Archive for Religion

ABC News shocked to discover the Pope is Catholic

pope-korea

Johee Choo of ABC News, reporting from South Korea:

During his trip in South Korea today, Pope Francis stopped to pray at a monument for aborted children, a rare gesture as he has been known to avoid such culturally sensitive issues.

Just because Johee Choo was either not paying attention (or is just going with what the media narrative is regarding Pope Francis) doesn’t mean he has ignored “culturally sensitive issues” since he became Pope.

Some (not even close to all) previous statements on abortion made by Pope Francis after he became Pope (there are plenty of others made when he was still a Cardinal) are below. A longer, but still incomplete, list is also online.

June 16, 2013:

All too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the ‘Gospel of Life’ but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others.

…As a result, the living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.

July 17, 2013

Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live for ever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.

July 28, 2013:

All life has inestimable value even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.

August 6, 2013:

Human life must always be defended from its beginning in the womb and must be recognised as a gift of God that guarantees the future of humanity.

September 20, 2013:

Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who even before he was born, and then just after birth, experienced the world’s rejection. And every elderly person…even if he is ill or at the end of his days, bears the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the ‘culture of waste’ suggests!

Additionally, there are plenty of other statements by the pontiff on other “sensitive” subjects, including same-sex “marriage” since he took office and while he was still Cardinal.

American Catholics say a special prayer for peace in Iraq in Mass today

graffiti-iraq

A statement from the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops from August 7:

The chairman of the Committee of International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) asked the U.S. bishops to invite the people of their dioceses to pray for peace in Iraq on Sunday, August 17. Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, made the request, August 6, sending the bishops the text of a prayer written by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako. Bishop Pates recounted the struggles of Christians and others in Iraq who have faced the destruction, burning and looting of churches, homes and businesses and, under threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) to join their extremist brand of Islam, have fled for their lives. Accordingly, he urged Catholics to let their elected representatives know of their concern that humanitarian assistance reach Christian and other religious minorities who are suffering in Iraq, Syria and other countries.

Patriarch Sako’s prayer:

Lord, The plight of our country is deep and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening. Therefore, we ask you Lord to spare our lives, and to grant us patience, and courage to continue our witness of Christian values with trust and hope. Lord, peace is the foundation of life; Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us to live with each other without fear and anxiety, and with dignity and joy. Glory be to you forever.

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

assumption

August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption of the BVM for Roman Catholics. It’s a Holy Day of Obligation (this a reminder to all Catholics reading this that you need to go to Mass today.)

Here’s the definition of the Assumption as defined infallibly by Pope Pius XII in 1950 in Munificentissimus Deus:

The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory

Jimmy Akin has 12 facts about the Assumption if you want to read more on the topic.

Prayer for the Assumption of Mary:

Father in heaven,
all creation rightly gives you praise,
for all life and all holiness come from you.
In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Navy orders Navy Lodges to put Bibles back into rooms

navy-lodge

Stars & Stripes has the breaking news:

Gideons Bibles are going back into Navy lodges.

The Navy on Thursday ordered the Bibles returned to rooms and said it is reviewing a decision by the Navy Exchange to remove them from its worldwide network of military hotels.

Atheists had cheered a victory after a complaint prompted the exchange to begin moving the Bibles to its lost-and-found bins this summer, but the Navy said the decision was made without consulting senior leadership.

“That decision and our religious accommodation policies with regard to the placement of religious materials are under review,” Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes.  “While that review is under way, religious materials removed from Navy Lodge rooms will be returned.”

This is a loss for the Freedom From Religion Foundation and for Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

North Korea fires missiles as Pope Francis arrives in South Korea

kim-jong-un

Pope Francis is visiting the South Korea this week so Kim Jong -un, leader of North Korea, has decided that country should conduct missile tests.

Yahoo/AP reports:

North Korea fired three short-range projectiles into the sea less than an hour before Pope Francis arrived Thursday for the first papal visit to South Korea in 25 years, South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

The apparent test firing was conducted from Wonsan on the North’s east coast and flew about 220 kilometers (135 miles), according to a ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office policy.

Annual military exercises involving the United States and South Korea start soon.

Restaurant owner receives death threat over Israeli flag

bennys-flag
(Photo: Benny Fischer)

Bethesda Beat reports on what happened after Benny Fischer put up an Israeli flag last Wednesday outside Benny’s Bar and Grill to show his support for Israel fighting against Hamas:

The flag was hung opposite an American flag near the front door at Benny’s Bar & Grill on Tuckerman Lane. The next morning, at 2:41 a.m., Fischer received a call on his cellphone from a blocked number. He said the caller told him he or she was planning to steal the flag and then went into an anti-Semitic rant.

Fischer said he couldn’t tell if the caller was a man or woman. “They were trying to disguise their voice, I could tell that,” Fischer said.

Fischer said he hung up on the initial call, but received another from a blocked number at 2:45 a.m. When he answered that one, the caller continued the rant, saying things like, “You f—king Jew, I’m going to kill you and all the other Jews,” according to Fischer.

“I said to them, ‘You’re just a coward like all the other Jew-haters in the world,’ ” Fischer said.

Montgomery County Police are investigating the calls as a hate crime. Earlier this year, teenage boys were arrested over anti-Semitic graffiti on vehicles and a synagogue in Potomac.

Fischer isn’t backing down according to the article:

Fischer said he’s undaunted by the threats and plans to host a fundraiser next month at his restaurant for Magen David Adom, an Israeli organization similar to the American Red Cross.

“It’s always been in my nature to be proud of who I am,” Fischer said. “Putting up a flag is not a big deal, but a lot of people are afraid of doing just that. They’re afraid of being singled out and targeted.”

Pope lifts suspension of priest who served in Sandinista government

sandinista-flag

Catholic News Agency reports:

Pope Francis has revoked the ‘suspension a divinis’ of Fr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, who was in 1984 barred from exercising his priestly ministry because he had taken political office.

The gesture of generosity was made after Fr. d’Escoto, 81, had sent a letter expressing his desire to “celebrate the Holy Eucharist again before dying.”

The priest had been suspended for holding office in Nicaragua’s Sandinista government as foreign minister, a post he held until 1990. In 2007, he returned to work for the government and between 2008 and 2009 was president of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Vatican Radio recalled that in 1984 the priest accepted the sentence imposed by St. John Paul II, even though he remained a member of the Maryknoll Congregation, “without being able to participate in any pastoral activity. For some years now the priest has abandoned his political endeavors.”

Canon law bars priests from holding political office.

D’Escoto was born in Los Angeles in 1933. He was ordained a priest in the Maryknoll order and became an official in the World Council of Churches. He was an adherent of Liberation theology when he joined the Sandinistas (FSLN.) D’Escoto served as foreign minister in Daniel Ortega’s government from 1979-1990. He was suspended as priest, along with two others who served the Sandinistas, during the eighties. He was admonished for his political activity during a papal visit to Nicaragua by Pope John Paul II.

D’Escoto was elected in 2010 to the Council Advisory Committee to the UN Human Rights Council. In 2008, he was elected to serve as President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for the 63rd Session. In 2011, he was nominated to be the Libyan Ambassador to the UN.

In 1986, D’Escoto gave a speech on television critical of Bishop Obando y Bravo for not siding with the Sandinistas. In 2004, he referred to Ronald Reagan as “the butcher of my people.” Two of his senior advisors when he was President of the UN General Assembly were Noam Chomsky and Ramsey Clark. While President, he said:

Because of Reagan and his spiritual heir George W. Bush, the world today is far less safe and secure than it has ever been.

After those comments and several others, Richard Grenell (who was spokesman at the time for the U.S. permanent mission to the UN) said:

The president of the General Assembly is supposed to be a uniter. We have made it clear that these crazy comments are not acceptable, and we hope he refrains from this talk and gets to work on General Assembly business.

Another U.S. spokesman at the UN referred to D’Escoto’s “increasingly bizarre statements.”

An Israeli ambassador to the UN called D’Escoto an “Israel-hater” after he hugged Iranian President Mahmound Ahmadinejad following that leader’s anti-Israel and anti-Zionist speech to the UNGA in 2008.

I suspect the sole reason for Pope Francis revoking the suspension is out of compassion and mercy for a dying man.

In case you’ve forgotten about the Sandinistas, here’s more on their legacy:
Chicago Tribune
Heritage Foundation

Guns for Groceries a new twist on ineffective gun buybacks

shoprite-gun-buyback

The above event was held Saturday in Baltimore and Carrie Wells of The Baltimore Sun reported on it.

