Million Woman March: Nigerian Women Pressure Government to Do More to Free Kidnapped Girls

 

What part does corruption play in Nigeria’s failure to stop Boko Haram? 

 

Women and men from all over Nigeria took to the streets of the Nigerian capitol, Abuja, Wednesday in what was dubbed “The Million Woman March.”

They marched through heavy rain to issue a call for the Nigerian government to do more to free 230 teen-aged girls who were kidnapped in a bloody attack on their high school on April 14. The kidnapping has been labeled the work of Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic group who has murdered people and burned down churches with what appears to be impunity for many years.

This latest kidnapping of so many young girls has outraged Nigerians and people from locations all over the world. I asked in an earlier post why the Nigerian government seems to be so helpless in the face of attacks from this terrorist group. I also asked — and am asking still — who is funding Boko Haram.

It appears that quite a few Nigerians have the same questions. Protest organizer Hadiza Bala Usman announced the protests will be on-going in both Abuja and Lagos until the girls are freed.

“We will also demand to see the president if we don’t get any commitment from government to rescue these girls,” she said. “The government has to understand that we are not going to allow this silence to continue.”

Meanwhile, the leader of Chibok’s elders forum, Potu Bitrus, says that he has learned that the girls were trafficked into neighboring Cameroon and Chad and sold as brides to insurgents for 2,000 naira ($12.)

I think this march paints a stark picture of a government that is almost certainly too corrupt to govern. The first order of business for any government is to maintain domestic tranquility. A lot of things go into that, but providing for the public safety is the basic component. Citizens must be able to rely without question on their government to swing into action when they are attacked, kidnapped, or otherwise physically harmed in criminal actions.

Can you imagine what would happen if a group started behaving like this here in America? I’m judging almost entirely by Oklahomans, but I rather imagine that this applies to the country as a whole. If our government didn’t take care of them, I think our private citizens would do it themselves.

The government of Nigeria needs to do whatever it takes to end Boko Haram. They specifically need to get these girls back. To say that this is a civil and human rights violation is weak language for it.

Public Catholic reader Ken first brought this story to my attention.

Sources can be found here, here, here and here.

I’ve Got a Lot of Past, and Not All of It’s Good

 

Like everybody my age, I’ve got a lot of past.

Not all of my past is good.

In fact, a portion of it is seriously miserable.

I try to forget.

And forgive myself for the things I’ve done.

I try to forget.

And forgive others for the things that have been done to me.

But there are days when that load of past can get heavy. Especially in church. My miserable past includes a couple of bad times with church. I’ve experienced the rejection of unforgiveness. Even though I forgive as best I can, the memory still comes back from time to time, like an ache in an old break in a bone when the weather changes.

The two greatest challenges this poses are a loss of trust and a deep feeling of unworthiness. The bad opinions of others can imprint on a person and leave their ugly image. Trust, once it’s cut away, doesn’t re-grow. It callouses over, but the nerves are dead.

I have periods of time in my life when the hardest thing I have to do is go to mass. Not because of any latent anger, but because of the deep sense of unworthiness. I have no right to be there in the presence of the Presence, and I know it.

I had an exceptionally rough bout with this recently. I actually left the church during mass, left my husband there, holding the hymnal and looking at me with uncomprehending eyes as I left, driven away by the unworthiness that is branded into me.

I used those moments away to gather myself to myself and then I went back in. But it wasn’t easy. I got through that mass by looking at the tabernacle and talking to Him.

Because it’s true, you know. I have no right to be there, in the presence of the Presence. I am unworthy, as John the Baptist said, to untie His sandal. Yet the reason, the only reason, that I am there is that He invited me.

In the final analysis, the Presence does not belong to any priest, or even to the Church itself. They are its guardians, and the conduit by which God graciously consents to dwell among us in the Eucharist. But the Presence is God Himself, and as such, that Presence belongs to no human being. It is It’s Own Self.

I came to the Catholic Church and asked to come into full communion because Christ in the Eucharist called me to Himself. It was a call that was so clear, persistent and patient, that, in the end, it worked its way past all the obstacles to what was at the time a rather bold step of faith.

Jesus called me to Himself in the Eucharist. That is why I am Catholic.

And on that day when my own unworthiness flared into a blistering flame inside me, when I wanted to run away, to paraphrase St Peter, because I am a sinful woman, He was there, not to call, but to strengthen me past my focus on me and bring me into a fresh focus on Him.

I kept looking at the tabernacle, at Jesus, present in our midst. I don’t know if it was a prayer, or a conversation, or a vow of a sort. I only know I spoke directly to Him and He heard me.

“You are my Lord,” I told Him. “You are the reason I am here. You are the One I trust. You and only You.”

There was more. But that’s the gist of it. Shattered trust is like an amputation. It can’t grow back. We can never undo the things we’ve done or forget the lessons of the things that are done to us. Forgive, yes. But forgetfulness would be to unlearn the life lessons and forego the spiritual depth these things give us.

If you live long enough and do enough hard things, you will lose your trust in people, in fate, in your own good luck. The illusions of personal invincibility die a hard death, but Christ can and will raise up a new trust and a new invincibility from the ashes on that pyre of self-sufficiency.

“You are my Lord,” I told Him, and it was as much vow as prayer; an open acknowledgement of the truth of things, bound up in a promise. “You — and You only — are my Lord.”

“You are the reason I am here.” I said, not because I enjoy the liturgy or find affirmation in the friendships, but “You — and You only — are the reason I am here.”

“You are the One I trust,” because You have proven Yourself trustworthy time and time again, because You loved me first and because You forgave me and walk with me and endure me and keep forgiving me over and over again.

“You and only You,” because people, even the most lovable and precious of people, will let you down. Because, I, you and everyone, will let ourselves down. We will betray one another and we will also betray ourselves. Only Christ will never fail us.

I was not the only wounded person in the church that day. I am never am. We are all wounded, in one way or another. We shatter our self-righteousness by the things we do, and we face the terrible isolation and aloneness of the things that are done to us.

The many cruelties people practice against one another — our gossip and slanders, violence, lies, betrayals and deliberate degradations — are all at base an isolation of the other person, a way of putting them outside while we remain inside.

We draw lines around ourselves and our group, whoever that group may be, and then we push everyone outside that line into a sub-class of one sort or another. This hurts and maims all of us.

So many times on this blog I see angry, harsh comments, coming from people who at base are just trying to express their sense of isolation and rejection. The truth is, no one of us, not a single person of us, has the right to stand before God.

But He is our Lord. And He has invited all of us — ALL of us — to His table. No one of us has a right to be there. But, by the miracle of His love, no one of us is too wounded, too sin-sick, too disreputable, too female, too gay, too poor, too fat, too ugly, stupid or lost to be refused a place at that table. We are all welcome.

He is always with us, even when others fail us or turn us away. He is always ready to accept us and forgive us. We don’t have to stop sinning and get perfect to come to Him. He accepts us just, as the old hymn says, as we are.

We may have to jump through more hoops that we can manage to find surcease and acceptance from other people. But all we ever have to be or will ever have to do with Him is put our hand in His and say “Yes.”

“You are my Lord,” I told him. It is as simple as that.

Archbishop Coakley’s Statement on Oklahoma’s Botched Execution

 

This statement was issued by my religious leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, regarding yesterday’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett.

Archbishop Coakley on execution of Clayton Lockett: “The brutality of the death penalty disregards human dignity”

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 30, 2014) – On April 29, in McAlester, Okla., the planned execution of convicted killer Clayton Lockett utilizing a new three-drug lethal injection protocol failed, leaving Lockett evincing unexpected signs of pain and leading Oklahoma prison officials to halt the proceedings. Lockett later died of a heart attack.

Today, the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, said the unprecedented execution underscores the brutality of the death penalty and urged Oklahomans to weigh carefully the demands of justice and mercy.

“How we treat criminals says a lot about us as a society,” the archbishop said. “We certainly need to administer justice with due consideration for the victims of crime, but we must find a way of doing so that does not contribute to the culture of death, which threatens to completely erode our sense of the innate dignity of the human person and of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.”

“Once we recover our understanding that life is a gift from our Creator, wholly unearned and wholly unmerited by any of us, we will begin to recognize that there are and ought to be very strict limits to the legitimate use of the death penalty. It should never be used, for example, to exact vengeance, nor should it be allowed simply as a deterrent. In general, there are others ways to administer just punishment without resorting to lethal measures,” he continued.

“The execution of Clayton Lockett really highlights the brutality of the death penalty, and I hope it leads us to consider whether we should adopt a moratorium on the death penalty or even abolish it altogether,” he added.

“In the meantime, let us pray for peace for all those affected by or involved in last night’s execution in any way – including Lockett himself, his family, prison officials and others who witnessed the event. My compassion and prayers go out especially to the family of Stephanie Neiman, whom Lockett was convicted of killing.”

Oklahoma Stops Botched Execution. Inmate Dies Anyway.

 

Oklahoma seems to be having trouble executing people.

First, attorneys for death row inmates got a judge to agree that their clients could not be executed because of an Oklahoma law that grants anonymity to the companies that supply the toxic brew of killer drugs used to kill the prisoners.

Once the state got past that roadblock, it had to call off an execution in progress because the needle in the inmate’s arm was evidently putting the killer drugs into the surrounding tissue instead of the bloodstream.

According to the doctor who was in attendance at the execution, the vein in convicted murderer Clayton Lockett’s arm which was being used to administer the drug “blew.” The first indication that the “drugs were not having an effect” was when the inmate didn’t die. The doctor checked and found that they were going into the surrounding tissues in Lockett’s arm instead of the vein. At that point, officials halted the execution.

Lockett died 43 minutes later of what has been termed “an apparent heart attack.” I’m no doctor, and I’m just guessing, but my guess is that since the drugs went into muscle and fatty tissue instead of the bloodstream, it took those drugs longer to kill Mr Lockett, but that he ultimately died of their effects.

The first drug was supposed to make Mr Lockett unconscious almost immediately. According to witnesses, he was still awake seven minutes after the drugs were administered. Sixteen minutes into the execution, when he should have been long dead, he moved his head and tried to talk. Then, according to his attorney, he began to convulse.

I don’t favor the death penalty. However, I don’t question that Mr Lockett was a cold-blooded murderer. He should have been locked up and forgotten; no parole, no question of parole, no interviews or sad stories about his wasted life.

I think it’s important to remember a gutsy teen-ager named Stephanie Neiman. Mr Lockett was given the death penalty for murdering Miss Neiman.

Mr Lockett and three accomplices kidnapped a 9-month old baby, the baby’s father, and teenager Stephanie Neiman in a home invasion. Miss Neiman was bound and gagged with duct tape. Mr Lockett forced her to watch while his accomplice dug her grave. The first time he tried to shoot her, the gun jammed, so he got a shotgun to use for the execution-style murder.

Witnesses said they heard Miss Neiman, begging for her life. Then, they heard a single shot. After that, they heard Lockett and his accomplices “laughing about how tough Stephanie was.” Then Mr Lockett shot her again.

Mr Lockett then ordered his accomplice to bury Miss Neiman, even though she was still alive.

I’m not going to comment on this beyond sharing the facts. I think the facts speak for themselves.

From CNN:

(CNN) – A vein on an Oklahoma inmate “exploded” in the middle of his execution Tuesday, prompting authorities to abruptly halt the process and call off another execution later in the day as they try to figure out what went wrong.

The inmate, Clayton Lockett, died 43 minutes after the first injection was administered — according to reporter Courtney Francisco ofCNN affiliate KFOR who witnessed the ordeal — of an apparent heart attack, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton said.

That first drug, midazolam, is supposed to render a person unconscious. Seven minutes later, Lockett was still conscious. About 16 minutes in, after his mouth and then his head moved, he seemingly tried to get up and tried to talk, saying “man” aloud, according to the KFOR account.

Other reporters — including Cary Aspinwall of the Tulsa Worldnewspaper — similarly claimed that Lockett was “still alive,” having lifted his head while prison officials lowered the blinds at that time so that onlookers couldn’t see what was going on.

Polish Pilgrims Run 1,200 Miles to JP2′s Canonization

John Paul II, the Polish pope who brought down Communism.

Now, he’s a saint, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t soon become the new patron saint for Poland. I imagine he already is the patron Saint of most polish households.

From what I’ve read, Pope John Paul II retained a deep love and constant connections with his homeland to the day of his death. He had a Polish cook at the Vatican who prepared Polish meals for him, and he had friends from Poland nearby throughout his papacy.

Saint John Paul was so completely a pope for the whole world that we tend to forget that he came from a particular place and time and that this history shaped him in profound ways. The sufferings of Poland taught Saint John Paul about the cruelty and weaknesses of fallen humanity, the dangers of unjust governments and the sanctity of human life.

In this way, the whole world owes Poland a debt. The painful experiences of Poland, as the country was overrun from the West and then the East, were not in vain. They imbued this son of Poland with the great heart of a saint. He became the light of Christ for people everywhere. His teachings will echo down the generations.

It is no wonder that the good people of Poland wanted to do something special for the canonization of Saint John Paul II. I think their idea to run the 1,200 miles from Poland to Rome for the event is especially apt. It is a difficult thing to take on such a long run. It requires unselfish love of others, courage and perseverance in the face of difficulties to endure to the end of the race.

How can anything be more emblematic of Saint John Paul II than that?

From Catholic News Agency:

.- A group of Polish friends decided to run the whole way to Rome to be present for the canonizations of Saints John Paul II and John XXIII, explaining that their key motivation was to give “thanks.”

“We don’t have any (official) group. We are friends,” Tomasz Pietnerzak told CNA April 27, explaining that when another friend suggested “why don’t we run to Vatican? I said ok, we run. Let’s go!”

