Pope Francis Visits Auschwitz

via Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis on Friday morning paid an emotional visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum, the site of a Nazi concentration and extermination camp where more than 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were put to death during the Second World War.

Prior to his visit to the camp, the Pope decided he would not give a speech, saying he preferred to enter alone, in silent prayer. “I would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds — only the few people necessary,” he explained. “Alone, enter, pray. And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.”

For the Pope, this visit to the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was to be one of silence and prayer.

The only sounds to the heard were the shutters of the ever present cameras as a solemn Pope Francis walked alone through the infamous gate that reads “Arbeit macht frei” – “work sets you free”.

The Pope was then driven in an electric car to the notorious block 11, also known as the death block where Franciscan priest, Fr Maximillian Kolbe was killed after offering up his life for a complete stranger 75 years ago. You could hear a pin drop as the Pope sat in prayer with his eyes firmly closed in this place of suffering.

In one of the most poignant moments of this visit to Auschwitz I, the Pope met with survivors of this camp of terror, now elderly men and women who are the living witnesses to the horrors that took place here.




Renewal from the Ground Up: Never Trump, Never Hillary, Never Withdrawal

Millennial writer Christopher White has a new article at Crux. He writes:

While I’m content to let all parties involved exercise prudential judgment as they see fit, the fact remains that a sizable number of Catholics and other Christians are doing some deep soul searching as to how best to navigate the 2016 elections.

Maybe the answer lies not in Philadelphia or Cleveland, but here in Kraków….

Just as World Youth Day invites pilgrims to see both the larger world and also their local settings in a new light, so this presidential election is revealing something important about how we think of politics. Too often we’re so captivated by the power and prestige of the highest office of the land that we forget about what’s happening in our own backyards.

When is the last time that we even thought to give serious consideration to our local school board or city council representatives?

Instead of an exclusive focus on presidential power, maybe this disillusionment with the national stage is presenting an opportunity to revisit and rethink how decisions are made at the level closest to where we live our everyday lives.

Subsidiarity is a key value in Catholic Social Teaching. It means that the real action is down in the community, in civil society, at the local level, and that the purpose of higher-up bodies is to enable that to happen.

Cries of “Never Trump” and “Never Hillary” do not have to mean simply sitting out this election. The repudiation of the presidential candidates can cause us to switch our focus to our communities and to begin to effect change from there – the starting point for a renewal of our politics.

Renewal, in other words, must begin from the ground up. Forming our consciences and acting as faithful citizens shouldn’t be reduced or sacrificed for one single election cycle.

You can read the full article here.

 


Tim Kaine Talks ‘Faith, Family, and Work’ in Outstanding First Speech

A few days ago, Tim Kaine gave perhaps the best debut speech of any presidential running mate in recent history. He showed that he is a happy warrior who will fight for his deepest convictions while directly challenging his opponents, all without turning to the bile and hateful rhetoric that permeate American politics. In his first big speech, he showed sincerity, optimism, energy, and verve. His optimism and patriotism sharply contrast with the doom and gloom denigration of the United States by Donald Trump during his RNC speech. Kaine’s policy knowledge and seriousness contrast with the utter vapidity of Trump’s campaign, while he explained his positions in a relaxed, genial way that is easy for everyday Americans to understand.

While left-wing culture warriors have pushed a strategy centered on social libertarianism that is designed to win the White House despite being deeply damaging to many Democrats running for Congress and at the state level, Kaine offered an alternative: a complete and total focus on issues facing working class and middle class Americans. He talked about building bridges and having a “kids and family first president.” He highlighted Hillary Clinton’s communitarian impulses, the most admirable elements of her political vision and drive, while showing that he too sincerely believes we are “stronger together.” It is an important message at a time when radical individualism is poisoning both parties through the disproportionate power of self-centered economic elites.

What was really remarkable was how fluidly and authentically he talked about his faith and how it drives his life and commitment to social justice. Given the rising number of ‘nones’ in the Democratic coalition, it is remarkable how religiously devout the Clinton-Kaine ticket is. Kaine said, “I’m a Catholic and Hillary is a Methodist, but I tell ya, her creed is the same as mine: do all the good you can.” One may disagree with their application of Christian ethical principles or how they blend their faith and political life (as I’ll discuss below), but it is clear that both are driven by a deep, sincere Christian faith (unless you are blinded by the beam in your eye, as you busily search for apostates while intentionally or unwittingly propping up plutocracy, a fairly common ailment on social media). Read More


ISIS Terrorists Murder Beloved French Priest

via the NY Times:

Like many people who enjoy their work, the Rev. Jacques Hamel did not want to stop. At 85, he was well past retirement age, but he kept in shape and kept on going — baptizing infants, celebrating Mass and tending to parishioners in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, the working-class town in Normandy where he had spent much of his life.

“He could have retired at 75 years old, but seeing how few priests were around he decided to stay and work, to continue to be of service to people, up until it all ended, tragically,” the Rev. Auguste Moanda-Phuati, the parish priest of the Église St.-Étienne, where Father Hamel worked as an auxiliary priest, said in a phone interview. “He was loved by all. He was a little like a grandfather. We were happy when he was around and worried when we hadn’t seen him in a while.”

Father Hamel was celebrating Mass on Tuesday morning when two men with knives entered the small church and slit his throat, an attack that horrified people across France and the world. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that the two assailants — who were shot dead by the police — were “soldiers” retaliating against the United States-led coalition fighting the group in Iraq and Syria.


The Fight for a Big Tent Democratic Party

QuotesCover-pic29Kristen Day and Charles Camosy write about the Democratic Party’s extreme abortion plank in the LA Times:

The abortion plank in the 2016 Democratic platform effectively marginalizes the voices of 21 million pro-life Democrats. It means the party that is supposedly on the side of justice for the vulnerable no longer welcomes those of us who #ChooseBoth; that is, those of us who want the government to protect and support prenatal children and their mothers.

Most significantly, the platform calls for the repeal of the Hyde and Helms amendments, which prevent taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions. This would force those who object to abortion to contribute to what we believe would be government-funded killing, and it would eradicate policies that have already saved hundreds of thousands of lives….

The future of the Democratic Party depends on its diversity, its ability to remain inclusive. The 2016 platform language on abortion torpedoes those goals.

Russell Moore and Michael Wear in USA Today on the Democratic Party’s need to reverse this mistake:

For the past 25 years, the Democratic Party, at least rhetorically, acknowledged that compelling taxpayers to fund abortions was a step too far in the culture wars. If the call to repeal the Hyde Amendment remains in the Democratic platform, that era is officially over. A party that calls for government funding of abortion does not merely disagree with pro-life Americans, but wants to implicate them through their government of supporting what they believe is a moral evil….

As taxpayers, our money goes toward all kinds of things we do not personally support. It is part of living in a pluralistic society. Even so, for 40 years, our government and our people have decided to respect abortion as a unique moral issue. The Democrats should reverse course and remove opposition to Hyde from their platform. Wherever you stand on abortion, forcing people to pay for it can’t be good for Democrats, or for democracy.

Kristen Day in an interview with Aleteia:

Regarding abortion, we believe that the answer to a crisis pregnancy is to eliminate the crisis—not the child.

We don’t believe women should have to “choose” between motherhood and a decent, safe life.  We believe it is going to take emphasis on the support side, which Democrats are good on, to truly give women real choice. A livable wage, affordable children care, paid leave, and flexible hours all help families who are faced with an unplanned or planned pregnancy….

We are pro-life Democrats because we truly believe in protecting prenatal children and we believe that to reduce abortion we must address poverty in all its forms.

Since we believe the Democratic Party is more focused on addressing social needs, we are convinced that the pro-life position is a great fit for the party.  We plan to stay active and work to convince our party to embrace a consistent life position of protection—from womb to tomb. It is really the sensible position for Democrats.

And Crux:

During the debate on the Affordable Care Act, even those considered pro-choice were eager to support limits on abortion. This could have been a major turning point for the party. Two things happened. Republicans saw the danger of an inclusive, big-tent Democratic Party when the pro-life Democrats helped pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The abortion lobby saw this danger too. Neither liked to see the strength of the pro-life Democratic caucus.

Instead of embracing the pro-life Democrats for unifying behind this crowning achievement for Democrats, the party treated them with disdain. Many of the Stupak 18 were ostracized by party leaders and party activists. At the same time, Republicans saw this opportunity to knock the pro-life Democrats out of the purple seats by claiming the ACA was the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.

This combined effort resulted in 88 percent of the seats once held by Democrats who opposed taxpayer funding of abortion becoming solid red seats….

It does seem that way. Many in the current leadership would rather be a minority party than include pro-life democrats and/or do not fully understand that pushing pro-life democrats away has caused us to lose numerous opportunities and majorities around the country….

We cannot legitimately claim the mantle of the “big tent’ party of diversity and inclusion when we openly say that we don’t want pro-life voters. People are celebrating that our party is more progressive, but fail to recognize that people didn’t change their opinions – the party is just smaller because we do not support, nor want to include, the voices of moderate and pro-life democrats.