Thursday, May 23, 2013
Archbishop Lori on the
Fortnight for Freedom
Image from catholicnewsagency.com
The following is an excerpt from an article written by Archbishop William Lori for Columbia, the magazine of the Knights of Columbus
There is an increasing tendency on the part of many in our society to reduce religious liberty almost solely to freedom of worship. This we must resist. Religious freedom surely includes freedom of worship, but it also includes the freedom for private individuals to live their faith in the workplace and to advocate in the public square those truths and values that flow from faith. Moreover, authentic religious freedom includes the freedom of churches and church organizations to conduct their schools, social services and other activities in accordance with their beliefs and teachings.
Precisely because of this tendency to reduce religious freedom to freedom of worship, we need to come together in prayer. We need to pray as individuals and families…And we…need to make every effort to participate wholeheartedly in the national and local activities of this year’s Fortnight for Freedom.
May we unite in protecting our first and most cherished freedom, religious liberty!
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The Hope of the Gosnell Trial
“America won’t reject abortion until America sees abortion.” Those are words often spoken by Father Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life. Abortion is the greatest evil plaguing our country and yet it is shrouded in silence and euphemism, to the point that many if not most Americans have no real understanding of what this horror is all about.
But this past month that horror has been on full display (despite the best efforts of the media to cover it up) during the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murder for severing the spinal cords of babies born alive in abortion attempts.
It is good that the law acknowledged the value of these little human lives, but perhaps even more important was that anyone who became familiar with the gory details of the case was repulsed by them. Despite the lies of the abortion lobby to the contrary, those of us who have followed the unregulated butchery that goes on in abortuaries know that what happened in Gosnell’s clinic is not an aberration; it is par for the course. Mr. Gosnell will spend the rest of his life in prison for essentially following standard procedure.
To be fair, we can’t accuse every abortionist with the exact crimes committed by Gosnell, but there is little doubt that those crimes are widespread in the industry. One other important factor of the Gosnell saga is that some of his clinic workers were also guilty of crimes. What we are just beginning to see is workers from other clinics starting to come forward as whistle blowers if they can get immunity for themselves.
I think there is a panic beginning to spread. Many employees of abortuaries must realize that Gosnell’s fate could be their own, and they will do what they can to save themselves. As it becomes more and more obvious that what happened in the Gosnell clinic was not unique, and as Americans are exposed even more to the real horrors of abortion, it will be impossible for hearts not to be softened.
We can only pray that this will happen, and will happen soon. We should also pray for the souls, and the healing, of all those involved in the abortion industry. Faced with the sickening details of the Gosnell trial, many people instinctively reacted with anger and called for his death or worse. We have to remember that when we are dealing with abortion, we are dealing with the source of so much pain and anguish, and potentially the greatest stories of redemption.
Countless women, many who had bought into the lies our culture sells about abortion, have since found peace and new life, through organization like Project Rachel, and other sources of God’s grace. Many former abortionists or clinic workers, such as Abby Johnson, have become heroes of the pro-life movement, and have dedicated themselves to the defense of all human life.
May the good that comes out of the Kermit Gosnell trial be a clear view of what abortion really is, that ultimately leads to its end; and may it be healing and salvation for all those who suffer its effects. May the God who loves all His children regardless of their sin, bring joy and peace to every person in our land, as we have all been touched by the tragedy of abortion. Amen.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Pope Francis’s Pentecost Homily
Image from lifesitenews.com
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.
But what happened on that day, so distant from us and yet so close as to touch the very depths of our hearts? Luke gives us the answer in the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we have heard (2:1-11). The evangelist brings us back to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room where the apostles were gathered. The first element which draws our attention is the sound which suddenly came from heaven “like the rush of a violent wind”, and filled the house; then the “tongues as of fire” which divided and came to rest on each of the apostles. Sound and tongues of fire: these are clear, concrete signs which touch the apostles not only from without but also within: deep in their minds and hearts. As a result, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”, who unleashed his irresistible power with amazing consequences: they all “began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability”. A completely unexpected scene opens up before our eyes: a great crowd gathers, astonished because each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language. They all experience something new, something which had never happened before: “We hear them, each of us, speaking our own language”. And what is it that they are they speaking about? “God’s deeds of power”.
