Ok. Let’s Talk Gun Control.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Ok. Let’s talk gun control.

I’m writing this post for one purpose. That purpose is to talk about what so many of you evidently need to talk about: Gun control. It’s a big issue for these times, one that isn’t going to go away. We really do need to discuss it at Public Catholic, at the intersection of faith and public life.

This post is an attempt to separate the discussion from the post I wrote about the tragedy in Charleston. Getting into the gritty stuff of political discussion on that post makes me a bit queasy. I react as if we’re engaging in the mud pie throwing of a political discussion at a funeral.

I’m going to delete the posts that are incoming over there. Please move them here.

Now. To gun control.

The issues are black and white to everyone, on both sides of the argument. As usually happens in this time of terminal personal self-righteousness and culture war, everyone thinks the people on the other side of the debate are unreasonable demagogues with the consciences of serial killers.

I think — for what my thinking is worth — that both sides are trying to deal with the intractable problem of evil, manifesting itself in human actions, without acknowledging that this is what they are dealing with.

I am personally opposed to limiting second amendment rights beyond a few reasonable legal codicils. As usual, I have the votes to prove it.

But that does not mean that I think that people who favor gun control are acting out of ignorance or a craven desire to limit American freedoms. I think that they are good people who are focusing on a different set of dangers than I am.

That is a key point in this discussion: Both sides of the debate are advocating a dangerous position, and both sides refuse to see that their position is in fact a dangerous one to take. There are no easy, harmless solutions to the problem of the human propensity to murder other humans.

Among the dangers inherent in gun control is that it is first of all a cavalier approach to limiting a basic Constitutional right. It ignores the increase in the reach of government power and oversight of Americans that would be involved in such a change in the laws.

America is not Europe or even Canada. We are a heavily armed people. Here in Oklahoma, just about every home has at least one gun and most homes have several. Most Okies not only have guns, they know how to use them. They do use them, for target practice and hunting.

I’m pretty sure that this same situation prevails throughout most of the South and the Southwest. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t also exist in other parts of the country, as well. The political realities of gun control legislation seem to indicate that there are a lot of Americans out there who keep and bear arms.

The bureaucratic measures of filling out forms and undergoing checks of various sorts that office holders keep proposing would not dent the gun violence and mass killings we’ve seen. Ideas about limiting access to ammunition have been floated. But the political realities of that idea are probably even more extreme than those for gun control.

Not only that, but a lot of Okies are perfectly capable of making their own bullets. They do it now, as a hobby. I imagine that’s true of other, non-Okie folks, as well.

Removal of guns, such as has happened in other countries, is where this argument has to go. That would result in draconian government intrusion into the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It would also be even less effective than Prohibition was. The resistance from the public is not something I want to contemplate. Not only that, but, once again, Okies are perfectly capable of making their own guns, as are a lot of other people, I’m sure.

We need to be careful about making criminals of law-abiding citizens as a means of getting at a few individuals who are in the grip of a killing fever that the rest of us can’t explain or understand.

Also, mass murder is not just a function of guns. Fertilizer and gasoline will make a bomb. You can kill many innocent people and maim many others with it. You can blow up big buildings and murder little children with it. Rwanda suffered a genocide that slaughtered hundreds of thousands in a short time with clubs and machetes.

We deny the power of human ingenuity if we seriously think that limiting access to a category of inanimate objects will stop these mass murders.

It is a simple historical fact that we did not suffer these repeated mass killings earlier in the history of this country. Guns were even more ubiquitous in our past, but the tragedy of one or two people randomly killing strangers, co-workers or fellow students for no apparent reason is a relatively recent phenomena.

It’s the people themselves who have changed. And this is a result of societal breakdown that evidently predicates toward the creation of psychopaths and rage killers.

This leads me to the dangers of opposing gun control. People are being killed. We know that what happened in Charleston has happened before. We know that it will happen again. And again.

We know, whether we will admit it or not, that it takes less time and is easier to pick up a gun than it is to build a bomb. It’s neater and cleaner to kill people with the squeeze of a forefinger on a trigger than it is to build a bomb, swing a club or wield a machete.

The trouble with this entire debate is that it is about inanimate objects which are only tools, rather than the tool wielders. I think this is because we do not want to face what we have wrought.

These killings are not about mental illness. Mentally ill people, like guns, have been with us long before these killings started. They are also not about poverty, or racism.

While one murderer may kill a school full of little Amish girls and another murders black people at a prayer meeting, their brothers in murder may decide to go on a military base and start shooting, or to their place of employment or even to the local McDonalds. They may, as I remarked earlier, build a bomb, put it in a truck and park the truck under a day care center.

The evil is not in the guns. The evil is not in the fertilizer. The evil is not in the truck.

The evil is in the young men who commit these murders. More to the point, the evil is in the society that built the young men.

The one constant is that the murderers are nearly all young men. Most of them are from privileged backgrounds. They are not hungry, battered, sexually molested or on drugs. We say they are mentally ill, and some of them may be. But others clearly are not. All of them have sufficient wits to plan and commit what are fairly complicated acts of mass murder.

This problem we are dealing with is a symptom of a larger societal sickness. And that is what we don’t want to face.

The entire gun control debate is ruse of sorts that lets us believe in the lie of simple solutions and one-off fixes. Focusing on gun control allows us the luxury of avoiding the deeper discussions of what has gone wrong in our society that, after around 150 years of gun ownership without these mass murders, has been plunged into the hell of seeing them happen over and over again.

That discussion, which would take us into the subterranean world of the things we dare not say, is one that we are willing to accept mass murder and maybe even give up our freedoms to avoid.

But it is the only discussion that has a hope of yielding ideas which might actually address the problem.

 

 

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You Can Read the Text of Pope Francis’ Comments about Arms Dealers Here

World War II ammo Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Moyan Brenn  https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/

World War II ammo Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Moyan Brenn https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/

Public Catholic reader JoAnna Wahlund shared that Zenit has published the full text of Pope Francis’ remarks about arms dealers, etc. You can read it here.

Here are the paragraphs that caused the kerfuffle:

It makes me think one thing: people, leaders, entrepreneurs that call themselves Christians, and produce arms! This gives some mistrust: they call themselves Christians! “No, no, Father, I don’t produce them, no, no …. I only have my savings, my investments in arms factories.” Ah! And why? “Because the interest is somewhat higher …” And a double face is also a current coin today: to say something and do another. Hypocrisy …l But let’s see what happened in the last century: in ’14, ’15, in ’15 in fact. There was that great tragedy in Armenia. So many died. I don’t know the figure: more than a million certainly. But where were the great powers of the time? Were they looking elsewhere? Why? Because they were interested in war: their war! And those that died were persons, second class human beings. Then, in the 30s and 40s the tragedy of the Shoah. The great powers had photographs of the railroad lines that took trains to the concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, to kill the Jews, and also Christians, also the Roma, also homosexuals, to kill them there. But tell me, why didn’t they bomb that? Interest! And shortly after, almost contemporaneously, were the lager in Russia: Stalin … How many Christians suffered, were killed! The great powers divided Europe among themselves as a cake. So many years had to pass before arriving at “certain” freedom. It’s that hypocrisy of speaking of peace and producing arms, and even selling arms to this one who is at war with that one, and to that one who is at war with this one!

I understand what you say about mistrust in life, also today when we are living in the throwaway culture, because whatever is not of economic usefulness is discarded. Children are disposed of, because they are not developed or because they are killed before they are born; the elderly are disposed of, because they are not useful or are left there, to die, a sort of hidden euthanasia, and they are not helped to live; and now young people are disposed of: think of that 40% of young people who are without work. It is in fact a rejection! But why? Why are man and woman not at the center of the global economic system, as God wants, but the god of money. And everything is done for money.

Notice that the pope condemns abortion, euthanasia, joblessness, disposable culture and genocide. A critic would have to be reaching quite a bit to get into a huff because he didn’t mention sex trafficking. That’s especially true when you consider that Pope Francis has spoken many times against the evils of human trafficking and sex trafficking.

For a more thorough discussion, go to Pope Francis Condemns Arms Dealers, Duh. 

By the way, the differences between what the Pope said and what I was able to piece together (with the best intentions in the world) are a good example of why I recommend reading original sources.

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Pope Francis Condemns Arms Dealers. Duh.

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Deal Hudson is all agog because Pope Francis had the temerity to condemn international arms dealers who are providing the weapons that enable groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS to engage in their mass slaughter.

Mr Hudson doesn’t understand why the pope didn’t slam sex traffickers in this same speech. He’s even more flummoxed because the Holy Father has famously said “who am I to judge” about homosexuals who are repentant and doing their best to follow Christ.

Mr Hudson has a long political past, and I believe that he was speaking from that political viewpoint when he wrote his article. He was “outreach adviser” to the Catholic Church for President George W Bush’s presidential campaigns. What this means is that his job was helping the president gain votes from Catholic voters.

According to Wikipedia, “Since 2000, Hudson’s chief political activity has been to help organize the Catholic vote in support of conservative and Republican candidates.”

I think that’s relevant in terms of Mr Hudson’s reaction to Pope Francis’ remarks. Mr Hudson has a public history of viewing the teachings given to us by the popes in light of how they will “play” in electoral battles for power. It was his job to assess the Church as a political power base and come up with ways to use its teachings to craft political spin that would gain votes for one particular political viewpoint.

What that means is that he has a background of ignoring the moral implications of the teachings of the Church and analyzing them in terms of how this or that teaching can be used to gain votes. In order to do his job as a campaign adviser, he had to turn off the moral reflection on what these teachings meant to him as a Catholic and look at them through the absolutely amoral prism of power politics.

