What Other World Leader …

What other world leader would go into a troubled area like Lebanon? The Holy Father brings the message of the only hope this world has. My prayers go with him.

Leavin’ On a Jet Plane

I’m leavin’ on a jet plane.

Play Nice while I’m gone.

Public Catholic attracts the best people. I learn something every day from your thoughtful comments.

If an internet troll shows up while I’m gone, acting like 20 kinds of fool, being obnoxious and trying to start a fight, just ignore them. You’re better than that.

I’ll be checking in every day. I’ll take care of it when I do.

Vaya con dios mis amigos.

Christian Persecution: British Charity Accused of Funding Boko Haram

Boko Haram

Men look at the wreckage of a car following a bomb blast in Abuja last year.
The terrorist group Boko Haram was suspected. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

I have written about the terrorist war on Christians in Nigeria before. Nigerian Christians are being subjected to murderous attacks from an Islamic group which calls itself Boko Haram.

Guns, bullets and bombs do not build themselves. Money from the West often turns out to be the source of terrorist funding. These bloody enterprises frequently hide behind the name of “charity.”

So, it’s not unusual or surprising that Nigerian media accused Al Muntada, a British charity of providing funds to Boko Haram. An article from The Observer says in part:

Peer raises fears over UK charity’s alleged links to Boko Haram

British charity is under scrutiny amid claims funds ended up in hands of Nigerian terrorists blamed for killing hundreds

A British charity is under scrutiny amid claims some of its funds have ended up in the hands of African terrorists blamed for killing hundreds of people.

Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group in Nigeria with close links to al-Qaida, has targeted churches and Christians as it seeks to spread terror across the country.

The Nigerian media has reported that the country’s state security service, working with local and international agencies, believes money raised by the Al Muntada Trust found its way to Boko Haram.

A charity of that name, which has its headquarters in London, raises money for disaster projects in Africa. It has attracted controversy in the past for giving a platform to radical clerics.

Lord Alton of Liverpool told parliament in July there was evidence Boko Haram carried out 600 murders this year and called for it to be proscribed in the UK as a terror group. Its rise has alarmed Africa experts and prompted concerns of “blowback” for the UK as its supporters return from Nigeria. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Israel and the Global War on Christians

American Christians are among Israel’s most stalwart supporters.

Evangelical Christians, in particular, have been unyielding in their demands that America stand by the tiny nation. Their advocacy for Israel has raised the political stakes concerning America’s policy toward Israel in the upcoming election.

Violent persecution of Christians is a growing reality in much of the world. It cuts especially deep when it happens in countries and comes from people that Christians here in America support. There is an innate desire to turn our heads and pretend that it isn’t happening. As a long-time supporter of Israel, I understand the feeling. However, our first allegiance must be to our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

In a September 7 article Playing politics with the global war on Christians, John Allen discusses just such a conundrum: The violent persecution of Christians in Israel. Members of my parish went on pilgrimage to Israel last year and came back with eyewitness testimony concerning similar stories. It appears that persecution of Christians in Israel is real.

You can write the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren here. Please do so. If there is one country that should be willing to listen to American Christians it is Israel.

The article says in part:

Playing politics with the global war on Christians

Most people, most of the time, are fundamentally decent. Hence if they knew that there’s a minority facing an epidemic of persecution — a staggering total of 150,000 martyrs every year, meaning 17 deaths every hour — there would almost certainly be a groundswell of moral and political outrage.

There is such a minority in the world today, and it’s Christianity. The fact that there isn’t yet a broad-based movement to fight anti-Christian persecution suggests something is missing in public understanding.

In part, of course, the problem is that unquestionable acts of persecution, such as murder and imprisonment, are sometimes confused with a perceived cultural and legal “war on religion” in the West, a less clear-cut proposition. In part, too, it’s because of the antique prejudice that holds that Christianity is always the oppressor, never the oppressed.

Yet as with most things, politics also has a distorting effect, and a story out of Israel this week makes the point.

On Tuesday, the doors of a Trappist monastery in Latrun, near Jerusalem, were set ablaze, with provocative phrases in Hebrew spray-painted on the exteriors walls, such as “Jesus is a monkey.” The assault was attributed to extremist Jews unhappy with the recent dismantling of two settlements on nearby Palestinian land.

Founded in 1890 by French Trappists, the Latrun monastery is famed for its strict religious observance. Israelis call it minzar ha’shatkanim, meaning “the monastery of those who don’t speak.” Ironically, it’s known for fostering dialogue with Judaism, and welcomes hundreds of Jewish visitors every week.

Tuesday’s attack was not an isolated incident. In 2009, a Franciscan church near the Cenacle on Mount Zion, regarded by tradition as the site of Christ’s Last Supper, was defaced with a spray-painted Star of David and slogans such as “Christians Out!” and “We Killed Jesus!” According to reports, the vandals also urinated on the door and left a trail of urine leading to the church.

Last February, the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land wrote to Israeli authorities to appeal for better protection after another wave of vandalism struck a Baptist church, a Christian cemetery and a Greek Orthodox monastery. That time, slogans included “Death to Christianity,” “We will crucify you!” and “Mary is a whore.”

At the time, the custodian, Franciscan Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, complained that no arrests had been made in any of these cases. (Read more here.)

 

Romney Reboot: Will It Be Enough?


  • Romney Campaign Starts Reboot (ABC News)

    ABC OTUS News – Romney Campaign Starts Reboot (ABC News)

LOS ANGELES – After a week of withering criticism from fellow Republicans and conservatives, theRomney campaign said today that it is now the appropriate time in the campaign – with just 50 days until election day – to begin offering specifics on policies proposed by the candidate.

Romney senior adviser Ed Gillespie called the decision as a “natural progression” of the campaign, and told reporters on a conference call they recognize that voters would “like to know a little more about the specifics,” and that the campaign is now ready to “meet the demands.”

“We do think the timing is right, at this moment, to reinforce the specifics, more specifics, about the Romney plan for a strong middle class,” he said.

The call with Gillespie came the morning after an article published by Politico reported disarray among the top advisers charged with running the campaign. Today, the campaign seemed ready to reset the message, telling reporters that Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan will take advantage of venues and use surrogates to make sure the specifics of their ideas are understood by voters before Election Day.

Gillespie made it clear that Romney and Ryan would not be unveiling new plans or policies, but instead would be offering more specifics on those already in place. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: In the West, Where the War Is Forced Upon Us

Hearings on a discrimination suit filed by four British Christians against their government began September 4 in the European Court of Human RightsThe Christians say that they have lost their jobs because they would not comply with demands that they violate their Christian faith.

Their complaints range from a woman who was fired because she wore a cross on a necklace to work, to a registrar who lost her job because she refused to conduct same-sex cvil partnerships. These people have been the object of ridicule for filing these claims. But they have persisted, even in the face of predictions that they will ultimately lose the case. This article from The Telegraph gives more details:

David Barrett

By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent

9:00PM GMT 10 Mar 2012

In a highly significant move, ministers will fight a case at the European Court of Human Rights in which two British women will seek to establish their right to display the cross.

It is the first time that the Government has been forced to state whether it backs the right of Christians to wear the symbol at work.

A document seen by The Sunday Telegraph discloses that ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so.

The Government’s position received an angry response last night from prominent figures including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

He accused ministers and the courts of “dictating” to Christians and said it was another example of Christianity becoming sidelined in official life. (Read more here.)

It appears that Britain has crossed the line into active legal discrimination against people of faith. This lawsuit and the attitude of intolerance toward Christians that caused it should be harbingers for the rest of us.

Violent persecution of a group of people doesn’t spring fully grown from nowhere. It grows from smaller things and lays down roots of acceptance in our minds and hearts in an incremental, almost invisible fashion.

Christians in much of the world are subjected to the brutality of violent discrimination that often approaches genocide. We haven’t gotten to violent persecution here in the West. But I believe we are moving in that direction.

Much of Western society today hovers somewhere between openly accepted verbal harassment of their Christian majorities and active legal discrimination against them. Majority populations have been subjected to active discrimination and violent persecution by a minority which has control of the governing apparatus of the country before. South Africa is one recent example.

Here in America, people of faith in general and Christians in particular have been subjected to a barrage of lawsuits seeking to wipe all mention of faith out of our public life. These lawsuits force us to chisel God’s name off our monuments, take down religious symbols from our parks and public facilities and ban all mention of the Almighty at public events such as football games. Most recently, there has been a move to do away with the National Day of Prayer and to expunge “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

The HHS Mandate and lawsuits trying to force religious ministries to refer women for abortions have broadened these attacks from a debate about monuments, public prayers and slogans. They are now attacking the Church itself.

Meanwhile, verbal agitation aimed at silencing individual citizens becomes more strident and widespread. Private conversations between two people in line at a grocery store can be hijacked by the Christian-basher standing behind them who rudely interjects his (it seems almost always to be a “him.”) version of the usual atheist canards attacking their faith. The sense of entitlement these people seem to feel to harass, insult and bully Christians is truly mind-boggling. Christians often find themselves falling silent about their faith simply because they get worn out by the constant hassle and circular arguments these people force on them.

This is harassment. The names that Christians are called and the way that Christianity is attacked in some of the media has become so extreme that it can fairly be called hate speech. This is not benign. It is Christian baiting and it’s time we called it that. 

We are in a plunge downward here in America. Yesterday’s outrageous insults against Christians become today’s accepted beliefs. The line between an aggressive secularism and active legal discrimination was crossed with the HHS Mandate.

In Britain, this has evidently reached the point that individual Christians face loss of their jobs for something so small as wearing a cross on a necklace. Other Christians lose their jobs if they refuse to participate in activities that violate their faith.

It isn’t such a big step in a violent world from social bullying and legal discrimination to violent persecution. In fact, the legal apparatus, if it becomes draconian enough, actually supports and protects the persecutors.

I hope that the European Court of Human Rights rules in favor of these four Christian petitioners. But even if it does, to paraphrase a line from an old Star Trek episode, the war is still forced upon us. A positive ruling in the four Christians’ favor would not turn back the tide of Christian-baiting and the constant push for more discriminatory laws against people of faith.

If the court rules against these Christians, the matter becomes even more urgent. A negative ruling will open the door for what almost certainly will be oppressive laws that force Christians to chose on a daily basis between Jesus and their jobs and eventually, their freedom.

I quoted Vijay Ooman, of Nigeria in an earlier post. What he said is worth a second read:

When we hear and read of how a Christian nation, founded by those who left Europe because of the persecution they faced, has today abandoned that call, its not only sad but pathetic.

Can any of the western countries ever be called as a Christian nation any more? It is no different than a child denying his own parents and telling the world ‘ I dont know who they are”…

It is time the Churches in the west turned back to profess and be the witnesses they once were..

Based on the letters I get, I think a lot of Christians around the world are watching us here in America as we fight for our basic freedom of religion. American Christians need to start standing up for Jesus in their daily lives. If this misuse of the law to force us to violate our faith continues, we need to be prepared to practice non-violent civil disobedience. After all, don’t we sing in our churches that we are “soldiers of the cross?”

Are Pro-Life Democrats Being Hunted to Extinction by Their Own Party?

I’ve got a strong pulse for somebody who’s supposed to be extinct.

I am battered, chipped, stained and cracked in a few places. But extinct? Nope. I am a pro-life Democrat, and according to a recent Weekly Standard article, I am a living ghost of times past.

Is that true? Am I one of the last of my kind, the final dinosaur stumbling to the end of its species? Well … maybe. Maybe I am.

The Standard article makes a good case for the notion that even if there are a few pro-life Democrats rattling around, they are so compromised that they have no significance. Democrats for Life of America is a case in point. This gutsy little band of warriors keeps hanging on in the despised fringes of the larger Democratic party, doing their best to be the voice of life in the party of abortion.

I had great hopes for Democrats for Life of America. I still hope for them. I have spoken at their national convention, and was for a while one of their two state directors in Oklahoma. But as the Standard article makes clear, their presence at the Democratic National Convention this week was a sad affair marked primarily by the absence of anyone paying them the least little bit of attention. Not a single current Democratic office holder bothered to show up at their event.

They did have a smattering of former Democratic office holders. They were mostly people who either gave up or lost their office as a result of the fight to put pro life language into the Affordable Health Care Act. Pro-life Democrats took a beating in the last election, which explains the total lack of interest from those currently in power.

In my opinion the reason why pro life Democrats took such a drubbing at the polls in 2010 is simple. They compromised on the Affordable Health Care Act. There was a moment in time when pro-life Democrats held the aspirations of pro life people in their hands. They were the ones who had the power to force the President to accept language that would have blocked using federal money to pay for abortions. This language could have staved off attacks on religious liberty such as the HHS Mandate.

For a while they held tough. I remember how proud I was of them. Then, they blinked. I understand the enormity of the pressures they were under. I’ve read that at least one of them was threatened with the closure of military bases in his district. This would have cost thousands of his constituents their jobs. That’s not a small thing to an elected official. Your constituents trust you and rely on you to take care of them. When these power throw-downs come along, you are often all they’ve got. Protecting them becomes a reflex, similar to the reflexive way we jump to protect our children.

President Obama placed these Democratic office holders in the terrible position of either endangering the livelihoods of thousands of the people they were supposed to protect, or caving on the pro life amendments to the Affordable Health Care Act. That is the sort of threat that would make any decent office holder quake.

When he offered them empty promises as a sop, a way out, they jumped on those promises. The rest is history. The ink was barely dry on the Affordable Health Care Act when the President began to renege on the promises he made to pass it. We have now reached the point that he has turned it into a direct attack on religious freedom with the HHS Mandate.

But even before the HHS Mandate, the whole pro-life Democrat house of cards had come tumbling down.

Pro life people, rightly outraged, vowed to never support another Democrat. Those pro-life Democrats who had failed to fight to the death over the Affordable Health Care Act were mostly either defeated at the polls or simply decided not to run for re-election. What we got as a result was a Democratic Party that was even more fixedly pro abortion (as opposed to pro choice) and nihilistic than ever before. This distillation of the party also resulted in the loss of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. The party that was left was leaner, meaner and narrower in focus than ever before.

All this raises two questions, both of them very serious to the pro life cause and the future of our nation. The first question is simple and straightforward: Is it possible for anyone except an exception to be a pro life Democrat?

Odd as this may sound, I say yes, it is possible. But the person who undertakes this has to be tougher than the pro-life Democrats we’ve had before. It is not possible to be a pro-life Democrat and be well-liked or supported by your party. The pressures other Democrats put on pro life Democrats to compromise their beliefs are enough to squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond. Unfortunately what happens in practice is that they far too often manage to squeeze the diamond of a pro life Democrat into a lump of compromising coal.

I know something of these pressures. I’ve been attacked by my party for so long, in so many ways because I am pro life that I honestly have lost count and memory of a lot of it. After all, who wants to reminisce about the bad times? I’ve had other Democratic House members yell at me and tell me to get out of the party, not just once in a while, but almost every working day. I’ve been through the threats, slanders, pickets, censure votes and shunning. I’ve eaten lunch alone and sat by myself in meetings time after time and day after day. All because I am pro life.

I’m not going to go into the details, because the details don’t matter. What matters is that these pressures were always an attempt to get me to compromise. Not, mind you, to switch to pro choice, but to compromise. A lot of times what they wanted me to do was far more politically savvy than what I actually did do. They were willing to let me hide in plain sight and say I was pro life, just so long as I would compromise.

But I can’t reason my way past the tripping-up truths of the pro life cause to find a compromise that doesn’t involve either killing people or helping someone else kill people. I’m too unsophisticated and basic in the way I look at things to be confused by the obfuscations and serpentine reasoning that most people fall for.

I look past all that with my simple little Okie brain and think, I’m not gonna kill anybody. And I won’t help anyone else do it, either.

So, the answer is yes, you can be a pro life Democrat and do it right. But you’ve got to be willing to be a little bit politically stupid in the clinches. You can’t let yourself be fooled by the tomfoolery that will come at you. And you have to look ‘em in the eye when they threaten you and not blink.

How do you do this? You pray the Rosary every day. Go to daily mass. Go to confession frequently. Read the Bible. And spend lots of time with your family and real friends — you know, the people who aren’t impressed with you but who love you even when you’re in disgrace.

The answer, in short, is that you’ve got to stay grounded; grounded in Christ, grounded in the real relationships of your life

The second question is a little bit more complex. Does it matter if there are pro life Democrats?

After all, the pro life movement runs strong on the Republican side of the fence. Why not just keep investing where you get the best returns?

I won’t go into this too deeply since I’m going to talk about it a lot on this blog. But I will say that yes, it does matter. It matters because we can not ever build a culture of life with half the people. It matters because to a large extent the official Republican Party (as opposed to the rank and file) is flimflamming us with their vows of pro life fealty. It matters because our country cannot survive if it continues with this polarized win-at-all-costs-even-if-it-harms-the-country hyper partisan governance.

Are pro-life Democrats being hunted to extinction by their own party? Yes. We are.

Does it matter to this country and to the pro life movement if they are? Yes. It does.

If pro-life Democrats want to have a voice in the party, they’ve got to stop compromising their pro-life principles for the party. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I believe it’s a fact. However the real reason for not compromising is not to affect the party. It’s that you don’t and shouldn’t compromise about core values. Not killing people (to put it in my simplistic terms) is the core value. If human beings don’t respect human life, we descend rather quickly to a world where the biggest and meanest get to make all the rules.

The right to life is the basic human right. Nothing anyone can say has the power to change that. If we compromise there, then we’re not on a slippery slope, we’re in a chute, going straight down.

My Archbishop is Not a Wimp

Archbishop Coakley is the one in the middle.

My religious leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, is not a wimp.

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, along with a small group of Catholic bishops and priests from America, walked the El Camino de Santiago in Spain. The El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James) is a 100 mile pilgrimage that leads to the tomb of St James in Santiago, Spain. They made the walk August 21 to August 28.

The priests and bishops who made the pilgrimage together were: Archbishop Coakley, Bishop James Wall of Gallup NM, auxiliary Bishop James Conley of Denver Co,  Fr Gerry Baker of Owensboro KY, and Fr Don Kline of Pheonix, AZ.

I’ve been to the tomb of St James in Santiago. The church which houses the tomb has a stone near its entrance which has been kissed by generations of pilgrims as they complete their long walk. The stone is worn away, hollowed out, by a thousand years of pilgrims, touching their lips to its cool surface.

I kissed this stone. However, I cheated. I walked to the church … from my hotel. My “pilgrimage” was a lot less rigorous.

But then, I AM a wimp.

Clearly, my archbishop is not.

For more details, read here.

Dems Gavel God Back Into the Platform

The Democratic Convention approved an amendment to the Democratic Party Platform this evening returning God to the document.

Even though language including the name of God won the vote, it was hardly a slam-dunk. Amending the platform this late in the process requires a floor amendment and a 2/3 vote of approval from the delegates. Rather than allow a vote of each individual delegate, party officials decided the matter by gaveling through a voice vote.

Ohio Governor Ted Stricklin made the motion to include the words “make the most of their God-given potential,” and “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel” in the official Democratic Party Platform. It took two calls for a vote, and many who were in the hall claim that the nays yelled at least as loudly as the ayes, but Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared that the ayes had it and banged down the gavel, ending the matter. This was greeted by boos from delegates on the convention floor.

So there you have it. The Democrats have put the name of God back in their platform. Does anybody besides me question their sincerity?

Check here to see a video of the vote.

 

No Room for God in Demo Platform

In another one of those does this surprise anybody moves, the Democratic Party platform committee has removed references to God from their platform.

According to an article in The Examiner the new party platform removes the word “God” from this paragraph:

We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.

The new paragraph reads:

We gather to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth – the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.” 

The change is not significant in itself. I don’t think God is going to fall out of His heaven because a political party expunged His name from a paragraph in its platform. The significance of the change lies in its consistency. A one word change could mean anything, but when it is grouped alongside the HHS Mandate and party position on abortion and marriage, it becomes part of a pattern. That pattern says a lot. 

This change in language has no force of law. Democratic elected officials are not required to do what it says. But as a reflection of the values shift within the inner circle of party activists, I believe it is meaningful. It doesn’t so much change things as it acknowledges the way things truly are. 

Singin’ Those Swing State Blues

According to a recent Associated Press story, the upcoming presidential election will come down to how people vote in these seven states:

Colorado

Florida

Iowa

Ohio

Nevada

New Hampshire

Virginia.

The message for residents of these states is clear: Lock up your babies and little old ladies. It’s going to be a bumpy fall.

For the next three months, you and your vote will be the quarry of big-game hunting politicos willing to twist every knob, turn over every rock and crawl down every hole in search of that elusive 51% of the votes in your state.

You and your vote are the object of their desire, the purpose of their actions and the subject of their dreams. The candidates and their campaign teams will become your new best friends. They’ll prove it by never letting a moment of any campaign day slide by without reaching out to touch you in some fashion.

They’ll come to you over the phone with robo calls from the candidate, his wife, the governor, the mayor, your preacher and maybe a Hollywood star or two. Flip on your tv and they’ll blare at you with yappy ads. Go to your mailbox and there they’ll be again. You’ll be observed, polled and think-tanked to smithereens.

The reason for all this attention is simple. You can’t make up your mind.

After what seems like years of campaigning and political back and forth, you still don’t know which one of these two guys you want for your president. I’m not sure what it is about Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia that makes you so indecisive, but it does seem that this happens to you a lot.

While you folks are getting pummeled and pushed, the rest of us who live in the states that made up our collective minds a year ago will watch. We’ll see the “focus groups,” “on-the-spot-interviews” and on election day, the “exit polls” telling us minute by minute what your reactions are to each itty bitty piece of jaffe reporting and the rare actual issue that will come up.

We’ll see you become more tense;  hear your voices as they spiral higher. We’ll watch as the constant hammering from your new best friends Romney and Obama wears away your patience. We’ll listen as you sing those swing state blues.

But we know you. You will not make up your minds. When election day rolls around, you’ll surprise everyone by what you do, including, probably, yourselves.

Until that day (and may it come soon) you’ll just have to suffer your quadrennial punishment while the rest of us watch. Around my house, we’re going to lay in a store of popcorn, soft drinks and snacks so that we can kick back and have a good time at the upcoming three-month-long watch party.

As for those of you in the barrel, you are the front line of active Democracy. You know and I know that the day the election is over, your new best friends will pack up and go back to where they came from. They probably won’t even issue a good-bye robo call. The only way you’ll know they were ever there will be by the tilted campaign signs wilting in the rain and an occasional campaign mail piece hanging out the back end of a trash truck.

My advice to you is to spend the quiet of that day after the day when America chooses its next president unpacking your babies and little old ladies. You can tell them that it’s safe for them to come out now.

African American Pastors Form Group to Defend Marriage

On the eve of President Obama’s really big show in Charlotte, a group of African American pastors announced that they are forming a group to defend traditional marriage. The African American vote is crucial to the President’s re-election chances. I believe that the President will sweep the African American vote. The question is whether or not they will turn out with the same enthusiasm — and numbers — as they did four years ago.

President Obama’s announcement earlier this year that he now favors same-sex marriage and the Democratic Party’s inclusion of a plank supporting same-sex marriage in the Party platform may play a role in this situation.

What effect, if any, all of this will have on the outcome of the election remains to be seen.

New Christian group created to celebrate, defend marriage

By Michelle Bauman
William Owens, Jr., speaks about marriage during a press conference Aug. 29, 2012 in Tampa, Fla.

.- Pastors from across the country have come together to form an organization celebrating the important role of marriage and encouraging Christians to take action in support of it.

“For us to remain silent is for us to give consent to the belief that traditional marriage can be redefined,” said William Owens, Jr., founder of We Celebrate Marriage.

“This is not a time in our generation to be silent.” (Read more here.)

Public Humiliation, Forgiveness and Cardinal Cordileone

I do not drink when I know that I will have to drive later.

By that I mean I do not take a drink. Liquor does not cross my lips. I will not touch the stuff.

The reason? I don’t want to end up like Cardinal Cordileone of San Francisco.

According to an August 27 CNA article, Cardinal Cordileone was driving his mother home from dinner with friends when he was stopped in a DUI checkpoint. He was subsequently arrested for having a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.

Any arrest for driving under the influence is humiliating and expensive. For those of us who’ve never been through it, I would imagine that it’s also frightening. It would certainly scare me.

Public figures face a whole other level of humiliation and terror if they are caught drinking and driving. I am sitting here in Oklahoma. Cardinal Cordileone is over 1500 miles away in California. But I know all about his recent troubles. I know about his dinner, the drive with his mother, the DUI checkpoint and subsequent arrest. I also know that he is now issuing anguished press releases about the “disgrace” he thinks he’s brought on the Church.

Since he is a strong supporter of Church teachings on same-sex marriage, abortion and other hot-button issues, those who disagree with him may latch onto his embarrassment as a means of punishing him. He could end up drubbed and defamed from coast to coast. His only hope to slide by relatively unscathed is if other news — hurricanes and political conventions come to mind — prove more interesting.

I feel for every public figure who gets caught in one of these nasty little messes. This is partly because I know that there but for the grace of God go I. As I said, I won’t touch liquor when I know I’ll have to drive later, even if the later is hours in the future. I don’t even want to smell the stuff. But I am aware that there are plenty of other ways that I can walk out my front door and end up on the front page of the newspaper, looking like a fool, or worse. All it takes is a moment of inattentiveness and I am toast. We live in such an unforgiving world, and the media is so harsh in the way it treats people that the most innocent mistakes can and do become instruments of personal destruction.

This brings me to my second reason for feeling sympathy for those caught in these public traps. I’ve seen this kind of thing happen to enough people that I know that these mistakes and mishaps don’t reflect what kind of person they are or even how well they do their jobs.

I am sympathetic with Cardinal Cordileone. I would guess that he is telling the truth when he talks about feeling shame. I think he probably means it when he says he regrets what he sees as the disgrace he’s brought on the Church. But in truth the public facts of this situation are just not all that terrible. Having one too many at dinner with his mother and then getting caught with too much beer under his belt while driving her home is just not the worst story I’ve heard.

I know that driving drunk is dangerous. I am as aware as anyone that automobiles can inflict lethal damage. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been caught and then get the same punishment as anyone else. What I AM saying is that, in truth, nobody was hurt. He is going to pay the fine or whatever. I have a feeling that this is a lesson learned.

And he was driving his mother home from dinner.

It’s a terrible experience to have your private embarrassments become a source of public humiliation. The possibility of that happening is an omnipresent reality for public figures. Cardinal Cordileone has put the wrong foot forward in his new job, and he’s done it a very public and embarrassing way.

He says in his public penance press release that he hopes, “some good” will come out of it. Frankly, if his embarrassment does nothing more than underscore that California law is no respecter of persons, that’s quite a lot.

Missing Woman Searches for Herself

This hit my giggle bone and I have to share it.

Enjoy.

‘Missing’ woman unknowingly joins search for

herself

By Ron Recinto | The Sideshow – 7 hrs ago
A woman who was reported missing from an Icelandic tour unwittingly joined a search for herself.

According to the Reykjavik Grapevine, a woman described as “Asian, about 160cm, in dark clothing and speaks English well” was listed as missing Saturday near the Eldgjá volcanic canyon in southern Iceland.

A search continued through the weekend with reports saying she got off a tour bus and never returned.

It turns out the woman merely changed clothes during the bus stop, and after she returned, those on the bus didn’t recognize her.

When the description of the “missing” woman was circulated, apparently the lady who changed her outfit didn’t recognize the description of herself. So she joined the search party. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Coptic Christians in Egypt, Ready to be Martyrs

Ready To Be Martyrs

Coptic Christians in Egypt claim their ancient roots.
DAVID PINAULT | SEPTEMBER 10, 2012
the cover of America, the Catholic magazine

My sharpest memory from Cairo is what my driver said: al-Masih biygarribna, “Christ is testing us.” I’d hired Sami to drive me around the city. As soon as I saw on his wrist thewashma, a faded tattoo in the shape of a cross, I knew he was a Copt, a member of Egypt’s Christian minority, a community that predates the Muslim presence by centuries.

Since the early 1980s I had been to Egypt many times as a student of Arabic, as a researcher and as a tour guide on Nile cruise-boats. But this visit in 2012 was my first time back since the onset of the Arab Spring and Egypt’s “Lotus Revolution.”

As we drove, Sami told me about the persecution Copts endure at the hands of Egyptian Salafists. Salafists are Muslims who want an Islamist government in which the harshest interpretations of Islamic law (shariah) are privileged at the expense of both non-Muslims and progressive-minded Muslims. “Things had been less worse for us under Mubarak,” Sami said. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s authoritarian ruler until his ouster in the revolution, had suppressed Islamist radicals. But now, said Sami, the Salafists feel bold enough to burn churches, incite anti-Coptic riots and call openly for the expulsion of Christians.

I told him the statistics: in 2011 and 2012, since the revolution’s onset, over 100,000 Copts have fled Egypt. “Well, I’m not going to leave,” Sami insisted. “Christ is testing us. I tell my friends to stay. Christ could end this suffering, this trial, at any time. How will you feel, I tell my friends, if you’re in Canada instead of Egypt when Christ returns?”  (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Christians are the World’s Most Persecuted Religious Group

By Michael Gryboski , Christian Post Reporter
May 4, 2012|7:59 am

WASHINGTON – The head of a California-based evangelical religious liberty group stated Thursday that Christianity is presently the most persecuted religion on earth based on evidence gathered.
Dr. Carl Moeller told The Christian Post at an event on rising religious intolerance abroad that Christians are “the most persecuted in the world” when the nonprofit examined religious groups suffering from increased persecution.

“In terms of sheer numbers, the large size of the Christian populations around the world, where they’re repressed or restricted… Whether you count martyrs, those killed, or you count those living in regimes, sizable Christian populations live under extreme restrictions in places like China, Indonesia, and of course the Middle East,” said Moeller.

He noted that “the methodology for determining this was not from Open Doors necessarily. It was through organizations like Pew Research.”

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christians-most-persecuted-religious-group-in-the-world-says-expert-74332/#CAUz9TZKyZYKOcZF.99

Sonshine and Christopher Closeup

Do you need a spoonful of sugar to help the cynicism and anger of this campaign season go down? I can’t think of a better place to go looking for it than Christopher Closeup, written by fellow Patheos blogger, Tony Rossi.

Tony’s posts aren’t about May flowers and sunshine. They are about Sonshine; the grace of goodness and good that is all around us, if we just look for it.

For instance, what would you do if money came raining down in front of you? Would you keep it, or would you retrieve and return it to its rightful owner?

What Happened When a Volunteer Lost $800 Meant to Feed the Homeless? gives us one man’s answer. It is an affirmation of what good people are made of and how they behave when temptations float down on them from the car ahead.

As 77-year-old Jane Corbett drove to buy groceries for the St. Louis, Missouri, homeless shelter where she volunteers, hundreds of dollars were flying out of the envelope she had accidentally left on top of her car while buckling in her adopted special needs child.

Construction worker Ray Leuthauser, who was driving behind Corbett, saw what was happening and unsuccessfully honked at her to try to get her to stop. He finally just pulled over and started grabbing all the money flying around — over $300 — along with the Sam’s Club credit card that had come out of the envelope too.

The credit card was made out to Sts. Peter and Paul Church which is how Leuthauser tracked Corbett down to return the money … (Read more here.)

Check out Christopher Closeup next time you need a lift. You won’t be disappointed.

Labor Day and the Dignity and Value of Working People

Deacon Greg Kandra, over at The Deacon’s Bench, has a post today that pays a specifically Catholic and Christian tribute to the laborers of the world.

In all the ridiculous campaign hype about who “built this” we’ve forgotten that whatever it is, be it sky scraper, family home or interstate highway, it was laboring men and women who actually built it. They built it by the sweat of their brow, often for low wages and before they achieved the benefits won for them by organized labor, with no job security, retirement or health care.

As the daughter of a mechanic, the granddaughter of both a railroad engineer and a cowboy (I mean that. An actual, working cowboy who trained horses for the Cavalry in WWI.) and the Representative of tens of thousands of working people, I am proud to be part of a Church who sees the dignity and the value of the irreplaceable contributions of working people to our civilization.

Deacon Greg’s post is a quote from a former blue-collar worker, Pope John Paul II. It reads in part:

For Labor Day: “By means of work, man participates in the activity of God himself”
September 3, 2012 By Deacon Greg Kandra

Karol Wojtyla, as a young factory worker in Poland.

“I come from your midst. I come from the quarries of Zakrzowek, from the Solvay furnaces in Borek Falecki, and then from Nowa Huta. Through all these surroundings, through my own experience of work, I boldly say that I learned the gospel anew.” — Pope John Paul II, homily in Nowa Huta, Poland, July 1979.
“The truth that by means of work man participates in the activity of God himself, his Creator, was given particular prominence by Jesus Christ-the Jesus at whom many of his first listeners in Nazareth “were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him?.. Is not this the carpenter?’.” For Jesus not only proclaimed but first and foremost fulfilled by his deeds the “gospel”, the word of eternal Wisdom, that had been entrusted to him. Therefore this was also “the gospel of work”, because he who proclaimed it was himself a man of work, a craftsman like Joseph of Nazareth. And if we do not find in his words a special command to work-but rather on one occasion a prohibition against too much anxiety about work and life- at the same time the eloquence of the life of Christ is unequivocal: he belongs to the “working world”, he has appreciation and respect for human work. (Read more here.)


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