Summer Reading and Resources

Millennial Catholic Susan Reynolds offers some recommendations for summer reading (and resources):

First, Dr. Reynolds suggests Jean Vanier’s Becoming Human (Paulist Press, 2008). Vanier, who died in May at age 90, was the founder of L’Arche (French for “the ark”), the global network of small communities in which persons with and without intellectual disabilities live together in relationships of friendship and care. Reynolds notes that “there is a wonderful L’Arche community here in Decatur.” Vanier wrote extensively on topics of vulnerability, community, otherness, and Christian theology and spirituality. Becoming Human is one of his most enduring classics….

Finally, plug in your headphones for Deliver Us, a 12-episode podcast produced this year by America Media and hosted by Maggi van Dorn. This series provides a deeply pastoral look at the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church. Reynolds explains that this is “the epitome of a timely, relevant, theologically rich, pastorally sensitive podcast and relevant to listeners beyond those who are Catholic.”

Pope Francis: The Poor Save Us

Highlights from Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of the Poor:

How many times do we see poor people rummaging through garbage bins to retrieve what others have discarded as superfluous, in the hope of finding something to live on or to wear! They themselves become part of a human garbage bin; they are treated as refuse, without the slightest sense of guilt on the part of those who are complicit in this scandal. Frequently judged parasites on society, the poor are not even forgiven their poverty. Judgment is always around the corner. They are not allowed to be timid or discouraged; they are seen as a threat or simply useless, simply because they are poor.

To make matters worse, they can see no end to the tunnel of extreme poverty. We have come to the point of devising a hostile architecture aimed at ridding the streets of their presence, the last places left to them. They roam from one end of the city to the other in the hope of getting a job, a home, a sign of affection… The least offer becomes a ray of light; yet even where justice might be expected to prevail, they meet with violence and abuse. Forced to work endless hours under a burning sun to gather seasonal fruits, they receive ridiculously low pay. They labour in unsafe and inhuman conditions that prevent them from feeling on a par with others. They lack unemployment compensation, benefits, or even provision for sickness.

The Psalmist describes with brutal realism the attitude of the rich who rob the poor: “They lie in wait that they may seize the poor… and drag them off in their net” (cf. Ps 10:9). As in a hunt, the poor are trapped, captured and enslaved. As a result, many of them become disheartened, hardened and anxious only to drop out of sight. In a word, we see before us a multitude of poor people often maligned and barely tolerated. They become for all effects invisible and their voice is no longer heard or heeded in society. Men and women who are increasingly strangers amid our houses and outcasts in our neighborhoods….

Scripture constantly speaks of God acting on behalf of the poor. He is the one who “hears” their cry” and “comes to their aid”; he “protects” and “defends” them; he “rescues” and “saves” them… Indeed, the poor will never find God indifferent or silent in the face of their plea. God is the one who renders justice and does not forget (cf. Ps 40:18; 70:6); he is their refuge and he never fails to come to their assistance (cf. Ps 10:14).

We can build any number of walls and close our doors in the vain effort to feel secure in our wealth, at the expense of those left outside. It will not be that way for ever. The “day of the Lord”, as described by the prophets (cf. Am 5:18; Is 2-5; Jl 1-3), will destroy the barriers created between nations and replace the arrogance of the few with the solidarity of many. The marginalization painfully experienced by millions of persons cannot go on for long. Their cry is growing louder and embraces the entire earth. In the words of Father Primo Mazzolari: “the poor are a constant protest against our injustices; the poor are a powder keg. If it is set on fire, the world will explode”….

Commitment to the promotion of the poor, including their social promotion, is not foreign to the proclamation of the Gospel. On the contrary, it manifests the realism of Christian faith and its historical validity. The love that gives life to faith in Jesus makes it impossible for his disciples to remain enclosed in a stifling individualism or withdrawn into small circles of spiritual intimacy, with no influence on social life (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 183)….

“The option for those who are least, those whom society discards” (Evangelii Gaudium, 195) is a priority that Christ’s followers are called to pursue, so as not to impugn the Church’s credibility but to give real hope to many of our vulnerable brothers and sisters….

It is not easy to be witnesses of Christian hope in the context of a consumerist culture, a culture of waste concerned only for the spread of a shallow and ephemeral wellbeing. A change of mentality is needed, in order to rediscover what is essential and to give substance and verve to the preaching of the kingdom of God….

The poor are persons to be encountered; they are lonely, young and old, to be invited to our homes to share a meal; men women and children who look for a friendly word. The poor save us because they enable us to encounter the face of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Seitz Protests Trump Immigration Policies at Border Bridge

via KVIA:

El Paso’s Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz, along with clergy from the Diocese of Ciudad Juárez, led what they called a “Faith Action” at the U.S.-Mexico Border on Thursday afternoon to protest what they called the “devastating consequences of inhumane border policies.”

Bishop Seitz crossed the Lerdo International Bridge (Stanton Street Bridge) on foot to accompany and pray with a handful of migrants returned from El Paso to Ciudad Juárez as part of the “Remain in Mexico” program.

The Bishop asked Customs and Border Protection officials to allow the immigrants to remain in the U.S. while they go thru the process of seeking asylum.

After lengthy discussions with immigration authorities and attorneys, the bishop was allowed to cross with the migrants back into the U.S.

The diocese issued a statement outlining the reason for the protest. It cited “actions taken to criminalize migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, including the expansion of the “Remain in Mexico” policy, the deployment of security forces of both countries to the border, the ongoing deaths of migrant families in the Rio Grande and grave conditions in migrant processing centers,”


Pope Francis: The Poor Suffer the Worst Impacts of the Climate Crisis

Here are some highlights of a recent address by Pope Francis:

Today’s ecological crisis, especially climate change, threatens the very future of the human family. This is no exaggeration. For too long we have collectively failed to listen to the fruits of scientific analysis and “doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain” (Laudato Si’, 161). Any discussion of climate change and the energy transition must be rooted, then, in “the results of the best scientific research available today, letting them touch us deeply” (ibid., 15).

A significant development in this past year was the release of the “Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That Report clearly warns that effects on the climate will be catastrophic if we cross the threshold of 1.5ºC outlined in the Paris Agreement goal. The Report warns, moreover, that only one decade or so remains in order to achieve this confinement of global warming. Faced with a climate emergency, we must take action accordingly, in order to avoid perpetrating a brutal act of injustice towards the poor and future generations.

In effect, it is the poor who suffer the worst impacts of the climate crisis. As current situations demonstrate, the poor are those most vulnerable to hurricanes, droughts, floods and other extreme climatic events. Courage is surely required, therefore, in responding to “the increasingly desperate cries of the earth and its poor” At the same time, future generations stand to inherit a greatly spoiled world. Our children and grandchildren should not have to pay the cost of our generation’s irresponsibility. I beg your pardon, but I would like to emphasize this: they, our children and grandchildren should not have to pay – it is not right that they should pay – the price of our irresponsibility. Indeed, as is becoming increasingly clear, young people are calling for change (cf. Laudato Si’, 13). Today’s young people are saying, “The future is ours”, and they are right!…

A just transition, as you know, is called for in the Preamble to the Paris Agreement. Such a transition involves managing the social and employment impact of the move to a low-carbon society. If managed well, this transition can generate new jobs, reduce inequality and improve the quality of life for those affected by climate change.

Second, carbon pricing is essential if humanity is to use the resources of creation wisely….

The third issue, transparency in reporting climate risk, is essential because economic resources must be deployed where they can do the most good.

US Bishops Denounce Appalling and Unacceptable Treatment of Migrants

Embed from Getty Images
via USCCB:

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, joins Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in calling on the federal government to hear the cry of the poor and vulnerable.

Their joint statement follows:

“We join with our Holy Father Pope Francis in immense sadness, having seen the horrific images of Oscar Martinez and his daughter Angie Valeria who drowned in the Rio Grande Valley while attempting to flee persecution and enter the United States. This image cries to heaven for justice. This image silences politics. Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis? Sadly, this picture shows the daily plight of our brothers and sisters. Not only does their cry reach heaven. It reaches us. And it must now reach our federal government.

All people, regardless of their country of origin or legal status, are made in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect. Recent reports of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions are appalling and unacceptable for any person in U.S. custody, but particularly for children, who are uniquely vulnerable. Such conditions cannot be used as tools of deterrence. We can and must remain a country that provides refuge for children and families fleeing violence, persecution, and acute poverty.

Congress has a duty to provide additional funding to address the needs of children in federal custody. Their supplemental appropriations bill should also increase protections for immigrant children, including heightened standards and oversight for border facilities. It is possible and necessary to care for the safety of migrant children and the security of our citizens. By putting aside partisan interests, a nation as great as ours is able to do both.”

Building the Common Good is not a Side Project

Heidi Schlumpf writes:

The common good means “we belong to each other,” said Meghan J. Clark, associate professor of moral theology at St. John’s University in New York and a faculty expert for the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations.

“That’s not just something we’re supposed to do, but how we’re supposed to be and profoundly a matter of who we are as children of God,” she said.

She also noted that the “Imago Dei” (the idea that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God) can also be expanded as the “Imago Trīnitāte,” in which human dignity is relational and salvation is about “being human together,” even being saved together.

The question then becomes, “How are we imaging God in the world, not just as individuals but together?”…

“This call to build the common good is something we understand in Catholicism as at the very heart of our theology, not just this side project for those who are kind of ‘into’ social justice.”

Speaker Nichole Flores, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, shared how her own experience of motherhood solidified her commitment to solidarity around the unjust separation of migrant families, noting that too often, society relegates parenthood to the private sphere “at our peril.”

For Flores, the birth of her son, Roberto, and his need to spend several days in a neonatal intensive care unit gave her a new perspective on other families’ suffering.

“We began to see their struggle as our struggle. We began to see their joy as our joy. We began to see their babies as our babies. We began to see their families as our families,” Flores said.

This implies a moral obligation of solidarity, which is “the most challenging virtue of our time,” she said, citing the U.S. bishops’ document “A Place at the Table.”


President Trump Faces New Rape Allegation

Warning: The following contains a description of an alleged rape.

E. Jean Carroll writes:

The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips. I am so shocked I shove him back and start laughing again. He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights.

I am astonished by what I’m about to write: I keep laughing. The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me. It turns into a colossal struggle. I am wearing a pair of sturdy black patent-leather four-inch Barneys high heels, which puts my height around six-one, and I try to stomp his foot. I try to push him off with my one free hand — for some reason, I keep holding my purse with the other — and I finally get a knee up high enough to push him out and off and I turn, open the door, and run out of the dressing room.

The whole episode lasts no more than three minutes. I do not believe he ejaculates. I don’t remember if any person or attendant is now in the lingerie department. I don’t remember if I run for the elevator or if I take the slow ride down on the escalator. As soon as I land on the main floor, I run through the store and out the door — I don’t recall which door — and find myself outside on Fifth Avenue.

via New York:

The cover story New York published today details an encounter the writer E. Jean Carroll had over two decades ago with Donald J. Trump, in which the then–real-estate mogul allegedly assaulted her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in midtown Manhattan….

Carroll is now at least the 16th woman to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct and the 14th to accuse Moonves of similar offenses….

New York has verified that Carroll did disclose the attack to these friends at the time, and has confirmed that Bergdorf Goodman kept no security footage that would prove or disprove Carroll’s story. New York has also sought comment from Moonves and Trump. Through his representative, Moonves told New York that he “emphatically denies” the incident occurred. A senior White House official said in a statement, “This is a completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the President look bad.”