Pope Francis Speaks English, Emphasizes Immigrants, Religious Freedom, Environment in Opening Remarks

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

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

President Obama has greeted Pope Francis and the two leaders have each made their opening statements. Our president was handsome, the first lady was strikingly lovely. Pope Francis, in contrast, simply radiated the love of Christ.

Pope Francis struggled through his remarks in English, even though the language is obviously difficult for him. I think this is a gracious touch, a way of reaching out to the American people.

Pope Francis opened his remarks — which were not a full-blown speech — by reminding us that he himself was an immigrant to Argentina. His also touched on the issues of religious freedom and went on dwell for a bit longer on the environment.

The president and the pope then retired for a private discussion.

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The National Anthem for the Holy See. Meh.

I don’t want to go negative here, but are you watching the Pope at the White House?

Who wrote that soppy-sounding national anthem for the Holy See?

 

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How Did Your Senator Vote on the 20-Week Abortion Ban?

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/

The United States Senate voted yesterday on the whether or not to limit debate on the 20-week abortion ban.

This was not a vote on the bill, per se. It was a vote on cloture. Cloture would end the possibility of a filibuster. Without cloture the bill cannot pass. It takes 60 votes to get cloture.

The vote on cloture failed, 54 by 42, with 4 senators not voting. Democrats Casey (PA), Donnelly (IN) and Manchin (WV) voted for cloture and for passage of the 20-week abortion ban. Republican Collins (ME) voted against cloture and against the 20-week abortion ban. Those who did not vote were Boxer (CA), Murkowski (AK), Murray (WA), and Warner (VA).

If you want to see how your senator voted, go here.

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Pope Francis is Here!

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. Their website states: "Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes." (English translation: All content on this website is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License unless specified otherwise and content replicated from other sources.)

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency.
Their website states: “Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes.” (English translation: All content on this website is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License unless specified otherwise and content replicated from other sources.)

I’m watching Pope Francis greet the children outside the nomenclature in Washington, DC.

He looks well-rested, and to my eyes, beautiful. He’s posing for selfies with a number of the kids and taking his time while he goes down the line. Pitter patter goes my heart.

I love me some Pope Francis

I’m watching EWTN. I flipped through the cable channels and all the political carping about the pope was too disgusting. Thank goodness for EWTN.

If you want a brief round-up of the pope’s schedule, go here.

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If We Don’t Fight for Life, This Hunger for Annihilation Will Devour Us All

 

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My near death experience with Mama pushed me to considering a nursing home.

I wrote about it, and about the ghastly business of passing laws legalizing medical murder, for the National Catholic Register. 

Here’s part of what I said:

I decided then that we had to put her in a nursing home. I despaired of our ability to keep her safe at home. I called the local Catholic nursing home, which I know is a really good place. But they are full-up. The waiting list stretches months ahead.

So, I found myself driving around this not-so-good nursing home and crying. I looked at other, nicer places, but the cost is out of sight. Three and four thousand dollars a month. And it goes up from there.

I made a list of ways we could make the not-so-good place work. I would, of course, be there every day. So would my kids and my husband. Hospice would be there on a regular basis, giving her baths, praying with her, checking her health. My parish would send people to visit. We could have folks checking on her several times a day.

Finally, yesterday afternoon, I asked the hospice social worker to make arrangements for me. I couldn’t face doing it myself.

Then, I got sick. I mean, I got physically ill. I thought I was going to throw up. I couldn’t think. Couldn’t cry. Couldn’t even pray. I played scales on the piano for hours, then played Tetris on my phone.

About 9 last night, I thought, “I can’t do this.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/if-we-dont-fight-for-life-this-hunger-for-annihilation-will-devour-us-all/#ixzz3mThBRCWm

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Left Wing Media Tries to Hijack Pope Francis for Its Secular Agenda

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/

Redefining Francis to fit their political agenda is the new game of the left. It is an attempt to deify what are in fact callous and money-driven political positions.

If their ideas had to stand on their own merits, neither political party would do so well. In fact, if they were shorn of the god-gloss that counterfeit clergy obligingly spray all over them, We the People would have an easier time seeing through their charades and demanding better of them.

