Hundreds Gather to Pray the Rosary for Religious Freedom

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This is one of those heartening stories that can make your day.

More than 750 people gathered October 5 in front to of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, Long Island to pray the Rosary for religious freedom. This is especially heartening after yesterday’s story about Marymount Loyola.

The event was organized by Catholics for Freedom of Religion. I am not familiar with this group, but it sounds like it might be a good example of leading from the pews.

From The National Catholic Register:

WEST ISLIP, N.Y. — Come HHS mandate or high water, hundreds of Catholics turned out in Long Island at a local hospital to pray the Rosary and protest the erosion of freedom of religion in the U.S. public square.

Despite the threat of a downpour, more than 750 registered participants gathered on Oct. 5 to pray three decades of the Rosary in front of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, on Long Island.

Organized by the non-partisan Catholics for Freedom of Religion (CFFR), the 90-minute event began with an opening prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, and then a few speakers addressed the crowd about the U.S. tradition of freedom of religion and the threat to Catholic rights and health care posed by the HHS mandate.

The U.S. Department  of Health and Human Services’ mandate requires all employers to cover the cost of contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacient drugs in their health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The U.S. Catholic bishops have objected that the federal government is forcing Catholic employers and institutions to either violate their beliefs or cease providing health care.

“Christ must not be cast out of his places of healing,” said Richard Sullivan, chairman of the board of Catholic Health Services of Long Island, in a speech to the crowd. “No faithful person, Catholic or non-Catholic believer in the dignity of humankind from conception to natural death, should be forced against his conscience to participate in, fund or facilitate activities that they may consider illicit, immoral or evil.”

Catholic Health Services of Long Island, which includes Good Samaritan Hospital where the rally was located, is also a party to legal action challenging the constitutionality of the HHS mandate.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/long-islanders-gather-for-massive-rosary-rally-for-freedom?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-11%2012:33:01#ixzz2hQcLrGBk

Oh Good Grief

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I stand corrected.

I wrote yesterday that the trustees of Marymount Loyola University — a Jesuit-run, Catholic university — voted that the school would not provide abortion coverage as part of their employee insurance plans.

I read today that while they had indeed voted to not provide abortion coverage in their employee insurance plans, they also voted to provide aide in helping employees find coverage that will pay for their abortions. I don’t know if this is in response to the threats of at least one faculty member to “consider legal action” or not.

But I do know it’s a faux following of Church teachings.

What is so almighty tough about taking a stand? Hobby Lobby did it. Organizations and institutions, both Catholic and non-Catholic, all over this country are doing it.

What makes this Catholic university so precious that it can’t stand for the sanctity of human life?

The trustees’ logic in handing down this decision says a lot:

“We acknowledge that the issue of abortion is extremely complicated and encompasses varied and competing values that often leave no one happy,” Burcham and Aikenhead stated. “Nonetheless, we believe that the right to life and dignity for every human being is a fundamental part of Catholic beliefs (all other rights flow from this primary right to life and dignity) and that this vision needs to be evidenced in LMU’s policies and procedures.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/lmu-board-splits-the-baby-on-abortion-coverage?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-9%2006:36:01#ixzz2hFDWmTGB

I know — and I mean I know full-well and from hard personal experience — just how tough it can be to take a stand for life. When people claim for themselves the right to kill other people, it does something to them. They become ruthless, focused on their ends with no regard to the means. They will do anything they can get away with to anyone who opposes them. I’ve been on the receiving end of this hate, and I can tell you, it scalds.

That is no doubt what this Catholic university faced.

It is what pro life people face all over this country.

But this Mr Wishy Meet Ms Washy decision still stinks.

It’s one of those I-don’t-believe-in-abortion-personally-but-I-won’t-impose-that-on-anyone-else politically correct word salad decisions. When a politician does it, they are pilloried. But when a Jesuit (priests) school does it, then, it’s …. what???

If this is our leadership, how can anyone expect those of us who are just pew-sitting Catholics to follow the Church? If Church institutions tuck tail and run, then who is going to stand?

Are we supposed to lead from the pews?

There are days when I feel that the Church is asking the laity to step forward and lead the charge for Christ while we also have to step around the Catholic leaders in Catholic institutions as they run past us, heading for the rear.

Telling people that you won’t directly pay for an abortion, but that you’ll be happy to call around and find someone else who will pay for it, is not taking a pro life stand.

Catholics have a right to expect greater integrity and authenticity than this from Catholic institutions and Catholics in official and quasi official Church leadership positions.

From the National Catholic Register:

The board of trustees at Loyola Marymount University has handed down a Solomonic decision in the controversy over the university’s abortion coverage that may end up leaving few happy. Although the board confirmed LMU will no longer provide health plans that cover elective abortion, the Jesuit university will help employees find alternative plans that do.

The board held an Oct. 7 meeting to discuss the decision to drop elective abortion coverage from all LMU health plans starting Jan. 1, 2014.  Board chairman Kathleen Aikenhead and LMU’s president, David Burcham, revealed that the board had ratified that decision, but stated that it would not affect coverage for “therapeutic abortions, contraception and other forms of reproductive care mandated by the state of California.”

The board also added that LMU would select a “Third Party Administrator (TPA)-managed plan” for employees seeking abortion coverage.

“The employee will be responsible for the entirety of the cost associated with this additional coverage and, thus, no LMU dollars will be used in paying for this additional coverage,” the letter from Aikenhead and Burcham stated.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/lmu-board-splits-the-baby-on-abortion-coverage?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-9%2006:36:01#ixzz2hFAYxqtk

Loyola Marymount, Pope Francis and Following the Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is absolute nonsense.

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

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

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

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

According to the Cardinal Newman Society, she said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Work for God Begins with Prayer

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

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

And we will.

If we pray.

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

Why?

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

Why prayer?

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

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

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

I think that is why they ask for prayer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis and the Miracle of Peace

The Roman Catholic Bishops of the Middle East and East Africa said that the pope’s efforts for peace are changing the dialogue in their countries. They call it a “miracle.”

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Pope Francis: You Cannot Know Jesus Without Betting Your Life on Him

Do you know Jesus?

Do you really know Him?

Pope Francis tells you how to really know Jesus.

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Everything You Want is on the Other Side of Fear

Everything you want

I read Father Dwight Longnecker’s fine post, Bergoglio’s List, and it sort of pushed me over the edge I’ve been standing on for a while. Be forewarned: There’s a rant coming.

Pope Francis is like Blessed John Paul II in that he has lived through times when the devil was ascendant and incarnate in his country. He has, in the same way that Blessed John Paul II did in World War II and then under Communism, witnessed and lived through times of great evil. Like Blessed John Paul, he responded to these terrors with Christian courage, fealty and love.

As the article Father Dwight quotes says,

In his Argentina, between 1976 and 1983, Jorge Mario Bergoglio lived through the ‘years of lead’ of the military dictatorship. Kidnappings, torture, massacres, 30,000 disappeared, 500 mothers killed after giving birth in prison to children who were taken away from them.

… In front of three judges, Bergoglio was hammered for three hours and forty-five minutes with insidious questions, above all by the attorney Luis Zamora, the lawyer for the victims. A key passage of the questioning comes when Bergoglio is asked to justify his meetings with the generals Jorge Videla and Emilio Massera, in 1977.

… The “list” of Bergoglio is a collection of highly diverse personal stories, which make for exhilarating reading, whose common characteristic is that the people in them were saved by him.

… There is Alicia Oliveira, the first woman to become a judge in the criminal courts in Argentina and also the first to be dismissed after the military coup, non-Catholic and not even baptized, who went underground and was taken by Bergoglio, in the trunk of his car, to the college of San Miguel, to see her three children.

There are the three seminarians of the bishop of La Rioja, Enrique Angelelli, who was killed in 1976 by members of the military in a staged auto accident, after he had discovered who was truly responsible for numerous assassinations.

There is Alfredo Somoza, the scholar saved without his knowledge.

There are Sergio and Ana Gobulin, who worked in the slums and were married by Father Bergoglio, he arrested and she wanted, both saved and expatriated with the help of the Italian vice-consul in Argentina at the time, Enrico Calamai, another hero of the story.

I posted a pro life homily Cardinal Bergoglio gave in which he spoke of the children in his country who live in the dumps and search these dumps for their subsistence.

Our Holy Father has seen the devil looking at him through the eyes of another person. He has lived through times when the devil had absolute control of the government and military of his country. He has been forced to help people without letting his left hand know what his right hand was doing because secrecy of this degree was the only key to survival.

Children dump

He has seen small children cast out to fend for themselves in dumps.

I am sick to the marrow of my bones of hearing the carping about the way he does the liturgy or how he dresses. I know that the liturgy and the way it is presented is important to some people, but I think we should all remember that the liturgy is not a show. It is prayer. The mass is an hour-long prayer (half hour on weekdays) in which the sacrifice at Calvary is brought home to us and then presented to us in the body and blood of Our Lord for our strength as we go forward in the faith.

Jesus Christ, the living Son of God, is wholly present in His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.

I respect the hunger of those who love the liturgy for its beauty and draw sustenance from that beauty. But some of the people I’m reading are dangerously close to making an idol of it. The point is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, risen again and ever present to us on all the altars of all the Catholic Churches of the world.

I think Pope Francis “gets” this. I think he also knows that the mass is prayer and that prayer comes from the heart. There is a whole world out there beyond the borders of the United States, and that world is a butcher shop. The mass, as prayer and re-enactment of the sacrifice of Our Lord, has to speak to people whose reality is far different from ours.

Who knows better what those children in the dumps need; us in our American self-absorption, or the Pope who has walked with them for decades? Who can best address the Church to the people who are suffering and dying for the faith; us, or the pope who has lived with the terror of a killer government himself?

I believe the Holy Spirit gave us this pope for these times because he is the pope we need. He is the pope for those people who are suffering and dying in this butcher shop world of ours.

I think that God gave us this pope at this time because He loves those children in the dumps, those who are unjustly imprisoned, beaten, tortured, raped and murdered. He loves them.

Our problems here in America are — every one of them — things we could solve ourselves if we’d just stop being such cowards. The reason our faith is being successfully attacked from every direction in this country is because Christians are colluding with the attackers by their silence, their tacit support in what they watch and say, and by their actions in how they live their lives.

We don’t need the pope to excoriate those who attack Christ in this country one more time. How many times do the popes have to reiterate Church teachings on the sanctity of human life, gay marriage and all the other evils our debauched society loves more than Christ? Does each pope have to say it five times? Or is it 20?

Maybe the problem isn’t that the popes haven’t told us, but that we aren’t doing our part. We don’t need more excoriation, and we don’t need more obsession over the details of the liturgy.

We need Christians who will follow Christ and stand up for Him, come what may.

The people who need the Holy Father’s active help are those who can’t do for themselves: The ones who are at the mercy of the evils of this butcher shop world.

Here in America, our problem is our own lack of faith in God, which makes us cowards. Christians all over the world are suffering and dying for Jesus. We need to get on our knees and pray for faith like that. It is the answer to all our problems.

105 Year Old Tells All

This is the best homily I’ve heard in a while. Watch and enjoy.

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Pope Francis Speaks About Church Bombing in Pakistan

This video is from last Sunday, after Taliban operatives bombed a Christian church service, killing at least 85 people and wounding 145 others.

It is easy to see how moved the Holy Father was by this.

God save these, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Christian Persecution: What Can We Do?

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Elizabeth Scalia has heard the call.

Have you?

I’m talking about the call to prayer for persecuted Christians around the globe.

Pope Francis issued a call to prayerfor the persecuted church earlier this week.

“So many Christians in the world are suffering,” the pope said during his general audience Wednesday morning in St. Peter’s Square. “Am I indifferent to that, or does it affect me like it’s a member of the family?

“Does it touch my heart, or doesn’t it really affect me, [to know that] so many brothers and sisters in the family are giving their lives for Jesus Christ?

Speaking directly to the crowd in the square, Francis said he wanted to ask a question, and he didn’t want people to shout out an answer but rather to ponder it in their hearts.

“How many of you pray for Christians who are persecuted?” the pope asked. “Ask yourselves, do I pray for that brother or sister who’s in difficulty for confessing their faith?” (Read more here.)

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, one hundred thousand Christians have died for their faith each year in the last decade. That works out to 11 Christians martyred for their faith every hour for the past ten years.

Can you imagine the outcry if this was one the groups that fashion says we should care about? Just consider the sentence 100,000 _______ were murdered because of they were ______ each year for the past ten years. Supply the name of any group whose rights we hear daily that we are supposed to care about.

Now, go back and substitute the word Christians, as in:

100,000 Christians  were murdered because they were Christians  each year for the past ten years.

See what I mean?

Christian bashing is far more popular in today’s world than defending the human rights of Christians. Every time I post on the issue, I get a spate of comments telling me that no such problem exists. There are usually a few profane and truly ugly comments mixed in with them. I delete these things the same way I would swat a fly; the same way I delete Holocaust deniers and gay bashers and woman haters; with speed and quickness.

Pope Francis is right. We need to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. If you’re one of those people who has been observing this carnage and wondering What can I do? here’s you answer. Get on your knees and start praying.

I wrote a Novena for the Persecuted Church a few weeks ago. You can find it here:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9


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