Pope Accepts Resignation of Two US Bishops Who are Charged with Sex Abuse Cover-Up

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of two more American bishops because the bishops were charged with sex abuse cover-ups.

The pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn in April after Bishop Finn was convicted of a charge of failure to report child abuse.

Now, he has accepted the resignations of Archbishop John Nienstadt and deputy bishop Lee Anthony Piche of St Paul Minnesota. Both bishops offered their resignations under canon law, which allows bishops to resign due to illness or other “grave” reasons.

From The Independent:

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of two bishops in the US who face charges of failing to protect children from a paedophile priest.

Prosecutors in Minnesota had charged the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis over an alleged sex abuse cover-up, accusing them of “turning a blind eye” despite repeated allegations against a priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys.

The Archbishop of St Paul, John Nienstadt, and a deputy bishop, Lee Anthony Piche, offered the Pope their resignations under a code of canon law which lets them step down due to illness or a “grave” reason leaving them unfit for office.

 

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Belgian GPs “Killing Patients Who Have Not Asked to Die.”

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Steven Depolo https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Steven Depolo https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/

Evidently, the greatest danger to an elderly person in Belgium is their doctor, a fact that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

If you give people the legal right to commit murder, they will commit murder.  What’s more, people who enjoy committing murder will be drawn to the profession which is allowed to kill without legal consequence.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Steven Depolo https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Steven Depolo https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/

We have become a society which only grants a basic right to life to those who are able to go into court and defend their lives themselves. Now, we are becoming a society in which even this opportunity to fight for your life in court is being removed.

Belgian doctors are killing people without informing either them or their families. The docs just decide who to murder, and then they murder them. There’s no room in that equation for legal challenges and courtroom appeals for a stay of execution. Belgium has evidently given its doctors the legal right to kill at will, with no corresponding right to protest on the part of their victims or their victim’s families.

It’s the Final Solution in a white coat.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Alden Chadwick https://www.flickr.com/photos/aldenchadwick/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Alden Chadwick https://www.flickr.com/photos/aldenchadwick/

From The Daily Mail:

Thousands of elderly people have been killed by their own GPs without ever asking to die under Belgium’s euthanasia laws, an academic report said yesterday.

It said that around one in every 60 deaths of a patient under GP care involves someone who has not requested euthanasia.

Half of the patients killed without giving their consent were over the age of 80, the study found, and two thirds of them were in hospital and were not suffering from a terminal disease such as cancer.

In about four out of five of the cases, the death was not discussed with patients subjected to ‘involuntary euthanasia’ because they were either in a coma, they were diagnosed with dementia, or because doctors decided it would not be in their best interests to discuss the matter with them.

Very often doctors would not inform the families of plans to lethally inject a relation because they considered it a medical decision to be made by themselves alone, the report published by the Journal of Medical Ethics said.

 

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Pope Francis: Gender Theory is a Threat to Marriage

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Getting rid of gender difference is the problem, not the solution …  We must do much more in favor of women if we want to give more strength to the reciprocity between mean and women. It’s necessary, in fact, not only that women be heard more, but that their voices have real weight, an authority recognized in society and in the Church. 

Pope Francis, speaking on Gender Theory.

Pope Francis, spoke to the bishops of the Caribbean, and he did what popes must do. He spoke out against a destructive ideology that attacks the dignity and value of human beings. The ideology in question is the trendiest of them all right now: Gender Theory.

“The sacrament of marriage … must be defended,” the Pope said. He urged the bishops to “emphasize family pastoral ministry.”

The Holy Father encouraged the bishops to avoid “wasting energy in divisions and clashes” … and to also avoid wasting their “real passion for the Kingdom of God” on these things.

He emphasized that “the Church is not tied to any political system so that it may always safeguard the transcendence of the human person.”

This is not the first time Pope Francis has made these points. I doubt that it will be the last.

Just the same, I think it’s important to emphasize these teachings, for the simple reason that they are being so successfully challenged in today’s world.

Pope Francis said that gender theory is a problem because it attacks human dignity and human value.

He also said — and this is something I have written about a lot — that the Church is not (or should not be) tied to any political system. I think that applies to people and their political parties as well. I see the political heresy as a serious problem for Christian witness and authenticity here in America.

In addition, he emphasized the dignity of women and the need for women’s voices to be heard in the Church. All I can say to that is Amen.

There is nothing new in Pope Francis’ statements. He’s made all of them before, and I trust that, given the world in which we live, he will have to make them many times again.

The question for bishops everywhere is how they will lead their priests in teaching, preaching and living out what the Pope is giving them. The work of the Church is to empower the laity so that the laity can convert the world, one person at a time.

There is a rubber meets the road point between parish priests and their parishioners that has to work if the Church is going to be the Church. It is a function of the trickle-down teaching that goes Pope, to bishop, to priest, to us; and from us to the world.

Only the laity lives in the world and intersects with the heart of the world at 2 billion points of light.

The Holy Spirit has sent us a holy Pope for these times. I pray for an army of holy bishops and holy priests to follow through on what he is teaching them by teaching us in turn.

From Vatican News:

The sacrament of marriage is one of the Latin American people’s most important treasures, the Pope says, and it must be defended. He urges them to emphasize family pastoral ministry in order to counter “serious social problems” such as “the difficult economic situation, migration, domestic violence” and  “unemployment, drug trafficking and corruption.”

No to gender ideology, protecting the complementarity between men and women

The complementarity between a man and a woman is being questioned by the so-called gender ideology in the name of a freer and more just society, the Pope observes. In fact, he warns, the differences between men and women are not a question of “opposition or subordination but rather of communion and generation… always in the image and likeness of God.” Without mutual giving- he adds – neither can have an in-depth understanding of the other.

Bishops are united to face the country’s problems

The Pope invites the Church leaders not simply to pray but also to reach out in friendship and “fraternal aid” to address the many serious problems facing Puerto Rico. And, he warns them against “wasting energy in divisions and clashes.” “The more intense the communion…the more it favors the mission,” he says.

Pope Francis encourages the bishops to distance themselves from any ideologies or political trends that can “waste their time and a real passion for the Kingdom of God.” Because of its mission, he points out, the Church is not tied to any political system so that it may always safeguard the transcendence of the human person.

 

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The Difference is Jesus: Man and Wife Launch Boat Rescue to Help Immigrants

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Sharonetta's Blossoming https://www.flickr.com/photos/shargadd2/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Sharonetta’s Blossoming https://www.flickr.com/photos/shargadd2/

Christians go out to rescue immigrants fleeing ISIS.

The difference is Jesus.

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Do You Wonder About the Shroud of Turin? There’s an App for That.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jim Linwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/brighton/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jim Linwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/brighton/

The Shroud of Turin is a mystery that hasn’t been solved. If you find the Shroud intriguing, there’s a new app to tell you about it.

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Today’s Tweet from Pope Francis

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Today the Church is a Church of martyrs, so many heroic witnesses. May we learn from their courage. 

Pope Francis

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Muslim Man Speaks of His Encounter with Jesus

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod   https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Our call as Christians is to convert the world. Witness to your love of Christ with your life, your words and your actions.

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Who is Jesus? Come and Kneel Before Him Now.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

It’s been a while since I posted this. I think it deserves another look.

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… and this one from Downey, California.

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… and Market Square in Knoxville, Tennessee

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House Defeats Pacific Trade Fast Track

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

The United States House of Representatives has defeated the fast track on the Pacific Trade Agreement.

This is what happens with Democrats and Republicans come together.

I’m sure that they voted together for different reasons. That’s the way things work, when they work. But the point is that the United States House of Representatives turned by the Imperial Presidency by voting no on the fast tracking of the Pacific Trade agreement.

This vote puts the trade agreement back on a normal path, where it can be amended and its contents can be discussed. I am entirely aware that many Republicans voted against fast-tracking simply because they saw it as an opportunity to embarrass the president. I am also aware that the Democrats voted against it because they wanted to preserve American jobs.

I am also aware, that the American people won this round, at least for now. That’s so unusual that it, alone is cause to celebrate. Now if we can just get Congress to realize that they can actually pass laws, even if they read them, discuss them and amend them like grown up lawmakers, we’ll really have a miracle.

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — House Democrats rebuffed a dramatic personal appeal from President Obama on Friday, torpedoing his ambitious push to expand his trade negotiating power — and, quite likely, his chance to secure a legacy-defining trade accord spanning the Pacific Ocean.

In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority — the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress — before it could even come to a final vote.

“We want a better deal for America’s workers,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader who has guided the president’s agenda for two terms and was personally lobbied by Mr. Obama until the last minute.

Republican leaders tried to muster support from their own party for trade adjustment assistance, a program they have long derided as an ineffective waste of money and sop to organized labor. But not enough Republicans were willing to save the program.

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What Would Happen if Fat People Stopped Hating Themselves?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel Oines https://www.flickr.com/photos/dno1967b/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel Oines https://www.flickr.com/photos/dno1967b/

There’s no end to the weight-loss, get-in-shape advice/programs/support groups rolling around the internet.

Most of them are useless, but harmless. A few of them are useless and harmful. Some of them cost $$. Others are free.

All of them work short term.

None of them work long term.

The most extreme and destructive of these is weight loss surgery. As usual for “reality” tv, (which I’m pretty sure ain’t all that “real”) there are cable tv shows dedicated to putting people who suffer from extreme weight problems on the air and letting us watch them go through extreme “solutions.”

These “solutions” range from shows that put fat people through punishing exercise routines that would, if most of us fatties tried them cold turkey, put us in the hospital. These exercise routines are punishing to the point of being downright dangerous.

The exercise punishment is coupled with extreme food makeovers that are just as harsh and punishing as the workout routines. Basically, the person is supposed to stop eating everything they like and begin eating everything they hate, and they aren’t supposed to eat much of that.

Then, we meet the sadistic “trainer” who yells at, belittles, demands and bullies the overweight person every step of the way. The cherry on top is the televised weigh-in, complete with the fear of public humiliation. I don’t know how much these cable networks pay their victims who participate in these shows, but whatever it is, it’s not enough.

Does anyone think that this is a sustainable lifestyle for a real person? Would anyone want to live their life like this? Living like this would be like living in an eternal Navy Seals training camp. Nobody is going to do that, including Navy Seals.

Another popular form of weight loss reality show is the televised miseries of people who undergo weight loss surgery. I am assuming that these people at least get their surgery/counseling/medical care paid for. If they don’t, they need to get a lawyer. These shows are exercises in public humiliation. The poor “star” of the show has to reveal their deepest emotional scars, including things such as sexual abuse, to the whole wide uncaring world.

They are forced to exhibit their folds of fat, and then, after the weight loss, their folds of hanging skin, all for our edutainment. We get to see their family fights, their messy houses and their break-downs of despair. It’s soooo much fun.

Does anybody realize how sick this stuff is? The underlying message in all these shows is that overweight people are freaks who deserve to be punished.

That underlying message is out there everywhere you go in our world. There are only three groups of people you can really pile on to today: Child molesters (If they are Catholic priests. If they are powerful movie directors, not so much.) any outspoken, traditional Christian, and fat people.

Why do we pick on fat people? What’s wrong with being Rubenesque?

I have a theory, which is backed up by nothing but my own thinking and a bit of historical fact. Here it is.

Historical fact: Not so long ago, it was skinny people who got the social boos. My own grandmother, who was born in 1886, suffered from being labeled “unatractively thin,” while her more rotund sister was “pleasingly plump.”

Somewhere early in the 20th Century this began to flip. Before too many decades, we had the Duchess of Windsor, aka, Wallace Simpson, aka the seductress who led a king to abdicate his throne, telling the world that “you can never be too rich or too thin.”

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by The Coincidental Dandy https://www.flickr.com/photos/69017136@N04/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by The Coincidental Dandy https://www.flickr.com/photos/69017136@N04/

In the years since Wallace Simpson was all the news, things have gotten much worse. Marilyn Monroe, the sex kitten of the 50s, would be considered fat by today’s standards. Twiggy, the model who became famous for being uber skinny would look like just another twig beside today’s celebrities.

Twiggy. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by RV1864 https://www.flickr.com/photos/summer1978/

Twiggy. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by RV1864 https://www.flickr.com/photos/summer1978/

Fashion models have literally starved themselves to death, trying to flatten the womanly curves off their bodies.

It’s a standard thing in some circles for women to starve themselves so completely that they begin to resemble boys instead of women. Then, they go to a surgeon and have fake breasts implanted under the skin of their chests to recreate the illusion of part of what they have starved away.

This is sick stuff folks. Really sick stuff.

How on earth did we get here?

My theory is based on the historical fact that this change in attitude about food occurred at the same time that our attitudes about sex began to change. There was a time not so long ago when our attitudes about sex were as punishing — especially for women — as our attitudes about food are now.

The hypocritical, cruel and destructive double standard reigned supreme. Women paid the whole price for human sexuality.

We could enjoy food back in those days, but not sex.

Now, we’ve gotten to the point that sex has become a kind of tyrannical monster that is forced on people. Force-feeding sex on a culture is not all that much better than punishing them for being sexual people in the first place. In fact, it’s beginning to look like it’s even more destructive.

