Thus saith The New York Times: Compassion is the opposite of Catholic doctrine  ✂︎

Terry Mattingly for GetReligion on the New York Times talk with Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller regarding Pope Francis, politics and Church doctrine:

So again: Pope Francis provided no clear wins for the doctrinal right but he also provided no clear wins – on doctrine – for those who want to change church teachings. The Times said so.

Instead, he continued to call for a more pastoral approach to the application of core moral doctrines. Clearly, that equals a lose [sic] for conservatives, because compassion and orthodoxy cannot be combined. Anything that includes an acknowledgement of sin and the need for repentance (followed by forgiveness) is cruel and [must] be changed, even though this pope talks, and talks and talks about the importance of Confession.

(via The Anchoress)

Even the iPhone 6S launch pauses for Pope Francis  ✂︎

UPS is already warning people in New York and Philly that the Papal visit may cause delays in certain deliveries of Apple’s latest flagship device.

The affected areas in New York City are all in Manhattan, including parts of Chelsea, Civic Center, East Harlem, Midtown, Tribeca and the Upper East Side and Upper West Side. Pope Francis will be making appearances in those areas at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, United Nations headquarters, 9/11 Museum, Central Park, Madison Square Garden and elsewhere next Thursday and Friday.

The affected areas in Philadelphia include parts of Bella Vista, Callowhill, Center City, Devil’s Pocket, Fairmount, Grays Ferry, Logan Square, Mantua, Northern Liberties, Passyunk Square, Pennsport, Point Breeze, Poplar, Powelton Village, Rittenhouse Square, Society Hill, Southwark, Spring Garden, Spruce Hill, University City, Washington Square West, West Philadelphia and West Powelton.

All of the so-called “Vatican” Ashley Madison clients are Virginians or Canadians with fat fingers  ✂︎

David Taylor:

One of the characterizations of the data that has been bandied about is the fact that there were numerous e-mail addresses from the Vatican; and indeed, there were 3 from and 219 with the .va suffix (as a nation, the Vatican gets its own two-letter top level domain).

However, even a casual perusal of these latter addresses reveals that something isn’t right. Does the Vatican have schools named after cities in Virginia or ISPs with the same names as those in Canada?

The answer is simple: There are plenty of addresses in Virginia that end in or, and the people who signed up left off the end (Ashley Madison never verified e-mails, so people didn’t have to use a real one). And then because C and V are next to each other on the keyboard, some fat-fingered Canadians (a demofraphic to whuch I belomg) simply hit the wrong key.

Kidnapped Priest Killed, Chopped Up by ISIS as ‘Christians Become a Form of Currency’ in Mid-East War, Says Aid to the Church in Need  ✂︎

From The Christian Post, another horrific story of the slaughtering of Christians in the Middle East:

“Christians have become a form [of] currency in this tragedy,” John Newton told The Christian Post. Newton is spokesman for Catholic relief agency Aid to the Church in Need. “I know of one priest who was kidnapped for two months … they asked for a ransom of $120,000, which the family managed to raise and deliver. … But hours later, the priest was killed and his body cut up, with pieces of him sent in a box to the family.”

With Archbishop Cupich, the ‘seamless garment’ jumps the shark  ✂︎

This is some commentary to a piece I linked to last week by Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago on the Planned Parenthood tragedy. I either spaced out while reading or simply missed this paragraph in Archbishop Cupich’s piece.

This newest evidence about the disregard for the value of human life also offers the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment as a nation to a consistent ethic of life. While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.

Phil Lawler, writing for, points out the strangeness in Archbishop Cupich’s comparison of other societal problems to the dismemberment of babies and the selling of their body parts.

Yes, of course, the archbishop mentions the death penalty. Full disclosure: I oppose the death penalty. But I can’t say that I am “no less appalled” by the execution of a convicted serial killer than the destruction of an innocent child. The two are not morally equivalent actions. As the late, great Congressman Henry Hyde said: “Show me an unborn child who has been convicted of a capital crime by a jury of his peers, and he’s all yours!”

Joblessness? I’ve been unemployed. I’d like to think that upon reading this, you feel a pang of sympathy. But if you would be “no less appalled” to learn that I had been chopped into pieces, and the parts sold to the highest bidder, I’m afraid I can’t count you as my friend.

While I agree with the Archbishop that this world faces a number of injustices that warrant outrage, this story of Planned Parenthood deserves a special category of outrage. It moves an organization from one that claims to simply “help women” to one that finds ways to collect money from the trade of a child’s body parts, all while receiving much of their funding from taxpayers.

Planned Parenthood and the muted humanity of the unborn child  ✂︎

Archbishop Blase Cupich writing in the Chicago Tribune:

If we create a framework for decision-making that is biased toward life, supportive of families and fair to people of all circumstances, our policies, legislation and commercial decisions will be vastly different. We then can begin to take needed actions and reforms that make a difference in the lives of those who are discarded and considered disposable.

The nation’s children, families, poor, workers and senior citizens deserve more than lip service. They deserve more than outrage. They deserve real support, protection and solid action.

And so do we to be true to what is best in us.

If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, consider the life of Fr. Stanley Rother

Fr. Stanley Rother with his people in Guatemala.

A few nights ago, I found myself wide awake with my mind spinning in a semi-panicked state.  Maybe it was the fact that I had just celebrated my 37th birthday.  Although I’m not one to mourn my age on birthdays, that number seems particularly large this year.  It could also be that I am at a career crossroads, where I soon need to decide what kind of path I really want to take.  The biggest portion of it is that in less than three months, I will be a father for the first time when, God willing, my wife and I will welcome our daughter into the world.  This sleepless night seemed to be the culmination of change and transition along with the excitement, stress and anxiety in my life that I’ve mentioned in previous posts over the past couple of years.

Stress and anxiety aren’t unique to me.  The American Psychological Association states that only 18% of Americans sensed a decrease in stress over the last year1.  Money, work, family and society have most of us stressed out, overwhelmed and at times, feeling inadequate.  Many, like me, have moments when they wonder if they are capable of overcoming the obstacles in front of them and accomplishing the goals they have set for themselves.

While tossing and turning through that restless night, my mind settled when I somewhat randomly began to ponder the life and martyrdom of Fr. Stanley Rother.  If you haven’t heard of Fr. Rother, he was a priest of what was then known as the Diocese of Oklahoma City-Tulsa.  After a few years of serving in parishes around Oklahoma, in 1968, he volunteered to serve at a mission parish in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala during a time of great civil unrest in the Central American country.

The work he did to support the people of Santiago Atitlán did not sit well with the radical military forces that were rampaging the country, and his name ended up on a “death list”.  After hearing of the threat, the bishop called him back to Oklahoma, but he could not stay away from his people.  He returned and within a few weeks was murdered by assassins in the middle of the night at the rectory.

The anniversary of his death was on July 28 and is quite important to Catholics in Oklahoma, especially this year.  A Vatican commission recently determined his death to be that of a martyr.  This is a giant step toward his beatification.  Many Oklahoma Catholics hope that, by this time next year, we will be referring to Fr. Rother as “blessed”.

You might ask, “What does a martyred priest have to do with those of us that are overstressed and overwhelmed?”  The reality is, thankfully, that the martyrdom portion of Fr. Rother’s life is something most of us will likely never encounter.  The details of how he got from small Okarche, Oklahoma to the precipice of canonized saint, however, offer some lessons for facing challenges in our lives.

Newly ordained Fr. Rother with his family in Okarche.

Newly ordained Fr. Rother with his family in Okarche.

Fr. Rother was a humble farm boy from a small town.  By small, I mean a population of roughly 1,200 people.  Having grown up in a slightly smaller town as part of a farming and agricultural family, it is easy for me to relate to the environment in which he grew up.  Like many kids from similar towns, he developed a strong work ethic by working on a farm.  Later, when he attended seminary, the ingenuity he learned on the farm made him a great asset as someone willing to do various bits of manual labor.

His skills were so valuable that his work often got in the way of his studies.  Additionally, growing up in a rural community meant more time spent in high school focusing on classes like agricultural education than other subjects like Latin. This made his seminary studies even more difficult during a time when all study was done in Latin.  After five years in seminary, he was told it was better for him stop his studies and try another vocation.

No doubt feeling defeated, he met with Bishop Victor Reed, then Bishop of Oklahoma City/Tulsa.  After re-affirming his desire to be a priest, Bishop Reed arranged to send him to another seminary where his studies improved.  Fr. Rother faced the stuggle, overcame it and a few years later he was ordained a priest.


Fr. Rother with some of the local children.

That willingness to roll up his sleeves and serve through working, which was an obstacle early on in seminary, became his greatest asset when he arrived in Guatemala.  The natives in Santiago Atitlán were some of the poorest of the poor.  He once again used the skills he learned on the farm to help establish crops, teach the people farming techniques and build housing.

Serving the people there elevated Fr. Rother’s intellectual abilities, as well.  He helped establish literacy programs and build up medical services.  The same man who struggled with Latin in seminary, learned Tzutuhil, the native language of the people.  He even worked on a translation of the Bible into their native tongue.

Of course, while all the work he did made him beloved by those he was serving, it made him a target of those seeking control over the country.  This led to his biggest obstacle: a decision to leave for safety or stay for certain death.  The rest is history.  He chose to trust God’s call for him and face the obstacle, and it cost him his life.

Again, most of us will never face such a perilous obstacle, but the stressors, challenges and struggles in our life present us with the same challenge that Fr. Rother faced.  Do we trust in God’s call and face the struggle, or do we retreat from it?  Popular quotations aside, there will be times in life that God gives us more than we can handle.  Life will at times seem like it is simply too much.  When those times come, maybe instead of considering how much we can handle, we should accept that we can’t handle it all.  For all those things in life that we simply can’t handle, we must, like Fr. Rother, entrust them to God.

Father Stanley Rother, Servant of God, Pray for Us.

1 Stress Snapshot

Churches the new Airbnb as ‘champing’ proves popular  ✂︎

On the heels of the projection of Christianity’s extinction in Britain, comes a story in the Telegraph of how churches are being rented as camping spaces.  “Champing” as they call it is showing how churches in the country are looked at no differently than castles or museums that people pay to visit for historical reasons instead of spiritual.

“As a veteran ‘champer’, I can recommend it without reservation. There’s something so special about the silence and tranquillity of a rural church, and enjoying this over two days is a great way to commune with centuries of history, whilst escaping the push-button trappings of modern life.

“It’s great to be able to give guests the opportunity to be the key holder of one of our churches for a weekend, so they can not only enjoy the interior beauty of these buildings, but also head out and enjoy the natural beauty of rural England in the same way our ancestors would have, travelling on foot, dining at the local pub and soaking up the sights and sounds of the country.”