We Already Have a Statement on Gay Marriage from the Pope

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kasia https://www.flickr.com/photos/simczuk/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kasia https://www.flickr.com/photos/simczuk/

I was like everyone else. I thought at first that the Holy Father’s visit with Kim Davis was exactly what the Vatican has now said that it wasn’t: A form of support. Deacon Greg has the full story. All I care about is the bottom line: The pope’s visit to Kim Davis was evidently meaningless.

That means that we’re back at square zero. Pope Francis has not given us the clarity we crave concerning the family. And the almighty Synod is looming ahead like a bad dream.

Last year’s synod was such a mess that I began to feel the same way about it that I feel about the United States Congress. I was relieved when they went home without doing any real damage. Now, I’ve been reading that serious money is being used to lobby the Synod Fathers on behalf of getting them to support gay marriage.  The African bishops have announced that they will present a united front on behalf of marriage and the family. May God go with them.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided in an absolute sort of way that I’m all through reading the tea leaves of Pope Francis’ various actions concerning marriage. I love Pope Francis. But I don’t — none of us do — need him to give me my marching orders on this issue. Saint John Paul II already did that for us.

The papacy is not a political office. When we inaugurate a new president, that often means that we are also beginning a change of direction for our government. But popes do not come into office with a mandate to overturn the teachings that went before them. In fact, they come into office with a clear mandate to continue the teachings of those who went before them. Pope Francis, has, for instance, reaffirmed Saint John Paul’s teaching that the priesthood is reserved to men so many times I’ve lost count.

He has not reaffirmed Saint John Paul’s teaching on marriage, or at least not as specifically and clearly. But that does not mean that those teachings are no longer valid. Pope Francis is Peter. He is the inheritor of the apostolic succession that goes all the way back to day that the risen Lord told the Apostle to “feed my lambs.” He is, in many ways, the protector of the Church’s teachings and the depository of faith which has been handed to him.

The teachings of Saint John Paul II are just as valid now as when he published them. And, since they were written down and published in explicit form, they have real weight. We could spend all day, trying to interpret off the cuff remarks and random actions by Pope Francis, but none of those things have the teaching authority of Saint John Paul’s official teachings.

I wrote about what this means to our concerns as Catholics and how we should approach the gay marriage issue for Catholic Vote.

Here’s part of what I said:

The pope has spoken about what we should do if our government legalizes gay marriage. Saint Pope John Paul II published a document in 2003 titled Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons. 

I am familiar with this document because I was a Catholic lawmaker, serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, at the time it was issued. To be honest, I found it troubling because of the onus it put on me as a lawmaker to do things that I knew would affront my gay friends.

I loved these people, love them still, and it was tough, going against them. It cost me dearly on a personal level.

But there is nothing unequivocal about Saint John Paul II’s teaching in this matter. I prayed and blew off steam to my pastor, but there really was never a question that I would obey. The pope was quoting Scripture and talking Jesus. I had no choice.

Today’s Catholics, me included, are hungry for a repeat from Pope Francis. We want something concrete like the document Saint John Paul issued. However, it’s entirely possible that Pope Francis thinks that Saint John Paul has already said all that needs to be said and that all he has to do is make it clear that the pope’s opposition to gay marriage continues.

If that’s true, then, my fellow Catholics, we already have our marching orders.

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Public Catholic Reader Shares Bird’s-Eye View of Papal Mass in NY

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

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

Public Catholic reader Manny — the lucky dawg — got to go to Pope Francis’ mass at Madison Square Garden (or “the Garden” as he says New Yorkers call it) to assist in the mass officiated there by the Holy Father.

He wrote a detailed and touching post for his blog, Ashes from Burnt Roses, describing his experiences. Manny is a good person — even though he is a Yankee and a Republican — and his goodness shines through this account.

Luv ya Manny!

Thanks for letting me share this with the rest of the Public Catholic crew.

Christ in the City from Ashes From Burnt Roses:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Papal Mass, Christ in the City

Saturday was the Papal Mass and it was quite a day.  I got into Manhattan slightly after noon.  The information packet said to be there around two PM but I had no idea what the traffic would be like.  They were saying that the city would pretty much be locked down.

What I typically do when I go into the Manhattan for something or other is drive over to Brooklyn—I live across the Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island—park the car near a subway station, and take the subway the rest of the way in.  Manhattan traffic stinks and parking is impossible unless you want to pay at least $50 for the day.

I did not run into any slowdowns either on the drive into Brooklyn or the subway ride to midtown Manhattan.  So I was early. On my walk from the train station to Madison Square Garden, I grabbed a sausage and peppers sandwich from a hot dog stand—I didn’t realize hot dog stands sold sausage and peppers now—and a Snapple and leaned against some building while I wolfed it down.

It was pretty good, but I still felt hungry and came across a pizzeria on a side street and got a slice as well.  The pizza men didn’t even look Italian–all ethnic groups can make pizza now.  Mmm.  I wolfed that down too.  I have to say the food in Manhattan, even off the street and some side street, no-name pizzeria that’s not run by Italians is delicious. When I got to the Garden (New Yorkers refer to Madison Square Garden as “The Garden”) there were tons of people around, including to my surprise some Protestant evangelizers handing out proselytizing pamphlets, which I found kind of tacky.

I mean really, what are they thinking?  If one is devout enough to go to a Papal Mass, do you think you’re going to convert because of some street handout? I was still early at around 12:30-ish but I figured I would go see where I needed to enter and if I could enter I figured I might as well sit and read rather than just walk around.

Cops told me I could not enter and that I needed to go to the back of the line, a line that was building south along the avenue.  So I looked to my left and—oh—there was a line.  At the end of the block I started to get on queue when the last person said the line continued on the next block.  What?  OK.  I walked to the back of the next block, and then the next, and then the next.

I went about eight blocks down before I finally reached the end.  And within short order it kept building behind me.  I don’t know how far behind me it went but ten city blocks in New York is roughly a half mile, and I think it went beyond that. And then we waited.  While waiting I bought a Papal flag off a street vendor, a chubby lady with a Spanish accent and spoke in broken English.  My son would love it.  Street vendors kept coming by with stuff.  I bought from a tall Caribbean street vendor in dreadlocks a rosary made of black wooden beads with an image of St. Benedict on the cross.

I bought it for my mother, who has asked for just such a rosary.  I thought the image of St. Benedict was that of Padre Pio—my mother’s favorite saint—but I realized after I had bought it I was wrong. I did read a little while standing but then I struck up a conversation with the family standing in front of me.  It was a family of four—father, mother, daughter in her teens, and a son maybe around twelve.  The son was in a motorized wheelchair and from what I could tell was a quadriplegic.

His hair was blond and he had glasses and a studious face.  I was struck by the way his family took care of him, fixed his hair that the breeze blew out of place, adjusted his seating position, took off a jacket when it got warm.  His father even spoke sternly to him when the son insisted on something or other, just like any father might with any son.

They were from out of the City, a good hour and a half north in a rural area.  The father said they had to get a ride down since the special van he had that accommodates the son’s wheelchair was taller than standard vans, and, the other times he drove in, it couldn’t fit in the parking garages and he didn’t think he could find street parking.  It must have cost them a pretty penny to get a specialized ride down and I assume a ride home.

The mother said over the years her son had received individual blessings from their priests, their monsignor, their bishop, and now the Pope.  “Who would have thought?” she said.  “We thought the Bishop would have been the last, but then the Pope came into town.”

Their church got them tickets just so their son could attend.   The father did tell me they used to come down to New York City regularly to bring his son to a particular hospital for some sort of treatments. My throat just swelled with emotion for the boy.

Internally I kept praying to God to bless that poor kid.  God, may he walk some day, and God, if we can’t have that miracle, may he have a full and happy life.  Bless him Lord.  I never did ask how the son became a quadriplegic.  I assume he wasn’t born that way.

When the line started to move up we kind of got split up in the walk up to the Garden.  It became a bit of a disorganized scramble and people jumped ahead and others got angry, and I saw the father protecting his son and making sure his wheelchair wasn’t pushed around by the crowd.  Even a set of nuns obliviously cut the line.

Some people shrugged, some people were miffed.  Later, inside, just before the Mass started I came across the father and daughter seated.  I asked about the son and he said he was up at a balcony for wheelchairs with his mother. You may ask why I’m giving all this preliminary detail but I’ll come to that later. So finally I made it in and seated.

Oh that felt good.  That was about four PM, so from the time I got on queue to being seated was three and a half hours.  So much for being early.  I could have showed up late and gotten in just the same.  My back was hurting, and so were my feet.

Was I upset as some in the crowd were?  No.  I have always wanted to go on some sort of pilgrimage, and if I couldn’t take this burden then what kind of a lousy pilgrim would I be?

I thought for sure I would have missed the great musical entertainment that was advertised.  But no, it hadn’t started yet. My seat was decent, a bit distant but facing the stage—which in this case was the altar.  I was seated behind the ground level section of the Garden, in the first section of the sloping stands.

It must have been fifty yards or so, but I had a direct view and a large screen directly in front of me. Before the events started I did go outside the auditorium and look for souvenirs.

Now I wanted something for myself.  I collect little pins that you can put on a lapel or fishing hat, and unfortunately all the Papal pins were sold out.  “All gone within an hour,” one vendor said.  I smirked in disappointment.

They did have baseball caps and several types of official rosaries, varying in price.  I liked the rosaries.  The cheapest one was $45 and it was beautiful and strong, so I took it.  I’ll have to take a picture of it for another post.

The musical entertainment was exactly those advertised, and they each performed one song: James D Train Williams, Gloria Estefan, Kelli O’Hara, Norman Lewis, Jennifer Hudson, and Harry Connick Jr.

They were all brilliant, but I have to say that Kelli O’Hara’s rendition of The Lord’s Prayer was incredible.  She was in tears at the end, and so was I.  I had never heard of her but what a voice and how she communicated with it.  If she ever records The Lord’s Prayer, buy it; it will be worth it.

The Pope finally made a startling entrance twenty-some minutes early than the 6:30 start.  He circled the ground level section in what looked like some sort of cart.  Everyone was cheering and applauding.  I could see him waving, and when I caught sight of his face he had that famous smile.  Then he circled back out and came in behind the Entrance Procession.

When he led us in the sign of the cross, the emotion hit me and I started to choke up.  You could feel the electricity in the air. The Mass then settled down into the liturgy.

Pope Francis did the Preparatory Rites and the Collect in his broken English.  The alternate readings were read in Spanish and then English, with the Gospel reading in English, Matthew 5:38-48, the passage on loving your enemies.  The Holy Father than gave his homily, and he read the prepared text in Spanish, but there were English subtitles on the screen.

I couldn’t catch the entire gist of his homily, but I caught images and phrases.  “Light, Christ, smog, streets.”  “Living in the city.”  “The people walk and breathe.”  “A light walking in the streets.”  “Encounter Jesus.” He was giving a homily on city life and how Christ is there amongst us in the city.

I have lived in this city since three years old, which means I’ve lived here for fifty years.  City life is all I really know.  I certainly have had a love-hate relationship with this city.

I couldn’t grasp the Holy Father’s exact message but I intuitively understood it.  Life in the city is different.  We walk by people.  We fail to see the ones who are in need.  We walk right by them or are scared of them. And so this is why I gave such a long introduction to this post.

I tried to capture the sights and moments of city life, the boy in the wheelchair, the family who cautiously cares for him, the rush of people jostling to get ahead in the queue, the people we bump into, the many faces we don’t even register as they stand right beside you, the frustration and anger you feel from people cutting ahead after you waited so long.

Afterwards I went and found the entire text of the homily.  You can read it here.

Here is what I think is the key passage:

But big cities also conceal the faces of all those people who don’t appear to belong, or are second-class citizens. In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath “the rapid pace of change”, so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no “right” to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly.

These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially in our hearts.

Knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in one vast history of salvation, fills us with hope. A hope which liberates us from the forces pushing us to isolation and lack of concern for the lives of others, for the life of our city. A hope which frees us from empty “connections”, from abstract analyses, or sensationalist routines. A hope which is unafraid of involvement, which acts as a leaven wherever we happen to live and work. A hope which makes us see, even in the midst of smog, the presence of God as he continues to walk the streets of our city. Because God is in the city.

What is it like, this light travelling through our streets? How do we encounter God, who lives with us amid the smog of our cities? How do we encounter Jesus, alive and at work in the daily life of our multicultural cities? And then he implored us to go out and embrace the city and all its inhabitants.

Prince of Peace. Go out to others and share the good news that God, our Father, walks at our side. He frees us from anonymity, from a life of emptiness, and brings us to the school of encounter. He removes us from the fray of competition and self-absorption, and he opens before us the path of peace. That peace which is born of accepting others, that peace which fills our hearts whenever we look upon those in need as our brothers and sisters.

God is living in our cities. The Church is living in our cities. God and the Church living in our cities want to be like yeast in the dough, to relate to everyone, to stand at everyone’s side, proclaiming the marvels of the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”. And we, as Christians, are witnesses to this.

The media is obsessed with the Holy Father’s political issues, and I wish the Pope wouldn’t thrust himself so directly into politics.  But that’s him, for better or worse.  What gets obscured by his political message is that such a fine pastoral message as this gets lost.

The metaphors, the similes, the imagery, this was a brilliant homily, one of the best I’ve ever heard. I now recall that Pope Francis, when he was still Cardinal Bergoglio, was from Buenos Aries, the large city of Argentina.  I remember a picture of him riding in anonymity on the subway.  He knows the city.  He’s from the city.

His homily made me love New York City in a way I have never loved it before. I wondered how they would do communion for some 20,000 people.  If you look behind the altar you’ll see what must be over a hundred men in white robes.  Those are all priests and deacons.  The communion lines all proceeded out the auditorium and then circled back, so that it went remarkably smooth.

But the height of the Mass must have been when just before Dismissal Cardinal Dolan gave a remarkable tribute to Papa Francesco.  You can see the entire Mass on this video, but go to the 1:38:00 to see the tribute and the wonderful standing ovation.  It was a great moment.

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Pope Francis’ Tweet for Today Says it All.

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.)


This was Pope Francis tweet to the world today. It says it all, doesn’t it?



With my heartfelt thanks. May the love of Christ always guide the American people!

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Dear Pope Francis, Welcome to America


Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Catholic Vote produced a beautiful video, Dear Pope Francis, Welcome to America.

It contains the lovely prayer that God would make Americans worthy of the gift of liberty and justice for all. That is a uniquely American prayer and a good one.

I was so proud of my country last week as I watched Pope Francis visit us. I was also so proud of my pope. After I watched him get on the plane to leave, I went outside where my husband was charcoaling hamburgers for our supper — which is another American invention.

“I hate to see the pope go,” I told him. “I wish he could stay longer.”

Later, on the plane, Pope Francis remarked that the he was surprised by how warm and loving the American people are. Why would he be surprised? I’m guessing he had been reading our crazy-mean commenters and press, and the equally crazy-means to who visit internet com boxes. That kind of reading could give anyone the idea that the American people are not only ugly, hate-filled and spiteful, they are more than a little bit insane.

Fortunately, those folks only speak for themselves.

The rest of us love Pope Francis. I doubt very much that I was the only American who wished he could stay longer and see more of this great country.

I am proud of my country, and I am proud of my pope.

God bless America. Thank you for giving us this wonderful, loving Holy Father

From Catholic Vote:

YouTube Preview Image

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Pope Francis is Bringing Jesus to the World, and the World is Taking Notice

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.)

Pope Francis delivered a boffo speech to the United Nations yesterday. This speech differed in tone from the one he gave when he addressed the joint session of Congress the day before. But it did not differ in meaning.

I wrote a post about this for the National Catholic Register.

Here’s part of what I said:

Pope Francis addressed the United Nations today.

He gave a speech that was entirely consistent with the address he gave the Joint Session of the United States Congress yesterday. It was also entirely different.

What do I mean by that?

Pope Francis is, first of all, a priest. He’s a pastor of souls. When he spoke to Congress, it was obvious that he was on a mission of pastoral mercy. He was not just addressing the members of Congress and other dignitaries in front of him; he was ministering to them.

Thus, his speech to the joint session was also a powerful pastoral intervention. He delivered a passionately pro-life speech that spoke of life from conception to natural death; that admonished us to care for our home, the Earth, and which repeatedly called for governance on behalf of the common good.

At root of all this was a deep pastoral message to the broken and wounded souls in that room. Pope Francis saw through the facade of power and puffery into their hearts of rage and self-righteousness. He walked into that room, aware of the imploding dysfunction that threatens to rattle our democracy, of the hardness of heart that blinds those who work there to everything but partisan loyalty.

I’m going to write in more detail about this in the future because what he said touched me to the core. As someone who has lived most of my adult life in the sphere of politics and who has held office for 18 years, it almost brought me to tears. Pope Francis did not see these people, as other usually do, as things with power. He saw them as what they are: Desperately wounded people who are afraid to do the right thing, even when they know what it is.

His address to the United Nations, even though it said essentially the same things about issues, was an entirely different animal. Pope Francis did not speak to the United Nations as a pastor so much as an advocate for humanity, standing before a tribunal of world leaders.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/pope-francis-is-bringing-jesus-to-the-world-and-the-world-is-taking-notice/#ixzz3mrAbozYD

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Pope Francis Visits 9/11 Memorial

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by brkinhrt2 https://www.flickr.com/photos/66179962@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by brkinhrt2 https://www.flickr.com/photos/66179962@N00/

This is what I wrote about Pope Francis’ attendance at the prayer service at the 9/11 Memorial today.

From Catholic Vote:

I don’t like writing about man-made mass atrocity. Every time I do, I access memories and emotions of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Pope Francis stood at the monument for the Twin Towers. He spoke with and touched the families of those who died there. We, the grieving American people, have built a beautiful memorial on those hallowed grounds. I watched a service there in which clergy of many faiths prayed at this place where so many Americans died.

Pope Francis joined them in their prayers, then followed with a beautiful speech in which he pointed out that the light does indeed shine through the darkness, even the darkness of such things as what happened at the Twin Towers, or a few years before that, at Oklahoma City. He asked us to join him in prayer for the cause of peace, peace in our homes, our communities, our families, peace in all those places in which war never seems to end; peace for those who have known nothing but pain; peace throughout this world which God has given us as home for all.

9/11 began a decade of war, which has been followed by another half-decade of more war. While Pope Francis spoke, people in the Middle East and Africa are dying at the hands of those who follow the same philosophy as the men who flew the planes into the Twin Towers.

Here in America, we have the luxury of grief, of building monuments and holding beautiful interfaith services with choirs of young people singing of peace. We can dignify our grief, our loss and our suffering with memory and memorials.

But even as I type these words, people in other parts of the world … Read the rest here.


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Here is the Full Text of Pope Francis’ Address to the United Nations

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jarbasa Fotografie Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jarbasa Fotografie Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

This is the full text of Pope Francis’ address to the United Nations.

It’s from Vatican Radio:

Mr Secretary General,Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you, Mr Secretary-General and the leading executive officers of the Agencies, Funds and Programmes of the United Nations and specialized Organizations, as you gather in Rome for the biannual meeting for strategic coordination of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board.It is significant that today’s meeting takes place shortly after the solemn canonization of my predecessors, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. The new saints inspire us by their passionate concern for integral human development and for understanding between peoples. This concern was concretely expressed by the numeous visits of John Paul II to the Organizations headquartered in Rome and by his travels to New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and The Hague.
I thank you, Mr Secretary-General, for your cordial words of introduction. I thank all of you, who are primarily responsible for the international system, for the great efforts being made to ensure world peace, respect for human dignity, the protection of persons, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and harmonious economic and social development.The results of the Millennium Development Goals, especially in terms of education and the decrease in extreme poverty, confirm the value of the work of coordination carried out by this Chief Executives Board. At the same time, it must be kept in mind that the world’s peoples deserve and expect even greater results.
An essential principle of management is the refusal to be satisfied with current results and to press forward, in the conviction that those gains are only consolidated by working to achieve even more. In the case of global political and economic organization, much more needs to be achieved, since an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens. Future Sustainable Development Goals must therefore be formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the “economy of exclusion”, the “throwaway culture” and the “culture of death” which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.With this in mind, I would like to remind you, as representatives of the chief agencies of global cooperation, of an incident which took place two thousand years ago and is recounted in the Gospel of Saint Luke (19:1-10). It is the encounter between Jesus Christ and the rich tax collector Zacchaeus, as a result of which Zacchaeus made a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus. This same spirit should be at the beginning and end of all political and economic activity. The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions?
Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others.The account of Jesus and Zacchaeus teaches us that above and beyond economic and social systems and theories, there will always be a need to promote generous, effective and practical openness to the needs of others. Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to change jobs nor does he condemn his financial activity; he simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others. Consequently, I do not hesitate to state, as did my predecessors (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 42-43; Centesimus Annus, 43; BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 6; 24-40), that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level. A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.
Consequently, while encouraging you in your continuing efforts to coordinate the activity of the international agencies, which represents a service to all humanity, I urge you to work together in promoting a true, worldwide ethical mobilization which, beyond all differences of religious or political convictions, will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded.Invoking divine guidance on the work of your Board, I also implore God’s special blessing for you, Mr Secretary-General, for the Presidents, Directors and Secretaries General present among us, and for all the personnel of the United Nations and the other international Agencies and Bodies, and their respective families.

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Address to Joint Session: Our Pope Channeled Jesus in a Present-Day Sermon on the Mount

pope-francis.jpgThis is my reaction to Pope Francis’ address to the joint session of  Congress today.

From the National Catholic Register:

Pope Francis channeled Jesus this morning with a contemporary Sermon on the Mount, and it got just about the same results it did 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Father addressed the assembled members of both houses of Congress, the United States Supreme Court, members of the Cabinet and other dignitaries today. In what might very well have been a one-off for a speaker in that situation, he did not speak to them as a politician. He delivered a homily, in fact a re-run of the THE homily, as the shepherd of souls that he is.

If your god resides in the R or the D, there was something to hate and also something to love in this speech. You could, depending on your personality, walk away from it, angry as a snake biting itself. Or, you could, if you’re turned differently, be patting yourself on the back.

The truth of this speech is that it wasn’t a speech, it was a sermon delivered by a Pope who is first of all a priest, who takes the care of souls as his first duty before God. If you listened to what Pope Francis said today with the ear of someone who reads Scripture on a daily basis, the entire speech echoed Jesus, preaching to and teaching us to care for the least of these, Who told us that the measure by which we judge others would be the measure by which God would judge us.

It was clear to me, after my long years of sitting through joint sessions and reading politicians that the assembled body of listeners were as unmoved by the Holy Father’s words as the stone pillars of the building in which they sat. These people do not listen to anyone who stands in that podium — not even the pope — to be instructed. They listen to be affirmed.

When they felt affirmed, they applauded. When the pope said something that differed from their politics, their faces hardened subtly and their eyes filmed over with an “I-won’t-hear-you” glaze.

Pope Francis spoke of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. He affirmed his life-long opposition to the death penalty, he pled for business practices that provide jobs rather than just suck in wealth for a very few. He spoke against the arms trade that, as he said, sells arms to “those who plan to inflict untold suffering.” He said that this is done “for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” He called the silence about this arms trade “shameful and culpable.”

Those are strong words from the Vicar of Christ. He told a roomful of elected officials and people of great power that their silence about the arms trade made them “culpable” to the blood-drenched sins of those used those arms to murder innocent people.

The pope spoke of the environment, of immigrants, of the family and of justice and freedom. He couched every word he said in a plea that government be conducted to achieve the common good. He said that working toward the common good was the call of every politician.

As someone who held elective office for 18 years, I absolutely agree with him in this. I would also say that the common good doesn’t get a lot of play in private conversations between elected officials these days. No audience anywhere needed to hear this message more than the one Pope Francis was speaking to this morning.

But they didn’t hear him. Not, at least, as it applied to themselves. Politicians today, as well as many private citizens who have become enthralled with political partisanship, are like the Pharisee who went out to pray at the same time as the tax collector.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/the-sermon-on-the-mount-and-the-sermon-on-the-hill/#ixzz3mgnm706C

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5 Things I Wish Pope Francis Knew About America

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Michael Doughertyhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/md888/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Michael Doughertyhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/md888/

I wish Pope Francis had time to meet the real America instead of spending all his time with politicos.

I wrote about that longing for Catholic Vote, listing 5 things I wish Pope Francis knew about us.

Here’s part of what I said:

I wish Pope Francis could see Oklahoma … and Colorado … and Big Bend. I wish he had time to take a road trip along the long stretches of lonely road that crisscross this country. I wish he could meet the good people who are the real America.

As he noted in his address at St. Matthews this morning, he is from a big country, too. But America is such a sweep of a nation. I am almost as many miles from Pope Francis as London is from Cairo; and yet we are both in the USA.

It’s sad that his entire trip will be confined to a few cities on the East Coast. Not that there is anything wrong with those cities. It’s just that they do not reflect the whole of America; not anymore than a salad, no matter how tasty, reflects the steak that is to come.

Most of Pope Francis’ time here will be spent with priests and politicians. That is not exactly representative of the whole of the American people.

I thought about this early this morning, while I drove my mother to adult day care. I drove part of the way behind a school bus, picking up kids. I passed a woman, walking her dog, and a man out for his morning jog. The flowers were in bloom. The sun peeked over the rim of the prairie with its good morning light.

I saw all this, and I thought, America really is beautiful. The peace and security of this morning drive must seem like an unattainable dream to many people in the world.

Here are 5 things that I hope Pope Francis can somehow understand about us.

Read the rest here.

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Here’s the Full Text of Pope Francis’ Address to Congress Today

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

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

This is the full text of the Holy Father’s address to the Joint Session of Congress this morning. It’s from Vatican Radio.


Mr. Vice-President,

Mr. Speaker,

Honorable Members of Congress,

Dear Friends,

                I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”.  I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

                Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation.  You are the face of its people, their representatives.  You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.  A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people.  To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

                Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses.  On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation.  On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being.  Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

                Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families.  These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society.  They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

                I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights.  I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land.  I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults.  I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

                My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans.  The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future.  They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people.  A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity.   These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality.  In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

                I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

                This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”.  Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.

                All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today.  Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion.  We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.  This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.  A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms.  But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners.  The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps.  We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within.  To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.  That is something which you, as a people, reject.

                Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice.  We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises.  Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent.  Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples.  We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

                The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States.  The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

                In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society.  It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society.  Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

                Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people.  All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776).  If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.  Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.  I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

                Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans.  That dream continues to inspire us all.  I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”.  Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment.  Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.

                In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom.  We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.  I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.  Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected.  For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation.  Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.  Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past.  We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.  Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best.  I am confident that we can do this.

                Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.  This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.  On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities.  Is this not what we want for our own children?  We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.  To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.  We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.  Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

                This Rule points us in a clear direction.  Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.  Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.  Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.  In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.  The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.  The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

                This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.  I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.  Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty.  Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

                In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement.  Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

                How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world!  How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty!  I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost.  At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty.  They too need to be given hope.  The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes.  I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

                It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth.  The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable.  “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world.  It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129).  This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3).  “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).

                In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.  I am convinced that we can make a difference, I’m sure and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play.  Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139).  “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112).  In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

                A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton.  He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people.  In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world.  Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born.  That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”.  Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church.  He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

                From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past.  It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same.  When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all.  This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility.  A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism.  A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).

                Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world.  Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?  Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.  In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

                Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

                Four representatives of the American people.

                I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families.  It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme.  How essential the family has been to the building of this country!  And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement!  Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without.  Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.  I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

                In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young.  For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair.  Their problems are our problems.  We cannot avoid them.  We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions.  At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future.  Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.

                A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

                In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people.  It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

                God bless America!

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