Pope Gets Gobsmacked by Bolivian President’s Adolescent Blasphemy

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

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

Here’s what happened:

Pope Francis was on a Papal tour of Bolivia. He was in the process of greeting Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Now President Morales is a head of state. One would expect him to behave like a head of state and not a middle-schooler, bent on a deliberately blasphemous prank. But then … this guy’s bad news from jump street.

He removed the Bible and the cross from the presidential palace as soon as he took office and began using Andean rituals at official state functions. He is, in short, part of this army of Christian attackers and Christian bashers who are marching around the globe.

So … maybe somebody should have expected him to behave like an adolescent jerk when he was formally greeted by the pope. But evidently the assumption was that he would behave like a head of state.

Wrong.

President Morales must have gone to a lot of trouble to come up with the insult he directed at the pope, Christ and the Catholic Church. He gave the pope a large cross with the Communist hammer and sickle emblazoned on it. This particular cross takes on heavier significance when we remember that it was identical to a cross carried by a priest who was killed by the military regime that ran Bolivia back in the 1980s.

President Morales’ action wasn’t just a nasty prank. It was overladen with symbolism of several kinds. It was a direct affront to the teaching authority of the papacy, since St John Paul II and every pope since has condemned this blending of Catholicism and Communism that we call Liberation Theology.

Most of of us here in America look at the photo of President Morales handing this thing to the pope and think, what a creepy, childish thing for a head of state to do. But people in Bolivia are going to understand all this symbolism and react to it far more forcefully.

The pope went into a country that is being led by a man who wants to destroy the Catholic Church. By doing this he put himself in the line of attack. What has happened instead is that he has been overwhelmed by the love of the people. The cheering crowds have been enormous.

This was a dangerous journey for Pope Francis to make. It was, in some ways, akin to St John Paul II’s trips to Poland and other Communist countries. This deliberate blasphemy by the president of Bolivia was an attempt to publicly insult the pope and tarnish both him and his message of faith and hope.

Pope Francis is, when you see the photos, clearly gobsmacked by this thing the president of Bolivia is holding up. Anyone would be.

Would I have reacted in exactly the right way if someone had done something like this to me? Would you? I doubt it on both counts.

It’s ez pz when you are sitting at home in front of your tv to go all he-should-have-said and he-should-have-done. But when you’re the one in the barrel, it’s not always possible to assess, react and do precisely the right thing in a split second of surprise.

Who would have thought that the president of a nation would stoop to such behavior?

Pope Francis got gobsmacked by a jerk who was trying to assert his own primacy over the Church before the eyes of his electorate. The fact that he stooped to such a crude, juvenile method to do this tells you most of everything you need to know about the type of governance he gives to his people.

I have no doubt that the Bolivians understood this gesture far differently than we do here in America. They know the history behind the symbol and they know the policies of this president.

The photo that resulted from this will probably be used for propaganda purposes inside this country. That is a shame. But it will also be understood for what it is by a large number of Bolivians: An embarrassment to their national honor by a president who can’t behave properly.

It doesn’t matter all that much what the nuts in the USA think. Nobody outside the weird world of Limbaugh and Malkin worshippers believes that the pope is a “marxist.” We all know that is corporatist propaganda by paid talking heads who are dancing to the tune.

Most people will understand immediately that the pope was gobsmacked when the President of Bolivia started waving this thing around at a formal greeting. The danger in this lies with how the photo will be used in Bolivia, where its symbolism has more power and where the government will use this symbolism for its own purposes.

I hate to say this, but the Vatican may need to inspect the gifts that heads of state intend to offer the pope before they let these people near him. They may even need to start frisking heads of state ahead of their audiences with the pope.

It appears that we live in a world where we can no longer expect a head of state to conduct him or herself in public gatherings with the dignity and responsibility that their office requires. Instead, they can, and will, act like jerks.

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10 Ways I’m an Accidental Greenie. (Pope Francis, Are You Listening?)

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by TORLEY Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by TORLEY Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

I already do a few things that are accidentally in obedience to Pope Francis’ call to care for this good Earth of ours.

Admittedly, the environmental goodness of these actions is purely accidental on my part. But I think they still count.

They also indicate how easy it is to change in a few ways that, if we all do it, will make add up to a big difference.

Here are my accidental greenie actions.

1. I honor the Sabbath.

I don’t work or shop on the Sabbath. In fact, I usually end up spending the entire day just putzing around with my family. I pray a Rosary and play a couple of hymns on my piano. But the Sabbath has mostly become a family day and a day of rest.

How does this qualify as an accidental greenie action? I think it qualifies because for one 24 hour period each week, I’m not spinning the wheel. Not only that, but I’m not doing things that require other folks to spin the wheel, either.

Taking a day off is not exactly a big sacrifice for Mother Earth. In fact, it’s not even a big sacrifice for my faith. I started this practice of Sabbath keeping because I became convicted that I was ignoring one the Commandments, and that was wrong.