In the light of this passage from Acts, I would like to reflect on three words linked to the working of the Holy Spirit: newness, harmony and mission.
1. Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness and change, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?
2. A second thought: the Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony – “Ipse harmonia est”. Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselve be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. Journeying together in the Church, under the guidance of her pastors who possess a special charism and ministry, is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are dangerous! When we venture beyond (proagon) the Church’s teaching and community, and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Jn 9). So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?
3. A final point. The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; he impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone. As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus says: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever” (Jn 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the “Comforter”, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?
Today’s liturgy is a great prayer which the Church, in union with Jesus, raises up to the Father, asking him to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May each of us, and every group and movement, in the harmony of the Church, cry out to the Father and implore this gift. Today too, as at her origins, the Church, in union with Mary, cries out:“Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!” Amen.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Romeikes’ Fight for Freedom
Last week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Romeike family, German Christian homeschoolers who immigrated to the United States seeking asylum because of threats of crippling fines and potential loss of custody of their children by the German government. The Romeikes’ crime: choosing to homeschool their children, according to their Christian principles.
Originally, a judge granted the Romeikes asylum. However, the Obama Administration sprang into action. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement challenged the ruling, which was overturned by the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2012. The Sixth Circuit upheld that decision, and the legal battle continues, potentially all the way to the Supreme Court.
The plight of the Romeike family leads me to two conclusions: 1) Germany really hasn’t changed all that much since the days of the Third Reich, and 2) The devastating effects of the Obama presidency will be deeper and longer lasting than many of us had hoped. These are rather bold claims, and may seem a bit unfair, so I will explain what I mean.
To be fair to the German government, the law against homeschooling was enacted in 1918, before the rise to power of Adolph Hitler. However, the corruption of the youth by the government was central to the culture of the Third Reich. The Nazis knew many people opposed their ideology, but through the schools and through compulsory participation in the Hitler Youth, they figured they could steal the minds of the young and transform society completely inside of one generation.
Now, in 2013, Germany still hasn’t learned its lesson. Parental rights are still being usurped by the government. And given the recent attempt to outlaw circumcision in Germany, which had many people concerned about the return of institutional anti-Semitism, the continued demand that families follow government direction with their children’s education, should make every parent shiver. The ludicrous consequences for defying this unjust law (potential loss of custody) show just how out of control the government is, regarding this policy.
Facing all this, the Romeike case for asylum would seem like a slam dunk to most people. It was to Judge Lawrence Burman. But not to the Obama administration. I understand that Mr. Obama may not have personally filed the challenge, but if we stop the buck where President Truman suggested, this travesty is a reflection of his administration.
At a time when the government is looking the other way at countless illegal immigration cases from Latin America, they go full force against a Christian family from Germany who has followed American legal policy at every step. I am not attempting to comment on illegal immigration in general, but it seems to me that there is a double standard being applied. Is there a reasonable explanation as to why? Perhaps.
But regardless, it concerns me that our government can not stand up for the basic rights of a family that simply wants to raise their children according to their religious beliefs. I understand there may be complicated relations with a foreign government, but if people can not turn to the United States of America for sanctuary from persecution, where in this world can they go?
We have heard some scary statements recently regarding who children really belong to. I will not put those statements in the mouths of anyone in the Obama administration, but to those of us who believe in parents’ rights, the Romeike case should be a wake-up call to remain ever vigilant.
We also need to support the Romeike family. First, please pray for them. Next, let’s write our Congressmen and get their story out there. Perhaps with enough pressure, and God’s Grace, we can force a change in their situation.