I do not say that as a condemnation of Mr Hudson. It is simply the nature of what his job was. He was a political operative.

I view Mr Hudson’s comments about Pope Francis’ condemnation of arms dealers in light of that understanding. In other words, I think they are politically motivated. Mr Hudson is not alone in this. He’s been joined by other defenders of the weapons manufacturing industry, all of them kicking the pope for saying the obvious.

I haven’t been able to find the text of Pope Francis’ remarks (Public Catholic reader JoAnna gave me a link to the speech. You can read it here.) so I’m forced to do as Mr Hudson does with his article and extrapolate from secondary sources. That’s always risky business.

For that reason, I went back and looked at earlier statements Pope Francis has made on this same subject. It turns out that his comments about arms dealers are not a new direction in his thinking. He has condemned arms dealers several times in the past two years, particularly those who sell arms to the likes of Boko Haram. He said this a year ago:

Apparently reacting to current acts of terrorism being perpetrated by the Boko Haram sects in north-eastern parts of Nigeria, Pope Francis early Thursday condemned all acts of terrorism, kidnapping and arms proliferation.

The Pope described the menace as “absurd contradiction” between the international community’s calls for peace, the proliferation of the global arms trade and the lack of attention to the suffering of refugees.

“Everyone talks about peace, everyone says they want it but unfortunately the proliferation of all types of arms is leading us in the opposite direction,” Francis told a group of new ambassadors to the Holy See.

At another time, he decried the power of the weapons’ industry’s lobbyists in government and the largesse they use to buy influence and coddle those who do their bidding, saying,

“And if you want,” he continued, “think of the great dining halls, of the parties thrown by the bosses of the weapons industry that makes the arms that wind up (in those camps). A sick child, starving, in a refugee camp — and the great parties, the fine life for those who manufacture weapons.”

Each of these previous comments were made in the context of the on-going bloodbath in the Middle East. The Holy Father made his comments yesterday in that same context. He made them as he was preparing to leave for a dangerous trip to that region of world.

Does that mean that Pope Francis intends for his condemnation of war profiteers to be limited to this one conflict in that one region of the world? No. When he says that these people are “so-called Christians,” that’s an obvious statement of moral teaching from a man who is the moral teacher for 1.2 billion Catholics .

Frankly, my reaction to his statement is … duh.

Does anyone seriously expect that the Vicar of Christ is going to support arms dealing and war profiteering? Are you going to jump in there and join with those attacking the Pope and defend arms dealing and war profiteering yourself?

It’s easier to understand the Pope’s point if we consider another set of comments he made. At some point — I’m not able to figure out if this was all in one homily or at two different times — he also condemned the Allied bombing runs in World War II for not bombing the train tracks over which people were taken to the Nazi death camps. This is the quote:

He spoke of the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century – though he did not use the word – and of the failure of the Allied forces to stop the Nazi genocide programme. “The great powers had photographs of the railways that brought trains to concentration camps, to Auschwitz, to kill Jews, Christians, Gypsies, homosexuals.

“But tell me, why didn’t they bomb them?” he asked. “The great powers, they divided Europe like a cake.”

Now, how does that jibe with his condemnation of arms dealers?

I think it simply means this: Weapons are objects. They are things. They have no souls. They do not think. They are tools we make. They can be used for self-defense, to hunt for food, for recreational target practice and for cold blooded murder of innocents.

The failure to bomb those tracks was a failure to use the weapons of war to save lives.

That does not, as Mr Hudson implies, smear the men and women in uniform who give their lives to fight these wars. We pray the Centurion’s prayer at mass. Jesus did not condemn this soldier. He praised him for his faith.

It would seem to me that this conflating of these two things — a condemnation of the refusal to use arms to save lives, and a condemnation of international arms traders — tells the story.

The people who are fighting ISIS are also using weapons. But they are using them in self-defense. The war against the Nazis was a war to save civilization. I think the war against ISIS is also a war to save civilization.

That is a vast oversimplification, I know. There is a danger in trying to judge between wars and labeling one side moral and the other amoral. The danger is that we all tend to see “our side” as the moral one. That can lead to justification of any war, any where, against anybody.

There are also a number of great dangers in an economy that is built on arms manufacturing, as the American economy has become. But that is beyond the scope of this post.

Finally, Pope Francis evidently also encouraged his audience to not place their trust in politicians.

Again, I say … duh.

Here is what he said:

“One day everything comes to an end and they will be held accountable to God,” he said.

In his Turin address to young people he also warned against putting too much trust in politicians, saying: “In Europe there is war, in Africa there is war, in Asia there is war. But can I have trust in a world like this? Can I trust the world’s managers?

“When I go to give my vote for a candidate, can I trust that they will not bring my country to war? If you put trust only in people, you lose.”

It’s no wonder that Mr Hudson is so upset with Pope Francis. The Holy Father is challenging Catholics to follow Christ instead of politics. He is directly opposing the political heresy that Mr Hudson served so ably during his time in politics.

Not only that, but he’s going against the biggest pork barrel around: The arms industry. He’s calling foul on the practice of selling weapons of war to mass murderers. He’s saying that you can’t serve both God and mammon.

Somebody else said that a couple of thousand of years ago and He got in big trouble for it.

Pope Francis is cracking apart the political heresy. Those who make their livings by it are responding by calling him everything but the Vicar of Christ.

Who’s going to win this argument?

The pope.

The Catholic Church has been attacked by governments, powers, armies, and now pundits, for 2,000 years. It has suffered loss and peril. But it has always prevailed.

 

For a different look at this discussion, check out Jennifer Fitz, and Father Dwight Longenecker.

 

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House Undoes What it Did and Passes Fast Track on Pacific Trade Bill

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

You just can’t get Congress to be Congress anymore.

A few days after the United States House of Representatives denied President Obama sweeping powers to put through the Pacific trade deal, it reversed itself and passed fast track in a separate piece of legislation.

I know this sounds cynical, but that lets the good Congresspeople claim that they voted with whoever they are talking to on this measure. If they are talking to those who favor the Pacific trade agreement, then they point to this vote. If they are talking to people who want to preserve American jobs, they can point to last week’s vote.

If an opponent in a re-election campaign attacks them for backing the Pacific trade bill (when they’re talking to We the People, they almost always have to deny supporting this thing) they can call them a liar and say they voted to stop fast track.

When they go to the corporatists with their hands out for campaign money, all they gotta do is explain that they were forced to vote against fast track in the first vote because the rubes in their district demanded it. But they made good on their real campaign promises to the money men with the second vote.

It will work. It always does.

From The Hill:

The House on Thursday took the first step toward resuscitating the White House’s trade agenda by passing legislation granting President Obama fast-track authority.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where the White House and GOP leaders are seeking to strike a deal with pro-trade Democrats.

The House vote was 218-208, with 28 Democrats voting for it.

This is the second time in a week the House has voted to approve the controversial fast-track bill. On Friday, the House voted 219-211 in favor of fast-track, which would make it easier for Obama to complete a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.

In last week’s vote, the House GOP paired the fast-track bill with a measure known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that gives aid to workers displaced by trade. Both measures needed to be approved in separate votes for the entire package to move forward.

House Democrats have historically favored TAA, but they voted against it on Friday to kill fast-track, which is deeply opposed by unions and other liberal groups.

The White House still wants both measures to reach Obama’s desk, but is now advancing a different strategy that would see the two bills move separately.

 

 

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Fourteen Things Laudato Si Says. Nine Things It Does Not Say.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

I’m pretty sure that most of the people who’ve been snarling and sniping about Pope Francis’ latest encyclical have not read it.

The reason I say that is that they are angry — purple in the face, hissing and spitting angry — about things it does not say. They are also angry about things they claim it doesn’t say that it in fact does.

Laudato Si has a simple underlying argument. Pope Francis reasons that our spiritual bankruptcy has led us into destroying our earth, along with destroying ourselves. He teaches that the loss of respect for the human through our attacks on the sanctity of human life have led us into an extreme individualism that has in turn led us to a destructive relativism.

This shallow and meretricious outlook on life has caused us to befoul and slime our own nest, our home, which is this planet Earth.

Our financial, economic, social and political institutions, all of which should serve the common good, now operate only for their own immediate competitive success, without the element of moral responsibility on the part of those who control them. This deforms human life on a mass scale and leads to the destruction of the planet on which we live.

He calls this destruction of human value and human community a destruction of the human ecology. His teaching is that the human ecology and the natural ecology are linked and interwoven, as they must be if human beings have dominion over the earth.

Laudato Si states at one point that the decision of whether or not to leave a dead planet to future generations is ours to make.

Media pundits have used false claims about what Laudato Si says to get gullible people worked up into a hysteria.

Here are 9 things that Laudato Si does not say, but that people have been told it does.

1. Laudato Si does not attack the free enterprise system.

2. Laudato Si does not advocate Marxism. (This would be laughable except that foolish people keep falling for it.)

3. Laudato Si does not advocate socialism.

4. Laudato Si does not support population control.

5. Laudato Si does not support abortion.

6. Laudato Si does not support contraception.

7. Laudato Si does not support a global tyranny of nutty “greenies” who would take away all our freedoms.

8. Laudato Si does not support doing away with private property.

9. Laudato Si does not recommend specific legislation or reforms.

Here are 14 things Laudato Si does say

1. Laudato Si recommends support for forming small businesses on a global scale.

2. Laudato Si directly links disregard for the environment with the cheapening of human life caused by abortion, saying that when human life becomes conditional, nothing else is protected either.

3. Laudato Si specifically condemns the idea that population control is the way to “save the environment.”

4. Laudato Si specifically condemns business practices which ignore human rights and encourage human trafficking, drug trafficking, disruption of populations, seizure of individual’s property and wars for profit. It also condemns embryonic stem cell research and attempting to destroy the complimentarity between men and women.

5. Laudato Si calls for respect for local cultures and economic reforms which take the common good and human life into consideration.

6. Laudato Si says that all of life is interrelated and that human beings, as stewards of the earth have a grave responsibility to care for it.

7. Laudato Si condemns the out-sized consumption of goods by some parts of the world (ouch) which leads to impoverishment of people in other parts of the world. It calls us to look beyond consumerism to God to fill the emptiness of our lives.

8. Laudato Si says that access to life-giving water is a human right.

9. Laudato Si says that technology, if we use it incorrectly, can isolate and divide us.

10. Laudato Si condemns keeping poor people under a load of debt that makes it impossible for them to build lives for themselves.

11. Laudato Si exhorts us to develop solutions for housing crises which leave so many people homeless.

12. Laudato Si emphasizes the kinship and value of every living being. It also condemns extreme animal rights advocates who place greater value on animal life than human life and who would create a false tyranny with their ideologies.

13. Laudato Si calls for reforms of corruption in our financial systems.

14. Laudato Si says that the evidence for global warming comes from reputable scientific sources.

 

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Laudato Si is Pope Francis’ Rerum Novarum, or No Wonder Rush Limbaugh Hates the Pope.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/


Make no mistake about it. Laudato Si is not a wimpy, tip-toe-around-and-don’t-offend-anybody encyclical. It’s a throw-the-money-changers out of the Temple revolution of an encyclical.

No wonder Rush Limbaugh hates this pope.

A lot of you are going to find yourself challenged by Laudato Si, precisely because Pope Francis does not give you the option of ignoring what he’s saying. You can decide to go against the pope. Or you can decide to walk with him.

But you can’t pretend he didn’t say what he said.

Pope Francis comes right out and says that global warming — along with a lot of other things — is leading us to a dark future. He points out the spiritual hollowness a society whose chief goal is to blindly consume, and whose community has dwindled to the internet. He says that access to life-sustaining water is a human right, and blasts corporatist control of the earth’s riches to the destruction of the poor.

This is a long Encyclical and unpacking it will take a while. But here is my first thought about it. It is a thought based on a memory and a historical fact.

The memory is of a conversation I had with a friend over a decade ago. My friend and I were talking about the universal sins of each time in history, sins that the people of that time are blind to. What we meant was that when a behavior is universally accepted and no one questions it, even great sins can pass unnoticed by the people committing them. Racism was once such a sin here in America.

Later generations often look back and are appalled by the cruelty and ignorance of their forebears. But they are committing their own sins of cultural blindness, even while they express their disdain for their forebears.

I remarked that I thought that one of the things about which future generations would look back at our time and ask “Why didn’t you do something? Were you blind?” was going to be the environment. If we bequeath a ruined earth to our grandchildren, what will they think of us?

The second thing I want to base my reaction on is a historical fact. That fact is simple. The Popes of the 1930s and 1940s did not issue an encyclical against the Nazis. An encyclical was drafted, and from what I’ve read of it, it was a strong and powerful document.

If that encyclical had been issued instead of shoved in a drawer, the many questions about what the Church did during those dark times would have a clear and compelling moral answer. I believe without doubt that if that encyclical had been issued, all of history since 1930 would be different.

Would the encyclical have stopped Hitler? Probably not. But it would have fueled the resistance to his evils by faithful Catholics. It would have either silenced the go-along German bishops who have become the shame of the Church or it would have exposed them for the anti-Christs that they were. It would have strengthened and ennobled the moral and prophetic voice of the Church for all time.

The failure to issue that encyclical was such an appalling failure of the Church that all of Christianity has been paying for it ever since.

Seen in the light of that memory and that history, I can say without equivocation that I am glad beyond glad that Pope Francis has taken the historic step of issuing this encyclical. I know that it is will unsettle a lot of Catholics who have up until now felt comfortable in their political fealties. I know that is painful. Believe me, I’ve been through such pain myself. In fact, I feel a bit of that pain with Laudato Si.

But it is necessary. Among other things, Pope Francis puts down the corporatist-created heresy that our followership of Jesus Christ stops where commerce begins.

Both the right wing and the left wing of our political spectrum want the Church to shut up and go along where their particular sins are concerned. They both claim, each with their own language, that when it comes to their sins, Jesus Christ is irrelevant.

They are both self-serving liars.

By writing this encyclical in such bold terms Pope Francis demonstrates what Hitler managed to keep an earlier pope from demonstrating: That Jesus Christ  is the Lord of all life and that He is never irrelevant, no matter the topic of conversation.

