Sunday, September 27, 2015

Peaceful Reflections by Pope Francis at Ground Zero

Pope Francis on Peace at Ground Zero

During his visit to New York City, Pope Francis participated in an interfaith prayer service at Ground Zero.  This ecumenical approach continues the theme of encounter and openness to companion with others to foster the greater glory of God, which are bedrock Ignatian (Jesuit) principles.

The pontiff's remarks centered on peace and sought to transform through prayer the tears of sadness into a practical resolve for peace.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Congressman Refused to Attend Pope Francis Speech Before Congress Due to Climate Change Politics

Rep. Paul Gosar on Papal Speech to Congress

This week, the hot ticket in the District of Calamity was getting tickets to see the Pope.  Only 25,000 people were allowed entrance for the Mass at the Basilica in Catholic University.  The White House allowed 15,000 people to see the Pope on the South Lawn of the White House (along with a couple of uncomfortable invitees for the Vatican). On Capitol Hill, 50,000 tickets were issued to see the Pope's address to the Joint Session of Congress, albeit many watching on the lawn.

But Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ 1st) rejected his two allotted tickets because of his belief that Pope Francis is too political. The Papal Encyclical Laudato Si was trumpeted by the secular press as being a bull about climate change (instead of being properly read as a all encompassing missive about the ecology of humanity).  So Congressman Gosar made his protest and is presumably sitting at home for the speech.

While it is true that Pope Francis did speak in glowing terms about enacting climate change legislation, the pontiff did not let the power that be in the White House off easy.  Pope Francis' remarks at the White House started with a subtle slam for President Barack Obama about respecting the fine American tradition religious liberty.  Later in the day, Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor, the religious order being forced to cover contraception against their consciences under Obamacare.

As a Jesuit, Pope Francis is all about dialog and encounter.  It's a pity that Gosar as a practicing Catholic chose not to participate in that by politely hearing out a visiting Head of State and Holy Father to 1.2 billion Catholics. As a faith leader, Pope Francis is not bound to American ideological boxes of conservative or liberal and ought to instruct his faithful in ways that may make people feel uncomfortable.  If Rep. Gosar has proper catechesis, he ought to know that not everything the Pope utters is infallible.  In fact, Paragraph 189 of Laudato Si urges robust but honest and transparent debate over the matter.  It is a pity that politics nowadays is sometimes degenerated to trolling for attention instead of seeking solutions through honest debate and deliberations. 

On Pope Francis' Visit to the White House

Mike Huckabee on Obama White House Manners

President Barack Obama received Pope Francis on the South Lawn of the White House and greeted his Holiness with praise for Catholic social justice in action.  Unfortunately, the President did not display gracious hospitality when choreographing the 15,000 person guest list.

Among the guests for this visit by the Holy See to the Peoples'  House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the Obama Administration seemed to take delight in inviting an A list of American Catholic dissidents, including the first openly homosexual Episcopal Bishop Vichy "Gene" Robinson (who is now a fellow with the Democrat oriented Center for American Progress), Sister Simone Campbell who was a leader in  the "Nuns on the Bus" political advocacy, and Mateo Williamson (the ex co-head of the Dignity USA transgender caucus) made famous by the "Owning Our Faith" documentary 

Pope Francis believes in the Ignatian notion of encounter and dialogue but prominently announcing these guests seemed to just stick a finger in the guests' eye.  Vatican officials pushed back against these provocative invitations.  The concern was having the Holy Father pushed into pictures with such Catholic teaching dissenters to cause controversy or imply acceptance. 

When Pope Francis landed at Joint Base Andrews and was greeted by President Obama and family, there was an unscheduled twenty meeting between the Holy Father and the President. It is unknown what was discussed.  However, the pontiff did not greet any civilians gathered on the White House South Lawn.

Republican Presidential hopeful former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) used folky analogies to convey the classlessness of the Obama Administration's invitations. Reverend Franklin Graham also questioned "sinful" the Obama White House's tactics for the Papal visit.

There is a cognitive dissonance between the kind words which America's Chief Executive spoke and his uncultured special guest list. During his White House speech, Pope Francis spoke warmly about combating climate change and helping the maginalized in American society, including immigrants.  But Mr. Obama's passive aggressive attitude towards Pope Francis diminishes any alliance on social justice issues to try to score cheap political points with the LGBTQQ? activists. 

At least the protocol person at the White House did better with State gifts than in the past.  When President Obama visited the United Kingdom at the start of the Obama Administration, the White House gave Queen Elizabeth a MP3 player full of Obama speeches and the sight impaired Prime Minister a collection of Region 1 DVDs of American films. When Mr. Obama visited the Vatican last year,  he gave the Vicar of Christ a box of seeds.  

For Pope Francis' visit to the White House, the Vatican was given a one of a kind statue of an ascending dove which incorporates the armature from the Statue of Liberty and is on a pedestal carved from reclaimed wood from the White House.  That gift was thoughtful, symbolic and precious.  The White House also presented a 206 year of key from St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton. That might get filed along with 1920s American Catholic bingo records in the Vatican archives.  In exchange, the Holy Father gave Mr. Obama a bronze bas relief plaque for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, which was the main reason that Pope Francis traveled to America for the first time.

Post Scriptus-- The Pope arrived late for his appointment at the White House.  It is easy to assume this was just do to the Holy Father giving quality time to the students standing near the Nunciature. However, a more cynical take may be that such a delay conveniently caused a South Lawn receiving line photo-op to be cut from the itinerary.  One wonders why the White House made such a big deal about the special guests, yet there was no receiving line nor photo ops with the crowd. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dr. Ben Carson on Faith and Patriotism

Dr. Ben Carson on Leader of America

When GOP Presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson made a birthday wish on September 18th, he expressed his deep spiritual nature along with patriotic sentiments.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bishop Laszlo Kiss-Rigo on Syrian Migrants

Hungarian Bishop on Syrian Refugee Crisis

Is the alluvia of people coming to Europe from Syria fleeing a war-torn Levant, those persecuted for their Christian faith,  economic migrants as Pope Francis suggests, grifters seeking generous Western social service benefits or doing soft jihad via immigration?

Scripture implores believers to be compassionate and merciful towards immigrants.  However, those migrating are expected to obey the laws of the government.  

Munich which has recently experienced a flood of Muslim immigrants as part of the Syrian Migrant wave.  As their two century long tradition of Oktoberfest begins, Islamic agitators are advocating that the fortnight of beer and gemultlikeit as is is haram.  No wonder the Hungarian Prime Minister spoke so soundly against kulturekampf

As the population bomb from this Muslim migrant overwhelming the system explodes, expect religious liberty for Christians to disappear for Christians in Europe in exchange for dhimmitude.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sinicization Means Persecution of Chinese Christians

In May 2015, Chinese President  Xi Jinping announced a policy of Sinicization during a  central United Front Work Department meeting.  Xi Jiping had been seen as a leader who was open minded about religion so long as the faithful are "harmonious".  However, Xi displays a certain tolerance towards homegrown faiths like Confuciusism, Buddhism and Daoism as distinguished from a chary attitude toward foreign influences like Christianity and Islam. 

Following that lead, provincial Chinese officials forced churches in Songmun, Xinhe, Muyu and Dasi  as well as the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Xioshan to take down crosses from their churches lest the buildings be demolished. In Hangzhou, only the Catholic Cathedral and two Protestant churches will be spared that fateful choice.  A Protestant catechist estimates that at least 1,100 Christian churches have been denuded of their crosses, although the figure might be much higher.

Alas, this is not the first time in recent memory that the Chinese government have persecuted Christian churches. In 2014, there was a rash of cross removals and threats of demolishing Christian churches.

What made international headlines was how the Christian faithful  encircled the Sanjiang Church near Wenzhou as human shields. China trying to save the Jerusalem of the East. Initially, officials backed away from their plan and negotiated a compromise withe the Sanjiang pinyin (Chinese Christ followers).  Unfortunately, the bright prominent crosses on Sanjiang Church in a central business district proved too much for Communist Party sensibilities and the church was demolished.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fallen 9/11 NYFD Chaplain Mychael Judge on Listening to the Call of God

Fr. Mychael Judge on Listening to God

Father Mychael Judge, a Franciscan Friar who was the chaplain of the New York Fire Department during the 9/11 attacks by Islamist inspired terrorists. People were moved from the Pieta like photograph of the mortally wounded chaplain's body from the World Trade Center after he was struck by falling debris. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

On Thanking God and Letting Go of the Past

Miguel Ruiz on Thanking God

Miguel Ruiz is an New Age author influenced by Toltec spirituality.  His book "The Four Agreements" (1997) advocates personal freedom and avoiding things that create limitations and unhappiness in our lives.

Seeing Ruiz's aphorism within a Christian context, we can appreciate overcoming the self-imposed limitations which trap our potential.  Some faithful Christians can be burdened with  bad choices and sin that discourage us from metanoia and being our true selves from baptism.

Part of Catholic spirituality is a sacramental notion of confession.  We examine our conscience, admit our shortcomings, resolve to change and let go of the past with a sacramental absolution.  Some low church Protestants question why the faithful have to go through a priestly confessor as an intermediary.  But silently saying "Sorry" to God without soul searching and the ignominy of articulating these shortcomings that is also accompanied by the Father's blessing seems like what Dietrich Bonhoeffer would call "cheap grace".

The problem is that some penitants go through the process but do not let go of the weight of sin that continues to drag them down .  Thus embracing Ruiz notion of thanking God by letting go and living in the present moment seems like a wonderful way to embrace our place as part of the New Creation.