Having run a grand total of about 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) in order to be present at the Vatican on Divine Mercy Sunday for the papal canonizations, the group consists of 22 men of varying ages, who collectively ran about 185 miles (300 kilometers) a day.

When asked about the primary motivation driving the initiative, Pietnerzak simply stated that they “Run for thanks,” pointing to the word “Thanks” printed on the back of the matching athletic jerseys they wore.

“We run because we can’t do anything else,” the pilgrim explained, emphasizing their gratitude for John Paul II first of all because he is “from Poland,” but also because “he changed world, and Poland.”

“He’s a good man, good man,” they reflected, “he changed Europe.”

Despite the group’s fondness of the sport, they replied with a firm “No, no!” when asked if they would run on the way back, stating that they would most likely return by car – a “come back car,” they jested.

The Mass for the canonization of now-Saints John Paul II and John XXIII was held April 27 at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square, where huge numbers of pilgrims gathered, spilling out onto the main road and overflowing into the surrounding squares.

Gobsmacked by Sarah Palin


Deacon Greg has the story. 

Evidently, former Governor Sarah Palin made the statement in a speech at the national NRA convention that if she was president, “water boarding would be how we baptize terrorists.”

She went on in this speech to indulge in a string of name-calling; talking about “intolerant, anti freedom leftist liberals” and “clownish, Kumbaya-humming, fairytale-inhabiting Democrats.”

How are these comments offensive? Let me count the ways.

First, aside from the issue of using torture against our enemies, baptism is a sacrament. It is the sacrament of initiation into life as a Christian. It washes away our sins. We were directly commanded by Our Lord “to go to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

What was former Governor Palin thinking, to use this wonderful sacrament of forgiveness, healing and salvation as a one-off in a speech dedicated to hate, violence and the torture of human beings?

Second, the name-calling ugliness about “liberals” and Democrats is the kind of nonsense that has led us to the pass we now inhabit in our society and our government. Our elected officials in Congress have given up their responsibilities to govern this country in order to indulge in partisan eye-jabbing of one another. This language — which comes from both sides — feeds this hatred.

It is simply unacceptable for a person who has held the high office of governor of one of these 50 states and who was the nominee for Vice President of the United States of America of one of our two major political parties to talk trashy hatred like this. She makes herself look like a performer in a sideshow instead of a serious woman who wants to act in accordance with the common good.

A few months ago, I wrote a couple of posts decrying the filthy, misogynist and downright OCD attacks on former Governor Palin by MSNBC. I do not take back one word of what I wrote.

I do not agree with every policy idea that Governor Palin has, but no one should be subjected to the attacks against their good name and humanity that MSNBC was launching against her.

Now, I am in the position of making a public statement criticizing the over-the-top language coming from the former Governor herself.

I do not know if former Governor Palin wants to be taken seriously as a politician, author or commenter, but if she does, she really should re-consider these shoot-from-the-hip statements. She has been strong in her witness to her Christian faith, yet she denigrates the sacrament of baptism to make a cutesy comment supporting torture. Instead of talking about issues, she simply comes out with a string of attack-adjectives aimed at those she disagrees with.

I’m not doubting her Christian faith. I’m not even debating her positions on issues.

I am just saying that these comments are offensive on many levels. They do not give reasons or talk about ideas or even tell us what Governor Palin’s positions on issues might be. They certainly do not explain why her beliefs are worthwhile or something anyone else should adopt.

Just letting fly with a string of expletives is not discussion. By the same token, brandishing a string of attack adjectives and cutesy comments is not taking a position. It is hate mongering.

I like to see women in government do a good job. I don’t care which party they are in, I want them to succeed. I am not offended when people have ideas that differ from mine.

I’m honestly not offended by this very offensive use of the precious sacrament of baptism to make an ugly point in an overall ugly speech.

I’m gobsmacked by the stupidity of it.

Governor Palin needs to stop caricaturizing herself. How is this kind of red-meat speech-making stupid and destructive? Again, let me count the ways.

What was it like at the canonization?

Thanks to television, we were all pilgrims at the canonization. But what was it like to actually be there?

These videos reveal that it was exhausting, beautiful, joyous and hopeful.

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John Paul II Taught Us What It Means to Follow God to the End

 

Cardinal Sandri reflects on John Paul II’s courage as he followed Our Lord through to the end of his pontificate.

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Bishop Fulton Sheen Discusses Pope John XXIII

 

Bishop Fulton Sheen discusses Pope John XXIII from the viewpoint of one who knew him.

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JP2′s Doctor: I Don’t Know How He Survived the Shooting


John Paul II’s doctor talks about treating him after the near fatal assassination attempt on the pope’s life.

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