Now, to get to the touchy matter of global warming. What to do with a Pope who does not equivocate when he says that reputable science shows that global warming is, in fact, happening?

First, the Pope does not say this as a matter of morality. He bases his statement on what he terms reputable scientific studies. I am not advocating that anyone drop kick the pope’s opinion on this in favor of Rush Limbaugh’s.

Pope Francis has a scientific background, and more to the point, he has nothing to gain and lot of to lose by making this statement. The talking heads of the world are highly paid mouthpieces who get their money from the people who benefit financially by the public not believing in global warming.

If I had to pick who to believe, it would be Pope Francis without any question. The vicious and totally untrue attacks on Pope Francis’ good name by the minions of the right have convinced me that nothing they have to say about the Catholic Church or our Holy Father is worth hearing. I think they’re all about the money. Their own money.

What Pope Francis does say as a matter of morality is that we have a responsibility to the earth, to all lifeforms and to the poor. This is sound Christian theology. It is the historic understanding of our call as Christians as regards these matters.

We can think — and by that I mean think, not be led around by pundit pied pipers who slander and slime the pope –and let think on matters of scientific investigation. We do have an obligation to think and not just repeat one-sided arguments that are designed to induce us to allow ourselves to be used.

It is important to the max to listen and read widely about an issue as contentious as this. I say that because it is a grave issue. The wanton destruction of entire species and ecosystems, the loss of breathable air and drinkable water, the unnecessary deaths of millions of people to preventable illnesses that are caused by pollution, starvation and thirst are, all of them, intrinsic evils. The rape of the earth is a violation of our first compact with God to have dominion over creation.

We have, as Christians always do, the freedom to think and let think on the particulars of the science of these matters. But we have an absolute moral obligation to approach the question with integrity instead of political sloganeering, from a vantage of concern for the common good, the welfare of the least of these and the provision of a hope and future for the generations who come after us.

We are Christians and we are called to more than to live only for ourselves with no regard for anyone or anything else in all of creation or in the future.

This is my first blush impression of Laudato Si.

I’m going to read it carefully and write about it extensively. I think we may be in the presence of an encyclical as important as Rerum Novarum.

Make no mistake about it folks. Pope Francis is kind, approachable and unassuming. But he is not a wimp.

 

For other thoughts on the Encyclical, read All of Our Sin, All of Our Hatred, on Trial by the Anchoress,  Reading Francis Through Francis by Kate O’Hare, So Much to Say, So Much to Learn by Kathy Schiffer, Should You Read Laudato Si? by Simcha Fisher, Patriarch Barthelomew on the Encyclical: We Count it a True Blessing, by Deacon Greg Kandra, The Pearl of Great Price by Mark Shea, 3 Sources to Understanding Pope Francis’ Encyclical by Pia Solenni, Laudato Si, Hold Your Breath, Make a Wish, Count to Three by Tom McDonald, Why is THIS Missing from Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical? by Dr Greg Popcak.

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You Can Find the Real Encyclical HERE

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

If you want a copy of the Encyclical, Laudato Si, go here.

My attorney colleague Tom Zampino has already found the answer to the question a lot of Catholics were asking. Pope Francis blasts abortion, population control in new encyclical, he tells us.

It’s important for those of us here at Patheos Catholic to give you that fact, since the media is likely to ignore it and go off chasing after whatever verbiage they can pull out of context to support their various agendas.

Remember: What you read in any of the five places I list here will almost certainly be propaganda. It won’t be designed to inform. It will be designed to support agendas which have nothing to do with Our Lord, and which most like are antithetical to the Kingdom.

Now, I’m going to have my breakfast and settle down to read this encyclical. I’ll skim it before I read in depth to give you  that first blush impression I promised. Then, I’ll probably break my analysis down into several posts.

Rejoice and be glad people. This is the day the Lord has made.

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5 Groups of People to Ignore When They Talk About the Encyclical

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by squidish Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by squidish Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

By their agendas you shall know them.

In our agenda-laden society, you can almost write the scripts ahead of time for certain groups’ reactions to Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment. In fact, you could have written what they are going to say six months ago, or a year ago.

Stretching it a bit further, I think you could have predicted how most of these people would have responded to this situation 10 years ago.

These are people who don’t have to read the Encyclical to know what they think of it, because they aren’t paid to think. They make their $$ by following a party line and spitting that party line out on command. They have no part in informing the rest of us, even though they may be working for what claims to be a news organization.

Their jobs are to shape our views by the use of propaganda, not to inform us so that we can come to our own conclusions.

These are good people to ignore. One of my goals here at Public Catholic is to help you see through these propaganda machines and think for yourselves.

Here are 5 of these groups to ignore on the subject of the Encyclical, or indeed on most any serious topic.

1. Anyone who makes their $$ selling a political viewpoint to the detriment of the truth and common decency. This group includes the Rush Limbaughs, Rachel Maddows, Michael Savages and other crazy means of the media. Don’t look to any of them for a factual or even slightly accurate rundown on the Encyclical. If you can’t predict what they’re going to say before they even read the Encyclical, you probably don’t know who they are, anyway.

2. Anyone who makes their $$$ by bashing Christians, Catholics in particular. This includes almost all atheist bloggers. Again, you can predict what they’re going to say before they read the Encyclical. If they make their money trading on Christian bashing and anti-Catholic bigotry, their opinions shouldn’t matter to you.

3. Politicians of either party who are currently raising large amounts of $$ for a political campaign. These folks will dance to the tune of whoever gives them the money to win their election. Each political party has its favorite watering troughs, but unknown to most voters, both political parties also go to the same troughs for a lot of their $. That’s because buying government is so cheap compared to the payback that it’s good money well spent to just buy everybody. None of these people will speak with authenticity and personal integrity about this Encyclical. Not one of them.

4. Catholics who hate the Church. Sadly, there are groups of Catholics out there who can not say a good word about our Church. I don’t now what’s wrong with them. But I think they are so angry and full of rage that their opinions can not be taken seriously.

5. People who just repeat words like Marxist without the first clue what they mean. Also people who repeat things they’ve heard from numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 in a monkey see, monkey do fashion. They simply have nothing to contribute to the discussion since, for whatever reason, they have chosen not to engage their brains.

 

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I’m Not Going to Rush Out There With a Verdict on the Encyclical Tomorrow.

I know, I know.

Everybody and his dog is going to jump right over the starting gate and make absolute pronouncements about the Encyclical tomorrow. Some folks are even promising to tweet their responses as they read; kind of like taking their own mental pulse every few minutes and tossing the numbers out there on the internet.

Not me.

I am not Everybody, much less his dog.

I’ll try to give you a smallish, first blush look at what I think, but it’s a long read and a longer ponder before I will be able to say with any intelligence what I believe the encyclical really means.

I expect that this will leave me in the corral still trying to saddle up when the wagon train pulls out of town and heads for Dodge. I also expect that a good number of you are going to be whipped to a frazzle by all the bizarro, politically-motivated sewage, both from the left and the right, that will be dumped on your little heads.

My advice — and I say this as someone who values and respects your thinking processes — is to hold onto yourself and not let the incoming tsunami of off-the-cuff verbiage drown your brain. For sure and for certain, don’t let it damage your faith.

Pope Francis is not going to come out with anything that contradicts 2,000 years of Church teaching, and he is not going to turn his back on the Church’s stand for the sanctity of human life and the value of every human being.

Far from it.

I fully expect that this encyclical will affirm the sanctity of human life and the value of human beings as they relate to the charge that God gave us to have dominion over creation. It may not go down well with our politics. I may have as much trouble accepting all of it as some of the rest of you.

But I can assure that I will accept it.

Pope Francis is the pope. I will try to understand his teachings, and I will seek to apply them in my life within the limits of my own experiences and abilities. Other faithful Catholics will do the same, and that will lead us into legitimate areas of discussion and disagreement. But we must – must – begin at the point of our common faith and our common acceptance of the teaching authority of the pope and our Church.

Thinking my way through the encyclical will not be done in a day. But I can promise you that I will do it prayerfully and with an understanding that I follow the Catholic Church and the pope.

Tomorrow is Encyclical Day.

Fasten your seatbelts. The nuts are going to be driving the commentary vehicle for a while.

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Cafeteria Catholics Wear Red as Well as Blue

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

It was a rout.

They knocked one another down, running away from Him.

The temple guards tried to catch John Mark by grabbing his clothes. When his clothes tore lose, Mark ran away naked into the night like a panicked bunny rabbit.

A few days before, John and James had been arguing over who would sit at the places of honor in His Kingdom.

Now, they ran.

It was ignominious defeat, an end to all their boasting and bragging about their great loyalty.

Jesus has suffered many Gethsemanes since that night, many times when His followers ran from Him and straight into the maw of the world. People stampede the same as a herd of cattle. When they are panicked, they will run right over a cliff and to their destruction.

We are the weakest of followers for a Heavenly King. The question isn’t why we choose Him. The question is why He chooses us.

Given our behavior, that question is so confounding that only one answer is possible. That answer is love. He loves us, and love makes all things right, even our tawdry behavior.

The disciples ran that night because they were panicked, afraid for their lives. They also ran because, as Jesus told them, This is satan’s hour. 

But satan doesn’t have just one hour. His taunts and beguilements are an ever-renewing source of spite, hate, malice and lies. This time in which we live is every bit as much satan’s hour as that night in the garden.

Satan will use any doorway into us, including what we think of as our faithfulness to Him. One clear sign that we can use to discern that we are on the wrong path is when we begin to base our righteousness on the sins of other people.

That is the first sin of cafeteria Catholics, of the red and the blue, the left and right. They are forever attacking one another and claiming righteousness for themselves based on the sins of the other.

Cafeteria Catholics of the left claim, often rightfully, that those on the right ignore the cries of the poor, that their economic policies concentrate wealth in a few hands and impoverish all others. They are accurate when they say that this is not free enterprise, because it isn’t. It is corporate fascism, the corporatism that has been consistently condemned by every recent pope.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right claim, often rightfully, that those on the left attack the human, that they seek to destroy the very foundations of civilization with their destructive nihilism. Abortion, gay marriage, mutilating surgeries used on mentally ill people, euthanasia, egg harvesting, porn; these are the crimes of the left.

Both groups condemn the pope and the Church for violating the “teachings” of their side. The Pope is a sign of contradiction to this world. Cafeteria Catholics of both the right and left react violently when the Holy Father’s teachings contradict and lay bare their own departures from following Christ.

They don’t respond to this revelation that they are walking outside the faith with humility and a desire to change. They don’t even do as I often do when the Pope’s teachings contradict my shibboleths, by twisting and turning, arguing and complaining, before I ultimately give in and follow.

Hardened cafeteria Catholics respond to the teachings from the pope that contradict their politics by going into spittle-throwing, self-righteous rages. They attack and defame the pope himself for calling them to a conversion they do not want to make.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right have, for many years, condemned and excoriated anyone who departed from what they termed obedience to the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church.  Their brittle self-righteousness in condemning everyone who departed from their standard of faithfulness has driven many people from the Church, turned people away from Christ.

It was not their faithfulness that drove people away. It was their self-righteousness, their ugly use of the Church as a club to beat their political opponents over the head.

But when the pope, this Pope, dares to teach the truth about corporate fascism, they turn hard about 180 degrees and attack the Church, and the Holy Father themselves. I have deleted the most appalling comments about Pope Francis in the past 24 hours, comments that come from the pit of spiritual death.

That, of course, is nothing new. I delete appalling comments about the pope and the Church almost every day.

Cafeteria Catholics on the left chime in on a regular basis, letting me know that the Church has failed to live up to their self-righteous standards, as well. The Church, they say, is cruel and has no compassion because it “condemns” the sick and elderly to suffering when a good dose of poison would end it for them.

The Church is cruel because, while it admits anyone, including homosexuals, it will not tell homosexuals that their sins are not sins.

The Church supposedly hates women because it will not support them in killing their children with abortion.

Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, the red and the blue, abandon the Church founded by Christ the Lord to bend their knee and give their loyalty to the false gods of this world. Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, seek to limit the Church’s teaching to areas that goad the other guy’s ox and not theirs.

Jesus Christ doesn’t mean all that much to either side. They will abandon Him on behalf of their political philosophies anytime. Any time at all.

They do not follow the Vicar of Christ. They follow the pundits and talking heads who taught them this false gospel of self-righteousness and condemnation of others in the first place. They are comfortable in their mushy wallows of false doctrine and self-congratulation. They like pointing the finger at the other guy and declaring that he is not faithful, while, they proclaim, they themselves are absolutely faithful.

Left wing cafeteria Catholics loved to attack Pope Benedict XVI. They piled onto Pope John Paul II. But they’ve decided to patronize Pope Francis by misinterpreting what he says to fit their politics. They are attempting what the right wing accomplished by doing the same thing with the teachings of the earlier popes: Self deification.

Right wing cafeteria Catholics breathe fire at Pope Francis. I’ve deleted comments from them that say outrageous things about him. This is especially poignant, coming as it does from people who have long based their claims to righteousness on their faithfulness to the teachings of the Church.

In truth, neither group of cafeteria Catholics is looking for leadership from the Pope. What they both want is validation of their sins. That, and holy verbiage they can use to condemn their enemies in the wars of this world.

They aren’t looking for redemption and forgiveness. They have no use for salvation that comes at the price of a cross. They have convinced themselves that they don’t need it.

They are so certain of their theological omniscience that they lecture the pope on Church teaching. They are so proud of their righteousness that they use themselves for the measure by which they judge what is right and what is wrong.

Cafeteria Catholics are exactly like the political movements they have made the lords of their lives. The only difference is that the puppet masters at the top of these movements know what they are doing. They got their 30 pieces of silver.

Their followers down below do not have the respect of those on top these movements. These hapless souls who’ve sold their birthright for a bowl of pundit porridge are just things to be used by those they follow.

Do not run away from the Lord of all life. Do not feed your salvation to the dogs of this world.

The simplest way to know that you are following Christ is to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. Scripture tells us to Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. 

I would make that more explicit. I would say trust the Vicar of Christ and do not follow the pied pipers of the media and the internet to your own destruction.

Save. Your. Soul.

Turn your back on the death-dealing philosophies of this world, whether they are from the right or the left.

Choose Christ.

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