Fourteen Members of Congress Sign Letter Asking that Conscience Rights Be Included in Budget Bill

Fourteen members of Congress sent a letter to the House leadership asking that conscience rights be included in the upcoming budget bill. They mentioned specific violations of the right to conscience, including the HHS Mandate. Thirteen of the 14 signers were women. This puts the lie to the claim that women support attacks on religious freedom and individual freedom of conscience such as the HHS Mandate.

This is an unprecedented move by these House members which could have far-reaching consequences for the future of religious freedom in this country. I don’t know if these Congresspeople wrote this letter in response to the call for Congress to make the HHS Mandate a bargaining chip in the sequester/fiscal cliff/budget negotiations. But I do know that this letter came shortly after grassroots lobbying efforts  for this kind of move began.

Fourteen signers out of 453 voting members of the US House may not sound like much, but I think it’s a great start. By putting their names on this letter, these Congresspeople have stepped out in front of the issue of religious freedom and used their clout as members of the majority party to urge their leadership to do the same.

I am going to contact members of my Congressional delegation and ask them to sign on to this letter, as well. Hopefully, we will get many more Republicans and a few Democrats to sign. I am also going to contact those who signed this letter and thank them.

You can contact your Congressman or woman by going here.

This is a copy of the letter in question:

Letter to boehner religious freedom

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Letter to boehner religious freedom page 3

Signers of this letter are planning a press conference tomorrow. Frank Weathers has the story here.

Book Review: Joining the Present Day Abolitionists

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Join the discussion on Refuse To Do Nothing or find a link to buy a copy here

I serve on the board of directors of All Things New. All Things New is dedicated to helping women come out of sex slavery, which ranges from trafficking to prostitution.

That position brings me face to face with the reality of what we are doing to our women and children in the name of “victimless crimes.” It has made me aware of how our culture glorifies pimps, excuses johns and victimizes the women and children these predators use and degrade.

Refuse To Do Nothing was written by two women, Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim, who had heard similar stories and found that they had to “refuse to do nothing” about the suffering present-day slavery wreaks on both the victims and the victimizers.

I recommend this well-researched book. Instead of just telling us how horrible the problem of present-day slavery is, the book gives simple, do-able ideas for actions that ordinary people can take to help in the fight to end it. There is nothing over the top in any of the ideas these women provide. Each of them is simple, easy to do and, if enough of us do them, effective.

Slavery ended in Great Britain and America largely as a result of Christians, particularly Christian women, who understood the Gospel claim that every human being is beloved of God. They could not abide the contradiction of Christian people owning and using other human beings as chattel.

That understanding is just as true today as it was in the 18th and 19th centuries. Then as now, slavery was big business. Avarice and sloth fueled slavery just as avarice, sloth and lust fuel it today.

The idea that prostituted women and children are somehow less than fully human is the basic philosophical underpinning of sex trafficking and prostitution in our world today. The authors of this book rightly identify that sex slavery would go away if men stopped buying women and children. I think that most men would stop buying women and children if they saw what they were really doing.

It is so easy for any one of us to become someone else’s nightmare. All we need to do is subscribe to the world’s opinion that there are human beings who are less than human and we may do to them what we please with no moral harm to ourselves.

However, this idea of the disposable human is entirely opposed to the message of the Gospels. It refutes the meaning of Calvary, when Our Lord died for each one of us. There can be no worthless people to anyone who truly believes the Gospels of Christ.

We have an obligation to the God Who made us to treat one another as fully human. When we do less than this, we separate ourselves from Him in a profound and deeply sinful manner.

I recommend Refuse To Do Nothing to everyone who has a heart for the Gospel value of human life.

Have You Shopped at Hobby Lobby This Month?

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Source: Baptist Press

I headed to Hobby Lobby as soon as I deposited my paycheck last week. 

I don’t buy big, but I try to buy something every month. It’s the least I can do to support them in their fight for my freedom and yours. 

Hobby Lobby is still embroiled in a bitter court battle with the Obama administration over the HHS Mandate. Owner David Green has said that the company will pay the huge fines the government plans to assess rather than pay for health insurance coverage for abortifacients. Hobby Lobby already pays for birth control coverage for employees who receive health insurance, so that is not the issue.

The real question is whether or not the government can confine First Amendment freedoms to religious institutions, or if those freedoms belong to every American. 

In my opinion, the government position in this is a legalized version of what I was once told about my job as a legislator: You can go to church all you want, but leave it there. The HHS Mandate is an attempt to enforce that outrageous demand by law and to punish those who refuse to adhere to it with crippling fines and penalties.

If this position is allowed to stand, I do not think it will be all that long before similar penalties are imposed on individual people like you and me, and not just Christian businesses.

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The thrust of militant secularism is to push people of faith and religious ideas out of the public sphere and into an intellectual and social ghetto. This ghettoizing of people of faith, particularly Christians, is moving along at a fast pace in our Western society. The idea that the government would do something as egregious as the HHS Mandate was something everyone thought was a ridiculous impossibility just a few years ago.

Now, we have most of the press and large swaths of the population, including “progressive” Christian Churches, supporting what amounts to an outright government attack on religious freedom. What was unthinkable a few years ago has come to pass.

It is being pushed on us with lies, distortions and obfuscations from genuine true-believer militant secularists, and those kool-aid drinking Christians who have deluded themselves into thinking that the time when this same sword will be used on them will never come. These sad folks are joining with those who attack their own house and are trying to draw the rest of us into that delusion along with them.

I thank God for people like the owner of Hobby Lobby who are willing to stand for Christ, no matter what the cost.

The Baptist Press recently published an interview with members of the Green family. It says in part:

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) — Hobby Lobby has been pushed to the front lines of a monumental battle over religious liberty just when the arts and crafts chain is aiming to open a Bible museum near the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

“God’s up to something,” Steve Green, Hobby Lobby’s president, often says.

“We’re just along for the ride.”

Hobby Lobby’s founder — Green’s father, David — has publicly stated the company will not obey a federal mandate to provide employee health insurance that covers abortion-causing drugs. The 530-store chain could face government fines amounting to $1.3 million a day if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forces its will on Hobby Lobby and numerous other privately owned businesses lead by Christians who regard abortion as the taking of innocent life.

Steve Green, meanwhile, is leading Hobby Lobby’s plan to open a museum showcasing many of the 40,000 Bible artifacts in The Green Collection secured by the family’s company over the past three years. The museum and accompanying research center will be housed in 400,000-500,000 square feet renovated from two office buildings two blocks from the Air and Space Museum and a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The yet-unnamed museum could open as early as the fall of 2016.

Green spoke about the court battle and the museum to editors who visited Hobby Lobby’s headquarters, its sprawling manufacturing plant and four distribution centers on the outskirts of Oklahoma City during the Association of State Baptist Publications’ Feb. 11-14 annual meeting.

Asked if the HHS mandate, if ultimately enforced by the courts, could cost Hobby Lobby its solvency and its vision for a Bible museum, Green said, “I don’t have the answer to that. All I know is that we’re in good hands. I anticipate that it’s going to be a long battle.

“And what and where God directs this, I don’t know.”

Hobby Lobby, in its suit against the HHS mandate, remains in federal appeals court among dozens of companies objecting to the abortion insurance requirement.

“We haven’t gotten to the merits of the case,” Green said of the Hobby Lobby suit. “This is just asking for the injunction. …

“Even if we get a no” on the merits of the case — if two appeals courts issue “two different rulings — and there have been on the injunction — then it’s more likely that the Supreme Court would make a ruling on it. That’s probably, at earliest, a couple of years down the road,” Green said.

Asked how Hobby Lobby’s supporters can pray for the company, Green requested prayer “for the wisdom to say the right things and not say what we shouldn’t be saying. I think that we’re pretty clear. We know what our answer is.

“Pray for our government leaders,” Green added, “and the judges who are going to make the decisions, that exactly what God wants, happens.” (Read the rest here.) 

Cardinal Dolan: Three Challenges Facing the Next Pope

Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently gave an interview to Catholic News Service in which he discussed what he feels are the three critical challenges our next pope will have to address.

I think Cardinal Dolan’s assessment is well worth watching.

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Lent in the Legislature

GreatSeal Next week and the week after, I will become less and less accessible, more and more grumpy, and if you push me, downright mean.

These next two weeks are “deadline” weeks in the Oklahoma legislature, or, as we affectionately think of them, living hell.

We have to vote on every bill that every House member managed to author, get out of the various committees and onto the House agenda. That means long days, longer nights, endless debate and mind-numbing exhaustion. I finish deadline weeks feeling like I’ve been drug by a runaway horse. So does everybody else. By the end of this two weeks we’ll hate our jobs and we’ll probably all hate each other, as well.

That’s how legislators do Lent in Oklahoma.

Once, years ago, I tried to give up swearing for Lent. If Lent happened when the legislature wasn’t in session I would have had a fighting chance. But after the third or fourth time I had to go to confession because I’d broken my penance, my pastor got exasperated and told me, “I want you to forget this and pick something you can do.”

I jokingly said, “Well, I haven’t killed anybody. Can I count that as giving up something for Lent?”

He was not amused.

Ever since then, I’ve tried to come up with Lenten practices that fit into my job. You know; things I can do while driving my car to work or when I’m standing in an elevator. That sort of idle time activity. I literally do not have time to pray during deadline week. When I try to pray before I go to bed, I fall asleep. When I try to pray in the mornings, I’m late for work. If I try to pray while I’m driving … well, I’m already tired and distracted, so that’s not the best plan.

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One prayer I’ve found that I can actually do is called the Jesus Prayer. It goes: Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner. 

That’s an excellent prayer for deadline week. If you reflect on it, it’s sort of a mini Gospel in a few words. Anytime you’re in a pinch for time, or at a loss for words, I recommend the Jesus Prayer. It says everything you have to say in one profound sentence.

Another one sentence prayer I pray a lot during deadline week comes from Scripture: May the words of my lips and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, my God and my Redeemer.

I pray that a lot before debate.

Then, there’s the Hail Mary: Hail Mary, full of grace. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for me, a sinner, now and at the hour of my death.

The Hail Mary is a cry for help and an act of worship, both at once. It, like the other short prayers I use during deadline week, covers all the ground you have to cover to talk to God.

These quick prayers save my soul (literally) during times like deadline week. But there is another prayer that I’ve learned through the years. This one doesn’t have words, and yet it is perhaps the most eloquent. There are many days when my work is my prayer. I know that sounds odd, but I’ve learned that this can be the most profound prayer and act of worship any of us can do.

What I mean by that is that I am convinced that the most profound act of worship is simply doing what God tells you to do. If I can do my work in a manner that follows what God wants, then I am giving Him obedience, which is profound worship and prayer with feet.

I learned this during a time when I was getting blasted and battered in an ugly and personal way for passing pro life bills. (This was the time when I tried to convince my pastor that the simple fact that I hadn’t killed anybody should count as giving up something for Lent.) It was tough for me as a person and as a woman. But with God’s grace I was able to persevere, and in the persevering I experienced the Lord’s presence in a way that taught me an enormous amount about what prayer and worship truly are.

The best worship is doing what God tells you to do. The most profound prayer is obedience to God from the heart. 

All the other worship we do — the retreats, meditations, hymn-singing, scripture reading, long reflective silences — are simply exercises to get us to that state where we can do what He tells us to do with willing obedience from the heart.

Lent

I am looking forward to a real Lent one day. I think it would be most edifying to have time for prayer, reflection and long hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

But this week is deadline week, and my Lenten practice may very well be once again, not killing any of my colleagues. I think that’s a fine goal for a pro life legislator.

Fr Frank Pavonne Discusses the Upcoming Conclave

America’s delegation of 11 Cardinals is the second-largest national group which will be voting in the upcoming Papal Conclave to elect the next pope.

In the video below, Father Frank Pavonne discusses both this and the conclave itself.

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Pope Arrives at Castel Gandolfo

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Pope Benedict Leaves the Vatican

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The Rs and Ds Tie the Republic to a Railroad Track Called Sequester, Then Blame Each Other When the Train Arrives

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I know when I write a post that calls Republicans out on anything, I’m going to hear from many of my Republican pro life friends who are appalled, amazed and angered by what I’ve said.

I know when I write a post that speaks up for human life, freedom of religion or traditional marriage, I’ll get some of the same from the other guys. 

Today is a case in point. 

It turns out that my Republican friends are angry with me because I actually think that their party has something to do with the so-called “sequester” mess that this country is facing. These are the same Republicans who call me a statesman when I go after the President or the Dems for something I don’t like that they do.

Since I have the utmost respect for a couple of the people who are upset with me today, I am going to clarify just a bit.

I think both parties are putting the country at risk to play their little game. I don’t think either party gives a hoot what happens to people like you and me. And I don’t think either party actually believes the stuff they tell us at election time. 

President Obama had a big part in what has happened with the sequester. However, he didn’t make this mess all by his little self. There are some gigantic egos hooked up to little brains on the other side of the fence who have contributed their fair share to this situation.

What they are doing — and they are doing it together — is holding the American people hostage. 

They are also lying to us. That’s why the whole thing is so confusing. It’s impossible for anyone, including, I think, them, to keep track of the lies, sort them out and make sense of the situation. Both sides are lying. Both sides are spinning. Both sides are emailing their stalwarts with their talking points. Both sides. 

Both.

Not one.

Not the other.

Both. Of. Them.

I know it’s only natural for people who’ve staked so much of their trust in the gospel according to their political party to push back when somebody comes along and tells them they’ve been had. But, the truth is, if you’ve believed the propaganda either of our two political parties puts out, you have in fact, been had. 

I write posts like this because I love my country. I believe that we the people have got to stop being such easy marks for political snake oil salesmen who want to use us to obtain power for themselves and do what they please. 

These elected officials work for us. 

Did you know that?

Does anything they do make you feel that they know that?

If the answer is no, then you have already come to a rudimentary understanding of this situation, whether you will admit what you know to yourself or not. It’s not what I’m telling people that upsets them. It’s the fact that they know it’s true and don’t want to face what that truth means. 

What it means, and what they don’t want to face, is that there is no political party on a white horse who is going to save us or our country. This is a Republic, and we the people are going to have to do some of the heavy lifting ourselves. 

You can begin by calling your members of Congress and telling them what you think about the issues that matter to you. I don’t care if you support the sequester or not. I do care that you start thinking for yourselves and acting like free people who have a right to be heard in their own government. 

You can find your Congressperson’s email address and phone number here

Prominent Republican Political Leaders Sign Brief in Favor of Gay Marriage

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According to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the gay rights organization that brought the original lawsuit seeking the overturn of California’s Proposition 8, 131 prominent Republicans have signed an amicus curiae brief supporting gay marriage.

This brief seeks to influence the United States Supreme Court in its upcoming rulings on the legal standing of marriage in the United States. The signers are mostly prominent Republicans who have held or currently hold powerful government positions either as elected officials or as part of Republican presidential administrations. A number of these people have had lifelong careers bouncing from one prominent position to another in the service of the Republican Party. Based on that, I would assume that they are total, absolute party hacks. I also believe that when they sign a petition like this, it indicates something real is happening inside the party deep-thinking processes.

To put it bluntly, if you are a so-called “values” voter who has been supporting the Republican party because of their “moral” positions, you have been sold out. This doesn’t surprise me at all. It is nothing more than a public manifestation of what I have seen up close and personal as an elected official. Political parties are about power. All they care about is getting power and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie. 

Gay marriage advocates have stated that they are hopeful that this brief, with its prominent Republican signers, will influence the conservative members of the Supreme Court in their deliberations on the issue of gay marriage.

Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: People of faith can no longer vote for either party and feel that they are voting in line with their beliefs. 

Here is the list of the brief’s signers so far:

Republican Party Officials, Fundraisers 

  • Kenneth B. Mehlman, Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
  • Alex Castellanos, Republican Media Advisor
  • Tyler Deaton, Secretary, New Hampshire Young Republicans, 2011-Present
  • Jeff Cook-McCormac, Senior Advisor, American Unity PAC
  • Ken Spain, Communications Director, National Republican Congressional Committee, 2009-2010
  • Sally A. Vastola, Executive Director, National Republican Congressional Committee, 2003-2006
  • Jacob P. Wagner, Chairman, New Hampshire Federation of College Republicans, 2012-Present
  • Cyrus Krohn, eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee, 2007-2009
  • Mark McKinnon, Republican Media Advisor

