Cardinal Joe Explains How We Can Make ‘Pro-Life’ Really Mean Something

US Catholic has a new interview with Cardinal Joseph Tobin, in which he shares his insights on faith and why being pro-life demands a consistent commitment to life:

We’re encouraged to compartmentalize faith. Faith is seen as equivalent to worship and thereby reduced to an hour on Sunday morning, if that. It really impoverishes the notion of faith, of which the biblical image is a type of vision, a different way of looking at things.

Faith is not an opiate or belief in the pie in the sky and the great by‑and‑by. It’s about the great drama of human existence and seeing something differently. I think that part of ministry and the life of the church is to help people make that connection, to see something differently.

Faith tells me that my life with God is not simply about me and Jesus, because if it’s just me and Jesus, then it’s mainly about me. Faith impels me to have the vision to see other people not as objects or people who will do things that will meet my needs but as fellow daughters and sons of God, as brothers and sisters, as fellow pilgrims….

One of the great services of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, the late archbishop of Chicago, was how he talked about the seamless garment. There’s a certain coherency that the life ethic brings us to. We may have gotten off the track when that coherency was reduced to a couple of areas.

We don’t sound coherent to other people when we take a very proactive stance in one area and then are silent or quite contrary on other life issues. But I think if we understand the life ethic as Cardinal Bernardin tried to teach, then “pro‑life” can mean something. Right now it’s heard as just having to do with one very narrow area. We need to be able to say, “It’s just all. It’s all.”

Read the full interview here.


Steph Curry on His Faith and Being a Role Model


Doc McStuffins, Moana, and Steph Curry are the kids’ favorite role models—a frequent presence in our home from the tv screen to playtime to posters on the wall. As a toddler, my oldest daughter would walk around exclaiming, “Chef Curry with the pot boy!” Unlike Charles Barkley, who famously rejected being a role model, Curry, the two-time NBA champion and league MVP with the Golden State Warriors, recognizes that he is one and is comfortable with it. He spoke about being a role model, his ‘good boy’ reputation, and his faith in a recent interview with Complex:

I understand the opportunity I have and the magnitude of how many people look up to me. Not just to model their game after me, but also the character, values, and that kind of deal. But it’s not outside my normal daily life. It’s just how I live my life and how I was raised. The fact that that speaks volumes to people is amazing, but there isn’t any extra pressure or anything like that. It’s just who I am. So I guess that helps to be able to handle the spotlight that’s on me. I definitely appreciate the opportunity and the impact that I have, but I don’t really feel any extra pressure….

My faith is what helps me keep everything in perspective. I know I’ve been given these talents to play the game and this is my way to reach millions and millions of people through those talents. That’s what makes me appreciative of everything that happens, good or bad. My mom and my pops were obviously huge influences in that they set that foundation: Basketball is fun, but it’s not the highest priority….

During your career, have you ever faced opposition because of your Christianity or felt pressure to be a different person, or have a different persona?
For sure. Not everybody plays from the same perspective. A lot of people question my good boy vibes and whether it’s genuine or not. There’s always those questions about me and there’s a lot of trash talk that comes directed at me from that too. But if that’s the burden that I’m going to have to carry, then that’s pretty simple for me.



Noah the Environmentalist: The Great Flood and Ecological Justice Today

The story of Noah and his ark is often one of the first biblical narratives children learn and one of those most widely-known by adults. With many Scripture stories being unapologetically anthropocentric, there is something endearing yet dramatic about the inclusion of every perfectly paired-up creature-couple in this perilous tale of survival. With the assurance that, thanks to Noah, every creation breathed into existence by God continues to live, we tend not to think much about the unfortunate members of each species who were left in the waters below the ark’s hull. Yet, when climatic phenomenon such as Hurricane Harvey hit, the plight of those caught in great floods surges to the forefront of our attention. Could this situation have been prevented? Who will save these worthy souls? How will life be restored to right relation after the water subsides? Can I help? The story of the Great Flood and Noah’s role throughout its unfolding suggest much for how humanity is called to act in response to today’s rapidly changing weather patterns and our own, increasingly prevalent, great floods.

The creation accounts of Genesis make known the human call to care for creation (Gen. 1:28). The story of the Great Flood (Gen. 6) clarifies exactly what that means and suggests the interconnected way in which human and non-human creation’s survival must be conceptualized. Anne M. Clifford writes:

God gives Noah a mission. He is to participate in God’s plan for the survival of living species. God instructs Noah to build a huge ark and directs, “Of all kinds of birds, of all kinds of beasts, two of each will come into the ark to stay alive” (Gen. 6:20). The species of the earth that were gathered included clean and unclean, domesticated and wild animals. Many of these animals were of no real use to the people. God’s directive makes the meaning of having dominion clear: Noah and his family are charged with seeing to the survival of the other living creatures (not only the ones of direct benefit to humans).

The survival of all creation is prioritized not because of any direct value or benefit it holds for us personally, but because each creation serves a purpose in God’s grand design and, furthermore, all creation is of God and deserves to live. God’s command to humans about their role in creation’s survival does not present a passive relationship, where we merely coexist, or even a relationship where we consciously refrain from destroying or harming non-human creation. What God’s command calls for is conscious, compassionate action on the part of humanity to see to the survival, livelihood, and flourishing of all.

It is difficult to deny that the rate at which atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, sea water levels, and the earth’s temperature are rising are primarily due to the actions of humans. We know that irresponsible use and abuse of creation has ushered in much of the climate change and environmental degradation experienced today. Storms exist as part of the natural weather patterns on the planet, but warmer oceans produce stronger storms and heavier rains, which in turn increase flooding. “The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted,” Pope Francis writes, by our attempt to dominate and control creation, by our insistence on consuming that which was not meant for our limitless use. He explains, “Responsibility for God’s earth means that human beings, endowed with intelligence, must respect the laws of nature.” This requires looking beyond immediate and personal desires and considering how one’s choices affect the entirety of creation. It is good to aid those suffering in the wake of the storm, but it is better to prevent the storm in the first place by
(as Pope Francis says in Laudato Si) “respecting the rhythms inscribed in nature by the hand of the Creator.” Just as on Noah’s ark, Clifford explains, “human survival and that of animals are intimately related (Gen 7:1-4).” Pope Francis is right: “the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism.” And neither does the world today.

In the biblical story of the Great Flood, Clifford notes, “we find God deeply grieved about the extent of the wickedness of human beings. Their sins result in an ecological disaster of worldwide proportions.” While the particular sins in question may differ, the underlying themes of the Scripture story and our current reality are the same. Act justly or bad things happen. This is not a divine threat, but the natural consequence of disregarding the rhythms and relationships designed by God. Acting in discordance with God’s will brings disaster; acting in accordance with God’s will brings abundant life.

Noah, in an example of right relationship between God, humanity, and non-human creation, is entrusted with all of creation’s care. This gives us direction and this gives us hope. Pope Francis tells us, “Although ‘the wickedness of man was great in the earth’ (Gen 6:5) . . . through Noah, who remained innocent and just, God decided to open a path of salvation…. All it takes is one good person to restore hope!” Imagine the significant impact that can be made by many of us collaborating together and cooperating with God.

On September 1st, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew issued the first ever Joint Message on the World Day of Prayer for Creation, a message that both states and reflects the necessity of working together to restore right relation among creation. Appealing to those in social, economic, cultural, and political positions of power expands their emphasis even beyond the context of theists. Creation care is an issue of universal importance from an ethical perspective. For believers, it is also an issue of salvation.

God designed creation in a way that allows it to survive, to grow, to adapt, to flourish! Human beings are a part of this sacred creation–arguably the only part that has acted in a way that disrupts the incredible design, but also, the only part that has the ability to make it right. With Noah as faithful environmentalist exemplar, we must strive to listen to God’s call in the face of rising storms today. The floods can be prevented and God calls each of us to participate in that mission.

Stephanie Clary will receive her MA in Systematic Theology from Catholic Theological Union as a Bernardin Scholar and currently serves as the Manager of Mission Outreach and Communication for the Diocese of Burlington and the Assistant Editor of Vermont Catholic.


Schumer, Pelosi Strike Deal with Trump to Save Dreamers from Deportation

via the AP:

The top House and Senate Democrats said Wednesday they had reached agreement with President Donald Trump to protect thousands of younger immigrants from deportation and fund some border security enhancements — not including Trump’s long-sought border wall.

The deal announced by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi following a White House dinner would enshrine protections for the nearly 800,000 immigrants brought illegally to this country as kids who had benefited from former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. The program provided temporary work permits and protection from deportation.

Trump ended the program earlier this month and had given Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before the statuses of the so-called “Dreamers” begin to expire.

“We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement.


The Vatican Affirms the Church’s Support of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)


The Vatican has reiterated its support for the Responsibility to Protect:

The Holy See upholds the perennial validity of the Responsibility to Protect and wishes to reaffirm its commitment to this principle and call for its full, impartial and consistent implementation. Such an application means, as the report of the Secretary General recommends, meeting obligations under international human rights and international humanitarian law, and condemning deliberate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructures. It means preventing or stopping atrocity crimes and protecting populations from them through greater legal, political and moral accountability. The Holy See thus supports those initiatives that will facilitate the observance of obligations under the Responsibility to Protect, such as the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity, as well as the inclusion of mandates to protect civilians in peacekeeping operations.

Finally, the Holy See would like to highlight the increasing importance of the concrete implementation of the Responsibility to Protect in the context of the migration and refugee crises. The use of threats to commit atrocity crimes against populations or the actual commission thereof as a strategy to displace them forcibly must be condemned, prevented or stopped. Both the right of all to remain in their own homelands and the right to return and regain possession of property must also be enforced under the norm.

Over and above every consideration, our common humanity impels us all to assist the victims of atrocity crimes and to respond in solidarity to their needs in the most humane and fraternal way possible. When the international community fails to exercise adequately the Responsibility to Protect, we all have a great and urgent responsibility, as Pope Francis has proposed, to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate the victims of those failures.

Under the UN, the Responsibility to Protect has three pillars:

Pillar One: Every state has the Responsibility to Protect its populations from four mass atrocity crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Pillar Two: The wider international community has the responsibility to encourage and assist individual states in meeting that responsibility.

Pillar Three: If a state is manifestly failing to protect its populations, the international community must be prepared to take appropriate collective action, in a timely and decisive manner and in accordance with the UN Charter.

These principles originated in a 2001 report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty and were endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document paragraphs 138, 139 and 140.