Robert Royal

Quo vadis, O bishops?

Robert Royal
By Robert Royal

I am not a big fan of taking the long view. It may sometimes be wise, even necessary, in human terms. But I’m far more attracted by what is probably the most neglected of Jesus’ sayings: “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Lk. 12:49)

The U.S. bishops are meeting in Baltimore this week for their annual get-together. The scuttlebutt is that they will be mostly discussing matters internal to the Church in America. If they were asking my advice – for some reason, they seem to have forgotten to call – I would strongly urge that they begin with a collective session of lectio divina about kindling fires.

I’d also suggest a few other things. To start with, forget about being nice. It doesn’t work. Be gentlemen. Be kind. But forget nice. As learned Latinists, you no doubt know that the word comes from nescius, which means ignorant. It came, early in modern languages, to mean foolish. Today, an idiomatic translation might be: clueless.

Kindness, of course, is a different matter entirely. Our Lord was kind – kind enough to tell people the truth. His combination of hard and soft is always what we need. Nietzsche, who was brought up among fussing women in a wishy-washy Protestant pastor’s home, emphasized the need to be hard. Like all heretics, he had a point, but rode it a bit too hard to the neglect of other truths.

Christianity, as Nietzsche noted, has been becoming overly feminized, as has the developed world. Mary is the model Christian and the people who have been pushing the Communio theology are right: our first orientation has to be passive, to receive what God is telling us as the Virgin received the Word into her womb.

Women are quite capable at times of some of the masculine virtues, of course. But forget the politically correct notion that there are no specifically male and female virtues. In the normal course of things, when the refrigerator needs to be moved, it’s father and son, not mother and daughter, who should do the heavy lifting.

And in the middle of the night, if there’s a noise downstairs that sounds like a burglar, you don’t nudge your wife and say, “Your turn. I went down to check last time.” Be men. Think big. Act big, too. Play big-league ball.

The LCWR, the media, and other softballers will continue to try to thwart you with talk of patriarchy and the old boys’ club. Be true gentlemen. Listen to all sincerely, but listen to God more.

Beware of the two great distortions, bordering on heresies, in our time:

–  “Judge not.” Yes, that’s in the Bible, but Christ had no difficulty also stating the difference between right and wrong. In fact, you may have noticed that there’s more than a little holy anger in the Gospels and dire prophetic warnings to individuals and whole groups. Christ is the model. Are you going to follow Him or take the easy way, the one that only seems compassionate? (See “nice” above.)

– “But Jesus welcomed everyone.” Yes, he did, but on His terms, not theirs. If Christianity means just accepting everybody as they already are, indeed as they demand to be accepted – evil capitalists and mean orthodox Christians excepted, of course – why have a Church at all? The politicians are already quite prepared to tell everyone (with the same exceptions just noted) how wonderful, unless it’s “amazing,” they all are. Leave that sort of thing to the snake-oil salesmen.
Be clear about this. The person who invented the phrase, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness,” was no real Christian. Jesus does both, and Catholics are practitioners of the both/and, not the either/or.

Do you think Mother Teresa would have thought she’d done enough if she had just picked up beggars in Calcutta and not also talked about the callousness of heart and self-indulgence of the wealthy nations who were – safely, legally, and far from rarely – doing away with their own children in the womb?

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

Be prepared to suffer for the Faith. The world will always play the role it must when it hears the truth. Welcome fair criticism, but accept it in the right spirit. When John Paul II called for a “purification of memory” as we approached the beginning of the new Christian millennium, he was utterly frank about the Church’s past sins. But he never let humility and truth turn into a kind of “Kick Me” sign on the Church’s back.

Know that many Catholics, and non-Catholics, are with you. Seek them out. And the best way to do so is to lead from the front. The apostles knew it was a bad idea, in a sense, for Jesus to go into Jerusalem at the end. But they saw who He was, what He was willing to risk, and they were willing to risk much themselves so that at least they could die with Him.

I know several of you, and know that some of you know all this. But we need you to inspire even more of your fellow bishops.

You have lifetime tenure and jobs that make a real difference. Most people are stuck in humdrum tasks that don’t seem to mean very much. This is an exciting moment in Catholic history that offers opportunities for all the imagination, intelligence, and daring that you can bring to the many challenges at hand.

So make the most of it. Cherish it. Blessed are you.

Royal received his BA and MA from Brown University and his PhD from The Catholic University of America. He has taught at Brown University, Rhode Island College, and The Catholic University of America. From 1986 to 1999 he served as vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, along with president George Weigel from 1989 to 1996.

