Pope Emeritus Benedict Relieved to Have Weight of the Church Off His Shoulders

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Pope Emeritus Benedict is “relieved” to be free of the “weight” of the Church, his brother says.

Father Georg Ratzinger told the Daily Telegraph that his younger brother is happy in his retirement. The former Pope Benedict spends his days in prayer, reading and playing the piano. 

He still “suffers the Church,” but enjoys not have the full weight of it “on his shoulders,” Fr Ratzinger said. 

Fr Ratzinger traveled from Germany to Italy for the Pope Emeritus’ 86th birthday. 

It is a miracle that these two brothers still have one another at this age and that they are both able to travel and enjoy their lives, including celebrating birthdays.

I wish them peace and happiness in this twilight of their lives. 

From National Post:

ROME — The former Pontiff, Pope Emeritus Benedict, is “relieved” to be free of the responsibility of running the Catholic Church, his elder brother has said, but he insisted that Benedict was not suffering from illness.

Father Georg Ratzinger, himself a priest, told The Daily Telegraph his younger brother was “very happy” to be living at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer retreat south of Rome that he moved to after stepping down in February, becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years. Fr. Ratzinger, 88, who travelled from Germany to celebrate Benedict’s 86th birthday on April 16, said his brother “still suffers the problems of the Church, but is really relieved to no longer have the weight of the Church on his shoulders”.

… Speaking by telephone from his house in Bavaria, Mr Ratzinger denied the pope emeritus was suffering from major ailments. “He is now very old, he does not have any particular illness, but he is weakening due to his age,” he said.

 Since relinquishing the responsibility of overseeing the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, Benedict has spent his time praying, reading and playing the piano at Castel Gandolfo, which is situated on the rim of a volcanic lake, surrounded by acres of private gardens and Roman ruins. (Read the rest here.) 

Cardinal Dolan Receives William Wilberforce Award

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My idea of ecumenicism isn’t that Christians should try to undo the Reformation. My idea is that we should all stand up for Jesus together. 

When someone cuts one of us because we are Christians, as in Syria, Nigeria and in many other places, we all should bleed. When the freedom to follow Christ of any Christian is attacked, we should all stand together with our beleaguered brother or sister. When Christian bashers bash Christ, they are defaming my Lord and Savior and yours. We need to stand against them together.

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That’s why I find it is important that Cardinal Timothy Dolan will receive the 2013 William Wilberforce Award this weekend. 

The award, which is bestowed by the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, has a decidedly evangelical origin. This doesn’t stop the organization from recognizing that Cardinal Dolan’s work for religious liberty is a Christian, rather than a Catholic endeavor. 

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Dr Timothy George, chairman of the Center, said that Cardinal Dolan has “taken a very courageous and bold stand” for conscience and religious liberty in the face of the HHS mandate.

“We’re concerned about the dignity of marriage, the sanctity of every human life, including children waiting to be born, and religious freedom,” he added. “On these particular issues as well a concern for the poor and the marginalized, Cardinal Dolan is a hero to so many of us.” 

These are excellent words. Christians need to lay aside our petty differences and stand together for Jesus. If we do that, we will be unstoppable. 

From CNA:

.- Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York will receive the 2013 William Wilberforce Award this weekend from a group of Christians for his leadership in standing up for religious freedom.

“I resonate with Cardinal Dolan as much as any public religious leader in our country today,” Dr. Timothy George, chairman of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview which is bestowing the award, told CNA April 16.

“Cardinal Dolan has just been tremendous, he’s one of the major leaders not just of the Catholic Church in the United States today, but of all Christians, and really all people of goodwill.”

George, who is also a Baptist minister and dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, noted that the prelate has “taken a very courageous and bold stand” for conscience protection and religious liberty in the face of the HHS contraception mandate.

“But that’s only one of a variety of concerns,” he added. “We’re concerned about the dignity of marriage, the sanctity of every human life, including those children waiting to be born, and religious freedom.”

“On these particular issues as well as concern for the poor and the marginalized, Cardinal Dolan is a hero to so many of us.”

The William Wilberforce Award was established in 1988, and honors those who “have done something significant, noteworthy and consequential to show the importance of a positive witness related to the values and character of the Christian faith in our time today,” George said.

Cardinal Dolan is the third Catholic to be given the award, following Father John Neuhaus in 1998 and Bishop Macram Gassis of El Obeid, in Sudan. (Read the rest here.) 

Update: French Protests Against Gay Marriage Vote Turn Violent

Protesters against the French government’s action legalizing gay marriage grew in numbers after the vote Tuesday, then turned more violent toward midnight.

According to an Associated Press story, protestors threw bottles, cans and metal bars at police who lobbed tear gas back. 

Much of the press I’ve read has treated the action of the French government as heroic. One headline talked about how the French government had “stared down the conservatives” to pass the law. An issue that sets off marches of as much as a million and a half citizens is deeply controversial, at best. What the French government “stared down” was its own citizens.

I have no idea how things will proceed now that the measure, which takes effect in June, has passed.

From the Associated Press:

 

French Protest Against Gay Marriage Turns Violent

April 23, 2013 6:47 PM

PARIS (AP) — France legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate that exposed deep conservatism in the nation’s heartland and triggered huge demonstrations that tapped into intense discontent with the Socialist government. Within hours, fiery clashes broke out between protesters and riot police.

Legions of officers stayed late into the night, and a protest against the measure turned violent near the Invalides complex of museums and monuments. Protesters threw glass bottles, cans and metal bars at police, who responded with tear gas. (Read more here.)

A Government at War with its People: France Legalizes Gay Marriage

Ay 101377277 France legalized gay marriage today. According to a Reuters news report “legions of officers and water cannon stood ready ahead of the final vote,” bracing for pubic reaction. 

The vote came after the Claude Bartelone, President of the French National Assembly ordered the expulsion of a protester. In one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve read in a while, he said, “Only those who love democracy are welcome here.”

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This is not the way to pass legislation of this magnitude. It is also not the way to work for social change. Several states in America have passed gay marriage referendums by popular vote. This has been accepted by everyone, including those who opposed the referendums. States in which the courts or the legislature have tried to impose gay marriage have met resistance. Most of the time, these efforts have been overturned by popular votes.

Gay people certainly do have the right to petition their government for change. However, governments which impose draconian changes in social practice on an unwilling population are not representing their people.

When a government has to call in the police and set up high-pressure water hoses to protect itself from its own people before a vote, it maybe needs to consider that the vote itself is unwise.

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The French politicians who have voted for this measure were elected to their positions, but they are not behaving like representatives of the people. They also, in my opinion, are creating unrest and discord in their country which can only harm it.

American government has made similar mistakes. The Brady Bill of the early 1990s was a mistake because the American people did not want it. I’m not talking about the merits of the bill. I am talking about the merits of government of, by and for the people.

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Roe v Wade was a judicial fiat which stopped the on-going public debate on abortion by imposing a “decision” on the people that they were not ready for. The resulting culture wars have fractured this country and done enormous harm to it. None of this would have happened if the Court had simply let the democratic process in the states work this issue through.

With very rare exceptions (I can think of only one in the history of this country) the people, if they are allowed to do so, can and will work these things out in a manner that allows everyone to live together in harmony. However, when governments begin to impose unwanted solutions to debates that reach into the intimate lives of their citizens in the manner that the French government did today, they harm the country they claim to love. They also step over the boundaries of their moral authority as representatives of the people.

From Reuters:

PARIS (AP) — France legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate and protests that flooded the streets of Paris. Legions of officers and water cannon stood ready near France’s National Assembly ahead of the final vote, bracing for possible violence on an issue that galvanized the country’s faltering conservative movement.

The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225, just minutes after the president of the legislative body expelled a disruptive protester in pink, the color adopted by French opponents of gay marriage.

“Only those who love democracy are here,” Claude Bartelone, the Assembly president, said angrily.

 

Nearly 15,000 French Mayors Say They Will Refuse to Marry Gay Couples

What they are hiding from: 1.4 million French march in protest of gay marriage legislation.

It seems to me that there is a wee bit of resistance to French President Francois Hollande’s plans to legalize gay marriage.

First, the government re-scheduled the gay marriage vote to a different day. They were trying to avoid their own citizens’ protests against the vote. It seems that the previous marches with over a million participants got on their nerves.

I’ve seen videos and photos of the earlier marches. The marchers were moms and dads with their children, little old ladies and gray-haired priests. Their sheer numbers were impressive. But it’s even more impressive that they looked like the kind of people who form the backbone of a country. If the government is afraid of them, then it is afraid of its own middle class.

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Civil wedding. France. 

 

Ditto, or maybe double ditto, for the mayors. The Association of Mayors for Children has announced that, if this law passes, its 14,900 members will refuse to perform gay marriages.

I don’t want to rush to judgement here, but it’s beginning to look like the French government is running over its people with this vote. Let’s look at the situation. We have a national government that is moving votes around because it is so overwhelmed by citizen marchers against an issue. We also have a large number of local officials — people who are part of the government — flat-out saying that they will not abide by the law if it passes. Is the French government strong-arming its people with this law? It sounds that way.

I think that duly elected officials who have even half a brain would take note of this much resistance from the electorate. But then I’m assuming that these duly elected officials have half a brain. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they checked their brains to their party when they ran for office and don’t remember where they left them. I can’t think of any other reason for forcing a law this divisive on an aroused citizenry.

I am well aware that the com boxes on this blog are going to fill up with comments trying to equate gay marriage to human slavery and miscegenation, but those analogies don’t hold up. I realize why they do this. It’s because there really isn’t some innate right to gay marriage. They’re forced to link their cause to some other cause to give it legitimacy. It doesn’t stand on its own.

The reason there isn’t an innate right to gay marriage is because the concept itself is something of an oxymoron. Gay people have sex with one another and fall in love with one another. But theirs is a sterile union. For that simple reason, it serves no larger purpose to the overall society to call their pairing “marriage.”

Marriage between a man and a woman, by its very nature, produces other human beings. Marriage is the institution by which we nurture and raise our young to become stable and productive citizens who can nurture and raise the next generation after them. 

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The pitiful mess that heterosexuals have made of marriage these past few decades doesn’t negate that. It underscores it. Look at the messed up kids our messed up marriages are producing. We have degraded family and home life to the point that we have raised a generation of young people who appear to be unable to bond to form marriages and raise children of their own. They have never known a stable home and because of that, they can not create one for themselves.

This doesn’t mean that marriage is unimportant. It shows how drastically important it is. Nothing can replace it.

Degrading marriage further will only shove us further along in our cycle of social and cultural self-destruction.

The French people seem to understand this a lot better than the rest of the Western world. They understand that children matter. 

They are trying their best to tell this to their government. Meanwhile, the government appears to have put stoppers in its ears so that it won’t have to listen. I would not be surprised if the French find themselves subjected to another lecture like that the New Zealand statesman du jour delivered to his constituents, explaining to them what an ignorant and bigoted bunch of backward hayseeds they are for thinking for themselves instead of seeing things the way their government wants them to.

It’s a mistake when elected officials start to assume that people stupid enough to elect them must be complete idiots. There is every possibility that they will discover that their election was just a momentary lapse in judgement.

From CNA:

.- A group of at least 14,900 French mayors has said it will not perform “gay marriages,” even if the government moves ahead with plans to legalize the practice.

The administration of French President Francois Hollande has put forth a measure that would legalize “gay marriage,” allow gay couples to receive medical treatment for artificial procreation and to adopt children.

“It is foolish to think that the mobilization of the elected mayors would stop if the law is passed,” said Franck Meyer, spokesman for the association Mayors for Children.

“As citizens, we elected officials will not give up,” he emphasized in statements to the media.

Meyer, who is mayor of Sotteville-sous-le-Val in northern France, observed that some of the mayors in the group have said they “would resign if the law is adopted,” while others “have said they will refuse” to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.

On April 12, the French Senate passed the measure sponsored by President Hollande, but it has yet to go before the French National Assembly. (Read the rest here.)

Gay Marriage and Politicians Going In Your Face With the People Who Elected Them

What they are hiding from: 1.4 million French march in protest of gay marriage legislation. Photo from LifeSiteNews

When a government starts changing the date for votes to avoid its own people, something is wrong.

This is evidently what is happening in France concerning the move to legalize gay marriage. According to a Reuters news report, the French government moved the date for a vote on legislation to legalize gay marriage to avoid a big rally set by opponents for later this month.

The French people responded with a hastily-put-together rally to which “only” 50,000 people were able to come.

When a government starts re-scheduling votes on major legislation for the purpose of avoiding its own people, it clearly is time for that government to take a good, long, look at itself. There is a tendency for governments to take an in-your-face attitude toward their own citizens whenever and wherever they legalize gay marriage.

In the debate over legalizing gay marriage in New Zealand, an MP made an extremely witty and intelligent speech which, despite the good fun of it, did essentially that. This MP has become an international sensation and the toast of the media. I’ve read that he’s even going to have a guest spot on Ellen.

 

While I enjoyed his speech, I also saw through it to the core reason behind it: He was going in-your-face with his constituents, and exhorting his colleagues to do the same. I’ve sat in on a number of witty and intelligent speeches urging legislators to ignore their constituents. I remember quite clearly watching and listening while Democratic House Speakers in the Oklahoma Legislature urged the passage of large tax increases which the public had made abundantly clear they did not want.

These tax increases were passed largely for one special interest.

The short-term result was that the tax increases went through, a number of Democratic legislators lost their house seats to Republicans, but the Democrats maintained their huge dominance in state government. The long-term result was that Oklahoma is now the reddest of red states in the Union.

Aside from the simple shift in party politics, this has meant replacing one set of special interests for another in our government. The process of going in-your-face with the electorate on behalf of these special interests has already begun again, just from a different direction.

When a government starts dipping and dodging, running and hiding to avoid contact with the people it governs, there is something seriously wrong with its governance. When legislators take to the floor to lecture the electorate on their ignorance for opposing what that legislator is doing, there is something out of whack with that action.

It is so easy for government by consent of the governed to turn into an elected dictatorship. There’s no great trick to standing up and giving a four-minute speech aligning yourself with an issue that is being hard-sold by the media against your constituents. It gives you the chance to be, as this mp has become, the statesman du jour. Often the celebrity will carry you over any anger your constituents might feel.

I don’t know about this particular MP, but it’s entirely possible that he isn’t going so much in-your-face with his constituents as he is those of his colleagues. He may represent an area that either supports what he is doing, or that is willing to re-elect him despite it. If that is true, what he is doing here is lecturing his colleagues’ constituents and convincing these same dim-witted colleagues to go against their own people.

I see a lot of that, too. Extreme liberals push more moderate Democrats into suicidal votes. Extreme conservatives push more moderate Republicans into the same sort of thing. The interesting thing is that the extremists get re-elected because of the districts they represent, while the ones they push into these votes get defeated.

I don’t know that this will happen in New Zealand. But I do know I’ve seen it happen over and over again here in America.

As for France, when you have a national government re-scheduling a vote to avoid contact with the people it governs, something is really wrong with that government. If you’re an elected official, and you are doing something that the people you govern find so egregious that you have to hide from them to do it, you’re not doing your job right.

