Book Review: How to Lead Like Francis

To join the discussion of Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads, or to order a copy, go here

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Pope Francis has set the world spinning around the Catholic Church in a way that hasn’t happened for a long time. Like all great leaders, he has also inspired criticism from some quarters, most of it, ironically, from devout Catholics who fear change.

I understand these discomfited change-fearers. When it comes to the Church, I’m a bit of a change-fearer myself. I draw comfort from the liturgy and the teachings. What some people see as intransigence on the part of the Church, I see as stability and strength; something I can count on in this crazy world.

However, the Church is a living organism, the great Body of Christ in the world. As a living organism, change, however slowly it happens, is part of its essential nature. The key to successful change is the guidance of the Holy Spirit, primarily, but not entirely, through the leadership of the Pope.

Everywhere I look, everyone I read, is chattering about the Catholic Church these days. The reason? Pope Francis’ straightforward leadership style of going to people and meeting them where they are.

It is a simple fact that you can’t be a leader if nobody follows you. In our power-hungry world where so-called leaders insulate themselves from everyone except other leaders of their same rank and place, true leadership, as opposed to simply holding a position with a leadership title, is rare.

Witness our latest Congressional debacle. Was there any leadership in it? None that I saw, not from either side. It was a pie-throwing contest in which the pie throwers absolutely did not care if anybody followed their so-called leadership.

In truth, no one can be more alienated from their “followers” that those who occupy positions of “leadership” in commerce, industry, politics, and yes, religion, in America today.

That, more than anything else, is why the whole world is responding to Pope Francis. He is reaching out to them, and they are responding by reaching back.

Pope Francis: Why He Leads The Way He Leads, analyzes Pope Francis’ leadership through the author’s knowledge of Jesuit formation and the Holy Father’s own biography. As such, it is a fascinating read for anyone who wants to learn more about our pope. It is also just plain good advice for those who want to lead other human beings.

I have a master’s degree in management, and I’ve spend 18 years of my life holding a leadership position in the public sphere. I have never seen a better book on how a true leader gets people to follow him or her.

It’s simple actually. Leadership is service. Leadership is about the people you want to lead, not you. True leadership begins with a foundation of personal character and segues into a focus on serving others.

What that means is building products, providing services, writing books, making movies, enacting laws, preaching sermons, repairing plumbing and planting crops that enrich and elevate the people who use your wares. In commerce, it means that if you build a better mousetrap, it will sell. In child-rearing, it means that if you spend time with your kids, they will flourish. In politics, it means that if you put the people first, the country will thrive. In faith, it means that if you reach out to people in love, as Pope Francis is doing, they will reach back.

The author makes a strong case that Pope Francis’ leadership style is heavily influenced by his Jesuit training. But I believe it is even more heavily influenced by that other hands-on leader — Jesus of Nazareth.

He, like the Pope, did not refuse to dine with sinners, to speak complex truths simply, to reach out to sinful people in ways that the more persnickety of the religious of His day found scandalizing.

Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads is an excellent analysis of our Holy Father’s leadership style. It provides insight into the origins of this pope’s thinking in a format that connects all this to our own leadership challenges in our workaday lives.

Pope Francis is more than just a rule-meister who issues guidelines like thunderbolts. He is a leader who gets down in the pits with the rest of us and leads by example and by inclusion.

This book makes that explicable. I highly recommend it.

Doctor Urged John Paul II’s Mother to Abort Him

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We owe a great deal to Emilia Kaczorowska. 

Emilia Kaczorowska is the mother of Blessed John Paul II. According to a new book, The Mother of the Pope, her doctor advised her to abort the future pope when she was pregnant with him. Evidently, she suffered from the after-affects of rheumatic fever, which often include damage to the heart valves. 

In the days before antibiotics, rheumatic fever was fairly common. Damage to the heart valves was treated mostly by bed rest and efforts not to strain the heart. Pregnancy, as anyone knows, puts a strain on the entire body. I would guess that this is what led the doctor to advise abortion to the pope’s mother. 

It almost certainly was not a trivial suggestion, and the possible consequences were extreme. It takes courage for anyone to risk their life for another person. That includes mothers who are willing to die for their children. 

Emilia Kaczorowska refused the doctor’s advice and gave birth to a baby boy that she and her husband named Karol. She survived the pregnancy, but died nine years later, leaving the little boy without a mother. I’ve often thought that Pope John Paul’s intense closeness to Our Lady may have begun with his longing for the earthly mother he lost when he was a little boy. 

Blessed John Paul II was a great pope. Among other things, his fearless stand for the sanctity of human life ennobled and empowered a worldwide resistance to the evils of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and the many ways in which humanity attacks the dignity and value of those who can’t fight back. 

Judging by his mother’s courageous determination to give him life, the apple did not fall far from the tree. 

From LifeNews.com:

A new report out today suggests Pope John Paul II’s mother rejected an abortion when pregnant with him.

Under the headline “Blessed John Paul II was in danger of not being born,” the Vatican Insider web site says the information was revealed by Milena Kindziuk in the book just came out.

The report suggests that the future Pope John Paul II was in danger of not being born because of the precarious state of health of his mother Emilia Kaczorowska. The book, “The Mother of the Pope,” indicates Emilia Kaczorowska, married in 1905 with Karol Wojtyla, the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, rejected an abortion.

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Convent Site of Possible Arson, Police Investigating Fire as a Hate Crime

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Police are treating a recent fire at the Daughters of Divine Charity community on Staten Island as a hate crime. One of the sisters is in intensive care, due to injuries as a result of this fire. 

The Daughters of Divine Charity web site describes the sisters’ work:

“We the Daughters of Divine Charity of Holy Family Province, make God’s love visible in the world by reaching out to those in need, especially to women, youth and the elderly.”

If you would like to help the sisters, you can find an address by following the links above. 

In addition to the story about the Staten Island fire, I’ve included a few other examples of vandalism directed at churches. This is a sample of the church vandalisms I found with a quick Google search.  I searched for attacks in the last week. It’s not meant to be exhaustive. 

.- A convent and chapel in New York City were the site this weekend of a suspicious fire, in which two nuns and four firefighters were injured.

Sister M. William McGovern, provincial superior of the Daughters of Divine Charity community on Staten Island, explained in an Oct. 12 press release that the fires were “a true tragedy.”
        
“The historic portion of our home – with our chapel, sacristy, archives and provincial offices was destroyed – and is now a crime scene.”

Early in the morning of Oct. 12, firefighters responded to fires at St. Joseph Hill Convent and Chapel. According to multiple local news sources, Sister Regina Gegic and another older sister were staying  in the building when the fire started, the former jumping from the second floor of the building to escape the flames.

Sister McGovern explained that Sister Gegic “is in intensive care at Staten Island University Hospital,” with injuries sustained from the fall. The other sister in the building at the time of the fire was not reported to have been harmed.

Other sisters in the order, including several visiting the United States for the 100th anniversary of the Daughters of Divine Charity’s presence in the United States, were staying in another building at the time, and were not harmed.

The fire is being investigated by the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

Jackson TN Eyewitness News 7:

JACKSON, Tenn. — For the third time in a few weeks, a church has been broken into and vandalized. 

Investigators say that on or around September 29, 2013, shortly after 10:30 a.m., deputies responded to a report of vandalism at Lebanon Methodist Church, located at 643 Tige Hopper Road, Jackson, TN. 

Police say that at approximately 8:45 a.m., the congregation observed several crosses hung upside down, the numbers “666” written in the Bible on the church altar. Also, craved on the church altar were the words “Smoke Meth & Hail Satan,” along with the number “666.” 

CARROLL COUNTY, Tenn.- Carroll County deputies are investigating after one West Tennessee church and cemetery were the target of vicious vandals. 

Cedar Grove residents said told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that the Old Palestine Church, a Christian place of worship has recently become a playground for vandals.Deputies said there is rumor that the church and cemetery are haunted, making it a target for trespassers who are drawn into investigate possible paranormal activity.Gail Carr who has several family members laid to rest in the cemetery, said almost every time she visits her loved ones she finds evidence of vandalism.

“It’s just unbelievable how could somebody come and destroy a cemetery it’s just unbelievable,” resident Gail Carr said.

Jim Thompson, the Old Palestine Cemetery groundskeeper, said he’s recently had trouble with people knocking over and breaking marked graves. Thompson said some of the headstones in the cemetery date back to the early 1800s. He said the sacred area has been attacked at least three times, destroying nearly 24 headstones. Some graves reportedly had marks stolen off of the property.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – An Okeechobee church became the target for vandals on Tuesday, causing about $20,000 worth of damage, according to Okeechobee Police.

The vandals ruined almost everything, but took nothing from The Pentecostals of Okeechobee

Church members say they were heading to a prayer service Tuesday night when water came pouring out of the doors.

One member spent hours cleaning the mess up on Wednesday. “I felt violated. I honestly didn’t feel safe, and when I come here I always feel safe.”

Reverend Raymond Warren says the vandals first clogged three sinks in the church and left the water running for hours.

They’ve had to pull up all the wood floors, and have to replace damp carpet. 

The vandals then went for the church’s cleaning supplies, and poured bleach on the chairs and carpet. They also knocked over an organ, and cut the cords attached to speakers and microphones. They also poured bleach on instruments.

“The laptop computer that was on the pulpit, they poured bleach in that,” pastor Warren said.

Whoever broke in, however, didn’t complete the damage without leaving a mark. Reverend Warren says residue left from a fire extinguisher that was sprayed in the church revealed footprints. He says the shoe size is an 11 1/2.

FRANKLIN TWP. — Nine statues at St. Mary’s Catholic Church were vandalized overnight when their heads were removed.

According to Diocese of Camden spokesman Peter Feuerherd, the vandalism occurred sometime in the early morning hours and has been reported to the Franklin Township Police Department and the church’s insurance company for possible repair.

The incident is under investigation and no motive has yet been determined.

“Obviously it’s something that is disturbing and something that is obviously the product of a twisted mind of some sort,” Feuerherd said.

With God, All Things Are Possible

Nick Vujicic‘s life is a testimony to a lot of things, including the love of God and what must be incredible parents. Of course, none of that would matter without the spirit of the man himself.

Watch and be blessed.

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It’s About Self-Respect

Trollop fashions are the antithesis of self-respect for young girls. It’s particularly significant that we push this stuff on even very young girls, including pre-schoolers. Every time I see an ad for a tv show about beauty pageants for girls under ten, I cringe.

This video approaches the issue from a different angle. I’m interested to see what your reactions to it will be.

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Pope Consecrates the World to Our Lord’s Mother

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Pope Francis consecrated the world to the care of our Lord’s mother today.

I remember that Pope John Paul II consecrated Russia to Our Lady, and the impossible happened. Russia quit the Communist fight without firing a shot.

No one in the secular world has ever acknowledged the miraculous nature of what happened. Instead, they try to explain it in terms of economics and such. In truth, it was unprecedented, and economics do not explain it. Nothing, except the miraculous intervention of Our Lady could have ended the Cold War so suddenly and peacefully.

So, my reaction to Pope Francis’ action today is that I hope Our Lady leads this world out of its self-made hells in the same way. This world needs a miracle.

You can read the Holy Father’s homily here.

This is the full text of Pope Francis’ prayer by which he consecrated the world to Our Lady today. I pray my personal prayer of consecration to Our Lady almost every morning. If you have made a similar consecration, today would be a good day to renew it.

From Zenit:

Holy Mary Virgin of Fatima,

with renewed gratitude for your maternal presence

we join our voice to that of all the generations

who call you blessed.

We celebrate in you the works of God,

who never tires of looking down with mercy

upon humanity, afflicted with the wound of sin,

to heal it and save it.

Accept with the benevolence of a Mother

the act of consecration that we perform today with confidence,

before this image of you that is so dear to us.

We are certain that each of us is precious in your eyes

and that nothing of all that lives in our hearts is unknown to you.

We let ourselves be touched by your most sweet regard

and we welcome the consoling caress of your smile.

Hold our life in your arms:

bless and strengthen every desire for good;

revive and nourish faith;

sustain and enlighten hope;

awaken and animate charity;

guide all of us along the path of holiness.

Teach us your own preferential love

for the little and the poor,

for the excluded and the suffering,

for sinners and the downhearted:

bring everyone under your protection

and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus.

Amen.

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]

Pope Francis: Let’s Not Do Business with the Devil

Pope Francis gave another one of his wonderful homilies this week. This one is on the devil, evil and Jesus’ triumph over both of them.

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Divorce, Catholic Divorce and Following Christ as Counter-Cultural Living

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Divorce is one of the plagues of modern America. It is the root cause of much of the misery of our modern life. The damage it does to our children and their children and their children’s children is incalculable. It is almost as if we have visited a social plague of Biblical proportions on ourselves with our disregard for marriage, home and family.

And we do disregard these things.

Social policy, especially as it pertains to how business activities are regulated, do not ever seem to consider the good the family. If you want to see what people really care about, look at what they serve. Judged by that standard, American government — and the American people as well — consistently put the Almighty dollar ahead of families, including, or perhaps most especially, children.

Divorce is a cause and a symptom of these values, as well as a result of them. In this way, we have created a divorce cycle that feeds on itself and appears to be endangering the survival of the institution of Holy Matrimony in the larger society. If we are heading toward a society where only certain groups of people maintain stable homes and families, there is no better place for one of those groups to form than among faithful Catholics.

It appears that the foundation for this sort of thing may already be in place.

According to a recent study by the Applied Research Apostolate at Georgetown University, Catholics divorce. In fact, Catholics divorce a lot. But compared to those other guys and gals out there, Catholics don’t divorce so much.

I suppose it’s a relief to learn that we’re not as prone as non-Catholics to steer our marriages — and our lives and our children’s lives — onto the rocks. In fact, I know it’s good news. The study shows that 28% of Catholics have been divorced at some time in their lives. I am assuming that this includes people who converted to Catholicism after they were divorced. If that’s true, the numbers for cradle Catholics might be even lower. Catholics who are married to other Catholics divorce at the slightly lower rate of 27%, so there may be something to that notion.

Protestants divorce at a rate of 39%, other faiths at 35% and people of no faith at 40%.

What this means is that, while we’re far from the point where we need to pop open the champagne and begin congratulating ourselves, we have a basis of solid Catholic families on which to build. Our ultimate goal should be the conversion of the larger society. But for now, I think it’s more than enough for us to look to ways to strengthen and build strong Catholic families which can raise children who will grow into productive and faithful adults.

I’ll talk about this more later, but we’re going to have to face the reality that our society is inimical to us and our values. If we want to live the true good life of stable homes that produce children who grow into equally stable adults, we face the necessity — not the choice, but the necessity — of pulling our families and our kids out of the cesspools of modern life.

We can no longer rely on the larger culture to be a safe place for our kids. And we certainly cannot rely on the larger culture to teach either us or them about what matters in life. Following Christ has always been counter-cultural. It was a scandal to the larger society from its beginning. In a very real way, we simply need to go back to our New Testament Gospel roots and live out our faith as the countercultural force it is and always has been.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- Recent studies on marriage show that while their rates of divorce are significant, U.S. Catholics are less likely to divorce than people of other religious affiliations.

“Although the Catholic ‘divorce rate’ is lower than the U.S. average it is still a daunting figure,” said the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

In a Sept. 26 blog post, the research group explained that divorce among Catholics “represents more than 11 million individuals,” many of whom “are likely in need of more outreach and ongoing ministry from the Church.”

In its article, the organization explained that different ways of tallying divorce and marriage rates create a range of different divorce figures, including the oft-quoted statistic that “half of all marriages fail.”

Looking at national surveys, “Catholics stand out with only 28 percent of the ever-married having divorced at some point,” the blog post stated, compared to more than 40 percent of those with no religious affiliation, 39 percent of Protestants and 35 percent of those of another religious faith.

Furthermore, Catholics who marry other Catholics are also less likely to divorce than Catholics married to people of other faiths.

A 2007 survey from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate estimates that only 27 percent of Catholics married to other Catholics have ever experienced divorce, compared to nearly half of Catholics married to Protestants or to spouses with no religious belief.

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


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