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  • Gay group attacks first amendment

    via the Catholic League

    Bill Donohue comments on the Human Rights Campaign:

    The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is ill-named: it is a gay rights group that often disrespects the human rights of those with whom it disagrees. Its latest burst of intolerance occurred yesterday when it attacked David Tyree, the New York Giants’ hero in the 2007 Super Bowl. HRC president Chad Griffin blasted the Giants for hiring Tyree as its Director of Player Development.

    Tyree’s sin? He believes, as does most of the world, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. He also believes that homosexuals can change their identity; he knows men who have. His sentiments are grounded in his religious convictions. Anyone is free to disagree with him, but to condemn a man for espousing such positions shows contempt for his twin First Amendment rights: freedom of speech and freedom of religion. In short, it is un-American.

    The attempt to silence public figures for espousing traditional beliefs on sexuality is gaining momentum in the gay activist community. It must be resisted, especially by people of faith. It would never occur to me, as the president of the Catholic League, to fire off a statement condemning the hiring of an athlete who shared HRC’s views.

    Griffin is particularly exercised over Tyree’s belief that sexual orientation can change. But many gays believe the same. After all, when the LGBT community added a “Q”—as in LGBTQ—they did so to include “Questioning.” Now what is there to question if sexual orientation is fixed? Their logic implodes.

  • Meriam Ibrahim Arrives in Rome, Meets Pope Francis

    via the National Catholic Register

    by Edward Pentin

    Pope Francis received in private audience this afternoon Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who was jailed and sentenced to death by a sharia court in Khartoum for “apostasy” and for marrying a Christian.

    Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters the Pope meriam meets pope“thanked Meriam for her witness to the faith,” adding that she and her family “thanked the Pope for his closeness, prayers and his support, and that of the Church.”

    Their conversation, which was “very calm and affectionate”, also covered the future of women in Sudan. Fr. Lombardi said the Pope wanted their meeting “to be a gesture of closeness to all those who suffer for their faith, lived in difficult situations or with restriction.”

    Meriam and her family spent half an hour with Pope Francis, arriving just before 1pm. The conversation took place in private, in the presence of Coptic Father Yohannis Lahzi Gaid, an official in the papal household who served as a translator. After quarter of an hour, the meeting was expanded to include other members of Meriam’s party, according to Sismografo.

    The 26 year old doctor and her family arrived aboard an Italian government plane at Rome’s Ciampino airport at around 9.30 this morning. She was accompanied from Khartoum by Italy’s deputy foreign minister, Lapo Pistelli.

    Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, was among those present to welcome the Ibrahim family on their arrival. “It’s a day of celebration,” he said.

    Born to a Muslim father and Christian mother, Meriam was jailed and in May sentenced to death by a Sudanese court, accused of converting from Islam to Christianity. She was also charged with committing adultery since her marriage to a Christian cannot be recognised under sharia law.

    Forced to give birth to a baby girl while in shackles, Meriam has said she never came close to renouncing her faith.

    Her treatment caused an international outcry, leading to her eventual release. Meriam and her family now plan to travel to the United States. Her husband Daniel lives part of the year in New Hampshire.

    ***

    The Holy See has released the following statement:

    Pope Francis Receives Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag and her family

    This afternoon at 1:00 p.m.. at Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis received Mrs. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, the Sudanese Christian woman who had been imprisoned for the past few months in Sudan. She was accompanied by her husband Daniel Wani and her two young children, Martin who is 18 months old and Maya who was born in prison two months ago.

    The family was accompanied by Lapo Pistelli, Italian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs who had traveled to Sudan yesterday to finalize her release and to accompany Meriam and her family to Italy where they are preparing to emigrate to the United States.

    The meeting with Pope Francis lasted for a little less than half an hour and took place in spirit of affection.  The Pope thanked Meriam and her family for their courageous witness and constancy of faith. For her part, Meriam expressed gratitude to the Pope for the great support and comfort she received from his prayers and from so many others believers of good will.

    Monsignor Yohannis Gaid, personal secretary of the Pope served as interpreter for the meeting.  At the end of the meeting, Pope Francis greeted the members of the Italian government who accompanied Meriam and her family on their trip to Italy.

    With this gesture, Pope Francis desired to show his closeness, attention and prayer also to all those who suffer for their faith, in particular to Christians who are enduring persecution or limitations imposed upon their religious freedom.

  • Kresta in the Afternoon – July 23, 2014 – Hour 1

    Kresta in the Afternoon – July 23, 2014 – Hour 1

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative

    • Description: Once a liberal writer and thinker, Michael Novak is here to shows how Providence (not deliberate choice) placed him in the middle of many crucial events of his time: a month in wartime Vietnam, the student riots of the 1960s, the Reagan revolution, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton's welfare reform, and the struggles for human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also spent fascinating days, sometimes longer, with inspiring leaders like Sargent Shriver, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Jack Kemp, Václav Havel, President Reagan, Lady Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II, who helped shape—and reshape—his political views. Through it all, his focus on helping the poor and defending universal human rights remained constant; he gradually came to see building small businesses and envy-free democracies as the only realistic way to build free societies. Without economic growth from the bottom up, democracies are not stable. Without protections for liberties of conscience and economic creativity, democracies will fail. Free societies need three liberties in one: economic liberty, political liberty, and liberty.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Michael Novak
        Author of more than twenty-five books, including The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, winner of Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
      • Resources:
        • Book(s):
          • Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative
            Buy this resource now. Click here to purchase.

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative (continued)

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative (continued)

  • Kresta in the Afternoon–July 22, 2014–Hour 2

    Kresta in the Afternoon–July 22, 2014–Hour 2

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love

    • Description: Before he was the world’s foremost Catholic biographer, Joseph Pearce was a leader of the National Front, a British-nationalist, white-supremacist group. Before he published books highlighting and celebrating the great Catholic cultural tradition, he disseminated literature extolling the virtues of the white race, and calling for the banishment of all non-whites from Britain. Pearce and his cohorts were at the center of the racial and nationalist tensions—often violent—that swirled around London in the late-1970s and early 80s. A one-year prison term spurred a sea change in his life. He is here to talk about it.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Joseph Pearce
        Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College in Tennessee, renowned Catholic biographer, co-editor of St. Austin Review
      • Resources:
        • Book(s):
          • Race With the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love
            Buy this resource now. Click here to purchase.

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love (continued)

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love (continued)

  • Islam’s Religious Exemption From Criticism

    via Crisis Magazine

    by William Kilpatrick

    William KilpatrickDuring the financial crisis of 2008, one of the pressing questions of the day had to do with whether or not various giant corporations—AIG, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, GM, and others—were too big to fail. The consensus among policymakers at the time was that these companies had to be bailed out by the government, or else the global economy would collapse with them.

    A similar question can be raised with regard to Islam. Is it too big to fail? Would its collapse bring chaos in its wake? Judging from their behavior, most policymakers seem heavily invested in Islam’s survival. Their reasoning goes roughly as follows: Islam is a religion; religion is a stabilizing force in society; therefore, the flourishing of Islam is vital to the stability of the Muslim world. Hence, the consensus view is (and has been for a long time) that it is desirable to prop up Islam and provide bailouts when needed.

    The bailouts come in the form of financial and military aid to various governments in the Muslim world. The assistance also comes in the form of “vouchers” for Islam’s good character: assurances by world leaders that Islam is a peaceful religion, assurances by religious leaders that it is a model of interfaith tolerance, and assurances by educators that “jihad” is an interior spiritual struggle. Keeping Islam afloat has become such a high priority that Western critics of Islam often find themselves facing fines or even jail time. In most of Europe, you can safely wave a “Behead Those Who Insult Islam” poster in the face of a policeman, but if you are a non-Muslim and you observe that Islamic law allows for beheadings, you’ll be standing before a magistrate the next day on hate crime charges. For his own part, the President of the United States vowed to protect the good name of Islam from “negative stereotypes.”

    Initially, the moral support went to Islam, and the financial and military support went to Muslim governments—many of which were not particularly religious. That changed with the Obama administration. The policy all along had been to support moderate, stabilizing governments, but with the advent of the new administration, the definition of “moderate” underwent a change. On the assumption that religion makes for moderation, the more religious factions—such as the Muslim Brotherhood—were now assumed to be the more moderate ones. Consequently, the Obama administration threw its support behind the Muslim Brotherhood and Muslim Brotherhood-type groups who were attempting to overthrow secular governments in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Syria. Likewise, the administration strongly supported the rule of Recep Erdogan in Turkey, even though Erdogan was in the process of transforming Turkey from a stable, secular state to an Islamic state.

    Moderate? It doesn’t look that way now. As it turned out, the U.S.-backed Islamists quickly proved themselves far less adept at stabilizing their countries than the regimes they replaced. Whatever their drawbacks, the secular, authoritarian rulers appear, in hindsight, to have been the more moderating force; and one of the ways they maintained stability was by keeping Islam in check. They acted as a restraining force on the more violent manifestations of Islam with the result that Christians and other minorities enjoyed relative security.

    One of the primary arguments for providing life support to Islam is that it’s a stabilizing force in the Middle East and elsewhere. But if that’s not the case, should we still want Islam to succeed? If Islam is a destabilizing force, wouldn’t the world be better off without it? And since Muslims are the primary victims of Islamic violence, wouldn’t they also be better off without it? This is not to suggest that we should consider going to war against Islam, but that we should consider withdrawing the support that keeps it viable.

    Let’s draw an analogy to another globe-spanning ideology—communism. Take the case of Soviet-bloc communism. Should we have wanted it to succeed or fail? Considering the oppressive nature of communism, it’s surprising how many in the West had mixed feelings about the question. Many Western elites had the same attitude toward Soviet-bloc communism as they do today toward Islam. Like Islam, Soviet communism also seemed permanent—an inevitable force of history with which, it seemed, we had to come to terms. Western apologists for communism were willing to grant that Soviet communism had its faults, but that was because it was a misinterpretation of true communism. It needed reform, yes, but the basic model was sound. Yet, for all its Western cheerleaders, Soviet communism did fail, and it failed in large part because Western leaders stopped making accommodations with communist ideology (as they had during the Carter administration) and began to challenge it instead.

    The analogy to Soviet communism limps, however, in one crucial respect. Soviet communism was not a religion. In fact, many attributed the evils of communism to its godless nature. As with the Nazi threat which preceded it, communism was perceived to be a political, not a religious, movement. Although Hitler tried to revive pagan-Teutonic mythology and although Stalin encouraged a religious-like cult of personality around himself, no one in the West thought of Nazism or communism as legitimate expressions of religion.

    It’s a different story with Islam. Islam is looking more and more like a world-threatening ideology, but it is more immune to criticism than either Nazism or communism because it is a recognized and long-established religion. To challenge it is to court charges of anti-religious bigotry. In addition, something in our conscience makes us reluctant to reprove a fellow religion.

    We are conditioned to have a favorable view of religion—especially other people’s religion. It somehow doesn’t seem right to contemplate Islam’s failure. To get around this difficulty, some critics of Islam contend that it is nothing but a political ideology and ought to be labeled as such. But this rebranding effort is a difficult sell because, by most standard definitions of the term, Islam does qualify as a religion. To most people, moreover, it certainly looks like a religion. The pagan-like symbols and ceremonies of the Nazis were clearly ersatz, but the same can’t be said of the centuries-old observances of Muslims. When people prostrate themselves in prayer five times a day, it’s hard to make the case that what they’re doing is nothing more than a power play.

    Read More

  • Why Leisure is the Remedy for Sloth

    via Crisis Magazine

    by Dusty Gates

    dusty gatesSummer is ripe with possibilities for activity. More daylight, warm temperatures, and, at least for those who benefit from the break afforded by the academic calendar, more free time. This is an opportunity for many good things, but also can be a perfect petri dish for the germination and growth of sloth in our lives. When we are given prime conditions for discretionary activity, we can choose either to use it for proper leisure or to squander it in idleness; either wasting time doing nothing or by busying ourselves with things that don’t need done in the first place.

    Sloth is perhaps the least understood of all the capital sins, and perhaps the most understated in terms of gravity. The capital sins are called such not necessarily because of their particular offensiveness to God, but primarily because of their capability to serve as gateways to all the other sins. Sloth is commonly misinterpreted as mere laziness or lack of activity, but to define it this way is to look at only one of its possible manifestations while saying nothing of its nature. Truly sloth can just as easily be, and is perhaps more commonly, characterized by hyperactivity than by underactivity. We tend to define it incorrectly because we have been conditioned by our mechanical and material culture to believe that progress is synonymous with motion; that accomplishment is the same thing as action. For this reason, we live in a world full of motion and action but which is, despite and even because of this extreme usage of productive energy, decidedly slothful.

    Leisure is the remedy for sloth. Leisure is, perhaps paradoxically, the leisure
    antithesis of both sloth and labor. A leisurely person is the opposite of a lazy one, and is also the opposite of a work addict. To be leisurely is to freely choose to engage in efforts dedicated not to the pursuit of financial compensation (which is the goal of servile labor), but to pursue the more lofty goals of life which truly benefit those engaged in them and the cultures in which they live. Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler described this type of activity in The Capitalist Manifesto (1958) when they wrote that “leisure, properly conceived as the main content of a free, as opposed to a servile, life, consists in activities which are neither toil nor play, but are rather the expressions of moral and intellectual virtue—the things a good man does because they are intrinsically good for him and for his society, making him better as a man and advancing the civilization in which he lives.”

    The pursuit of leisure has been esteemed by philosophers throughout the ages as something praiseworthy, precisely because it is not, to them, the same thing as merely doing nothing. According to Kelso and Adler, “leisure is misconceived as idleness, vacationing (which involves vacancy), play, recreation, relaxation, diversion, amusement, and so on. If leisure were that, it would never have been regarded by anyone except a child or a childish adult as something morally better than socially useful work.” In other words, if we are just going to waste our free time, we would be better off working.

    By restoring leisure, we restore mankind to his proper place before God as recipient and steward of his good gifts, to be cultivators and co-creators with him. For this purpose, the Church obliges us to set aside one day of each week, for the sake of what will be accomplished on that sacred day as well as for the ability of that day to set the tone for the rest of our week and in fact our entire lives. The Catechism reminds us that “Human life has a rhythm of work and rest” (2184), and that “God’s action is the model for human action. If God rested and was refreshed on the seventh day, man too ought to rest and should let others, especially the poor, be refreshed. The Sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money” (2172).

    Rest is required in order to restore our powers to do productive work, but this is not the primary purpose of the sort of rest associated with leisure. In his celebrated work Leisure: the Basis of Culture (1958), Josef Pieper wrote that “no one who looks to leisure simply to restore his working powers will ever discover the fruit of leisure; he will never know the quickening that follows, almost as though from some deep sleep.” When it is being sought only as a temporary respite from work ordered towards more efficient future labor, it ceases to be leisure. Periodic rest, in the Sabbath tradition, enables us to persist successfully not only in our servile labors, but more importantly to fruitfully perform the works of leisure. Kelso and Adler note that “play, like sleep, washes away the fatigue and tensions that result from the serious occupations of life, all the forms of labor which produce the goods of civilization … since the activities of leisure can be as exacting and tiring as the activities of toil, some form of relaxation, whether sleep or play or both, is required by those who work productively.”

    The philosophers of the Middle Ages understood well that sloth manifested itself as “leisurelessness”: the inability to enjoy or even take part in leisure. This idleness, caused by sloth, is what gives us the mentality that work, even for only its own sake, is always a good thing. This modern overemphasis on work creates not only a sort of idolatry in itself, in which productivity becomes a god, on a more basic level it prevents man from doing those things which truly make him a man in the first place. As Pieper reminds us, “idleness, in the medieval view, means that a man prefers to forgo the rights, or if you prefer the claims, that belong to his nature.” The slothful man either shies away from all effort and concern, reduced to a lethargic state of indifference, or occupies himself with any number of distractions, many of which may require great effort and even result in great productivity, in order to avoid his truly human tasks. The latter case is the modern one, and to me the far more harmful possibility. Few people would be proud of a life doing nothing, but many would be satisfied with a life of activity and accomplishment, failing to evaluate their purpose and legacy.

    Read More

  • Messages from God along the Freeway

    via Catholic Convert

    Here’s something fun for your Wednesday afternoon: Messages from God along the freeway.
    messages from God

  • Today on “Kresta in the Afternoon”–July 23

    Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on July 23, 2014

    4:00 – Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative


    Once a liberal writer and thinker, Michael Novak is here to shows how Providence (not deliberate choice) placed him in the middle of many crucial events of his time: a month in wartime Vietnam, the student riots of the 1960s, the Reagan revolution, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton’s welfare reform, and the struggles for human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also spent fascinating days, sometimes longer, with inspiring leaders like Sargent Shriver, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Jack Kemp, Václav Havel, President Reagan, Lady Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II, who helped shape—and reshape—his political views. Through it all, his focus on helping the poor and defending universal human rights remained constant; he gradually came to see building small businesses and envy-free democracies as the only realistic way to build free societies. Without economic growth from the bottom up, democracies are not stable. Without protections for liberties of conscience and economic creativity, democracies will fail. Free societies need three liberties in one: economic liberty, political liberty, and liberty

     

    5:00- Race With the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love

    Before he was the world’s foremost Catholic biographer, Joseph Pearce was a leader of the National Front, a British-nationalist, white-supremacist group. Before he published books highlighting and celebrating the great Catholic cultural tradition, he disseminated literature extolling the virtues of the white race, and calling for the banishment of all non-whites from Britain. Pearce and his cohorts were at the center of the racial and nationalist tensions—often violent—that swirled around London in the late-1970s and early 80s. A one-year prison term spurred a sea change in his life. He is here to talk about it.

  • Video: A Catholic Response to “Are You Born Again?”

    Steve Ray, a Protestant convert to Catholicism, explains how to respond when Protestants ask if you are “born again.”

    via Franciscan University of Steubenville

  • How to Forgive when I can’t Forget

    via Catholic Lane

    by Patti Armstrong

    While many people believe forgetting an injury is part of forgiveness, Fr. Justin Waltz, pastor of St. Leo’s Church in Minot, ND, suggested just the opposite during a retreat he gave. In fact, he stated that forgetting is not even possible. “The only type of forgetting I have heard of is stuffing,” he said during a retreat presentation and added, “The hurt is not gone, it is just buried deep within.”

    Since forgetting is not an option given our memories, Waltz said that God forgivenesshas provided an even better remedy—the divine transformation of a resurrection within our souls. He pointed out that Christ himself retained the wounds of his crucifixion. “Had he wanted to, Jesus could have healed his body so completely that even the scars did not exist,” he explained. “Christ is not ashamed of these scars, rather he wears them as his testament to his victory over sin and death.”

    Transforming Pain

    By keeping the scars, he said that Jesus taught us some great truths about suffering. Christ suffered a brutal and humiliating death but resurrected while retaining the scars. Since he has gone before us, Waltz explained that through faith in God, we can trust that nothing is beyond his healing, no matter how deep or how painful.  “God goes beyond forgetting. He transforms us and brings us out of the tomb into the light of the resurrection, not only healed but victorious.”

    Waltz stated that God’s healing begins with faith in him to heal all things. “Just for a moment, imagine what sort of life and power would be unleashed in your heart if you allowed God to transform your pain into victory,” he said.

    He laid out some of the essentials for recovering from hurts. Regarding those that struggle with the concept of a loving God, he explained that God does not desire our suffering, but it is a fallen world. “God created free will and when he did, this, he tied his hands,” Waltz explained.  Through human free will, sin and death entered the world. “But in every circumstance that evil occurs, God has created an out, even death in which he has created a place where there is no death, pain or suffering,” he said.

    “Forgiving God really comes down to not holding God responsible for something that he did not do.  When we do this, we allow God to do the very thing that God does best–set us free from the pain.”  Waltz said to recall that God shows us only love and mercy even to the extent of sending his only son to suffer for our sins and save us.

    Whatever the pain we want to overcome, Waltz pointed out that part of the transformation that can happen is when people use their pain, regardless of whether it came from others or their own bad choices, as a good to help others. He used the example of speaker Carroll Everett who came to Bishop Ryan High School and shared with the students that her life took a dark turn after she had an abortion. She began abusing alcohol, her marriage fell apart and she started working in the abortion business. After her conversion, she was transformed and now uses her past to speak out for life and help others to heal.

    Those who have suffered pain are usually the ones most effective in helping others overcome the same pain. Waltz cautioned, however, that before the transformation, people need to forgive themselves. “The remedy for forgiving ourselves simply lies in allowing Christ’s mercy and forgiveness to conquer our self-regret and self hatred. It’s as if he reaches into our very hearts and pulls us out of ourselves and into his life. Then, who are we to accuse what he has forgiven?”

    Finding Peace Little by Little

    After the resurrection and before his ascension, Jesus gave us the gift of peace, “Peace be with you.” (John 14:27). According to Waltz, it is that peace that people can find through forgiveness. He said that forgiveness does not mean forgetting and nor does it mean necessarily reconciling in all cases when we must forgive others. Instead, he explained that forgiveness of others means removing the debt they owe us.

    In the Gospel of Matthew18: 23-35 the parable of the unforgiving servant shows that forgiveness means removing a debt—that we no longer hold a person’s debt against them.  In the story, a servant is forgiven a large debt but then he goes out and refuses to forgive a smaller debt. Thus, just as Christ died for the forgiveness of our sins—a very large debt–we must forgive others.

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