Showing posts with label Pope Francis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pope Francis. Show all posts

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.
Was John Boehner's conscience pricked by Pope Francis' words "common good" and "common needs"?  Also, his role as leader of an unruly House was exposed for what it is: nearly, but not quite, useless.  I think it's possible that the pope's visit inspired Boehner to announce his retirement at this moment, rather than at some time in not-so-distant future.  Also, he may have had enough of trying to reign in far right extremists who care nothing about doing their jobs of actually governing the country.  Besides, he'll no doubt move on to a better paying lobbying job that is far less stressful.

Whoever replaces Boehner as speaker will have to deal with the same Democratic president and the same filibuster rule in the Senate in attempts to pass legislation.  Though I am no admirer of Boehner, to his credit, he kept the barbarians behind the gate to avert several disasters.  Since Boehner's position as speaker is no longer at risk, the likelihood of a government shutdown may be lessened.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Dear Gov. Jindal,

Please change your mind and accept the Medicaid expansion that would provide health insurance for hundreds of thousands of citizens of Louisiana and which would also create much-needed jobs in the state. Whatever your ideological objections to the program, Louisiana stands to lose 1.566 billion dollars. That's billions lost to the state budget that is often in arrears and requires last minute cuts in programs and institutions that have already been cut to the bone.

Whatever may happen in nine years when the state has to pay 10% of the costs, you will be long gone from the scene, but citizens in Louisiana need health insurance right now. Without the Medicaid expansion, people in Louisiana will almost certainly die from treatable diseases and conditions because of the lack of health insurance, either because treatment was started too late, or because treatment was inadequate.

Whatever your intentions, on the surface it appears that you refuse the money for the sake of furthering your political ambitions on the national scene. Since you first assumed the office of governor in Louisiana, your extensive travels campaigning around the country for political purposes leave you little time in the state where you were elected. Isn't it time to pay attention to the needs of the people of the state?

You are a Catholic Christian, Gov. Jindal. Have you read the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church or listened to the words of Pope Francis about the poor and downtrodden? I simply cannot comprehend your decision not to accept the funds. A good many Republican governors have laid aside ideology and political ambitions and chosen to accept the Medicaid expansion for the sake of their poor and low income citizens. Why not you?


June Butler


Low income people want to obtain health insurance...
But in 25 states, that robust interest has a downside: Navigators are forced to tell more and more people that they probably won't be able to get covered because their states, all of which had a GOP-controlled legislative chamber or governor, have refused to expand Medicaid. Lynne Thorp, who is overseeing the University of South Florida's navigator program in that state, told TPM that about one in four people who contact her team fall into that Medicaid gap.

"Those are hardest phone calls because it doesn't make any sense to them," Thorp said. "We have to explain that they fall into this gap where this program can't assist them."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Gay chef Tom Logan
In what his friends claim is a softening of his stance on Popes, 38-year-old gay chef Tom Logan claimed he was fine with them as long as they didn’t do any Pope stuff.
My friend Alison on Facebook made my day with the link above.
Pope Francis
Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, he [Pope Francis] reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church's position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not.

He was responding to questions about whether there was a "gay lobby" in the Vatican.

"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?"

But Pope Francis said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well," Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging 80-minute long interview with Vatican journalists.
I confess I am puzzled by the glee over Pope Francis' latest statement on gays, as I don't see the pope offering hope for any change in practice.  The pope's tone is more pastoral than previous popes, but that's about it.

From The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (My emphases)
Pope Francis states that the Catechism explains the RCC's stance on same-sexuality very well.  What then has changed?  When I see a RC bishop or priest come out as gay and remain is his position, I'll believe the church has changed its position.   When a candidate for ordination openly declares same-sex orientation and is allowed to continue the process to ordination, I will believe in change.  We shall see. 

Since I am no longer a member of the RCC, what the pope says doesn't matter very much to me one way or another. Still, I wonder because a good many gay friends of mine are pleased by the pope's words, and I do not understand the reasons for rejoicing 

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Why don't the leaders of the churches, and I don't refer only to the pope (I'm looking at you, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby), stand up for what is just and right for a change and not focus so on holding institutions together?  I'm too old and jaded to be fooled by mere soothing words that, in the end, only serve to prolong the agony of the wait for true acceptance. As My Fair Lady said, "Show me!"

UPDATE: Speaking of the Archbishop of Canterbury:
Speaking to more than 6,000 people at a conference, Archbishop Welby said the passing of the Same Sex Marriage Act had been “crushing” for the church, but was something it needed to listen and respond to.

"I spoke against it and voted against it but I listened and I heard the roar of revolution,” said the Archbishop, as he described listening to the debate on The Same Sex Marriage Act.

"It came not merely from those one would expect but from every side of the house, Conservatives, Liberals and Labour, of every age and sex.

"Those of us against the act were utterly crushed in the voting again, and again, and again.

 "There were more people who turned out to vote than the House of Lords than experienced in World War Two.

"But popular opinion is not a case for changing obedience to God...."
I'm tempted to despair.  Crushing for which church?  Certainly not for the Church of England.  With the opposition Justin saw in the House of Lords, how can he think he speaks for the church?  Does he speak for all bishops, priests, and laity in the church?  As my English Facebook friend said, "YOU are NOT God Archbishop! Surrender your arrogant ignorance now?"  I didn't say that.  I'm merely quoting my English friend. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Pope Francis is letting baptized Catholics join the new church structure created to receive Anglican converts.

The "ordinariate," which functions like a diocese, was initially designed to enable Anglicans upset over the liberalizing trends of their church to join the Catholic Church while retaining some of their Anglican heritage.
And why not?  For all the talk of Anglican heritage, the people in the ordinariates are Roman Catholic converts with an Anglican flavor.  The ordinariates were set up by Benedict to self-destruct and eventually merge into the main body of the church, but this move by Francis gives the ordinariates longer life.  Baptized, but not yet confirmed?  And must one have fallen away from the RCC to join the ordinariate?  The rules seem strange to me.  The whole concept of the ordinariates seems strange to me, but who am I to say?

More at The National Catholic Register.

Image from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Pope Francis has backed the Vatican’s doctrinal crackdown on a major group of American nuns, reasserting the Roman Catholic Church's conservative approach to various social issues in a move that could cool the warm reception he has received from some liberal Catholics since taking office last month.
The Vatican said in a statement Monday that Francis had reaffirmed the doctrinal evaluation and criticism of U.S. nuns made last year by the Holy See under his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The assessment accused the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization that represents most U.S. female Catholic orders, of promoting "radical feminist themes" and ignoring the Vatican's hard line on same-sex marriage and abortion.
"[R]adical feminist themes"?  It is to laugh.  Perhaps I am what the Vatican would consider a radical feminist today because of the fine example of the nuns who taught me in my Roman Catholic elementary and high schools.  Not that the words were ever mentioned, but the great majority of my teachers set an example for me by their intelligence, kindness, knowledge, and common sense.  That the investigation of the nuns will continue is disappointing, but, on the other hand:
Father James Martin, a prominent Jesuit priest in the United States who led a Twitter drive last year to defend the nuns, said it was too soon to say whether Francis, the church's first Jesuit leader, was shutting the door on dialogue.

"Given the long history of the LCWR investigation, it's not surprising that Pope Francis is asking the Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith] to continue its work. It would have been odd for him to halt things at this point, so early in his job," Martin said. "But given that he himself is a member of a religious order, I would imagine that the sisters will get a sympathetic hearing from him."
I hope Martin is correct that the nuns will get a fair hearing, and their harassment will soon be a matter of history.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Thanks to my friend Jane Redmont for the link on her Facebook page to the best essay I have read thus far on Francis, the new pope.  In his essay, "After the Hype", Jorge A. Aquino, provides a thoughtful, insightful, measured glimpse of what we might expect from the papacy of  Francis. 
Watching reactions to the papal election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, I have been knocked over, even awed, by their far-flung and contradictory range, by their passion, and by the fiercely polemical attitudes that have constellated in discussions about him. Mapping these responses tells much about the crossroads Roman Catholicism straddles today.

I read Bergoglio’s election as a top-down compromise by a Roman Catholic hierarchy struggling—like the proverbial Dutch boy before the teetering wall of the levy—to reconcile deepening tensions between these two poles of authority and power in Catholic-Christian churches throughout the world. His papacy would represent continuity in the Vatican’s 30-year-plus strategy to co-opt and neuter the more radical political and social options of the post-conciliar period. The most obvious target has been the discourse and pastoral praxis of liberation theology—including its merger of church-building into radical political options. More recent targets include women’s ordination movements, as well as LGBTQ equal rights. To the extent that Pope Francis has anything to offer as “the first Third World pope,” it is in this context that such an offering will be made.
Early on, when I heard about the election of Francis, I wondered about his role in Argentina's history when he was Provincial Superior of  the Society of Jesus from 1973 to 1979, during the time when a "military junta led by General Jorge Videla and Admiral Emilio Massera launched a reign of terror on liberal and Marxist groups after their March 1976 coup overthrew the government of Isabel Perón."  I remember the stories of arrests in which people "disappeared", los desaparecidos, and never emerged alive. Aquino explores the period in Argentina's history at length in his essay and notes what is known about Francis during his time as superior of the Jesuits.

Although Aquino finds no direct evidence of Bergoglio's complicity with the despotic rulers, he says:
At the same time, I do not see in Bergoglio a prophetic voice of the sort that we saw in El Salvador, with the martyred Archbishop Romero, or in Brasil’s famously prophetic Dom Helder Câmara. Bergoglio seems not to have denounced the dictatorship in any memorable way until well after it was over.  

And despite Bergoglio’s reputation as a pastor to the poor, I do not recognize him as any sort of latter-day liberation theologian.
I agree.  From the present membership of the Roman Catholic College of Cardinals, all of whom were appointed by either John Paul II or Benedict XVI, it was not possible that a pope on the order of Câmara or Romero would emerge. I urge any of you who are interested in matters Roman Catholic to read the splendid essay.   I speak as an ex-Roman Catholic, who tries very hard not to be a bitter ex-Catholic (but who doesn't always succeed), and I maintain many friendships with members of my former church, in which I spent 60 years of my life.  

Jorge A. Aquino, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Theology & Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco.