instead of just going through the list of Works and checking them off, she made an effort to learn from the people themselves, to see their humanity and their individuality.

This can be difficult. I’ve never done anything like this for Lent, but I have done some of these things at other times in my life. I can tell you that the sick throw up on you, the hungry gripe about the food you serve them and prisoners often go back to their old ways once they are free.

And yet, there is nothing in Jesus’ words equating Himself with these people that gives us the freedom of turning away from them. If you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for me, He says to us. There isn’t any wiggle room in that statement for an out based on the exterior ugliness of the people you are trying to help. I imagine there were First Century four-flushers and manipulators just as there are today. But Our Lord didn’t say a word about refusing to help people because they can be jerks.

He tells us that whatever we do for them in His name will not be lost. And whenever we turn our backs on the hungry, thirsty, sick, homeless, or imprisoned among us, we will be held accountable as if we had turned our backs on Him.

That’s a heavy kind of instruction. It should weigh on our hearts, and not just during Lent. We will be judged by how we treat the “least of these.” All our Amen-saying is for nothing if we don’t help those who can’t help themselves. More to the point, each and every one of us began life as someone who could not help themselves, and if we live long enough, we will be people who can’t help ourselves again. That is the human condition.

The pitiless among us want to solve these problems by killing those who need help. Just pick up the needle or use the vacuum aspirator and be done with them. But Jesus tells us clearly and without equivocation that we are called to something more than that.

The same God Who authored all life, tells us to honor life by caring for one another, especially when it’s not easy and it costs us something.

Mercy in the City is a well-written, entertaining look at one young woman’s attempt to do the seven Corporal Works of Mercy for Lent. If you read it, it will give a lot to think about and may inspire you to do the same thing yourself, which makes it excellent Lenten reading.

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The Issue is Murder, and Our Willingness to Allow It

Death panelMy Sabbath rest from this blog came just in time.

I had read too many combox justifications for killing people.

The ones that took the prize were the comments defending the medical murder of an elderly Italian woman. This lady went to Switzerland and paid $14,000 to have herself murdered. She was in good health. Her only complaint was that she was depressed about aging and losing her looks.

How can anyone subscribe to the medical murder of a perfectly healthy woman who was depressed about losing her looks?

It appears that plenty of folks do.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when Belgium decided to allow medical murder for anyone, at any age, including babies? The talk then was all about unendurable suffering and how we had to murder children because they they were (1) terminally ill, and (2) in horrible pain?

Well, just a few days later, the death rap was a justification for the need to murder an elderly woman because she’s depressed about her looks, and it’s her choice. 

We were told at the beginning of this euthanasia debate that “mercy killing” or “death with dignity” or whatever you want to call it, was only to alleviate the suffering of people who were terminally ill and in unendurable pain. We put down animals, so the debate went, why not do the same for suffering people?

It now seems clear that those arguments were lies designed to get people to go along so that the liars could move to the next level of killing. As soon as the screw turns one half round and we get the power to kill those we decide are in pain and dying anyway, then the nasty old screw turns again and we are told that people should have the “right” to be killed for being sad, if that’s their choice.

Because now the arguments aren’t about “mercy” or “dignity” anymore, they’re about choice. It’s a person’s “choice” to be murdered, so who are we to argue?

Choice, which should be a beautiful word of freedom, has been perverted into a dark word of death. It’s ironic, but not surprising, to hear these promoters of death for the elderly use the same word that they use to justify killing the unborn.

The same people who come on this blog and argue for killing elderly people because they are depressed, also want to kill those with dementia. They are the same ones who will blast you with arguments based on “choice” in favor of killing the unborn with disabilities or for any other reason whatsoever.

The difference here is in the type and tenor of the arguments. They can’t argue, as they do with abortion, about the use of someone else’s body. It serves no purpose to kill grandma because her granddaughter was raped. So, we argue that it’s really Grandma’s “choice” to be killed.

How long before these killers unmask themselves and reveal that this killing is not for Grandma, but for us? How long before we simply say the truth: Sick people are a lot of trouble. Their care costs money, takes time and isn’t all that much fun.

How long before the arguments about “choice” do the next morph and finally become about how killing grandma and saving all that money we might waste on her could allow granddaughter to go to college? Or, if we did in our child with cancer, think of how much it would spare the other children? Or, why should we let that rich old bat sit on all that money when his or her kids need it to maintain their standard of living?

We are less than a fraction of an inch away from Hitler’s useless eaters argument.

The argument from choice as a justification for medical murder is an obvious ruse when we are talking about depressed people, those with dementia, etc. It is a lie, a deliberate, cold-blooded lie, calculated to inure us to murder so that we are ready to take the next step.

The issue is murder, and our willingness to allow it.

Let me repeat that: The issue is murder, and our willingness to allow it. 

These legalized killing fields are an ever-moving target of evil. They have no bottom because their arguments are based on something that does not exist: The ability of fallen and utterly selfish human beings to reason their way to moral behavior.

I asked the rhetorical question in an earlier post: Do you have to be a Catechism-believing Catholic to know this is wrong?

It appears the answer is yes, you do — or at the least, a Bible-believing Christian of some denomination.

There seems to be no place at the table of life for unbelievers, for the simple reason that unbelievers are all sitting at the table of death.

If you do not believe in the real God, you inevitably become your own god, and out of that self-deification flows every evil thing imaginable, including such a low regard for human life that no one, anywhere, is safe from the needle, the vacuum, the shot of poison to the heart.

I am a Catholic:

I do not kill the unborn.

I do not kill the elderly.

I do not kill children.

I do not kill the depressed, the lonely, the ugly, the disabled, or the weak.

I don’t even kill murderers on death row.

Catholics build hospitals to treat the sick.

Catholics provide food, legal services, counseling, shelter, clothing and education to those who need them.

And for this we are attacked. The same people who want to kill grandma also want to close our hospitals, corrupt our educational institutions and belittle and shame those of us in the pews for having the temerity to believe that human life is sacred and may not be ended arbitrarily.

But we will not accede to them. Because human life is sacred. Every human being, including these sad, lost unbelievers who want to kill everyone who can’t fight back, is made in the image and likeness of God. We are fallen and we have the capacity to do evil. But we also have the capacity to turn to God, be forgiven and walk in newness of life.

Today, I set before you life and death, God told the ancient Israelites.

I don’t know about the rest of the world. But I chose life.

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Every So Often He Does Something I Agree With

Every so often President Obama does something I agree with.

His support of raising the minimum wage is one of those things. I remember reading that Henry Ford paid his workers higher wages than the standard for that time. When asked why, he said that he wanted them to be able to buy his automobiles.

That remark demonstrated a core understanding of what grows markets that seems to elude today’s corporatists.

The theory that we should cut taxes and give benefits to those at the top while we allow wage earners to suffer an endless downward trajectory in earning power is not good economics. Those who make goods and provide services need customers with the money to buy their products. American industry needs American customers to keep this county strong.

The miracle of the American economy is not that it has created a few fantastically wealthy people. The miracle is that it has provided opportunity, a high standard of living and good lives for almost all of us.

Will raising the minimum wage fix our economic woes? No, it won’t. The reason our economy has been basically stagnant for so long is simple: We’ve exported our industrial base and the jobs that go with it.

Raising the minimum wage will not fix this problem. Nothing short of taking government back from corporatist control will put America back where it once was.

However, raising the minimum wage will increase the buying power of many millions of people. That alone will stimulate the economy.

I disagree with trickle down economics. We need jobs and good wages for the people of this country. That will bring wealth for everyone.

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