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WATCH LIVE: Conference on Religious Persecution – December 13-14 in Rome

Religious freedom is under siege.  Around the world, from Cairo and Damascus to Tehran and Beijing, Christianity finds itself increasingly persecuted.
Beginning today the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University, together with Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, is hosting a two-day conference in Rome to highlight Christianity’s contributions to the understanding and practice of freedom for all people.  At the conference, new findings will be presented from a two-year study by dozens of scholars concerning Christianity’s contributions to freedom.
The Sorbonne’s Rémi Brague, winner of the 2012 Ratzinger Prize, and His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphaël I Sako of Baghdad, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldean Catholic Church, will deliver keynote addresses. Other speakers will include Baylor University President Ken Starr, former solicitor general of the United States, and Marcello Pera, former president of the Italian Senate.
CLICK HERE to watch the LIVE WEBCAST from Rome on Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14 from 3:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. EST at the Aleteia website.
Following is a detailed agenda. 
AGENDA
Friday, December 13, 2013, 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
9:30-10:00 a.m. | Welcoming Remarks
Thomas Farr
Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Christians and Religious Freedom
Marcello Pera, Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians (Even if We Aren’t)
10:00-11:15 a.m. | The Terrible Facts: What is Happening to the World’s Christians?
11:15-11:30 a.m. | Coffee break
11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. | The First Thousand Years: Christianity’s Early Relationship to Freedom (as Persecuted and as Persecutor) 
1:00-3:00 p.m. | Lunch
3:00-4:15 p.m. | Christian Views on Dignity, Slavery, Proselytism, and Democracy
4:15-4:30 p.m. | Coffee break
4:30-5:45 p.m. | Religious Freedom in the Lion’s Den?
6:00-7:30p.m. | Keynote Address by Professor Rémi Brague, God and Freedom: Biblical Roots of the Western Idea of Liberty.
Saturday, December 14, 2013, 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
9:30-10:00 a.m. | Opening address by Ken Starr
10:00-11:15 a.m. | Christians Among the Most Vulnerable: Empowering Women and the Poor in Developing Societies 
11:15-11:30 a.m. | Coffee break
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. | Christianity and Freedom in Asia
1:00-3:00 p.m. | Lunch
3:00-4:15 p.m. | Would Europe or America Exist Without Christianity?
4:15-4:30 p.m. | Coffee break
4:30-5:45 p.m. | A conversation on Christianity and Freedom in the Future of the West
Matthew Franck (Moderator)
Roger Trigg
David Novak
Remi Brague
John Allen
6:00-7:30 p.m. | Keynote Address by Archbishop Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Iraq, Christianity Matters: What Middle Eastern Societies Will Lose If Christians Flee
This event is made possible by a grant from the Historical Society’s Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs Program.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 12, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on December 12

4:00 – If Aristotle’s Kid Had an iPod
Parenting is hard . . . but it’s not impossible. As a parent, you know that raising children presents greater questions every day. Aristotle has the answers . . . you just have to know how to find them. Conor Gallaghermasterfully weaves Aristotle’s ancient philosophy, scientific studies, pop culture, and parenting tales together making If Aristotle’s Kid Had an iPod a funny, rich, and informative read, and an indispensable guide for any parent who wants to pass on the secrets of a happy life to their kid. He joins us today

5:00 – Education in Virtue
The Disciple of Christ- Education in Virtue is a Christian curriculum structured on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas regarding the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It aims to provide a consistent structure and systematic instruction for youth to learn about the virtues so that they can form the habits and dispositions necessary to live as disciples of Jesus Christ.  This curriculum emphasizes Christian discipleship as indispensable toward human flourishing and the quest for joy.  It has been developed in response to the call for a New Evangelization, firmly conveying the reality that happiness is found in a life of holiness. The genesis of the project, Sr. John Dominic of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is here to discuss it

5:40 – Kresta Comments

Mob of topless pro-choice feminists attacks praying men

A video of lesbian violence against Christians goes viral, despite a media blackout
Yelling, topless women spray-painting men’s crotches. Protestors spitting in faces. Lesbians performing lewd acts and shoving their bare breasts on praying men. A mob of thousands of angry women dancing around a burning effigy of the pope. No, it’s not newsreel footage from Nazi Germany. It’s present day Argentina. Haven’t heard about it? That’s because the mainstream media has been dead silent on an event that should have been front page news across the globe. It was caught on tape, however, and watchers of the shocking, now viral video are mostly calling it “satanic” and noting it certainly would have been big news if Christians had assaulted pro-choicers and lesbians.
An escalating annual event
An escalating annual event Canada’s pro-life LifeSiteNews broke the story last week. It took place in San Juan, a city of 500,000 in western Argentina, on Sunday, November 24th. Seventeen thousand women attended the 28th annual National Meeting of Women, a feminist conference to discuss violence, gender issues and abortion rights. Then, as has become a custom since at least 2008 following the conference, many participants took to the streets to rampage and attack the local churches. 
Only 500 feminists tried to storm a cathedral in Podomos, Argentina following last year’s National Women’s Conference. At 7,000 this year, the violence is growing. Knowing what was coming, some 1,500 faithful turned out to defend San Juan’s cathedral from invasion and damage. Men linked arms in a ring outside, while another 700 people prayed inside. A priest led exorcism prayers before the rioting protestors turned up. The video shows topless women gyrating in lesbian sex acts, drawing Nazi symbols on the men’s faces, molesting them, spitting and chanting: “To the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, who wants to get between our sheets, we say that we want to be whores, transvestites and lesbians. Legal abortion in every hospital.” Throughout the entire clip, the men stand like a stone wall and quietly pray the rosary. Not one demonstrator got inside.

The ‘new evangelism’ at work 

The video, posted by pro-life websites, has now been viewed at least 400,000 times and has elicited thousands of comments, many of them noting the “satanic” behavior of the abortion activists, and commending the men for their imperturbable restraint.

In a remarkable interview with LifeSiteNews, one of the men who defended San Juan’s cathedral, Oscar Campillay, told how during the two-hour ordeal he felt there “was something inhuman there, almost diabolic, that made one shudder.” But, he said, he decided to look in the eyes of a girl whose face was covered while she was assaulting him and to pray for her. “There was an instant in which our eyes met and we each held our gaze firmly,” he said. “Suddenly she became calm and quiet; slowly she uncovered her face and looked at me, and withdrew in silence away from the crowd.”

5 “Marks” of a Catholic Family—(My response to the Extraordinary Synod Survey Part II)

(This is Part II of the summary of my response to the Preparatory Document for the Extraordinary Synod.  For Part I, go here) In part 1 of this series, I looked at the challenge of articulating the uniquely Catholic vision of family life that is spelled out in documents like Gaudium et Spes,  Familiaris Consortio, [Read More...]

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – Dec. 11, 2013

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on December 11
4:00 – Evangelii Gaudium: Pope Francis the Revolutionary
According to George Weigel, the first nine months of the pontificate of Pope Francis have often resembled a gigantic Rorschach test in which various commentators inside and outside the Catholic Church have “seen” their dreams and fears realized. Alas, what has been “seen” has often had little to do with the record of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as priest and bishop or with his most consequential decisions as Pope. Those projections reached fever pitch with the publication on Tuesday of Francis’ first apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), which was celebrated, or lamented, as if it were an Occupy Whatever position paper for a G-8 summit. Instead, the papal document should be read and appreciated for what it manifestly is: a clarion call for a decisive shift in the Catholic Church’s self-understanding, in full continuity with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. George joins us to make his case.
4:20 – Former Ambassadors: Obama’s call to close Vatican embassy is ‘slap in the face’ to Roman Catholics
Plans to move the U.S. embassy to the Vatican onto the grounds of the larger American embassy to Italy, though in a separate building and with a distinct entrance, are drawing fire from five former American envoys despite the tacit consent of the Vatican itself. Justified primarily on the grounds of enhanced security, the move is drawing fire from former Vatican Ambassadors James Nicholson, Francis Rooney, Mary Ann Glendon, Raymond Flynn, and Thomas Melady. Ambassador Flynn is here to explain his objections.
4:30 – U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Landmark Hobby Lobby Case
The U.S. Supreme Court last week agreed to take up two challenges to the HHS Mandate, one of which is Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions. We talk to Lori Windham, an attorney with the Beckett Fund which filed this case.
4:40 – The Philosophy of “The Hunger Games”
With the amazing success of the film The Hunger Games: The Girl on Fire over the last week, we talk about the Philosophy of the books – and now the movies. Katniss Everdeen is “the girl who was on fire,” but she is also the girl who made us think, dream, question authority, and rebel. The post-apocalyptic world of Panem’s twelve districts is a divided society on the brink of war and struggling to survive, while the Capitol lives in the lap of luxury and pure contentment. At every turn in the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss, Peeta, Gale, and their many allies wrestle with harrowing choices and ethical dilemmas that push them to the brink. Co-editor of The Hunger Games and Philosophy, George Dunn, joins us.
5:00 – Kresta Comments: Pope Francis Named TIME Magazine “Person of the Year. Why?
5:40 – Being Single During the Christmas Season

Christmas can often be a difficult for singles. It can feel very lonely when it feels like everyone around you is dating or married. How do you deal with that? At Christmas Eve dinner, there is always that Aunt who asks: “when are you going to get married already?” How can you stay joyful at Christmas when you are single? Mary Beth Bonacci is here to answer these questions and more.

Are Catholic Families Really Any Different? Should We Be? (Some Points from My Response to the 2014 Extraordinary Synod– Part I)

Recently, I was asked by my bishop to provide a response to the survey in preparation for the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family.  Many of the questions in that document have to do with the faithful’s awareness of the practical significance of the Church’s unique vision of marriage and family life as articulated in [Read More...]

You’re Just Not as Awesome as You Think. Fostering A Healthier Take on “Self-Esteem”

It might surprise you coming from a mental health professional, but I’m not a big fan of “self-esteem.”  Not that I want anyone to feel badly about themselves.  It’s just that what most people think of as “self-esteem”  (i.e., telling a child that  he is awesome just because he managed to draw breath without tripping over his [Read More...]

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 9, 2013

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on December 9
4:00 – Study of 36 Chinese Abortion-Breast Cancer Studies a “Game Changer”
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 36 Chinese studies by Dr. Yubei Huang and his colleagues in the prestigious journal, Cancer Causes Control, last week reported a significant 44% increased breast cancer risk among women with at least one induced abortion, compared to women without induced abortions.  Huang’s team cited and supports a 1996 review and meta-analysis, led by Joel Brind, Ph.D. and colleagues at Penn State, who found a 30% risk elevation for women with any history of induced abortions. We talk to Dr. Brind about his long-time fight to get the medical community to recognize the abortion – breast cancer link.
4:20 – More of the Holy Spirit: How to Keep the Fire Burning in Our Hearts
In the last forty years, many Catholics have experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives that resulted in a new passion for God and a zeal for spreading the gospel. In addition to a newfound love of prayer, Scripture, and the Eucharist, many have been blessed with the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues and healing. Yet as the years go by, many often experience a waning of the gifts of the Spirit as well as a luke-warmness creeping into their lives. What can we do to keep that fire for God, which may have been ignited many years ago, burning brightly in our hearts? Sr. Ann Shields is here to tell us.

5:00 – Kresta Comments

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception / The Finalists for
TIME Magazine “Person of the Year” / Remembering Nelson Mandela / The Most Post-Christian Cities

A New Jesuit Saint Before Christmas

Blessed Peter Faber, S.J.
By Kathy Schiffer
Any day now, Pope Francis is expected to issue a papal bull decreeing that Peter Faber, companion of St. Ignatius and co-founder of the Society of Jesus, is a saint.  No date for the canonization has been announced; but it is predicted that it will occur before Christmas.
The process for the canonization, according to the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, will be what is called “equivalent canonization”—that is, a canonization when the Pope omits the customary judicial process and ceremonies involved, and simply decrees that the servant of God should be venerated in the Universal Church.  Equivalent canonization is an appropriate process for cases in which the holy person has, over a long period of time, been the object of veneration; when his or her heroic virtues (or martyrdom) and miracles are related by reliable historians; and when the fame of his miraculous intercession is uninterrupted.
According to Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, writing in La Stampa:

The process for his cause in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is complete and now all that remains is for Francis to issue the Bull of Canonization that will proclaim the first companion of St. Ignatius a saint, extending the cult of the soon-to-be-saint to the Universal Church.

Faber was born in the Upper Savoy region of France in 1506 and died in Rome in 1547 just a few weeks before he was due to attend the Council of Trent. He was beatified in September 1872 with a Papal Rescript issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and ratified by the Society of Jesus. Now Francis is extending the liturgical cult to the Universal Church.

Faber’s canonization is of particular interest because the Jesuit is, according to Tornielli, “a model of spirituality and priestly life for the current successor of Peter.  At the same time, he is an important reference point for understanding the Pope’s leadership style.”
Faber lived in the sixteenth century, in a time when the unity of the Church was being threatened. He mostly avoided the doctrinal disputes which were going on around him, focusing instead on reform of the Church, becoming a pioneer of ecumenism.
Pope Francis spoke about Faber in his famous interview with Fr. Antonio Spadaro for the Jesuit journal Civiltà Cattolica, revealing some key aspects of the priest as a figure:

“[His] dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents; his simple piety, a certain naïveté perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving.”

USCCB President Archbishop Kurtz Applauds Pope’s Decision to Establish Commission for Protection of Minors

Every effort must be made to protect children
Broad-based approach to problem is welcome
U.S. bishops have made great strides but still more to be done
December 5, 2013
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed the decision of Pope Francis to establish a commission on the protection of minors. The move was urged by the Council of Cardinals, an advisory group to the pope that met at the Vatican, December 3-5. Archbishop Kurtz praised the effort in a December 5 statement.
The statement follows.
The decision of Pope Francis to establish a commission for the protection of minors is a most welcome initiative. Abuse of minors is a sin and a crime, and every step must be taken to eradicate this blight. Such abuse is especially grave when committed by anyone in ministry in our Church.
The problem of sexual abuse of minors exists throughout society and every effort must be made to protect children, particularly within the Church.
The announcement of this initiative reflects a broad-based approach that considers changes in Vatican procedures in dealing with clerics accused of abuse, seminary training for future priests, and other pastoral efforts to address this horrific problem. This international effort is particularly welcome as we have come to learn that this tragedy affects many, if not all, parts of the world.
As president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I promise full cooperation of the U.S. bishops with this commission and look forward to more information on its implementation. In the United States, we have learned of the importance of background checks, education of children and adults on child safety, the swift removal of offenders, and the need for the Church and civil authorities to work together. While these efforts have resulted in a dramatic reduction in abuse cases, much work remains to be done.
Our prayers are with Pope Francis and this commission, and we are grateful for this effort.
December 5, 2013
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