Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Truth and Truthiness by Patrick Manning: “If we want our students to seek Christ with their whole selves, we must engage them in the fullness of their being—heart, mind and will. St. Augustine long ago offered a formula for doing just this: delight the heart, instruct the mind, persuade the will. Stephen Colbert has demonstrated that this formula is still effective in our own time.”

The Art of Presence by David Brooks: “We have a tendency, especially in an achievement-oriented culture, to want to solve problems and repair brokenness — to propose, plan, fix, interpret, explain and solve. But what seems to be needed here is the art of presence — to perform tasks without trying to control or alter the elemental situation.”

I Have Seen the Future of the Republican Party, and It Is George W. Bush by Jonathan Chait: “A Republican Party that reprises the Bush era was a grim and unfathomable prospect in 2008, and is not exactly palatable now. But in the wake of the party’s thrall to Ayn Rand and Rand Paul and Paul Ryan, a return to Bushism sounds almost comforting.”

Number of Darfur’s Displaced Surged in 2013 by NY Times: “An estimated 400,000 people fled violence afflicting the Darfur region of Sudan last year, more than the number of those displaced in the previous two years combined, the top United Nations peacekeeping official said Thursday in an appraisal that suggested the decade-old conflict there had taken a turn for the worse.”

The Populist Imperative by Paul Krugman: “A new Pew poll finds an overwhelming majority of Americans — and 45 percent of Republicans! — supporting government action to reduce inequality, with a smaller but still substantial majority favoring taxing the rich to aid the poor. And this is true even though most Americans don’t realize just how unequally wealth really is distributed.”

Silence, Outsider: The Catholic Internet, Donatism, and the Medicine of the Eucharistic Life by Timothy O’Malley: “The Catholic conversation presently operating on the internet tends toward its own self-confident (even prideful) Donatism.   There are communities of Catholics online who stand above the Church and articulate criteria that they believe essential to being Catholic.   They then apply these criteria (apart from the actual, existing Church of bishops and councils and the sensus fidelium) to universities, to parishes, to priests or bishops or popes whom they find do not conform to such criteria.”

Supporting the Euromaidan Movement in Ukraine by Cardinal Timothy Dolan: “We Catholics in the United States cannot let these brave Ukrainians, whose allegiance to their religious convictions has survived ‘dungeon, fire, and sword,’ languish.  They deserve our voices and our prayers.”

What presidents really believe about God by Michael Beschloss: “Lady Bird Johnson told me decades later that her husband had found such comfort in the Catholic Church and ‘Luci’s little monks’ that she had once thought it only a matter of time before LBJ became a converted Catholic himself.”

‘Cold call’ pope strikes again by John Allen: “One more was added to the record Friday, as the Italian paper Corriere della Sera reported that Francis called an Italian woman named Filomena Claps on Monday evening, reaching her at her husband’s bedside in a hospital in the city of Potenza.”

More Imperfect Unions by Ross Douthat: “So one hypothetical middle ground on marriage promotion might involve wage subsidies and modest limits on unilateral divorce, or a jobs program and a second-trimester abortion ban.”

It’s cardinal v. cardinal on divorced and remarried Catholics by John Allen: “A rift has seemingly opened between two cardinals with significant Vatican influence, as the head of the pope’s Council of Cardinals has suggested that the Vatican’s doctrinal czar needs to be more ‘flexible’ in his views on divorced and remarried Catholics.”

Greed Is Not Good: The Social Usefulness of Progressive Public Policy by Charles Reid Jr.: “Progressives must never abandon appeals to fairness and concern for the vulnerable when advocating on behalf of sound public policies. But we must also bear in mind that many in our audience have been conditioned, through years of exposure to appeals that pander to the selfish side of human nature, to ask what a particular policy can do for them.”

A New Gilded Age Threatens The State Of Our Union by Howard Fineman: “Study after study shows that we are in the midst of a new Gilded Age, in which a yawning, gold-plated gap between the richest and the rest of us risks collapsing the American ideal of fair play and democracy itself.”


Pope Francis telephones depressed pregnant single woman, offers to baptize child

Are you getting a call on your landline? You might want it to pick up, because it might be Pope Francis.

Francis struck again this week, when he telephoned a pregnant single woman who had just been betrayed by her partner, who revealed he was married, and told that he would not support her child.

David Gibson from Religion News Service has the full story:

Now it seems “the cold-call pope,” as he has been dubbed, has done it again: he reportedly called a 35-year Italian woman who had written to him after she became pregnant and was then dumped by her fiance’, who it turned out was married with children of his own. The man also urged the woman to have an abortion.

Instead, Anna Romano wrote in desperation to Francis in July, knowing that he sometimes responds personally to the thousands of people who write to him.

On Tuesday (Sept. 3), Romano’s cell phone rang. It was Rome number she did not recognize but she answered anyway.

“Hello, Anna,” the voice on the other end of the line said, “this is Pope Francis.”

“I was petrified,” she told Il Messaggero, a Rome daily. “I recognized his voice and I knew right away that it really was the pope.”

She again recounted the story that she had written in the letter: how she was divorced with a child already, and was engaged to be married when she discovered in June that she was pregnant. That’s when her fiance’ demanded that she have an abortion.

She told him to get lost and said she was keeping the baby. But she was also feeling desperate, “betrayed, humiliated.” That’s why she wrote to Francis. On the envelope she put: “Holy Father Pope Francis, Vatican City, Rome.” No zip code, nothing else.

It was enough, apparently. The pope called her as informally as “a dear, old friend” would, Romano said, and in their conversation Francis “reassured me, telling me that the baby was a gift from God, a sign of Providence. He told me I would not be left alone.”

When Romano told the pope that she wanted to have the child baptized but was afraid she could not because she is divorced and on her own, the pope told her he was sure that she could find a willing pastor.

“But if not,” Francis added, “you know there’s always me.”

Though she doesn’t know whether she will have a girl or a boy, Romano told the newspaper she thinks it’s a boy, and it’s clear what she will name him: “Francis.”