He is currently editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, an online publication he launched with Michael Novak and the president of the “Faith and Reason Institute”, based in Washington, D.C.. He also serves as the Graduate Dean of Catholic Distance University and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

This column first appeared on the site The Catholic Thing. Copyright 2012, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Editor’s Note:Unfortunately the comments below this story do not belong to it. The external Disqus commenting service tends to mess up from time to time and there is very little that we can do about it. We apologize for the inconvenience.

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Lianne Laurence


Jennifer Lawrence slams Christians: Kim Davis supporters use crucifixes like ‘pitchforks’

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

November 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – It’s no surprise that yet another Hollywood star is mouthing the usual liberal platitudes, but the fact that this time around it’s Jennifer Lawrence, a mega-star and lead in blockbuster series Hunger Games, brings a particular sting of disappointment.

That’s because the 25-year-old, effervescent and immensely talented star often comes across not only as very likable, but also as someone capable of independent thought.

But apparently not.

Or at least not when it comes to Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk famously thrown in jail for refusing to obey a judge’s order that she sign marriage licenses for homosexual couples.

Davis, Lawrence tells Vogue in its November issue, is that “lady who makes me embarrassed to be from Kentucky.”

“Don’t even say her name in this house,” the actress told Vogue writer Jonathan van Meter in an interview that happened to take place the day after Davis was released from her five-day stint in jail.

Lawrence then went on a “rant” about “all those people holding their crucifixes, which may as well be pitchforks, thinking they’re fighting the good fight.”

RELATED STORY: Wrong, Jennifer Lawrence! Real men don’t need porn, and women don’t need to give it to them

She was brought up Republican, she told van Meter, “but I just can’t imagine supporting a party that doesn’t support women’s basic rights. It’s 2015 and gay people can get married and we think that we’ve come so far, so, yay! But have we? I don’t want to stay quiet about that stuff.”

After conjuring up images of Christians as bug-eyed hillbillies on a witchhunt with her reference to “crucifixes as pitchforks,” Lawrence added darkly: “I grew up in Kentucky. I know how they are.”

Perhaps one should infer that it’s lucky for Lawrence she escaped to Los Angeles and its enlightened culture. That hallowed place where, according to van Meter, Kris Jenner (former spouse of Bruce Jenner, who infamously declared himself a woman) brought Lawrence a cake for her birthday that was shaped like excrement and inscribed: “Happy birthday, you piece of sh*t!”

Lawrence is reportedly now Hollywood’s most highly paid actress. Not only is she the star of the hugely popular and lucrative Hunger Games franchise -- the last installment of which, Mockingjay, Part 2 opened November 20 -- but she won an Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook and starred in several others since her breakout role in the 2010 moving and moody indie film, Winter’s Bone.

Lawrence has every right to express her opinion, although no doubt it will be given more weight than it deserves. It is unfortunate, however, that she’s chosen to wield her fame, shall we say, as a pitchfork against Christian moral truths.


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Antonia Tully, leader of the Safe at School initiative
Voice of the Family

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Romania holding the line against anti-family sex education

Voice of the Family

November 25, 2015 (VoiceoftheFamily) -- The battle to defend children from harmful forms of sex education was dealt a damaging blow by the 94% of cardinals and bishops attending the Ordinary Synod of the Family who voted in favour of paragraph 58 of the final report of the synod, which undermines the rights of parents as primary educators of their children.

Antonia Tully, leader of the Safe at School initiative, a project of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, was invited to Romania this month by the Metropolitan Orthodox Church of Moldova and Bukovina and pro-life groups to speak about the impact on children of graphic sex education. Here is her encouraging report about parents’ resistance in Romania which she concludes with the words: “If mandatory sex education is stopped at the Romanian border it will deal a much needed blow to the global campaign to sexualise and defile the innocent hearts and minds of the world’s children.”

The global drive to make school sex education mandatory for the world’s children is finding strong and organised resistance in Romania, where the issue currently hangs in the balance. The country’s Minister for Health favours pro-abortion/LGBT style sex education while the Minister for Education would like to see Romanian children taught the family values promoted by the pro-life lobby.

The good news is that introducing graphic sex education into Romanian schools will not be a pushover. Having recently returned from a week-long visit to Romania at the invitation of the Metropolitan See of Moldova and Bucovina, I saw parents and the Orthodox church standing shoulder to shoulder determined to protect their children from damaging sex education. The bad news is that the sex education lobby has been given access to the political and civic infrastructure to promote its position and materials.