Pope Francis, as he is deliberately misinterpreted by left-wing media, bears no resemblance to Pope Francis the Vicar of Christ that he is. However, facts, reality and truth will not stop the msm in its quest to make him into an apologist for their secular values.

The Washington Post published an article today which is an example of these brazen attempts to hijack the pope for left wing politics.

I wrote about it for CatholicVote. 

Here’s part of what I said:

Back in the dark days of AIDs, when a diagnosis of HIV positive was a death sentence, someone I loved dearly got the bad word that this killer virus was crawling through his immune system.

He cried. I cried. We both believed his doctor who said that in three years he would be terribly ill, and within five years, he would be dead. We struggled to fit our understanding around this reality.

My friend called me one day during this coming-to-terms time. He had heard some flat-liner preacher on the radio saying that AIDS was God’s punishment to the gays, and that they were getting what they deserved. I still remember the anguish in his voice.

My friend was not religious, yet this diatribe from a radio preacher cut him to the bone. It is a terrible thing to tell people that God hates them. It is also, always, untrue. This preacher who said that AIDS was God’s punishment on the gays and that they deserved what they got was misrepresenting God.

“That’s why I’m a Christian,” I told my friend. “So that I don’t get what I deserve.”

Read the rest here.

 

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House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood. What Happens Next?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

The United States House of Representatives voted this afternoon to defund Planned Parenthood.

Commenters are saying that the vote is largely symbolic, since the bill will most likely never be heard in the Senate. However, there are procedural ways around that. Also, if the bill is amended, it might pick up a few Democratic votes.

We need several things to get this into law.

I wrote a summary of things that we can do to have the best chance of making a law for CatholicVote. 

Here is part of what I said:

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon defunding Planned Parenthood 248-187.

Three Republicans voted against the bill. They were: Representatives Charlie Dent (PA), Robert Dold (IL), and Richard Hanna (NY). Two Democrats voted for the bill. They were: Representatives Dan Lipinski (IL) and Collin Peterson (MN). Representative Steve King (R-IA) basically abstained by voting “present.”

According to Fox News, the bill would transfer monies that currently go to Planned Parenthood to what are called “government-backed community health centers.” This does not sound as if the bill moves the monies to local health departments. But I am not sure.

This is a critical first step in defunding Planned Parenthood. However, a successful effort at law-making must overcome two hurdles. First, it must garner 60 votes in the Senate to stop potential filibusters. Second, it must be able to overcome a presidential veto.

Read the rest here.

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How Did Those People Get Invited to the WH Reception for Pope Francis?

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

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

The story is out there, circling the internet. It goes something like this: President Obama has invited a trove of dissenting Catholics and critics of Catholic teaching to the White House reception for Pope Francis.

I delayed writing about it because I couldn’t track it back to the original source. I wasn’t able to get an official list of invitees. The internet sources I found linked to one another in a circular fashion.

Then, I stumbled across the GLAAD site. GLAAD is, among other things, a gay rights media watch dog. I don’t know if the White House issued any individual invitations to the reception. But it appears that they issued a sort of group invitation to GLAAD which allowed GLAAD to issue their own invitations to people of their choice.

GLAAD invited their own Director and Executive Director. They also invited — get ready for this now — Sister Jeanine Gramick.

Sr Gramick’s ministry to homosexual people, as well as her books, have made her a famous dissident in the Church. She was  instructed by the Congregation on Doctrine and the Faith that she was teaching things that were in contradiction to Catholic teaching and that were “erroneous and dangerous” to souls and to stop both the ministry and her writing. In addition to defying the Church on homosexuality, Sister Gramick also petitioned President Obama to repeal the Hyde Amendment and allow direct federal funding for abortions.

It appears that the White House reception for Pope Francis will host a number of questionable invitees. Some of them are, like Sr Gramick, in rebellion against the Church. Others, such as Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson, who was the first sexually active gay Episcopalian bishop, are not Catholic, but merely notorious for living a lifestyle that affronts Catholic teaching.

I’m not going to give you a laundry list of questionable guests to the White House reception for the pope. I can’t verify all of them. I think a lot of them were invited through this process of first inviting controversial groups who are known to be in disagreement with the Church and giving them the power to invite others. That makes tracking it back like unraveling a spider’s web. It’s further complicated by the fact that most of these organization will keep their actions private. In short: We may never know who was invited, or by whom.

None of this excuses the White House for this inhospitable behavior. They knew this would happen when they chose groups like GLAAD in the first place.

I’m not outraged by this. President Obama’s attitude toward Christians in general and the Catholic Church, in particular, has pushed my outrage button so many times that the poor thing is almost worn out.

What I am is embarrassed. This discourtesy toward the Holy Father is not just the boorishness of one rude man toward his guest. It is the discourtesy of the United States Government toward the leader of the largest Church in the world.

There is only one pope, and the position of leadership that he occupies is unique. He is the spiritual and moral leader of a billion and a quarter people, one seventh of the world’s population. His leadership crosses every border, reaches into every culture and clime. From dateline to dateline, pole to pole, the Catholic Church is there.

No other leader on this planet approaches the scope and reach of the leadership exercised by this humble man in white.

I would like to be proud of the way my country conducts itself when it welcomes the Pope to these shores. I want the president to demonstrate the genuine warmth and open-hearted kindness of the good people of these United States of America.

We are not a bunch of idiot rubes who put our most divisive and oafish foot forward by inviting people to meet the pope when we know those people’s presence will create controversy. That is not American hospitality. It is President Obama’s inability or unwillingness to put his petty political concerns aside for one day and be the host in chief.

There are many homosexuals who are also faithful and devout Catholics. The president should have invited a few of them. If he doesn’t know any, he should have asked me. I know several. There is no reason — none — to go in-your-face with this important guest to our country by inviting people who have publicly engaged in flame-throwing against the Church.

I am left to wonder; When Pope Francis visits Cuba, will Fidel Castro, this atheist communist, end up treating him with more respect that our American president?

 

For more thoughts on this issue, check out Elizabeth Scalia over at Aleteia, and John White at Catholic Vote. 

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What Do You Put on the Altar of Your Heart?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Democracy Chronicles https://www.flickr.com/photos/democracychronicles/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Democracy Chronicles https://www.flickr.com/photos/democracychronicles/

Pro life people must not confine their pro life thinking to the tiny intellectual boxes created by the two major political parties.

The Democrats and the Republicans have created this silo mentally for their own self-serving purposes. It does not benefit the cause of the sanctity of human life. It can actually harm it.

I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register.

Here is part of what I said:

My Grandmother used to say, “That’s like a choice between hanging and a firing squad.”

I wrote a post decrying the lack of a single, unifying objective for the pro-life movement. I also asked readers to offer their thoughts about how to word such an objective for the pro-life movement. I was looking for a one-sentence objective, something on which we could hang discussions about strategies and tactics. The resulting discussion in the comboxes was most edifying.

As people settled into a discursive back and forth, it became obvious that they thought being pro-life in the political sense does not mean protecting human life from conception to natural death. Rather, it means choosing whether to kill the child with abortion or to deny the child the basics of life after birth. It’s as if Satan himself set up the choices for pro-life people, which, in a way, is what has happened.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/elephants-and-donkeys-have-no-place-on-the-altar-of-your-heart/#ixzz3m1XUzZws

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It was a Mama Kind of Weekend.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My family and I had a rough weekend with Mama. Here’s a summary of part of it that I wrote for the National Catholic Register.

If you could spare a prayer for me and mine, it would be much appreciated.

From the National Catholic Register:

I woke with a jolt — one of those soldier-coming-awake-in-a-foxhole snaps from dream sleep to full awake without a step between.

The house was quiet and dark.

I hauled my tired self out of bed and walked down one hall and then the next hall and yet another hall until I came to Mama’s bedroom, flipped on the light and looked at her bed. Which was neatly made up and empty.

Panic is the word, but it’s inadequate. Think baby-missing-from-the-crib-in-a-silent-house, think every nightmare of bungled love and responsibility pounding straight down with one slam.

I ran through the house, yelling for her.

Nothing.

Then, I noticed that the pillows on the sofa were laid out flat in a row that went from one armrest straight across to the other. I walked to the sofa. Lifted a pillow.

She was lying there, fully dressed and sleeping. Her white hair was streaked red with blood, her pants and shirt had huge spots of blood. It was bright red; fresh, newly-bled.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/living-pro-life-is-a-blessing-that-asks-much-of-the-blessed/#ixzz3lpIjaoqQ

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Here is What Men Can Do to Prevent Abortion

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by kambodza https://www.flickr.com/photos/49507393@N08/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by kambodza https://www.flickr.com/photos/49507393@N08/

Aleteia has an interesting article written by a priest who, as a young man, encouraged his then-girlfriend to have an abortion.

The article is about repentance and forgiveness. It talks about the mercy of the Church. I would like to emphasize that the Church is merely the conduit of the real Mercy, which is the Divine Mercy, the mercy of Christ and Him crucified.

Many years ago, I referred young women for abortions. Then, after my conversion, I worked as a volunteer at Birth Choice, an Oklahoma crisis pregnancy center. Based on my experiences, I would say that the number one determiner of whether or not a young woman seeks an abortion is the father of the baby.

This is not absolute, of course, but in most of the cases I encountered, two things that predicated toward the woman either having an abortion or not was how she felt about the baby’s father and how the baby’s father reacted to the pregnancy. The most pro life thing a young man can do is accept responsibility for his unborn child and love the mother of his child. If men did that, it would reduce the number of abortions by a huge amount.

The priest is Father Stephen Embarrato.

From Aleteia:

I write today as a priest who was guilty of an abortion decades ago. No sooner had I heard about Pope Francis’ letter giving universal faculties to priests to absolve the sin of abortion and lift any excommunication, did I find myself being interviewed on the radio and being asked curious questions about the Pope’s letter.

Is this a new teaching? Is the Church finally forgiving people who have been guilty of an abortion? Later in the day, I was able to read some of the media headlines and I understood why these questions were being asked. A Yahoo headline, “Pope tells priests to pardon women who have had abortions.” MSNBC reported, “Pope says priests can allow this Catholic sin.” The general comments I heard from people on and off social media could be summed up with, “How could the Church be so against abortion that it would refuse mercy to people for this sin.” It is almost as if in one single day we entered an abyss in which the Church was void of mercy when, in reality, the Church is all about mercy…and I am a living example of how the Church, continuing the work of Christ on earth, extends God’s mercy to all who seek His mercy.

In the 1970s, long before I became a priest, I encouraged my girlfriend to have an abortion. Guilt followed almost immediately as did the confession of our sin to a priest. Our healing came much more slowly and we eventually parted ways. Thirty years later, in the seminary, while counseling a young man about his complicity in his girlfriend’s abortion,

 

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Bad Weekend with Mama

Folks, I had a rough weekend with Mama.

I’ll monitor your comments when I get myself together. In the meantime, don’t think that I’m ignoring you and refusing to let you have your say. I’m just not able to face some of the ugliness that shows up in the comboxes right now. I’ll be ok in a little bit and get it done for you. Thanks for your patience.

 

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Lone Vet Returns to Iraq to Fight ISIS

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

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

60 Minutes covered the plight of Iraqi Christians Among other stories, they found an American military veteran, in Iraq, training Iraqi Christians in self defense.  He’s there because he’s a Christian who wants to help Christians defend themselves in this time of genocide.

From 60minutesovertime.com. 

Lone vet returns to Iraq to fight ISIS

|“I’m not here serving my country–I’m here serving Christians,” says former U.S. soldier Brett Felton, who returned to Iraq to train Christians how to defend themselves from ISIS

I applaud this. One of the necessary components of genocide always seem to be that the victim population can not or does not defend themselves.

Go here to see the story.

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Office Depot’s Refusal to Print Pro-Life Flyer is Bad Business, But They Can Do It

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/

Things are hopping in the culture wars.

