Blunt Bishops—Thank God!

Recently a shiny new priest used a daily mass homily–five minutes, max–to read a few choice writings  from St. John Vianney.  Fr. Newly Ordained marveled at the boldness of the Curé d’ Ars,  who is the patron of priests.  The young priest observed that in some dioceses you’d be sent packing just for reading those lines.

Sadly, this is so. But as often we are inspired  by a “holy boldness” when a bishop speaks out forcefully and, dare I say, bluntly.  We need plain speech when souls are in the balance.

Here is one such statement from Bp. David Ricken:

“Calling the 2012 election “a turning point in our country’s history,” Bishop David Ricken urged Catholics of the Diocese of Green Bay to remember “the set of non-negotiables” as they cast their ballots.

“These are areas that are ‘intrinsically evil’ and cannot be supported by anyone who is a believer in God or the common good or the dignity of the human person,” said Bishop Ricken. “They are:

  • 1. abortion
  • 2. euthanasia
  • 3. embryonic stem cell research
  • 4. human cloning
  • 5. homosexual “marriage”

“Some candidates and one party have even chosen some of these as their party’s or their personal political platform,” Bishop Ricken added. “To vote for someone in favor of these positions means that you could be morally ‘complicit’ with these choices which are intrinsically evil. This could put your own soul in jeopardy.”

The full story is here.

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Who Should Catholics Vote for On November 6th?

In the coming weeks there will be posts of interest  to those who want to make an honest appraisal of the candidates and the party platforms.

It is no secret that both campaigns have identified Catholics as the key to their success.  But the candidates view Catholics very differently.  The Democratic campaign is certain that Catholic women are not disturbed by the Democratic platform’s  commitment to abortion, free contraceptives  and sterilizations(paid for by the taxpayers under Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act). The Republican  campaign views Catholics as a block that is–or should be–very alarmed by the HHS mandate’s assault on Religious Liberty, a pillar of the Constitution.    Please visit often to read how each side seeks to secure the crucial Catholic vote.

In the meanwhile, to this post will be added  new snips and clips from news features and  Church issues to address the issue of  the “Catholic vote.” Please scroll down to read each day’s entry.

October 16th

Women  want more than “pelvic politics”.  Newest Gallup poll indicates women in swing  states are taking a new look at the Romney/ Ryan positions.   It is important that Catholics make their voices heard–too many women, even Catholics, have the impression that a Romney victory means the end of access to birth control.  Not so. The Republican platform says nothing about contraceptive access. Rather it defends religious freedom–the right of people of conscience to not be coerced into paying for an immoral act. Contraception will be just as available as it is now– it simply protects Catholics from coercion.

 

October 8th

“In the words of “Faithful Citizenship,” how we should respond is clear. The document says, “Our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens human life and dignity.” As you consider these concerns, I will be praying for you in Rome that the humble, joyful Poverello of Assisi intercede for us, and that Mary Immaculate, patroness of the United States and Star of the New Evangelization, will inspire in us wisdom, prudence, and courage.”

————–Timothy, Cardinal Dolan, president of the USCCB

October 1st

September 30th

Want Peace? Vote for Religious Liberty

Pope Benedict XVI’s 2011 World Day of Peace message called religious freedom the “path to peace.” Since “religious freedom is at the origin of moral freedom,” the Pope taught it should be understood “not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one’s own choices in accordance with truth… When religious freedom is acknowledged, the dignity of the human person is respected at its root, and the ethos and institutions of peoples are strengthened. On the other hand, whenever religious freedom is denied, and attempts are made to hinder people from professing their religion or faith and living accordingly, human dignity is offended, with a resulting threat to justice and peace….” ( More here)

It’s a fundamental break with reality to think that peace on earth can begin with nations that abort their own children. Such nations demonstrate their domination over the most vulnerable. A domination ethos never leads to peace.  A government that then attempts to force people of faith to live at the margins of society by means of coercive power simply provokes  rebellion.

Want peace?  Vote to protect religious liberty.

—–MJA

 

September 29th, Feast of the Archangels

Novena for Religious Liberty Begins Today!

Please join millions today for the Novena to the Mother of God for the Nation.

During the Novena, leading bishops from across the nation will be celebrating the televised Mass from Our Lady of the Angels Chapel in Irondale, Alabama at 8 a.m. ET each day. Each bishop will deliver a homily highlighting the importance of prayer in the fight for religious liberty and will lead the novena prayers for that day. Celebrants will include Most Rev. James D. Conley, Bishop-designate of Lincoln (Neb.), who will open the novena; Kansas City Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann; Mobile (Ala.) Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi; Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput; and Birmingham (Ala.) Bishop Robert J. Baker, who will close the novena.

“Catholics have always turned instinctively for help to the Mother of God in times of need,” says Fr. Miller, “And so, in 2012, we turn to Our Lady for help. Many of the values that have shaped our country from the beginning seem to be at risk. Pope Benedict XVI and the American Bishops have noted the erosion of religious freedom, the first value guaranteed by the Constitution. This novena challenges all of us to a deeper conversion to Christ and a more generous life of charity. The proximity of this novena to the 2012 Presidential Election also offers an opportunity to pray for all of our government officials and to seek Divine assistance in the election.”

Novena may be downloaded here.

—-MJA

September 28th

The Poor and Me. And you.

 

“In voting, consideration must be given to the poor and measures to help them. Though direct government assistance is sometimes necessary, it is not the only solution in assisting the poor and needy. Society should never fail in its fundamental task of creating an environment in which the poor and needy can prosper and reach a sense of security and freedom for themselves and for their families. This necessitates that all join in helping the poor and needy and the government must respect the freedom of institutions involved in this work.”

—- Frank J.Dewane,  Bishop of Venice Florida

One of the more sobering consequences of  increased government assistance to the poor is that it makes too many of us–Christians– complacent about the plight of the poor.  “I’m sure there is a government program for that,”   is a refrain we frequently hear. It’s a polite way to say, ” I need not trouble myself over this man’s circumstance.”

But Jesus said, “Feed them yourselves.” (Matthew 14:13-17) Simply stated, we’ve have sub-contracted out  to the government a direct command that Christ gave us to fulfill.    We are flaccid. We lack virtue when we fail to engage the “least of our brothers” ourselves. The context of the Feeding of the Multitude is interesting–Jesus is with His disciples in a large crowd.  “The people” are engaged directly with Jesus and his followers.  There is no government-run hamburger stand. The crowd is listening and watching: “Who is this Teacher who speaks as no other has spoken?”   Is it such a stretch for third millennium Christians to see that our own direct hands-on service is a far more compelling voice for what we profess than a grinding government bureaucracy?

In the clip above Bp. Dewane points out that direct government assistance is not the only solution to care of the poor. I would suggest it is the least effective method ; too much overhead, too much fraud, too much waste. Ah, but, it affords complacent American Christians  a measure of comfort –I care for the poor!–without the human element, that is, without ever having to interact with the poor.  We may tickle our “compassion” button with that claim, but it is false. True compassion comes alongside the one who suffers. Compassion is personal.

The Catholic Church provides more social services for the poor  than any other entity in the nation–except the US government.  If the HHS mandate is not overturned, those services to the poor will be shuttered. Who then will the poor have?  A  faceless leviathan with a monopoly on “the poor.”  We may ignore Christ’s  command to “feed them yourselves” but there will be consequences for the poor –and for those of us impoverished of virtue.

—-MJA

September 27th

Here is a snip from a U.S. News and World Report article:

“With most of the national polls showing the race to be one or two points either way, the fight over the Catholic vote is heating up. In Cleveland, Ohio, the local chapter of Right to Life has issued a formal letter to Bishop Richard Lennon asking him to suspend the Diocese’s “Faithful Citizenship” meetings because of their disregard for pro-life issues.

“As a pro-life woman and a Catholic, I am appalled,” Cleveland Right to Life President Molly Smith said in a release. “Our Church is under attack by the most liberal, pro-abortion leadership in history. The Cleveland Catholic Diocese is missing a great teaching and unifying opportunity by responding in this manner.”

According to Smith’s group, “Faithful Citizenship meetings were organized by the Diocese of Cleveland with the goal of aiding Catholics in preparing themselves to vote this November. The forums, led in part by open Obama-supporter Karen Leith, downplay abortion and religious freedom, issues of irreducible importance to Catholic voters.”  Read more here

More on the CATHOLIC VOTE here.

Keep the faith!

MJA

They voted for him before they voted against him

By now most faithful Catholics (as in “faithful to the teachings of the Catholic  Church”) know someone who admits that they voted for Obama, but wish they could push cosmic reset button and unvote their temporary insanity. Alas.

No poll will appear that asks  voters who pulled the lever for Obama if they would do so today. No matter. We know from anecdotal confessions on blogs, webpages and even national talking head voyeurs that significant numbers of voters would rescind their votes were it possible to do so.  The fracas at Notre Dame affords us a view from the wrong end of the telescope. It is worse than any hesitant lever-puller imagined. The shock some feel is near laughable–could they truly–truly?– not have known.

obama-punishmentAmong  us, wherever go, there are well meaning Catholics who had supposed  that matters such as a “living wage,” universal health care, hatred of the war in Iraq and “hope”  were cause enough to overlook the one other matter–abortion–that burdened their deliberations in 2008.  Some can be forgiven their myopic angle of view since so many US Catholics lack any schooling in basic theology.

Greater anguish resides in those who knew. And knew that they knew.  Recently an acquaintance  remarked that he could not douse his smoldering anger at Obama for a “breech of trust.”   This man is an attorney who attends mass  faithfully with his family in tow. He is a self described “happy papist.”  Not so happy at the moment.  His  idea was that Obama implied that he would proceed in an open, civil manner that permitted Catholics who disagreed with his principles to trust his good will.

I am not certain that the opposite might better serve us–that is, to vote for principle and never mind the good will. Here I take good will to be less about goodness than good form. Obama seduced many with his polished good form. However empty of any substance that can objectively be described as “good”, candidate Obama excelled at good form, good style, good packaging.  But now that the package has been opened the truth is impossible to escape.  And the truth is not about Obama who hid nothing from us.

No, the truth is about flaccid Catholics who heard what they wanted to hear and shut out all else in a flimsy hope (that word again!) that  somehow it would work out.

Catholics made the election of a hardened abortion proponent possible. Without a majority of the Catholic Vote this national nightmare could not have happened.

The one hope, perhaps, is that we have here a teachable moment. Every Catholic who now regrets his November insanity is open to our voice of faith –faith not in one  man’s promises however smoothly delivered–faith in the enduring ever new ever eternal voice of the Church who calls us back from the precipice.

Dr. Peter Kreeft & the Culture War

Last night I had the pleasure of dining with Dr. Peter Kreeft–professor of philosophy at Boston College and the author of over 50 books– a dozen of those titles on my own shelves.

He spoke to a local Catholic group on the topic, “How to Win the Culture War”

culturewarThe book by that title purchased here

Think of what YOU assume to be the two basic means of  winning the culture war–got it?  Okay, here is the surprising answer from Dr. Kreeft:

Do not be boring, and,  be beautiful.

Had you answered that?  (I had not, I assure you).

If we are passionate for Jesus and his Church it will be compelling in OUR lives and visible to others. We cannot hope to compel the law or politics to make the culture reflect our passion.  When we are passionate, when we build and pursue beauty in art, fashion, architecture, music, city planning–whatever it is that we do—then OUR worldview will be  an intrigue, a wonderment that others will want to learn more about.  In short boring moralism will not win the war.

What do you think of this approach?

Obama and Marxism

My newest article at Inside Catholic.com explores Obama’s Marxist formation. There is a bit of a food fight in progress over there–feel free to join the fun.

Doubtless you’ve all heard radio talking heads mention–with deserved derision–Obama’s claim to fame as a “community organizer.” What excactly is that? What IS a “community organizer”?

The phrase is a euphemism for “agitator for change”, in short, Obama’s modus operandi. The model is from Marxist Saul Alinsky, author of the twin scourges, Rules for Radicals and Reveille for Radicals. Organizers schooled in the Alinsky method –and Obama was (as well as many other leftists like Hillary Clinton whose dissertation was on Alinsky) –seek out the poor, the lower income workers and exploit their anxieties and resentments. What the “organizer” does is to package their various grievances so that these groups hurdle their usual suspicions of each other in order to unite as a force that city /State officials “must ” deal with. You know a better word for this–extortion.

The bottom line is that the agitator goes to the city council with the angry mob at his left hand and “suggests” that the city knuckle under to the demands of the newly organized group. When the city capitulates, the “organizer” returns to his mob and announces his victory on their behalf.

He is hailed as a savior. His power grows. The city now courts his favor because the organizer is the key to keeping these fomenting factions contained.  And, often as not, the organizer does push the city into doing some things that were needed. But that true motivation is to gain political power for the agitator, to curry favors and funds and to gather strength to push for even greater “change.” The “change” is rarely moral or healthy in the long run. It is cosmetic. It looks good until the fruit ripens and rotten pit is exposed.

Exhibit A is the horror of South Chicago where Obama’s cronies (Resko) bilked the city of millions for “public housing.” Housing so shabby that it was condemned in less than 15 years as uninhabitable. But Obama and company lined their own pockets with cash and power. The poor had a “victory” courtesy of Obama for three or four years…until the roofs leaked and the doors warped and the plumbing rusted.

Today the poor of South Chicago are still poor, and poorly housed. But Obama, following the Alinsky model he applied so astutely, is hailed as a redeemer, a power-broker for the poor. Who was served? The poor or a Marxist politician with dreams changing America into a nation of  unified– that is– “organized” serfs?

Sins of Omission

The readings for Mass today and yesterday were from James. Yesterday’s verses included this:

“for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.” OUCH!

I’m guilty.

Then this, from the Catechism:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

– by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

– by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

– by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

– by protecting evil-doers.

In a free society where every opportunity exists to speak and work against evil, and we fail to do so, and or cooperate with those who do it, we are responsible for the evil among us.

This is a reflection that I have often during times of political tension–election cycles and the passage of anti-life laws. We have abortion, and same-sex “marriages” and embryonic stem cell research because we permitted it; we said little, we continued to give to our alma mater when horrors happnend in its labs, or the Vagina Monolouges came to campus…when we do business with people and firms whose profit comes from sin…the list is long.

But most of all, we fail to speak out against the evil in our midst.

Gorbachev a Christian?

“Spiritual Perestroika” is the phrase used to describe the visit of Mikhail Gorbachev to Assisi where he prayed at the tomb of St. Francis. The former head of the Communist block professed his Christian faith. wgorbachev119b.jpg

Hmnnn. One hopes it is an authentic conversion.

Oddly enough, since the death of Pope John Paul II some interesting events have happened–particularly in Europe and Russia. For example, Malta, Poland and Ireland have recently resisted the European Union’s demand for universal abortion throughout the EU. As the Pope who understood the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, perhaps we ought not be too surprised at this news of Gorbachev ‘s faith.

(Hat tip to Ellen Rice for this news story. )

Note: Garden Photos on Snapshots page–come see!

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