Here’s a quick summary of this post with the full details below it:

  • A gun buyback organized by UpLift Solutions was held this past weekend.
  • Most of the guns turned in were old and rusty guns turned in by law abiding citizens – so guns weren’t really taken off the street.
  • ShopRite gift cards worth $100 were given for each gun turned in.
  • UpLift Solutions is a nonprofit closely tied to ShopRite and funded by the owner of ShopRite stores in other states.
  • The local ShopRite owners and UpLift Solutions are building a new store in the neighborhood.
  • The new store received over $14 million in tax credits (total cost was $20 million) to build the store.
  • Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is anti-gun, sponsored the buyback and also lobbied for the store’s construction.
  • Marshall Klein, COO of local owner Klein’s ShopRite, is a political donor to anti-gun Democrats including Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Brian Frosh.

Here’s what Michael Basher, of UpLift Solutions, told Wells about the event:

This always gets a lot of guns off the streets and keeps the streets a little safer.

Wells only identified Basher as “director of a community development nonprofit connected to ShopRite.” I found the name of that nonprofit via Google and later WBAL-TV, which didn’t interview Basher, also identified the group in their report.

Radio station 92Q was broadcasting at the event, which was held at New All Saints Catholic Church.

Here’s a picture from the event from the WBAL story. Note the type of firearms shown.

gun-buyback

Carrie Wells noted that:

They came with .22-caliber rifles wrapped in trash bags, Saturday night special handguns, rusted shotguns handed down from grandparents. A crowd of dozens lined up by 10 a.m. Saturday at a Northwest Baltimore church parking lot, most with gray hair and some leaning on canes or using hearing aides.

[...]

Many were skeptical that the gun buyback event would achieve organizers’ goal of reducing city crime, though they were pleased to get something of value for guns that in many cases hadn’t been fired in years or decades.

Jakiba Henderson told Wells that she didn’t know what kind of gun she was trading in and that it belonged to her recently departed grandfather. Henderson also said:

“The people who are committing the crimes aren’t turning in their guns, and their guns are probably illegal,” she said. “It’s more people like us who have guns sitting around the house,” who are turning them in.

More from the Wells article in The Sun:

Willie Gregory, 70, said he bought his .22-caliber rifle about 40 years ago for his children to use for target practice. The gun hadn’t been used in about that long. “They weren’t interested,” Gregory said.

Richard McCormick, 72, also had a .22-caliber rifle he wasn’t using anymore, though he said he had other guns at home. He said he wasn’t worried about thieves breaking in and stealing the guns.

If you watch the video accompanying the Sun story, Marshall Klein (COO of Klein’s ShopRite) is interviewed and talks about how great the buyback is.

The Sun story also mentions that organizers ran off people outside who were trying to buy the guns to keep them from being destroyed. If those people were on public sidewalks, I have some concerns about that.

The WBAL-TV story quoted a police official:

“It’s good for the community. People have guns that they keep in their homes for a number of years and if they were to have a break-in or somebody were to find that gun, then that’s another gun on the street that we have to combat and guard the citizens against,” said Marc Partee, district commander of Northwest District.

There has been at least one gun buyback at New All Saints Catholic Church reported on in the past. What was missing in the past was ShopRite gift cards. Coincidentally enough, ShopRite is opening a new store in the neighborhood. Recent church bulletins have pointed out that the store was hiring and preference was being given to people in the neighborhood. (An aside for Catholic readers: there is no evidence of any sort of pro-life ministry at this parish via their bulletins, website, or a Google search. However, they do have liturgical dance, which is not allowed.)

A story in Tuesday’s edition of The Baltimore Sun noted that the construction of the store itself is a joint venture between UpLift Solutions and Klein’s ShopRite. The story also notes that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had been lobbying for a store in the neighborhood. The store will sell fresh produce and will also cater to Muslims in the area with halal-certified meat.

The store received tax credits equal to almost 2/3 of constructing and stocking it:

Tax credits played a major role in ShopRite’s move to Howard Park. The breaks helped fund the estimated $20 million cost of building and stocking the store.

The Reinvestment Fund, a national backer of low-income neighborhood projects, together with First National Bank contributed $14.65 million in capital through the federal New Markets Tax Credit program, which is designed to attract investors to low-income communities.

