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Misfortune Follows the French at WYD; Cardinal Suffers Heart Attack

By Kathy Schiffer
Ave Maria Radio

Last week, a bus carrying French youth going to Rio was involved in a tragic accident.  Sophie Morinière, a 21-year-old woman from Paris, was killed, and five others were seriously injured.  The Vatican released a message from Pope Francis:

“Pope Francis, informed of the tragic road accident on the road to Saint Laurent du Maroni involving a bus carrying young people participating in World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, wishes to express his heartfelt participation in the mourning of the families of the deceased, and of the group leaders and organizers.

The Pope assures them of his prayers and expresses his deepest sympathy with those injured, the rescue workers and all those around them.

The Holy Father wishes to impart the comfort of an apostolic blessing on all those touched by this tragedy.”

Opening liturgy at Copacabana
In a separate transportation incident, airplane failure stranded French youth in Cayenne, French Guyana, preventing them from reaching Rio.  The White Jet airlines plane remains stranded in São Paulo.  The young people were not able to reach Copacabana in time for the opening liturgy on Thursday evening.
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin
The Vatican Information Service reports that the World Youth Day delegate for the diocese of Paris, Fr. Christophe de Lussy, has

“underlined that the local authorities are doing all they can to assist the 700 youth in arriving to Rio. Staying gymnasiums and schools of Cayenne, the youth have “recognized the hospitality of the people of Guyana, who have mobilized to receive them.”

An estimated 5,500 young French men and women are expected to converge on Rio for World Youth Day 2013.  

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – July 24, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on July 24
4:00 – Pope Francis Focuses on “Three Simple Attitudes” at World Youth Day
Shortly after his election, Francis celebrated a Mass at the Vatican’s parish church of St. Anne, standing outside afterward to shake hands, give hugs and kiss babies. That display of ordinary pastoral concern quickly earned him the title of “the world’s parish priest.” Today at Brazil’s Marian shrine of Aparecida, Francis once again came off as a simple pastor — albeit one now playing on the world’s biggest religious stage. After a brief reflection on the 2007 meeting of Latin American bishops that took place at Aparecida, Francis devoted his brief homily to what he called “three simple attitudes” he’d like to pass on to participants in the World Youth Day – hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy. He stressed that God is always close to the faithful and always ready to help. “Christians are joyful; they are never gloomy,” the Pope said. We talk to author and speaker Austen Ivereigh who is on the scene in Rio.

4:20 – UK Abandons Controversial End-of-Life Medical Protocol
The United Kingdom has announced that it will phase out the Liverpool Care Pathway, a protocol governing the medical care of patients who have been deemed to be dying. Critics have charged that the protocol has led to widespread euthanasia. Baroness Julia Neuberger, the rabbi who led a government panel that examined the protocol said “Evidence given to the review has revealed too many serious cases of unacceptable care where the pathway has been incorrectly implemented. Examples include leaving patients without adequate nutrition, hydration, and inappropriately sedated.” Bioethicist Wesley Smith has followed this protocol from the beginning and joins us today.

4:40 – Kresta Comments

5:00 – Reactions to Yesterday’s Commentary Pour In: A Catholic White Man’s View of Our “National Discussion on Race” in America

The old rules are now irrelevant, Detroit thought, but they weren’t

With thrift, frugality, prudence cast aside, the bankrupt city sinks into physical ruin

Michigan Central Station, Detroit's most famous icon of decay, was closed in 1988 when Amtrak stopped service.
Michigan Central Station, Detroit’s most famous icon of decay, was closed in 1988 when Amtrak stopped service.

Detroit declared itself broke last week, the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Once America’s showplace boom town, the city’s present condition is instructive – population down by 60 per cent (from 1.8 million to 700,000) in 50 years, 78,000 abandoned houses, taxes not paid on half the city’s properties, murder rate highest in 40 years, 30 percent of the city’s ambulances don’t work and 40 percent of the street lights, one third of the city living in poverty, one fifth unemployed, 100,000 creditors owed $18.5 billion the city can’t pay, two billion of it owed city employee pension plans.

Michigan Theater in 1927 and now as a garage.
Michigan Theater in 1927 and now as a garage.

Instructive, that is, because it reminds us that governments really can go broke. There are hard limits to what they can borrow. Some city pensioners have been told to expect 10 percent of what had been promised them. All union contracts are now up for renegotiation. Even essential services may be cut back.

Three causes: one social, one economic, and one spiritual

Historians and economists offer three reasons for this. The first was social unrest. After the booming ’50s came the race riots of the ’60s, which began an exodus from the city. Then followed the deluge of imports from other countries, where workers made much better cars for a lot less money. Finally, and most disastrous, came a change in attitude. Virtues like thrift, frugality and prudence were dismissed as out of date and irrelevant. “We’re living in very different times,” people said. “The values of our grandparents are now obsolete.” So when the money wasn’t there, Detroit borrowed. And where were the churches, the institutions supposedly there to remind us of all the old rules? They were in fact doing the reverse, egging on the spenders. The interests of the poor and oppressed must come first, they said. The money could come from the rich. But the rich were rapidly leaving town and with them the jobs that wealth can create. So the churches, instead of working to solve the problem, made it worse. 

Jesus’ familiar but dangerous advice

There is a familiar and dangerous verse in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on.” (Mat 6:25) His purpose is obviously to prevent pointless fretting over material needs, a common human failing. But it could also be taken, as in Detroit, for an invitation to cast all rational thought aside, lay back, relax and let God provide. Such an attitude is incompatible both with what Jesus said elsewhere and consistently did – for he worked tirelessly. Successive city councils of Detroit thought otherwise; they borrowed. It didn’t work, and that’s what we should notice.

Read more here.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – July 23, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on July 23
4:00 – Kresta Comments: A Catholic White Man’s View of Our “National Discussion on Race” in America
4:40 – National NFP Awareness Week
“Pro-Woman, Pro-Man, Pro-Child, Natural Family Planning” is the theme of this year’s Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, a national educational campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to celebrate God’s design for married love and the gift of life and to raise awareness of Natural Family Planning methods. “NFP,” as the U.S. bishops have written, is supportive of Catholic beliefs about married love because it “respects the God-given power to love a new human life into being.” We talk to Dr. Christopher Stroud, a Creighton Model NFP physician. 

5:00 – Kresta Comments: A Catholic White Man’s View of Our “National Discussion on Race” in America

5:40 – Spiritual Disciplines segment in which we explore the practices that draw us closer to God: Avoiding False Teaching on Prayer
Many people enjoy reading more modern writers about prayer and the spiritual life but are often worried about false teachings that could lead one away from the heart of the Church. How can we know when an author is not orthodox or teaches something that could lead to deception instead of to God? Dan Burkeis here to provide a summary of the most common problems with modern teachings on prayer so that you can effectively navigate past the empty teachings of the world and toward the truth of God.

Niece asks RI high court to overturn Legion ruling, allow her suit over wealthy aunt’s estate

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Lawyers contesting the will of a widow who gave some $60 million to a secretive and disgraced Roman Catholic religious order are trying again to have their case heard, filing court papers in an attempt allow the woman’s niece to sue.

The papers, filed Wednesday with the Rhode Island Supreme Court, argue that Mary Lou Dauray has the right to intervene in the estate of her late aunt, Gabrielle Mee, a devout Catholic who gave most of her money to the conservative religious order the Legion of Christ. Mee died in 2008.

The lawyers seek to overturn a ruling by Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein, who threw out Dauray’s lawsuit last year, saying she had no standing to sue. But he said at the same time that evidence existed that Mee was unduly persuaded to give the Legion her money and detailed how the Legion slowly took control of her finances as she became more deeply involved in the movement.
A church investigation determined that the Legion’s founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, sexually molested seminarians and fathered three children. The Vatican took over the order in 2010 and Pope Benedict XVI ordered a wholesale reform.

Dauray’s lawyers have said that Mee was defrauded by an order whose leaders orchestrated an effort to hide its founder’s misdeeds from her aunt. Silverstein said in throwing out the lawsuit that some of what was before the court raised a red flag because Mee transferred millions to “clandestinely dubious religious leaders.”

In Wednesday’s filings, Dauray’s lawyers argue that Dauray is legally interested in Mee’s estate and that Mee’s most recent will was obtained by fraud and undue influence by the Legion.

Silverstein said in his opinion in part that Dauray disavowed her interest when she said during a deposition that she didn’t want anything for herself from Mee’s estate, but instead wanted it to go to charity. Wednesday’s filing argues that comment should not have been taken as Mee disavowing her interest.

The Legion must file a response with the court by early August. The order has not studied the filing yet but expects to prevail, said spokesman Jim Fair.

Wendy Davis would have been a hiccup except for the national media

Their strident pro-abortion agenda has failed for decades to persuade most Americans

Wendy Davis filibustering in Texas: Her main problem is that the public strongly disagrees with her.
Wendy Davis filibustering in Texas: Her main problem is that the public strongly disagrees with her.

The Christians
This commentary by Ben Domenech, editor of the daily e-letter The Transom, appeared June 30 on Realclearpolitics.com.

Obviously the overall story about how Americans view the right to marriage is one of ever increasing majorities. From just a few years ago, when Americans were split on the issue at best, they now have marked majorities in favor of same sex marriage – 71% according to some polls, 86% according to others. The argument has been won, and cultural unanimity is virtually complete.

Ben Domenech
Ben Domenech
Oh, my mistake. It’s actually only around half of Americans who favor gay marriage. Those figures above are for the percentage of Americans who support banning abortion after the first trimester (13 weeks), and after the second trimester (28 weeks), respectively.

But that can’t be possible. Because if that was the case, wouldn’t we have heard about it, from the newspapers? Maybe they just haven’t gotten around to reporting it – a blind spot missed amidst all the other pressing news.
Except – it looks like Americans have thought this for almost two decades. The percent supporting a second trimester ban has never dropped below 64 percent, and the percent supporting a third trimester ban has never dropped below 80 percent in that time.

These positions are true elsewhere, too – once a baby starts looking like a baby, people tend to think it ought to be protected. That’s why most of Europe has bans on abortion ranging from 10 to 22 weeks, and the major countries have first trimester bans – Portugal at 10 weeks, Germany and Spain at 14 weeks, Italy at effectively the end of the first trimester. France is at 14 weeks as well, and they even mandate a one-week waiting period for all abortions.

Most of these countries also have conscientious objection clauses designed to protect those doctors with moral objections to abortion.

A pre-born human at 20 weeks.
A pre-born human at 20 weeks

On such a divisive issue, you’d think the fact that this broadly popular position has endured in America and around the world to such a degree would inform the political analysis of the media. But last night we saw how personally invested many in the media are in the limitless, on-demand abortion regime in their obvious cheerleading for Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who was filibustering a Texas measure that would limit abortion to the 20 week mark and require a host of regulatory steps which would shut down most Texas abortion clinics.

Most egregious of all was the point in the evening when reporters were actually urging protesters on, encouraging them to scream and shout to delay a floor vote on the measure. This went well beyond the bounds of journalism – and indeed was indistinguishable from the single-issue abortion activists.
It was indistinguishable because the press is, by and large, unanimous on the issue. We saw this in the disinterested approach to reporting on the Kermit Gosnell trial (until pressured into it by Mollie Hemingway and Kristen Powers). Those who write about abortion as a political issue are only interested in reporting about abortion politics when they view it as an opportunity to press its agenda.
You will see a great deal of reporting in the coming weeks about Davis’s rising political star – she’s ambitious, with statewide hopes – because the reporters view her as the activists do: a heroic, courageous figure, assaulted by the GOP’s war on women.

But you’ll likely see little reporting about the fact that 62 percent of Texans support the 20 week ban she was filibustering. The agenda takes precedence.

Twenty weeks is, of course, an arbitrary mark to draw a line between protected under law and lump of cells. The general argument from the pro-lifers is that it is a point where the unborn obviously feel pain. Viability is a threshold that continues to move earlier thanks to medical science, and indeed some children born at 20 weeks have survived.

But there’s something else that happens at around the 20 week mark: the unborn can distinguish sounds. The first sound they will hear is the voice of their mother. In the weeks to come it will be a soothing and recognizable sound, distinguishable from all the rest. They will respond to it and react to it, to changes in volume and conversation. Much later, they will even be able to recognize tones of voice.

But at the 20 week mark, there is only the formless sound. The child cannot understand what she is saying. They cannot detect the difference in tenor when she makes the call, and schedules the appointment, and takes them from the waiting room into the operating room where they will die. They only recognize it as a mother’s voice, full of promise, enveloping them – familiar, reassuring, safe.

- See more at: http://thechristians.com/?q=node/449&utm_source=The+Christians+Book+Buyers&utm_campaign=83d3ca621b-TCH-Issue0077-BB&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e2d8bf6d30-83d3ca621b-57142977#sthash.yVtA6vPa.dpuf

Can Brazil Keep the Holy Father Safe?

By Kathy Schiffer
Ave Maria Radio

OK, now I’m worried.
I did not see the parade which was broadcast live this afternoon, when Pope Francis’ motorcade rode through the streets of Rio de Janeiro; but I saw the concern for his safety which was evidenced on social media sites.
“Very poorly done,” said one person, speaking of the Pope’s compact Brazilian-made Fiat Idea wending its way along the crowded streets.  “That was exceedingly dangerous.”
And then, the already chaotic scene deteriorated, as the exuberant crowd pressed forward to touch the papal car.  Even the security guards, it seemed, threw up their hands and left the Holy Spirit in charge.  The Catholic Herald reported:
At some points, the motorcade was separated from ordinary rush-hour commuters by nothing more than a median strip.  As the Pope’s car drew closer to the centre, he passed increasingly large groups of people standing, cheering and waving.  About 20 minutes into the ride, clusters of people began pressing against the vehicle, reaching out to touch the Pope, and had to be pushed away by the security detail.  At one point the press of crowds brought the vehicle briefly to a standstill, and the Pope emerged to kiss a baby.
Apparently attempting to avoid the crowds, the motorcade turned into a stretch of ordinary traffic.  Shortly thereafter, the papal car found itself repeatedly stuck between vehicles and crowds. Security officers could be seen vigorously pushing back bystanders who reached out to touch the Pope.  The 13.2-mile ride took 44 minutes.
With Boylston Street and the Boston Marathon still fresh in the American consciousness, I found myself asking:  If only one of those thousands of well-wishers had not really wished him well, what would have happened to our new pope?
Father Marcio Sergio Queiroz, media coordinator for World Youth Day, brushed aside concerns—telling NBC News the pope never felt he was in danger.  “He is the people’s pope,” said Father Queiroz, “and he likes to be in direct touch with the people.  The warm welcoming was in line with the culture of Brazil.”
When it was over and the Pope’s safety seemed assured, I breathed a sigh of relief.
But not for long:  Then, I read the Telegraph’s report that while Pope Francis was meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in the Rio state governor’s palace,atheists and the Anonymous protest group had planned to demonstrate outside.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
And then, there was this:  “small, home-made bomb” was discovered during security checks at the National Shrine of Aparecida, which Pope Francis is scheduled to visit on Wednesday.
“Not to worry!” say the Brazilian police.   The bomb was a “home-made device” with little potential to cause fatalities; it was successfully detonated on Sunday, after the Brazilian air force discovered it during a security sweep; such episodes are a common part of security forces training in Aparecida; at no point were civilians’ lives in danger; and besides, the lavatory where the bomb was found was in an area of the shrine that would not be used during the papal visit.
Well, then!  I’m feeling better already (NOT).
I will be breathing a sigh of relief around 7:00 p.m. Sunday, when the Pope’s airplane is scheduled to depart from the Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, heading for the relative quiet of Vatican City.

Jihad Story of the Day: Ramadan Observance in Germany: Muslim Mob Screaming "Allahu Akbar" Attacks Policemen


“The youths started to yell threats at the policemen, beat the police car, and some of them attempted to attack the police officers. When the police tried to arrest the trouble-makers, one of them made a phone call and after some time, around 150 other Muslims assembled from the neighboring streets to the scene, and blocked the police officers.”


“In Hamburg over 150 Muslims, shouting ‘Allah Akbar’, attacked policemen” from Pravoslavie.ru, July 18 (thanks to Filip):

In Hamburg, on the night of July 12, after fasting, a group of young Muslims gathered in Holstenstraße street for a night meal after the Muslim fast.Soon after that the police received complaints from the drivers who were driving by: some people were blinding drivers in the street with laser pointers. A squad arrived in response to a call and tried to check the documents of sixteen gathered young men, however they began to behave aggressively, reports Bild.de.
The youths started to yell threats at the policemen, beat the police car, and some of them attempted to attack the police officers. When the police tried to arrest the trouble-makers, one of them made a phone call and after some time, around 150 other Muslims assembled from the neighboring streets to the scene, and blocked the police officers.
According to police evidence, those gathered were behaving extremely aggressively, making threats of reprisal and yelling, “Allah Akbar”.
Only after the arrival of 100 more policemen as reinforcement did it became possible to calm down the mob. As a result, sixteen people were arrested, and two trouble-makers were sent to the hospital.
Muslim young people’s Ramadan parties (which have turned into a tradition) have become a real threat to public order in all European countries. News sources report merely report “nighttime disorder” in which “unidentified youths” participated, while the names and religious affiliation of the trouble-makers, as well as the reason for such gatherings, are not mentioned. However, the same phrase coming from the shouting crowd, “Allah Akbar”, can be clearly heard in the video materials taken at the sites of these events.


WYD at Rio – Welcome Ceremony of the Pope

This is a long video; skip around for good views of the people who are lining the streets as Pope Francis arrives.

The Casino and the Cathedral: On Recovering Our Abandoned Culture

Editor’s note: The image above is a photograph of the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Today’s pagan temples and chapels—capitalistic institutions bent on money making no matter what—have appropriated Catholic styles, symbols, art, liturgy, and rubrics just as Catholics have lost confidence in them. They are winning and we are not. It’s time for Catholicism to become newly aware of the richest of our own symbols lest we lose out completely.

Here’s an small example. A few years ago, I sat in a Taco Bell trying to figure out why the art is placed where it is and what the colors in the place are trying convey. Eventually it clicked. The whole structure is modeled on a parish mission chapel. The pictures on the wall are iconographic. The colors are stucco like the mission. The building is shaped like a chapel. The lights hang down low from long wires.

I can’t believe that I had never realized this before: the bell in Taco Bell itself is of course the church bell.

We are surrounded by such institutions that borrow from the history, art, architecture, and even ritual of the Catholic faith. Maybe this is not an intentional imitation. The forms and practices of our Catholic past are part of the cultural air we breathe. But those who capture them, however inadvertently, and instantiate them into secular and commercial forms, are thinking through their model carefully and testing their effectiveness against their driving purpose, which is of course to make money.

They do very well for themselves. I do not intend to condemn such institutions for that reason. They provide useful and even essential social function of providing for material needs and wants. Still, they have a different purpose in mind from institutions of religious faith.

What I find intriguing is how such secular institutions so strongly believe in themselves and what they are doing, even when they appropriate forms and styles that once defined Catholicism—and, in this respect, they are outwitting Catholics who have too often lost confidence in our own ritual and tradition.

These secular institutions understand that decor matters. Architecture matters. The music of the place needs to fit with its goal. Color and form does matter. Every form of art and its thematic integration to the whole is well considered with the driving purpose in mind. And many of these forms are borrowed from the Catholic ethos and transformed for money-making purposes—just as the Catholics once appropriated pagan forms for its liturgy, vestments, and calendar.

Last week, I spent several days in the thick of such a secular institution—a new and super-flashy casino in Las Vegas. It provides a great example of the use of architecture, ritual, music, and other forms of sensory signaling in order to achieve a central purpose. The goal is about as base as possible: to extract as much money as possible from people in its space in exchange for which the casino provides a tantalizing fantasy of the high life. It works.

I was there not to gamble. I don’t think gambling is immoral; I just don’t like to do it. I was there at a convention to speak on several economics topics. But I had plenty of time to reflect on what makes this strange place tick, and to think about the surprising parallels—both similarities and differences—with the liturgical culture in our churches.

If Taco Bell is the mission parish, the casino is the cathedral. I made some effort to deconstruct the way this casino makes it all work.

All the while, I couldn’t help but be struck by how the prevailing ethos for many years in the Catholic church has been to downplay the importance of cultural signaling in its liturgical presentation, to suggest that style does not matter, that pop music is as good as chant, that statuary and iconography only serves to distract, that established sacred forms can be freely tossed out and replaced with no great damage, and so on.

Whereas Catholic institutions are shy about putting the liturgical and artistic forms forward in an aggressive way, secular institutions, such as this grand casino I visited, are more dedicated to using artistic forms—many drawn from Catholic experience—more competently in providing for material needs than our own churches are in providing for spiritual needs.

The most obvious parallel is the sheer height of the buildings themselves. Las Vegas is a large flat land with plenty of room to build. In residential areas, this results in sprawling flats. But on the strip, there has been a 60-year competition to build ever higher and more spectacular buildings, up up up, all designed to convey a sense of elevation and awe. Your eyes are constantly drawn off the ground and to the sights all around and even to the vast expanse and seeming limitlessness of the sky.

The casino floor in the hotel in which I stayed shot straight up, covering three floors and, in places more. The escalators taking you up and down were in full view. There were layers upon layers of activity and complexity to entice the eye. It all serves to keep us looking and attentive and upwardly oriented—upward like the earnings you will presumably make. It’s part of the design to make you feel that you are somewhere special and interesting, part of a winning and forward-looking scene.

The height and upward direction of the cathedral has a different purpose: to draw us to the eternal by lifting our hearts and minds toward God. The height keeps us interested and fascinated with what we experience there. Our heads are always up and the angles and lines of the cathedral are always lifting our eyes. The variety of statues, art, shapes, and windows gives the impression of infinite fascination.
George Weigel reports having spent three solid hours just gazing up while he visited Chartes in France. That’s the idea: not abstraction but instantiation in a way that appeals very intensely to the senses.

Read the rest here.

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