I am delighted to read that the Holy Father has done this. Catholic families are in serious need of support and guidance from their Church.
It’s interesting how people with an agenda can take anything and use it for that agenda’s purposes.
A few commenters on this blog, as well as more than a few commenters in the news media, have drawn unsupportable conclusions that Pope Francis’ comments that the Church shouldn’t focus on abortion to the exclusion of other Gospel teachings means that Catholics should be silent on the subject.
The Pope’s comments were a much-needed call to a healthy return to the full Gospel teachings of Christ. They did not abrogate 2,000 years of Christian teaching, or call Catholics to abandon the cause of the sanctity of human life. To do or say that would be tantamount to saying that the Sermon on the Mount and most of the parables, as well as the message of the cross were all a sham.
The Pope did not do that, and he is not going to do that.
Some people, have, through ignorance of Gospel teachings and reading the hypered-up press coverage, honestly drawn the wrong conclusions. Other people have made the wrong conclusions simply because it serves their purposes to do so.
I do know know which group the author of this article from the New York Times falls into.
LOS ANGELES — Not three weeks have passed since Pope Francis said the church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, declaring, “We have to find a new balance.” But on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, overlooking this city’s west side, a fight over abortion now threatens to rip the school asunder.
Trustees of the Jesuit university will decide on Monday whether to remove coverage for elective abortions from the faculty and staff health care plans. The coming vote has exposed a deep rift over just how Catholic a Catholic university should be in the 21st century …
All I know is that the author is mistaken if he believes that the Pope’s comments in any way meant that Christians in general or Catholics in particular should abandon the fight for the protection of the sanctity of human life.
All this leads me to a smaller point, which is the main one the article is about. The trustees of Loyola Marymount, a Jesuit university in California, voted yesterday to cut abortion coverage from faculty and staff insurance.
The article I linked to above was written before the vote. By putting an inaccurate interpretation of the Holy Father’s statements in the lead of the story, the author implies that this board of trustees is somehow defying the Church by refusing to pay for abortions. The implication is that those people the article calls “religiously conservative professors and alumni,” meaning, I would guess, faculty and alumni who want this Catholic university to follow Catholic teaching, are somehow out of step with the Church.
This is absolute nonsense.
The author goes on to declare that a vote to refuse to pay for abortions will “tear the school asunder.”
If that means that some of the faculty and staff who oppose Church teaching on core issues such as the value of human life quit their cushy jobs and go elsewhere, I don’t think it would do the school anything but good. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath, waiting for them to do this.
On the other hand, if it means that some of these faculty and staff try to destroy the school with lawsuits, threats and by inciting the student rebellion, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what happens. The same kind of scorched-earth, spoiled-brattedness we see in our Congress is rife among those who hold most of the really great jobs this country offers. Their sense of entitlement is endless.
For instance, LMU Sociology professor Anna Muraco gave at least one interview before the vote even took place saying that she would “consider legal action” if the board didn’t vote the way she wanted.
According to the Cardinal Newman Society, she said,
– See more at: http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/DetailsPage/tabid/102/ArticleID/2592/LMU-Professor-Opposed-to-Dropping-Abortion-Coverage-Weighs-Legal-Action.aspx#sthash.n3SkLH2H.dpuf
Presumably Professor Muraco knows that she is employed by a Catholic university and that the Catholic Church has a constant teaching going back 2,000 years opposing abortion. Yet she issues veiled threats about “intellectual bullying or intimidation” which mean who knows what, and then announces she may sue her employer for following the mandate on which the institution is based.
Why did the school hire this professor in the first place? Is there a shortage of applicants for these jobs that I haven’t heard about? One of the primary purposes of Catholic education is to provide a high quality education in a Christian atmosphere that is consistent with Catholic teaching. How would this lady, with her viewpoints, be able to contribute to that?
It sounds like Loyola Marymount is making an attempt at much-needed reform. But it also sounds like they are a lot of work to do to make that happen.
Buckle your seat belts.
The list below contains a few headlines from the culture of death. Look at them and remember why we fight this fight.
Abortion Contracts and $45,000 for abortions
Pope Francis is planning to do more than tweak the way the Vatican is organized. He’s going to make a major overhaul.
The shut down continues.
The stock market responds to the shut down with a rumble, but basically keeps its head (so far), and people around the world are scratching their heads over the American shenanigans.
I hadn’t thought much about the response of non-Americans to all this. But for those who are wondering: We aren’t living in Mad Max land here in the USA. Our governance, and the powers that go along with it, is divided into so many pieces that it can clank along quite nicely, even if the money from Washington is cut off for a while.
In that sense, it is a misnomer to call this a “government shut down.” What it is, is a (hopefully temporary) stoppage in federal funding for select programs. I say select programs because Congress has evidently made a list of things that it will fund despite the fight.
The shutdown is entirely partisan in nature. The Ds and the Rs are fighting over who’s the boss. All the issues and rhetoric are just fluff. That’s what the fight is really about. I think it’s quite clear that the side that decided to throw down was the Rs. They initiated the fight. When they claim otherwise, that’s just spin.
The Ds, for their part, appear to be unwilling to talk with their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Everybody hates everybody else, and nobody cares about much of anything outside their personal vendettas against one another.
What the Rs have in this battle is veto power. They control one house (the House of Representatives) in Congress. The Ds control the other house (the Senate) and the presidency. It takes all three of these bodies to make a legitimate law.
Legitimate laws are different from Presidential executive orders, which are end runs around the legitimate authority of Congress. Legitimate laws are also different from agency rules, which are not always, but can be, another end run around Congressional authority. These orders and rules amount to a kind of presidential fiat which, in my opinion, subverts the power of the people and turns the president into something akin to an elected dictator. For a list of President Obama’s executive orders, go here.
For instance, the First-Amendment-busting HHS Mandate is not a law. It is also not an executive order. It is an agency rule, written by an appointed committee and signed by the president. Congress has always had the power to reject this rule without even addressing the underlying Affordable Health Care Act. It simply has not — primarily because of blind partisan loyalties — had the will. It is interesting that this HHS Mandate has fed significantly into this budget crisis.
The Rs can’t pass anything into law without the support of the Democrats in the Senate and the signature of the Democratic President. The Democrats can’t pass anything into law without the support of the Rs in the House.
The Ds and the Rs both have enough clout to unilaterally stop laws from passing. Neither of them can pass a law without the other. The increasing abuse of executive orders by each subsequent president for the past several decades has shorn Congress of much of its legitimate Constitutional power. When Congress refuses to enact a law, the President often just writes an executive order and does whatever he wants, anyway.
Congress has also ceded much of its war-making powers to the president. In fact, Congress has ceded most of its power as a policy-making body to the presidency. I think the major reason for this is that members of Congress no longer act as individuals. They are entirely divided along partisan political lines, the country be damned. They have eschewed their rightful concern for the American experiment in representative democracy to promote party ideologies.
The battle of the budget is over one of the few major powers that Congress has not, in its blind party loyalties, ceded to the presidency: The power to fund government.
The Rs are using their veto power to stop the bulk of the federal budget from passing into law. But they are allowing funding for a select groups of agencies and functions. I believe this is largely determined by the political heat they feel when they don’t fund these things.
Congress has become so divided along partisan lines that it is no longer able to assert its policy making authority, except in these destructive partisan standoffs that damage both the country and the institution of Congress itself. This creates a vacuum of power that is increasingly being filled by presidential fiat.
I, for one, would support moves by Congress as a body to reassert itself and its rightful authority in the governance of this country. However, these party-loyalty bear and bull fights do not enhance Congressional powers. They make a mockery of them. Until the people we elect can see beyond party loyalties and begin to act on behalf of the needs of this country and its people, Congress is only going to grow weaker and the presidency will move further toward an elected dictator.
You can find contact information for members of Congress and the President here.
See shut down news from around the web. Keep in mind that even though one house of Congress passes a bill, it is not law until the other house passes it and the president signs it:
Will the shutdown end soon? It just might.
Is the communion burger in poor taste?
When I first saw that headline, (in which, I guess, the pun was intended) I was dumbfounded. I still don’t have a lot to say, except that we live in a post Christian world, and this is part of our new reality. Obviously, this restaurant does not care if Christians forego eating there, but I certainly hope that Christians will forego eating there.
The Real Reason for the Shutdown: They Hate Each Other
Republicans Blaming the Democrats
President Obama Blaming the Republicans
I’m going to take a couple of days off to tend to some personal concerns.
I won’t be gone long, and I already miss you.
In the meantime, keep up the excellent conversations. You are an impressive group of thinkers.
I published a post calling for prayer for persecuted Christians a few days ago titled Christian Persecution: What Can We Do?
I cited a statistic in that post which was published in this National Catholic Reporter article. The NCR article cited a study done by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. I did not read the underlying study, mainly because I have seen similar numbers in many other sources, including an official statement from the Vatican to the United Nations.
Here is what I said:
According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, one hundred thousand Christians have died for their faith each year in the last decade. That works out to 11 Christians martyred for their faith every hour for the past ten years.
This statement and the call to prayer accompanying it raised the ire of one atheist blogger who claims that the numbers are based on poor methodology. (I am saying this a lot more politely than the blogger did.) I’m not going to reply to the blogger’s contentions. I think that reducing the suffering of persecuted Christians to com box mud-slinging would be a travesty.
At the same time, if there is a flaw in the numbers I’m using, I want to know it.
The trouble is, I don’t now enough about the area of the world in question to even begin to make a judgement about the author’s methodology. I’ve been looking at the information I could find on the internet and none of it really answered the questions that have been raised.
So, I’m asking experts in the field to help me. That takes time, and may not work, since they may not answer my requests. If they do, I’ll let you know.
The author of the study in question is Todd M Johnson, PhD. Dr Johnson is the Director of the Center for the Global Study of Christianity and a visiting research fellow at Boston University’s Institute for Culture, Religion and World Affairs. He is also co-editor of the Atlas of Global Christianity by Edinburgh University Press, co-author of World Christian Encyclopedia by Oxford University Press, and World Christian Trends. He is editor of the World Christian Database, and co-editor of the World Religion Database.
I would assume, based on all that, that he knows this subject better than me or any other Patheos blogger. I have contacted him to see if he will help me sort this out.
As soon as I know more, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.
I had a small discussion with one of Public Catholic’s most faithful — and interesting — readers the other day.
I had published this post calling for prayer for persecuted Christians. This particular reader said that we need to do something about this and not just pray. It made me smile when I read that because he’s right: We need to do something.
And we will.
If we pray.
Why would anyone recommend prayer in the face of this onslaught of slaughter? One reason is that the persecuted Christians themselves ask for prayer. Every time I talk to someone who lives in an area where Christians are subjected to violent persecution, I ask them how I can help them. Invariably, they ask for prayer.
You’d think they’d ask for a rocket launcher, or at least a few grenades.
I think the answer is that these people are people of faith, just like us, only they no longer carry around the burden of the accoutrements of faith that weigh us down. Every person I have ever talked to who has been through violent persecution for Christ has both a strength and a gentleness that sets them apart.
The things we think are so important have been stripped away from them as they come face to face with the question that we all wonder how we would answer: Will you die for Him?
I think that once a person looks into the reality of that question, not as a hypothetical, but as an actual life or death decision that they are making, they are changed. The fires of persecution seem to burn away the chaff of people’s lives and the ones who persist and do not yield learn what sustains in time of grave peril.
I think that is why they ask for prayer.
That is one reason to pray, because the people we want to help have asked us to pray.
Another reason is because entering into this arena of Christian persecution paints our faces on the devil’s dart board. We will be assailed and attacked, slandered and maligned for speaking out for persecuted Christians. This is the natural course of things when anyone defends God’s children. We need prayer for the strength it gives us as we do this work.
The next reason to pray is because we need direction. Not only that, but we need God to raise up Christians everywhere to fight this plague of violence. We need to pray and pray and let God work.
Prayer is the key to doing God’s will. Not that He is likely to put a burning bush that is not consumed in our paths. But that prayer keeps us in contact with grace. If we want to do something about persecuted Christians — and I hope sincerely that every one who reads this does — begin with prayer. I don’t mean one Rosary or some small bit of jingoistic something you learned as a child. I mean walking with the Lord in prayer day after day after day.
Just pray and wait. If God wants active work from you, you’ll know soon enough. If, on the other hand, He wants you to be a permanent prayer warrior, do that.
I was thrilled with what the reader said that day. Excited. Because I think he’s the kind of person who actually will do something. I do not want to stifle anyone in that. I only ask that in all the doing, we pray and wait on the Lord lead us first.
All work for God begins with prayer. That’s a truth of life in Christ as I know it.
To join the discussion about Just Married, or to order a copy go here.
Just Married, The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage is a how-to book for newlyweds.
What I mean by that is that it’s a real how-to book that provides usable, common sense, profoundly Catholic measures that married couples can take that will lead them into a holy, happy marriage that lasts all their lives.
If you think I exaggerate, read the book. The things it tells you are obvious, but you don’t see them. They’re easy, but you don’t do them. And over time the lack of this not seeing and doing can shred the fabric of your marriage.
It’s clear from the moment that you begin reading it that this is the wisdom of someone who’s actually walked the road. It is co-written by Dr Greg Popcak and his wife, Lisa. The two of them together provide candid cameos into their marital life at its different phases. They talk frankly about the things they had to do and learn to have a happy, long-lasting marriage.
Even though Dr Popcak is a professional psychologist, the book is not a psycho-babble world salad. It gives advice that is simple, direct and do-able. The first thing Greg and Lisa advise is the obvious one I was referring to earlier. They tell newly married couples to make a time of daily prayer together a fixture in their lives.
I say that’s obvious because telling a devout Catholic couple to pray should be as redundant as telling a fish to swim. But in truth, even private prayer gets lost in the busyness of daily life and it’s more difficult to make time for praying together.
The book leads readers through the various stages of early marriage and teaches a bit of what to expect and how to handle each one. My one word of advice on this is don’t be surprised if you and your spouse are a bit different from the stages in the book. I’ve been married 30 years, and I don’t remember going through these stages with my husband. However, I do remember some — not all — of the flash points. We’re all individuals and newly married couples should know that their marriage will be an expression of who they are and no one else.
I think the best component in the book is the emphasis it places on giving newly married couples the tools to communicate with one another even, or perhaps most especially, when they are arguing. It also gives guidance about how to learn to understand your spouse and his or her unique ways of doing things so that you can learn to accommodate one another and grow closer. The Popcaks wisely tell readers that changing yourself to accommodate your differences with your spouse will lead you into deep personal growth.
That is so true. But it’s something you can’t know at the beginning of a marriage. That growth you experience takes time to develop.
I think that Just Married would be a great book to give young people when they are engaged and actively planning their lives together as a married couple. If they read it and learn from it before they take their vows and begin their married life, its clear and practical advice will save them many pitfalls.
Pope Francis appointed a select committee of eight cardinals from around the world shortly after his election last spring. These eight cardinals, all of them Vatican outsiders, were charged with making suggestions for the reform of the Roman Curia.
Their first meeting is today.
From The Guardian:
When the buffalo fight in the swamp, the frogs lose.
The morons in Washington have managed to bring the government to a standstill. I don’t know if they’ll turn around and do some quick maneuver to stop the free fall or not. I do know that people I represent, people who have bills to pay and families to support, have already been given notice that their jobs are forfeit because of this.
I knew from jump street that the Affordable Care Act was a goldmine for Planned Parenthood. It was right there in the language of the bill. I am also absolutely opposed to the HHS Mandate. At the same time, I know that the President is correct when he says the economy is fragile (at best) and that the credit rating of this debtor nation is at stake. Think what happens when your credit card company raises your interest rate and multiply that by the national debt.
I haven’t written about this before now because I am conflicted.
All I know for sure is that I love this country and I believe that the people we have put in office — of both parties — are doing damage to my country. I honestly question if they care about this country or the American people. It appears that the only thing they want to do with the power we have given them is play political games, serve their various special interests and try to hype things in an unending quest for power and dominance over the other political party.
I’m going to let you good people discuss this as thoroughly as you wish. Just be kind to one another in the process. Good people can look at the same situation and come away with different ideas. That is part of our strength, because different ideas lead to better decisions.
When the buffalo fight in the swamp, the frogs lose.
In this case, the frogs are the American people.
We deserve better than this.
From The Wall Street Journal:
WASHINGTON—After three years of ducking crises with last-minute deals, Congress finally ran out of ways to patch over its differences. Unable to meet a midnight Monday deadline for funding the government, lawmakers allowed it to shut down.
The White House ordered federal agencies to suspend a vast array of activities shortly before midnight, after a day of frantic legislative volleying left Senate Democrats and House Republicans at an impasse over government spending and the 2010 federal health-care law. The next steps to resolve the stalemate remained unclear.
Markets that have slipped recently face a test on Tuesday morning of how they will view the developments, given that a larger deadline for Congress—over the need to raise the nation’s borrowing limit—is less than a month away.
Many federal workers reporting to their agencies Tuesday morning will undertake a half-day of shutdown preparations before more than 800,000 employees in the government’s workforce of about 2.9 million are sent home. While essential functions such as law enforcement and air-traffic control will continue, a large array of federal activities, among them Internal Revenue Service audits and surveillance for flu outbreaks, will be suspended.
President Obama made this statement today on the impending government shutdown. I believe, based on this statement and what I have read, that both sides are misrepresenting one another’s motives.
However, I do think that this whole adventure into brinksmanship is harming the country. I also do not think that the welfare of the American people is a motivating factor in it.
Here’s the statement.
The Roman Catholic Bishops of the Middle East and East Africa said that the pope’s efforts for peace are changing the dialogue in their countries. They call it a “miracle.”