Pope Francis: “How do I do good? It’s simple! ‘Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.’ Remember that in Israel the poorest and most needy were orphans and widows: do justice to them, go there to the wounds of humanity, where there is so much pain … And by doing so, by doing good, you will cleanse your heart.”
Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago has an excellent op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on the Planned Parenthood scandal, the value of human life, and the need for a consistent commitment to life:
The tapes have generated a visceral reaction independent of how they were made or whether Planned Parenthood was making a profit. Rather, the widespread revulsion over the tapes arose because they unmasked the fact that, in our public conversation about abortion, we have so muted the humanity of the unborn child that some consider it quite acceptable to speak freely of crushing a child’s skull to preserve valuable body parts and to have that discussion over lunch.
Yet, the outrage expressed by many at the physicians’ callous and flippant attitude toward trafficking in human body parts is evidence that American hearts have not been irreparably hardened by the steady devaluing of human dignity in our society. This awakening of our conscience gives hope that deep within the hearts and souls of Americans there still resides the truth that an unborn child manifestly is a human being, entitled to rights and respect.
This newest evidence about the disregard for the value of human life also offers the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment as a nation to a consistent ethic of life. While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.
It is encouraging to see another prominent bishop embrace this whole life message, connect social justice and the defense of life, and articulate the fullness of Church teaching.
In a recent address, Pope Francis explained why Laudato Si is a social encyclical, not just an environmental one:
It is true that everything revolves around … this culture of care for the environment. But this ‘green’ culture – and I say that in a positive sense – is much more than that. Caring for the environment means an attitude of human ecology. In other words, we cannot say: the person and Creation, the environment, are two separate entities. Ecology is total, it is human. This is what I wanted to express in the Encyclical ‘Laudato si”: that you cannot separate humanity from the rest; there is a relationship of mutual impact, and also the rebound effect when the environment is abused. Therefore … I say, ‘no, it is not a green encyclical, it is a social encyclical’. Because we cannot separate care for the environment from the social context, the social life of mankind. Furthermore, care for the environment is a social attitude.
Francis also called for international action:
Finally, I would say that this requires the involvement of the United Nations. I hope that the Paris Summit in November will lead to a basic agreement. I have high hopes, and believe that the United Nations must take a greater interest in this phenomenon, especially human trafficking caused by environmental issues, and the exploitation of people.
And the pope explained why the Vatican hosted public officials working below the national level:
Why did the Pontifical Academy of Sciences convoke mayors and city governors? Because are aware of how to carry out this important and profound work, from the center to the periphery, and from the periphery to the center. They are aware of the reality of humanity. The Holy See may make a good speech before the United Nations, but if the work does not come from the periphery to the center, it will have no effect; hence the responsibility of mayors and city governors.
Pope Francis: “The Christian vocation, rooted in the contemplation of the Father’s heart, thus inspires us to solidarity in bringing liberation to our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest.”
Check out these recent articles from around the web:
‘Kandhamal’ tells the whole story of anti-Christian persecution by John Allen: “Kandhamal is a district of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, formerly known as Orissa, where an orgy of violence descended upon the impoverished Christian minority in August, 2008. A series of riots led by radical Hindus left roughly 100 people dead, thousands injured, 300 churches and 6,000 homes destroyed, and 50,000 people displaced, many forced to hide in nearby forests where more died of hunger and snakebites.”
Happy Birthday Medicare & Medicaid! by Michael Sean Winters: “Today, ideologues of libertarianism continue to see every exercise of social solidarity as one more step down the road to serfdom. This, too, is nonsense. In real life, Medicare and Medicaid liberated millions of Americans from crushing poverty or from cruel choices: Do I pay the rent or do I get to the doctor? Do I pay for my kids’ food or for their physical? In a country as rich as ours, in a world as rich as ours, no human person should have to make such a cruel choice.”
The self-government revolution that’s happening under the radar in Syria by Frederic Hof: “The alternative to Assad is arising from Syria’s grass roots. That alternative needs to be nurtured and protected by the United States and its partners. And it needs to be connected to external structures recognized by the West as legitimate. Failure to do so to date accounts in part for bizarre concerns vocalized by Obama administration officials that Assad — the mass murderer — may fall too quickly. He cannot fall quickly enough. Yet those in governments who agonize about the seeming absence of alternatives have done far too little to nurture one. They have failed to connect the dots between would-be leaders in exile and those inside Syria who are leading a self-government revolution.”
For Craig Biggio, MLB Hall of Fame induction was heavenly by Michael O’Loughlin: “It’s difficult to imagine anything more heavenly for a professional baseball player than being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But on Sunday, one inductee remembered something a bit more spiritual, some might say: his conversion to the Catholic faith at the hands of his college baseball chaplain.”
Planned Parenthood and the Disease of Decadence by Jessica Keating: “The logic of Planned Parenthood would have us to wonder at the scientific advances that may be made with the unborn fetus’s organs, while believing that the unborn fetus is utterly un-wonderful. It would have us deny his humanity, but procure his human organs. It would have us look away and refuse to perceive that the one on whom we gaze is a human person. And insofar as we do avert our gaze, we participate in the banal business of destroying human beings.”
Grieving Cecil…and South Sudan by Fr. James Martin: “I wonder if we feel the same revulsion over deaths that do not receive as much coverage. We need not look too far from Cecil, for example, just a few countries north, in South Sudan. Over the past four years, since it declared its independence from Sudan, the country has descended into violence, leaving millions of people dead and, according to some estimates, half the population in danger of starving. And, as several commentators have pointed out, South Sudan is, in a sense, our ‘foster child,’ with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama playing key roles in encouraging its independence.”
The Gift of Millennials: Some Addenda by Timothy O’Malley: “Millennials thus are not simply responsible for transforming the Church. Rather, they require their own evangelization. Millennials need to perceive again the value of a sacramental and institutional religious faith, grounded in the incarnation. They need to see alternative forms of human flourishing, which are not linked to market economies. They need to encounter an understanding of marriage in which commitment is perceived as gift rather than something to be run away from. Parishes are presently set up not so much as missions to those on the margins but as locations where it is expected that you come to the parish if you’re interested. Parishes need to experiment with ways of inviting millennials into parish life not through the structures of parish life alone but through person-to-person evangelization in the context of work and social life alike. If parishes continue to wait around for millennials to show up, it is likely that millennials will become (at least among church-goers) the lost generation.”
The case for raising the alcohol tax, in one paragraph by German Lopez: “America has an alcohol problem — and some public health experts say the country is very much in need of an intervention. In the US, alcohol abuse causes 88,000 deaths each year, is linked to 40 percent of violent crimes, and led to more than 4.6 million emergency room visits in 2010. But what should that intervention look like? A new review of the research from David Roodman, senior adviser for the Open Philanthropy Project, makes a case for a higher alcohol tax.”
How the Planned Parenthood videos set off a renewed wave of activism on abortion by Sarah Pulliam Bailey: “The last time the issue fueled antiabortion activists to a similar degree was probably in 2011, when Kermit Gosnell, a Pennsylvania doctor who performed abortions, was charged with eight counts of murder. At the time, the issue sparked a renewed debate over abortion, but many argued that Gosnell’s was an unusual case. This time around, the antiabortion movement, which is mostly made up of policy groups, activists, pregnancy centers and religious groups, are all focusing their efforts on defunding Planned Parenthood.”
The Francis Factor: How Will The Pope Influence The 2016 Election? by John Gehring: “Pope Francis is making new again what is ancient wisdom about the common good at a time when our politics and culture are often defined by a libertarianism on both the right and left. The pope taps into a deeper hunger for community and solidarity that goes beyond self-interest. This has implications for core values that must frame our political and policy debates. Voters and candidates can’t ignore the pope’s insistence that addressing climate change, honoring the dignity of work, protecting the sanctity of life and building an economy of inclusion are all moral obligations.”
The real Matt Foley remembers his friend Chris Farley by Melissa Silverberg: “Matt Foley the motivational speaker lived in a van down by the river. The real Matt Foley — the one Chris Farley named his iconic “”Saturday Night Live”” character after — is head pastor at St. James Catholic Church in Arlington Heights and still misses his good friend, Chris.”
Millennial co-founder Christopher Hale has a new article in Time. He writes:
The prophet Micah says that God requires three things of his people: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. If that’s the case, Francis is passing the test. Mercy—in particular—is at the heart of the first-ever Jesuit pope’s pastoral ministry. “The Lord never tires of forgiving us!” Francis said during his first Sunday papal address to St. Peter’s Square. “It is we who grow tired of asking.”…
In Francis’s mind however, mercy isn’t just a gift received, but an action to be performed. He even created a new verb mercy-ing to express his desire for people to encounter each other and the world in a new way. We are called to be like God and Jesus, who Francis says, is pure mercy.
In the final analysis, it is the person of Jesus who can best explain Francis’s Jesuit identity. The Society of Jesus points and foremost the holy man of Nazareth who to the poor proclaimed the good news of salvation, to prisoners, freedom, and to those in sorrow, joy.
The full article can be read here.