Around the Web

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.”

Pope Francis’ Jesuit Identity

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.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley Calls Out Throwaway Culture of Planned Parenthood

Cardinal Seán O’Malley has taken a whole life approach to abortion in the past, reminding us, “Poverty is a dehumanizing force that leads people to feel trapped and to make this horrible choice.  The Gospel of Life demands that we work for economic justice in our country and in our world.  In a society where the rich are getting ever richer and the poor poorer, abortion looms ever larger.” He has called us to be pro-woman and pro-child, urging us to walk with mothers, especially mothers who find themselves in crisis pregnancies. And he has rejected an approach that focuses on denunciation: “The Pro-Life Movement needs to be the merciful face of God to women facing a difficult pregnancy.  Being judgmental or condemnatory is not part of the Gospel of Life.”

And now Cardinal Seán is speaking with great clarity and directness on the appalling behavior of Planned Parenthood, as they crush human beings to death, harvest their organs, and bargain over compensation for their grisly work of extracting the body parts of children:

Pope Francis has called abortion the product of a “widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.” The recent news stories concerning Planned Parenthood direct our attention to two larger issues involving many institutions in our society. The first is abortion itself: a direct attack on human life in its most vulnerable condition. The second is the now standard practice of obtaining fetal organs and tissues through abortion. Both actions fail to respect the humanity and dignity of human life. This fact should be the center of attention in the present public controversy.

If the Planned Parenthood news coverage has caused anyone to experience revived trauma from their own involvement in abortion, be assured that any and all persons will be welcomed with compassion and assistance through the Church’s post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel. If you or someone you know would like confidential, nonjudgmental help, please visit

It is time to stop funding Planned Parenthood and shift those resources to community health centers, which are more widespread and operate in a way that is consistent with human dignity.


Pope Francis’ Small Request

Pope Francis’ recent encyclical outlined profound challenges that humanity must face if we value human dignity, the common good, and our relationship with God and one another. But it also contained a lot of short, insightful bits of wisdom from the Holy Father. Among these, one of my favorites is when Pope Francis asks that believers return to the “beautiful and meaningful custom” of stopping to give thanks to God before and after meals. He explains:

That moment of blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation; it acknowledges those who by their labors provide us with these goods; and it reaffirms our solidarity with those in greatest need. (227)

To approach each meal as the pope describes is to reject the myth of the autonomous individual who is able to provide all that he needs for himself. To thank God and experience true gratitude reminds us of our dependence on God and others. It humbles us. And it reminds us that we have responsibilities to others, generating that sense of solidarity that the pope describes.

We benefit from this prayer by living in reality, rather than being deluded by myths surrounding our own power and control. We benefit by responding to this gratitude in our personal lives—in our treatment of others and the way we consume food and other goods. And finally, we benefit by receiving a constant reminder that we are called to support measures that ensure that everyone in our society has access to the basic needs that we no longer take for granted. Short prayers can be one of the little things that transform our lives and the world around us.

Shopping Our Way to a Brighter Future?

This post by Ken Homan, SJ is also featured on The Jesuit Post.

Have you seen the new piece from Huffington Post Highline, The Myth of the Ethical Shopper? It’s a pretty fierce condemnation of the way we try to make social change happen in the world. For years, our model of creating social change, especially as it relates to consumer products, has been name-and-shame. It has been somewhat effective, but not nearly to the level we hoped it would.

We’ve scolded Nike, Walmart, H&M, Coca-Cola, and plenty more for their absolutely abysmal human and labor rights violations. In April, John Oliver looked at the horrifying history of workplace abuse in several of these companies. It would be nice if we could pretend that these issues were a problem of the 90s. After all, that’s when we all took great offense at the clothes we were wearing. But it’s an issue that has not only persisted, but has become worse. Read More

John Oliver, Pope Francis, and Jesus on Food: Reflections on Feasting and Famine

This week I watched a disturbing (yet somehow still hilarious) exposé by “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver on food waste in the United States.

Here are a few of the figures Oliver presents in order to illustrate the magnitude of the problem:

  • As much as 40% of food produced in the US never gets eaten.
  • Americans throw away $165 billion worth of food every year.
  • That amounts to 20 pounds of food per person each month, the equivalent of throwing away enough food to fill 730 stadiums over the course of the year.

Read More