Holy Week, March for Marriage and Two Days with the Supremes

Priests processing for chrism mass

Priests processing for Chrism Mass

This is Holy Week.

It is also the week in which the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on Proposition 8 and DOMA. The potential is there for a major change in the way American law defines marriage. This could have far-reaching effects which none of us can predict for foresee.

What better week to issue a call to prayer than Holy Week? Tuesday is the day we have the Chrism Mass. Priests renew their vows at this mass and the holy oils which will be used throughout the upcoming year are blessed. It’s a beautiful mass and I urge anyone who can to attend.

Blessing of the oil

Blessing the oil

History is coming at us so fast it’s hard to keep up. But we need to remember that this week, above all weeks, is a time for extra prayer and penance. I don’t want to make too much of it, but it seems poignant that so many points of history are converging on this one week. Proponents of traditional marriage are also staging a march in Washington, DC on Tuesday. 

The cross, which defines this week and the life of the world, is not just a point of history. It is history. The cross is the fulcrum of all history. There was the world before the cross and the world after it, which is to say that there was the world without hope and the world without despair.  Despair is impossible to anyone who understands the power of the cross.

We suffer in this life. We experience loss, setbacks, pain, loneliness, failure and grief. But we are never without hope because our hope is in the One who died for us on Calvary.

We need to pray this week, and not just for ourselves and our families, but for all the world that this light of Christ will shine in the darkness of the human heart everywhere.

This article, by our brothers and sisters at The Baptist Press, has details of the upcoming arguments before the Supreme Court:

NASHVILLE (BP) — On Tuesday and Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases regarding the issue of same-sex marriage. Few issues rise to this level of importance. 

These two cases will do much to answer the question for how marriage is going to be viewed in the United States for the foreseeable future. On Tuesday, the court will hear arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop. 8). In this case, the court is being asked to decide the fate of Proposition 8 in California. At stake is whether or not the people of California can define marriage in their constitution as only the union of one man and one woman. In a worst-case scenario in deciding Hollingsworth, the court could rule unconstitutional the definition of marriage as only the union of one man and one woman, repudiating two and a quarter centuries of American jurisprudence in which marriage has been defined and regulated by each state, not the federal courts. Every state that has passed such laws would be affected. It would also be going against several millennia of the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage.

On Wednesday, the court will hear arguments in United States v. Windsor. That case deals with the constitutionality of section three of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Windsor case creates the possibility that the court could overturn DOMA in its entirety. DOMA is important at many levels. For one, it protects states that do not support same-sex marriage from being required to recognize same-sex marriages that have been performed in states where the practice is legal. For another, it provides a standard definition of marriage for all federal programs, assuring that only heterosexual marriage is recognized across all federal government programs. It also provides protections for federal workers from being forced to violate their consciences regarding marriage. If DOMA is overturned, military chaplains will be especially vulnerable to pressures to accommodate an expanded definition of marriage in their ministries. (Read the rest here.) 

Brother Popes in the Year of Two Living Popes

Pope Francis visited the Pope Emeritus for lunch and prayer. 

In this historic year of two living popes, it was heartwarming to see the embrace. Everything went the way you would expect. Pope Emeritus Benedict sat on the non-pope side of the seat in the car and then, when they went to prayer he tried to insist that Pope Francis go forward the altar and pray alone. Pope Francis refused to do this and so the two popes knelt in prayer side by side in a pew. 

This is the first time in 600 years that we have had two living popes. It’s heartwarming to see them behave the way men of God should. 

The Associated Press has details:

In this photo provided by the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo Saturday, March 23, 2013. Pope Francis has traveled to Castel Gandolfo to have lunch with his predecessor Benedict XVI in a historic and potentially problematic melding of the papacies that has never before confronted the Catholic Church. The Vatican said the two popes embraced on the helipad. In the chapel where they prayed together, Benedict offered Francis the traditional kneeler used by the pope. Francis refused to take it alone, saying "We're brothers," and the two prayed together on the same one. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, HO)

View Photo

Associated Press/Osservatore Romano, HO – In this photo provided by the Vatican paper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo Saturday, March 23, 2013. Pope Francis has traveled to Castel Gandolfo to have lunch with his predecessor Benedict XVI in a historic and potentially problematic melding of the papacies that has never before confronted the Catholic Church. The Vatican said the two popes embraced on the helipad. In the chapel where they prayed together, Benedict offered Francis the traditional kneeler used by the pope. Francis refused to take it alone, saying “We’re brothers,” and the two prayed together on the same one. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, HO)  less

 

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) — The two men in white embraced and showed one another the deference owed a pope in ways that surely turned Vatican protocol upside down: A reigning pope telling a retired one, “We are brothers,” and insisting that they pray side-by-side during a date to discuss the future of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis traveled Saturday from the Vatican to this hilltown south of Rome to have lunch with his predecessor, Benedict XVI, an historic and potentially problematic melding of the papacies that has never before confronted the church.

In a season of extraordinary moments, starting with Benedict’s resignation and climaxing with the election of the first Latin American pope, Saturday’s encounter provided perhaps the most enduring images of this papal transition as popes present and past embraced, prayed and broke bread together.

“It was a moment of great communion in the church,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. “The spiritual union of these two people is truly a great gift and a promise of serenity for the church.” (Read the rest here.) 

Palm Sunday: The Road to the Cross Begins

Holy Week begins; time to begin our annual journey to the foot of the cross, where we stand in solidarity with all humankind, convicted of our sins.
This is an excerpt of an article from CNA:
Pope Francis urges Christians to have joy over Cross
By David Uebbing
Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday Mass on March 24 2013 in St. Peter’s Square. Credit: Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images.

.- Pope Francis declared on Palm Sunday that Christians must not be sad or discouraged but filled with joy because Jesus conquered evil and every sin “with the force of God’s love.”

“Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection,” he said March 24.

“Dear friends,” Pope Francis told the thousands of pilgrims filling St. Peter’s Square and the street leading to it, “we can all conquer the evil that is in us and in the world: with Christ, with the force of good!”

The liturgy began with the Pope touring through the crowd in the open-air popemobile and finishing at the obelisk that stands in the middle of St. Peter’s Square.

Accompanied by cardinals, bishops and laity holding palms, he listened as the readings were proclaimed. The group of clergy and faithful then made their way to the altar in front of the basilica and heard the reading of the Passion of Christ from Matthew’s Gospel.

Pope Francis reflected on three elements in his Palm Sunday homily: the joy that comes from meeting and knowing Christ; the fact that Jesus entered Jerusalem to redeem the world with his loving sacrifice on the Cross; and that young people can teach everyone to embrace the Cross with joy and to live lives of self-sacrifice.

The first word that came to the Pope’s mind as he reflected on the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem was joy.

“Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement!

“Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable,” he said.

The Pope then turned to his second point of reflection – the way Jesus entered Jerusalem, as a king who was received “by humble people, simple folk.”

But even more, he entered “to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision.

“And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross.

“And it is here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross,” he underscored. (Read the rest here.) 

Roe and Gay Marriage: Will the Court Repeat Itself?

Pro life march

“You should be very hesitant about shutting down a political debate.”

This statement is directed at the United States Supreme Court. It echoes something I’ve written about repeatedly here on Public Catholic: I think that it would be a mistake that would harm the country for the Supreme Court to issue a sweeping ruling about gay marriage.

My reason is not based on the fact that I support traditional marriage. It is based on the tragedy of Roe v Wade. The states were debating the issue of abortion at the time Roe v Wade was issued. Some states were beginning to allow abortion in a broad range of circumstances, others were not. Some, such as New York, had passed laws allowing a broader availability of abortion and were considering narrowing what they had done. 

Komen planned parenthood story body

All this was part of the natural process of the way our Republic works. It was contentious, but it was also healthy. When the Supreme Court stepped in and took the question out of the states’ hands, it created a culture war that has gone on for 40 years and that shows no signs of abating. It also created a social situation which gave rise to direct attacks on our freedoms under the Constitution such as the HHS Mandate. 

Gay marriage is in a similar situation as abortion was before Roe. It is gaining public acceptance. Laws in several states are beginning to reflect this public acceptance. 

However, I think that if the Court steps in with a broad ruling, it will create a situation similar to the one Roe did. The country is already greatly damaged by the culture war Roe created. This damage is on-going and, in many ways, getting worse. If the Court adds gay marriage to this situation it will create God only knows what kind of tragedy for this country. 

I’ve read that Supeme Court Justice Ruth Bader Gingsberg feels the Court should have overturned the Texas law that was being challenged in Roe and left the other laws intact. I think she sees the problem, but not the solution. The Court should have remanded the issue of abortion back to the states. Period. Which is what they should do with gay marriage.

Notice I do not say that I think they should rule that marriage is between one man and one woman. They should refer the issue to the states, and let the system work. 

Let the people speak. 

It’s that simple. 

Here is a discussion of what I’ve been talking about from — of all places — the New York Times. It says in part:

 

WASHINGTON — When the Supreme Court hears a pair of cases on same-sex marriage on Tuesday and Wednesday, the justices will be working in the shadow of a 40-year-old decision on another subject entirely: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion.

Judges, lawyers and scholars have drawn varying lessons from that decision, with some saying that it was needlessly rash and created a culture war.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal and a champion of women’s rights, has long harbored doubts about the ruling.

“It’s not that the judgment was wrong, but it moved too far, too fast,” she said last year at Columbia Law School.

Briefs from opponents of same-sex marriage, including one from 17 states, are studded with references to the aftermath of the abortion decision and to Justice Ginsburg’s critiques of it. They say the lesson from the Roe decision is that states should be allowed to work out delicate matters like abortion and same-sex marriage for themselves.

“They thought they were resolving a contentious issue by taking it out of the political process but ended up perpetuating it,” John C. Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage and a law professor at Chapman University, said of the justices who decided the abortion case. “The lesson they should draw is that when you are moving beyond the clear command of the Constitution, you should be very hesitant about shutting down a political debate.” (Read the rest here.) 

Shroud of Turin to be Broadcast Live Holy Saturday March 31

Shroud face

Pope Benedict XVI authorized the televised showing of the Shroud of Turin before he left office. The Shroud will be televised next Saturday, which is Holy Saturday.

The Shroud of Turin has been the subject of intense discussion for hundreds of years and still fascinates both believers and unbelievers worldwide. A radio carbon dating several decades ago indicated that the Shroud dates from the middle ages. However, this finding has been challenged based on the way the samples for the dating were taken and the possibility of a corrupt sample having been used that would have given inaccurate results.

No one knows exactly were the Shroud came from. Many people, including Pope Benedict himself, feel that the Shroud was the burial cloth of Christ. Others dismiss it as a fraud. One thing is certain and that is the Shroud is an inexplicable artifact that defies simple explanations. Even the most dedicated opponents of the idea that the Shroud is the authentic burial cloth of Christ are unable to explain how it was made. 

Shroud fully body

The most challenging aspects of the Shroud are how was it made and why a medieval forger would do something so complex and difficult in the first place. Also, the anatomical facts of the figure on the Shroud are consistent with what a real crucifixion would do rather than what people in the Middle Ages thought.  

I’ve read several books about the Shroud, but I have never seen it. I’m like a lot of people who find it fascinating and wonder if it really is the burial cloth of Christ. 

I don’t know if the televised viewing will be available here in Oklahoma, but if it is, I plan to record it so I can watch it later. 

Here’s the story from Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio) As part of the Year of Faith a conference gets underway here in Rome (Friday) tomorrow entitled “The Shroud and the New Evangelization. The two day event is being sponsored by the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum and will feature speakers including Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

The conference will deliver a programme presenting the shroud of Turin, which is believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, as a sign of faith that speaks to contemporary society.

“The message is this, the shroud is a sign, a sign that speaks to contemporary man and so I think in this year of faith this Holy Shroud has something to tell us in a very graphical view,” says Father Rafael Pascual LC, Director of the Science and Faith Institute at the Regina Apostolorum.

He told Lydia O’Kane that the face Jesus left us is one of suffering but also of love and donation. Listen RealAudioMP3

Indoctrination in the Classroom: Teacher at Florida University Forces Students to Stomp on Jesus’ Name

JesusName 1

I’ve read stories about the use of schools to indoctrinate students against Christianity in the Communist block all my life. 

Most of the methods that I read about were crude, but effective. I put the behavior of an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University smack in the middle of crude and overt use of the classroom to attack Christians and Christianity.

Evidently, Dr Deandre Poole wrote the name Jesus on a piece of paper, put it on the floor and told his students to step on it. The point was supposedly to prove something about symbols. One of the students, a Mormon, refused, and was subsequently penalized. When the student protested to the administration, he was suspended from the class.

Public outrage subsequently forced Florida Atlantic University to issue an apology. 

“We sincerely apologize for any offense this has caused,” the university said in a prepared statement to Fox News. “Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.”

The apology comes after a student complained that FAU professor Deandre Poole offended his religious beliefs when he instructed his intercultural communications class earlier this month to stomp on a piece of paper with  “Jesus” written on it. The student was subsequently suspended from the class.

The school said the lesson will no longer be used, Fox News reported.

Does anyone reading this doubt that this is (1) use of the schools to indoctrinate students against Christianity, (2) overt discrimination against Christians and (3) a lot more common than any of us want to admit?

ThATF

I could write about the obvious here, but I’m not going to do that. Many of the stories about this focus on the fact that the professor is an official in the Florida Democratic Party. I’m not defending that. But I do think that making it about party politics trivializes the story and avoids a major issue.

I don’t want to explain one more time why this is discrimination. I’m not going to point out that our schools are being used to teach our children to hate Christ. I am not even going to go into one of my major hobby horses, which is the evils of party politics.

What I want to talk about are the students in this class who went along with this professor and stepped on the name of Jesus. Only one of them, a practicing member of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, had the gumption to say “no.” Where were the Catholics? Where were the Southern Baptists? Where were the other kids who should have been saying “no.” 

Why did this one young person have to stand for Jesus alone while all the rest of the students went ahead and participated? 

If this happened to you, what would you do? What have you done when different versions of it did happen to you?

I’m not writing this to make people feel bad. I am writing this to encourage you — yes, YOU — to not go along with attacks on Our Lord when they happen right in front of you. 

That would end it, you know. If Christians stopped allowing it to be done, it would have to stop. All we need is some guts. 

AttheNameofJesus 1

This article from WND Education has details, but the story has been covered by many sources, including network news. 

A Florida college professor causing national outrage for requiring students to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, then put it on the floor and stomp on it, turns out also to be a top official in the local Democratic Party – the latest in a string of acute leadership embarrassments.

Although one student who refused to participate claims he was punished by being suspended from the class, Florida Atlantic University is defending the controversial assignment.

The dissenting student, Ryan Rotela, told the local CBS TV affiliate WPEC that his instructor, associate professor Deandre Poole, told everyone in the class to write the word “Jesus” on a piece of paper in bold letters, then put it on the floor and stomp on it.

Rotela, a junior from Coral Springs, said some of his classmates complied, but he refused.

“Anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value. So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value,” he told WPEC.

A religious Mormon who attends church every Sunday, Rotela complained to school officials but said they responded by suspending him from the class.

According to Florida Atlantic University, Poole was conducting an exercise from the textbook “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.”

A synopsis of the lesson plan in question, obtained by Fox News, goes like this:

“Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”


Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/dem-party-official-makes-students-stomp-on-jesus/#Muw6QGEaklS7Idt5.99


Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/dem-party-official-makes-students-stomp-on-jesus/#Muw6QGEaklS7Idt5.99

 

Christian Persecution in Britain: Using Gay Marriage and “Inclusive” Laws to Ghettoize Christians

Persecution doesn’t begin with violence.

It begins with verbal insult, moves to legal prohibitions, which lead to pushing groups out of the mainstream of society and ends up at violent persecution.

Christians all over the world appear to be somewhere on that continuum. Here in the West, Christians have endured verbal insult for quite some time. This has risen to publicly tolerated hate speech and a media that will not report stories about Christians, however positive, without adding some negative twist to them, even if it’s just the reporter’s opinion.

In the past few years, laws that were enacted for other purposes are being used to force Christians to either violate their faith or limit their activities in public life. At this juncture, these laws are aimed at Christian businesses and Christians in the workplace. I predict they will move to limiting the activities of individual Christians within a few years.

The HHS Mandate is one of the most broad examples of this, attacking as it did the entire Roman Catholic Church in America. It is a blatant attempt to destroy Christianity by using government force to make it abandon its teachings.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull, an elderly couple who live in Cornwall in Great Britain, found themselves embroiled in legal persecution for their beliefs. The Bulls own a bed and breakfast, which is also their home. They have a long-standing policy of not renting rooms to either homosexual couples or to heterosexual couples who are unmarried. They accepted a reservation for a Mr and Mrs Priddy, but when the couple showed up it was two men. The Bulls’ employee who was in charge at that time refused to rent them a room.

Instead of going to another inn, the homosexual couple filed suit. The suit wound its way through the legal system, and the Bulls lost. They were forced under government penalty had to either violate their faith or close their business. Their legal counsel suggested that rather than close their business they should reformulate it as a Christian-only non-profit, which they have opted to do.

Problem solved, right?

I don’t think so.

In fact I view this as a successful next step in Christian persecution. This kind of solution is what i was referring to when I spoke of ghettoizing Christians. The message here — and it appears to be pretty direct — is that practicing Christians must either violate their faith or withdraw from the wider public world into a narrower all-Christian world to protect themselves. 

This is legal discrimination of an overt and rather ugly sort. It is also the next step on the continuum toward systematized legal discrimination against Christians in the West. 

An article from this is Cornwall describing the situation says in part:

THE CHRISTIAN owners of a Marazion guesthouse who were taken to court after they refused a gay couple a double room will now legally be allowed to turn away unmarried straight and gay couples.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull have changed the status of the Chymorvah guesthouse to a not-for-profit company, allowing them to specify that anyone staying with them should abide by their Bible-based beliefs.

  1. Peter and Hazelmary Bull

    Peter and Hazelmary Bull

The couple revealed details of the change this week, in their first in-depth interview with The Cornishman since turning away civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy from their guesthouse almost five years ago.

Mr and Mrs Bull, who have run the guesthouse for 27 years, were later ordered to pay £3,600 in damages to the couple and their civil case has been the subject of endless media speculation.

Since then, the guesthouse owners have appealed against the decision in the Court of Appeal, which they lost, and are now set to have the case heard in the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, Mrs Bull said they wanted to be able to continue with their policy of not allowing unmarried heterosexual couples and homosexual couples to share a double bed under their roof.

Mrs Bull said: “The Christian Institute advised us on how to form a limited company, which we were able to do by stating in the articles of the company that anyone coming to stay here would be expected to abide by our Bible-based beliefs.

“When we had the trial, there were a number of local B&Bs who said, ‘we are watching this very closely because we want to be able to say no sometimes’, not necessarily to that particular group of people but just on certain occasions.”

Read more: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/story-18471550-detail/story.html#ixzz2OO5GHaQy
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Pope Francis on Moral Relativism and Being Our Own Criterion

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Pope watchers the world over are well aware that Pope Francis has a love and a calling for the poor. 

He has told us that this inspired his choice of names. 

This emphasis on the poor has caused some disquiet in certain circles. What, they wonder, about the other things? Rumors have flown like mosquitos, claiming that our Holy Father mocked his own election, will abandon traditional marriage, is going to upend the liturgy and allow … what was it? puppets and cartoon characters?? … in the mass. We’ve been regaled with stories about his shoe color and how he’s “tipping the Church over” by washing the feet of young prisoners on Holy Thursday.

That’s why I was so glad to be able to publish a post indicating that fully 90% of Catholics who attend weekly mass approve of our new pontiff. I would guess that the other 10% must be on their computers, spinning out tales 24/7.

Today, Pope Francis made a speech to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps which should allay at least some of those fears. He talked about the poor of the world in moving terms, saying, 

How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.

Then, he went on to talk about “another form of poverty … of our time,” which he said was “the spiritual poverty … which afflicts the so-called richer countries … what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the ‘tyranny of relativism’ which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples.”

He added that this was the second reason for his name choice, since St Francis not only loved the poor, he also loved peace.

There is no peace without truth! There cannot be peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth … it is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: It is not possible to build true links with God while ignoring other people.

Typing these words has reminded me again how blessed we are that the Holy Spirit has given us this man to be our pope. We need to follow his leadership. It’s difficult for Americans to admit that they should stop quarreling and nit-picking and just follow. But that is what we need to do. 

We are Christians, and it is our precise calling to follow Jesus. The single best way we can know that we are following Jesus is not, as our Holy Father said, to follow our “own criterion,” but to judge our understanding of how we should live by that which is given to us by the Church. 

Pope Francis is Christ’s Vicar here on Earth. 