I’m going to put an excerpt from the Reuters article below and a link to the New Zealand mp’s speech below that. Notice that, despite the sarcasm and humor of this mp’s speech, he really doesn’t say anything of substance.

From Reuters:

PARIS (Reuters) – Thousands of gay marriage opponents wavingpink and blue flags marched through Paris on Sunday in a last-ditch protest before a law allowing same-sex union and adoption is passed next week.

Chanting “We don’t want your law, Hollande!”, some 50,000 protesters massed behind a banner reading: “All born of a Mum and a Dad” and said it was undemocratic to bring about such a fundamental social change without holding a referendum.

Hastily organized after the law’s passage was sped up to circumvent a big rally set for late April, Sunday’s march capped months of protests by a dogged opposition movement that has sullied President Francois Hollande‘s flagship social reform.

“We warned the president back in November that we would not give up and that we would do everything to stop this law being passed, or to get it repealed if it is adopted,” one of the protest organizers,Alberic Dumon, told Reuters. (Read the rest here.)

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3 Quick Takes: Vampire Atheists, Jesus Stomping Class Assignments and Gay Marriage

Religious freedom and gay marriage have taken a couple of turns while we were looking at other things. Here are 3 Quick Takes.

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1. Vampire Atheist Case Against 9/11 Cross Tossed by Judge

The bizarro case filed by American Atheists claiming that the sight of the 9/11 Cross caused them to experience  “depression, headaches, anxiety and mental pain and anguish” was tossed out of court by a federal judge. The case had sought to have the cross removed from the 9/11 Museum in New York City.

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2. Florida Atlantic University Drops Charges Against Student Who Refused to Stomp on Jesus’ Name

Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon student, refused to stomp on the name of Jesus as he was requested as part of a class exercise. After complaining to administrators, Rotela says he was suspended from the class. The university has now dropped all charges against Rotela and apologized.

3. New Zealand, Uruguay, legalize gay marriage. 

New Zealand’s Parliament voted 77-44 to legalize gay marriage on April 17. Uruguay Chamber of Deputies voted to legalize gay marriage on April 10.

Hello Samaria. It’s Bergoglio.

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It appears that Francis, the phone-call-making Pope, also will continue as the black-shoe-wearing Pope — the black-old-shoe-wearing Pope.

Rather than replace his old shoes, the Holy Father called the man who has been making and repairing his footwear for some 40 years, 81-year-old Carlos Samaria, of Buenos Aires.

True to form, Pope Francis placed the call to order the repairs himself.

“Hello Samaria. It’s Bergoglio,” he began. “Who is this?” the shoemaker asked. “Samaria, it’s Francis, the Pope!” came the answer.

The shoemaker said that Pope Francis told him “No red shoes, black like always.”

It sounds as if our Holy Father takes a mischievous delight in these conversations. Maybe it lessens the isolation of his new life when he picks up the phone and reaches out to people, especially to old friends like Señor Samaria.

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Pope Francis’ Sister, Maria Bergoglio

I read an interview Pope Francis’ sister gave shortly after his election in which she spoke of the loneliness of the Papacy, describing the time she met Pope John Paul II.

“When I fell to my knees to kiss his ring, I looked up and saw a gaze of such love, but at the same time of infinite loneliness,” she said.

Pope Francis lives in community rather than the isolation of the papal apartment and he makes his own phone calls. I hope these things give this good man some measure of community to comfort him as He shepherds us through the times ahead.

From CNA:

.- Pope Francis, who has quickly become known for his austere style, will continue using his simple black shoes and has called his shoemaker from his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina to repair them.

For 40 years, 81 year-old Carlos Samaria has provided shoes from his store on the outskirts of the Argentine capital for Pope Francis, who was known before his election to the papacy as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.

“Hello Samaria, it’s Bergoglio,” the phone conversation began.

“But who is this?” the shoemaker responded with surprise.

“Samaria, it’s Francis, the Pope!” the Holy Father replied.

