This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 28 October 2014 – 31 January 2015
The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.
Those who follow Trent’s work, or who have seen this book, know that it’s simply the best book out there on pro-life apologetics. If you want to become more confident and effective at defending the dignity of life, this is definitely the book you want.
NOTE: You do not have to own a Kindle device to read this free book. You can instantly begin reading the book online through Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader, or download their free Kindle apps onto your computer, phone, or tablet.
Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court legalizing abortion on demand throughout pregnancy. The pro-life movement commemorates this day with marches, worship services and lobbying for bills to protect unborn children. Pro-lifers were promised by the Republican leaders they just helped elect and re-elect that the House of Representatives would pass a bill today banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a point after which infants can feel pain and survive if born prematurely.
The legislation has been passed by the House in the previous Congress and is extremely popular in national polling. “One of the clearest messages from Gallup trends,” the polling firm reported, “is that Americans oppose late-term abortion.” A Washington Post/ABC survey showed that 64 percent of Americans favor limiting abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy or earlier. When just women were asked, the figure jumped to 71 percent. Such measures are popular among independents and Americans of various income levels.
Apparently the reason it wasn’t voted on:
Two of the representatives who caused the biggest stink about the bill were Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and Jackie Walorski of Indiana. Last week, Ellmers said she didn’t think it was a good idea to vote on the legislation so early in the session (an argument that makes no sense, but let’s put that aside). Yesterday the women pulled their sponsorship of the bill over what they said were concerns over the rape reporting requirement. And yet here are both women speaking in favor of this exact same legislation two years ago:
These women are claiming to all of a sudden be concerned about the reporting requirement — the requirement that has nearly two-to-one support among voters and the one they had no problem with just a couple of years ago. This reporting requirement would keep late-term abortion doctors like Kermit Gosnell or Leroy Carhart from simply checking a box before going ahead with the procedure. Besides, it’s one thing to seek an exception to abortion laws for victims of rape, and entirely another to think that exception must be extended until the baby exits the birth canal. This bill wouldn’t have a reporting requirement for abortions in the first five months of pregnancy.
In fact, even Democrats who think late-term abortion should be legal with no restrictions didn’t make an issue of the reporting requirement in the last two elections. Last year, support for late-term abortion hurt Democratic candidates. But now Ellmers created a controversy where non existed, hereby handing Democrats a way to fight a broadly popular bill.
This sabotage of the pro-life movement over what may have been a power struggle happens at a time when many pro-life activists have grown weary of being used by the GOP for electoral victory only to be forgotten weeks later when it’s time to vote.
This does not surprise me, disappointed certainly. The purpose of politicians is not policy but to be reelected. Even when we think the way they go about this is contrary to being reelected. So anything they see as a threat to this they will avoid. Especially since often no matter how bad they fulfilled their term, people have short memories and vote for them again.
It also does not surprise me on another level. While I’ll grant that many of them would really want to stop abortion. They often don’t have the philosophical conviction behind this. How many of these people do you think are fully pro-life? That is don’t have any exceptions regarding abortion. That would also object to IVF and to abortafacient drugs. I can’t thinks of any currently in office that believe so or at least admit it in public. Thus they can easily cave on pro-life issues since they don’t really understand the evil of murdering the innocent except in a general way.
Now if I had my limited way I think every such cowardly politician should have a troup of minstrels following them around singing of their cowardly misdeeds.
Brave G O P ran away.
Bravely ran away, away!
When danger reared its ugly head,
They bravely turned their tail and fled.
Yes, brave G O P turned about
And gallantly they chickened out.
Bravely taking to their feet
They beat a very brave retreat,
Bravest of the brave, G O P!
When I first came across Alice Von Hildebrand while watching Mother Angelica Live I was rapidly impressed with her. Her quick wit, intelligence, and common sense was a delight. Since then I have been interested in what she had to say. Around the same time I became acquainted with the works of her late husband Dietrich Von Hildebrand. I have by no means fully dipped into all his works, but I want to go further. His Transformation in Christ is a book I dearly love.
When I read Soul of a Lion I wondered about his later years since the story ends, as I remember, after his escape and ultimately ending up in New York. Some of this is covered in Alice Von Hildebrand’s new book Memoirs of a Happy Failure. While this autobiography does go into how she met her future husband and some of her life with him, she is mostly quiet on her personal life in this regard except when there are interactions with her students.
What this book does cover is her life growing up in Belgium before World War II and her subsequent move to the United States during the war. The book starts out with her on a ship headed for New York that was threatened by a German sub with orders to evacuate before being sunk. I was quite interested in her descriptions of being raised in a very Catholic culture and the descriptions of her family members including the roles they played during the war. There were differences in both sides of her family that caused some tension.
The large majority of this book covers her years as a teacher at Hunter College which is part of the City University of New York. This was to be where she ended up teaching philosophy throughout her career. Now having heard her speak I was aware of the difficulties she had regarding students versed in moral relativism as she taught the objectivity of truth. I just didn’t realize that this was a continual philosophical battle.
What shouldn’t have surprised me is that this was rather minor considering even worse problems with the other faculty and those above her. The stories she relates regarding how she was treated by her fellow academics in such a pitiless back-biting manner raises your ire as she relates them. A Darwinian survival of the fittest where the fittest meant you had the right politics and sneer regarding subjective truth. Part of this was due to her being a women, but no doubt a lot of it was due to her being Catholic or really for being a faithful Catholic. Academics have no problem with Catholics just as long as they don’t believe that stuff. She describes how her education as taught by nuns little prepared her for such an atmosphere of prejudice and ill will.
What I enjoyed most was her stories of students. It was quite obvious her love of teaching and her love of her students. There are many wonderful stories regarding the opposition she got and when the truth of what she was saying clicked with many of her students. Even stories of students converting to the Catholic Church despite the fact that she never talked about the Church at all in her lectures. Not all the stories regarding her students go well and some are rather sad. Still there were several that came into the orbit of her personal life along with her husband. Despite the opposition she was getting from the school and the many attempts to sabotage her career and to force her to leave, she endured. It must have really annoyed them the number of students who elected to take her classes over other philosophy professors more in tune with the zeitgeist.
The title of her autobiography is quite apt. From the measure of the academic world she was mostly a failure. From the measure of her students that was not correct and even ultimately the school had to grudgingly admit this. I enjoyed the good humor she uses as she relates all these episodes. Experiences that might leave many bitter, yet her happiness shines through along with her love of the truth.
On a side note this book provides another example to me regarding the cultural revolution of the sixties. In that it was not as if everything was in good condition before then and that this was a sudden revolution. Her examples of attitudes in the 1950’s show just how much the culture was infected with moral relativism and that it was even worse in academia. Cultural termites had already weakened the foundations of the culture.
This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 9 – 19 January 2015.
The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.
During lunch I noticed the activity in my news reader regarding an interview Pope Francis gave today on the airplane. I had already come to the conclusion that if pope’s never again gave an interview on a plane trip that would be just fine.
The medium of an interview on a plane just is really not that helpful for the mission of the Church. It really doesn’t matter who is Pope when it comes to this not being helpful. When Pope Benedict XVI gave an interview inflight and mentioned condoms there was a total media freak out and tons of bad reporting. For the most part reporters are not out to spread the truth, but to get headlines and if they can craft an agenda it is even better. Asking questions on controversial topics is one way to achieve this. Although often it is not the questions themselves, but how they get reported. I can’t remember the last time I thought “That was an accurate representation of what the Pope said” when I read a story.
Pope Benedict XVI often spoke off-the-cuff as if he had written something out previously and was fully formed. Yet that didn’t stop the press from distorting what he said. Pope Francis when speaking off-the-cuff if often not that precise and he casually talks trying to fill out the answer. So of course this just gives the media more room to play with. Still there is much that I like about the casual way Pope Francis speaks as he often reveals information about processes pope’s usually don’t share. For example in the latest interview I found it rather fascinating his talking about the development of the latest encyclical regarding development of the initial draft, his working on it, and the further review process still ongoing. I enjoy how he does this with good humor.
Still the main problems with journalism is that so often it distills complex subjects with necessary caveats into a textual sound bites. The textual sound bite is often what the headline plays off of. The other piece of deception is how several paragraphs are distilled down to less than a paragraph. The ellipsis is the reporter’s friend in this in that you can boil out all context and just print the juicy bits. So when he was asked about religious liberty and freedom of expression 455 words got distilled down to a couple sentences. This was brought about to bring about controversy with the Pope showing a moral equivalence between the terrorist murders of the staff of Charlie Hebdo and the satirizing of (not a prophet) Mohammad. When I saw all the ellipses in news stories I figured I will wait for a full transcript.
Thankfully the National Catholic Register was fairly quick in releasing a full transcript.
Sebastien Maynard (La Croix): Holy Father, yesterday during Mass, you spoke about religious liberty as a fundamental human right. With respect to other religions, how far can the freedom of expression extend, since this latter is a fundamental human right, too?
Pope Francis: Thanks for the question, that is smart, it is good. I think that both are fundamental human rights, religious liberty and liberty of expression. You can’t … Let’s think, are you French? Let’s go to Paris. Let’s speak clearly. You cannot hide a truth. Everyone has the right to practice their religion, their own religion without offending, freely. And that’s what we do, what we all want to do.
Secondly, you cannot offend or make war, kill in the name of your religion, in the name of God. What has happened now astonishes us. But always, let’s think to our history, how many religious wars we have had. Think of St. Bartholomew’s night (editor’s note: when Catholics massacred Huguenots during the French wars of religion in 1572). How can we understand this? Also we were sinners in this. But you cannot kill in the name of God, this is an aberration. Killing in the name of God is an aberration against God. I think this is the main thing with freedom of religion. You can practice with freedom without offending but without imposing or killing.
The freedom of expression … Every one of us has not just the freedom, the right, but also the obligation to say what he thinks to help build the common good. The obligation. If we think of a congressman, a senator, if he doesn’t say what he thinks is the true path, he doesn’t collaborate in the common good. We have the obligation to freely have this liberty, but without offending. It’s true that you cannot react violently. But, if Dr. Gasbarri, my great friend, says something against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others, you cannot make fun of the faith.
Pope Benedict, in a speech, I don’t remember which, he spoke of this post-positivist mentality, of the post-positivist metaphysics that brought people to believe that religions or religious expressions are a type of lower culture: that they are tolerated but that there’s not much to them, that they are in not part of an enlightened culture. And this is a legacy of the Enlightenment. So many people speak against others’ religions. They make fun of them. Let’s say they “giocatalizzano” (make a playing out of) the religion of others. But they are provoking, and what can happen is what I said about Dr. Gasbarri if he says something about my mother. There is a limit. Every religion has dignity; I cannot mock a religion that respects human life and the human person. And this is a limit. I’ve used this example of the limit to say that in the freedom of expression there are limits, like the example I gave of my mother. I don’t know if I was able to respond to the question. Thanks.
Some how the moral equivalence got lost in translation. Now there are parts to pick apart here and there and there are certainly aspects of this I would have questions and caveats about. But generally I understand the point Pope Francis is making.
I pretty much agree with Thomas L. McDonald’s quick critique of one aspect of this answer.
The Holy Father and I are going to have disagree on this one.
“Should not”? Certainly.
“Every religion has its dignity”? Every one? Eh, not so much.
Back to the central point about papal inflight interviews I just don’t see their usefulness since they always generate more heat than light. Yet I can totally understand how easy it is for them to come about and this is even more true for this gregarious pope who loves talking to people.
Where were you on Feb. 22, 1966? A few people can say that they were in the Cathedral of St. Augustine placing a time capsule inside the main altar.
Brian Baker, whose company, Baker Liturgical Art is overseeing the renovation of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine said, “It was not a surprise to find a time capsule in the altar of sacrifice. It is a tradition to leave a time capsule in the main altar during a restoration.”
That time capsule – a cardboard box – was found yesterday (Wednesday, Jan. 7) as workers disassembled the marble altar in the main sanctuary of the church. Among the items found inside include newspapers from the day, a few pictures, a note from one of the painters and a two medallions of Pope Paul VI.
“Some money was also discovered,” said Father Thomas Willis, rector of the Cathedral. the “The small change amounted to about a dollar! But there were also eight Morgan silver dollars with dates ranging from 1882 to 1900,” he said.
“Based on a quick search of the internet those dollar coins could be worth a few thousand dollars – if they’re considered in mint condition,” Father Willis added
The two pictures included in the box were a general picture of St. Peter’s Square in Rome and the second, a similar picture of Msgr. John Burns,” Father Willis remarked. “He was the rector of the Cathedral during the 1960’s renovation. The writing on the back of each paper was his, too. I could tell by the looping style of his cursive handwriting. You can tell he was definitely taught by nuns!”
I don’t think I was aware of this practice of placing a time capsule in an altar. I was aware of using relics from a saint being being placed under an altar. So is this really a wide spread practice regarding restoration of altars. I couldn’t find any information in that direction as all links pointed to this one.
The current interior of the Cathedral is interesting and beautiful in parts and a nod to the Spanish discovery of St. Augustine in 1565. Which was of course named because that was the feast day they sighted the land. The murals on the wall created by German mural artist Hugo Ohlms that show a history of the diocese are also interesting, although I am not a fan of the interconnecting vines. I wonder if any other Cathedral in the United States has Conquistadors painted in them? One mural shows “Pedro Menendez de Aviles First Mass.” This one is cool since it shows the first Mass in the United States along with showing the Timucuan Indians. In recent years the story of a Thanksgiving episode before the Puritans arrived has become better known. So overall I like the interior even though the style is not my favorite. The pipes from the pipe organ prominently displayed in the sanctuary is a bit odd to me, but I have learned to just be thankful they still have a pipe organ at all. They have a side chapel where the Tabernacle resides and in this case it is quite proper to do this. There is a lot of foot traffic in the Cathedral from tourists exploring “America’s oldest city.” I’ve found it a good place to pray without the distraction of tourists and photo taking.
I admit to having negative reactions when I hear the word renovation regarding Catholic churches. So I of course looked up Baker Liturgical Art. It looks like they are actually doing a restoration and even adding a choir loft. This is quite promising. As I have quipped before “Unlike children, choirs should be heard and not seen.”
Now as to the time capsule they also found two papers which were editions of “The St. Augustine Record” and “The Wanderer.” I found it rather funny that there was a copy of the The Wanderer in the altar of the Cathedral. Although I have to admit that the cover of the issue found was filled with the usual joy and optimism of the few volumes I have seen. Still I liked that the banner had “No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist” from Pius XI’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno (which is still part of their banner). The front page also included an article by Msgr. R. G. Bandas titled “Ecumenism – The Problem.” The Monsignor had apparently attended every session of the Second Vatican Council and was a Peritus. He was also apparently not a happy camper about the Council. After his death three years after this article a friend of his said “that in a very real sense Vatican II brought on the early death of Msgr. Bandas—a brilliant, holy priest who died of a broken heart over the Council.” You won’t be surprised that I found that tidbit in The Remnant. So no doubt there is an interesting story behind how this paper became part of the altar’s time capsule.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the copy of the The Wanderer made its way to the trash bin. Father Thomas Willis, rector of the Cathedral is rather known to me from his resistance to Summorum Pontificum as Director of Liturgy for the Diocese. When he was pastor of Most Holy Redeemer he oversaw rebuilding of the parish. I visited the parish afterwards and never returned. The altar was placed in the middle of a circle of pews so of course the priest would spin around to talk to everybody kind of like a lawn sprinkler trying to cover the whole lawn.
My conversion to the faith and the rise of the Internet and social networking occurred in roughly the same time period. So my interest in this intersection regarding how it relates to the faith has been continually of interest to me. EWTN and Catholic Answers both had websites around 1996 and the Vatican came on board around 1998. If you look at the Vatican’s site circa 1998 it’s appearance hasn’t much changed. The year 2001 mostly marks the year specifically Catholic blogs started to grow. Catholic podcasts started to appear in 2006 (the Catholic Cast by Jayson Franklin was the first one I as far as I know). Most of the growth in Catholic new media over the years were mainly individual efforts with some organizations being early adopters.
Diocesan and parish websites also started to come on the scene. The diocesan site my diocese came on board in 2002 and I slowly watched as parish websites started appearing. These Diocesan and parish websites also from the start seemed to lag behind in about every way with other websites. Sometimes I like to go to The Wayback Machine to see a snapshot of a what a web site looked like a decade ago. The sad truth is that I don’t need The Wayback Machine for most parish sites since either their design is stuck a decade ago or that was the last time it was updated. I am usually quite frustrated when looking a parish web sites in my diocese, but this problem certainly in not just local.
So I was quite interested when I received a copy of Transforming Parish Communications: Growing the Church Through New Media by Scot Landry. While there are few bright spots regarding diocese taking new media seriously, the Archdiocese of Boston I would consider to be the brightest spot. They have set standards for others to follow regarding diocesan blogs and their podcast The Good Catholic Life and other other social networking endeavors. Since Scot Landry has been involved in this he know of what he is talking about.
In this book he makes the case for using new media for communication and evangelization from primarily the diocese on down. Why time and effort should be expended using these new technologies. What I appreciated about this book is that it does not get bogged down in the technology involved. As Scot writes “For me, new media outreach is much more about communications than technology.” There is always a temptation to follow the latest buzz-word approach that might not actually be of much help. Evangelization requires communication and so we must consider the most effective ways of transmitting the Good News.
In the first chapters he takes Pope emeritus Benedict XVI example of the digital continent to explain some of these capabilities. Since Scot considers himself more of an immigrant to this digital continent instead of a early adopter he provides a valuable perspective. As a geek if I was to talk on the subject it would be all about responsive design, content management systems, and making sure passwords used for diocesan and parish sites weren’t kept just in somebodies personal files. His approach in the whole book gives a much larger perspective.
As he moves from the case for use of the new media he then moves towards the more specific regarding planning for implementation and overcoming embracing of this form of communication.
My belief is that the biggest and most inclusive reason Catholic parishes have not embraced social media is because their culture and the main activities are preoccupied with maintenance (or survival) instead of mission.
I think this statement by him applies quite generally to many parishes beyond just social media. We tend to have mission statements full of jargon and not really missionary. Getting bogged down in building maintenance instead of building the Church (hey even St. Francis got that backwards at first). What this book gives us is sound advice and a constructive plan regarding implementing this. That a parish can build up this capability and as they become more confident expanding out. He provides concrete examples regarding parishes that are making an impact why this is not beyond your average parish.
Several appendixes to the book provide specific implementation plans and a “Rate your Parish Website” checklist (available also at Catholic Tech Talk). The Archdiocese of Boston did take on a survey of parish web sites to see the current state and what needed to be done.
I found this to be a very helpful and positive book exploring what can be achieved and providing a plan regarding how it can be achieved in your own parish. Ideally a diocese should be spending effort in the new media and guiding and helping parishes to achieve the same. Still if you can get involved in helping your own parish in this regards I would strongly recommend picking up this book.
Now while the book is rant free regarding the current state of new media in the Church, I am not rant free on this topic. So I will leave with just one example regarding how a parish website is usually being handled.
Say for example a parishioner volunteered to take care of the parish bulletin. Then this parishioner started mimeographing copies and delivered copies some weeks but not others. When copies were provided they were weeks or months behind in content. Would a parish find this acceptable? Of course not, they consider it important enough that money is spent for professional printing and up-to-date content is provided. The quality of design regarding bulletins has also vastly improved as bad liturgical clipart has finally met its day.
Yet the parish web site is treated exactly in the manner of this individual produced mimeograph bulletins. We can be very thankful for the volunteer that stepped in to produce something with their time and effort. Some of these volunteers might even have the professional skills required. Yet an endeavor that requires such maintenance and fresh content should not be left to just a talented volunteer. For most parishes this means having a site created, training to maintain it, supervisory focus to provide content. The parish web site is more and more going to be the face of a parish. It can be a center-point for the new evangelization or just another missed opportunity.
This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 1 November 2014 – 10 January 2015.
The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at [Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis][akin]. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.
Living in Florida I could have sworn I voted for a state constitutional amendment – Florida Definition of Marriage back in 2008. I was sure that it had passed by 62%. I also thought that we lived in a republic with a representational government. Silly me.
Should have remembered we live in a judgocracy. Usually at voting time I remember this as I always vote no on retaining judges. So after five judges interfered regarding this amendment it was overturned and expired on Jan 5, 2015 allowing same-sex “marriage” on the Feast of the Epiphany. Five “wise” judges replace the wise men.
On 5 January, 2015 the Catholic Bishops of Florida issued a statement addressing the redefinition of marriage. A fairly typical statement regarding the “redefinition of marriage.” Although I don’t find that a very accurate term. Mostly their has been an undefinition of marriage since they totally lack an ability to rationally define it.
The Archbishop of Miami wrote this letter for diocesan employees.
Dear Employees of the Archdiocese of Miami:
Given recent decisions by courts in Florida that has imposed the redefinition of marriage. I am attaching the statement issued today by the Florida Catholic Conference to provide you useful information regarding the teaching of the Church as well as assist you in answering any questions posed to you by family or friends on the subject.
Whatever the role in which you serve withing the Archdiocese, you publicly represent the Catholic Church and the Archdiocese in everything you do and say. Therefore, it is important thay you understand the Church’s position and are well informed. Our Archdiocesan website also contains prior columns I have written on marriage that might be useful.
Our Archdiocese of Miami Employee Handbook reminds us of the standard of conduct expected:
At all times and places, employees are expected to conduct themselves in a moral and ethical manner consistent with Catholic principles.
Employees will witness by their public behavior, actions and words a life consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. All employees should note that, because of the Church’s particular function in society, certain conduct, inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, could lead to disciplinary action, including termination, even if it occurs outside the normal working day and outside the strict confines of work performed by the employee for the Archdiocese. Employees should exercise discretion when posting on social media sites, and note that online activity indicative of prohibitive behaviors may subject an employee to disciplinary action or termination.
Be assured of my gratitude for all you do for the Archdiocese of Miami each day.
Nice to see the Archbishops proactive statement. Yet if somebody is fired our lovely court system will no doubt award them money such as the Catholic school teacher fired for using IVF who was recently awarded $1.95M.