Pope Condemns “Barbaric Resurgence” of Anti-Semitism

via Philip Pullella:

Pope Francis on Monday condemned the “barbaric resurgence” of anti-Semitism around the world, linking it to the rise of populism.

Next week’s 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp should serve as a reminder not to become indifferent, Francis said to a delegation from the human rights and research group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

“It is troubling to see, in many parts of the world, an increase in selfishness and indifference, lack of concern for others and the attitude that says life is good as long as it is good for me, and when things go wrong, anger and malice are unleashed,” Francis said.

“This creates a fertile ground for the forms of factionalism and populism we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up … where hatred is seminated,” he said. “Even recently, we have witnessed a barbaric resurgence of cases of anti-Semitism.”


All 16 Bishops in Texas Denounce Governor Abbott’s Refugee Ban

Their joint statement says:

Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to turn away refugees from the great state of Texas is deeply discouraging and disheartening. While the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops respects the governor, this decision is simply misguided. It denies people who are fleeing persecution, including religious persecution, from being able to bring their gifts and talents to our state and contribute to the general common good of all Texans. The refugees who have already resettled in Texas have made our communities even more vibrant. As Catholics, an essential aspect of our faith is to welcome the stranger and care for the alien. We use this occasion to commit ourselves even more ardently to work with all people of good will, including our federal, state and local governments, to help refugees integrate and become productive members of our communities.


Millennial of the Year 2019: Joshua Wong

Embed from Getty Images
For his commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights in Hong Kong in the face of ongoing persecution and mistreatment, our 2019 Millennial of the Year is Joshua Wong.

The Chinese regime has turned to increasingly totalitarian methods to maintain its grip on power—from its anti-Muslim concentration camps to its brutal crackdowns on protesters and persecution of human rights activists and their family members to the expansion of its Black Mirror-like “social credit” system. Taking a stand against the regime, which is looking to consolidate its power within China and extend it abroad, requires great courage—the type consistently displayed by Joshua Wong, who has been imprisoned on multiple occasions for his efforts.

Wong first drew headlines as a teenager as a leader of the Umbrella Movement during the 2014 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. And in 2019, as over a million people in Hong Kong took to the streets to protest an extradition bill that would further erode Hong Kong’s autonomy, Wong has used his platform to fight against Chinese attempts to discredit the protesters and make Hong Kong more closely resemble authoritarian China. The current movement may be leaderless, but Wong is playing a vital role in this struggle.

It is a perilous time for democracy around the world. Authoritarianism seems resurgent. Millennials must fight back against these troubling trends and take a stand for free democracy. Joshua Wong is already doing that.


20 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes That Continue to Challenge Us

  1. “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
  2. “Anybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t need to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
  3. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
  4. “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep the streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
  5. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  6. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”
  7. “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”
  8. “The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.”
  9. “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stopped to help this man, what will happen to me?” But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
  10. “The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be…The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”
  11. “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
  12. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”
  13. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  14. “When you are right, you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong you cannot be too conservative.”
  15. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
  16. “I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”
  17. “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable….Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
  18. “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
  19. “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
  20. “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”

Archbishop Gomez on the Increase in Anti-Semitic Attacks, White Nationalism, Nativism, and Anti-Immigrant Violence

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles writes:

“We have come a long way in our country, but we have not come nearly far enough. Too many hearts and minds are clouded by racist presumptions of privilege and too many injustices in our society are still rooted in racism and discrimination. Too many young African American men are still being killed in our streets or spending their best years behind bars. Many minority neighborhoods in this country are still what they were in Rev. King’s time, what he called ‘lonely islands of poverty.’ Let us recommit ourselves to ensuring opportunity reaches every community.

“In recent years, we have seen disturbing outbreaks of racism and prejudice against other groups. There has been a rise of anti-Semitic attacks and also ugly displays of white nationalism, nativism, and violence targeting Hispanics and other immigrants. Such bigotry is not worthy of a great nation. As Catholics and as Americans, we must reject every form of racism and anti-Semitism.


America’s Favorite Poison: Why Is No One Fighting Big Alcohol?

Olga Khazan writes:

Occasionally, Elizabeth Bruenig unleashes a tweet for which she knows she’s sure to get dragged: She admits that she doesn’t drink….

You’re really missing out, they might say. Why would you deny yourself?

As Bruenig sees it, however, there’s more to be gained than lost in abstaining. In fact, she supports stronger restrictions on alcohol sales. Alcohol’s effects on crime and violence, in her view, are cause to reconsider some cities’ and states’ permissive attitudes toward things such as open-container laws and where alcohol can be sold.

Breunig’s outlook harks back to a time when there was a robust public discussion about the role of alcohol in society. Today, warnings about the devil drink will win you few friends….

Unlike in previous generations, hardly any formal organizations are pushing to reduce the amount that Americans drink….In a country where there is an interest group for everything, one of the biggest public-health threats is largely allowed a free pass. And there are deep historical and commercial reasons why.

Americans would be justified in treating alcohol with the same wariness they have toward other drugs….The idea that a glass or two of red wine a day is healthy is now considered dubious. At best, slight heart-health benefits are associated with moderate drinking, and most health experts say you shouldn’t start drinking for the health benefits if you don’t drink already. As one major study recently put it, “Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.”

Alcohol’s byproducts wreak havoc on the cells, raising the risk of liver disease, heart failure, dementia, seven types of cancer, and fetal alcohol syndrome. Just this month, researchers reported that the number of alcohol-related deaths in the United States more than doubled in two decades, going up to 73,000 in 2017. As the journalist Stephanie Mencimer wrote in a 2018 Mother Jones article, alcohol-related breast cancer kills more than twice as many American women as drunk drivers do. Many people drink to relax, but it turns out that booze isn’t even very good at that. It seems to have a boomerang effect on anxiety, soothing it at first but bringing it roaring back later.

Despite these grim statistics, Americans embrace and encourage drinking far more than they do similar vices. Alcohol is the one drug almost universally accepted at social gatherings that routinely kills people….

America arrived at this point in part because the end of Prohibition took the wind out of the sails of temperance groups….

In later decades, beer companies created the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation, now called the Foundation for Alcohol Research, which proceeded to give research grants to scientists, some of whom found health benefits to drinking….

Regardless of how much Americans love to drink, the country could be safer and healthier if we treated booze more like we treat cigarettes. The lack of serious discussion about raising alcohol prices or limiting its sale speaks to all the ground Americans have ceded to the “good guys” who have fun. And judging by the health statistics, we’re amusing ourselves to death.