The Plight of the Modern Person

We live in a culture that is permeated by a critical mindset – one that reduces reality to what can be seen and measured and human flourishing to career success and material acquisition. In such a culture, religion is often dismissed and looked down upon. In this video, I discuss the experience of the many people who yearn for something more but feel they can’t believe in the religion of their youth and don’t know where else to find meaning for their life:

How Alt-Catholics and Their Allies Undermine the Pope and Catholic Unity

Mike Lewis writes:

What I and many other Catholics recognized in Pope Francis was how he put the principles of our faith—the Gospel of Jesus Christ—into action. This was reinforced by his words. In his homilies, addresses and interviews, he constantly admonished us to understand that without humility, repentance, conversion, transformation and a heart filled with tenderness and hope, our faith was hollow and self-referential.

It was also clear to me that Pope Francis’ vision for the faith is precisely the cure for the embattled, embittered and polarized church in the United States.

Unfortunately, not everyone in the U.S. church agrees.

Since the early days of this papacy, there has been a growing and concentrated effort to undercut Pope Francis’ message….

The opposition to Francis—bolstered by the publication of a document signed by four cardinals who insinuated that “Amoris Laetitia” violated immutable Catholic doctrines on marriage, adultery and objective truth—has become relentless. Well-known Catholic apologists who openly encourage opposition to Pope Francis and the bishops—including extreme voices like Michael Voris of Church Militant and the popular YouTube commentator Taylor Marshall—have wildly popular multimedia platforms and go largely unchallenged by church leaders.

This is not simply a social media phenomenon. Many Catholics across the country hear figures like Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò—the former Vatican nuncio to the United States who has repeatedly attacked Francis after calling for the pope to resign in 2018—praised from the pulpit. Articles disparaging the pope are shared among groups of Catholics and posted on parish websites. I have several friends who belong to Catholic book clubs where members will refuse to read anything by Pope Francis.

Since I began writing and speaking publicly about this phenomenon, I have heard from hundreds of Catholics who have seen their families and communities divided over Pope Francis. In some parishes—and even some diocesan seminaries—negativity toward Francis has become so commonplace that those who support him feel compelled to keep their views to themselves. One priest told me that several seminarians referred to their seminaries as “Francis-free zones.”

Francis’ less reactionary critics have done little to stem the rise of their much more vicious counterparts. Nor has this story received significant public attention from U.S. bishops or Catholics who support the pope. Quite often, they will actively discourage others from speaking out publicly against these reactionary leaders, arguing that to do so would give them the attention they crave. But as we have witnessed in the United States and international politics, the “establishment” can no longer afford to ignore these powerful populist movements.

Democratic Lawmakers Urge Party to Step Away from Extreme, Unpopular Abortion Position

Via CNS:

About 100 current and former Democratic lawmakers from several states urged the Democratic Party’s Platform Committee Aug. 14 “to moderate its official position on abortion,” saying many party leaders support abortion policies “radically out of line with public opinion.”

“Many Democratic leaders support abortion at any time, for any reason; this position is opposed by 79% of Americans,” said the letter, posted on the website of Democrats for Life. It was sent three days ahead of the start of the virtual Democratic National Convention Aug. 17-20….

They said they are “united by three major concerns”:

— “We are concerned that many Democratic leaders support policies on abortion that are radically out of line with public opinion.”

In addition to running counter to a majority of Americans opposing abortion for any reason at any time, the party’s platform endorses taxpayer funding of abortion, “opposed by a supermajority of the population,” and taxpayer funding of abortion in developing countries, “opposed by three-fourths of voters,” the letter said.

— “We are concerned that, due to this wide disparity, the Democratic Party is alienating voters.”

In 389 out of 435 congressional districts, a majority of voters support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, the letter said. “When Democratic leaders support late-term abortion, they push many voters into the arms of the Republican Party. Many people holding pro-life views are single-issue voters.”

— “Finally, we are concerned about the betrayal of Democratic Party values.”

The party’s “extreme position on “abortion rights violates our commitment to inclusivity and diversity,” the letter said, citing polling that shows one in three Democrats are pro-life. “We must respect and include these 21 million Democrats,” the letter said.

The letter’s signers urged the Platform Committee to this year reintroduce conscience language from the 2000 platform into the 2020 platform acknowledging “that Americans have differing and deeply held views on abortion.”

Voting Under the Sign of the Cross

Millennial writer Meghan Clark writes:

Participation in the political, social, and economic life of the community is both our right and our responsibility. While not everyone is called to be an activist, all are called to actively work for the common good. Voting, in Catholic social teaching, is a moral obligation. Yet, as Christians, we are called to vote not motivated by own self-interest but by a commitment to the human dignity of all, an all-inclusive common good, and with a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable. Faithful discipleship, then, becomes a matter of solidarity and kinship in which all are equally sacred. In faithful citizenship, we are called to vote under the sign of the cross….

Throughout his ministry, Pope Francis has implored us to pray with the Gospel, reject the throwaway culture, and be in kinship with the marginalized. When we do that, our understanding of building a pro-life community of solidarity must be a circle in which no one is left out. We position ourselves with Black Lives Matter,10 with migrants of all ages, and with those experiencing poverty and struggling to meet their basic needs.

As we head into election season, voting is one important way that we participate in the political life of our communities. It is an act of solemn discernment and conscience. In 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, desperate cries for racial justice, and increasing economic need, it feels as if the stakes are quite high, and they are. Still, as people of faith, we begin by making sure we are standing in the right place as we discern, our focus on promoting the common good and building a community of solidarity in which none are excluded.