The Consistent Ethic of Death Within the Republican Party

Michael Gerson writes:

During last week’s budget negotiations, and as America prepared for the full-scale arrival of the omicron coronavirus variant, every present Senate Republican voted to “defund” the federal vaccine mandate on businesses, the military and the federal workforce. This indicated a political party now so intimidated by its liberty caucus that senators such as Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine felt compelled to bend the knee. It was a collective declaration of utter madness….

For the “don’t tread on me” crowd, this is part of a consistent ethic of death. By some recent measures, almost a third of Republicans say political violence may be necessary to “save” the country. Most of these advocates have spent many years being desensitized to bloodshed; they have been told that a portion of their fellow citizens are the embodiment of evil and bent on their destruction. A philosophy of freedom has been transformed into a means of dehumanization.

This sets up a serious conflict at the heart of Republican ideology — at least for those who still put stock in political consistency. The other visible wing of Trumpism is made up of antiabortion evangelicals, whose support explains much of Donald Trump’s political rise and endurance. But whatever view you take of the antiabortion movement, it is essentially communitarian, not libertarian. There is no rational way to advocate this viewpoint that does not involve the community of the born defending the interests of a voiceless, helpless group of nascent humans….

Influenced by Catholic social teaching — and asserting historical continuity with the civil rights movement — many Republican leaders adopted a tone of inclusion in their discourse on abortion. They talked of a “culture of life” in which the unborn were protected by law and by love. They urged a more expansive definition of the human community.

The core of the Trump movement has always been more interested in political conspiracies, White identity politics, persecution fantasies and disdain for elites. Remember that Trump himself was initially supportive of “partial-birth” abortion….

The effective end of Roe would be an ideal point for responsible pro-lifers to assert their position on abortion as part of a broader culture of life, including the unborn and their mothers, the old and ill, people with intellectual disabilities and refugees fleeing oppression. Instead, in the Trump era, the state of Texas is taking the messaging lead on the topic, ensuring that the antiabortion movement seems as radical, punitive and vicious as possible.

How can the anti-vaccine ideals of “my body, my choice” Republicanism — which refuses even the easiest and safest sacrifices to protect the life of a neighbor — coexist with a “culture of life”?

8 Beatitudes for Bishops to be Good Shepherds

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

via CNS:

The beatitudes were created by Italian Archbishop Mimmo Battaglia of Naples, who was dubbed “Bergoglio of the South” while he was a bishop of another southern Italian diocese and continued his work as a “street priest,” especially in aiding those with drug dependencies.

The archbishop, 58, presented the beatitudes during a homily ordaining three new auxiliary bishops for Naples in October; they were reproduced on the card distributed by the pope:

  • “Blessed is the bishop who makes poverty and sharing his way of life, so that by his witness he is building up the kingdom of heaven.
  • “Blessed is the bishop who is not afraid of tears streaming down his face, so that in them may be mirrored the pains of the people…
  • “Blessed is the bishop who considers his ministry a service and not power, making meekness his strength…
  • “Blessed is the bishop who does not shut himself up in the palaces of governance, who does not become a bureaucrat who is more attentive to statistics than to faces…
  • “Blessed is the bishop who has a heart for the misery of the world, who is not afraid to dirty his hands with the mud of the human soul in order to find God’s gold, who is not scandalized by the sin and frailty of others because he is aware of his own misery…
  • “Blessed is the bishop who banishes duplicity of heart…
  • “Blessed is the bishop who works for peace, who accompanies journeys of reconciliation, who sows the seed of communion in the heart of the presbytery, who accompanies a divided society along the path of reconciliation, who takes every man and woman of goodwill by the hand to build fraternity: God will recognize him as his son.
  • “Blessed is the bishop who is not afraid to go against the tide for the sake of the Gospel…

Quote of the Day

Pope Francis: “We’re all called to contribute courageously and decisively to respect everyone’s basic rights, especially of those who are ‘invisible’: the hungry and thirsty, the naked, the sick, strangers or prisoners, those living on the margins or are discarded from society.”

Pope Francis: Every Baptized Person Can Say They Are The Church

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash

via the Vatican:

Baptism makes each one of us a full-fledged member of the Church community, so that all of us, without exclusion or discrimination, can say: “I am Church!” The Church is truly your home! We, all of us together, are Church, because Jesus chose to be our friend. The Church – and this is something we need to learn more and more in the synodal process we have begun – “is not a community of people who are perfect, but a community of disciples on a journey, who follow the Lord because they know they are sinners and in need of his forgiveness” (Catechesis, 13 April 2016). In this people which, guided by God’s word, advances amid the events of history, “everyone has a part to play; no one is a mere extra” (Address to the Faithful of Rome, 18 September 2021).For this reason, each of you is also called to make his or her own contribution to the synodal journey. I am convinced that, if it truly becomes “a participative and inclusive ecclesial process”[2], the Church community will be genuinely enriched.

Fred Hiatt (1955-2021)

via the Washington Post:

Fred Hiatt, who edited these pages for nearly 22 years before his death on Monday at the age of 66, was a consummate journalist: a dogged reporter, a brilliant editor, a graceful writer. He will be remembered by us above all for his human qualities. Mr. Hiatt — to everyone at The Post, he was simply “Fred” — was gifted with seemingly effortless charm, good humor and emotional acumen that enabled him to lead a diverse and sometimes fractious staff through daunting challenges, from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the wars that followed to the presidency of Donald Trump. Mr. Hiatt made it possible for The Post’s opinion writers and the content they produce to encompass a wide range of views on virtually every subject of public debate, without the rancor, personal enmity and bad faith that have become so prevalent elsewhere in Washington and the nation. Our respect for and loyalty to Mr. Hiatt, and his for us, held this staff together.

Of course, Mr. Hiatt had strong views of his own. His many years as a reporter and foreign correspondent for The Post — he joined the paper in 1981 and covered Virginia politics and the Pentagon before foreign tours in Tokyo and Moscow — made him a passionate supporter of democracy, human rights and U.S. leadership of those causes. Embattled freedom fighters such as Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi and Russia’s Boris Nemtsov knew Mr. Hiatt as an eloquent and tireless champion; when she traveled to Washington after her release from years of imprisonment, Aung San Suu Kyi visited The Post to thank him personally. However, years later, when Aung San Suu Kyi defended a genocidal military campaign against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority, Mr. Hiatt did not hesitate to condemn her….

When Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who had become a regular contributor to The Post’s Global Opinions section, was murdered in 2018 by a hit team dispatched by the kingdom’s ruler, Mr. Hiatt reacted forcefully. In addition to orchestrating a months-long series of editorials and op-eds demanding justice, he established an Opinion staff fellowship named after Khashoggi and encouraged other dissident writers from the Arab world and elsewhere to use The Post as a platform. Journalists from Egypt, India, Turkey, Venezuela and elsewhere who have been banned from domestic media are now published in Global Opinions.

Pope Francis: Protect the Persecuted, the Poor, and the Vulnerable

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Pope Francis to young people:

When we embrace the new life bestowed on us in baptism, the Lord gives us an important and life-changing mission: “You are to be my witness!”

Today Christ speaks to you the same words that he spoke to Paul: Arise! Do not remain downcast or caught up in yourself: a mission awaits you! You too can testify to what Jesus has begun to accomplish in your lives. In Jesus’ name, I ask you:

– Arise! Testify that you too were blind and encountered the light. You too have seen God’s goodness and beauty in yourself, in others and in the communion of the Church, where all loneliness is overcome.

– Arise! Testify to the love and respect it is possible to instill in human relationships, in the lives of our families, in the dialogue between parents and children, between the young and the elderly.

– Arise! Uphold social justice, truth and integrity, human rights. Protect the persecuted, the poor and the vulnerable, those who have no voice in society, immigrants.

– Arise! Testify to the new way of looking at things that enables you to view creation with eyes brimming with wonder, that makes you see the Earth as our common home, and gives you the courage to promote an integral ecology.

– Arise! Testify that lives of failure can be rebuilt, that persons spiritually dead can rise anew, that those in bondage can once more be free, that hearts overwhelmed by sorrow can rediscover hope.

– Arise! Testify joyfully that Christ is alive! Spread his message of love and salvation among your contemporaries, at school and in the university, at work, in the digital world, everywhere.

We Need a ‘Culture of Belonging’

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Marcus Mescher writes:

Pope Francis’ call to build a “culture of encounter” is not just an invitation to bring people together across differences in the spirit of mercy, solidarity, and hope; it is also how disciples emulate Jesus Christ’s teaching and healing ministry by practicing inclusive outreach, engaging in mutually respectful exchange, and opening up new possibilities.

Jesus shows us how an intentional approach to encountering others can produce personal and social transformation. Although Jews and Gentiles were divided by belief and custom, Jesus’ inclusive table fellowship meant breaking bread with people who both suffered and benefitted from the oppressive Roman Empire. With this habit, Jesus revealed the dignity of those considered insignificant and unworthy. He also fashioned an ever-more-inclusive sense of communion that erased categories of “us” and “them.” He didn’t just heal the sick or provide food to the hungry; he made room for sinners like Zacchaeus, an encounter that spurs this corrupt and wealthy man to repent and atone for his extortion and exploitation (Luke 19:1-10)….

Social change can only happen when people feel welcome, valued, and free to be themselves. For this reason, the pope’s call to build a “culture of encounter” has to lead us from respectful accompaniment and fruitful exchange to the conditions for an inclusive and equitable “culture of belonging.” This means continually inviting people to overcome deception and fear, defensiveness and distrust, contempt and coercion. Such a commitment requires spiritual wisdom and stamina made possible by putting ourselves in touch with God, who is always seeking to encounter us….

In the end, a “culture of encounter” is not just about how to solve problems caused by social division or unjust inequalities. It is also an opportunity to become ever more attentive and responsive to the presence and power of the Triune God, the communion of love in whose image and likeness every person is made. To be human is to reach for our destiny: the equality, mutuality, and reciprocity of encounter that realizes inclusive belonging for the flourishing of all.