At the same time that we’ve gone pagan about sex, we’ve turned hyper Victorian about food.

It’s as if we must be at war with our bodies on some level and we must make this war a form of societal condemnation and punishment for those hapless few who can’t fight the war and win. We need somebody to hate, because if we didn’t have somebody to hate, we’d have to look in the mirror, and face ourselves.

I think that this food sickness we’ve got going in our society is a symptom of widespread and endemic self hatred.

The first step out of cultural weight sickness is to stop pretending that it’s about a lack of self-discipline, addiction, laziness or any other defect.

Food, like sex, is good. Both of them are a gift from God. Both food and sex give great personal pleasure. They have the power to bring people together and create connections between them.

Sex, no matter what the sickos in our world tell you, makes a difference. Having sex with someone is, unless you are both really messed up people, a deeply bonding experience. It is the drive that brings men and women together to create family and civilization.

When it is abused, by turning it into a weapon, or degrading it into an animalistic function, it becomes harmful to the point of personal destruction. The antidote to this is the simple Christian teaching that sex is self-giving between two people. Viewed and lived through that prism, it’s a straight path to the joyous and fulfilling goodness of human sexuality.

It is the same with food. Sharing meals creates community, binds people together, makes it easier for them to talk and relate. There is a reason why meetings between heads of state always culminate in a banquet. That reason is part of who and what we are as social people. This drive for food is bound up in our relationships with others and with ourselves.

But when we turn food into a solitary and shameful act, a drive through the drive through, then gobble it down without being fully aware of what we are doing, we stuff down food’s immense power for good along with the hamburger and fries. The compelling impulse for food becomes a desolate act of self destruction that we repeat over and over again.

Photo  Source: Flickr Creative Commons by tracy ducasse https://www.flickr.com/photos/teagrrl/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by tracy ducasse https://www.flickr.com/photos/teagrrl/

We live such overworked, fractured lives that the simple pleasures of conversation, family meals with long, lingering discussions, laughter and just being together are lost to us. At the same time, we are burdened to the breaking point with the cultural guilt about and obsession with food.

The truth is that the celebrities we see with their emaciated bodies are only attractive when they are properly lit, expensively clothed, groomed, and Photoshopped. When you meet them in person, they look like walking x-rays. Many of them end up taking drugs to assuage the constant hunger they endure.

The first step out of our culture of weight sickness is to realize that it is a sickness. There is nothing normal about thinking about food all the time. It doesn’t matter if you are a binge eater stuffing down every candy bar in sight, or you are one of those walking x-rays taking drugs so the hunger pangs don’t overpower you; you are in the grip of a culturally induced obsession.

I think the first thing the fatties of the world, including me, need to do is stop hating ourselves for being fat. We need to stop punishing ourselves with food and over food. That’s a tough boogie I’m talking about. It means going in the face of a tsunami of cultural messages. It means taking the self-hate we’ve been taught and drop kicking it off the front porches of our emotional lives.

It takes real guts to go against the world around you. But Christians should be well-equipped for the task since we face the choice of the world or Jesus just about every single day of our lives.

I think I’m going to go to the grocery store and buy the makings of a really good meal. I’m going to buy my favorites. Then, I’m going to cook it and invite a few folks over for supper. I intend to enjoy the food and enjoy my guests.

I wonder what would happen if we stopped all this craziness and just started using food in the way God intended it to be used. What if we enjoyed it without guilt, shared it with pleasure, savored it, licked every last morsel off the spoon and then leaned back in our chairs and grinned?

One thing I’m pretty sure of is that I wouldn’t be any fatter. And I certainly would be a lot happier.

I think I’m going to try this. Enjoying food and not feeling guilty about it is my new diet. I wonder what will happen.

Now, let’s talk.

 

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Will Gay Marriage Lead to “Marriage with Multiple Partners?” Emory Symposium Says No.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Bombman https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajay_g/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Bombman https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajay_g/

If the Supreme Court creates a 14th Amendment right to gay marriage in it upcoming decision, will that open the gateway to a legal right to polygamy?

Justice Alito asked that question directly during hearings on this decision. There was predictable outrage in certain quarters because of Justice Alito’s question.

Now Emory Law Journal attempts to put the question to rest by taking it seriously and answering it in the negative.

The journal recently held a “paper symposium” on this question. The upshot of the papers it published is that polygamy imposes a preponderance of harm to the human rights of women and children, as well as to the social order in terms of polygamy’s poverty and inequality creating force within societies.

For this reason, that authors argue that America would be able to avoid legalizing marriage between anybody and anything, even if gay marriage is considered a 14th Amendment right, based on arguments in favor of the public good.

This is sophistry in defense of what the authors consider to be a done deal. The forward to the symposium flatly states that the author anticipates that the Court will find a “right” to gay marriage in the 14th Amendment.

These papers and this symposium attempt to soften the blow of such a decision. They’re a scholarly version of the there-there-little-buttercup, it-doesn’t-mean-all-that-much stuff that came out after the DOMA decision. That was bogus then, and this line of reasoning is bogus now. Here’s why.

The authors of these papers seek to answer the serious question of what legal basis for restricting marriage to any definition at all remains if the Court creates a 14th Amendment right to gay marriage. They answer that there is a basis for restricting marriage to two people. Their reason for claiming that the courts will protect marriage between two people is, essentially, because it is best for the common good. 

The authors outline arguments against polygamy and for restricting marriage to two people based on the harms polygamy inflicts on society and on persons. They emphasize the obvious harms to the the civil and human rights of women and children that are inherent in polygamy, and also discuss polygamy’s poverty-creating force, as well as its destructiveness to men without money. They then claim that this gives the state a legitimate legal basis for restricting marriage to two people.

In other words, they are claiming that creating a 14th Amendment right to gay marriage will not lead to future rulings in favor of polygamy because polygamy harms the common good.

This is nonsense. The Catholic Church cares about the common good. The United States Supreme Court clearly does not.

The Court has a long history of ignoring the public good in decisions such as this. The Supreme Court single-handedly created the culture war that is ripping this country apart with it bench legislating in the Roe v Wade decision. It set the country on the road to destruction of marriage with the hydra-headed DOMA decision.  If it uses the 14th Amendment to create a “right” to gay marriage, it will simply be doing more of the same.

The idea that we can base our hopes of preventing a rush to legalize marriage between everybody and everything by trusting the Supreme Court’s desire to protect the common good is fantastical.

If the Supreme Court “finds” (good word) a 14th Amendment right to gay marriage, the agitation to legalize polygamy will ramp up within a couple of months, if not sooner. If you think I’m being alarmist, then hide and watch.

This agitation will be coupled with an all-out attack on the First Amendment rights of small business owners as well as individuals who express opinions in the workplace or other public venues that challenge politically correct thinking.

I remember when the DOMA decision was handed down, I predicted that what has happened would happen. A number of people said that I was being too negative, when in fact, I was deliberately down-playing what was coming. I’m telling you now that I’m also soft-peddling what will happen if the Supreme Court creates a right to gay marriage under the 14th Amendment.

That would be a draconian decision.

Go here to read the papers published in Emory Law’s symposium on marriage.

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Beautiful Chalkboard Drawings from a 1917 Okie School Uncovered

Photo Source: Flick Creative Commons by Todd Petrie https://www.flickr.com/photos/58869428@N05/

Photo Source: Flick Creative Commons by Todd Petrie https://www.flickr.com/photos/58869428@N05/

 

You’ve got to click on this link and look at these. They are beautiful.

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Islamic Brotherhood Tries to Shut Down ISIS in Gaza

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Global Panorama https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Global Panorama https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/

According to Haarvetz, the Islamic Brotherhood has been trying to shut down ISIS’ activities in Gaza. ISIS has responded with accusations that the Islamic Brotherhood is “too soft” on Israel.

From Haarvetz.com:

Islamic State supporters in Gaza have given the ruling Hamas movement a 48-hour deadline to halt its crackdown on them.

A statement sent to media on Monday did not say what the ISIS supporters would do if the crackdown continued. It included a claim of responsibility for a rocket fired at Israel from Gaza last week. The claim could not be independently verified.

Hamas has launched a crackdown on radical Islamists following a series of unclaimed bombings, arresting activist and seizing arms.

The extremists accuse Hamas of being soft on Israel and failing to impose religious law. It’s unclear how many ISIS supporters are in Gaza, or if any have operational links to the extremist group.

Meanwhile, Hamas security forces killed an activist of a rival Islamist militant group in a shoot-out at his Gaza home on Tuesday, witnesses said.

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Broken Papal Staff Fixed with Tape During Sarajevo Mass

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

When the Papal Staff breaks at the last minute before a really big mass in Sarajevo, what’s Pope Francis to do?

Whip out the tape!

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The Junk Food Fix is More Than One Person’s Bad Choice. It’s an American Problem.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Maurice Svay https://www.flickr.com/photos/mauriz/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Maurice Svay https://www.flickr.com/photos/mauriz/

My brave, witty and beautiful colleague, Katrina Fernandez, writes with the uninhibited gusto of a natural born wordsmith.

She has her finger on the pulse of the American condition. Her struggles with making ends meet as a single Mom in our current “jobless recovery” echo those of a lot of people I know, including my own family members. Her passion for Christ and His Church, her love of art and her fearless honesty make her one of the best reads on the internet.

Katrina has lately taken on the bugaboo of a whole raft of us working class Americans:  the demoralizing and doomed-to-defeat battle against overweight. Every word she writes, I can affirm from my own overweight life. Every defeat she encounters, every frustration and every small victory are experiences that millions of us have shared.

This topic of discussion fascinates a lot of us for the simple reason that Katrina is not alone in her predicament. Most of us live our lives in what Thoreau once described as “quiet desperation.” The difference is, in today’s world there is nothing quiet about our desperation.

We shout our frustrations for all the world to hear, but, despite our shouting, we do not comprehend them. How much of our food obsession and chronic widespread obesity is a reaction to the larger desperation of people who are pushed as far as they can be every single day of their lives?

All you have to do is leave this country and spend a few days in a place like Spain to come back and see and feel for yourself the driven, nerved-up atmosphere of our America. We are living through an implosion of our national wealth which is being siphoned off from the many and redeposited in the bank accounts of the very, very few.

We are, in fact and in truth, being systematically stolen blind by our government, which is the operative force in this theft.

What I’m saying is that we are getting poorer every single day. It is becoming harder and harder for ordinary Americans to make enough money to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table and a running car in the garage.

We have splintered our families to the point that vast numbers of Americans are trying to row their boat with one hand. Single parents try to be two people. But they can’t. Not really.

We work long hours for low pay and fewer benefits every year. We send our children to substandard schools that throw them into contact with drugs, gangs and that teach them moral nihilism. Our tax dollars are used to manipulate our children into a valueless worldview that is anathema to us and to their futures.

We are forced to leave our children alone in our homes for many hours a week while we try to make a living. We face a future in which any chance of getting off the treadmill to retire is being challenged by politicians who work for corporatists who want this last big pool of money, which is the retirement savings of generations, for their own use.

We are tired to the point of exhaustion almost every day of our lives. We do not have the energy and leisure for reflection and thought. At the same time, the media bombards us constantly with one pounding crisis after another. We are propagandized, lied to and manipulated in a deliberate fashion on a constant basis by this same media.

At the end of our long day, we do not feel like cooking a meal. We are too tired to wheel a shopping cart through a grocery store. It is simpler and in fact less expensive to go through the drive-through at the local fast food joint and pick up a sack of something. We can be sure that this something will be heavily seasoned with fat, sugar and salt. We can be equally sure that it will not contain anything resembling a balance of food types and nutrients.

But we have learned to find satisfaction in the sledge-hammer hit of fats, sugar and salt. The carbs and fats hit our systems like a drug fix. They energize us for the moment and the powerful tastes assuage our longing for pleasure. Eating this stuff passes for a momentary time-out. It feels like comfort.

Food, used like this, is not about nourishment. It is not the pleasurable and relaxing experience of partaking of a well-balanced, home-cooked meal with family and friends. There is no lingering over the last morsel and laughing about the day’s problems.

This kind of eating is a buy-it-quick, stuff-it-down fix. We need the outlandish calorie counts supplied by all that fat and sugar to satisfy our hunger because the food itself is so low in so many essential nutrients. The sugar-fat-salt fix soothes our taste buds and raises our blood sugar so that we feel a short-lived high.

Of course, this doesn’t last. Unlike a real meal composed of good food, the high from this something we’ve bought at the drive through goes away in a relatively short time. Unlike a meal at the kitchen table with friends and family, it does nothing to relieve the day’s pressures and assuage the anxieties that keep us up at night, even when we ache from tiredness.

Before we have begun to burn the high number of calories we’ve consumed, the gnawing hungers, both physical and emotional, are back. Our bodies push us to eat again because they haven’t been properly nourished. Our minds beg us to binge because we need surcease from being, as Alcoholics Anonymous says, too hungry, angry, lonely and tired.

We have nobody to talk to. We have no other outlets in our time-starved lives where we can vent. We are pushed around, abandoned, scared and alone with our miseries. We really are too hungry, angry, lonely and tired to fend off that call for a junk food fix.

Our national problem with obesity is not so much a problem with food as it is that we don’t have healthy options for dealing with the many desperations of our existence. We live in a nation that has been at war for almost 15 years. Our country has been economically at war since around 1939.

Our government has been hijacked by corporatists who are draining the national purse as well as our private purses and taking the money for themselves. The government tells us that inflation is flat, yet every time we go to the grocery store or fill a prescription or guy a gallon of gas, we know that this is not true. Inflation is, in fact, running pretty high. The government has just cooked the books so it does not have to admit it.

The stock market has been going up and up, yet the people of this country can’t find jobs and when they do find jobs, they can’t live on what they are paid. They do not have retirements, the roads and bridges aren’t being repaired, tuition keeps going up and scads of people can not afford the health insurance being offered by the Affordable Health Care Act.

There isn’t time in most people’s lives to drop in at a gym and work out every day. Besides, people who never get enough sleep at night don’t feel like working out. The only pleasure a lot of people in this country get on a reliable basis is stuffing down that junk food they got from the drive through.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we will not solve the problem of widespread obesity in this country until and unless we solve the problems of lost community, no free time and fear of the future that haunts the American people. I’ve also come to the conclusion that it’s up to us to do this for ourselves.

Widespread obesity is a symptom of many huge problems facing the American people. If you find your community on the internet, instead of the flesh and blood people around you, if you are chronically exhausted from lack of sleep, if you ache all over from lack of exercise, if you can’t find a job or if you have a job, it doesn’t pay your bills, if you have no idea whatsoever where you would go or who would take care of you if you got cancer or when you grow old, then you are not living the American dream. You are living the American nightmare.

Is it any wonder that you find it so hard to give up the one pleasure you have? When a Big Mac becomes the best thing in your life, you won’t be able to stay away from it, no matter how hard you try.

We the People tamed this continent. We built railroads across the wilderness, created an industrial empire like nothing the world had ever seen. We won world wars and put men on the moon. We created a standard of living, not just for the few, but for a whole nation of Americans, that, again, the world had never seen before.

Now it is being taken from us. The only thing our government seems capable of doing is waging constant war. It will not spend our money on us. It does not build roads, does not provide decent education. It goes in your face against our values and needs.

The government has steadily siphoned off the wealth of this great nation for decades now. It has transferred monies that once enriched all the citizens of this nation into the hands of a few. It has exported our industrial base and the jobs that go with it. It has ignored the people on a consistent, bi-partisan basis.

Meanwhile, We the People tear our lives apart with senseless divorces, too much debt, increasingly splintered communities, zoning out in front of the computer or the television, and of course, those trips through the junk food drive throughs.

We are sitting by while we are being stolen blind by our own government, while our young people turn feral from no family life, bad schools and sicko social values and while we commit slow suicide from overeating, under exercising and constant sleep deprivation.

I am not speaking of these thing from the outside. I am one with most of these problems. I eat out too much, don’t exercise enough and so seldom get enough sleep that when I do I am astonished by how good I feel. Over-eating, under-exercising exhaustion is my normal.

I’ve decided I’m going to join brave Katrina Fernandez and blog about my own battle of the bulge. I’ve done this before when I published a series of posts under the title, Less of Me. I’m going to resurrect that title and post under it again.

I see overweight/under-exercise/lack of sleep as a widespread societal problem and a deeply humiliating and utterly defeating personal problem.

If there is a way out of this cycle, I have never found it.

If you want to read something like Ten Quick Fixes for Weight Loss, you need to skip my discussion and go somewhere else. However, I can guarantee you before you go there that it will not help you one bit to read those ten quick fixes. Because there aren’t any quick fixes. Because the problem itself is bigger than the individual. Because when an entire nation of people experience such a devastating malady as this, there is much more afoot than simple lack of will power and bad personal decisions.

The junk food fix and everything that goes with it is a societal problem. It is a maladjustment and a source of illness for tens of millions of Americans.

I am one of those Americans.

Let’s talk.

 

 

 

 

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Six Sisters Who Serve American Indian Village Feel Blessed

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stijn De Clercq https://www.flickr.com/photos/stijndc/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stijn De Clercq https://www.flickr.com/photos/stijndc/

Sisters who serve feel blessed, and they are a blessing.

From Catholic News Service:

BAPCHULE, Ariz. (CNS) — Sister Pamela Catherine Peasel is a rarity in modern Catholic religious life.

She’s in her 30s — only 1 percent of women religious are. And she’s an elementary school teacher. Fewer than 2,000 women religious — 2 percent of all sisters — teach in U.S. Catholic grade schools.

Yet she said she’s joyfully where she needs to be and is not discouraged by the few number women choosing religious life.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a drop in vocations as much as there is a drop in the ‘yes’ — you know, the response to the call,” she told Catholic News Service during a recent interview at St. Peter Indian Mission School in Bapchule. “I think God is calling and calling and calling.”

Life’s many choices can be overwhelming to young people. Considering religious life is a challenge for most, she said.

“It’s having to center your heart in prayer, listening for that call and then responding to it. The more we live that joyful attitude, I think that’s a big attraction to our life.”

 

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Court Upholds Texas Law Requiring Abortion Clinics to Meet Outpatient Surgery Standards

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Bridget Coila https://www.flickr.com/photos/bibbit/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Bridget Coila https://www.flickr.com/photos/bibbit/

Actually, it’s a no-brainer.

And no, it does not require abortion clinics to close.

I’m talking about a Texas law that requires free-standing abortion clinics to meet the same safety standards as any other free-standing surgery center. The law does not, as its opponents imply, close abortion clinics. It does make them safer for women.

It’s an odd sort of “reproductive health” that fights laws that simply require abortion clinics to meet the standards of every other outpatient surgery center. After all, the clinics perform an outpatient surgery we call an elective abortion. It seems that requiring them to meet the standards of every other outpatient surgery center would be a no-brainer.

From The New York Times:

WACO, Tex. — A federal appellate court upheld some of the toughest provisions of a Texas abortion law on Tuesday, putting 13 of the state’s abortion clinics at risk of permanently shutting their doors, which would leave the nation’s second-most populous state with eight abortion providers.

The appellate court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, sided for the most part with Texas and the abortion law the Republican-dominated Legislature passed in 2013, known as House Bill 2. It ruled that Texas can require all abortion clinics in the state to meet the same building, equipment and staffing standards as hospital-style surgical centers. Thirteen clinics whose facilities do not meet the new standards could be forced to close, leaving many regions without abortion clinics.

The court cited the explanations given by the Texas Legislature for what is considered one of the most restrictive abortions laws in the country.

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Actor Mark Wahlberg Says His Priest Saved Him from “Life of Drugs and Violence.”

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by WEBN-TV https://www.flickr.com/photos/politicalpulse/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by WEBN-TV https://www.flickr.com/photos/politicalpulse/

Parish priests are where the rubber meets the road.

If the parish priest fails, the Church fails.

We need to pray for these men in collars. They have a grave responsibility for souls.

Actor Mark Wahlberg left a life of drug and violence which resulted in him being charged with attempted murder to become a devout follower of Christ.

“I pray every day and try to go to church every day. My faith in God is what makes me a better man,” he says, earnestly. “It’s the most important part of my life. I pray that I will live up to my intention to be the best husband and father than I can be. I never would have been able to change my life and have the success and love that I have in my world today without my faith.”

This dramatic change is a testament to what can happen when the shepherding of a priest combines with God’s redemptive mercy. It is also a testament to the fact that we are, each of us, works in progress.

The article I quote below says that Mr Wahlberg is in a “committed relationship” with the mother of his four children. It turns out that they were married in the Church after having been together for a number of years. They had three children at the time of their marriage.

The ever-forgiving, always-loving Catholic Church welcomed them home.

From Square Mile:

For the longest time, it didn’t look as if Mark Wahlberg would make it beyond the prison cells of Boston – never mind to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. As a teenager he was arrested and detained multiple times – he was once charged with attempted murder (although pleaded guilty to assault) – and was addicted to cocaine before the age of 15. His biography is almost as extensive for his misdemeanors as his filmography.

It’s something he’s asked about a lot in interviews, and something that he always responds to. It’s also what makes him a controversial actor: some believe that he didn’t deserve a second chance, particularly given the nature of some of his crimes, but he’s always maintained that he has had to put the past behind him. That ‘kid from the wrong side of the tracks’ vibe stayed with him and his image as the bad-boy of Hollywood served him well, but the most important thing he remembers from this period is his faith.

It was religion that helped Wahlberg back onto the straight and narrow after his parish priest took him under his wing, and he’s retained that faith to this day. “I pray every day and try to go to church every day. My faith in God is what makes me a better man,” he says, earnestly. “It’s the most important part of my life. I pray that I will live up to my intention to be the best husband and father than I can be.

I never would have been able to change my life and have the success and love that I have in my world today without my faith.”

 

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