UpLift Solutions is headquartered in a New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia. In fact, UpLift shares an address with Brown’s Super Stores, Inc. (the owner of Brown’s ShopRite – which is celebrating the end of Ramadan right now.)  The Chairman of the Board of UpLift Solutions is Jeffrey Brown, who is also the CEO of Brown’s Super Stores. His wife is also a board member. Other board members include developers, lawyers, bankers, and others.

Mike Basher, the Director of Community Development at UpLift quoted in the buyback article, is a career grocery executive who worked for Brown’s and was made the head of the nonprofit when it was launched. Among his duties, Basher oversees the “Guns for Goods” program in various locations.

UpLift’s’ total revenue for 2013 was over $1.3 million.  It would appear that a great deal of that revenue came from Brown’s. UpLift spent $1.1 million of that, including over $156,000  (around 14% of their total expenditures) in pay to Michael Basher. You can read UpLift Solutions’ Form 990 tax filings for yourself.

As noted above, Marshall Klein is the COO of Klein’s ShopRite which owns the Maryland locations for ShopRite. Klein has given political contributions to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Brian Frosh, both of whom are anti-gun. He also gave money to Mary Dulany-James, Liam Davis, Doug Duncan, and the failed gubernatorial campaign of David Craig and Jeannie Haddaway.

The public relations game and political gamesmanship detailed by all of the above shows that UpLift Solutions is a very poorly hidden arm of ShopRite itself and the new location going up in the area benefited greatly by government tax benefits while also helping push a pet political cause of its patrons in elected office.

PA children’s home approved to house immigrant children

umc-home

PennLive.com reports:

A local home for children has been asked by the federal government to prepare itself to take in unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who continue to cross over into the United States.

The United Methodist Home for Children in Mechanicsburg has not taken in any children from Central America yet, and it continues to assist children sent to it from the local county courts systems, the group’s Board of Trustees Chairwoman Karen Best said Monday. But the agency has been contacted to prepare itself to provide shelter and care for unaccompanied minors, she said.

The home has been approved to receive an Urgent and Compelling Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide temporary shelter services to unaccompanied children beginning in August, according to the home’s President and CEO David Reed.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is meeting with religious leaders to discuss housing some of the unaccompanied illegal immigrant children in Maryland (via WBAL Radio):

Among those expected at the meeting, officials from Catholic Charities who are asking the federal government for a grant to use St. Vincent’s Villa in Timonium to house 50 children.

The children and teens come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Baltimore County Delegate Wade Kach, who is running for the Baltimore County Council seat that includes Timonium, has written a letter to Archbishop Lori opposing the plan.

Last week, I wrote about the plan by Catholic Charities to house the immigrant children at St. Vincent’s Villa in Timonium, Maryland. I also previously wrote about CASA de Maryland wanting to house the unaccompanied minor immigrants in Maryland.

50 immigrant children could be housed by Catholic Charities in Baltimore

catholic-charities

Catholic Charities of Baltimore has applied to house 50 unaccompanied minors who have illegally entered the United States across the Mexican border. In January, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops estimated that 60,000 unaccompanied minors would cross the border in 2014.

From Catholic Review:

“The federal government has requested proposals from providers who could assist with providing shelter care and support to these youth, many of whom have experienced significant trauma along the way,” Catholic Charities Executive Director William J. McCarthy Jr. wrote in a July 16 letter to the organization’s employees. “With our expertise in providing services as well as residential and other programming for children and youth at St. Vincent’s Villa, we believe that we are well equipped to provide services for this critical need.”

Located in Timonium, St. Vincent’s Villa serves children and youths with emotional and behavioral challenges. McCarthy also pointed to the organization’s 50-year-old Esperanza Center in Fells Point – which provides services to immigrants, many of whom are Latino – as an example of Catholic Charities’ longstanding commitment to the immigrant community.

Esperanza serves more than 5,500 immigrants annually, and has provided assistance to more than 50 unaccompanied minors each month for the past several months, McCarthy said

.The reason given for the application:

In a conversation with the Catholic Review, McCarthy said that housing children in need is something the church has always done, comparing Catholic Charities’ current efforts to the orphanages Catholic organizations ran in the 19th and early 20th centuries for immigrant children, some of whom lost parents during their travel to the United States. 

More information: