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Is There Room, for Sarah?

First Things
monet

In his remarks to the press this past Sunday, following the release of Antonio Spadaro’s broad-ranging and inspiring interview with Pope Francis, New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan called the pope’s pronouncements “a breath of fresh air” and added, “He’s a great relief to all of us.

I have felt it, too: relief. Pope Francis has redefined no dogma, changed no doctrine; he has done little more, actually, than change the tone of the voice of Rome, and yet that tonal adjustment has allowed an exhalation that feels like a sigh of completion. Amid a Church that has held its breath for decades while traipsing the wire between a pre- and post-concillar understanding of itself, this feels like we have finally reached the other side. As I read the profoundly pastoral Spadaro interview, though, I kept wishing my friend Sarah could read it, too.

I never met Sarah; ours was one of those modern online friendships defined by two people who never reside in the same time zone, yet—thanks to the combox and email—become intimate, devoted friends. She was a Lutheran, a scholar, a veteran who served twenty years in the military and then took up accounting, and she wrote the most fascinating, informative missives. When I mentioned that I was considering purchasing a handgun, Sarah gave me serious advice about what weapon might best suit me and also sent along images of handbags suitable for gun-carrying. When I was slow to make my purchase she hectored me about it, because, in her considered opinion, self-sufficient, firearms-proficient women could civilize the whole world in a week.

I loved her. She was kind and funny, and generous; the sort of person who is aware of her own shortcomings and therefore quick to give everyone else the benefit of a doubt. Although a Lutheran, she loved the Rosary and prayed the beads every night along with a podcast recording I had made of each mystery. She read, and loved, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Edith Stein, and also Pope Benedict XVI, with whom she identified, calling him “undervalued.” Still, she declared she could never convert because “the church wouldn’t have me, as I am.”

By which she meant, as a post-operative, transgendered woman.

Read the rest at: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/09/is-there-room-for-sarah

Fair, truthful look at opposing arguments


MIKE AQUILINA

Book Review

"Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism's 21st-Century Opponents," by Al Kresta. Our Sunday Visitor, 2013 (www.osv.com; 800-348-2440). 304 pages. $14.95.

When I was very young, I toured a newsroom, and I remember seeing a card at someone's desk. It read: "Is it true? Is it kind?"

Those questions have always summed up the profession of journalism for me. Honesty and charity are defining qualities of the best in the business.

They define Al Kresta, and they shine throughout his new book, "Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism's 21st-Century Opponents" (Our Sunday Visitor).

Kresta is a veteran broadcast journalist and host of the daily "Kresta in the Afternoon" talk show, which airs on more than 220 stations as well as on Sirius satellite radio.

His fans (I confess, I am one) wait upon his wit and pithy, memorable phrases. They will not be disappointed by "Dangers to the Faith," and I suspect their numbers will swell.

It is an eminently useful book, addressing challenges to the Catholic faith most commonly encountered in the media, in the classroom and in the workplace. Kresta presents the charges, almost always in the words of those making the charge, and then he provides the Catholic response. Many of the charges are based on misunderstandings, urban legends or bigotry, and Kresta is expert at exposing these for what they are.

What makes him especially effective, though, is that he manages to do this in a way that's always fair, always kind and scrupulously truthful.

The key, I think, is that he looks to the source of the charges and sees "opponents," not "enemies."
"This is a work about opponents to the Catholic faith," he writes. "We owe it to them, as a mark of decency and common humanity, to represent their positions in ways that they would recognize as fair and accurate." Then he follows through. He assumes good will. He goes not for the jugular, but for conversion. Some of the opponents come off looking quite virtuous, if badly mistaken.

"Dangers" is structured as a handbook, easily browsed to find quick answers to the zinger someone threw at you today. Why did the Catholic Church brutally suppress all but the four canonical Gospels? Why is the Catholic Church opposed to genetic research? What does the pope have against science?....

Read the rest at: http://diopitt.org/pittsburgh-catholic/fair-truthful-look-opposing-arguments

Papa Francis, The Prodigal, and “the Good Son.”

How do you feel about Pope Francis’ style? I’ve been praying a lot about my reactions to Pope Francis as well the reactions I have read from my fellow Catholic culture warriors.    I have friends–sometimes of the more liberal persuasion (but not all)–who think Pope Francis is an incredible breath of fresh air.  I have other friends–usually [Read More...]

Pope condemns abortion in strongest pro-life comments to date, day after controversial interview

Fri Sep 20, 2013 09:50 EST
 
ROME, September 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a meeting with Catholic gynaecologists this morning Pope Francis strongly condemned abortion as a manifestation of a “throwaway culture.”

"Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world," the pope said.

The comments come one day after the release of an in-depth interview in which the Pope had explained that despite criticism he has avoided speaking about moral issues like abortion and gay “marriage” in his papacy, instead focusing on preaching about the love of Christ.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” Pope Francis had said in remarks that were widely interpreted as a call for Church leaders to downplay the Church’s moral teachings on controversial issues.

"I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that," the Pope had explained. "But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."

In response to that interview the United State’s largest abortion advocacy organization, NARAL Pro-Choice America, even posted an image thanking the pope for his comments on their Facebook and Twiter pages. But NARAL’s celebrations were cut short by today’s blunt remarks by the Pope, in which he urged doctors to respect life "from the first instant of conception."

Read the rest here: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-condemns-abortion-in-strongest-pro-life-comments-to-date-day-after-con

Go Home New York Times, You’re Drunk

Friday, September 20, 2013 3:08 PM
"The Times said what?!"

So apparently The New York Times is so beside itself over Pope Francis' epic interview yesterday, it can't decide what it wants to say about it.

In fact, in less than 24 hours, it seems there've been at least three different headlines for the same story: an inflammatory headline, a more moderate one, and then a crazy, go-for-broke moonbat insane headline.

The original headline (still preserved in the article URL) was bad enough:

Pope Bluntly Faults Church's Focus on Gays and Abortion

After that, for some reason, in an apparent fit of moderation, a more accurate headline was substituted:

Pope, Criticizing Narrow Focus, Calls for Church as 'Home for All'

Well, of course that wouldn't do. At this writing, the current headline—apparently the one that ran in the print edition—is more ludicrously over the top than the original:

Pope Says Church Is 'Obsessed' With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control

That’s not all. The lede has changed too.

In at least some previous version the story claimed that the pope said the Church has “grown ‘obsessed’ with a limited agenda and that it should seek a ‘new balance’ to make it more welcoming.”

Now, though, the lede is much more explicit about that “limited agenda”: The pope now says that the Church has “grown ‘obsessed’ with abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he had chosen not to talk about those issues despite recriminations from critics.”

Well. Clearly someone’s obsessed with abortion, gay marriage and contraception. But I don’t think it’s the Church.


Read the rest: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/steven-greydanus/go-home-new-york-times-youre-drunk#ixzz2fUU8jM5M

Let’s not just talk about sex — what Pope Francis really said

 
Not everything in the world is about sex and politics. That message may take the New York Times a few more homilies and interviews with Pope Francis to understand.

The Catholic Church – or at least those preachers and teachers who are outspoken on matters concerning human sexuality, especially when catechetical discussions are turned into clashes in the public square for political or cultural reasons – is often accused of being obsessed with sex. But the obsession might just be the media’s.

Consider, for instance the wide-ranging interview given by Pope Francis that has just been published in several Jesuit publications, including America magazine here in the United States. It is over 10,000 words. A few paragraphs involve homosexuality and abortion. And yet homosexuality and abortion were what the New York Times chose to lead their news report on the interview with.

The interview is Pope Francis’s first extensive public conversation since becoming pope about his own vocational call to serve God – for example, we are told that Jorge Mario Bergoglio considered joining the Dominicans, and why he needs the discipline of the religious life. He further explains why he as pope has chosen to live at the Vatican’s guest house: His desire for community. (He explains that the papal apartment is not luxurious, but it is isolated.)

The interview gives some context to his daily pleas to the faithful and, as we saw in his letter to the G-20 and four-hour prayer vigil for peace earlier this month, to every man and woman in the world. It is reintroducing what some refer to as the project of the New Evangelization, and with the most inviting, non-jargony language.

Francis talks about the Church as a “field hospital after battle.” He talks about the need for the church “to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.” He says: “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up.”

Many people are interpretating this interview -- along with the interview the pope gave on his plane ride back to Rome from Rio after praying with some three million youth in Brazil -- as the pope hitting “reset.”

The metaphor works.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/09/19/lets-not-just-talk-about-sex-what-pope-francis-really-said-to-jesuit/#ixzz2fULkXcsx

The Christ-Centered Pope



The Catholic Church and the world wrestle with an evangelical papacy.


Perhaps the most revealing detail in Pope Francis’s lengthy interview, conducted by the Italian Jesuit Antonio Spadaro and published yesterday in English translation in the Jesuit journal America, is the pontiff’s reflection on one of his favorite Roman walks, prior to his election:

George Weigel 
When I had to come to to Rome, I always stayed in [the neighborhood of the] Via della Scrofa. From there I often visited the Church of St. Louis of France, and I went there to contemplate the painting of “The Calling of St. Matthew” by Caravaggio. That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew. . . . This is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze.
 
The Calling of St. Matthew is an extraordinary painting in many ways, including Caravaggio’s signature use of light and darkness to heighten the spiritual tension of a scene. In this case, though, the chiaroscuro setting is further intensified by a profoundly theological artistic device: The finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew, seems deliberately to invoke the finger of God as rendered by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Thus Caravaggio, in depicting the summons of the tax collector, unites creation and redemption, God the Father and the incarnate Son, personal call and apostolic mission.

That is who Jorge Mario Bergoglio is: a radically converted Christian disciple who has felt the mercy of God in his own life and who describes himself, without intending any dramatic effect, as “a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” Having heard the call to conversion and responded to it, Bergoglio wants to facilitate others’ hearing of that call, which never ceases to come from God through Christ and the Church.

And that, Bergoglio insists, is what the Church is for: The Church is for evangelization and conversion.

Read the rest here: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/359042/christ-centered-pope-george-weigel

Poking the Pope

Standing on My Head
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2013/09/poking-the-pope.html

The Holy Father’s interview published today is the first time we’ve had a chance for an in depth look at the man. One of the frustrating things about his papacy so far is that it has been big on dramatic gestures and small on content. There’s not anything wrong with that. He clearly prefers the off the cuff remark and the spontaneous homily to the careful, well thought out theological treatise. It is also true that he has the style of a prophet, and prophets are good at preaching through dramatic gestures and actions as well as words.

His interview reveals a simple man of the poor–a compassionate and humble man who has people as the heart of his concern. He wishes for a church that is outgoing, creative and risk taking. He wants a gospel that is lived in a compassionate, forgiving and Christ-like manner. He pushes against a Catholicism that is legalistic, puritanical and condemnatory. He wants a church that reaches out to the poor, the rejected and the forgotten. He wants to show a church that loves the sinner.

All this is well and good, but I have some worries. Every pope is both empowered and limited by his own history and culture. Pope Francis is from a generation and a culture which is Catholic. For the most part everyone is Catholic. They understand the basics of Christian morality and the fundamentals of the Christian story and the basic elements of the Catholic faith. Too often, however, that Catholic culture was impeded by a Church that had become overly clericalized, legalistic, condemnatory and hide bound.

Francis’ message to that kind of Catholic culture and that kind of Catholic Church is sharp and necessary. It’s fresh, creative and powerful. He’s basically saying, “Get out of your churchiness and get into the streets. Be with the people and share your faith together and bring Christ to those who have forgotten how to find him in the church.” As such his message is relevant and vital for the Church in South America and Central America where Catholics are being wooed away by Evangelicals who do present a vital, relevant and compassionately involved message.”

Read the rest here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2013/09/poking-the-pope.html

It’s a Great Time to be Catholic in America

al_kresta-125x130
Kresta Commentary
 
September 20, 2013
 
By Al Kresta
 
Dear friends,
 
Because I am on the road today, I wanted to post my continuing reflections on the Pope Francis interview. Continue Reading

U.S., business appeal on birth-control mandate

(UPDATED)  


Posted Thu, September 19th, 2013 2:29 pm

UPDATE 4:28 p.m. The Obama administration has taken its own case to the Supreme Court on the birth-control mandate in the new federal health care law. The petition and appendix, a large file, are here; they were filed Thursday afternoon. The government petition raises only an issue under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, not under the First Amendment. The Tenth Circuit Court had struck down the mandate as applied to the arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, based on RFRA and not on the Constitution. The government petition is docketed as No. 13-354. No number has been assigned yet to the petition described in the post below. (FURTHER UPDATE 6:28 p.m.: The Conestoga petition has now been docketed as 13-356.)
————-
Lawyers for a family-owned woodworking business in Pennsylvania on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to bar the government from requiring the firm to provide birth-control health insurance for its workers, under the new federal health care law. This is the first of multiple cases on the issue that likely will reach the Court out of the sixty-plus cases working their way through lower courts. The new petition (a large file) is here.

The chances are strong that the Court will agree to rule on one or more of the challenges, since federal appeals courts are now split on the question. Moreover, the Obama administration is expected to file its own appeal on the issue, as early as next week.

Read the rest at: http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/09/birth-control-mandate-issue-reaches-court/
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