Fr. Stanley Rother Recognized as First US-Born Martyr

via CNA:

Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of Father Stanley Rother, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who served in Guatemala, making him the first martyr to have been born in the United States….

When Stanley was still in seminary, St. John XXIII asked the Churches of North America to send assistance and establish missions in Central America. Soon after, the dioceses of Oklahoma City and Tulsa established a mission in Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala, a poor rural community of mostly indigenous people.

A few years after he was ordained, Fr. Stanley accepted an invitation to join the mission team, where he would spend the next 13 years of his life….

The beloved Padre Francisco was also known for his kindness, selflessness, joy and attentive presence among his parishioners. Dozens of pictures show giggling children running after Padre Francisco and grabbing his hands, Scaperlanda said.

“It was Father Stanley’s natural disposition to share the labor with them, to break bread with them, and celebrate life with them, that made the community in Guatemala say of Father Stanley, ‘he was our priest,’” she said.

Over the years, the violence of the Guatemalan civil war inched closer to the once-peaceful village. Disappearances, killings and danger soon became a part of daily life, but Fr. Stanley remained steadfast and supportive of his people….

“The reality is that we are in danger. But we don’t know when or what form the government will use to further repress the Church…. Given the situation, I am not ready to leave here just yet… But if it is my destiny that I should give my life here, then so be it…. I don’t want to desert these people, and that is what will be said, even after all these years. There is still a lot of good that can be done under the circumstances.”

He ended the letter with what would become his signature quote:

“The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger. Pray for us that we may be a sign of the love of Christ for our people, that our presence among them will fortify them to endure these sufferings in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.”…

The morning of July 28, 1981, three Ladinos, the non-indigenous men who had been fighting the native people and rural poor of Guatemala since the 1960s, broke into Fr. Rother’s rectory. They wished to disappear him, but he refused. Not wanting to endanger the others at the parish mission, he struggled but did not call for help. Fifteen minutes and two gunshots later, Father Stanley was dead and the men fled the mission grounds.

You can also watch America editors Sam Sawyer, SJ and Ashley McKinless discuss the recognition of Fr. Stanley Rother’s martyrdom and the expanding definition of modern martyrdom here:

Nichole Flores Examines Injustices through a Catholic Lens

UVA Today has a new article on Millennial writer Nichole Flores:

An interest in government, a passion for social justice and a deeply rooted understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church: these puzzle pieces eventually fit together to land assistant professor Nichole Flores at the University of Virginia.

“My work is concerned with religion and the common good and religion in public life,” Flores, who teaches courses in religious studies, said. “I felt it would be a really neat opportunity to speak about the contributions of Catholic thinking and Catholic social thought within the rigorous and exciting public context of UVA.”

Informed by the degrees she earned in political science, divinity and theological ethics, Flores’ teaching and research focuses on Catholic social thought as it pertains to issues such as human trafficking, racism and bioethics. But Flores also emphasizes that the teachings of the church can extend to every area of human life, regardless of one’s religious beliefs.

“A lot of people are hesitant to look at Catholic social thought because it sounds like something that only has to do with people who go to Catholic churches,” Flores said. “But, in fact, the way the Catholic tradition understands itself is having relevance beyond its own believers and that it has something to say about justice and goodness to the whole world.”

You can read the full article here.

Should Religion Have a Place in Government?

Millennial writer Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig recently spoke at the Yale Political Union, arguing the negative position on the resolution: “religion has no place in government.” Here is a small segment of her speech:

I’ll now turn to the idea that religion ought to have a place in government….

There are several reasons why. The first is that law both expresses and enforces certain moral truths which cannot be divorced from broader moral systems, and for the religious — those sharing communities of some overwhelming concern — it’s disingenuous nigh impossible to deliberate on what truths the law should express without citing their religious priors.

And this, secondly, allows their co-religionists to hold them responsible for their claims. The tendency of liberal societies to bifurcate religion and politics into two separate spheres — one private, one public — encourages religious participants in political deliberation to equivocate somewhat about their motives and beliefs, as it’s not really possible in that political context to interrogate them. Yet it should be. As long as the religious are going to participate in governance, it’s going to be better, not worse, to argue out the legitimacy of their claims on their own grounds, rather than accounting for all religiously motivated argumentation as both void and unassailable on the grounds of its privacy. Politics are already religious, as I have argued, and are intrinsically so; in that case, it’s better that we be clear and direct about our convictions than cloak them in a flimsy veil of privacy.

Lastly, when religion is entirely privatized and politics dominates the public realm totally, there is little with sufficient moral weight to check political hegemony. There is a reason totalitarians seek to swiftly snuff out religious dissenters, and there is also a reason that religions nonetheless endure. The likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were able to resist hegemonic — and unjust — political exercise not out of reserves of private religious virtue, but because they produced religious objections to the evils of their respective states and pressed these cases politically, in public. From this perspective it is easy to imagine why the modern nation-state might insist that religion be privatized and ejected from the public sphere; it should be equally easy to imagine why we should resist that effort.

And this doesn’t apply only to fringe cases where extreme resistance measures (as against fascist regimes or racist violence) would otherwise be excused even by garden variety liberals. Indeed, destructive ideologies exert hegemonic control over our everyday, ordinary lives, and in many cases seek to exclude religious reasoning much to their benefit. Eugene McCarraher argues, for example, that in contemporary society religion has been displaced by a kind of Mammon-worship precisely to facilitate the dominance of global capitalism…

The full speech can be read here.

US Will Ban Smoking in Public Housing

via NY Times:

Smoking will be prohibited in public housing residences nationwide under a federal rule announced on Wednesday.

Officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that the rule would take effect early next year, but that public housing agencies would have a year and a half to put smoke-free policies in place. The rule will affect more than 1.2 million households, the officials said, although some 200,000 homes already come under smoking bans adopted voluntarily by hundreds of public housing agencies around the country….

Anti-smoking advocates consider smoke-free housing the latest major front in the long-running campaign to curb exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. The rule covering public housing forbids cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs (or water pipes) — but not electronic cigarettes — from being smoked in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and office buildings.

Housing agencies that already ban smoking said they enforced their policies through warnings and fines coupled with education, including counseling and smoking-cessation aids like nicotine patches.

For the People Not the Powerful: An Interview with Senate Candidate Foster Campbell

Foster Campbell is the Democratic candidate in the final US Senate race in 2016, a contest to represent Louisiana. Millennial editor Robert Christian interviewed him on his approach to politics and public policy:

You’ve said, “Matthew 25 is my guide post. I’m on the side of the least of these.” Responding to a question about how he might describe his political philosophy, FDR once said, “I am a Christian and a Democrat, that’s all.” Is that similar to how you might describe your approach? What role does your faith play in your approach to politics and commitment to siding with the poor and vulnerable?

I have always had a message and goals that transcend party. This isn’t a race about Republicans and Democrats. I also don’t wear my religion on my sleeve. There’s no wrong way to do the right thing. I just wake up in the morning, informed by faith, and armed with the facts and make decisions that I think will help regular people. Government has a role to play in making people’s lives better. You can’t starve prosperity out of our nation. I don’t know any other way to be than the way I am.

You tweeted that you agreed with Pope Francis—that climate change is real and Louisiana is feeling the effects. Why is this such an important issue for Louisiana and how will you make protecting the environment a priority?

We lose a football field of land every hour. I’m the only person in this race who will admit we have global warming and that humans play a role, at least in part, in causing it. We have a Master Coastal Restoration Plan aimed at restoring and protecting our coast, but it’s $50 billion short. I believe our coast is a national treasure. We are America’s gas station. There are common sense, science-driven policies that can keep our businesses running and repair our coast at the same time. If we continue to fail on this front, Louisiana will soon disappear. We are the first state in the nation who has had to relocate our people due to land loss – a direct result of climate change. I’m fighting for our Louisiana way of life. Without our coast, we can’t be who we are. I’m fighting for commercial and recreational fisherman, for people who work offshore drilling oil, for generations of our people who know our identity is intimately linked to our coast.

There is some talk about Republicans privatizing core entitlements programs, which you oppose. Why is privatizing Medicare and Social Security a mistake? Why should young people be concerned about such plans?

Republicans were against the GI Bill of Rights. Against Social Security. Against Medicare. Now that most of them benefit from the programs they think they’re great. Privatizing Medicare and Social Security allows the players in the stock market to gamble with the retirement security of the entire nation. I will never support selling Medicare or Social Security to Wall Street because it will lower benefits and could destroy our economy overnight if our seniors, or an entire generation of people, lose their benefits in a crash like 2008. Privatization usually does save money – by making us pay for it. I won’t balance our federal budget on the backs of hardworking people who paid into the system their whole lives. It’s immoral.  Read More

Pope Francis: Drug Addiction is a Type of Slavery

via Vatican News:

Pope Francis told the two-day conference on Narcotics that those who fall into the snares of drugs are victims who have “lost their freedom” in return for “a new form of slavery.”

Reflecting on the causes of drug addiction, the Holy Father said it results from a variety of factors: “the absence of a family, social pressure, propaganda from traffickers, the desire to live new experiences.”

However, he said, “every addicted person brings with them a distinct personal history, which should be listened to, understood, loved, and, where possible, cured and purified. We cannot fall into the injustice of classifying them as if they were objects or broken junk; rather, every person should be valued and appreciated in their dignity in order to be cured. They continue to have, more than ever, dignity as persons and children of God.”

He said it is no surprise that so many people fall into drug addiction since “mundanity offers us a wide spectrum of possibilities to find a fleeting happiness”.

The Pope went on to approach the problem of narcotics from both the supply and demands sides of the equation.

The supply of drugs, he said, is an “important part of organized crime”, and its supply chain must be rooted out and destroyed.