In 2013, over 2,000 public libraries in Romania became the channel for distributing a graphic sex education programme; “Sex v the Stork”. This online resource was written by a Romanian, Adriana Radu, following a year she spent in Germany working with a pro-abortion organisation. Roundly condemned by pro-family groups, “Sex v the Stork” was launched in the Romanian parliament on national “Day of the Library”, and made available to any child visiting a library via the internet, avoiding control by parents or schools.

Speaking to packed meetings in five different towns and cities mainly in the north east of Romania, I invited people to look across Europe to Britain. Teaching children as young as five and six years old about their sexual organs, followed by detailed animated presentations of sexual intercourse are fairly standard elements of British classroom sex education. In Britain we are being told that children have a “right” to this education, indeed they “need” it in order to avoid pregnancy and to stay safe from sexual abuse. Nothing was lost in translation when I informed parents, teachers, doctors and priests that there is no evidence that teaching young children about sex protects them from premature pregnancy or sexual abuse. My take home message is: Parents you are the first and best educators of your children. You are the best people to protect your children.

In October 2015, 60 pro-abortion organisations petitioned the ministries of health and education to impose sex education on the country’s schools. This was accompanied by typically vulgar demonstrations outside the respective ministries, with young people brandishing condoms, underwear and bearing placards with slogans such as “My vagina- my choice”.

82 pro-life groups responded with a joint statement firmly rebuffing the claims of their opponents. Drawing on their recent past, they pointed out that the first political system to significantly separate children from their parents was Communism. They said: “It is not difficult to identify in the proposed approach for sex education an essentially Communist principle: children do not belong to parents they belong to the state”. This sinister aspect of secular, state-sponsored sex education is perhaps not so keenly felt in many countries. But it is in Romania, where Christian families suffered so greatly under Communist rule.

Based in the lovely university city of Iasi (pronounced ‘yash’), I covered several hundred miles by car travelling around this beautiful country. But it is a country haunted by people who are not there. For every Romanian alive today (approximately 18 million live in Romania, with a further 2 million living abroad), there is one who has been lost to abortion. 20 million unborn babies have been killed by abortion in Romania from 1970 to the present day.

However, I am very hopeful for Romania. During my recent visit I heard a number of priests publicly pledge the support of the church to defeat sex education in schools. The Archbishop of the Diocese of Buzau and Vrancea spoke at the meeting I addressed in the city of Buzau, again positioning the church with ordinary parents in their initiatives to protect their children.

In 2011 the Orthodox archbishopric of Iasi, established the first dedicated, diocesan pro-life department in Romania. The department offers care and support for women in crisis pregnancies, it runs a social project for large families and has produced an accredited pro-life, pro-family teaching resource for schools in Iasi. Archbishop Teofan is clearly loved by his flock, not least for his outstanding pro-life witness.

However grateful my Romanian hosts were in each place I spoke, I am more grateful to them for their commitment to life and the family. Many, many Romanian families are resisting the sex education invasion from the west which would indoctrinate and corrupt their children. If mandatory sex education is stopped at the Romanian border it will deal a much needed blow to the global campaign to sexualise and defile the innocent hearts and minds of the world’s children.

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Gayle Irwin

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Auto dealer stops donating to United Way over its Planned Parenthood support

Gayle Irwin

November 25, 2015 (PregnancyHelpNews) -- “We don't normally get involved in politics. We don't try to throw our weight around with legislative issues. It was a bit of departure for us.”

Those are the words of Bill Marsh Jr., partner in his long-standing family business, Bill Marsh Auto Group, in Traverse City, Mich.

Bill Jr. and his brothers have taken a detour of sorts in recent days, opting out of the United Way of Northwest Michigan’s workplace contribution program after discovering that the agency provided funds for Planned Parenthood.

The decision to cut ties with United Way wasn’t made lightly, Marsh said.

“They leverage generosity in people,” Marsh said. “A lot of people might not donate otherwise (and) we knew a lot of people from United Way. Our company has a long-standing history with the United Way.”

Marsh researched United Way’s funding of Planned Parenthood in the wake of this summer’s release of videos by the Center for Medical Progress exposing Planned Parenthood's practices of selling baby body parts.

When an employee approached Marsh, saying he wanted to pull his contribution from the local United Way, Marsh decided it was time to take a fresh look at his company's support of the agency. A representative from the United Way had contacted him to set up a meeting, and Marsh used the opportunity to state his position.

“Toward the end of the conversation I shared with him the concern I had about the United Way's support for Planned Parenthood, especially in light of what had taken place,” Marsh said.

The representative told Marsh the local Planned Parenthood doesn't do abortions, just women's health and cancer screenings.

“I said, 'In light of what's been disclosed, it's just not something we can turn a blind eye to,'” Marsh said, adding that, regardless of what the local affiliate offered, the organization’s ties to abortion could not be separated from their identity. “‘As long as you continue to support Planned Parenthood, we're not going to give you access to our employees.'”

The Bill Marsh Auto Group has about 275 employees and is known as a major contributor to charitable and community endeavors. Within a short time, Marsh received a call from the United Way’s local board president, who asked for a meeting.

Marsh again used this as an opportunity to take a stand for life.

“I repeated myself... 'If you're not willing to distance yourself from Planned Parenthood, we're just not in a position to give you access to our employees and won't re-up on the workplace campaign,'” he said.

The meetings were all cordial, Marsh said, pointing out that taking a stand can garner a business owner, or any individual, greater respect in the community.

“I really think people are attracted to people and organizations that take a stand, for the right reasons—standing up for their convictions, even if they don't necessarily agree,” Marsh said.

“Christianity is a comprehensive life system that affects every arena of our lives,” he said. “Whether it's in the marketplace of ideas, the public square, we have a understand the implications of choices and actions we make as citizens. As business people, we have leverage. Money talks. You generate a certain amount of influence—by donations, as well as how you treat your customers and employees, your reputation, your brand. It  goes go a long way towards influencing.”

Does Your United Way Give to Planned Parenthood?

Prior to the meetings with the local United Way representatives, Marsh investigated how the community agency spends its dollars. He contacted his sister, Terry Winship, who serves as CEO of True Care Women's Resource Center in Casper, Wyoming, to learn if there was a way to look into a potential connection between his local United Way and Planned Parenthood.

She provided him with a web link to the American Family Association’s site, which lists the United Way chapters donating to Planned Parenthood. Marsh discovered the United Way of Northwest Michigan does fund Planned Parenthood, directing $8,500 toward to the abortion giant in 2013, according to an IRS Form 990 on the site.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Now, Marsh encourages other pregnancy centers to inform and educate their supporters.

“They can be a source of information and a resource while being careful not to tell organizations what to do,” Marsh said. “They have to make decisions themselves, but there are a lot of business owners that are not aware of where their charitable dollars go. Faith-based organizations can provide great tools to allow people to see that and come to an understanding.”

Winship agreed.

“I think that every center director should know whether their local United Way gives money to Planned Parenthood,” she said. “If it does, there is an opportunity to share this information with our donors. Many donors are asked to contribute to local United Way campaigns at work. There may be pressure to contribute, but they can choose to opt out.

“Some donors are business leaders in the community who have the opportunity to, like my brother, express their concern about funding Planned Parenthood and take action. Knowledge is power and this is a great way, in a round-about way, to tell Planned Parenthood that we don’t want our hard-earned dollars going to an organization that deals in death and dismemberment.”

Marsh said his company will not be participating in the workplace campaign.

“We'll tell our employees, 'We've decided not to continue our relationship with United Way because of their support of Planned Parenthood' – they won't be surprised,” Marsh said. “We have a company Christmas party every year, and we pray before the meal. I said last year, 'We're not a Happy-Holidays type of organization, we're a Merry Christmas' – they know that, and for those who may not, it's an opportunity to share that with them.”

Marsh found the experience of standing for life as a business owner a positive one on many fronts.

“I came away from that experience feeling good that we did clarify our concerns and make that stand,” he said. “It gave us a forum to give legitimacy and weight to a very important social, moral position and communicate it in the public sphere with a high-profile, local charitable clearinghouse and say 'this is who we are and we're going to stand our ground,' My hope is that there will be an opportunity to get them to reconsider.”

Marsh is also thankful for the employee who voiced his concern several months ago.

“I'm grateful that we have some followers of Jesus that were willing to take a stand themselves and tell their employer,” he said. “He knew we were people of faith, so I think he was saying in a way, 'Hey, you guys need to know this.' It's easy to gloss things over and sort of sanitize things... even egregious moral issues.

“Business people tend to not talk about moral beliefs when dealing with other institutions. I learned that when you do, when you engage and share where your moral compass is, it's empowering and it's something that will gain you greater respect. That's not why you do it, but, (you do it) because our culture is dying for people to be clear with what they believe.”

Reprinted with permission from Pregnancy Help News.

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