Read the rest here.

Boy Scouts Leadership Pushes Revised Plan Allowing Homosexual Members

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Boy Scouts of America’s executive committee produced yet another attempt to change the organizations long-standing ban on homosexual members Friday.

They announced a resolution that would reverse the ban on homosexual boy scouts as individual members, but keep the ban on homosexual scout leaders. The resolution will be voted on by national council at the end of May. 

This comes on the heels of a sometimes rancorous debate about an earlier plan to allow across the board participation in the Boy Scouts by openly gay men and boys.

The state of California has been considering a change in its tax laws that would revoke the Boy Scouts non-profit tax status if they do not admit homosexuals to the organization. This proposed law is called The Youth Equality Act. 

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Supporters of the Boy Scouts’ current position which refuses membership in the organization to openly homosexual members or leaders raise concerns about openly gay members using the Boy Scouts to promote homosexual political and social agendas.

A CNA article describing the situation reads in part:

In an April 19 statement, the Boy Scouts said that “the Executive Committee, on behalf of the National Executive Board, wrote a resolution for consideration that would remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation.”

It added that the resolution would “maintain the current membership policy” of prohibiting openly gay men to serve as adult troop leaders.

The resolution will be receive a vote at the organization’s annual national council in late May.

The announcement of the resolution follows several months of policy review after the Boy Scouts lost funding from high-profile donors such as UPS over the current rules, which bar openly homosexual members.

… Eagle Scout John Stemberger warned that the resolution would create “a myriad of problems for how to manage and ensure the safety of the boys in the program.”

Stemberger is the founder of OnMyHonor.Net, a nationwide coalition of scouts, parents and leaders who support the Boy Scouts’ current policy.
 
“The current membership policy of Scouting, which is backed by more than 100 years of tradition, allows anyone to participate irrespective of sexual orientation, but only disallows the open and aggressive promotion of homosexuality and political agendas,” he explained in an April 19 statement.

Arguing that “parents should still have the final say on the issues of sexuality and politics,” he cautioned that a policy change “injects both those topics right into the program.”  (Read the rest here.) 

Book Review: Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious. Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood

To join the discussion about Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious, Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood or to order a copy, go here

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Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious, Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, by Pat Gohn is a hymn to woman’s essential femaleness.

Femaleness, or true femininity that is based on the reality of who we are as women, has been dissed and put down since time immemorial. Ms Gohn’s book incorporates the teachings of the Popes, especially John Paul II, and the saints, in particular St Edith Stein, to illustrate the beauty of the unique gifts of womanhood.

Reading Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious was like opening a series of chocolates, all wrapped in shiny paper, and finding that the treat inside was prettier than the wrapping. Ms Gohn is unafraid to acknowledge the maternal instinct that is part of every woman. We may deny it or ugly it up by twisting it into shapes it was never meant to take, but the desire to hold your own child in your arms is real and powerful.

Pat takes the reader by the hand and leads her (the book is clearly written for the “hers” of the world) through the many reasons why God made us blessed, beautiful and bodacious. She encourages women to joy in their feminine maternal natures instead of thwarting and denying them.

At the same time, the book is informed on every page by her deep faith in Christ. As a breast cancer survivor who had young children at the time she was diagnosed, Pat is able to communicate what it means to trust God in the extremities of life. Her description of the prayer discussion she had with God about what would happen to her children if she died from the cancer is itself blessed, beautiful and bodacious, as well as profoundly moving.

Every mother has walked a good bit of this road in one way or the other. We’ve all been through the ailments of pregnancy and the all nighters caring for a sick child. I agree with Pat completely that these times bring women close to God in a profound and absolute way.

My own faith grew deep in those years I was a mother of small children. Bringing new life into the world and then raising those babies to be healthy and productive adults is the greatest challenge and gift any human being can know.

Women are, as Pat says, blessed, beautiful and bodacious. God made us that way.


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