Archbishop Wilton Gregory: We Must Raise Our Voices Against Bigotry

via The Georgia Bulletin:

Recently the Jewish community in our country has been disturbed by a number of aggressive and offensive actions, including the desecration of cemeteries and sending of threatening messages to Jewish institutions. Such behavior is totally unacceptable and humanly pathetic. We should all be offended and repulsed by these actions. Wherever they occur, they threaten us all.

The rise of these activities embarrasses us as a nation and diminishes our worldwide public image. Especially, these actions should incite us all not only to denounce them but to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish neighbors in calling for a strong legal response and action against the perpetrators. To ignore this behavior or to minimize its impact on our neighbors is a betrayal of our Christian heritage and social dignity.

There is no question that the current climate of increasingly bitter public discourse has invited such conduct on the part of some people. Hatred and bigotry are sins that continue to afflict too many people and can occasionally erupt violently in the public arena.

Whether our Jewish friends are the targets of violent hostility, or whether the victims are Muslims, Sikhs, immigrants, Christians or people who simply appear to be of a particular ethnic or racial class, we cannot remain silent—for such silence becomes consensus.


US Bishops: Trumpcare Has Very Troubling Features That Must Be Addressed

After briefly praising the anti-abortion provisions and possibility of greater flexibility in the AHCA, the USCCB write:

“Along with some positive aspects, the proposed law also contains some very troubling features.  The Bishops have stressed that “all people and every family must be able to see clearly how they will fit within and access the health care system in a way that truly meets their needs.”  Regarding access for those most in need, the AHCA includes changes which place many people at significant risk.  The legislation must be modified to correct these serious flaws.

The recent CBO report indicates that, under the AHCA, as many as 24 million additional people could be uninsured in the next 10 years for a variety of reasons.  Proposed modifications to the Medicaid program, a vital component of the social safety net, will have sweeping impacts, increasing economic and community costs while moving away from affordable access for all.

Furthermore, millions of people who would be eligible for Medicaid under current law will be negatively impacted due to reduced funding from the per capita cap system proposed in the legislation, according to the CBO.  Those struggling families who currently receive Medicaid coverage from the recent expansion will see dramatic changes through the AHCA as well, without clear indication of affordable, adequate coverage to replace their current options.  Many states begin their legislative sessions every cycle by attempting to overcome major deficits.  State and local resources are unlikely to be sufficient to cover the gaps that will be created in the health care system as financial responsibility is further shifted to the states.  Congress must rework the Medicaid-related provisions of the AHCA to fix these problems and ensure access for all, and especially for those most in need.

Other Provisions:  Several other aspects of the AHCA must be addressed before passing the proposed legislation:

  • The new tax credit system appears to create increased barriers to affordability, particularly for older and lower-income people when compared with the cost assistance found in the Affordable Care Act (ACA);
  • Currently, the cost of plans for older Americans relative to plans for younger people is capped at a ratio of 3 to 1.  This plan would increase that ratio to 5 to 1.  Some studies show that premiums for older people on fixed incomes would rise, at times dramatically;
  • The AHCA also puts in place a 30 percent surcharge for a twelve-month period for those who do not maintain continuous coverage.  For those with limited means—a fact which often contributes to an inability to maintain coverage—this surcharge presents a serious challenge;
  • Currently, states can empower hospitals to make a “presumptive eligibility determination” for Medicaid and enroll patients while a final determination is made.  Ultimately, many of these people are found to be eligible for Medicaid.  The AHCA would repeal this expanded authority for all but children, pregnant women and certain cancer patients.  This state authority helps ensure a smooth transition into the Medicaid system, provides faster access to important health and treatment options, and reduces other costs borne by providers and the community;
  • Under current law, states are required to afford individuals seeking Medicaid benefits a reasonable opportunity to establish that they are either U.S. citizens or have a qualified immigration status, during which time states cannot deny Medicaid benefits to such individuals who are otherwise eligible.  Under the AHCA, states would no longer be required to provide services during this verification period.  This change would undoubtedly threaten eligible individuals’ access to essential and early medical care.
  • Absent in the AHCA are any changes to afford conscience protection against mandates to provide coverage or services, such as the regulatory interpretation of “preventive services” requiring contraception and sterilization coverage in almost all private health plans nationwide, which has been the subject of large-scale litigation especially involving religious entities like the Little Sisters of the Poor.”

FBI Confirms Ongoing Investigation into Possible Russia-Trump Campaign Collusion

via the Washington Post:

FBI Director James B. Comey acknowledged Monday that his agency is conducting an investigation into possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign in a counterintelligence probe that could reach all the way to the White House and may last for months.

The extraordinary disclosure came near the beginning of a sprawling, 5½ -hour public hearing before the House Intelligence Committee in which Comey also said there is “no information” that supports President Trump’s claims that his predecessor ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the election campaign….

Comey and Rogers both predicted that Russian intelligence agencies will continue to seek to meddle in U.S. political campaigns, because they consider their work in the 2016 presidential race to have been successful.

In an influence campaign that the U.S. intelligence community in January said was ordered by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, hackers working for Russian spy agencies penetrated the computers of the Democratic National Committee in 2015 and 2016, as well as the email accounts of Democratic officials. The material was relayed to WikiLeaks, the intelligence community reported, and the anti-secrecy group launched a series of damaging email releases that began just before the Democratic National Convention last summer and continued through the fall. The Russians’ goal was not only to undermine the legitimacy of the election process but also to harm Clinton’s campaign and boost Trump’s chances of winning, the intelligence community concluded.

“They’ll be back in 2020. They may be back in 2018,” Comey said. “One of the lessons they may draw from this is that they were successful, introducing chaos and discord” into the electoral process.

Rogers agreed: “I fully expect they will maintain this level of activity.” And, he said, Moscow is conducting a similar “active measures” campaign in Europe, where France and Germany are holding elections this year.


Pope Begs Forgiveness for Church’s Role in Rwanda Genocide


via the AP:

Pope Francis begged forgiveness Monday for the “sins and failings of the church and its members” during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and told Rwanda’s president that he hoped his apology would help the country heal.

In an extraordinary statement after Francis’ meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the Vatican acknowledged that some Catholic priests and nuns “succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission” by participating in the genocide….

The Vatican said Francis “expressed the desire that this humble recognition of the failings of that period, which unfortunately disfigured the face of the church, may contribute to a ‘purification of memory’ and may promote, in hope and renewed trust, a future of peace.”

A few months ago, Millennial writer Fabrice Musoni wrote about the need for the Church to apologize for its complicity in the genocide:

The inspirational, spiritual, political, and revolutionary leadership of Pope Francis offers optimism in this regard. In March 2014, the Holy See decided to set up a commission to “advise the church on the best policies to protect children, train church personnel and keep abusers out of the clergy,” and repair the Church’s reputational damage. The late Pope John Paul II acknowledged Catholic involvement in the persecution of the Jews in 2000, noting “the burden of guilt” that Christians bore “for the murder of the Jewish people.” Moreover, he made “a historic trip to Jerusalem, where he honored the victims of the Holocaust with a visit to Yad Vashem and prayed at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism.” Therefore, an apology from the Vatican is a continuation of past and present commendable initiatives and would contribute significantly to reconciling the Catholic Church to Rwandans, particularly those who profess other faiths….

I know of many Rwandans who have forgiven neighbors who killed their family members during the genocide. These brave efforts are the cornerstone of reconciliation efforts in Rwanda. As a Catholic and a Rwandan, the Church’s leadership at home and abroad has a moral obligation to wholeheartedly apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the genocide and contribute to efforts aimed at bringing its perpetrators to justice.


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Lonely City: How I learned to be with myself in New York by Nick Genovese: “In solitude, I do not aim to possess the other in order to bring me pleasure. Instead, I take pleasure in others by simply getting to know them. I appreciate the beauty of a friend or sibling for his or her sake alone. Even in New York City, I discover that strangers who are not always warm and welcoming desire the same thing as I do—to belong and to feel connected beyond themselves.”

Catholicism and the common good by Steven Millies: “Catholics can — and should — be leaders in the recovery of confidence in Western democracy. To do so, however, requires that we must first recover our own confidence in what our faith teaches us about the value of each human person, the toleration of different points of view and the goodness of governments that draw their authority from the consent of people, seeking the common good of every member of the political community.”

Paul Ryan Begs Conservatives Not to Thwart His Boyhood Dream of Immiserating the Poor by Jonathan Chait: “Paul Ryan has been obsessed for his entire adult life by the single-minded goal of reducing distribution from the rich to the poor. But Ryan, who worked as a political aide before running for Congress himself, is savvy enough to recognize that social Darwinism is not a promising basis for a national platform….But, in an uncharacteristic fit of candor, he burst out today to National Review editor Rich Lowry, in support of his plan to cut spending on Medicaid, that “We’ve been dreaming of this since you and I were drinking out of a keg.” Medicaid is a lifeline that gives ultra-cheap health insurance to the desperately poor and sick. Ryan’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare would combine a huge tax cut for the rich with $370 billion in cuts to Medicaid.”

Here’s what I saw when I attended a conservative Catholic gathering in DC’s Trump Tower by John Gehring: “Conservative Catholics who feel emboldened in the Trump era will continue to strategize and look for political openings. But along the way they risk being relegated to cheerleaders for the administration if they downplay or ignore how poverty, the environment and the command to welcome migrants are central to traditional church teachings. Perhaps looking to Pope Francis, rather than Donald Trump, would be a good place to start.” Read More


Fr. Paddy Gilger, SJ Talks March Madness on Jesuitical

Fr. Paddy Gilger, SJ, one of the co-founders of The Jesuit Post who was critical in the launching of The Jesuit Post on Millennial, appeared on America’s new podcast, Jesuitical, yesterday. He discussed his picks for the top Jesuit moments in the history of the NCAA tournament, his thoughts on this year’s tournament, the difference between discernment and just making a decision, and Dorothy Day, among other topics. You can listen to the full episode here (and for more, you can read Millennial’s interview with Paddy and Fr. Eric Sundrup, SJ from a few years ago):

Jesuitical is a great new podcast by three millennial Catholics who are editors for America—Olga Segura, Zac Davis, and Ashley McKinless—that is oriented toward reaching other young Catholics, but should be appealing to many non-millennials and even non-Catholics. The pilot episode featured Fr. James Martin, SJ.  Other episodes include: “Being undocumented in Donald Trump’s America” with Jorge Corona and “A woman’s place is in the…Vatican?” with Nicole Perone.

You can subscribe and download Jesuitical on iTunes, give them feedback at jesuitical@americamedia.org, and follow them on twitter: @jesuiticalshow.


Next to Trump, Irish PM Delivers Powerful Speech Praising Immigrants, US Legacy as a Refuge


Irish leader Enda Kenny praised the economic, social, political, and cultural contributions of Irish immigrants at a St. Patrick’s Day event, while standing next to President Donald Trump today. He also pointed to the United States’ historic role for those facing oppression and hunger, “We believed in the shelter of America, and the compassion of America, and the opportunity of America. We came, and we became Americans.” Without mentioning the anti-immigrant policies of the Trump presidency, the contrast was clear and the message was powerful: