September 15, 2014

Positivity: ‘Why the Cross?’ Pope asks during Sunday Angelus

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Sep 14, 2014 / 09:33 am

On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Pope Francis used basic questions about the necessity of salvation to draw listeners deeper into Christ’s saving mystery.

Addressing the crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square before leading them in praying the Angelus, the Pontiff explained that the cross which Christians “exalt” is not just any cross: it is the Cross of Jesus Christ, in which “is revealed the greatest love of God for humanity.”

“The Father ‘gave’ the Son to save us, and this has entailed the death of Jesus, and the death on the cross.”

This cross, moreover, is necessary “because of the gravity of evil which enslaved us. It conveys all of the negative strength of evil,” as well as “all of the omnipotent gentleness of God’s mercy.”

While it may seem that the cross is a sign of Jesus’ failure, it in fact is a sign of his victory over sin and death. Recalling those who mockingly told Jesus to come down if he is indeed the Son of God, (Mt. 27,40), Pope Francis said that it was precisely because he was the Son of God that he remained on the cross, “faithful until the end to the design of Love of the Father. And it is precisely for this reason God has ‘exalted’ Jesus, conferring on him a universal kingship.”

As we look upon the crucifix, the Holy Father continued, “we contemplate the sign of God’s infinite love for every one of us, and the cause of our salvation.”

“From this cross flows the mercy of the father which embraces the entire world”: evil is defeated, death is overcome, and “we are given life,” and hope is restored.

“The Cross of Christ,” he said, “is our only true hope.” It is for this reason, Pope Francis said, that the Church exalts the Holy Cross, and why we, as Christians, bless ourselves with the Sign of the Cross.”

In contemplating and celebrating the Cross, Pope Francis continued, we also think about “our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted and killed because of their faith in Christ,” especially in regions where “religious freedom is not guaranteed or fully realized.”

However, such persecution occurs also in countries which protect “freedom and human rights” in principle, but where believers, “especially Christians, encounter restrictions and discrimination.”

Before commencing the Angelus prayer, Pope Frrancis recalled how the Virgin Mary was at the foot of the Cross, and that the Virgin of Sorrows is celebrated on Monday.

Christ entrusted to her the “present and future of the Church, that we may all always discover and welcome the message of love and the salvation of the Cross of Jesus.”

The Pope concluded by also entrusting the married couples whose marriages he presided over earlier in the day in Saint Peter’s Basilica. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 14, 2014

Positivity: Catholics in America will – and do – suffer for ‘swimming against the tide’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Chicago (see bolds below):

Sep 12, 2014 / 12:01 pm

Faithful Catholics will face increasing difficulties in American society as public life becomes more dominated by another “religion” that marginalizes the Church and imposes its own morality, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has written.

“Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society,” Cardinal George wrote in his Sept. 7 column for Catholic New World, the newspaper of his local Church.

“It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers.”

… “It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to ‘swim against the tide,’ as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do.”

Continuing his narration of the Church’s history in the United States, Cardinal George concluded that “we don’t know” how the tale ends.

“The actual situation is, of course, far more complex than a story plot, and there are many actors and characters, even among the ruling class, who do not want their beloved country to transform itself into a fake church. It would be wrong to lose hope, since there are so many good and faithful people.”

“Catholics do know, with the certainty of faith, that, when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, the church, in some recognizable shape or form that is both Catholic and Apostolic, will be there to meet him.”

“There is no such divine guarantee for any country, culture or society of this or any age.”

Go here for the full story.

September 13, 2014

Positivity: Being married by Pope Francis is a dream come true, couple says

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Rome:

Sep 12, 2014 / 04:46 pm

An Italian couple to be married over the weekend by Pope Francis say they could not wish for anything more than to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony from the pontiff who has influenced their lives so greatly.

“Getting married by Pope Francis and marrying the man of my life is the apex of everything I could want,” said Laura Carpuso, a Catholic woman in the Diocese of Rome who will tie the knot with fiancé Marco Purcaro in a Sept. 14 ceremony celebrated by Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Laura, who is 34, works as an event organizer, while Marco, 32, is a former professional dancer. Their journey to marriage has always been linked to Pope Francis, they explained.

“I say it all the time, Pope Francis has taught me many things, especially what he kept repeating about marriage: ‘Dear couples, even though the plates may fly, don’t go to bed without making peace,’ and the words ‘please, thank you and sorry,’ which have become a daily part of our life,” Laura told CNA in an interview in Rome on Sept. 11.

“When we argue, Marco always repeats those words and we find a solution,” she said.

The two met Pope Francis on Feb. 14, when the pontiff greeted thousands of engaged couples in St. Peter’s Square for a special St. Valentine’s Day address.

“Since then the Pope entered my life and now he is our guide and a very important person to us,” Laura said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 12, 2014

Lowering the Bar

5.5 percent unemployment is now “full employment.” Horse manure.

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This column went up at PJ Media Tuesday evening Pacific Time and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Wednesday.

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When they can’t meet established performance standards, the left makes up excuses, lowers the standards, and, if necessary, revises history along the way.

In the economic realm, there’s hardly a better of example of this kind of deliberate responsibility avoidance than what has happened to the idea of “full employment.”

Full employment is supposed to occur when “all … who want to work and are allowed to work are able to find employment.”

The unemployment rate associated with full employment obviously can’t be zero, because there will always be people out of work who are voluntarily or involuntarily moving from one job to another.

What unemployment rate represents full employment? The architects of the Humphrey–Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978 thought it should be 4 percent for Americans age 16 and over. That benchmark is what Richard Nixon used when presenting “full employment” budgets during much of his time in office. Yes, it was a gimmicky maneuver designed to make what were then seen as horrific deficits seem more palatable; but the rate did represent the predominant economic thinking at the time. While we’re in the neighborhood, I should note that the deficits incurred during the early 1970s, considered awful at the time, were chump change, even after accounting for inflation, compared to the $1 trillion-plus annual shortfalls seen during most of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Forty years later, communications have improved tremendously. Unfilled job listings are available within seconds at any number of web sites attempting to match employees with employers. Applicants send resumes online instead of through the mail. One would therefore expect that the full-employment unemployment rate would have fallen, or at the very least remained the same.

Thus, I was initially quite relieved on September 4 when I sat in on the ADP Employment Report conference call. Moody’s economist Mark Zandi, the report’s overseer, told his audience that he expects that the economy will continue to generate 200,000 or more private-sector jobs each month as far as the eye can see, and that this serendipitous consistency will bring the U.S. economy to full employment by the end of 2016.

He further clarified his prediction by optimistically forecasting that most of today’s workforce dropouts will get back into the game during that time, and that most of those who are currently working part-time but would prefer full-time jobs will find them. Those two assumptions were a bit hard to take, but it’s his conference call, and he can predict what he wants. (The next day’s employment report from the government, which showed only a 142,000 pickup in seasonally adjusted jobs, threw cold water on Zandi’s sunny optimism. He didn’t handle it well.)

But Zandi then noted that all of this would return us to full employment for the first time “in a decade.” That seemed odd.

This is where the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood from 2004 through 2007:

Unemployment2004to2007

Though the economy posted unemployment rates of 5 percent or lower for 31 consecutive months, including almost a year at or around 4.5 percent, it never got to what I had understood to be the commonly accepted definition of full employment for decades.

But Zandi said it did. So when the call opened up for questions, I asked him what he thought the unemployment rate would be at the end of 2016 when we hit full-employment nirvana.

I was stunned at the answer: 5.5 percent.

It gets worse.

When I asked him if this benchmark meant that we were somehow at more than full employment in 2006 and 2007, he said “yes,” contending that there was significant upward pressure on wages during that time. Does anyone remember that we had a seller’s market for labor throughout the U.S. in the mid-2000s? With rare exceptions in certain sections of the country, neither do I.

When I mentioned that his full-employment unemployment rate was quite a bit higher than I was used to seeing by about 1.5 percentage points, Zandi went further into the land of the absurd. He asserted that full employment was commonly regarded as 5 percent last decade — this 2007 article in the New York Times confirms that — but that the economic damage caused by the recession had upwardly moved that standard to 5.5 percent.

In other words, it’s Bush’s fault — apparently forever — that the rate is now a half-point higher. The economy fell, and it will never entirely get back up. You can’t make this garbage up. This permanent half-point upward move must have been discovered after the Obama administration was done promoting the idea that its 2009 stimulus package would lower the unemployment rate to 5 percent — by the middle of 2013. How convenient.

In a far more efficient communications environment, why did the accepted full-employment unemployment rate rise at all?

Part of the answer is that there are many people who believe that the increase never should have happened. That group, strangely enough, includes card-carrying liberals Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker. It also includes the folks at the American Institute for Full Employment. Its president, John Courtney, goes further. In an email, he specifically asserted his group’s belief that “full employment is below the 4%” Bernstein and Baker advocated in late 2013.

It’s hard to disagree with Mr. Courtney, given that a July 2014 table at the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed six states with rates below 4 percent. Only one of them, North Dakota, where the unemployment rate was 2.8 percent and starting wages at Wal-Mart can be as high as $17 per hour, is seeing significant wage pressure. This strongly suggests that the real-world unemployment rate at full employment is about 3.5 percent.

What has really happened is that the left-dominated establishment economics community has lowered the bar for full employment to avoid having to discuss the welfare state’s pervasive work disincentives and their own Keynesian policies’ utter failure to satisfactorily revive the job market.

How pathetic.

Positivity: ‘One of Us’ coalition to defend human life, dignity in Europe

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Madrid:

Sep 12, 2014 / 02:14 am

Citizens of 28 European countries belonging to 25 different organizations defending life and human dignity have come together to form the European Federation “One of Us,” named after a prominent E.U. citizen’s initiative.

According to a statement posted on its website Sept. 6, the organization is a “step forward” made possible “thanks to the way the citizens of 28 countries of the European Union have been working together to create the most successful European citizens’ initiative of all … and one capable of doubling the number of signatures that were required by the European Commission.”

The federation takes its name from a European Union citizen’s initiative which called for “respect for human life in all European Union governing bodies”; it sought to ban E.U. funding for research and other activities that destroy human embryos.

Citizens’ initiatives are intended to allow E.U. citizens to introduce proposed legislation into the E.U. parliament.

In order to win a hearing, initiatives must receive 1 million signatures from E.U. citizens and a minimum number of signatures from at least seven of the E.U.’s 27 member states within a year of the initiative being introduced.

The “One of Us” petition introduced in 2012 received 1 million signatures in early September 2013, nearly two full months before its deadline, and passed the minimum per country requirement in Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain.

It was only the second citizens’ initiative ever to receive the required support. Continued petition gathering later increased the signature total to nearly 2 million.

The European Commission ultimately rejected the initiative, however, choosing not to submit a legislative proposal on the ground that E. U. policy had been recently discussed. The commission said that it deemed the existing embryonic research funding framework to be appropriate.

The new “One of Us” coalition is meant to build upon the initiative’s grassroots support and widespread momentum, and “wishes to take on the urgent challenges Europe faces in the defense of human life and human dignity.”

The federation is neither political nor confessional, and it has among its objectives the “unconditional recognition of the inherent and inalienable human dignity as a source of human freedoms and citizen’s rights. As such it should be inviolable and protected by all the public authorities.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 11, 2014

A Tribute to Initial 9/11 Media Coverage

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:02 am

This post is a BizzyBlog 9/11 tradition.

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From the Media Research Center:

9/11 Remembered: Rick Rescorla Was a Soldier

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:00 am

This post is a BizzyBlog 9/11 tradition.

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RescorlaInUniformRescorlaVietnamIn retrospect, it’s astonishing that the death toll from the 9/11 attacks wasn’t much higher. Vietnam War hero Rick Rescorla is one of the main reasons.

The following is excerpted from an item originally posted at Mudville Gazette in 2003 (Warning: Strong language):

… Rescorla’s office was on the forty-fourth floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. The firm occupied twenty-two floors in the south tower, and several floors in a building nearby. In 1990 Rescorla and Dan Hill, an old Army friend, evaluated the security, identifying load bearing columns in the parking garage as a weak point. A security official for the Port Authority dismissed their concerns. On February 26, 1993, a truck bomb exploded in the basement.

Rescorla ensured that every one of his firm’s employees was safely evacuated, and was the last man out of the building.

.. (on 9/11, Rescorla friend) Dan Hill was laying tile in his upstairs bathroom when his wife called, “Dan, get down here! An airplane just flew into the World Trade Center. It’s a terrible accident.” Hill hurried downstairs, and then the phone rang. It was Rescorla, calling from his cell phone.

“Are you watching TV?” he asked. “What do you think?”

“Hard to tell. It could have been an accident, but I can’t see a commercial airliner getting that far off.”

“I’m evacuating right now,” Rescorla said.

Hill could hear Rescorla issuing orders through the bullhorn. He was calm and collected, never raising his voice.

… the Port Authority was telling him not to evacuate and to order people to stay at their desks.

“What’d you say?” Hill asked.

“I said, ‘Piss off, you son of a bitch,’” Rescorla replied. “Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it’s going to take the whole building with it. I’m getting my people the f*ck out of here.”

… Hill turned back to the TV and, within minutes, saw the second plane execute a sharp left turn and plunge into the south tower. Susan saw it, too, and frantically phoned her husband’s office. No one answered.

About fifteen minutes later, the phone rang. It was Rick. She burst into tears and couldn’t talk.

“Stop crying,” he told her. “I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”

Susan cried even harder, gasping for breath. She felt a stab of fear, because the words sounded like those of someone who wasn’t coming back. “No!” she cried, but then he said he had to go. Cell-phone use was being curtailed so as not to interfere with emergency communications.

From the World Trade Center, Rescorla again called Hill. He said he was taking some of his security men and making a final sweep, to make sure no one was left behind, injured, or lost. Then he would evacuate himself. “Call Susan and calm her down,” he said. “She’s panicking.”

Hill reached Susan, who had just got off the phone with Sullivan. “Take it easy,” he said, as she continued to sob. “He’s been through tight spots before, a million times.” Suddenly Susan screamed. Hill turned to look at his own television and saw the south tower collapse. He thought of the words Rescorla had so often used to comfort dying soldiers. “Susan, he’ll be O.K.,” he said gently. “Take deep breaths. Take it easy. If anyone will survive, Rick will survive.”

When Hill hung up, he turned to his wife. Her face was ashen. “Sh*t,” he said. “Rescorla is dead.”

The rest of Rick Rescorla’s morning is shrouded in some mystery. The tower went dark. Fire raged. Windows shattered. Rescorla headed upstairs before moving down; he helped evacuate several people above the 50th Floor. Stephan Newhouse, chairman of Morgan Stanley International, said at a memorial service in Hayle that Rescorla was spotted as high as the 72nd floor, then worked his way down, clearing floors as he went. He was telling people to stay calm, pace themselves, get off their cell phones, keep moving. At one point, he was so exhausted he had to sit for a few minutes, although he continued barking orders through his bullhorn. Morgan Stanley officials said he called headquarters shortly before the tower collapsed to say he was going back up to search for stragglers.

John Olson, a Morgan Stanley regional director, saw Rescorla reassuring colleagues in the 10th-floor stairwell. “Rick, you’ve got to get out, too,” Olson told him. “As soon as I make sure everyone else is out,” Rescorla replied.

Morgan Stanley officials say Rescorla also told employees that “today is a day to be proud to be American” and that “tomorrow, the whole world will be talking about you.” They say he also sang “God Bless America” and Cornish folk tunes in the stairwells. Those reports could not be confirmed, although they don’t sound out of character. He liked to sing in a crisis. But the documented truth is impressive enough. Morgan Stanley managing director Bob Sloss was the only employee who didn’t evacuate the 66th floor after the first plane hit, pausing to call his family and several underlings, even taking a call from a Bloomberg News reporter. Then the second plane hit, and his office walls cracked, and he felt the tower wagging like a dog’s tail. He clambered down to the 10th floor, and there was Rescorla, sweating through his suit in the heat, telling people they were almost out, making no move to leave himself.

Rick did not make it out. Neither did two of his security officers who were at his side. But only three other Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated.

Blackfive’s Greyhawk notes that over 2600 employees of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter walked out of the south tower and in to the rest of their lives that morning thanks to Rick Rescorla.

Despite his post-9/11 brag that the attacks worked out better than he had expected, Osama bin Laden, with his background in construction, almost surely knew that the jets would level the Twin Towers, and was thus anticipating well over 10,000 deaths. By reducing the horrible toll, people like Rick Rescorla, the rescuers at the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the heroes of Flight 93 prevented bin Laden from achieving a much grander ambition, and demonstrated that while America may have appeared to be a paper tiger before the attacks, that would no longer be the case, beginning on September 12, i.e., “tomorrow, (when) the whole world will be talking about you.”

