Pope Urges Governments to Take the Lead in Caring for Creation

via Vatican News:

Respect, responsibility and relationship are the three themes highlighted by Pope Francis in a message addressed to the “Laudato Sì & Big Cities” conference taking place in Rio de Janeiro….

Respecting Creation is one of our “core tasks” Pope Francis writes in his strongly worded message to conference participants, and he reaffirms, as he did in his encyclical – to which the Rio conference is dedicated – that we “cannot just remain on the sidelines when we notice a serious degeneration in the quality of the air or an increase in the production of waste that is not adequately disposed of “.

Situations such as these, the Pope warns, “are the result of an irresponsible form of exploitation of creation and demand that we act responsibly for the good of all”.

Unfortunately, Francis continues, what we continue to see can only be described as “indifference towards the safekeeping of our common home”.

 


A Catholic Response to the KKK


In America, Millennial writer Nichole Flores writes:

Last weekend, the Ku Klux Klan converged upon Charlottesville, Va. I am not naïve about the existence of racism in the United States. As a Mexican-American woman with brown skin, I have often experienced instances of racism. Until recently, however, I had imagined the K.K.K. as a fossil calcified in our national history, not as a living, active organism still instilling fear, marshaling intimidation and potentially inciting violence….

As we discern the signs of the times, the question of racial injustice confronts the Catholic Church in a forceful way. Our church teaches that racism is a sin against the dignity of human life. Yet, fighting racism is seldom placed at the heart of our robust social justice advocacy….

On July 6, I received an email invitation from a local parish: “HOLY HOUR FOR PEACE AND THE END OF HATRED AND RACISM.” We would pray the rosary in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in anticipation of the K.K.K.’s rally. Frankly, I was surprised to receive an invitation of this nature from this particular parish. Like many Catholic parishes in the United States, this one almost never discusses race or racism in explicit terms, even as the body count of unarmed black men and women killed at the hands of police officers continues to climb. I quickly rearranged my schedule to be present with others for this prayer….

I focus my gaze on my rosary. It is adorned with images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego. Guadalupe’s image is the anti-Klan. Her presence is announced not with threats of violence or false notions of racial purity but with flor y canto—flowers and song. The brown-skinned Virgin, adorned with colorful symbols of both Aztec and Spanish splendor, testifies to the beauty that we can find in our differences. She appears to Juan Diego, the despised and denigrated person of colonial society, and empowers him to communicate her message to the church’s powerful bishops and clergy. She invites communion by making the powerless equal to the powerful. As Patroness of the Americas, she rejects all forms of hatred and racism as an affront to the Gospel of Jesus Christ who affirms the dignity of every human being, the beauty of justice and equality….

Still, I wonder why I have never heard racism denounced in such clarion terms from a parish before. Will I hear it denounced so clearly again? Does the Catholic Church in the United States have the courage to stand up to racism before the K.K.K. comes to town? Or after the K.K.K. leaves town? Will our parishes stand in solidarity with those involved in nonviolent direct action in response to racial hatred?



Leading Catholics Pledge to End the Death Penalty

Catholic Mobilizing Network is encouraging people to pledge to end the death penalty:

“All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, and in all its forms, but also in order to improve prison conditions, with respect for the human dignity of the people deprived of their freedom” – Pope Francis

In response to Pope Francis’s call, I pledge to educate, advocate, and pray for the end of the death penalty:

Educate

I will educate myself and my community about the injustices of the death penalty, including the ways it risks innocent life, fails victims’ families, and contradicts the Catholic Church’s pro-life teaching.

Advocate

I will fulfill the call to discipleship by advocating for the dignity of all life, including those who are on death row and awaiting execution, and by actively working to end the death penalty in my state and in my country.

Pray

I will pray for mercy and healing for all who are involved in the criminal justice system: victims of crime and their families, those in prison and on death row, communities where crimes are committed, and all who work in the legislative system.

God of mercy, help me to remember your loving compassion as I go forward to work for an end to the death penalty. Allow me to be a vessel for your mercy, so as to heal the broken and welcome the outcast. Amen.

A number of prominent Catholics have made the pledge, including Fr. James Martin, Lisa Sowle Cahill, Sr. Carol Keehan, Sr. Norma Pimentel, John Carr, and 19 Catholic bishops. Here are a few reasons why people are taking the pledge:

Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice, Florida (Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development): “I have signed the Pledge. Catholics and all like-minded individuals need to sign it; it is a pledge that will go about urging people to educate, advocate, and pray for an end to capital punishment. This pledge will provide an encouragement to parish priests to begin to talk more about the death penalty, not just saying the same thing every time, but to really bring it into the discussion.  It is a matter of life, so they need to be talking about it.”

Sr. Helen Prejean: “No government is ever innocent enough or wise enough or just enough to lay claim to so absolute a power as death.”

Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ: “Homeboy Industries stands against the death penalty and always for the principle that every human being is a whole lot more than the worst thing they’ve ever done.”

Helen Alvare: “The more strongly I understood the sacredness of unborn life, the more strongly I came to oppose the death penalty.”

Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ: “While speaking to Congress during his visit to the United States, Pope Francis reminded us all that ‘a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.’ I stand with our Holy Father in opposing the death penalty, which condemns hope and denies the possibility of change.”

Msgr. John Enzler: “The Church believes and I believe life begins at conception and ends with natural death. The death penalty allows human beings to step in where only God belongs. While individuals may deserve a life sentence, our faith and our Church want to protect life at all costs: in the womb, through our later years and on death row. I strongly support this effort and hope others will join in as well.”

You can take the pledge here.


Pope Francis on the Personalistic Dimension of Work, Freedom, and Dignity

Here are some key passages from Pope Francis’ message to the participants in the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences:

  • The Social Doctrine of the Church (SDC) insistently invites us to find ways to apply, in practice, fraternity as the governing principle of the economic order.
  • The periods we have left behind – the 1800s and above all the 1900s – were characterised by arduous battles, both cultural and political, in the name of solidarity and rights, and this was a good thing – if one thinks of the history of the trade unions movement and the struggle to obtain civil and social rights, struggles that are in any case very far from being concluded. What is most disturbing today is the exclusion and marginalization of the majority from equitable participation in nationwide and planetary distribution of both market and non-market assets such as dignity, freedom, knowledge, belonging, integration, and peace.
  • Inequalities – along with wars for dominance, and climate change – are the causes of the greatest forced migration in history, affecting over 65 million human beings. Think too of the growing drama of new slavery, in the forms of forced labour, prostitution, and organ trafficking, which are true crimes against humanity. It is alarming and symptomatic that today the human body is bought and sold, as if it were a commodity for exchange.
  • Calling for integral development means engaging in widening the space of dignity and freedom of people: freedom, however, not only in the negative sense of the absence of impediments, nor only in a positive sense as a choice. It is necessary to add freedom “for”, that is, the freedom to pursue its vocation of both personal and social good. The key idea is that freedom goes hand in hand with the responsibility of protecting the common good and promoting the dignity, liberty and well-being of others, reaching the poor, the excluded and future generations.
  • Just work is not merely that which ensures fair remuneration, but which corresponds to the person’s vocation and is therefore able to develop his or her skills. Precisely because work transforms the person, the process by which goods and services are produced acquires moral value. In other words, the workplace is not simply the place where certain elements are processed according to certain rules and procedures in products; it is also the place where the character and virtue of the worker are formed or transformed.
  • The recognition of this powerfully personalistic dimension of work is a great challenge we still face, even in liberal democracies where workers have made considerable gains.

Pope Francis Has a ‘No Whining’ Sign on His Door

via Reuters:

If anyone had any doubts how Pope Francis feels about people who always complain, the answer is now tacked to the door of his frugal suite in a Vatican residence: “No Whining”.

Under the explicit warning, the red-and-white Italian language sign goes on to say that “violators are subject to a syndrome of always feeling like a victim and the consequent reduction of your sense of humor and capacity to solve problems”…

It adds: “The penalty is doubled if the violation take place in the presence of children. To get the best out of yourself, concentrate on your potential and not on your limitations.”

Then the closing zinger: “Stop complaining and take steps to improve your life.”