2013 Favs: The War on Girls: Sterilize Your Teen-Aged Daughter for Free (and without your consent)

I’ve been aware of this for several months. I’ve wanted to blog about it, but the Democrats and the Republicans have taken up sooooo much space with their shenanigans that I kept putting it back.

Today is the day.

Did you know that the “women’s health” advocates in our government are making sterilization available to teen-aged girls without parental consent?

I could rant about the obvious hypocrisy in this. I could also talk about the hundred-year history of eugenic sterilizations and manipulations of women’s bodies that continues into the present. In fact, I AM going to do both those things. For a starter, check out another of today’s posts here.

But for today, I think I’ll let the facts speak for themselves. This is an excerpt of a CNS article talking about the phenomena of government-sponsored sterilizations for teen-aged girls without parental consent. 

Oh, and one more tiny thing: This is one of the things that the HHS Mandate would force the Catholic Church and all Christian ministries to pay for. 

I’ll talk about this more in the future. Stay tuned. Here’s the article:

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2012 / 04:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Minor children on their parents’ health care plans will have free coverage of sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing drugs, under the controversial HHS mandate – and depending on the state, they can obtain access without parental consent.

Matt Bowman, senior counsel for the religious liberty legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the mandate “tramples parental rights” because it requires them to “pay for and sponsor coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, contraception and education in favor of the same for their own children.”

The Department of Health and Human Services ruled in January 2012 that most employers who have 50 or more employees must provide the coverage as “preventive care” for “all women with reproductive capacity.”

The mandate also requires the coverage for beneficiaries, including minors, on the affected health plans, Bowman told CNA Sept. 20. That means that a minor on her parents’ plan could be sterilized if she finds a doctor willing to perform the procedure.

“She can be sterilized at no cost,” Bowman stated. “Whether her parents will know and/or consent might differ by state. But the Guttmacher Institute and other abortion advocates explicitly advocated for this mandated coverage of minors so that access without parental involvement might be able to increase.”

The Guttmacher Institute, in a Sept. 1 briefing on state policies, said that an increase in minors’ access to reproductive health care over the last 30 years shows a broader recognition that “while parental involvement in minors’ health care decisions is desirable, many minors will not avail themselves of important services if they are forced to involve their parents.”

The institute, the former research arm of abortion provider Planned Parenthood, said that 26 states and the District of Columbia allow all minors 12 years and older to consent to contraceptive services. At least one state, Oregon, allows 15-year-olds to consent to sterilization. (Read more here.)

2013 Favs: Message to Martin Bashir: Words Hurt

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I am confused.

I do not understand the depth of hatred that so many people with microphones and word processors evidently feel toward Sarah Palin.

Many of them disagree with her opinions. I disagree with quite a few of her opinions.

But I don’t feel any desire to use this blog to call her names or degrade her as a human being or (God forbid) say things that would incite others to harm her in any way.

Sarah Palin seems to drive a certain segment of the trendy left right past any vestige of their civility and on into barbaric name-calling and sexist word violence that can only be described as cloaked pornography.

A case in point is the comments by MSNBC host Martin Bashir. Pretending to be talking about slavery, Mr Bashir went on to describe things that he said (I imagine this is true, btw) came from an old journal describing the treatment of slaves.

References to historic sources aside, the only times I have heard people describe that sort of treatment at the hands of other people in today’s world was gang rape victims describing the degrading, dehumanizing things done to them by their attackers. Since Mr Bashir is presumably far better acquainted with the twenty-first century than the eighteenth, I assume that he knows this.

He ended this disgusting recital by announcing that Governor Palin deserved the same treatment.

As always happens with these things, Mr Bashir has now issued an apology, which, of course, does nothing to ameliorate the harm he’s done, not only to Governor Palin, but to women everywhere.

I, for one, am tired of this.

Words hurt.

It would have been possible to discuss the remarks made by Governor Palin without calling her any names at all. In fact, the one thing Mr Bashir did not do was give me or any other viewer a reason to think that what the Governor had said was inaccurate. He never discussed that at all.

Instead, he went off immediately into a vicious string of names and then launched onto his history lesson and ended with the judgement that Sarah Palin deserved the same brutal treatment he had just described.

The thing which he, in my opinion, pretended had offended him was that the Governor used the word slavery in her discussion, as in the well-known and commonly-used phrase “economic slavery.”

Now, you may believe that Mr Bashir was so offended by the word “slavery” used in an economic context that he temporarily lost his senses. But even if that is true, it does not excuse what he said. Only insanity to the point of an active delusional psychosis in which he did not know what he was doing would excuse calling for any other person to be treated the way he called for Governor Palin to be treated, and that degree of mental illness would certainly disqualify him from his position.

Mr Bashir is a star. He is a highly-paid professional. There is, or there should be, quite a bit of responsibility in that. If he’s unable to control himself when he hears words like “slavery,” then he may be too emotionally labile for his position.

No professional newsperson who is the voice of a worldwide news organization should be calling for violence of any sort, much less violence of this type, against those they claim to cover. They should not be calling the people whose lives they report names.

What level of journalism is this that Mr Bashir operates from that he can go on the air and behave in this manner toward a woman who is the former governor of one of the fifty states, a former nominee for the Vice Presidency of the United States, and the mother of five children?

What has Sarah Palin done, besides have opinions that some people disagree with and express those opinions strongly, that merits such hatred?

It has reached the point that I know that I’m going to be called a few names for saying this; which is precisely why I am saying it.

No one deserves this kind of treatment. Disagree with her positions. That is fine.

But stop trashing her as a human being, and stop singling out prominent women for pornographic viciousness.

2013 Favs: Smoke Signals, Courier, Carrier Pigeons, Telegraph, Telephone, Email and Now Tomahawk Missiles? You Gotta Be Kidding Me.

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Bombing in warfare can serve tactical purposes.

Say, for instance, that you are at war with a country that has actual war-making capabilities. This hasn’t happened to America in a long time, so let my refresh your memories.

Remember Pearl Harbor?

The Japanese people who attacked us were able to build airplanes, aircraft carriers and guns of all types. They had the ability to train their own pilots, navigate their own ships and come half-way around the globe to launch a devastating attack that sank most of the Sixth Fleet. Then, they had the ability to turn around and go back across the ocean to their home port.

That is war making ability.

You know, the ability to wage actual war on a global scale.

If you are at war with a nation with war-making ability, bombing can serve the purpose of leveling their factories where they make these planes and ships. It can cut the supply lines they use to feed these factories and move their troops. In short, dropping bombs on or shooting missiles at an industrial power with war-making ability during an actual war can serve a strategic and tactical purpose.

This raises the question, at least in my mind, of what, exactly, the backers of the president’s proposed “intervention” in Syria expect to accomplish by lobbing tens of millions of dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles at innocent civilians because their government or maybe their government’s opponents … because somebody used sarin gas.

Sarin gas is a gas. It can be carried in a canister. There are comments in various news stories that Syria has “stockpiles” of chemical weapons and that it also is “manufacturing” them. But I find even more sources theorizing that they got these weapons from Saddam Hussein, or even that the United States gave them to Syria a long time ago.

So far as I can tell from this, Syria has no munitions or chemical weapons plants where it is manufacturing this gas that would make legitimate tactical targets. I haven’t found anything except vague, unsubstantiated claims in the popular press that such sites exist.

So, are there military targets that are linked to the sarin gas or not? I keep remembering the way President Kennedy outlined the menace to the American people at the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He spoke to us in a straight-forward 1,2,3 manner. That was a serious threat to our survival as a nation, not some we-can’t-explain-it nonsense. But that president trusted the American people with the truth.

If there is such truth now, we have a right to hear it. Based on the fact that we haven’t heard it, I am assuming that the only reasons for creating this war are the reasons that we’ve been given, none of which claim any threat to America or the American people.

That raises the question: What does our president and the war-promotion machine that’s hammering us think they are going to accomplish by hitting these already miserable people with Tomahawk missiles?

What is the military objective? What tactical purpose does this proposed attack supposedly serve?

The only explanation I’ve read as to what they hope to accomplish came in an unintentionally silly little article from NBC News. According to them, we want to use these missiles for “sending messages” (I kid you not.) to the Syrian government. For instance, the article says (emphases mine),

The U.S. Navy can use those capabilities to send a message to Syria’s leaders about their chemical weapons program, just as it sent messages in the past to leaders of IraqYugoslaviaAfghanistan, SudanYemen and Libya.

Almost as important, the Tomahawks can send messages back — in the form of real-time battle damage assessments. As in those earlier conflicts, Tomahawk cruise missiles are America’s point of the spear for the Syria crisis. President Barack Obama and his aides, members of Congress, leaders of other countries and U.N. officials are continuing to debate if and when to attack Syria. Meanwhile, Pentagon leaders have their battle plan ready, and the Tomahawks are expected to deal the first blow.

Now, I’m familiar with the use of the phrase “send him a message” as it is used in trite movies to describe wreaking some form of mayhem on a character by other characters in the screen play. The dialogue usually begins with a command to burn down someone’s house, kill their family, beat them to a pulp or some such and “send him a message.”

I assume that may be what the writer of this article is talking about.

What kind of message are we supposed to be sending by firing thousand-pound bombs at the people of Syria?

Is the plan to devastate the infrastructure so that the government crumbles and the rebels win this civil war? Do we want the rebels to win this war? Who, exactly, are these rebels, and who is backing them? What kind of future war would we create by getting into this?

I wonder if the president and his crew have considered other means of sending messages. I mean, have they tried email? Or how about sending a courier or using carrier pigeons?

Anything  makes more sense than “sending a message” with Tomahawk missiles.

Unless these missiles are sarin-seeking, or known stockpiles and manufacturing plants we haven’t been told about exist, we’re not going to get at the chemical weaponry. What we are going to do is kill people, create even more havoc and entangle America and Americans in somebody else’s civil war.

I listened to Secretary of State Kerry’s testimony before Congress as he flatly refused to “take the option” of “boots on the ground” “off the table.”

Aside from the question, Do these people really talk in unending strings of cliches? I wondered how many of the people listening to this understood what he was saying. He wants authorization for Tomahawk missiles now, with whatever the president decides he wants to do to follow.

He’s saying this vote is a blank check.

Also, for those people who seem to keep forgetting this, he wasn’t talking about sending boots to Syria. He was talking about sending American men and women over there to die.

Maybe the reason for all the hackneyed cliches is because nobody, either in Congress or the White House or the press for that matter, wants to say precisely what it is that they are proposing. It just doesn’t have the same Rambo/Corleone-esq macho block-headedness to say the truth.

What if the Secretary of State had said,

  • We probably will send ground troops into Syria. We haven’t decided how many or for how long.
  • We are certain that we are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fire Tomahawk missiles at non-military targets in a largely defenseless nation which doesn’t have any military targets.
  • This talk about a “red line” is just for public consumption. We created the “red line” a few weeks ago, and are relying on the propaganda press and the short attention spans of the American people to sell it for us.
  •  We are not going to discuss the rumors of Russian involvement in this war because if we didn’t ignore it, this attack would be even harder to sell to the American people than it is now.
  • In the final analysis, after all this bizarro cliche talk about “sending messages” with Tomahawk missiles and the “option of boots on the ground,” what we’re talking about is killing people. Lots of people. For no tactical reason that we will discuss with the American people.

Firing Tomahawk missiles into another nation is not “sending them a message.” It’s an act of war. And this particular war is not our war.

We do not need to go to war in Syria to defend America.

Let me repeat that: We do not need to go to war in Syria to defend America.

Is there some other reason for committing American troops? Is our military a police force the president can use as he wishes to “send messages” to whomever he wants?

Or, is it for the protection of this nation and its people?

I have said from the beginning that I am open to being persuaded about military action in Syria. But persuading me means convincing me that there is a reason for it that has to do with protecting America and that the negative consequences of military action do not outweigh the threat to our safety.

So far, all I’ve seen is an appeal to kill lots of people by firing missiles at them because somehow or other that’s the “humanitarian” thing to do. I have not heard anything that convinces me that there is a tactical purpose to this action, or that there are even tactical targets for the missiles. I also have not heard anything — and I mean anything — that addresses how America is endangered by the civil war in Syria.

What is the tactical, military purpose of firing missiles at the Syrian people?

How does firing missiles at Syria protect the homeland and the American people?

Why are we being pushed into this war?

2013 Favs: The War on Girls: Ob-Gyns Ignore Health Risks to Push IUDS, Hormonal Implants on Teen Girls

Last week in The War on Girls: NYC Schools Pushing Plan B on Young Girls I wrote about NYC’s outrageous policy of pushing the morning after pill on teen-aged girls through the schools.

This week’s story is from a September 26 CNS article detailing an even more outrageous update to the guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to make dangerous IUDs and hormonal implants the “first-line contraceptive options” for teen-aged girls, which should be “discussed at each doctor’s visit.” The updated guidelines recommend that doctors suggest these “longer term alternatives” that “can be left inserted inside a woman’s body and left in place for several years.”

I am seriously beginning to question if the health and well-being of girls is of any concern to the population control people. Also, just who is in charge of our various medical associations? It appears that social agendas take precedent over patient care with these groups, at least when the patient in question is a girl.

According to Dr Bill Toffler, professor of family medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, the devices this new update recommends in the Ob-Gyn guidelines are

“… typically expensive, costing hundreds of dollars, although under the Affordable Care Act, minors will have access to IUDs and other contraceptives at no cost, and in some states will be able to receive them without parental consent.

“The devices also release powerful hormones within the body and can lead to a significant risk of infection, especially during the early stages,” he said.

“Essentially, you’re putting a foreign body into a normally sterile cavity,” he explained.

“In addition, one in every 1000 women who use an IUD will have their uterus perforated, potentially putting their future fertility at risk,” he said.

Toffler warned that the promoters of the new guidelines “have thrown these concerns under the bus” in their zeal to reduce teenage pregnancy rates.

However, their attempts to do so may actually contribute to teenagers having “less inhibition” about sex and engaging in increasing levels of risky behavior, he said.

“People may be falsely reassured,” he explained, noting that with the average teenage relationship lasting only three months, many young people are already involved in numerous “fleeting” sexual relationships.

In addition, Toffler said, the promotions of IUDs are misleading, and women are not properly informed about how they function.

He explained that it is an undisputed fact that “one of the ways they work is to interfere with implantation,” thus ending the life of an already-created human embryo.

Some women who think they are simply using a preventive form of contraception may not realize that the device is also an abortion-inducing agent, he observed.

Toffler also said that he has had personal experience with women who became pregnant while using IUDs, posing a risk in removing the device. Such situations are also associated with higher proportions of ectopic pregnancies, which occur outside the womb and can be life-threatening for the mother. (Read more here.)

2013 Favs: New Tests Date the Shroud from the Time of Christ

New scientific tests on the Shroud of Turin, which went on display Saturday (March 30) in a special TV appearance introduced by the pope, date the cloth to ancient times, challenging earlier experiments that dated it only to the Middle Ages.

… The new test, by scientists at the University of Padua in northern Italy, used the same fibers from the 1988 tests but disputes the earlier findings. The new examination dates the shroud to between 300 B.C. and 400 A.D., which would put it in the era of Christ.