What began as obedience quickly turned into a gift to myself. Following God’s rules for us usually does turn out to be a gift for ourselves, leading us as they do straight into a life of love, family, peace and hope. Sabbath keeping is no exception.

I think it also, by simply shutting down the practice of on-going consumption, aids the environment a bit. If we all did it, we might find that the impact was surprisingly large.

2. I turn up the thermostat, turn off the desktop computer, switch off the air filters and hunker down during hot summer afternoons.

This particular accidental greenie practice of mine is entirely about balancing the budget. Our local electric company has what it calls “Smart Hours.” If you enroll, they guarantee you a low rate for off-peak hours of operation. Then, they sock it to you during the peak hours.

The idea is to flip off everything you can, and get out the fans to keep cool from 2pm until 7pm. If you work outside the house during the day, you can put everything on a timer (I do that, anyway.) and you won’t even know it happened.

Since I work at home, I am aware that it gets warm in the house and that the whole place is eerily quiet because the little motors aren’t humming. But it’s not all that bad. I use fans and wear lightweight clothing and drink a lot of iced tea. It works.

It’s also kind of sweet at 7pm when things switch back on. It’s a kick every day to hear the house coming back to life.

The inconvenience is that I have to do all the chores that involve running plug-in machines either during the morning or evening hours. That can be a pain.

But it does save money, and now, I can claim that I’m also following my papa in his call to be kind to creation.

3. I drive a small car.

My personal car is a Honda Fit, which is basically a really cushy go-cart. It gets great gas mileage, and it’s a fine little car for taking Mama on the drives she demands.

I chose it because it was cheap and it had all those little niceties like power windows and a hook-up to play music from my iPhone that a car has to have to get me to park it in my garage. My gasoline bill runs me about $50/month because my little buggy sips the stuff.

Once again, my inherent cheapness has led me into being kind of the earth.

4. I use those lightbulbs that supposedly save energy. 

My reason for doing this is — you guessed it — they save money. I almost never have to replace one of them, and they save $ on my electric bill.

5. I use a hand-crank can opener instead of an electric can opener. 

Surprisingly, this tiny bit of greenie has nothing to do with saving money. I just don’t like electric can openers.

6. I play an acoustic piano instead of a keyboard. 

Actually, this choice cost me money. I spent thousands of the dollars that I saved turning up my thermostat on hot days and driving my cushy go-cart to buy my piano.

Needless to say, the environmental impact involved did not enter my little mind. I laid down the $$ to bring home my wonderful instrumental friend that I call The Precious for one reason: I love the way it sounds.

Keyboards? Not so much.

I may buy a keyboard one day, if I ever find a group of friends to play with and need a portable piano. But unless that happens, I will never own one. I’m an acoustic girl all the way.

Now I can also put this in my faux greenie column.

7. I use solar lights to light my back yard and front flower beds at night. 

This is my husband’s deal. He enjoys messing with those things. All I know is that they’re pretty and they run on sunlight.

Another score for accidental greenie-ness.

8. We charcoal instead of heating up the kitchen in the summer. 

This is a combination of saving money on electricity by not heating up the house, and just plain liking the taste. We use an old-fashioned charcoaler instead of one of those gas deals; again because we prefer the taste. True, it does generate a bit of smoke, but the impact is bound to be less than running those big turbines that pour out the electricity.

See how easy it is to be environmentally friendly?

9. I turn the thermostat way down low and use an electric blanket to keep warm on winter nights. 

This is another of my cheapness deals. It also reflects that fact that I like to sleep cool.

10. Every time I replace an appliance, I buy something energy efficient. 

Can you guess why I do this?

If your answer doesn’t involve electric and water bills, you may have overlooked the not-so-subtle message in these ten items. I like to avoid spending money on utilities and such. I’d rather spend it on pianos and such.

There you have it: Ten easy things that I do — and I’ll bet you do, as well — that lessen the hit I take on what papa calls “our home.”

I think there is an accidental earth friendliness in these choices. This earth friendliness doesn’t amount to much if I’m the only one doing it, but it would make a big impact if we all did it.

I have a feeling there may be more to this greenie stuff, but I don’t think it’s really as bad as a lot of people are making it sound. Switch off the lights when you leave a room. And stop supporting corporatists who really are raping the planet.

I think that last sentence, the one about not supporting corporatists, is what has all the pundits going. After all, they are paid – well paid — to say what they’re told.

My advice is simple: Support the pope and stop making yourself miserable about these things. Just do what you ought yourself and refuse to be co-opted by those who are trying to use you to their own purposes.

The only other thing I would add is that the next time someone calls the Pope a Marxist or some other ignorant garbage, switch them off and don’t go back.

 

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You Can Read the Text of Pope Francis’ Comments about Arms Dealers Here

World War II ammo Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Moyan Brenn  https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/

World War II ammo Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Moyan Brenn https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/

Public Catholic reader JoAnna Wahlund shared that Zenit has published the full text of Pope Francis’ remarks about arms dealers, etc. You can read it here.

Here are the paragraphs that caused the kerfuffle:

It makes me think one thing: people, leaders, entrepreneurs that call themselves Christians, and produce arms! This gives some mistrust: they call themselves Christians! “No, no, Father, I don’t produce them, no, no …. I only have my savings, my investments in arms factories.” Ah! And why? “Because the interest is somewhat higher …” And a double face is also a current coin today: to say something and do another. Hypocrisy …l But let’s see what happened in the last century: in ’14, ’15, in ’15 in fact. There was that great tragedy in Armenia. So many died. I don’t know the figure: more than a million certainly. But where were the great powers of the time? Were they looking elsewhere? Why? Because they were interested in war: their war! And those that died were persons, second class human beings. Then, in the 30s and 40s the tragedy of the Shoah. The great powers had photographs of the railroad lines that took trains to the concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, to kill the Jews, and also Christians, also the Roma, also homosexuals, to kill them there. But tell me, why didn’t they bomb that? Interest! And shortly after, almost contemporaneously, were the lager in Russia: Stalin … How many Christians suffered, were killed! The great powers divided Europe among themselves as a cake. So many years had to pass before arriving at “certain” freedom. It’s that hypocrisy of speaking of peace and producing arms, and even selling arms to this one who is at war with that one, and to that one who is at war with this one!

I understand what you say about mistrust in life, also today when we are living in the throwaway culture, because whatever is not of economic usefulness is discarded. Children are disposed of, because they are not developed or because they are killed before they are born; the elderly are disposed of, because they are not useful or are left there, to die, a sort of hidden euthanasia, and they are not helped to live; and now young people are disposed of: think of that 40% of young people who are without work. It is in fact a rejection! But why? Why are man and woman not at the center of the global economic system, as God wants, but the god of money. And everything is done for money.

Notice that the pope condemns abortion, euthanasia, joblessness, disposable culture and genocide. A critic would have to be reaching quite a bit to get into a huff because he didn’t mention sex trafficking. That’s especially true when you consider that Pope Francis has spoken many times against the evils of human trafficking and sex trafficking.

For a more thorough discussion, go to Pope Francis Condemns Arms Dealers, Duh. 

By the way, the differences between what the Pope said and what I was able to piece together (with the best intentions in the world) are a good example of why I recommend reading original sources.

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Fourteen Things Laudato Si Says. Nine Things It Does Not Say.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

I’m pretty sure that most of the people who’ve been snarling and sniping about Pope Francis’ latest encyclical have not read it.

The reason I say that is that they are angry — purple in the face, hissing and spitting angry — about things it does not say. They are also angry about things they claim it doesn’t say that it in fact does.

Laudato Si has a simple underlying argument. Pope Francis reasons that our spiritual bankruptcy has led us into destroying our earth, along with destroying ourselves. He teaches that the loss of respect for the human through our attacks on the sanctity of human life have led us into an extreme individualism that has in turn led us to a destructive relativism.

This shallow and meretricious outlook on life has caused us to befoul and slime our own nest, our home, which is this planet Earth.

Our financial, economic, social and political institutions, all of which should serve the common good, now operate only for their own immediate competitive success, without the element of moral responsibility on the part of those who control them. This deforms human life on a mass scale and leads to the destruction of the planet on which we live.

He calls this destruction of human value and human community a destruction of the human ecology. His teaching is that the human ecology and the natural ecology are linked and interwoven, as they must be if human beings have dominion over the earth.

Laudato Si states at one point that the decision of whether or not to leave a dead planet to future generations is ours to make.

Media pundits have used false claims about what Laudato Si says to get gullible people worked up into a hysteria.

Here are 9 things that Laudato Si does not say, but that people have been told it does.

1. Laudato Si does not attack the free enterprise system.

2. Laudato Si does not advocate Marxism. (This would be laughable except that foolish people keep falling for it.)

3. Laudato Si does not advocate socialism.

4. Laudato Si does not support population control.

5. Laudato Si does not support abortion.

6. Laudato Si does not support contraception.

7. Laudato Si does not support a global tyranny of nutty “greenies” who would take away all our freedoms.

8. Laudato Si does not support doing away with private property.

9. Laudato Si does not recommend specific legislation or reforms.

Here are 14 things Laudato Si does say

1. Laudato Si recommends support for forming small businesses on a global scale.

2. Laudato Si directly links disregard for the environment with the cheapening of human life caused by abortion, saying that when human life becomes conditional, nothing else is protected either.

3. Laudato Si specifically condemns the idea that population control is the way to “save the environment.”

4. Laudato Si specifically condemns business practices which ignore human rights and encourage human trafficking, drug trafficking, disruption of populations, seizure of individual’s property and wars for profit. It also condemns embryonic stem cell research and attempting to destroy the complimentarity between men and women.

5. Laudato Si calls for respect for local cultures and economic reforms which take the common good and human life into consideration.

6. Laudato Si says that all of life is interrelated and that human beings, as stewards of the earth have a grave responsibility to care for it.

7. Laudato Si condemns the out-sized consumption of goods by some parts of the world (ouch) which leads to impoverishment of people in other parts of the world. It calls us to look beyond consumerism to God to fill the emptiness of our lives.

8. Laudato Si says that access to life-giving water is a human right.

9. Laudato Si says that technology, if we use it incorrectly, can isolate and divide us.

10. Laudato Si condemns keeping poor people under a load of debt that makes it impossible for them to build lives for themselves.

11. Laudato Si exhorts us to develop solutions for housing crises which leave so many people homeless.

12. Laudato Si emphasizes the kinship and value of every living being. It also condemns extreme animal rights advocates who place greater value on animal life than human life and who would create a false tyranny with their ideologies.

13. Laudato Si calls for reforms of corruption in our financial systems.

14. Laudato Si says that the evidence for global warming comes from reputable scientific sources.

 

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Laudato Si is Pope Francis’ Rerum Novarum, or No Wonder Rush Limbaugh Hates the Pope.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/


Make no mistake about it. Laudato Si is not a wimpy, tip-toe-around-and-don’t-offend-anybody encyclical. It’s a throw-the-money-changers out of the Temple revolution of an encyclical.

No wonder Rush Limbaugh hates this pope.

A lot of you are going to find yourself challenged by Laudato Si, precisely because Pope Francis does not give you the option of ignoring what he’s saying. You can decide to go against the pope. Or you can decide to walk with him.

But you can’t pretend he didn’t say what he said.

Pope Francis comes right out and says that global warming — along with a lot of other things — is leading us to a dark future. He points out the spiritual hollowness a society whose chief goal is to blindly consume, and whose community has dwindled to the internet. He says that access to life-sustaining water is a human right, and blasts corporatist control of the earth’s riches to the destruction of the poor.

This is a long Encyclical and unpacking it will take a while. But here is my first thought about it. It is a thought based on a memory and a historical fact.

The memory is of a conversation I had with a friend over a decade ago. My friend and I were talking about the universal sins of each time in history, sins that the people of that time are blind to. What we meant was that when a behavior is universally accepted and no one questions it, even great sins can pass unnoticed by the people committing them. Racism was once such a sin here in America.

Later generations often look back and are appalled by the cruelty and ignorance of their forebears. But they are committing their own sins of cultural blindness, even while they express their disdain for their forebears.

I remarked that I thought that one of the things about which future generations would look back at our time and ask “Why didn’t you do something? Were you blind?” was going to be the environment. If we bequeath a ruined earth to our grandchildren, what will they think of us?

The second thing I want to base my reaction on is a historical fact. That fact is simple. The Popes of the 1930s and 1940s did not issue an encyclical against the Nazis. An encyclical was drafted, and from what I’ve read of it, it was a strong and powerful document.

If that encyclical had been issued instead of shoved in a drawer, the many questions about what the Church did during those dark times would have a clear and compelling moral answer. I believe without doubt that if that encyclical had been issued, all of history since 1930 would be different.

Would the encyclical have stopped Hitler? Probably not. But it would have fueled the resistance to his evils by faithful Catholics. It would have either silenced the go-along German bishops who have become the shame of the Church or it would have exposed them for the anti-Christs that they were. It would have strengthened and ennobled the moral and prophetic voice of the Church for all time.

The failure to issue that encyclical was such an appalling failure of the Church that all of Christianity has been paying for it ever since.

Seen in the light of that memory and that history, I can say without equivocation that I am glad beyond glad that Pope Francis has taken the historic step of issuing this encyclical. I know that it is will unsettle a lot of Catholics who have up until now felt comfortable in their political fealties. I know that is painful. Believe me, I’ve been through such pain myself. In fact, I feel a bit of that pain with Laudato Si.

But it is necessary. Among other things, Pope Francis puts down the corporatist-created heresy that our followership of Jesus Christ stops where commerce begins.

Both the right wing and the left wing of our political spectrum want the Church to shut up and go along where their particular sins are concerned. They both claim, each with their own language, that when it comes to their sins, Jesus Christ is irrelevant.

They are both self-serving liars.

By writing this encyclical in such bold terms Pope Francis demonstrates what Hitler managed to keep an earlier pope from demonstrating: That Jesus Christ  is the Lord of all life and that He is never irrelevant, no matter the topic of conversation.

Now, to get to the touchy matter of global warming. What to do with a Pope who does not equivocate when he says that reputable science shows that global warming is, in fact, happening?

First, the Pope does not say this as a matter of morality. He bases his statement on what he terms reputable scientific studies. I am not advocating that anyone drop kick the pope’s opinion on this in favor of Rush Limbaugh’s.

Pope Francis has a scientific background, and more to the point, he has nothing to gain and lot of to lose by making this statement. The talking heads of the world are highly paid mouthpieces who get their money from the people who benefit financially by the public not believing in global warming.

If I had to pick who to believe, it would be Pope Francis without any question. The vicious and totally untrue attacks on Pope Francis’ good name by the minions of the right have convinced me that nothing they have to say about the Catholic Church or our Holy Father is worth hearing. I think they’re all about the money. Their own money.

What Pope Francis does say as a matter of morality is that we have a responsibility to the earth, to all lifeforms and to the poor. This is sound Christian theology. It is the historic understanding of our call as Christians as regards these matters.

We can think — and by that I mean think, not be led around by pundit pied pipers who slander and slime the pope –and let think on matters of scientific investigation. We do have an obligation to think and not just repeat one-sided arguments that are designed to induce us to allow ourselves to be used.

It is important to the max to listen and read widely about an issue as contentious as this. I say that because it is a grave issue. The wanton destruction of entire species and ecosystems, the loss of breathable air and drinkable water, the unnecessary deaths of millions of people to preventable illnesses that are caused by pollution, starvation and thirst are, all of them, intrinsic evils. The rape of the earth is a violation of our first compact with God to have dominion over creation.

We have, as Christians always do, the freedom to think and let think on the particulars of the science of these matters. But we have an absolute moral obligation to approach the question with integrity instead of political sloganeering, from a vantage of concern for the common good, the welfare of the least of these and the provision of a hope and future for the generations who come after us.

We are Christians and we are called to more than to live only for ourselves with no regard for anyone or anything else in all of creation or in the future.

This is my first blush impression of Laudato Si.

I’m going to read it carefully and write about it extensively. I think we may be in the presence of an encyclical as important as Rerum Novarum.

Make no mistake about it folks. Pope Francis is kind, approachable and unassuming. But he is not a wimp.

 

For other thoughts on the Encyclical, read All of Our Sin, All of Our Hatred, on Trial by the Anchoress,  Reading Francis Through Francis by Kate O’Hare, So Much to Say, So Much to Learn by Kathy Schiffer, Should You Read Laudato Si? by Simcha Fisher, Patriarch Barthelomew on the Encyclical: We Count it a True Blessing, by Deacon Greg Kandra, The Pearl of Great Price by Mark Shea, 3 Sources to Understanding Pope Francis’ Encyclical by Pia Solenni, Laudato Si, Hold Your Breath, Make a Wish, Count to Three by Tom McDonald, Why is THIS Missing from Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical? by Dr Greg Popcak.

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You Can Find the Real Encyclical HERE

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

If you want a copy of the Encyclical, Laudato Si, go here.

My attorney colleague Tom Zampino has already found the answer to the question a lot of Catholics were asking. Pope Francis blasts abortion, population control in new encyclical, he tells us.

It’s important for those of us here at Patheos Catholic to give you that fact, since the media is likely to ignore it and go off chasing after whatever verbiage they can pull out of context to support their various agendas.

Remember: What you read in any of the five places I list here will almost certainly be propaganda. It won’t be designed to inform. It will be designed to support agendas which have nothing to do with Our Lord, and which most like are antithetical to the Kingdom.

Now, I’m going to have my breakfast and settle down to read this encyclical. I’ll skim it before I read in depth to give you  that first blush impression I promised. Then, I’ll probably break my analysis down into several posts.

Rejoice and be glad people. This is the day the Lord has made.

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I’m Not Going to Rush Out There With a Verdict on the Encyclical Tomorrow.

I know, I know.

Everybody and his dog is going to jump right over the starting gate and make absolute pronouncements about the Encyclical tomorrow. Some folks are even promising to tweet their responses as they read; kind of like taking their own mental pulse every few minutes and tossing the numbers out there on the internet.

Not me.

I am not Everybody, much less his dog.

I’ll try to give you a smallish, first blush look at what I think, but it’s a long read and a longer ponder before I will be able to say with any intelligence what I believe the encyclical really means.

I expect that this will leave me in the corral still trying to saddle up when the wagon train pulls out of town and heads for Dodge. I also expect that a good number of you are going to be whipped to a frazzle by all the bizarro, politically-motivated sewage, both from the left and the right, that will be dumped on your little heads.

My advice — and I say this as someone who values and respects your thinking processes — is to hold onto yourself and not let the incoming tsunami of off-the-cuff verbiage drown your brain. For sure and for certain, don’t let it damage your faith.

Pope Francis is not going to come out with anything that contradicts 2,000 years of Church teaching, and he is not going to turn his back on the Church’s stand for the sanctity of human life and the value of every human being.

Far from it.

I fully expect that this encyclical will affirm the sanctity of human life and the value of human beings as they relate to the charge that God gave us to have dominion over creation. It may not go down well with our politics. I may have as much trouble accepting all of it as some of the rest of you.

But I can assure that I will accept it.

Pope Francis is the pope. I will try to understand his teachings, and I will seek to apply them in my life within the limits of my own experiences and abilities. Other faithful Catholics will do the same, and that will lead us into legitimate areas of discussion and disagreement. But we must – must – begin at the point of our common faith and our common acceptance of the teaching authority of the pope and our Church.

Thinking my way through the encyclical will not be done in a day. But I can promise you that I will do it prayerfully and with an understanding that I follow the Catholic Church and the pope.

Tomorrow is Encyclical Day.

Fasten your seatbelts. The nuts are going to be driving the commentary vehicle for a while.

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Cafeteria Catholics Wear Red as Well as Blue

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

It was a rout.

They knocked one another down, running away from Him.

The temple guards tried to catch John Mark by grabbing his clothes. When his clothes tore lose, Mark ran away naked into the night like a panicked bunny rabbit.

A few days before, John and James had been arguing over who would sit at the places of honor in His Kingdom.

Now, they ran.

It was ignominious defeat, an end to all their boasting and bragging about their great loyalty.

Jesus has suffered many Gethsemanes since that night, many times when His followers ran from Him and straight into the maw of the world. People stampede the same as a herd of cattle. When they are panicked, they will run right over a cliff and to their destruction.

We are the weakest of followers for a Heavenly King. The question isn’t why we choose Him. The question is why He chooses us.

Given our behavior, that question is so confounding that only one answer is possible. That answer is love. He loves us, and love makes all things right, even our tawdry behavior.

The disciples ran that night because they were panicked, afraid for their lives. They also ran because, as Jesus told them, This is satan’s hour. 

But satan doesn’t have just one hour. His taunts and beguilements are an ever-renewing source of spite, hate, malice and lies. This time in which we live is every bit as much satan’s hour as that night in the garden.

Satan will use any doorway into us, including what we think of as our faithfulness to Him. One clear sign that we can use to discern that we are on the wrong path is when we begin to base our righteousness on the sins of other people.

That is the first sin of cafeteria Catholics, of the red and the blue, the left and right. They are forever attacking one another and claiming righteousness for themselves based on the sins of the other.

Cafeteria Catholics of the left claim, often rightfully, that those on the right ignore the cries of the poor, that their economic policies concentrate wealth in a few hands and impoverish all others. They are accurate when they say that this is not free enterprise, because it isn’t. It is corporate fascism, the corporatism that has been consistently condemned by every recent pope.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right claim, often rightfully, that those on the left attack the human, that they seek to destroy the very foundations of civilization with their destructive nihilism. Abortion, gay marriage, mutilating surgeries used on mentally ill people, euthanasia, egg harvesting, porn; these are the crimes of the left.

Both groups condemn the pope and the Church for violating the “teachings” of their side. The Pope is a sign of contradiction to this world. Cafeteria Catholics of both the right and left react violently when the Holy Father’s teachings contradict and lay bare their own departures from following Christ.

They don’t respond to this revelation that they are walking outside the faith with humility and a desire to change. They don’t even do as I often do when the Pope’s teachings contradict my shibboleths, by twisting and turning, arguing and complaining, before I ultimately give in and follow.

Hardened cafeteria Catholics respond to the teachings from the pope that contradict their politics by going into spittle-throwing, self-righteous rages. They attack and defame the pope himself for calling them to a conversion they do not want to make.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right have, for many years, condemned and excoriated anyone who departed from what they termed obedience to the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church.  Their brittle self-righteousness in condemning everyone who departed from their standard of faithfulness has driven many people from the Church, turned people away from Christ.

It was not their faithfulness that drove people away. It was their self-righteousness, their ugly use of the Church as a club to beat their political opponents over the head.

But when the pope, this Pope, dares to teach the truth about corporate fascism, they turn hard about 180 degrees and attack the Church, and the Holy Father themselves. I have deleted the most appalling comments about Pope Francis in the past 24 hours, comments that come from the pit of spiritual death.

That, of course, is nothing new. I delete appalling comments about the pope and the Church almost every day.

Cafeteria Catholics on the left chime in on a regular basis, letting me know that the Church has failed to live up to their self-righteous standards, as well. The Church, they say, is cruel and has no compassion because it “condemns” the sick and elderly to suffering when a good dose of poison would end it for them.

The Church is cruel because, while it admits anyone, including homosexuals, it will not tell homosexuals that their sins are not sins.

The Church supposedly hates women because it will not support them in killing their children with abortion.

Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, the red and the blue, abandon the Church founded by Christ the Lord to bend their knee and give their loyalty to the false gods of this world. Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, seek to limit the Church’s teaching to areas that goad the other guy’s ox and not theirs.

Jesus Christ doesn’t mean all that much to either side. They will abandon Him on behalf of their political philosophies anytime. Any time at all.

They do not follow the Vicar of Christ. They follow the pundits and talking heads who taught them this false gospel of self-righteousness and condemnation of others in the first place. They are comfortable in their mushy wallows of false doctrine and self-congratulation. They like pointing the finger at the other guy and declaring that he is not faithful, while, they proclaim, they themselves are absolutely faithful.

Left wing cafeteria Catholics loved to attack Pope Benedict XVI. They piled onto Pope John Paul II. But they’ve decided to patronize Pope Francis by misinterpreting what he says to fit their politics. They are attempting what the right wing accomplished by doing the same thing with the teachings of the earlier popes: Self deification.

Right wing cafeteria Catholics breathe fire at Pope Francis. I’ve deleted comments from them that say outrageous things about him. This is especially poignant, coming as it does from people who have long based their claims to righteousness on their faithfulness to the teachings of the Church.

In truth, neither group of cafeteria Catholics is looking for leadership from the Pope. What they both want is validation of their sins. That, and holy verbiage they can use to condemn their enemies in the wars of this world.

They aren’t looking for redemption and forgiveness. They have no use for salvation that comes at the price of a cross. They have convinced themselves that they don’t need it.

They are so certain of their theological omniscience that they lecture the pope on Church teaching. They are so proud of their righteousness that they use themselves for the measure by which they judge what is right and what is wrong.

Cafeteria Catholics are exactly like the political movements they have made the lords of their lives. The only difference is that the puppet masters at the top of these movements know what they are doing. They got their 30 pieces of silver.

Their followers down below do not have the respect of those on top these movements. These hapless souls who’ve sold their birthright for a bowl of pundit porridge are just things to be used by those they follow.

Do not run away from the Lord of all life. Do not feed your salvation to the dogs of this world.

The simplest way to know that you are following Christ is to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. Scripture tells us to Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. 

I would make that more explicit. I would say trust the Vicar of Christ and do not follow the pied pipers of the media and the internet to your own destruction.

Save. Your. Soul.

Turn your back on the death-dealing philosophies of this world, whether they are from the right or the left.

Choose Christ.

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Climate Change Crosses Political Lines: What’s a Bishop to Do?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/125093371@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/125093371@N02/

So, Pope Francis has written a soon-to-be-released encyclical on the environment.

Long before we got this close to actually reading the document itself, we’ve been treated to histrionics and “instructions” to the Holy Father to mind his own pontifical business.

Rush Limbaugh took time away from counting his money to come out against the encyclical he had not read. Predictably, he based his thinking on his own greed-is-good theology. Now, he’s running his jaws, flapping about a “leaked” version of the encyclical, which, for all we know, a Vatican janitor pulled out of the trash. Of course, Mr Limbaugh repeats his slanders about the pope being a “Marxist” while he’s doing this.

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum chimed in a few weeks ago, instructing Pope Francis to “back off” talking about climate change. His logic? The Church should steer away from scientific questions. According to Fox News, an unnamed blogger at First Things “accused the pope of promoting ‘theologized propaganda’ on conservation — a post the journal’s editor later disavowed.”

According to WMAL, the GOP is on the verge of doing battle with Pope Francis over climate change. USA Today has written an article stating what is obvious to anyone who understands politics: The opposition to this encyclical is about money.

In the meantime, environmentalists and liberals are tuning up for their happy dance. I have no doubt that their interpretations of the upcoming encyclical will be as self-serving and inaccurate as those of Mr Limbaugh, et al.

Every pope in recent memory has spoken out about the environment. Every pope in recent memory has taken a strong stand against the evils of corporatism, which is organized greed wedded to government power. Why is Pope Francis any different?

The answer to that is as obvious as the answer to why corporatists oppose him with such venom: People are listening to this pope. They’re paying attention to what he says. For the first time in a long time, ordinary people see the Church as accessible. Pope Francis is a father figure to billions of people who never listened to the Church before.

He has shifted the Church away from the appearance of partisan alliances and given it the old-time Gospel outlook of a Church that is beholden to no political party or faction. That is exactly as it should be. The Church should have one Master, one Lord, and that is Jesus Christ.

Contrary to what the nay-sayers are yapping about, Pope Francis is entirely within his purview when he addresses the environment. Human beings were explicitly told from the beginning that we have “dominion” over this earth. We were commanded to care for it as good husbandmen, to lead it to be fruitful and to bring forth its goodness for all humanity, for all time.

Corporatism is the antithesis of this. Corporatism is evil, and like all evil, it only destroys. Corporatism rapes the environment. Corporatism cuts down the rainforests, and plunders the wealth of the ground, all the while displacing people, shutting them into economic slavery and destroying both their hope and their future. Corporatism destroys life on a global scale; wiping out whole species of beings like mowing down grass.

Of course corporatism’s well-paid mouthpieces fear this pope and his message. Of course, they are enraged by the very thought of this upcoming encyclical.

All this presents the American bishops with an unsettling conundrum, one that, like most of their problems, is at least partly of their own making.

America’s Catholic bishops sit on shaky thrones. Their prophetic voice has been chipped and scarred by the clergy sex abuse scandal. Their authority and ability to teach is compromised by the refusal of priests in the parish to carry the message on critical issues such as the sanctity of marriage.

The bishops were forced to reach over the heads of their priests and go directly to the people in the pews in the matter of the HHS Mandate. It is to the everlasting credit of the pew-sitters that they found loyalty and support there in this critical fight for religious freedom.

Now, with this encyclical, they have to go in y0ur face with their most loyal followers. The civil religion, which worships at the altars of the R and the D, is divided cleanly along party lines. The Ds support abortion, backed the HHS Mandate and have fallen over backwards into gay marriage. The Rs have become the only home that faithful Catholics feel they have in the political sphere.

Given that the level of teaching at many of our parishes tends toward a Hallmark card Christianity that no longer addresses the lived reality of many of those in the pews, serious Catholics have been taking more and more of their “teaching” on theological matters from the Republican Party.

This was frankly encouraged by the original founders of the religious right such as Jerry Falwell. Rev Falwell, and most of his fellows, imposed their own political beliefs on the Gospels. They did this even when those political beliefs ran counter to what the Gospels themselves plainly said.

As a result, the religious right deified corporatism. The Catholic Church did not join in with this heresy. But the bishops and the parish priests did not oppose it in the kind of clear language that is necessary to teach the people in the pews. They failed, at a critical juncture, to effectively teach the constant teachings of the Church. These teachings go back in a straight line, from one pope to the next, for hundreds of years. But the people in the pews never got the message.

This created a vacuum where there should have been legitimate Christian teaching. This vacuum left the people in the pews to make up their own theology. Over time, they were seduced by the civil religion of party politics. Faithful Catholics in the pews came to substitute the civil religion for Christianity in matters concerning economics. They exchanged the teachings of right-wing corporatists for the constant teaching of the Church in economic matters.

Now they are hardened in this heresy. And the bishops stand hapless, unable to figure out how to set things right.

At the same time, “progressive” churches did their part by bastardizing the Gospels on issues life, marriage, gender identity and the sexualizing of women and children. Left and right, they both cut their religion to suit their politics. The political heresy reigned.

Nobody in the religious sphere, other than the popes themselves, was teaching the whole Gospel of Christ.

Now, after decades of this, we are reaping the whirlwind.

Part of the damage of that whirlwind is that the American bishops are now faced with teaching an encyclical in parishes where the most faithful of the parishioners have drunk so deeply of the Republican Kool-Aid that they actually place more trust in the likes of Rush Limbaugh than they do the Vicar of Christ. These are people who are dying for leadership. They want to be led. They’ve settled on following the teachings of their political party rather than the teachings of their Church.

I haven’t read the encyclical Pope Francis has written on the environment. But I do not doubt that it is based on the simple fact that humanity’s dominion over creation is a responsibility, and not just an opportunity for destructive exploitation by the few to the detriment of everyone else.

Pope Francis is Peter. Think carefully before you follow the R or the D instead of the Church created by Christ the Lord.

As for the American bishops, my heart goes out to them. They are in such a mess, and they don’t appear, most of them, to be up to the task in front of them.

One thing I know: We don’t need institutionalized “company” men, at this time. We need men of God.

From The New York Times:

… With Francis expected to make the case that climate change, unchecked development and overconsumption are exacerbating the suffering of the poor, advocates for the environment and the poor are thrilled.

But the leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States may be harder to win over. At the spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops here last week, bishops from around the country said they were withholding their enthusiasm until they saw the document on Thursday.

Some said they were wary about getting the church enmeshed in the debate over climate change, a contentious issue in the United States. They also expressed concern about allying with environmentalists, some of whom promote population control as a remedy, since the church sees abortion and contraception as great evils.

Some bishops said they had received hate mail from Catholics skeptical of climate change. That has added to the bishops’ hesitation and confusion on the topic.

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I’m Not Going to Cover the “Leaked” Encyclical. I’ll Wait for the Official Version

Don't be fooled by a copy. Wait for the real thing. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Catholic United Financial https://www.flickr.com/photos/catholicaid/

Don’t be fooled by a copy. Wait for the real thing. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Catholic United Financial https://www.flickr.com/photos/catholicaid/

This just a note to readers.

Somebody in the Vatican “leaked” a copy of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the climate a few days early. First, of all, shame on them. Second, I’m not going to bother to read or write about this bootlegged version of the encyclical.

Here are my reasons:

1. It’s a bootlegged version. Somebody got their grubby little hands on a copy of something, which might be a rough draft or might be something else. No one knows. All we know for certain is that somebody took something that wasn’t theirs and fed it into the maws of the internet. I don’t know their motives, and I don’t care. This leaked document could be anything.

2. My time is valuable. And so is yours. I’ll read the real encyclical when it comes out and write about it at length. It will take me a while, because I write opinions, and opinions — at least mine — don’t form instantaneously. I need to think things through. What I won’t do is waste my time read a who-knows-what-it-is bootlegged version.

3. I don’t really like playing fool for whoever did this. There are times when leaked documents are a public service. Government documents which are being withheld to keep the people from knowing the truth are an example. However, this encyclical is going to be officially released in full in a matter of hours. There are no good reasons for leaking this document and I can’t think of any good reasons to bother with this faux version. The real thing is right around the corner.

I guess that’s enough said. I’ll wait and see what the encyclical says when I read what I know is the actual encyclical.

In the mean time, stay cool, folks. And don’t play fool for whoever did this.

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