It seems that a clerk at a Chicago Office Depot refused to print a pro life flyer quoting facts about the government monies received by Planned Parenthood. The reason? The flyer was deemed to be “persecuting pro abortion” people.

Evidently, Office Depot is standing behind this bit of nuttiness.

Does this, as the woman who was refused service claims, violate her First Amendment rights? I say no. I wrote a post about this for Catholic Vote. 

Here’s part of what I had to say:

… Now the lady who wanted it printed is all in a kerfuffle and talking lawsuit because, she says, her First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech was violated, along with her First Amendment right to Religious Liberty.

I know I’m going to get a lot of raspberries from my pro life fellows, but the lady is wrong. This was not a violation of her First Amendment rights.

It was rude, and it is certainly a reason for pro life people to take their business somewhere besides Office Depot. In fact, I’m sitting on a chair that I bought at Office Depot. Ditto for the desk in front of me. I have some color-coded files I bought from Office Depot just to my right on this same desk. But the truth of the matter is, Office Depot ain’t the only place I can buy these things; not by a long shot. I’ve been planning to buy bookshelves for my music room, and Office Depot has lost that sale. It’s good-bye Office Depot; Mathis Brothers, here I come.

But, I’m not about to get all worked up and claim that the jerks at the Chicago Office Depot in question violated anybody’s Constitutional rights. The Constitutional right to free speech means that the government cannot tell you what to say. It does not give anyone the right to force their speech on other people.

As a ‘for instance,’ I can, and do, delete filthy-mouthed comments from Public Catholic. Read the rest here.

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Kim Davis: Is This the Beginning of a Judicial Dictatorship?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Cross Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/ldcross/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Cross Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/ldcross/

This is another take on the question of judicial overstep by the judge who imprisoned Kim Davis. I wrote it for Catholic Vote.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

150904_POL_KimDavis.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

Kim Davis, Democrat, went to jail rather than violate her Christian values. For this, she is getting hammered by those who think they own the Democratic Party and can decide who gets to be a “real” Democrat.

Donald Trump, Republican, supports sending her to jail. Meanwhile, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an order in his state protecting court clerks’ right to religious objection.

It’s all kind of a mess, isn’t it?

This jibes nicely with a comment by Robert George, who is Chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Professor George said, There really ARE two kinds of people in the world: those who will go to jail rather than do what’s wrong and those who will send them there.  

In addition to being willing to send people to jail, Mr. Trump appears to also be willing to demolish the separation of powers that keeps us free.

That’s a huge problem with this whole scenario that most people are overlooking. Mrs. Davis is not an administrative appointee. She is not an at-will employee. She is a duly elected official who holds her office by the direct will of the people. Let me clarify what that means: Her authority comes from the people. Courts do not have the power to imprison elected officials based on how they perform their elected duties.

 

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We Can Convert this Culture. The Only Thing Lacking is Leadership.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/

We can convert this culture. The only thing lacking is leadership.

That’s my take in a post I wrote for the National Catholic Register on two of the most recent polls about the Catholic Church in America today.

Here’s part of what I said:

… The trouble with “opinion” polls is that interpretation of the results rests in the hands of the interpreters. That’s why a recent poll that indicated that fully 90% of Catholics approve of the Pope, and a whopping 89% of Catholics also approve of their Church, received a headline from the Washington Post announcing that “The vast majority of US Catholics who left the Church can’t imagine returning.”

Their bias is showing.

I spent my entire legislative life looking at polls like this and then doing what I thought was best, despite the poll. I knew that poll results were indicators, not hard thinking. In the final analysis, polls didn’t matter. What mattered was whether or not I could communicate my vision to the people I represented. To put it another way, what mattered was whether or not I could exercise leadership.

I look at the same polls that Catholic bashers mine for nuggets to throw at the Church, and I see attitudes, situations and off-the-cuff reactions to disparate realities. I also see enormous opportunity for conversion of this culture.

The poll I cited earlier was a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. Pew Research Center released another, slightly different, poll showing much the same results. The emphasis of the poll by the Public Religion Institute was the impact that the so-called “Francis Effect” was having on American Catholics. The Pew Research poll was mostly focused on Catholic attitudes about family.

It’s impossible to create parallels between the two polls because their respective definitions of “Catholic” are so different from one another. The Pew Research poll opens the spigot wide, noting that up to 45% of the American population is in some way “connected” to the Catholic Church.

The poll also reveals that 90% of American Catholics believe that the best family situation for raising children is “a household headed by a married mother and father.” I’m not sure what slice of their sampling they used to get this number. Was it everyone they consider Catholic? Or was it just regular Mass-going Catholics?

Pew Research basically defines anyone as a Catholic who says they are Catholic. This includes people who haven’t been inside a Catholic Church in decades right alongside those who attend daily Mass.

But whatever sampling they used, that is a powerful percentage.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/discerning-the-thirst-for-god-in-the-latest-pew-survey/#ixzz3lFv6tPQw

 

 

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Kim Davis is Out of Jail

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector https://www.flickr.com/photos/124387535@N03/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector https://www.flickr.com/photos/124387535@N03/

There really ARE two kinds of people in the world: those who will go to jail rather than do what’s wrong and those who will send them there. Robert George, McCormick Professor, Princeton, Charman, US Commission on International Religious Freedom

Kim Davis has been released from jail. Judge David Bunning, who ordered Davis jailed in the first place, says that he is satisfied that her deputies have fulfilled their obligations to issue marriage licenses to gay marriages.

His order releasing Mrs Davis requires that she cannot interfere with her deputies issuing marriage licenses to “all legally eligible couples.” The implication is that if Mrs Davis does not perform her duties as a dully elected official to the judge’s liking, he will imprison her once again.

I am going to repeat something I said earlier: The judge is over-stepping his authority. Mrs Davis is an elected official and his purview does not extend to telling elected officials whether or not they are performing their duties in a satisfactory manner.

If an elected official does not perform their duties in a manner that the courts deem necessary, the courts have a certain latitude for redress, but this does not include summarily imprisoning the elected official. Perhaps the most clear-cut case of this in American history was when the Supreme Court ruled that the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from their hereditary lands to Indian Territory (what is now the State of Oklahoma) was unconstitutional, and President Andrew Jackson ignored the Court.

Impeachment and the election process are how this nation has dealt with elected officials who do not perform their duties properly. When courts begin to imprison elected officials based on how they perform their duties, they are overstepping the separation powers which is one of the primary guarantors of our freedoms.

I realize that those who favor gay marriage will not allow themselves to see this. I also realize that the concept of separation of powers has become increasingly weak due to judicial overstepping of its clear boundaries by using its power to issue rulings to create and pass legislative initiatives of revolutionary proportions without any reference to representation of the people. But the courts must be stopped from overstepping their boundaries by imprisoning elected officials for not performing their duties in the manner the court decides they should.

There is a lot more at stake here than the recent judicial fiat on gay marriage.

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Pope Changes Annulment Process. What Does it Mean?

Sometimes, it's obvious that there was no sacramental marriage. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/outofideas/

Sometimes, it’s obvious that there was no sacramental marriage. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/outofideas/

My ignorance of canon law is showing.

Pope Francis issued two Apostolic letters, which are edicts affecting the entire Church this morning. These letters reform the process by which members of the laity — and those wishing to enter the Church who have  marital baggage from the pasts — can obtain an annulment.

I have questions out to canonists so that I can give you a more exact and accurate understanding of exactly what the Holy Father did, but there are a few things I can say, just from reading the documents. One critical reform that he has instituted is that the process of obtaining an annulment should be offered to the faithful without charge.

The diocese in which I live does not charge for annulments. That is the way it should be, everywhere. The reason I feel so strongly about this is that a complex marital arrangement can block people from entering the Church, and it can also keep them from taking Communion. That makes the annulment process a roadblock to Jesus. There should never have been a charge for someone seeking to partake of the Body and Blood of Our Savior.

If I understand what I read correctly, the Pope has put the annulment process in the hands of the local bishop, who has been given the option of appointing one person to act on his behalf in this matter. Pope Francis calls this person “a single judge under the responsibly of the Bishop.” One of the things I need to learn more about is how this would affect the existing tribunals.

The important point is a bit further down when the document states clearly “the bishop is judge.” I interpret that to mean that the local bishop is the first voice of appeal if there is disagreement about his designee’s decisions. It also means that the bishop is always directly responsible for the annulment process in his diocese.

The letters says that “a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed — in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use.” This simplified process “is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of martial nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments.” I interpret this to mean that this shorter process is for cases cases in which the facts say on their face that the marriage was not a sacramental marriage. That would probably include things such as common law marriage, forced marriage, child marriage, or marriages performed by atheists/pagans/justices of the peace/ship’s captains, etc.

As I said, I’ve asked people who are Canonists to help me understand what these changes will mean to the people in the pews. My guess is that these new rules will be abused by some, but will also help many people who are shut away from the sacraments by a past they cannot change. I think they will also remove what has been unmovable barriers to people who have messy marital pasts and who have converted and changed and are now following the call of Christ to enter the Catholic Church. I personally know people whose conversion to the Catholic church was blocked by their inability to fill out the paperwork required by the current process.

Marriage is a vastly important commitment. When you marry, you chose this one person as your life’s partner. You will create other people with them, people that are part of each of you, but are uniquely themselves. Your spouse is the one who stands beside you in life’s trials, the one who shares your future.

We have degraded and damaged marriage to the point that family itself has lost its meaning to many people. In many ways, these changes in the annulment process are a recognition of the fact that Western society has fallen into such deep and widespread marital sin that the necessity of reconversion means that we must accommodate these things in order to bring the converted to Christ.

Western society has fallen into depravity that has become the norm. But the message of the Gospels is unchanged. That message is simple and straight foward: Jesus Christ the Way to eternal life.  Not only that, but there is no sin we can commit that is greater than His forgiveness.

That’s what I think these changes are about. They are a way to telling people that no matter what kind of mess they’ve made of things, nothing they’ve done is greater than Christ’s mercy.

Here, from Vatican Radio, is the summary of the Apostolic Letters Pope Francis issued today:

  1. That there be only one sentence in favor of executive nullity – It appeared opportune, in the first place, that there no longer be required a twofold decision in favor of marital nullity, in order that the parties be admitted to new canonically valid marriages: the moral certainty reached by the first judge according to law should be sufficient.

  2. A single judge under the responsibility of the Bishop – The constitution of a single judge in the first instance, who shall always be a cleric, is placed under the responsibility of the Bishop, who, in the pastoral exercise of his own proper judicial power shall guarantee that no laxity be indulged in this matter.

  3. The Bishop is judge – In order that the teaching of the II Vatican Council be finally translated into practice in an area of great importance, the decision was made to make evident the fact that the Bishop is, in his Church – of which he is constituted pastor and head – is by that same constitution judge among the faithful entrusted to him. It is desired that, in Dioceses both great and small, the Bishop himself should offer a sign of the conversion of ecclesiastical structures, and not leave the judicial function completely delegated to the offices of the diocesan curia, as far as matters pertaining to marriage are concerned.

  4. Increased brevity in the legal process – In fact, beyond making the marriage annulment process more agile, a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed – in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use – which is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of marital nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments. In any case, the extent to which an abbreviated process of judgment might put the principle of the indissolubility of marriage at risk, did not escape me [writes Pope Francis – ed.]: thus, I have desired that, in such cases the Bishop himself shall be constituted judge, who, by force of his pastoral office is with Peter the greatest guarantor of Catholic unity in faith and in discipline.

  5. Appeal to the Metropolitcan See – It is fitting that the appeal to the Metropolitan See be re-introduced, since that office of headship of an Ecclesiastical province, stably in place through the centuries, is a distinctive sign of the synodality of the Church.

  6. The proper role of the Bishops’ Conferences – The Bishops’ Conferences, which must be driven above all by the anxious apostolic desire to reach the far-off faithful, should formally recognize the duty to share the aforesaid conversion, and respect absolutely the right of the Bishops to organize judicial power each within his own particular Church.

 

 

Deacon Greg offers an excellent news summary of the letters here.

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