As the world enters into the full octave of Christmas, we will take a break from blogging and begin again on Tuesday December 27th.
Have a wonderful Christmas!
As the world enters into the full octave of Christmas, we will take a break from blogging and begin again on Tuesday December 27th.
Have a wonderful Christmas!
I am rereading the amazing book about the Church by H. W. Crocker III, Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church, one of two books Lampstand exhorts those engaged in prison ministry to get to those prisoners they are working with, and am once again enthralled with the great sacredness and dismayed with the great sinfulness, permeating the souls of those in Catholic leadership over the centuries, and the steadfastness of the quiet faithful attending mass, performing penance, creating and sustaining the Catholic world.
But through it all, through all of the worldly accommodations, the personal papal failures, the mistaken strategies, the satanic attacks and surrenders to evil, the folly and fear; yet the thunderous promise of Christ stands: “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
Anytime you have prisoners working on something of obvious public benefit, beyond basic custodial work, it is a very good thing, as is this program reported by the Indianapolis Star.
“PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. — Ronald Hayne works in silence alongside other prisoners, dusting a lime green bicycle frame with a worn rag.
“He doesn’t know whom the mountain bike once belonged to, or who would ride it next. Maybe a child, like one of his sons. He thinks of them often as he works — at ages 7 and 4, they share their dad’s passion for bikes. He will be going home in December.
“But for now, Hayne works in the bike room at the Putnamville Correctional Facility, surrounded by wooden tables, piles of spare parts and an American flag that hangs in the corner.
“Roaring fans swirl the heavy air, already hot at 9 a.m.
“The 26-year-old and four other men were part of a recent work line for Shifting Gears, a partnership of Bicycle Garage Indy, Volunteers of America and the Indiana Department of Correction. The donated bikes are refurbished, then given to nonprofit organizations and distributed to people, young and old.
“The program was originally based at Pendleton Correctional Facility but was moved to Putnamville — where wider staff oversight was available — in the spring.
“Hayne was excited when he got word of the move. As a kid growing up in Terre Haute, he worked on freestyle bikes just like the one he cleaned in the bike room. There wasn’t much to do in his hometown, he said, so he started his own bike repair shop at home and found a hobby.”
In 1776, King Louis XVI of France revealed that he understood the natural right of the individual to work, which had little to do with labor unions, as reported in this article from The Catholic Thing.
“Winston Churchill was brought back resoundingly to power in the General Election of 1950, and he remarked on the conceit of the opposing party in appropriating the name “Labour”: For “they are not the only ones who work in this country.”
“As we approach Labor Day, it seems curious that the day has come to celebrate the place and strength of labor unions. In recent years, unions have been disappearing from manufacturing and private industry; they have held on and grown mainly with jobs in the government, sustained by their political clout. By 2010, the union membership in government had come to exceed the membership in private industry (7.6 million, as against 7.1 million employees). But what is more curious is the way in which the “rights of workers” have been identified with the rights of unions –and radically detached, then, from the understanding of the “natural right” to work.
“That understanding was put forth with a rare clarity and force by political authority with – of all things – a proclamation by Louis XVI in 1776. The king’s edict was drafted by Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, the estimable minister of finance and a prime defender of a liberal order in the economy and the polity. The purpose of the edict was to break the special privileges of guilds, trading companies, and other monopolies, including the government itself, in controlling access to employment.
“The edict would explicitly reject the premise that the means of making a living are the property, presumptively, of the state. These schemes of regulation brought their advantages for the privileged, but this “illusion” of benefits, said the monarch, concealed “the infraction of natural right.” He rejected the notion that “the right to work was a royal privilege which the king might sell, and that his subjects were bound to purchase from him”: “God in giving to man wants and desires rendering labor necessary for their satisfaction, conferred the right to labor upon all men, and this property is the first, most sacred, and imprescriptible of all.
“A little more than a century later, Leo XIII would fill out the moral grounding of that understanding in Rerum Novarum (1891). The Holy Father warned against socialist schemes that would do away with private property, so that “individual possessions should become the property of all, to be administered by the state.” The working man himself, he said, would be among “the first to suffer.”
One of the strongest calls from the Holy Father is that of encouraging the laity to lead in areas where their competence and expertise outweighs that of the priests and religious of the Church, as expressed in the Apostolic Exhortation of John Paul II, Christifideles Laici which teaches us that:
“In the context of Church mission, then, the Lord entrusts a great part of the responsibility to the lay faithful, in communion with all other members of the People of God. This fact, fully understood by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, recurred with renewed clarity and increased vigor in all the works of the Synod: “Indeed, Pastors know how much the lay faithful contribute to the welfare of the entire Church. They also know that they themselves were not established by Christ to undertake alone the entire saving mission of the Church towards the world, but they understand that it is their exalted office to be shepherds of the lay faithful and also to recognize the latter’s services and charisms that all according to their proper roles may cooperate in this common undertaking with one heart” (italics in original)
And as ratified by Canon Law:
“Can. 215 The Christian faithful are at liberty freely to found and direct associations for purposes of charity or piety or for the promotion of the Christian vocation in the world and to hold meetings for the common pursuit of these purposes.
“Can. 216 Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.”
There are, as noted by the modern spiritual classic, The Soul of the Apostolate, places in the world “to which no priest had access”.
“It is very certain that the primitive Church, as we have already hinted, knew how to organize magnificent and numerous shock troops, in the midst of the faithful, and their virtues both struck the pagans with astonishment and excited the admiration of honest souls, even those most prejudiced against Christianity by their principles, their traditions, and their social background. Conversions were the result, even in circles to which no priest had access.” (p. 163)
This is clearly true in the area of criminal justice, where the organized American Catholic hierarchical leadership has made costly blunders through the uninformed expression of opinions and policy suggestions whose adoption can present a great danger to the innocent.
Such is the case with this latest foray into criminal justice politics, as reported by California Catholic Daily.
“A group of about 50 people gathered at the headquarters of the California Catholic Conference in Sacramento yesterday morning and then marched to the state capitol, where others joined them in a vigil to support of a bill that would allow judges to reconsider life without parole sentences meted out to juvenile criminals.
“The bill in question, SB 9, by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would allow judges to review the cases of juveniles sentenced to life without parole after they have served 15 years of their sentence. Judges would be permitted to re-sentence such juveniles to a new sentence of 25 years to life, which would mean they could be considered for parole and perhaps not spend the rest of their lives in prison.
“According to Yee, his bill requires that juvenile offenders sentenced to life without parole show remorse and progress toward rehabilitation before being allowed to submit a petition for consideration of the new sentence.
“The bill has the strong backing of the California Catholic Conference, the political action arm of the state’s bishops.
“Sentencing a teenager to prison with no opportunity for parole completely eliminates any possibility of rehabilitation,” the bishops said in a statement on SB 9. “Young people should have a chance to turn their lives around.”
“The bill, already approved by the state Senate, passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Aug. 17, and is scheduled for a vote in the state Assembly this week. If it passes, it would then go to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.
“There is no question that youth who commit crimes should be held accountable — but in a way that reflects their age and their capacity for rehabilitation,” said the Catholic Legislative Network in an Aug. 22 email. “SB 9 recognizes that young people have the capacity to change and should have access to the rehabilitative tools to do so.” (The Catholic Legislative Network operates under the auspices of the California Catholic Conference.)”
Fortunately, this effort failed, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News.
“A bill that would have allowed juvenile offenders sentenced to life without parole the chance to pursue freedom after a quarter-century in prison narrowly failed to pass the state Assembly Thursday.
“In an hourlong floor debate, Republicans seemed to sway wavering Democrats by recounting details of vicious rapes and brutal killings.
“Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, argued that the bill was about much more than “whether we’re going to give people a chance at redemption.” He said it’s about teens like Scott Dyleski, convicted of “slaughtering” his Lafayette neighbor in 2005, so he could steal her credit cards and buy marijuana. Right after the vicious crime, Donnelly noted, the 16-year-old had sex with his girlfriend.
“Senate Bill 9 “is sending a signal we don’t actually value life,” Donnelly added. “If you take a life, then the least we can do is say you have to give up yours, whether it’s life in prison, or the death penalty.”
“The bill by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, was backed by human rights advocates and child psychiatrists. It was approved by the full Senate and supported by all but a handful of key Assembly Democrats.
“In a dramatic twist, although Yee counted 40 votes late in the day — one shy of passage — his failure to convince enough Democrats ultimately doomed the bill in a 36-36 vote, with eight members abstaining when the final roll was called.”
“CHAMPION, Wis. — At the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help outside of Green Bay, Wis., it used to be that the largest crowds came each year for the Aug. 15 outdoor Mass with the bishop. However, according to longtime caretaker of the shrine Karen Tipps, every day is now like the feast of the Assumption.
“There is a night-and-day difference between the summer of 2010 and this summer,” Tipps said. “We are seeing 10 times the number of daily visitors we would typically have in the summer.”
“That’s because last December, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Green Bay’s Bishop David Ricken announced that this shrine was an approved apparition site of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the only Church-approved Marian apparition site in the United States.
“It was here, in 1859, when the Blessed Mother appeared three times to a young Belgium immigrant, Adele Brise. The message of the Blessed Mother to Adele was to “gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”
“The new rector of the shrine, Father Peter Stryker, hopes that message will continue to inspire pilgrims. Father Stryker and a fellow priest, both members of the Fathers of Mercy, a religious order of priests based in Kentucky, arrived in early July to take over the shrine’s daily operations at the request of Bishop Ricken.
“Both of us feel very welcomed and appreciated here,” said Father Stryker. “The holy traffic has indeed increased during these summer months. We feel honored to be serving at the first and thus far only site of Church-approved Marian apparitions here in the United States.”
The quote from the final paragraph in the excerpt: “The best anti-poverty program for children is a stable, intact family,” just about says it all, in this article from the Ethics & Public Policy Center.
“In thinking through the best way to help truly disadvantaged Americans regain access to the American Dream, it’s helpful to disaggregate the issue and identify its shifting nature.
“There is, as there has always been, an economic component to poverty and opportunity in America, including growth, access to capital, and mobility. And those things remain crucial. But I want to submit for consideration a proposition which has significant empirical backing: the main driver of poverty in America today has to do with culture, mores, and lifestyle choices, not with economics.
“My former White House colleague Ron Haskins points out that “Census data show that if all Americans finished high school, worked full time at whatever job they then qualified for with their education, and married at the same rate as Americans had married in 1970, the poverty rate would be cut by around 70 percent.” The best way to keep open the pathway to the American Dream, then, is through a “success sequence”; graduate from high school, get a job, get married, and then have babies.
“So what can we do to encourage more people to embrace this “success sequence”? By providing children with stable, orderly environments in which to grow up and to strengthen the institutions that shape the character and habits of the young.
“In practical terms, what am I talking about? First and foremost, it means we need more stable, intact families. The theologian Michael Novak once called the family the original and best department of health, education, and welfare. If families fail, other adults can help fill the breach. But it is very nearly impossible for other people and institutions to fully pick up the pieces.
“Children who are raised in broken families are far more likely to drop out of high school, use drugs, commit violent crimes, have children outside of marriage, develop mental health problems, become homeless, drop out of the labor force, go on welfare, and experience poverty. Indeed, the poverty rate for single-parent families is almost six-times the rate for married-couple families. “The best anti-poverty program for children is a stable, intact family,” according to former Clinton administration officials William Galston and Elaine Kamarck.”
Sandro Magister on Chiesa writes movingly of the just concluded event, which will encourage great hope among the faithful for the continued power of the Catholic Church as a sign of contradiction in the world.
“ROME, August 24, 2011 – After every one of his voyages outside of Italy, Benedict XVI loves to provide a snapshot of it at the following Wednesday general audience…
“To simple outside observation, these worldwide gatherings also demonstrate distinctive characteristics, which were especially visible in Madrid.
“The first is silence. A prolonged, very intense silence that breaks out at key moments, in a throng of young people that had been exploding with celebration just a moment before.
“The Via Crucis is one of these moments. Another, even more striking, is that of the adoration of the sacred host during the nighttime vigil. A third is that of communion during the concluding Mass.
“Silent adoration of the sacred host is an innovation introduced into the World Youth Days by Benedict XVI. The pope kneels down, and with him hundreds of thousands of young people kneel down on the bare ground. All of them kneeling not to the pope, but to that “our daily bread” who is Jesus.
“The violent stormy downpour in Madrid that preceded Eucharistic adoration made the silence even more striking. And the same thing happened the following morning, at the Mass. The unexpected cancellation of the distribution of communion – for unexplained reasons of security – did not produce disorder and distraction in the endless expanse of young people, but on the contrary a silence of surprising composure and intensity, a mass “spiritual communion” with no known precedent.
“A second distinctive characteristic of this last World Youth Day is the very low average age of the participants, 22.
“This means that many of them were taking part in it for the first time. Their pope is Benedict XV, not John Paul II, whom they knew only as children. They are part of a generation of young and very young people highly exposed to a secularized culture. But at the same time, they are the signal that the questions about God and ultimate destinies are alive and present in this generation as well. And what motivates these young people is precisely these questions, to which a pope like Benedict XVI offers answers that are simple, yet powerfully demanding and attractive.
“The veterans of the World Youth Days were there, in Madrid. But above all among the tens of thousands of volunteers who assisted with the organization. Or among the numerous priests and religious who accompanied the young people, whose vocations germinated during previous World Youth Days. It has been clearly shown that these gatherings are an incubator for the future leadership of Catholic communities around the world.
“A third distinctive characteristic is the projection of these young people “ad extra.” They don’t have any interest in the battles within the Church to bring it into step with the times. They are light years away from the “cahier de doléances” of some of their older brothers: for married priests, for women priests, for communion for the divorced and remarried, for the popular election of bishops, for democracy in the Church, etcetera etcetera.
“For them, all of this is irrelevant. It is enough for them to be Catholics as Pope Benedict shows and explains to them. Without diversions, without concessions. If we were saved at a high price – the blood of Christ – we must reach just as high in giving our lives as true Christians.
“It is not the internal reorganization of the Church, but passion for the evangelization of the world that motivates these young people.”
It was stupendous—almost 2 million strong—as this story from Catholic Culture reports.
“Pope Benedict XVI challenged nearly 2 million young people to be “apostles of the 21st century,” as he closed World Youth Day (WYD) ceremonies in Madrid on August 21.
“There is no reason to lose heart,” the Pope told WYD participants. He assured them that their contemporaries will respond to the Gospel message, as idealistic young people invariably respond “when one proposes to them, in sincerity and truth, an encounter with Jesus Christ.” In the final remarks of his 4-day visit to Spain, the Pontiff said that the WYD participants would return to their own homes as “missionaries of the Gospel.”
“Organizers of the 26th international WYD celebration had expected up to 1 million participants. But nearly twice that many young people crowded onto the airfield outside Madrid where the Pope presided at a concluding Mass on Sunday.
“As he prepared to board his plane for the return flight to Rome, Pope Benedict thanked all those who had helped to organize the event. He praised the host country, Spain, for its hospitality as well as its long tradition of Catholic faith.
“That Spanish hospitality had been blemished by angry public protests against the Pope’s visit, which occasionally erupted into violence. The anti-papal demonstrators complained that the costs of the papal visit were excessive, particularly at a time of economic difficulties in Spain. Church official replied that the costs of the WYD ceremonies were covered by the income from participants and corporate sponsors. For the government of Spain, the major expenses were for security: expenses that were sharply increased because of the unruly demonstrations.
“One of the most dramatic moments of the 26th WYD came on Saturday evening, August 20, when a violent thunderstorm drenched the young people who had gathered for a prayer vigil at the Madrid airport, and forced the Pope to cut short a talk on the dignity of marriage and the family. Despite the pouring rain and wild winds, which knocked out the public-address system, the Pope refused to leave the site, insisting that he would stay to lead the young crowed in Eucharistic adoration. After the storm passed, he congratulated the young pilgrims for their perseverance.”
The depth of it, considering it is the ultimate sanction to protect the innocent from the evil aggressor, is often astonishing, as noted by the Crime and Consequences blog.
An excerpt, with links at the jump.
“The Concord Monitor has this interview with presidential candidate Ron Paul. He claims to have changed his view on the death penalty based on “study.” From what he says, it appears that his study consists of lapping up the anti side’s propaganda the way a dog laps up antifreeze, completely unaware it is poison.
“For example, “It’s so racist, too. I think more than half the people getting the death penalty are poor blacks.”
“What did he study to come up with that gem? The DPIC website?
“We don’t have firm numbers on “poor,” but we have reams of data on race. As of 12/31/09, the population of death row was 3,173, of whom 1,317 were black. (BJS, Capital Punishment in the United States, 2009, Table 4.) That is 41.5%, significantly less than half, but I won’t quibble over the 8.5%. Far more important is the logical leap that this ratio somehow indicates racism.
“What percentage of murderers are black? It runs pretty consistently about half. For 2009 single-offender, single-victim homicides where the race of the offender is known, there were 6,631 total with 3,106 black perpetrators, 46.8%. (Sourcebook of Criminal Statistics, Table 3.129.2009.) Other years are similar.
“Given that the percentage of blacks on death row is about the same (actually a tad less) as the percentage of murderers who are black, how does Paul make the leap to “so racist”? Probably by falling for the Fallacy of the Irrelevant Denominator and comparing the percentage on death row with the general population. But the general population is 99+% nonmurderers and hence irrelevant to a calculation about race and the death penalty.
“You don’t have to be a genius to recognize the correct denominator in this problem. You only have to think about it a little. By failing to do so, even while claiming to have studied the problem, Paul demonstrates appalling shallowness of thought.”