Bernice King on Pope Francis, Her Father, and Living Together As Brothers and Sisters

via Vatican News:

L’Osservatore Romano and Vatican News interviewed Bernice Albertine King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. regarding her dedication to equality, the culture of peace and the value of nonviolence. A passionate human rights activist like her father, and president of the King Center in Atlanta, Bernice Albertine feels there is a strong sense of harmony between her father and Pope Francis whom she met with twice in 2018….

“I think that building a “revolution of tenderness,” as Pope Francis called it, or a “revolution of values,” as my father said, is contingent upon us realizing that there’s learning involved in the revolution. We have to learn more about each other, learn more about the condition of humanity, learn how to, as my father said, “live together as brothers and sisters,” so that we don’t perish together as fools, and learn a way of engaging and destroying injustice and inhumanity without destroying each other.”

Raymond Arroyo’s Defense of the Trail of Tears Ignores History

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In a recent appearance on Fox News, Raymond Arroyo, EWTN’s news director and the host of The World Over, tried to justify the treatment of Native Americans during the “Trail of Tears”.  Arroyo—a frequent guest of Laura Ingraham’s Fox News program—made the outlandish claim that we should not criticize the way Andrew Jackson’s administration treated Native Americans because “this is how he held the country together. It was ugly, but those were the times. Take it all as it is, as it happened.”

Arroyo, like many who try to justify immoral and appalling actions that have occurred in the past, argues that “those were the times.” Arroyo is implying that the actions that were undertaken were somehow completely normal or seen as entirely acceptable back then.  Statements like that are problematic for numerous reasons, and they misrepresent the actual historical facts about the Trail of Tears and other ways Native Americans were treated during and prior to the 19th century.

The violent removal of Native Americans, the enslavement of the indigenous populations, and slaughter of Native Americans that happened from the 16th-19th centuries were not universally accepted.  There were many public figures who fervently opposed these actions.  There were many who knew that what was being done was morally wrong and spoke up in opposition.

In the state of Georgia, Christian missionaries lived on Native lands and worked to protect Native Americans from the state and federal government.  Georgia responded by imprisoning the missionaries.  In 1832, the United States Supreme Court (in the case of Worcester v. Georgia) rebuked the government of the state of Georgia, ruling against them and maintaining that Native lands were sovereign and not under state or federal jurisdiction.  This decision laid the groundwork for the legal rights of Native American communities, but was not respected by President Jackson or the state of Georgia. The Native Americans were later forcefully removed (in violation of the Supreme Court decision) in 1838—as a part of what we now call the Trial of Tears.

Arroyo’s justification also ignores the fact that many prominent Catholics spoke up in defense of indigenous persons.  Under the leadership of various popes, the Catholic Church, which itself had been involved in the mistreatment and abuse of native populations, spoke out against numerous forms of dehumanization that involved Native peoples. Centuries before the Trail of Tears, Bartolomé de las Casas forcefully objected to the enslavement and murder of indigenous people in Latin America. Pope Paul III declared in a Papal Bull that: “The said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ.” St. Junipero Serra fought the efforts of the Spanish to enslave Native Americans in California and stopped the killing of numerous Native Americans.

Numerous Christian missioners and leaders opposed the Trail of Tears. Prominent members of the opposition party, the Whigs, did so, as well. Even Davy Crockett spoke out against these policies.

Arroyo’s claim that the violence perpetrated against Native Americans  was acceptable because “those were the times” thus displays a total disregard for facts and history.  It denies the agency of those who intentionally and deliberately attacked and mistreated indigenous populations.  The idea that “those were the times” implies that there was a consensus about what to do with regards to Native Americans. That is simply factually false.  The actions that were taken against Native Americans were planned and undertaken despite well-known opposition.

It’s high time that we fight back against the notion that atrocities that were inflicted upon groups like Native Americans, immigrants, and enslaved Africans, are somehow justified and defensible because “those were the times.”  This sort of historic fatalism denies that there were those who pushed back against the abhorrent treatment of marginalized groups, and it is critical that we highlight those voices to show that throughout history, there have been people who understood that such acts were immoral and unacceptable, regardless of the times.

Viganò’s letter to Trump, Conservative Bishops, Priests, and Laypeople, and 2020

In The Tablet, Millennial editor Robert Christian writes:

The letter describes a global battle between “children of light” and “children of darkness”. The children of darkness are an “absolute minority” that has infiltrated the media, economy and governments in order to seize power and maximise their wealth. Viganò explains to Trump that they are on the same side in this cosmic battle. He connects the children of darkness to the idea of a “deep state” that is attempting to undermine President Trump and drive God out of the courts, schools, families, and even churches. Viganò explains that, “Just as there is a deep state there is also a deep church” that is likewise betraying the children of light….

Pope Francis likens today’s populist nationalists to the Fascists of the 1930s, denounces the building of walls, and calls for global solidarity to overturn cultures of indifference and exclusion. This distinctly Catholic globalist vision is completely antithetical to the Trump project. Whether he buys into the “full Viganò” is unlikely, but he might cynically allow conspiracies like those propagated by QAnon to flourish because it will help to get his base out on 3 November….

But while this is a fringe movement, opposition to Pope Francis and support for Trump extends far beyond its boundaries, and many who reject its brazen bigotry nevertheless cooperate with these organisations and spread their narratives. Others refuse to denounce them out of fear that they will draw their ire or because it serves their interests….

A much larger and more powerful group are those who oppose Pope Francis’ message that Catholic Social Teaching is a seamless web of respect for life, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, and who insist on looking away from broader issues of social justice and focusing on the small set of culture war issues that they consider preeminent. This group includes the American Catholics who are mobilised by these fringe alt-Catholic groups, but also wealthy, mainstream organisations such as the powerful Knights of Columbus and influential media outlets such as EWTN that reach millions of viewers. It also includes bishops, including those who heaped praise on Viganò, even after he attempted the papal coup in 2018. Many in this group are openly partisan Republicans and Trump supporters…

Trump’s endorsement of Viganò, the darling of the alt-Catholics, puts them in a very difficult position. It is not yet clear how they will respond, though many may simply pretend that a single tweet does not mean that Trump has signed up to Viganò’s contemptuous rejection of the Pope, many US bishops and the mainstream post-Vatican II Church….

There simply is no road to victory if his support among white Catholics in key swing states drops significantly. Trump, whose political instincts should not be underestimated, is betting that these swing voters will buy into the “deep state” theory and be impressed by Viganò’s support. This is a real gamble.

For it to succeed, it will depend on cynics at places like EWTN and Fox News, which reach many middle-of-the-road voters as well as ultra-conservatives, to treat Viganò’s conspiracy theories as credible….

Even then, Trump’s gamble may backfire because of the respect for the Pope and the sheer implausibility of Viganò’s claims that the Church is controlled by a gay mafia imposing “anti-Christian ideologies” on the ordinary faithful.

In his first report for NCR, Christopher White writes:

While many mainstream Catholics have dismissed the former Vatican diplomat, who has written of Masonic conspiracy theories and fueled suspicions of the deep state, some Catholic observers worry about a normalizing effect when parish priests promote radicalized individuals such as Viganò to everyday Catholics in the pews who are unattuned to inside church baseball.

In many such cases, the priests in question use their homilies and parish resources to promote a fusion of traditionalist theology and conservative political talking points. In the weeks following Viganò’s 2018 attack against Francis, many bishops’ conferences around the globe issued statements specifically denouncing the former nuncio. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops did not.

In fact, more than two dozen U.S. bishops — Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, and the now-deceased Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, among them — issued statements of support for Viganò at the time, which has only helped legitimize and amplify his continued efforts and those of priests who now pass along such perspectives to their flock.

Cathleen Kaveny, a professor of law and theology at Boston College, told NCR that the intended effect of Viganò’s recent letter to Trump is to continue, in a different language, the culture wars, as evidenced by his use of apocalyptic language.

“For people in the pews, the takeaway is that Trump is opposed to abortion and therefore you have to vote for the Republican,” Kaveny said of those who share the letter. “I don’t think anyone really expects the apocalypse. I just think they’re clearly trying to get people to vote for Trump over [presumptive Democratic nominee Joe] Biden.”

The Millennial Mental Health Crisis

Olga Khazan writes:

Though they might seem in the prime of their life, recent research shows that Millennials—people born from roughly 1981 to 1996—are more likely to die prematurely from suicide and drug overdoses than previous generations were.

Perhaps that’s to be expected, given the turmoil Millennials have faced in recent years. After scrambling up a slippery career ladder during the Great Recession, Millennials were slammed with the opioid epidemic. Billions of narcotic pills were shipped to parts of the U.S. where people had few opportunities, but plenty of pain.

Now even more challenges loom over young people. Many Millennials who had their careers crippled by the 2008 recession are being flung into yet another economic downturn, just as they’re supposed to be hitting their career peak. Because of social-distancing restrictions meant to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, young people who hoped to find a partner haven’t been able to date in person for months. And still more outbreaks of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, might occur this year. As David Grusky, the director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, put it to me, Millennials are “the bad-luck cohort.”…

Older Millennials snapped into adulthood after 9/11, fought in two wars, entered the job market during a recession, and are now weathering a global pandemic in overpriced one-bedroom apartments. They’ve experienced slower economic growth than any other generation in U.S. history, according to a Washington Post analysis. And having been clobbered by the last recession, they’re about to get clobbered again….

Another report from the Trust for America’s Health last year found that drug-related deaths among people ages 18 to 34 more than doubled from 2007 to 2017, while alcohol-related deaths rose by 69 percent and suicides by 35 percent….

In 2017, white people without a bachelor’s degree born in 1980 were four times more likely to die by suicide than those with a college degree, as the Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton write in their new book, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism….

The good jobs that used to be available to people without college degrees have slowly evaporated. “Jobs are a source of meaning in our lives,” says Cheryl Fulton, a professor in the counseling program at Texas State University. “So if you don’t have a job or are underemployed, you’re not deriving that satisfaction that comes from the meaning and purpose a job provides.”…

Millennials without a college degree are earning far less in early adulthood than previous generations did, according to another report in the Stanford series. The median salary for a 25-year-old man with a high-school degree or less is $29,000 a year, which is about $2,600 less than what Gen Xers earned at that age and nearly $10,000 less than Baby Boomers….

Therapists who treat Millennials told me that many of their clients feel frustrated and embarrassed that they aren’t able to afford “adult things” such as houses and vacations, either because they don’t earn enough or because they are handcuffed to enormous student loans. Marriage can alleviate loneliness and ease financial strain, but Millennials are getting married later than previous generations….

People might start to feel like a burden or, if they’re unable to land a job, like they have no way of building a social network. More so than in other cultures, Americans tend to intertwine their jobs with their identity….

Yet Millennials are the first generation to have come of age with Facebook and Twitter—compelled to compare themselves with others but not jaded enough to know how empty these comparisons can be….

One of the best ways to prevent suicide is to make people feel less alone by assuring them that someone cares about them. It doesn’t even have to be a special someone.

Laudato Si and the US Catholic Church

Jason King writes:

Last year at Creighton University, more than 200 people gathered for the first of a series of conferences aimed at deeper daily integration of the messages of “Laudato Si’, on Care of Our Common Home.” The participants arrived in Omaha from many corners of Catholic life, among them parishes, high schools, congregations of religious women, universities and the Vatican.

Dan DiLeo, an assistant professor at Creighton and one of the conference organizers, proposed publishing papers presented at the conference in the Journal of Moral Theology, which I edit. It seemed like a good way to reflect some of the work and scholarship underway as a result of Pope Francis’ encyclical.

I hope you read the whole issue. But for starters, I highlight here five themes that emerged from the collection of papers and even now reflect much of what’s resulted from Laudato Si’ five years after its release.

    1. There is still resistance.

While Laudato Si’ is celebrated by so many inside and outside the church, there is still resistance to it….

    1. Work is being done in society.

Shulski’s essay is not just about political resistance but also about how politics can help….

    1. Work is being done in the church.

Creighton University is working to be carbon neutral by 2050. En route this goal, Jesuit Fr. Daniel Hendrickson, Creighton’s president, states in his opening remarks to the 2019 conference that the campus has received LEED Silver certification on new buildings and founded interdisciplinary academic programs to study environmental change.

You can read all of the articles in the Journal of Moral Theology here.

Racial Justice is a Pro-Life Issue

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via Matt Hadro:

Pro-life advocates must speak out in defense of all human life–including issues of racial justice and deaths at the hands of police, a prominent pro-life lawmaker told CNA Wednesday.

Louisiana state Senator Katrina Jackson told CNA in a June 3 interview that the pro-life movement “has made great strides in becoming more racially diverse” and should now be speaking out against racism and the killings of black men by police or by other people who target them for their race.

A nationally known pro-life Democrat, Jackson addressed the national March for Life in Washington, D.C. in 2019 and 2020. She served eight years in the Louisiana House before she became a state senator this year.

Jackson, who is black and a Baptist, spoke to CNA about racism, and the nationwide demonstrations that have taken place, including violence in some cities, in the wake of the death of George Floyd on May 25.

The lawmaker said pro-lifers cannot remain silent in the face of injustice. She quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., noting that “a time comes when silence is betrayal.”

Jackson, who has been lauded for her bipartisan efforts to pass some of the country’s most stringent restrictions on abortion, told CNA that she is “pro-life from conception until death.”…

She lamented the “alarming amount of African-American males that are killed by murderous hands,” including those killed by police officers. Such deaths, she said, are “a life issue.”

Racism, and the deaths of young black men, have been “plaguing our nation for years,” she said.

“It has to stop, because it goes directly against the pro-life stance that every life has value.”