I personally find some of the things a tiny minority of Catholics are saying about him painful. It is hurtful to me as a woman of faith to read articles attacking my Pope. I expect it from the secular world. But when it comes from Catholics, even when they are only a disgruntled few, it is appalling. 

Here, from Vatican radio, is the entire text of Pope Francis’ speech to the diplomats: 

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Heartfelt thanks to your Dean, Ambassador Jean-Claude Michel, for the kind words that he has addressed to me in the name of everyone present. It gives me joy to welcome you for this exchange of greetings: a simple yet deeply felt ceremony, that somehow seeks to express the Pope’s embrace of the world. Through you, indeed, I encounter your peoples, and thus in a sense I can reach out to every one of your fellow citizens, with their joys, their troubles, their expectations, their desires.
Your presence here in such numbers is a sign that the relations between your countries and the Holy See are fruitful, that they are truly a source of benefit to mankind. That, indeed, is what matters to the Holy See: the good of every person upon this earth! And it is with this understanding that the Bishop of Rome embarks upon his ministry, in the knowledge that he can count on the friendship and affection of the countries you represent, and in the certainty that you share this objective. At the same time, I hope that it will also be an opportunity to begin a journey with those few countries that do not yet have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, some of which were present at the Mass for the beginning of my ministry, or sent messages as a sign of their closeness – for which I am truly grateful.
As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.
But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny of relativism”, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.
One of the titles of the Bishop of Rome is Pontiff, that is, a builder of bridges with God and between people. My wish is that the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced! My own origins impel me to work for the building of bridges. As you know, my family is of Italian origin; and so this dialogue between places and cultures a great distance apart matters greatly to me, this dialogue between one end of the world and the other, which today are growing ever closer, more interdependent, more in need of opportunities to meet and to create real spaces of authentic fraternity.
In this work, the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world. And it is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail, but rather the desire to build true links of friendship between all peoples, despite their diversity.
Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up. But it is a difficult journey, if we do not learn to grow in love for this world of ours. Here too, it helps me to think of the name of Francis, who teaches us profound respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment, which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another’s detriment.

Dear Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you again for all the work that you do, alongside the Secretariat of State, to build peace and construct bridges of friendship and fraternity. Through you, I would like to renew to your Governments my thanks for their participation in the celebrations on the occasion of my election, and my heartfelt desire for a fruitful common endeavour. May Almighty God pour out his gifts on each one of you, on your families and on the peoples that you represent. Thank you!


90% of Practicing Catholics are Happy with Pope Francis

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Ninety percent of weekly-mass Catholics are happy with Pope Francis.

That’s what I call a majority. A recent Pew Research Center Poll on how American Catholics feel about their new Pope indicated overwhelming support. Sixty-two percent of infrequent churchgoers approved of our new Holy Father. 

A CNA article about the survey says in part:

.- A new survey shows that U.S. Catholics are overwhelmingly content with the election of Pope Francis, with 73 percent of Catholics expressing happiness with the new pontiff.

The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center less than a week after the Pope’s March 13 election, also reports a subset of 31 percent of Catholics who say they are very happy with his election.

Though reported happiness was high, about 24 percent of Catholic respondents told the Pew Research Center they have not heard enough about the Pope to make a judgment. 
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However, only two percent said they were unhappy with the cardinals’ choice.

Among weekly Mass attendees, almost 90 percent are happy with his selection, compared to only 62 percent of Catholics who are infrequent churchgoers.

Women and Catholics over 50 were more likely to report being happy at the Pope’s election. (Read the rest here.)

Does Raising Boys to be Manly Christian Men Require Discriminating Against Girls?

Bergoglio foot washing woman

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis, washing a woman’s foot on Holy Thursday.

I was jittery before I published Women and the Church yesterday. 

I was afraid that, since I mentioned the presence of homosexual priests in our Church, I would stir up a hornet’s nest of attacks on homosexual priests.

Silly me.

Women are sooo much more the object of discrimination than homosexuals. No group of people on this planet can outrank women on the hated scale.

I was inundated with comments from men (While I know there are women-hating women and lots of them, my commenters yesterday were ALL male) explaining basically two things to me:

053 AltarGirls

1. They are not prejudiced against women. They most certainly are not misogynist. It is the Church that requires them to go on and on and on ranting against any participation by women in the liturgy. If the bishops — and three popes — allow this, they say, then the bishops and three popes are wrong. Their teaching authority is bankrupt. And they’ve got some pet priest somewhere who tells them the bishops and three popes are wrong.

These folks seem to be hung up on the use of the Latin word for “man,” which they claim does not — and I mean does not — mean all of humanity, but rather only people who are genetically and anatomically male. The odd part of this is that they are accidentally making one of the best arguments for something I would guess they see as anathema — using more inclusive language — that I have ever encountered.

If “man” does not mean all of humanity, then many of the Church’s most compelling statements concerning the universal value of all human beings go right in the trash bin. To me, the issue is simple. I won’t belabor this except to ask: Does masculum et feminam creavit eos mean what I’ve always been taught it means or not?

Licht

2. Boys can not survive in a world where girls are allowed to compete. The whole reason for the priest shortage is altar girls. These commenters simply ignored every point I raised in the post and repeated this tired old argument as if no one had challenged them. The gist of their argument was versions of the cliched boys-won’t-be-called-to-the-priesthood-because-of-altar-girls stuff. Then, it took an interesting twist, and one I’m going to talk about here, by broadening it to say that there are so many troubled young men in our society today because girls are competing against them.

This second line of reasoning is the one I want to explore in this post.

Just for the record, I’ve raised boys. Or rather, my only husband, who is their biological father, and I have raised boys. We successfully managed to bring them to productive adulthood as manly men who believe in Jesus, say their prayers, do not shoot people, are not on drugs, and who go out to work, succeed in higher education and respect women.

Based on the interesting logic of some of my commenters, we must have oppressed every girl in the neighborhood to achieve this miracle. We certainly must have refused to let them participate in swim teams where girls might beat them or go to chess tournaments where girls sometimes did beat them. After all, manliness, according to the version I’ve seem in the comboxes these past few hours, is such a fragile flower that it cannot grow unless girls are sidelined and silenced.

Father and son

In truth, my husband (and he was the one who did most of this) taught them to respect women. “Treat them like people,” he advised when they reached adolescence and were agawk at the loveliness of the girls around them. “Just remember that they are people and treat them that way and you won’t have any trouble with girls.”

The message I’m trying to convey here is not what my husband said to our sons, although I think it was, like my husband, both wise and chivalrous. It’s that my husband, their father was on the beat to say it. Young men are different from young girls in a number of ways, all of them, when they are channeled according to Godly manliness, beautiful. They are physically stronger. They are more physical, period. They are bursting with that wonderment of a hormone, testosterone, which gives them beautiful male bodies, energy and a propensity to take action.

They are not inherently violent, cruel or sadistic. All this comes from the harm we do to them in the environment we provide for them and the way we treat them.

We are very cruel to our children in this society. Boys or girls, it doesn’t matter, we always put them last on our list of musts. Oh, we shower them with toys and things. But we also put their interests last in our lives and our society. We indoctrinate them in nihilism and sexual disorder in our schools. We tear their homes apart with our divorces and adulteries. Mothers disrespect their fathers. Fathers disrespect and bully their mothers.

Then we act surprised that they grow up to be emotionally and socially damaged adults who can not create families of their own and nurture children of their own.

Father and son black

Instead of admitting our own failings, we play the blame game, writ large. That is what this nonsense about boys being unable to thrive unless girls are oppressed is. It’s the blame game, writ large and cruel. Boys need their mothers to teach them about tenderness, love and women. Boys need their fathers to teach them about men. 

I am not talking about a lecture once in a while from dad who’s not there the rest of the time. I’m talking about raising boys the same way that Joseph raised Jesus, by being there, every day, and by interacting with them all the time, in big things and small things.

I’m talking, actually, about being a man like my husband, who is the best man I’ve ever known. I am convinced that if more fathers were like my husband, we would not have violent young men terrorizing our country with random mass murders.

This business of blaming young girls for the failure of a generation of men to be the Dad on the beat for their sons is one of the most blatantly stupid and self-serving examples of prejudice I’ve seen in a quite a while. 

If you sincerely want someone to sacrifice to raise up a generation of manly men, then men, you should start with yourselves. Go home. Love their mother. And spend time with your children. Love your kids. Enjoy them.

My advice to men who want to raise their sons to be manly men is to be men themselves. Then everything, including vocations, will follow.