Bush (W) Administration Officials

  • Tim Adams, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2005-2007
  • John B. Bellinger III, Legal Adviser to the Department of State, 2005-2009
  • William A. Burck, Deputy Staff Secretary, Special Counsel, and Deputy Counsel to the President, 2005-2009
  • Mary Cheney, Director of Vice Presidential Operations, Bush-Cheney 2004, 2003-2004
  • Thomas J. Christensen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, 2006-2008
  • James B. Comey, U.S. Deputy Attorney General, 2003-2005
  • R. Clarke Cooper, U.S. Alternative Representative, United Nations Security Council, 2007-2009
  • Julie Cram, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, 2007-2009
  • Michele Davis, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Director of Policy Planning, Department of the Treasury, 2006-2009
  • Alicia Davis Downs, Associate Political Director, White House, 2001-2003
  • Christian J. Edwards, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Press Advance, 2005-2007
  • Lew Eisenberg, Finance Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2002-2004
  • Mark J. Ellis, State Chairman, Maine Republican Party, 2005-2006 and 2007-2009
  • Charles Freeman, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China Affairs, 2002-2005
  • David Frum, Author and Special Assistant to the President, 2001-2002
  • Reed Galen, Director of Scheduling and Advance, Bush-Cheney 2004, 2003-2004
  • Benjamin Ginsberg, National Counsel, Bush-Cheney 2000 and 2004
  • Josh Ginsberg, National Field Director, Romney for President, 2007-2008
  • Juleanna Glover, Press Secretary to the Vice President, 2001-2002
  • Adrian Gray, Director of Strategy, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
  • Richard Grenell, Spokesman, U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations, 2001-2008
  •  Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, 2005-2009
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director, Congressional Budget Office, 2003-2005
  • Margaret Hoover, Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, 2005-2006
  • Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce, 2005-2009
  • Stephen Hadley, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, 2005-2009
  • David A. Javdan, General Counsel, U.S. Small Business Administration, 2002-2006
  • Reuben Jeffery, Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs, 2007-2009
  • Greg Jenkins, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Advance, 2003-2004
  • Coddy Johnson, National Field Director, Bush-Cheney 2004, 2003-2004
  • Neel Kashkari, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, 2008-2009
  • Theodore W. Kassinger, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, 2004-2005
  • Jeffrey Kupfer, Chief of Staff and Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy, 2006-2009
  • Catherine Martin, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Communications Director for Policy and Planning, 2005-2007
  • Kevin Martin, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2005-2009
  • David McCormick, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2007-2009
  • Bruce P. Mehlman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 2001-2003
  • Michael Napolitano, White House Office of Political Affairs, 2001-2003
  • Susan Neely, Special Assistant to the President, 2001-2002
  • Noam Neusner, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Speechwriting, 2002-2005
  • Meghan O’Sullivan, Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan, 2005-2007
  • Richard Painter, Associate Counsel to the President, 2005-2007
  • Michael Powell, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2001-2005
  • Nancy Pfotenhauer, Regulatory Advisor, Romney for President, 2008, and Economist, Presidential Transition Team, 1988
  • Gregg Pitts, Director, White House Travel Office, 2006-2009
  • J. Stanley Pottinger, Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, 1973-1977
  • Luis Reyes, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Assistant to the President, 2006-2009
  • Tom Ridge, Governor of Pennsylvania, 1995-2001, and Secretary of Homeland Security, 2003-2005
  • Mark A. Robbins, General Counsel, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2001-2006
  • Kelley Robertson, Chief of Staff, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
  • Brian Roehrkasse, Director of Public Affairs, Department of Justice, 2007-2009
  • Harvey S. Rosen, Chairman and Member, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005
  • Lee Rudofsky, Deputy General Counsel, Romney for President, 2012
  • Patrick Ruffini, eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
  • Corry Schiermeyer, Director for Global Communications, National Security Council, 2005-2007
  • Steve Schmidt, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Vice President, 2004-2006, and Senior Advisor, John McCain for President, 2008
  • Faryar Shirzad, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, 2004-2006
  • Robert Steel, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, 2006-2008
  • Mark Wallace, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Representative for UN Management and Reform, 2006-2008
  • Nicolle Wallace, Assistant to the President and White House Communications Director, 2005-2008
  • Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, 2001-2005, and President of the World Bank Group, 2005-2007

Bush (George) Administration Officials 

  • Jim Cicconi, Assistant to the President and Deputy to the Chief of Staff, 1989-1990
  • Kenneth M. Duberstein, White House Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President, 1981-1984 and 1987-1989
  • Jonathan Kislak, Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for Small Community and Rural Development, 1989-1991

Ronald Reagan Administration Officials

  • David Stockman, Director, Office of Management and Budget, 1981-1985
  • Elizabeth Noyer Feld, Public Affairs Specialist, White House Office of Management and Budget, 1984-1987
  • Robert Kabel, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, 1982-1985

Romney Presidential Campaign Staff

  • Katie Biber, General Counsel, Romney for President, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012
  • David Kochel, Senior Iowa Advisor, Mitt Romney for President, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012
  • Alex Lundry, Director of Data Science, Romney for President, 2012
  • Beth Myers, Romney for President Campaign Manager, 2007-2008 and Senior Advisor, 2011-2012

John McCain Presidential Campaign

  • Ana Navarro, National Hispanic Co-Chair, John McCain for President, 2008
  • Jill Hazelbaker, Communications Director, John McCain for President, 2007-2008

Republican Elected Officials

  • Susan Molinari, Member of Congress, 1990-1997
  • Connie Morella, Member of Congress, 1987-2003, and U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2003-2007Charles Bass, Member of Congress, 1995-2007 and 2011-2013
  • Mary Bono Mack, Member of Congress, 1998-2013
  • Paul Cellucci, Governor of Massachusetts, 1997-2001, and Ambassador to Canada, 2001-2005
  • B.J. Nikkel, Colorado State Representative and Majority Whip, 2009-2012, and District Director for Marilyn Musgrave, Member of Congress, 2002-2006
  • Ruth Ann Petroff, Wyoming State Representative, 2011-Present
  • Larry Pressler, U.S. Senator from South Dakota, 1979-1997, and Member of Congress, 1975-1979
  • Deborah Pryce, Member of Congress, 1993-2009
  • John Reagan, New Hampshire State Senator, 2012-Present
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member of Congress, 1989-Present
  • Adam Schroadter, New Hampshire State Representative, 2010-Present
  • Christopher Shays, Member of Congress, 1987-2009
  • Nancy Stiles, New Hampshire State Senator, 2010-Present
  • Jane Swift, Governor of Massachusetts, 2001-2003
  • Richard Tisei, Massachusetts State Senator 1991-2011, and Senate Minority Leader 2007-2011
  • William F. Weld, Governor of Massachusetts, 1991-1997, and Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Criminal Division, 1986-1988
  • Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey, 1994-2001, and Administrator of the EPA, 2001-2003
  • Janet Duprey, New York State Assemblywoman, 2007-Present
  • Dan Zwonitzer, Wyoming State Representative, 2005-present
  • Mark Grisanti, New York State Senator, 2011-Present
  • Patrick Guerriero, Mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts, and Member of Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1993-2001
  • Richard L. Hanna, Member of Congress, 2011-Present
  • Michael Huffington, Member of Congress, 1993-1995
  • Jon Huntsman, Governor of Utah, 2005-2009, and Ambassador to China, 2009-2011
  • Gary Johnson, Governor of New Mexico, 1995-2003, and Libertarian Party Nominee for President, 2012
  • Nancy L. Johnson, Member of Congress, 1983-2007
  • James Kolbe, Member of Congress, 1985-2007
  • Thomas A. Little, Vermont State Representative, 1992-2002 and Chairman of the Vermont House Judiciary Committee, 1999-2002

Prominent Republican Business Associates

  • Cliff S. Asness, Businessman, Philanthropist, and Author
  • David D. Aufhauser, General Counsel, Department of the Treasury, 2001-2003
  • David C. Chavern, Business Association Executive
  • Meg Whitman, Republican Nominee for Governor of California, 2010
  • Daniel S. Loeb, Businessman and Philanthropist

Republican Think-Tankers, Cultural Supports, Media Stars

  • S.E. Cupp, Author and Political Commentator
  • Robert Wickers, Republican Political Consultant
  • Clint Eastwood, Producer, Director, Actor, and Mayor of Carmel, California, 1986-1988
  • Mark Gerson, Chairman, Gerson Lehrman Group and Author of The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture Wars and In the Classroom: Dispatches from an Inner-City School that Works
  • N. Greg Mankiw, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005
  • Michael E. Murphy, Republican Political Consultant

Newt Gingrich (Speaker of the House) Staffers

  • Richard Galen, Communications Director, Speaker’s Political Office, 1996-1997
  • Ed Kutler, Assistant to the Speaker of the House, 1995-1997

Republican Congressional Staff

  • John Goodwin, Chief of Staff to Raul Labrador, Member of Congress, 2011-2013
  • Kathryn Lehman, Chief of Staff, House Republican Conference, 2003-2005

Aaron McLear, Press Secretary to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, 2007-2011

Marriage March

The Idiots Did It. We’re Sequestered.

This is the low point in my time in the United States Congress. I can not tell you how ashamed I am.  

Senator Lindsay Graham, talking about the sequester. 

The Republican/Democrat game of chicken went to the next round last night when Congressional stonewalling forced President Obama to make good on his threats and sign the sequester order.

We’re sequestered. The Republican idiots and the Democratic idiots drove us over the cliff. 

What does this mean to you and me? 

I’m going to give you two replies. One will be what I’ve heard is going to happen to Oklahoma (and by derivation, to everyone else.) The second will be a more official summary. 

1. Oklahoma. What I’ve been told is that the sequester will take about .05% out of Oklahoma’s state budget. I’m expressing it in percent because that will make it easier for you to compute the effect on your state. Since so many of these things are based on population, that will be more accurate for you. I’m guessing, but I would imagine that the percentage will be similar in other states, while the numbers will (due to their higher populations) be higher. What that means in Oklahoma is several hundred million dollars which we will have to make up out of our relatively small state budget.

While that may not sound like a lot of money, (by government standards) one of the things that makes it hard to handle is that we are already well into the budget process. Coming as it does as an unplanned-for hit, it will be harder to make it up. Also, a good bit of this will ultimately be off-loaded on parts of the private sector such as the hospitals, who will have to handle the problems it creates in people’s lives out of their budgets. There will also be a hit on the economy, which will result in lower tax revenues, which could result in another round of this further down the line.

Oklahoma has fared relatively well in the recent economic downturn because we are an oil producing state and oil prices have been high. However, our tax revenues will fall if people buy less because of this sequester. 

Our military bases, such as Tinker Air Force Base, are predicting that they will have to furlough people in order to make up their part of the shortfall that they expect from the sequester. I believe other government agencies will be similarly impacted. This, of course, will also affect tax revenues and the overall economy.

I think we will see similar things all across the country, which is why I’m am detailing this here.

2. What the sequester does. 

President Obama was forced to sign the sequestration order as a result of Congress’ failure to act. This means that unless the members of Congress come back from their long weekend off with a new attitude, the sequester will take affect.

The sequester totals around $85 billion which will come out of the budget over the next 10 months. Non defense programs will be cut by 10% and defense programs will be cut by 13%.

Most government programs will be cut. Social security, Children’s health insurance, food stamps and Medicaid will not be cut. Medicare won’t be cut, but payments to providers will shrink by 2%. 

Most other government programs will feel the cut, with furloughs predicted for agencies ranging from the FAA to the Bureau of Prisons. 

It’s a little difficult to predict exactly what will happen since the President and the Republican leadership differ in what they are telling us and I think both of them are spinning things to bolster their case. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn says that agencies have plenty of space in their budgets to handle the cuts. From what I know of government agencies, I think he’s probably right. However, from what I know of government agencies, I doubt that they will do this. 

I expect more gamesmanship, which I expect means that agencies will not “handle” the cuts at all, and you and I will end up paying for all this. 

The worst of the sequester will not hit until April, since, by law, the government furloughs can’t start until employees have been given 30 days’ notice. If this goes on long enough for that to happen, we’ll start feeling it in all sorts of ways, including a sudden, powerful drag on the economy. For more information, go here and here.

In the meantime, as I said earlier, the president was forced to sign the sequester orders and Congress has gone off on a long weekend after a hard week of doing nothing good for the country. I’ve been through legislative fights, and I would guess they need a cooling-off period. The best thing they can do for all of us is go soak their swollen heads.

As for you and me, we have to decide for ourselves if this is how we want our government to work. We keep getting choices between bad and worse at election time. As a consequence, we’ve elected a whole Congress of party hacks who do not care enough about this country to do the nation’s business. 

I have never and I will never tell anyone to change their party. I have always, and I will always tell you that you need to demand that whichever party you are in clean up its act and stop giving us puppet people for elected officials. 

If you want to chat with your Congressional delegation about this, you can find their phone numbers and email addresses here

We elected these people. We can un-elect them. 

Up to Our Earlobes in Alligators: Marriage, Religious Freedom and Fiscal Cliffs, Oh My!

Alligators

We are up to our ears in alligators folks

Trying to respond to all the challenges to faith, sanity and the future of Western Civilization these days is like playing a game of whackamole on speed. 

But there are things you can do. Pick one and do it. Then tomorrow, pick another and do that. 

Here are a few ideas. If you have others, please add them in the comments section.

 

 

Marriage

Now that the president has come out swinging for gay marriage, and Britain and France have heads of state who are doing the same, we appear to be in a losing battle on this one. States are passing gay marriage referendums, poll numbers keep piling up in favor of redefining marriage essentially out of existence, and in Britain and other places where they are further along with this than the USA, the refuse from this change is already piling up.

Christians are losing their jobs, being sued and excluded from public life in those countries because they will not compromise on the Gospels. I’ve been told that Britain is talking about doing away with the legal notion that marriage has anything to do with sexual fidelity, since, (I guess) they think that somehow tracks with gay marriage.

So, what are we to do?

First of all, we are to stay the course. We are to stand our ground. Do not quit on the Gospels of Christ because polls tell you that other people are doing that. Do not ever make following Jesus a matter of what is popular or trendy. 

Second, we need to take good care of our own marriages. Love your spouse. Raise your children. Be there, at home with your family as a true husband or wife; father or mother.

Third, we can pray/fast and offer our concerns about the future of marriage up to the Lord, uniting them with His sufferings. Kathy Schiffer, who blogs at Seasons of Grace, published a post about a suggestion from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Here is what part of what she said:

The U.S. Bishops have an idea:  With the Supreme Court about to hear an important case on the rights of homosexuals to marry, the bishops invite you to fast today.  Dedicate your penance, they urge, for the intention of marriage:

For the justices of the Supreme Court, that when they consider two marriage-related cases later this month, they would uphold the authentic meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, a good in itself and for all of society.

This is a good idea.  Just publishing their flyer today, on the day of fast, is NOT such a good idea—I’d have told you (and told myself!) yesterday, had I seen anything in the news about it.  (Of course, it may have been pushed aside due to the dramatic news yesterday, namely, the resignation of our Holy Father.) 

Nonetheless, late is better than not at all; so if you’ve already had breakfast and lunch and some snacks (as I have), consider sacrificing in whatever way you can today:  have dinner an hour late; skip the dessert; don’t eat between meals.  Let us join together to offer our minor mortifications in defense of the sacred institution of marriage.

As Kathy notes, it’s too late to skip eating between meals today. But it’s not too late to engage in another simple type of penance. I am going to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and offer that up. I’m sure you can think of something that will work for you. 

Fourth: We can go to Washington to participate in the March for Marriage on March 26, 2013. We are having our annual Oklahoma March for Life on the 25th, so I don’t know if I can manage to go, but I am looking into it. A reader asked me a couple of weeks ago if I knew how we could manage to communicate with the Supreme Court. I didn’t answer her, because I wasn’t sure what to say. Now I know of one way, and this march is it. 

You can find details at the March for Marriage website here. The March for Marriage Facebook page is here

Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I am Catholic, has also written about this march. You can check it out here. I got this great logo from Frank’s blog:

Marriage March



Religious Freedom

I already gave you a “to do” for this one. You need to call or email your United States Senator or Congressperson and ask them to make the repeal of the HHS Mandate their bargaining point in the Fiscal Cliff/Sequester fight. You can find who they are and how to contact them here

You might also drop a note to the National Democratic and Republican Parties, letting them know that you oppose the HHS Mandate and support religious freedom. 

You can email the Republican National Committee here.

You can email the Democratic National Committee here.

Do not underestimate the power of these national parties where issues like this are concerned. In a Congress of Puppet People, they are often the ones who ultimately pull the strings. 

Cross flag

Freedom of Religion Legislative Action Alert

DSC 0012

I received the following legislative action alert concerning the HHS Mandate in an email this morning. 

The alert asks people to contact their Congresspeople urging them to make the repealing the HHS Mandate a sticking point in the Fiscal Cliff/Sequester fight currently going on in Congress right now.

In my opinion, our supporters in Congress should have done this a year ago, before the Mandate took effect. But, later is much better than never. 

You can contact your Senators and Representatives by calling their local offices or you can do it by email. To learn who your elected officials in Washington are, and get their phone numbers and email addresses, go here

This is the full text of the alert, which comes from the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment:

In 2012, the Obama Administration’s contraceptive and sterilization mandate went into effect for most employers. Congress is preparing to consider “must-pass” appropriations legislation. Needed conscience protection provisions should be made a part of this legislation. Today please urge your Representative and two Senators to take action to protect conscience rights and religious liberty!

Recommended Actions:

  • Send an e-mail through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center: Click Here
  • Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices. Additional contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at: www.senate.gov andwww.house.gov

Suggested Message: “Please support legislation to protect the rights of conscience in health care when you take up ‘must-pass’ bills such as a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government. Government must not force Americans to violate their religious and moral beliefs on respect for life when they provide health care or sponsor or purchase health coverage. The Administration’s contraceptive mandate forces health coverage to include sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that can cause an abortion, even when employers and employees have moral or religious objections.”

When: Congress may consider “must-pass” appropriations legislation such as a Continuing Resolution as early as the week of March 4. Please contact your Representative and two Senators today! 

Background

In a February 15 letter to Congress, Archbishop William Lori, Chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, described specific conscience protection provisions and why they are needed, concluding: “I urge you in the strongest terms possible to incorporate the provisions described above in the upcoming legislative proposals to fund the federal government.” See:nchla.org/datasource/idocuments/LoriLttr021513.pdf.

Under the new health care law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requires most health plans to cover “preventive services for women,” including services that many citizens find objectionable for moral and religious reasons. These objectionable services include sterilization, FDA-approved birth control (such as the IUD, Depo-Provera, ‘morning-after’ pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella), and “education and counseling” to promote these to all “women of reproductive capacity,” including minor girls. The HHS mandate allows only a very narrow exemption for a “religious employer.”

On February 1, HHS released a new “proposed rule” that goes into greater detail on the “accommodation” but continues to allow only a very narrow exemption, chiefly aimed at what it calls “houses of worship.” Other religious organizations offering education, health care and charitable services to all in need do not qualify for the exemption. There is no exemption or delay for individuals, or for businesses owned and operated by individuals with moral or religious objections.

Obama Files Brief Asking Court to Overturn Proposition 8

Obama

Think back ten months ago to when President Obama announced that his position on gay marriage had “evolved.”

What his position had in fact evolved from was his prior position when he promised the American people that he was against gay marriage. That was in 2008 when he was working to get elected president. Ten months ago, he announced that his thinking had evolved past his earlier promise and he was now in favor of gay marriage.

At that distant, and now forgotten time of ten long months ago, he promised the American people that his newly-evolved support for gay marriage was just his “personal opinion” and that it would have no effect on the actual laws concerning marriage. After all, the laws in question were not federal laws, and as President of the United States he had no power to or intention of trying to influence state legislatures. 

That, as they say, was then. This is now. And right now it appears that our president has every intention of using the force of his office in whatever way he can to push gay marriage on the country. The fiscal cliff/sequester fight may have robbed him of the economic wherewithal to use his powers as Commander in Chief to send aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf, but evidently there is still plenty of money to buy ink for his office printers.

Yesterday, the president filed yet another of his briefs suggesting to the Supreme Court how they should rule on the question of gay marriage. In this particular brief, he asked them to overturn a vote of the people in California. I realize that President Obama is not one to care about things like consistency in his actions, but I still think it’s interesting that a man whose power of office comes entirely from a vote of the people would be so flip about overturning other votes of the people. 

The people spoke in California. But evidently, the president’s opinion on votes of the people is evolving right along with just about everything else he tells us he believes. So far as I can tell, the only promises this president can be trusted to keep are the ones he made to Planned Parenthood and the abortion on demand crowd. For them, he will do anything.

You can find the full text of the brief here

A New Yorker article describing the brief says in part:

Thursday night, just hours before a filing deadline, President Obama’s Justice Department submitted an amicus curiae brief asking the Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8—California’s gay-marriage ban. Even more importantly, it did so by asserting a bold claim to full equality for gay and lesbian Americans, which is a significant development in the nation’s rapidly moving consideration of the issue.

 

The brief—which President Obama, according to a report on SCOTUSblog, personally helped craft—did not directly ask the Supreme Court to declare marriage equality a constitutional right. Even so, its legal reasoning points squarely in that direction. If the Court accepts the full weight and reasoning of the President’s arguments, any state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage would fail the test of constitutionality. Twenty-nine states, in addition to California, have such amendments now.

 

Theodore Boutrous, one of the lead attorneys in the small group of legal heavyweights representing the Proposition 8 plaintiffs (a team including David Boies and Ted Olson), said on a conference call for reporters which was quickly arranged after the brief was filed, that they were “extremely pleased” that the government had taken a strong stand for marriage. He added, with respect to other anti-gay marriage bans, “I don’t see any way these laws could survive” under the legal test urged by the Justice Department in its brief.

 

It would have been close to impossible to imagine these developments less than a year ago.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/03/socarides-on-prop-8.html#ixzz2MJ1WdW7a

And in Other News … While the Pope was Resigning, the Washington Squirrels were Chattering

I abandoned my fellow politicians for a few days and focused my heart and mind on the historic departure of Pope Benedict XVI. 

I didn’t have time to watch the events unfold on tv, but I did manage to catch a few news clips on the internet. When I saw the Holy Father, hobbling to the helicopter as he left the Vatican, and then hobbling away from it at Castle Gandolfo, it touched my soul. 

Returning from that to the news out of Washington where the dissolution of our government spins along

on lies, egos and a jaw-dropping lack of concern for the welfare of this country and its people was a little like stepping out of a warm bed straight into a blizzard. What a painful return to the garbage the people we’ve entrusted with our government are spitting out. 

So much madness has happened and is happening while I was pope watching that I’m going to summarize the most ugly stories to bring us up to speed. Here, for your consternation is what is going on in our nation’s capitol.

1. Sequester. They’re now calling the old “Fiscal Cliff” the “Sequester.”

Fancy name change, same old … I’m grasping for a word to describe it that isn’t vulgar or profane … same old irresponsibility. From the comments people usually make on this blog, I expect everyone to line up behind their team and blame the other guy. Not me. My days of pavlovian partisanship are long past. I’m for the USA, and I’m pretty well convinced that the R and the D are only for the R and the D. 

Today, or tonight rather, we are set to go over another fiscal cliff by means of what they are now calling a sequester. What that refers to without the gloss of obscure verbiage is that a round of budget cuts will go into effect in a mindless and punishing fashion which will hurt you and me and our country. This will happen because the overgrown children in Washington care more about pushing one another around than doing the jobs we elected them to do. 

I am well aware that commenters on this blog will say “What could my guys do but throw pies in the face of the other guys?” Just remember folks, those pies they are throwing are your jobs, your house payment, your future. We need to reduce the deficit, sure, but not by just taking a pair of scissors to the things that matter the most in an attempt to scare the other side into bending our way. That’s not deficit reduction, that’s playing chicken with our futures to prove who’s the manliest man in Washington DC. 

2. Bob Woodward, President Obama and the utterly biased, nutso Obama press.

Bob Woodward called President Obama out for what was an obvious … searching again for a word that is not vulgar or profane … piece of political gamesmanship at the expense of the nation. 

It seems President Obama went over the top in his attempts to rally the American people behind his team in the on-going Fiscal Cliff … er … Sequester games by announcing that the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman couldn’t leave for the Persian Gulf as scheduled because, well, because the “Sequester” meant we didn’t have the money to send them. 

Bob Woodward, who is not exactly a right wing stalwart, violated the Obama press rules by actually disagreeing with the President, calling his actions “a kind of madness.” In a country where the press lines up behind “their” team in these partisan battles with the same pavlovian mindlessness that our elected officials do, Bob Woodward’s comments were nothing short of lemming treason. Puppet politicians pay a price when they cut their strings, as do members of the puppet press. 

I’ll bet Bob Woodward is eating lunch all by himself these days. 

There you have it. The DC boys are still behaving like boys playing soldier behind their cardboard box forts in mama’s living room. The trouble for us is that it’s not mama’s living room; it’s our nation’s capitol, and those aren’t cardboard boxes; they’re the future of our country. 

How sad for all of us. 

Mistake and Apologies: First Meeting of Congregation of Cardinals Begins Monday

Papal Conclave zps7dc21236

I wrote an inaccurate post a few minutes ago in which I said that the Papal Conclave was due to begin Monday.

I was wrong. A kind reader corrected me, but I’m afraid I lost their comment when I deleted the inaccurate post. If he or she will contact me, I will gladly give them credit for the save.

What I should have said, and what, according to CNN news is accurate, is that the First Congregation of Cardinals is scheduled to meet Monday, March 4. This meeting will establish the timetable for electing the next pope. However, the date for the actual date for the conclave may not be set at this time. 

Apologies for my mistake, and thank you to the kind reader who corrected me. 

The CNN article explaining all this says in part:

Rome (CNN) – With the dust still settling from Benedict XVI’s historic resignation as pope, the focus in Rome turns to the future Friday as Roman Catholic cardinals prepare to meet to discuss a timetable for picking the new pontiff.

A letter issued by the dean of the College of Cardinals on Friday calls the cardinals to come together Monday morning for the first in a series of meetings, known as general congregations.

There will be a second session Monday afternoon, according to the letter from Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

One of the cardinals’ first tasks will be agreeing when to hold the secret election, or conclave, in which they will pick Benedict’s successor.

However, the date for the conclave may not be set Monday, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Friday.

The cardinals will also hold important discussions on the future direction of the church, which has been beset by scandal in recent years, and the kind of leader they want to see at the helm. (Read the rest here.) 

 

 

Sede vacante: the See of Rome is Vacant

… and New Advent has a “Papal Buzzmeter” on their site, which is designed to educate, amuse and keep us informed of what’s happening with the upcoming Papal Conclave and the election of a new pope. Check it out here.

 

Cardinal Wuerl: Papal Conclave is Time of Silence and Prayer

Cardinal Wuerl describes a Papal Conclave as a time of prayer and silence; like a “very, very strong, very heavy retreat.”

He says that the cardinals will be focused on the aggressive secularism that is tearing at the faith all around the world, as well as other challenges. He asks for prayers from all of us, which I personally have already begun.

Our next pope will be tasked with leading us through times of great challenge. I am excited to learn who the Holy Spirit will send us.

The National Catholic Register article describing Cardinal Wuerl’s comments says in part:

The archbishop of Washington asks the Church to pray and ask God to send the Holy Spirit on the cardinals during the conclave.

by ESTEFANIA AGUIRRE/CNA/EWTN NEWS 02/28/2013 Comment

CNA/Estefania Aguirre– CNA/Estefania Aguirre

ROME — Attending a conclave is similar to going on a rigorous spiritual retreat that is pervaded by silence, according to Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
“It’s like going on a very, very strong, heavy retreat,” explained Cardinal Wuerl in an interview at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
“It’s heavy in the sense of leaving aside everything else, but this time the retreat master is the Holy Spirit,” he said.
He believes that while the conclave is focused on the actual voting, it is also a time of prayer and being open to the Holy Spirit. “I will be. And I’m sure it will be the same for all of the cardinals there, taking this time of quiet simply to open our hearts to that voice of the Spirit.”
Cardinal Wuerl assisted a sick cardinal at the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict..Since he was made a cardinal in 2010, this will be his first conclave as an elector.
“There’s a silence that pervades the entire conclave, particularly in the Sistine Chapel,” he said.
“I think that sustaining the serenity of spirit is why the whole idea of the conclave is quietness.”
According to the cardinal, the next Pope will have two major challenges: fighting secularism and being media savvy.
“Great secularism is pervading the Church and prevailing all around us, so it brings a sense of urgency that we need to be re-proposing the Gospel,” the cardinal said.
“He will need to be able to reach out through all the means of communication today, especially social communication to be present all over the world,” he added.
Cardinal Wuerl said that while a pope cannot be physically present worldwide, he can use social media as a way to be present electronically.
He added that the most important thing for people to do now is to pray and ask God to send the Holy Spirit on the cardinals during the conclave.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/cardinal-wuerl-describes-spiritual-experience-of-conclave?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-02-28%2014:31:01#ixzz2MDGliHNW


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