Amy Backs a Big Tent Strategy, As Bernie and Mayor Pete Shun Pro-Life Democrats and Progressives

via The Hill:

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Tuesday said that the Democratic Party should be a “big tent” for people of different beliefs, including those who oppose abortion rights….

“There are pro-life Democrats, and they are part of our party, and I think we need to build a big tent,” she said.

“I think we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out.”

When Bernie Sanders was asked if there is such a thing as a pro-life Democrat in his vision of the party, he replied, “By this time in history, I think, when we talk about what a Democrat is, I think being pro-choice is an essential part of that.”

When Pete Buttigieg was asked about whether or not he was open to a more inclusive approach toward pro-life Democrats by pro-life Democrat Kristen Day, he refused to directly answer the question, reiterated his support for legal abortion, and declined to say that he valued the over 20 million pro-life Democrats in the party.


Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for February 2020: Hear the Cries of Migrants


Migrants are often victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking.

Among other causes, this happens because of corruption on the part of people willing to do anything for financial gain.

The money from their dirty, underhanded business is blood money. I’m not exaggerating: it’s blood money.

We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking, may be heard and considered.


How Catholics Should Vote in 2020

Here are highlights from Bishop Robert McElroy’s speech “Conscience, Candidates and Discipleship in Voting”:

Frequently in discussions of the application of Catholic social teaching to voting, the question is raised whether one issue has a unique priority among all of the other issues in its claim upon believers in the current election cycle. Some have categorized abortion in that way. Others, climate change. This question deserves deeper scrutiny….

More than 750,000 unborn children are directly killed in the United States every year. At one time there was bipartisan support for erecting policies that made abortion rare. Now that commitment has been eviscerated in the Democratic Party in a capitulation to notions of privacy that simply block out the human identity and rights of unborn children….

At the same time there is a clear international scientific consensus that climate change caused by the use of fossil fuels and other human activities poses an existential threat to the very future of humanity and that air pollution resulting from fossil fuels is already a major cause of premature death on our planet. Existing trajectories of pollutants being placed in the atmosphere by human activity, if unchecked, will raise the temperature of the earth in the coming decades, generating catastrophic rises in human exposure to deadly heat, devastating rises in water levels and massive exposure to a series of perilous viruses. In addition, there will be severe widespread famines, droughts and massive dislocations of peoples that will cause untold deaths, human suffering and violent conflict….As a consequence, the survival of the planet, which is the prerequisite for all human life, is at risk.

Against the backdrop of these two monumental threats to human life, how can one evaluate the competing claims that either abortion or climate change should be uniquely preeminent in Catholic social teaching regarding the formation of Americans as citizens and believers? Four points should be considered.

    1. There is no mandate in universal Catholic social teaching that gives a categorical priority to either of these issues as uniquely determinative of the common good.
    2. The death toll from abortion is more immediate, but the long-term death toll from unchecked climate change is larger and threatens the very future of humanity.
    3. Both abortion and the environment are core life issues in Catholic teaching.
    4. The designation of either of these issues as the preeminent question in Catholic social teaching at this time in the United States will inevitably be hijacked by partisan forces to propose that Catholics have an overriding duty to vote for candidates that espouse that position. Recent electoral history shows this to be a certainty.

The question of preeminence is further clouded by a third compelling issue our country faces in this election cycle — the culture of exclusion that has grown so dramatically in our nation during the last three years. Racial injustice is on the rise, buttressed by a new language and symbolism that seeks to advance the evil of white nationalism and create structures of racial prejudice for a new generation.

Immigrants and refugees, who have been at the core of America’s history as a source of vitality and richness, are portrayed as a cause for fear and suspicion in our society rather than of solidarity. Members of the Muslim community are widely characterized as aliens whose religion automatically means they cannot be trusted, while incidents of vile and pervasive anti-Semitism are on the rise.

This growing culture of exclusion does not emerge as a specific policy question in our contemporary national politics; rather, it seeps into all of the most salient questions of life and dignity that our society faces and corrodes each one in turn….

On virtually every question of human life and dignity the growing culture of exclusion in our nation reinforces and propels cleavages that are highly destructive to all of the goals that lie at the center of Catholic social teaching. For this reason, many faith-filled Catholics believe that in this election cycle the most compelling issue that arises from Catholic social teaching for American voters is the need to repudiate radically this culture of exclusion before it spreads further and leads to new levels of moral paralysis and division.

Seen against this background of abortion, climate change and the culture of exclusion, it is clear that the faith-filled voter who seeks to be guided by Catholic social teaching is confronted by compelling moral claims that cut across the partisan and cultural divides of our nation. The pathway from these cross-cutting moral claims to decisions on particular candidates is not a direct and singular one in Catholic teaching, rooted in one issue. For this reason, the drive to label a single issue preeminent distorts the call to authentic discipleship in voting rather than advancing it….

But voting for candidates ultimately involves choosing a candidate for public office, not a stance, nor a specific teaching of the Church. And for this reason, faithful voting involves careful consideration of the specific ability of a particular candidate to actually advance the common good. In making this assessment, opportunity, competence and character all come into play….

But voting for candidates ultimately involves choosing a candidate for public office, not a stance, nor a specific teaching of the Church. And for this reason, faithful voting involves careful consideration of the specific ability of a particular candidate to actually advance the common good. In making this assessment, opportunity, competence and character all come into play….

Competence is also a central metric for faith-filled voters to consider. It does little good to elect a saint who echoes Catholic social teaching on every issue if that candidate does not have the competence to carry out his duties effectively and thereby enhance the common good. Faith-filled voters must assess the intelligence, human relations skills, mastery of policy and intuitive insights that each candidate brings to bear, for voting discipleship seeks results, not merely aspirations….

Finally, because our nation is in a moment of political division and degradation in its public life, character represents a particularly compelling criterion for faithful voting in 2020. In the United States, political leaders, especially at the highest levels, imprint their character in pivotal ways upon the entire political culture, and thus on society itself. Today, leaders in government embrace corrosive tactics and language, fostering division rather than unity. The notion of truth itself has lost its footing in our public debate….

The faith-filled voter is asked to make the complex judgment: which candidate will be likely to best advance the common good through his office in the particular political context he will face?…

For the disciple of Jesus Christ, voting is a sacred action. In the words of The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, it touches “the crossroads where Christian life and conscience come into contact with the real world.” For this reason, it cannot be reduced to a logical set of propositions that yield a predetermined result in the selection of candidates.

Some theologians have sought to find such a logic of deduction in the concept of intrinsic evil…. The problem with this approach is that while the criterion of intrinsic evil identifies specific human acts that can never be justified, this criterion is not a measure of the relative gravity of the evil in particular human or political actions. Telling a lie is intrinsically evil, while escalating a nuclear arms race is not. But it is wrongheaded to propose that telling a lie to constituents should count more in the calculus of faithful voting than a candidate’s plans to initiate a destabilizing nuclear weapons program. Similarly, contraception is intrinsically evil in Catholic moral theology, while actions which destroy the environment generally are not. But it is a far greater moral evil for our country to abandon the Paris Climate Accord than to provide contraceptives in federal health centers. What these examples point out is that Catholic social teaching cannot be reduced to a deductivist model when it comes to voting to safeguard the life and dignity of the human person.

How, then does the faith-filled voter choose candidates in a way that integrates the tenets of Catholic social teaching, recognizes the role that competence, character and capacity play in the real world of governing, and preserves a stance of building unity within society?

The Church locates this pathway in the virtue of prudence. In the words of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, “prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it. … It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience.”…

Prudential judgment is not a secondary or deficient mode of discernment in the Christian conscience. It is the primary mode.

This is certainly true in voting for candidates for public office. The constellation of substantial moral elements that are relevant to deciding which candidate is most likely to advance the common good during her time in office can only be morally comprehended through the virtue of prudence. There cannot be faith-filled Catholic voting without the virtue of prudence, exercised within the sanctity of well-formed conscience.


Pope Francis Identifies Tax Cuts for the Rich As Obstacle to Economic Justice

via Vatican News:

Hundreds of millions of people, said the Pope, are struggling in extreme poverty, and are lacking food, housing, healthcare, schooling, electricity, and drinkable water. Around 5 million children will die this year of causes related to poverty, he said.

Pope Francis added that rising income inequality has also left millions of people as victims of forced labor, prostitution, and organ trafficking.

These facts should impel us to take action, and not to fall into despair.

“These are solvable problems,” he said. “We are not condemned to global inequality.”

Poverty can be overcome, said the Pope, if an economic system is put in place that includes, feeds, cures, and dresses those left behind by society.

“We have to choose what and who to prioritize,” he said. Our choice will lead either to increased social injustice and violence, or to “humanizing socio-economic systems”….

And he condemned recurrent tax breaks for wealthy individuals as “structures of sin”. “Every year hundreds of millions of dollars – which should be collected as taxes and go to finance healthcare and education – instead end up in offshore accounts,” he said….

“Social protection, a basic income, healthcare for all, and universal education,” he said, are “economic rights” that form the basis of human solidarity.


Mitt Romney, Inspired by His Faith, Explains His Vote to Convict Trump On His Appalling Abuse of Public Trust

Mitt Romney said:

The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong….

The historic meaning of the words “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the writings of the founders and my own reasoned judgment convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they’re not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office. To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove such a president defies reason….

Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the president’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the president’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit. There’s no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the president would never have done what he did….

The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president….

The grave question the Constitution tasked senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did.

The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The president’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.

What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.



Pope Francis on the Importance of Stories

via Vatican News:

Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us.  A narrative that can regard our world and its happenings with a tender gaze.  A narrative that can tell us that we are part of a living and interconnected tapestry. A narrative that can reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another….

 How many stories serve to lull us, convincing us that to be happy we continually need to gain, possess and consume.  We may not even realize how greedy we have become for chatter and gossip, or how much violence and falsehood we are consuming.  Often on communication platforms, instead of constructive stories which serve to strengthen social ties and the cultural fabric, we find destructive and provocative stories that wear down and break the fragile threads binding us together as a society.  By patching together bits of unverified information, repeating banal and deceptively persuasive arguments, sending strident and hateful messages, we do not help to weave human history, but instead strip others of their dignity….

In an age when falsification is increasingly sophisticated, reaching exponential levels (as in deepfake), we need wisdom to be able to welcome and create beautiful, true and good stories.  We need courage to reject false and evil stories.  We need patience and discernment to rediscover stories that help us not to lose the thread amid today’s many troubles.  We need stories that reveal who we truly are, also in the untold heroism of everyday life….

The Bible is thus the great love story between God and humanity.  At its centre stands Jesus, whose own story brings to fulfilment both God’s love for us and our love for God.