September 10, 2014

Positivity: Francis’ letter to Cubans — Imitate Mary’s joy, haste, perseverance

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Santiago de Cuba, Cuba:

Sep 7, 2014 / 10:00 pm

Marking the feast of the patroness of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Pope Francis on Monday sent a letter to Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez of Santiago encouraging the faithful of the island country to remain steadfast in their devotion to the Virgin Mary.

The Pope remarked particularly on three virtues that are seen in the account of Mary found in the Gospels: her joy, seen when she conceived Christ; her service, seen in her haste to aid her elderly cousin; and her perseverance, seen in her dedication to her son throughout her life. Pope Francis invited both the pastors and the faithful of Cuba to imitate these Marian virtues.

The Sept. 8 letter marks the Feast of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, which is shared with the Nativity of Mary. Her statue is kept at the Basilica del Cobre, near to Santiago.

A statue of Our Lady of Charity was enthoned at the Vatican Gardens last month; it had been brought to the Holy See in 2008, at which time Benedict XVI had blessed it.

The original statue was discovered in 1612 by three fishermen during a storm in Nipe bay. In 1916, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre was declared Patroness of Cuba by Benedict XV, and in 1998 St. John Paul II crowned her Mother of the Reconciliation of Cuba. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 9, 2014

Positivity: RIP, Truett Cathy

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From the AJC.com obituary:

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy died Monday

S. Truett Cathy, who turned a humble hometown restaurant featuring a boneless fried chicken sandwich into the Chick-fil-A juggernaut, died Monday at 1:35 a.m. He was 93.

Cathy, who died at home surrounded by loved ones, was known as much for his Christian principles — Chick-fil-A’s are closed on Sundays — as he was for his business acumen. He lived long enough to see his company rise from a local grill to the No. 1 U.S. chicken chain this year.

… Cathy began tinkering with boneless chicken at his hamburger haven, the Dwarf Grill (now Dwarf House) in Hapeville, which opened in 1946 largely to serve nearby Ford plant workers. He spent four years devising the ingredients for his famous sandwich, which he began selling in 1961 before the ultimate formula was settled.

The motorcycle-riding, God-fearing Cathy resisted the temptation to take the company public. He was afraid a board of directors would unload him for not maximizing profits. And he wanted free rein on charitable ventures, which included sponsoring foster homes, summer camps and academic programs.

Cathy also didn’t want to change his policy of closing on Sundays. That started when he drew the shades at the Dwarf Grill once a week to preserve time for courting the woman he would marry.

“If it took seven days to make a living with a restaurant,” he once said, “then we needed to be in some other line of work.”

It is a policy embraced by his children — Dan, Don “Bubba” Cathy and Trudy Cathy — and is being passed to his grandchildren.

Former President Jimmy Carter, a Cathy friend, described the restaurateur’s faith: “In every facet of his life, Truett Cathy has exemplified the finest aspects of his Christian faith… . By his example, he has been a blessing to countless people,” Carter said in a statement. “We are fortunate to be among those whose lives he has touched.”

Named after preacher-evangelist George W. Truett, Samuel Truett Cathy was born on March 14, 1921, sixth in a family of seven children.

His dad was a struggling insurance salesman. The family made ends meet with Mom renting out beds at their modest home on Oak Street. Her work ethic was such that Cathy claimed the first time he saw her eyes closed was when she lay in a casket.

He got this start in the food business at 8, with her help. He erected a Coke stand in the front yard and chilled the bottles with frozen chunks of ice bought from an ice man who came by on a horse-drawn carriage. He would buy a six-pack of “Co’colas,” as he called them, for a quarter and sold them for 5 cents each, netting him a nickle for every six-pack. He was at the time a poor boy wearing shoes stuffed with cardboard, according to his book, “Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People.”

Winters, when demand for a frosty soft drink waned, he switched to magazine subscriptions.

He served in World War II and came home to build, with his brother, Ben, the Dwarf Grill between the Ford plant and Candler field, which became Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Cathy continued running the restaurant, named for its petite size, after Ben’s untimely death and began experimenting with the “chicken steak” sandwich that has become the chain’s beloved hallmark.

He was an early entrant into newfangled shopping centers called malls, and opened his first free-standing restaurant in 1986 on North Druid Hills Road. The rest is Chik-fil-A history.

He made no bones about structuring his operation around biblical principles. Monday mornings at corporate offices begin with optional devotionals.

“I see no conflict whatsoever between Christianity and good business practices,” he said in 2006. “People say you can’t mix business with religion. I say there’s no other way.”

“People appreciate you being consistent with your faith,” he told an AJC reporter . “It’s a silent witness to the Lord when people go into shopping malls, and everyone is bustling, and you see that Chick-fil-A is closed.”

In later years, Cathy shifted his energies to charity — mainly foster homes and home for abused and neglected children. And he launched the WinShape scholarship program at Berry College, mostly bestowed to young Chick-fil-A employees.

The family torch has been passed to a second generation of Cathys. In early 2006, grandson Andrew Cathy began operating a franchise in St. Petersburg, Fla.

At the grand opening, the family and business patriarch said, “It was the best day of my career.” He expressed the wish that his other grandkids would carry on his vision.

“I feel confident they will make it work for the next generation,” said Cathy, 84 at the time. “I’m not going to be around forever.”

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jeannette McNeil Cathy; sons Dan T. and Don “Bubba” Cathy; daughter Trudy Cathy White; 19 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

Chick-fil-A said the public will be able to pay respects to Cathy at two public viewings and a public funeral service. The times and dates for those events have not be finalized.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the WinShape Foundation, which was founded in 1984. Donations can be sent to: WinShape Foundation, 5200 Buffington Road, Atlanta, GA, 30349.

Go here for the full story.

September 8, 2014

Positivity: Church serves ‘women the rest of the world has left behind’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

Sep 7, 2014 / 04:32 pm

Recent claims that the Catholic Church disregards women fail to acknowledge the Church’s critical work to support women and families around the world, say leaders in medicine, academia and global relief work.

“Anyone who thinks that the Catholic Church doesn’t support women doesn’t know much about the Church, its mission and its presence around the world,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Vice President of US Operations for Catholic Relief Services.

“Every day, the Catholic community supports women with opportunities to strengthen their families, become better educated, and build their economic and food security. Our presence across the globe, including in some of the most remote places on earth, allows us to help many women the rest of the world has left behind,” she told CNA Aug. 27.

A recent “Poverty Matters” blog post in the British daily The Guardian criticized the Church as being anti-woman. Entitled “Pope Francis has done little to improve women’s lives,” the blog post argued particularly against the Church’s stance on human sexuality.

Rosenhauer pointed to several initiatives Catholic Relief Services has started to help alleviate poverty, particularly for women and their families. For example, the Savings and Internal Lending Communities program has provided loans to more than 1 million people – over 80 percent of them women – to help start small family businesses or help women to become financially independent.

Additionally, Rosenhauer said, “thousands of girls and women are being helped around the world every day through Church-run programs focusing on maternal and child nutrition, girls’ education, and livelihoods for women, to name just a few.” CRS runs programs that both distribute food in times of need and teach farming techniques that aid with food production and nutrition. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 7, 2014

Positivity: In rare move, Pope Francis to publicly celebrate 20 marriages

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Sep 5, 2014 / 05:42 am

The Vatican has released the schedule of Pope Francis’ main liturgical celebrations for the month of September, during which he will publicly perform the marriage of 20 couples.

September brings a full slate of activities for the pontiff, including the commemoration of lives lost in WWI, an audience with elderly, a day trip to Albania and the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage with couples in St. Peter’s Basilica.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, Pope Francis will travel to the Northern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia- Giulia, where he will visit the famous World War I military cemetery in Redipuglia and pay homage to the 100 thousand soldiers who are buried there by celebrating a solemn Mass.

The largest of its kind, the memorial is composed of a large stone staircase and is known for its vast size. It was inaugurated in 1938 following 3 years of construction.

Sept. 14, the next day, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s basilica for the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, during which he will witness the Sacrament of Marriage of 20 couples.

He will be the first pontiff to perform public weddings since St. John Paul II in 1994 in Mexico for the World Day of Families.

The event is significant as popes don’t usually celebrate weddings in public. Pope Francis has also decided to organize the event in direct collaboration with diocese of Rome rather than Pontifical Council for Families, as is usually done, and it is expected that he will perform more in the future. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 6, 2014

Positivity: Nun builds website to enliven children’s ministry in Pacific

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea:

Sep 5, 2014 / 09:04 pm

A religious sister from Texas who has been serving the people of Papua New Guinea since 1986 will soon complete a website to raise awareness about the Church’s apostolates to children in the Melanesian nation.

“The Catholic bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, at their annual general meeting in Madang, approved and created the Catholic Children’s Ministry PNG in April, 2013,” Fr. Giorgio Licini, P.I.M.E., head of the bishops’ conference’s social communications, told CNA Sept. 1.

It was at that meeting that the Papua New Guinean bishops asked Sister Mary Claude Gadd, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus congregation, to further develop children’s ministry in the country, securing the vision of a child-safe country. She has a background in both education and hospital ministry.

“Thus far I have identified close to twenty (20) special Programs being carried out across PNG by Catholic individuals or organizations on behalf of disadvantaged and needy children,” Sr. Mary Claude said in an interview with the media office of the bishops’ conference. “The plan is to allocate, on the website, a page or more to each of these activities and organizations.”

She added that “the website will also have a small space with contact information related to that particular organization or activity. People out there might be interested and wish to contact those concerned and even donate to support that activity.”

“On the other hand, the primary purpose of the website will not be fundraising as such, but awareness. I have written to those in charge of the various projects asking for information: how did it start, the purpose, goal, vision/mission… plus as many photos as possible.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 5, 2014

Positivity: Obama admin. drops appeals in three for-profit mandate cases

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

Sep 4, 2014 / 04:47 pm

Religious freedom advocates are voicing hope as the Obama administration drops its appeal in three lawsuits involving for-profit companies that object to the federal contraception mandate.

The Department of Justice has dropped its appeals in The Seneca Hardwood Lumber Company v. Burwell, Armstrong v. Burwell, and Briscoe v. Burwell, according to Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing numerous individuals and organizations that have sued over the mandate.

“The administration was right to abandon its fight against the family businesses involved in these particular cases in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June,” said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, in a Sept. 4 statement.

“In a free and diverse society, we respect the freedom to live out our convictions. For these families, that means not being forced to participate in distributing abortion drugs and devices.”

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the mandate as it was applied to two “closely held” for-profit businesses, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Services, saying that the owners of the companies were protected against the mandate by the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The court said that the government had not shown that the mandate was the least restrictive means of achieving its goal of providing free contraceptives to employees. …

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September 4, 2014

Positivity: Pope Francis is a ‘son of the Church’ on pro-life issues

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:10 am

From Rome:

Sep 4, 2014 / 04:55 am

Pope Francis has drawn praise for his firm pro-life stance as well as his approach to the topic – which goes to the heart of the issue and teaches the Church how to truly embrace humanity.

“I believe he has a very integral approach to teaching the faith. In other words, anything that we teach as a Church he adheres to 1,000 percent. Like he said, ‘I am a son of the Church,’” pro-life activist Father Frank Pavone told journalists in an Aug. 31 interview.

“There’s no question here about does he himself buy into whole heart and soul everything the Church teaches. Of course he does. The question is, how does he want to present that?”

Fr. Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life, explained that although there is still “a level of discomfort” regarding the pontiff’s approach to pro-life issues in the United States, his style is “a particular blessing” for all those involved the pro-life movement.

Referring to the Pope’s great concern regarding those who are alienated or distant from the Church, the priest said that his desire to relate “everything the Church teaches to the heart and core of it which is Jesus Christ and the joy of knowing him” is a more effective means of evangelization.

Despite the fact that he tends to be less outspoken on life issues than his predecessors, Pope Francis offers the pro-life movement a new, fresh perspective that doesn’t pin it down to merely saying “the Church teaches that abortion is wrong.”

Calling to mind the shock experienced by many at the closing Mass of a pro-live event in the Vatican in June 2014 when the pontiff failed to make any mention of issues such as abortion or euthanasia, Fr. Pavone stated that if we really think about it, his words that day offered something more essential.

“God is life. If we’re saying yes to God we’re saying yes to life…any idea or action contrary to life is idolatry,” he said, quoting the Pope’s homily.

When we compare someone who says “abortion is wrong, the Church is against it” with someone who says: “’Any action or thought against life is idolatry,’ which of those explanations puts it on a firmer basis?”

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September 3, 2014

Positivity: Humor

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

I missed this earlier this year, but it’s too funny to ignore now that I’ve seen it:

FrancisAndBenedictWorldCup2014.jpg