… It determined that the earlier results may have been skewed by contamination from fibers used to repair the cloth when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages, the British newspaper reported. The cloth has been kept at the cathedral since 1578.

… The new tests also supported earlier results claiming to have found traces of dust and pollen on that shroud that could only have come from the Holy Land. (Read the rest here.)

(Doug Stanglin writes for USA Today.)

2013 Favs: 3 Million Line Beach for World Youth Day Vigil

Do you love Jesus?

You’re not alone.

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 Source: Capital Gazette, AP, Filipe Dana

From the Capital Gazette:

Pope Francis drew a reported 3 million flag-waving, rosary-toting faithful to Rio’s Copacabana beach on Saturday for the final evening of World Youth Day, hours after he chastised the Brazilian church for failing to stem the “exodus” of Catholics to evangelical congregations.

Francis headed into the final hours of his first international trip riding a remarkable wave of popularity: By the time his open-sided car reached the stage for the vigil service Saturday night, the back seat was piled high with soccer jerseys, flags and flowers tossed to him by adoring pilgrims lining the beachfront route.

“I’m trembling, look how good you can see him!” gushed Fiorella Dias, a 16-year-old Brazilian who jumped for joy as she reviewed the video she shot as the pope passed by. “I have got to call my mother!”

On the beach, pilgrims staked out their spots on the sand, lounged and snacked, preparing for an all-night slumber party ahead of the final Mass on Sunday. Many of those actually paying attention to the vigil had tears in their eyes, moved by Francis’ call for them to build up their church like his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, was called to do.

“Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup!” Francis said, drawing cheers from the crowd in this soccer-mad nation. (Read the rest here.)

2013 Favs: Gay Marriage: French Opposition Continues

 

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Opponents to France’s new law legalizing gay marriage say they will continue the fight. 

This unwise action by the French government in forcing the vote to legalize gay marriage on an unwilling population appears to have the potential to push France into a protracted struggle. Roe v Wade certainly did that here in America. This kind of government-created civil disturbance is almost always a bad idea.

I haven’t read the new law, but news reports about it say that it specifically allows medical technological interventions to create children for gay couples. Aside from the obvious commodification for children, this process also requires farming women’s bodies for eggs and then  using them for surrogates. The obvious misogyny in that is mind boggling.

This practice is widespread here in America. We have celebrities parading around with their manufactured children that were created by this use of women bodies. We also have a television show that “normalizes” the egregious practice. The violation of the basic human rights of both women and children to be treated as people and not commodities are entirely ignored in our public discussion of this issue. 

According to Vatican Radio, there are reports of “English-speaking companies offering to provide same sex couples in France with children at a cost of $100,000.” I would not be at all surprised if these companies were the same American companies that run baby-manufacturing mills here in America.

From Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio) Opponents of a new French law legalizing marriage for same sex couples are vowing to continue their campaign, one day after France became the 14th country to pass the controversial legislation.
A bill, which also allows for adoption by same-sex couples, passed by 321 votes to 225 in the French parliament yesterday, amid heated debate and protests both in and outside the National Assembly building.
French President François Hollande is expected to sign the bill once it has cleared any constitutional challenges. But a broad coalition of opponents, including the Catholic Church, says it will continue contesting the legislation and is planning further demonstrations.
Tugdual Derville is a spokesman for the opposition movement and a leader of the Alliance Vita, pro-life organization. 
Listen: RealAudioMP3 
He says this movement marks the birth of a real reawakening in France of those who are concerned that the most vulnerable people, children, the aged, the handicapped, remain a priority for economic and social policies….today, he says, we see English speaking companies offering to provide same sex couples in France with children at a cost of $100.000 – this is deeply shocking to us.
It is time, Derville says, to open a serious discussion about what we call human ecology, aimed at recognizing, protecting and transmitting to future generations the truth about our human procreation, our birth from a man and a woman. Beyond the public protests, the movement will continue to promote serious reflection and the development of a culture at the service of all human beings.

Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/04/24/french_opposition_continues_to_same-sex_marriage/en1-686133
of the Vatican Radio website

2013 Favs: Playing Chicken

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I am one of the lucky ones.

My paycheck does not stop because the feds are playing chicken with the future of this country.

You see, I am an elected official, which means that I am exempt from all sorts of consequences for the things I do. I could lock up the Oklahoma budget (which I vote against quite frequently, btw) and put tens of thousands of people out of work. Then, I could re-write the laws so they couldn’t get unemployment compensation and reduce the monies going to our schools/roads/police/hospitals/etc to make up the shortfall, and …

Nothing would happen to me.

My paycheck would keep on coming.

In fact, a lot of people would call me a hero.

I know all about playing legislative chicken with the budget. I’ve played it — on both sides.

I have been a Democrat in a Democratic majority government in which we were trying our best to pass a budget over the heads of recalcitrant Republicans who were doing their best to lock it up.

I have been a Democrat in a majority Republican government in which my side of the fight was trying to lock the danged budget up and the Republicans were fighting to pass it.

Ho-hum and hidey-ho. I’ve done it all.

And I can tell you that it is never about the issues.

I repeat: It is NEVER about the issues.

Part of the legislative negotiating process is to play chicken.

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Do you remember chicken? It’s a throw-back to the 1950s. Young men would gather out on a deserted stretch of highway with their souped-up jalopies and line them up facing one another. Then they’d floor the things and drive straight at one another at max speed. The first one to veer off lost. That’s playing chicken.

The legislative version of chicken is taking some piece of legislation that would harm millions of people and whose failure would cause immeasurable suffering and hold it hostage, thereby forcing someone else to compromise on a second issue. Legislative chicken surpasses the old Highway 9 Chicken of the 1950s in terms of the carnage it can wreak and the gravity of what it is trying to accomplish.

There is also another difference. Highway 9 Chicken carries the possibility that two people might kill themselves. With Legislative Chicken the players themselves are always — always – exempt from the harm they may do, but the price to literally millions of innocent bystanders can be mind boggling.

Let’s look at the boys and girls in Washington and this dirty little game they are playing with our country as a for-instance.

What’s at stake in their gamesmanship is significantly more than the wreckage of two souped up jalopies and the death of two young men.

On the one hand, we have the Affordable Health Care Act and all that it means, including the hyper funding for abortion and the lives of millions of babies, and the HHS Mandate and its blatant attack on the First Amendment.

On the other hand, we have the lives of millions of Americans and their ability to keep roofs over their heads and food on their tables, PLUS the entire American economy and the fear of another free fall like the one in 2008, PLUS the fear of literally billions of people around the globe who are watching Big Daddy, who they rely on for their security, play this game of Legislative Chicken.

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That’s a lot at stake. Do the players need nerves of steel to do this? Maybe. But I know from experience that they are also enjoying it. If you didn’t like football, despite its blows and injuries, you wouldn’t play football. It’s the same with lawmakers everywhere. We are all fit for these battles and in ways that nobody who wasn’t as nutty as we are could ever understand, we get off on them.

That’s not a pretty fact. But it is a fact.

One other major difference between Legislative Chicken and Highway 9 Chicken is that the two young men driving those jalopies are the only ones with skin in the game. Their chicken is real chicken, since they can lose it all. Elected officials, on the other hand, are exempt from whatever havoc they wreak. No matter who pays what for their shenanigans, the one thing everybody knows is that the payers will not be them.

So, our elected officials’ nerves of steel are mostly bombast combined with the crappola they tell themselves about the nobility of what they are doing.

Legislative chicken is a team sport. And it’s a rough one. It can, and often does, provide the minority in legislative settings with a voice that also provides much needed balance to government. It is not always a bad thing. It is a necessary and useful device.

However, it always has the potential to become a kind of drug. Elected officials get so inured to constant crises that they have trouble with normal life, which seems flat to them. They become crisis junkies of the worst sort. Combine that with a ruthless drive for power at any cost in these elected officials — who were beamed into office on a beam of special interest money and don’t really have a clue what they’re doing there in the first place — and you have a recipe for disaster.

The thing which has made this nation tick for over 200 years is the essential decency of its people, which fed upstream to give us elected officials who were also essentially decent. No matter their various scandals and failures, the sum total of American governance has always been rooted in a belief in and concern for this country.

No more.

We’re electing people who don’t belong in office. I can’t say it any other way. We are electing people who don’t belong in office.

They are being sold to us by big-time money machines who control their every act once they are in office and they don’t care about this country. 

Both sides in this present shutdown controversy are lying out every bodily orifice they possess about the other side. According to each of them, the other side is entirely to blame. They are both lying. That is the only truth there is to their behavior.

I am not going to take a side in this current situation because I’ve come to the conclusion that neither side is the side of the American people.

As an American people myself, that is the only side that I’m on.

2013 Favs: He’s Got the Whole World

 

In his files

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Candidate Barack Obama and President Barach Obama are two entirely different cats.

Of course, if you listen to the fine points of the statement in the second video below, you realize that he never really said what civil libertarians thought he said. He didn’t say he was going to stop surveilling the American people. However, he implied it throughout this speech, and that is what people heard.

We all have a tendency to fall for politicians’ carefully worded lying truths. We hear what we want to hear.

According to New Times articles the president is extending the electronic monitoring web to people overseas. Germany, for one, is not so sure they trust him as much as Americans evidently do.

Then, there’s the handy-dandy “computer facility” that the NSA is building in Utah. If you want to see why nobody will touch this, all you have to do is look at the “groundbreaking” photo. What you will see is power players, both Democrat and Republican, gathered together with their little shovels, around a sandbox.

As silly government photos go, this is one of the silliest I’ve seen in quite a while. But the game they are playing is a deadly earnest destruction of our liberties and freedoms.

What makes the photo explanatory rather than just silly is that these people with their shiny keepsake shovels represent the power of both political parties. Everybody is in the bag for this. The President has shrewdly made certain that both sides of any political argument are getting their fat juicy piece of the pie. By “informing” our duly elected representatives, he made everybody culpable.

If there was any sewing up that needed doing, he took care of that by building what Forbes calls “the NSA’s ridiculously expensive data center in Utah.”

Let’s think about this. Government finances are running so hot in the red zone, that our “duly elected representatives” (you know, the same folks who are in the bag for spying on the entire American populace) are saying that old folks should work until they drop because Social Security costs too much. These exact same duly elected representatives ponied up for this little deal out in the Utah desert.

Now who do you suppose is going to benefit from this?

Not the old folks, that’s for sure.

Not anybody who sends emails or talks on a phone. They’re all getting surveilled and their private thoughts are being stored away to be used against them whenever it works for the government to do so.

Not the tax payers. Tax payers don’t need a new bill to pay for storage for our emails and phone conversations.

Not those who want to be “safe.” Do you really think the government needs to store your conversations about last night’s sex or a complete record of all those porn sites you’ve visited in a vault to keep you safe? How does this keep you safe? And what if someone decides to use that stuff against you? What will keep you “safe” then?

If we’re not benefitting, who is?

If you want to know that, all you have to do is get a list of the contractors who are building this overpriced file cabinet and the contractors who will maintain it, etc, ad nauseum.

Now go to the boards and the interlocking boards of all the big media and you have the reason why they’re so in the bag for this deal.

The inside-the-curve corporations are holding a royal straight flush and they aren’t going to toss it away. All their puppet politicians they’ve invested a lot of scratch in getting elected are out there on this deal, and now, they’re getting a big payday on it in a direct fashion.

It’s called protect your political investment and cash in.

Who wins?

It isn’t us.

Who lied?

Watch the two videos below and judge for yourself.  Did he lie? Or did we just not listen closely enough?

 

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2013 Favs: Christian Persecution: Are We the ‘New Jews’?

Yesterday’s news of fresh scandal and rumors of scandal in the Church left me feeling like the little girl in Poltergeist. Her family had suffered a harrowing attack by demonic forces. As fresh attacks started, she turned to the camera and said, “No more.”

… no more

That’s exactly how I felt when Deacon Greg Kandra posted that another of our Church leaders has been accused of sexual misconduct. This came at the tag end of a day in which the Vatican issued a denial that the Holy Father’s resignation was in any way a response to what sounded like a cabal of homosexual cardinals within the Vatican and Cardinal Mahony loaded on with another of his weird, cardinal-from-space blog posts.

My reaction was exhaustion and depression and sadness, all rolled into a sigh. No more, indeed.

This is especially sad, coming as it does at a pivot point in history. The Catholic Church is the only unified Christian voice in the world today. Christianity is under attack as it has not been for 17 centuries, with Christians in many places quite literally under the gun. Even the Muslim invasion of Christian lands and the subsequent subjugation of entire Christian populations that took place in the Middle Ages did not have the universal, multi-faceted breadth of the challenges Christians face today.

What a terrible time for our leaders to become disgraceful, not for their fealty to Christ, which would inspire and edify all of us, but for their overweening self-absorption.

Before I went to bed last night, I read a remarkable post by one of my colleagues here at Patheos, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, who blogs at The Velvet Kippah. In this post, Rabbi Adlerstein asks Are Christians the New Jews?  He says:

“If you want to understand us, study our story, learn of our pain.” That is what Jews told Christians who wanted to build new bridges of respect after the Holocaust. Ironically, when Christians begin listening to the story of the Jews, they are finding reflections of themselves.

Christians who listened learned of a Jewish history written in blood from ancient to modern times. When they thought of Christian martyrdom, on the other hand, they had to turn for the most part to antiquity, to early Christianity under the thumb of Roman emperors.

That has all changed. While Jews feel threatened by the massive explosion of global anti-Semitism in the last years, coupled with Iranian and Islamist calls for the genocidal destruction of all Jews, very few Jews in 2013 are dying because of their faith or their roots. Christians, on the other hand, have become the New Jews. (Read more here.

The violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East, which is what Rabbi Adlerstein is describing, is part — but only a part — of the tsunami of persecution that is heading toward Christianity and Christians today. In truth, violent persecution of Christians has spread over a good bit of the world. Christians are burnt, beaten, beheaded, kidnapped, raped, tortured and imprisoned with impunity in much of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and various Pacific nations.

At the same time, hate speech against Christians and Christianity has long been tolerated in the so-called Christian West. It is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged on many of our university campuses. Christians are increasingly faced with the choice of losing their jobs or following their faith throughout what has been for many centuries the stronghold of Christian faith.

We need leaders, and, fortunately, we have them. Our bishops have provided courageous leadership this past year against the overt government attack on religious freedom that the HHS Mandate represents. I am proud of them for this. They have my complete support and gratitude for doing it.

We are, as I said, at a pivot point. If we are going to turn back this tide of Christian-bashing bigotry, we must do it now, before it gets stronger. It is a great sadness that we keep getting battered by scandals at the highest levels in our Church in this perilous time.

I know that God makes all things, even bad things, work to the good. Good will come of these scandals. One good that I think we will see is a more authentic and committed priesthood. I am not one to criticize our priests. Based on my experience, I think they do their very best, and that this best is quite good. However, tough times are ahead. We are going to need priests who are committed to Christ to the death. The day is coming when we will need priests who can lead us through the fire.

I believe that these repeated scandals are the result of the Holy Spirit, cleaning things out. I don’t have any more insight into this than anyone else, but it seems to me that God just got enough. These abuses had to stop, and, even though the cure is quite painful, I believe that the scandals and the misery they bring to all of us will stop them.

So it is with the revelations of scandal from yesterday. These things have to be exposed because the Church cannot fail. The gates of hell will not prevail against this Church. There are times when things must be laid open because sunlight and air purify and heal. I think we are going through such a time in Church history today.

This brings me to something Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1969, decades before he became Pope Benedict XVI. I am going to quote it in its entirety because I think it is pertinent to what we face today. Read it prayerfully, and remember that St Paul told us, “The one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Do not let the sins of other people, including the sins of our religious leaders, lead you away from Christ or His Church. Do not throw away your salvation because someone else has sinned. Trust Jesus and endure to the end.

Cardinal Ratzinger’s comments in 1969 say in part:

The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.

It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.

2013 Favs: The Church has Gay Priests? Duhhhhh

Pope francis

Is there any adult Catholic who attends mass regularly who is unaware that many of our priests are homosexual?

I have a response for this not-so-startling reality.

Big deal.

Pope Francis recently gave a brief press conference during which he took a couple of hard-ball questions about gay priests. He answered them with what you would expect: Honesty.

I’m going to paraphrase rather than quote because I don’t have what I think are good quotes to use. The various permutations of what he said are spread all over the internet. You can find them and be confused by them there.

Basically, if I understand it, he was replying to questions about a specific priest whom he’s appointed to a high position and who may have fallen off the chastity wagon in his past. This particular priest is rumored to be a homosexual.

If what I read is mostly accurate, the Holy Father said that:

1. If a priest is truly seeking to follow Christ, and,

2. He is keeping his vows of chastity now,

3. Then, who is anyone, including the Pope, to cast him out?

When asked about rumors of this particular priest’s scandalous past, he seemed to be saying that these were sins of the past that have been repented and which are not happening now.

All this is in keeping with the Catholic Church I know and love.

The Catholic Church is the most forgiving, most loving place any sin-shamed person can go. I have sins in my past that are not only really bad ones, but that were extremely public. I can tell you from personal experience that forgiveness is not to be found just anywhere. I was not forgiven, ever, by some people. They basically cast me out of the Christian universe over things I had done 20 or 30 years before.

I didn’t come to the Catholic Church seeking forgiveness. I came because Christ in the Eucharist called me with an insistent call. But one of the things I found is the first genuine forgiveness I had ever encountered.

So for me it’s a simple equation. If I can be forgiven, then some homosexual priest who fell off the chastity wagon once upon a time, deserves forgiveness, as well.

Not, notice, my forgiveness. This hypothetical priest hasn’t done anything to me. I don’t need to forgive him. He and I are square. He deserves forgiveness from the same place where we all go for it: The wounded and loving Heart of Jesus. The blood that flowed from Jesus’ side fell on homosexuals, just as it did everyone else.

There is no sin so dark that He can’t forgive it. There is no hurt so deep that He can’t heal it. And there is no person so broken that He can’t use them to build His Kingdom.

What I ask of a priest is sincerity and authenticity of purpose. I want priests who are all in for Jesus and who have what it takes to lead us through the challenges that are coming as part of this post-Christian world in which we now live.

That means I want priests who stand for holy matrimony, who stand for life, who will not back down and run away when the Church is attacked by secular forces. The priesthood is a leadership position. I want priests who will lead God’s people through the morass, who can hold their little flocks together in the storm and deliver them safely to heaven.

Those are big things I’m asking. They are far beyond the ability of any human being, gay or straight. Only priests who are, as I said, all in for Jesus can do them, because they are possible only if they are attempted with heavy doses of heavenly grace.

We need priests who give themselves to Jesus through Our Lady in such a profound way that they can, in obedience to their bishops, be the leaders God needs for these times.

I don’t care if a priest is gay. Doesn’t bother me a bit.

What I want is true priests, holy priests, who are for-real followers of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

2013 Favs: Battling Sisters of Stone Park, IL Hold Their Own Against Strip Club

Melrose Park 255x256Sr Noemia Silva. Courtesy of Rudy Lopez, CNA

When the city fathers of Stone Park Il came out in support of the worthy project of building a strip club next to a convent, they failed to reckon with the grit, guts and determination of nuns.

I’ve written before about the moral courage of women. When that moral courage is empowered by an unwavering commitment to the love of Jesus Christ, it becomes the kind of force that wears away stone.

I don’t know too much about Stone Park, Il, even though we have similar towns here in Oklahoma. From what I’ve read it’s a small town with a large number of strip clubs. So far as I know, they’ve gotten away with this up to now.

Bishop Scalabrini Community of the Missionary Sisters of St Charles Borromeo Scalabrinians in Melrose Park IL EWTN US Catholic News 2 10 12 300x225

Bishop Scalabrini Community of the Missionary Sisters of St Charles Scalabrinians

But when they decided to build a multi-million dollar “adult entertainment” club across from the convent of the Missionary Sisters of St Charles Borromeo, Scalabrinian, they started a fight with people who aren’t impressed by money or scared of bouncers.

The intransigent support for this particular strip club, might lead to the conclusion that the people who run this town are what you might call dedicated to having this particular strip club in this particular location.

They want a strip joint next to these nuns and they aren’t going to give an inch until they get it. Earlier in the on-going battle the owner of the club played the Christian-bashing card.

Dont “… impose your religious beliefs,” he said.

Uh-huh.

This guy makes his living by treating women like animals in a zoo. I can certainly see why he wouldn’t welcome the nun’s “religious beliefs” on his premises. What I don’t understand is why he has fought so hard to put his premises on the nun’s doorstep.

NYC081

Why is it so very important to place a strip club next to this convent? You’d think that piece of land was the last place in the continental United States that was available for such uplifting civic projects. The people who run this town are dug in on this. Is Stone Park in some sort of strip club competition with another town? Do they perceive a strip club gap developing that they have to fill?

The strip club is called “Get It,” which I think says a lot about the services it plans to offer. The intention was to open this club during Holy Week 2012. I think that speaks for itself. 

The war is one year on and the sisters are still holding their ground. They recently held a rally to celebrate this fact, which says a lot in itself.

As many as 500 people have gathered for a prayer vigil. More than 3,000 people have signed petitions against the Club.

“It’s not only for the sisters, but for the community itself,” Sister Noemia Silva said. “All of our communities are praying for this; it’s just constant, constant prayer.

She compared their fight to David and Goliath. “David won the battle because he trusted the Lord. He’ll fight this battle for us.”

From CNA:

CHICAGO — Residents and religious of a small Chicago suburb rallied to celebrate their so far successful campaign against the opening of a multi-million dollar “adult entertainment” club across from a convent.
“We came together as a community, as people of faith and stood together fighting for family values against what some thought was an unbreakable giant,” Sister Noemia Silva of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, Scalabrinian said at an April 22 press conference.

“It’s not only for the sisters, but for the community itself,” she told CNA in a later interview.
Outrage has erupted locally over the building of the establishment, particularly because of its location next to the missionary sisters’ convent and retirement home. Proprietors of the business have been accused of breaking state law, which requires a 1,000-foot “buffer zone” between places of worship and such businesses.

“They haven’t respected state law and so we’re going to tell them, ‘You need to respect that,” Sister Noemia Silva said. “This should not have even happened so close to a worship area.”
Although the $3 million establishment, “Get It,” was slated to open during Holy Week of 2012, it has yet to open its doors to the public largely due to community protest and a legal battle between the landowner and building owner.

Sister Noemia said the sisters, who are spread throughout 18 countries, have been praying for the intercession of St. Michael. “All of our communities are praying for this; it’s just constant, constant prayer.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/religious-sisters-celebrate-one-year-of-blocking-illinois-adult-club?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-04-25%2013:47:01#ixzz2RUdAXUIu

 

 

 

2013 Favs: This Just In: Millions Watch as Irrelevant, Dying Sect Inaugurates Poorly Dressed, Out-of-Date Leader

Cq5dam web 1280 1280

First Question: How many secular pundits does it take a perpetrate a lie?

Answer: All of them, talking from the same script.

Second Question: How many pundits does it take to claim a world leader with over a billion followers is “irrelevant?”

Answer: See question one.

Pope Francis’ inaugural mass was a ratings hit. So was last week’s election of Cardinal Bergoglio to the papacy.

Ratings do not necessarily mean that everyone watching agrees with the Church. But they do lead one to wonder, just how “irrelevant” is a Church whose every action inspires so much adoration, abuse, worship and hatred? Maybe the people who’ve been reporting this story need to check their dictionaries for a better word. Like, say, a phrase such as “Church that says some of the things I want to do are wrong.”

Our public discourse is in the grip of tantrum-throwing narcissists, who, it appears, only talk to one another. They appear to be the products of an education that is more indoctrinating than edifying. They also seem to be stubborn about reporting the story as they want it to be rather than the way it is.

To borrow from that witty atheist writer Mark Twain, reports of the Catholic Church’s irrelevance are greatly exaggerated. However, unlike Twain and his witty retort to an inaccurate report of his death, the reports of the Catholic Church’s irrelevance will always be exaggerated. There is never going to be a day when the Church’s Gospel message of forgiveness of sins, basic Christian morality and the promise of eternal life will be irrelevant to the people who must walk this Earth.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that these issues are the only things that, in the final analysis, matter at all.

It appears that many of these comments are coming from the group rage of self-entitled people who do not like being told that they are wrong. It seems to set their conflated egos aflame whenever the Church says that sex outside of marriage is wrong, killing people they want to kill is wrong, stealing from, exploiting, dehumanizing people made in the image and likeness of the Living God is, well, the kind of thing that can get you sent to an eternal hell.

That last one really makes them mad. Hell is verboten in popular discourse. We can talk about beastiality or show films of gang rape for entertainment, but the word “hell” as an actual destination for wayward souls rather than a curse is forbidden. Saying the “h” word in front of any of these folks puts you in the same place as the little girl who pointed her flashlight at the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park. Do that, and you know you’re gonna get kicked around.

Why?

If these things are “myths,” why do they care? I would guess that first of all, it’s because the devil makes them do it. Not the comic book devil, but the real one who hates the light and whispers his hatred in the ears of us humans. Second, I think they do it because the Church is, in fact, not irrelevant at all.

I would say that there is no other institution quite as relevant as the one and only Church that stands strong and will not be moved on matters of the Gospel. The Church weighs in on issues of death and eternal life. It shows us, in easily-followed and understandable ways, how to go to heaven. It also posts signs along the roadside of our lives saying, in essence, “don’t turn here, that road will take you over a cliff,”  or, “pass by this rest stop or you’ll be mugged.”

Danger do not enter sign

Church teachings are not prohibitions. They are warnings. Ignore them, and sooner or later, you will reap the whirlwind of your own lost soul.

I have no doubt that the bizarro commentary about the “irrelevant” Catholic Church will continue, even as the commenters are reporting every word that’s uttered at the Vatican.

Meanwhile, I think the rest of us should pray for these folks. They are, after all, our lost brothers and sisters.

2013 Favs: Pope Benedict’s Last General Audience: The Pope Belongs to Everyone

“’Always’ is also ‘forever’–there is no return to private life. My decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I am not returning to private life, to a life of trips, meetings, receptions, conferences, etc. I am not abandoning the cross, but am remaining beside the Crucified Lord in a new way. I no longer bear the power of the office for the governance of the Church, but I remain in the service of prayer, within St. Peter’s paddock, so to speak.

Pope Benedict XVI gave his last general audience in St Peter’s Square before tens of thousands of people who came to say goodbye.

He told them, and all of us …

I can say that the Lord has guided me. He has been close to me. I have felt His presence every day.”

“I would like to invite everyone to renew their firm trust in the Lord, to entrust ourselves like children to God’s arms, certain that those arms always hold us up … a 

“I would like everyone to feel beloved of that God who gave His Son for us.

“I would like everyone to feel the joy of being Christian.

“In a beautiful prayer, which can be recited every morning, say: ‘I adore you, my God and I love you with all my heart. Thank you for having created me, for having made me Christian…”

“The Pope belongs to everyone … I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their hearts and make me feel their affection, which is born of our being together with Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write to me the way one would write, for example, to a prince or a dignitary that they don’t know. They write to me as brothers and sisters or as sons and daughters, with the sense of a very affectionate family tie. In this you can touch what the Church is—not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian ends, but a living body, a communion of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ who unites us all.”

The entire text of the Holy Father’s remarks, taken from the Vatican website, is below:

BENEDICT XVI’S FINAL GENERAL AUDIENCE: “I ASKED GOD TO ENLIGHTEN ME TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION, NOT FOR MY OWN GOOD, BUT FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH.”

“Like the Apostle Paul in the Biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart that I have to especially thank God who guides and builds up the Church, who plants His Word and thus nourishes the faith in His People. At this moment my heart expands and embraces the whole Church throughout the world and I thank God for the ‘news’ that, in these years of my Petrine ministry, I have received about the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and for the love that truly circulates in the Body of the Church, making it to live in the love and the hope that opens us to and guides us towards the fullness of life, towards our heavenly homeland.”

“I feel that I am carrying everyone with me in prayer in this God-given moment when I am collecting every meeting, every trip, every pastoral visit. I am gathering everyone and everything in prayer to entrust it to the Lord: so that we may be filled with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding in order to live in a manner worthy of the Lord and His love, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).”

“At this moment I have great confidence because I know, we all know, that the Gospel’s Word of truth is the strength of the Church; it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews, bearing fruit, wherever the community of believers hears it and welcomes God’s grace in truth and in love. This is my confidence, this is my joy.”

“When, on 19 April almost eight years ago I accepted to take on the Petrine ministry, I had the firm certainty that has always accompanied me: this certainty for the life of the Church from the Word of God. At that moment, as I have already expressed many times, the words that resounded in my heart were: Lord, what do You ask of me? It is a great weight that You are placing on my shoulders but, if You ask it of me, I will cast my nets at your command, confident that You will guide me, even with all my weaknesses. And eight years later I can say that the Lord has guided me. He has been close to me. I have felt His presence every day. It has been a stretch of the Church’s path that has had moments of joy and light, but also difficult moments. I felt like St. Peter and the Apostles in the boat on the See of Galilee. The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and light breezes, days when the fishing was plentiful, but also times when the water was rough and the winds against us, just as throughout the whole history of the Church, when the Lord seemed to be sleeping. But I always knew that the Lord is in that boat and I always knew that the boat of the Church is not mine, not ours, but is His. And the Lord will not let it sink. He is the one who steers her, of course also through those He has chosen because that is how He wanted it. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. And that is why my heart today is filled with gratitude to God, because He never left—the whole Church or me—without His consolation, His light, or His love.”

“We are in the Year of Faith, which I desired precisely in order to strengthen our faith in God in a context that seems to relegate it more and more to the background. I would like to invite everyone to renew their firm trust in the Lord, to entrust ourselves like children to God’s arms, certain that those arms always hold us up and are what allow us to walk forward each day, even when it is a struggle. I would like everyone to feel beloved of that God who gave His Son for us and who has shown us His boundless love. I would like everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer, which can be recited every morning, say: ‘I adore you, my God and I love you with all my heart. Thank you for having created me, for having made me Christian…’ Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith. It is the most precious thing, which no one can take from us! Let us thank the Lord for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but awaits us to also love Him!”

“It is not only God who I wish to thank at this time. A pope is not alone in guiding Peter’s barque, even if it is his primary responsibility. I have never felt alone in bearing the joy and the weight of the Petrine ministry. The Lord has placed at my side so many people who, with generosity and love for God and the Church, have helped me and been close to me. First of all, you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your advice, and your friendship have been precious to me. My collaborators, starting with my secretary of state who has accompanied me faithfully over the years; the Secretariat of State and the whole of the Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in their various areas, serve the Holy See. There are many faces that are never seen, remaining in obscurity, but precisely in their silence, in their daily dedication in a spirit of faith and humility, they were a sure and reliable support to me. A special thought goes to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I cannot forget my Brothers in the episcopate and in the priesthood, consecrated persons, and the entire People of God. In my pastoral visits, meetings, audiences, and trips I always felt great care and deep affection, but I have also loved each and every one of you, without exception, with that pastoral love that is the heart of every pastor, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I held each of you in prayer, with a father’s heart.”

“I wish to send my greetings and my thanks to all: a pope’s heart extends to the whole world. And I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, which makes the great family of Nations present here. Here I am also thinking of all those who work for good communication and I thank them for their important service.”

“At this point I would also like to wholeheartedly thank all of the many people around the world who, in recent weeks, have sent me touching tokens of concern, friendship, and prayer. Yes, the Pope is never alone. I feel this again now in such a great way that it touches my heart. The Pope belongs to everyone and many people feel very close to him. It’s true that I receive letters from the world’s notables—from heads of states, from religious leaders, from representatives of the world of culture, etc. But I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their hearts and make me feel their affection, which is born of our being together with Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write to me the way one would write, for example, to a prince or a dignitary that they don’t know. They write to me as brothers and sisters or as sons and daughters, with the sense of a very affectionate family tie. In this you can touch what the Church is—not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian ends, but a living body, a communion of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ who unites us all. Experiencing the Church in this way and being able to almost touch with our hands the strength of His truth and His love is a reason for joy at a time when many are speaking of its decline. See how the Church is alive today!”

“In these last months I have felt that my strength had diminished and I asked God earnestly in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me make the right decision, not for my own good, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its seriousness and also its newness, but with a profound peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, agonized choices, always keeping in mind the good of the Church, not of oneself.”

“Allow me here to return once again to 19 April, 2005. The gravity of the decision lay precisely in the fact that, from that moment on, I was always and for always engaged by the Lord. Always—whoever assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and entirely to everyone, to the whole Church. His life, so to speak, is totally deprived of its private dimension. I experienced, and I am experiencing it precisely now, that one receives life precisely when they give it. Before I said that many people who love the Lord also love St. Peter’s Successor and are fond of him; that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion; because he no longer belongs to himself but he belongs to all and all belong to him.”

“’Always’ is also ‘forever’–there is no return to private life. My decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I am not returning to private life, to a life of trips, meetings, receptions, conferences, etc. I am not abandoning the cross, but am remaining beside the Crucified Lord in a new way. I no longer bear the power of the office for the governance of the Church, but I remain in the service of prayer, within St. Peter’s paddock, so to speak. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example to me in this. He has shown us the way for a life that, active or passive, belongs wholly to God’s work.”

“I also thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have received this important decision. I will continue to accompany the Church’s journey through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and His Bride that I have tried to live every day up to now and that I want to always live. I ask you to remember me to God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals who are called to such an important task, and for the new Successor of the Apostle Peter. Many the Lord accompany him with the light and strength of His Spirit.”

“We call upon the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the entire ecclesial community. We entrust ourselves to her with deep confidence.”

“Dear friends! God guides His Church, always sustaining her even and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the path of the Church and of the world. In our hearts, in the heart of each one of you, may there always be the joyous certainty that the Lord is beside us, that He does not abandon us, that He is near and embraces us with His love. Thank you.”

2013: The Year that Rocked the Church

 

We are so blessed to be part of the Catholic Church, especially at this time when we have the opportunity to do great things for Our Lord in a world that needs Him so much.

This video highlights some of the momentous happenings in 2013.

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2013 Favs: Christian Persecution: Holy Father Warns Bishops of Coming Persecution

Pope Francis has spoken of Christian persecution. So did Pope Benedict XVI. The papacy is continuity, going back to the words, Thou art Peter. Unfortunately, Christian persecution is a continuity, as well. More Christians have died for their faith in the last century than all the previous centuries combined.

Far from abating, Christian persecution appears to be worsening and spreading, including socially accepted Christian baiting and bullying of Christians here in post Christian America. 

I wrote this post on January 11, 2013. 

 

The Holy Father cautioned bishops that they will inevitably face persecution for standing for Christ in the increasingly secular world of the future.

He issued this warning in his homily for Epiphany. Even though the warning was directed to bishops, I think it applies to all Christians. The day of cheap grace is passing for all of us.

We must, as Joshua instructed the Israelites, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” I hope that we will be able to say along with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

ROME, January 9, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “What sort of man” must a bishop be? The kind of man who can face persecution without flinching, Pope Benedict XVI said at the Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany at St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday.

At the Mass, the pope ordained four priests to the episcopate, one of whom is his close confidante and private secretary, Msgr. Georg Gaenswein.

Pope Benedict XVI

“Inevitably,” the pope said, faithful bishops will be “beaten by those who live lives opposed to the Gospel, and then we can be grateful for having been judged worthy to share in the passion of Christ”.

The Pope’s comments follow his recent pattern of especially strong statements on Dec. 14Dec. 21and Jan. 7  in response to the increasing push for abortion, acceptance of homosexual behaviour and general fierce opposition to the Church’s moral teachings from both inside and outside the Church.

“Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs,” Pope Benedict said.

“Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous.” Seeking the “approval of the prevailing wisdom,” he said, “is not a criterion to which we submit.”

“The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves,” said the pope. “The fear of God frees us from the fear of men. It liberates.” (Read more here.)

Pope Emeritus Has Lunch with Pope

Pope Emeritus Benedict made the short trip to have lunch with Pope Francis.

It still seems strange to me that we have two living popes. I applaud the way that these men have handled this unprecedented situation.

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2013 Favs: News Flash: The Pope Attacks Capitalism! (or not)

Mammon worshippers have gone after Pope Francis lately, calling him a “marxist,” among other things. It might help us to gain perspective to remember that less than a year ago, they were doing the same thing to Pope Benedict XVI.

The moral? Maybe Jesus was onto something when He said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Here is a post I wrote on January 2 of last year defending Pope Benedict from attacks from the money changers. A few months later, I had to write similar posts defending Pope Francis from the same crowd. 

 

Have you heard the news?

Various outlets are blasting it out there that the Holy Father spoke against “unregulated capitalism” in his homily New Year’s Day.

In their rush to hype, they ignore a number of things that I want Public Catholic readers to think about.

1. This is nothing new. I’ve read Papal Encyclicals calling for economic justice going all the way back to Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII. The message Pope Leo gave in that Encyclical has been reiterated by Pope after Pope since then, including a passionate Encyclical issued by Pope John Paul II on the 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarum called, aptly enough, Centesimus Annus: On the 100th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum. I urge you to read both these encyclicals if you are interested in what the Church teaches concerning economic matters.

The Holy Father was simply reiterating what has been the consistent teaching of the Roman Catholic Church concerning economics.

2. The statement that the press has headlined was one line in the middle of a much longer homily, and even then it is part of a list of problems in the world today. That doesn’t mean that it’s insignificant. It certainly doesn’t mean that the Holy Father isn’t serious about what he said. But it does mean that the statement was part of a larger teaching on a number of topics and not the headline piece that these various articles would make you think it was.

I am not a theologian or a priest. So anything I say is always subject to argument and disagreement. Given that caveat, my take on these encyclicals is that they apply the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount to our economic life. I think they do a masterful and inspiring job of that. The bottom line to Church teaching in this matter (at least so far as I understand it) is that economic systems should serve people, not the other way around.

If an economic system does not allow people to earn a living that sustains the physical well-being of the wage earner and their family, and if it does not do this in a way that does not exploit, enslave or degrade them, then that economic system is in need of reform.

I hear echoes of Jesus’ statement “The Sabbath was made for man. Man was not made for the Sabbath.” all through these encyclicals, only applied to something far less significant than God’s law that we should rest on the sabbath. Economic systems are human devices. They are not holy. They should serve us.

I am not writing this to attack capitalism, which I think is the best economic system people have come up with so far. But I am saying that capitalism should never become a false idol that we put ahead of the well-being of other people or the clear teachings of the Church. When that happens, what you get is corporatism, which is, by definition, never just and downright harmful to vast numbers of people.

Now that I’ve stirred this economic pot about as much as I can in one post, I’ll add the Holy Father’s homily so you can read it yourself and form your own opinions. I am going to reproduce it in whole to help you do that. The sentence that the press has focused on is in boldface. This emphasis is mine.

Here, from the Vatican website is the homily:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict celebrated mass in St Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Day, marking the feast of Mary and the Church’s World Day of Peace. In his homily the Pope urged people to look to God and to his son Jesus for true peace in a world fraught with problems, darkness and anxieties.

Listen to the report by Susy Hodges:

Below, please find the English translation of the text of Pope Benedict’s homily:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, “May God bless us and make his face to shine upon us.” We proclaimed these words from Psalm 66 after hearing in the first reading the ancient priestly blessing upon the people of the covenant. It is especially significant that at the start of every new year God sheds upon us, his people, the light of his Holy Name, the Name pronounced three times in the solemn form of biblical blessing. Nor is it less significant that to the Word of God – who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14) as “the true light that enlightens every man” (1:9) – is given, as today’s Gospel tells us, the Name of Jesus eight days after his birth (cf. Lk 2:21).

It is in this Name that we are gathered here today. I cordially greet all present, beginning with the Ambassadors of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. I greet with affection Cardinal Bertone, my Secretary of State, and Cardinal Turkson, with all the officials of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; I am particularly grateful to them for their effort to spread the Message for the World Day of Peace, which this year has as its theme “Blessed are the Peacemakers”. Although the world is sadly marked by “hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism,” as well as by various forms of terrorism and crime, I am convinced that “the many different efforts at peacemaking which abound in our world testify to mankind’s innate vocation to peace. In every person the desire for peace is an essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a full, happy and successful human life. In other words, the desire for peace corresponds to a fundamental moral principle, namely, the duty and right to an integral social and communitarian development, which is part of God’s plan for mankind. Man is made for the peace which is God’s gift. All of this led me to draw inspiration for this Message from the words of Jesus Christ: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Mt 5:9)” (Message, 1). This beatitude “tells us that peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort … It is peace with God through a life lived according to his will. It is interior peace with oneself, and exterior peace with our neighbours and all creation” (ibid., 2, 3). Indeed, peace is the supreme good to ask as a gift from God and, at the same time, that which is to be built with our every effort.

We may ask ourselves: what is the basis, the origin, the root of peace? How can we experience that peace within ourselves, in spite of problems, darkness and anxieties? The reply is given to us by the readings of today’s liturgy. The biblical texts, especially the one just read from the Gospel of Luke, ask us to contemplate the interior peace of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. During the days in which “she gave birth to her first-born son” (Lk 2:7), many unexpected things occurred: not only the birth of the Son but, even before, the tiring journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, not finding room at the inn, the search for a chance place to stay for the night; then the song of the angels and the unexpected visit of the shepherds. In all this, however, Mary remains even tempered, she does not get agitated, she is not overcome by events greater than herself; in silence she considers what happens, keeping it in her mind and heart, and pondering it calmly and serenely. This is the interior peace which we ought to have amid the sometimes tumultuous and confusing events of history, events whose meaning we often do not grasp and which disconcert us.

The Gospel passage finishes with a mention of the circumcision of Jesus. According to the Law of Moses, eight days after birth, baby boys were to be circumcised and then given their name. Through his messenger, God himself had said to Mary – as well as to Joseph – that the Name to be given to the child was “Jesus” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31); and so it came to be. The Name which God had already chosen, even before the child had been conceived, is now officially conferred upon him at the moment of circumcision. This also changes Mary’s identity once and for all: she becomes “the mother of Jesus”, that is the mother of the Saviour, of Christ, of the Lord. Jesus is not a man like any other, but the Word of God, one of the Divine Persons, the Son of God: therefore the Church has given Mary the title Theotokos or Mother of God.
The first reading reminds us that peace is a gift from God and is linked to the splendour of the face of God, according to the text from the Book of Numbers, which hands down the blessing used by the priests of the People of Israel in their liturgical assemblies. This blessing repeats three times the Holy Name of God, a Name not to be spoken, and each time it is linked to two words indicating an action in favour of man: “The Lord bless you and keep you: the Lord make his face to shine upon you: the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (6:24-26). So peace is the summit of these six actions of God in our favour, in which he turns towards us the splendour of his face. For sacred Scripture, contemplating the face of God is the greatest happiness: “You gladden him with the joy of your face” (Ps 21:7). From the contemplation of the face of God are born joy, security and peace. But what does it mean concretely to contemplate the face of the Lord, as understood in the New Testament? It means knowing him directly, in so far as is possible in this life, through Jesus Christ in whom he is revealed. To rejoice in the splendour of God’s face means penetrating the mystery of his Name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of his interior life and of his will, so that we can live according to his plan of love for humanity. In the second reading, taken from the Letter to the Galatians (4:4-7), Saint Paul says as much as he describes the Spirit who, in our inmost hearts, cries: “Abba! Father!” It is the cry that rises from the contemplation of the true face of God, from the revelation of the mystery of his Name. Jesus declares, “I have manifested thy name to men” (Jn 17:6). God’s Son made man has let us know the Father, he has let us know the hidden face of the Father through his visible human face; by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts, he has led us to understand that, in him, we too are children of God, as Saint Paul says in the passage we have just heard: “The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’” (Gal 4:6).

Here, dear brothers and sisters, is the foundation of our peace: the certainty of contemplating in Jesus Christ the splendour of the face of God the Father, of being sons in the Son, and thus of having, on life’s journey, the same security that a child feels in the arms of a loving and all-powerful Father. The splendour of the face of God, shining upon us and granting us peace, is the manifestation of his fatherhood: the Lord turns his face to us, he reveals himself as our Father and grants us peace. Here is the principle of that profound peace – “peace with God” – which is firmly linked to faith and grace, as Saint Paul tells the Christians of Rome (cf. Rom 5:2). Nothing can take this peace from believers, not even the difficulties and sufferings of life. Indeed, sufferings, trials and darkness do not undermine but build up our hope, a hope which does not deceive because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (5:5). May the Virgin Mary, whom today we venerate with the title of Mother of God, help us to contemplate the face of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. May she sustain us and accompany us in this New Year: and may she obtain for us and for the whole world the gift of peace. Amen! (For more stories like this, go here.)


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