Posts tagged with: christianity

Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Istituto Acton in Rome, spoke to Vatican Radio about the upcoming U.S. papal visit. Pope Francis is planning to visit Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia in September. This 2015 trip coincides with the World Meeting of Families, which was established by St. John Paul II in 1994.

This will be Pope Francis’ first U.S. visit since being elected to the papacy.

Listen to Jayabalan’s Vatican Radio interview here.

 A member of a Christian militia unit tries to persuade Kamala Karim Shaya, one of the last residents of Telskuf, to move to a secured home near their barracks. Credit Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times

A member of a Christian militia unit tries to persuade Kamala Karim Shaya, one of the last residents of Telskuf, to move to a secured home near their barracks. Credit Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times

With persecution of Christians there at an all time high, many have chosen to leave the Middle East. Christianity Today, reporting on the latest Pew Research report, says the number of Christians in the Middle East has dropped from 14 percent of the population to just 4 percent. That translates to less than half a million people in the Middle East who identify as Christians.

The problem turned from bad to worse with the rise of the Islamic State as it intensified the Muslim persecution of Christians and other minorities as part of its campaign of terror in the region, the report said.

Now, “Christianity is under an existential threat,” said Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat in the US House of Representatives and an advocate of Eastern Christians.


Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Hindu Reflection on Pope’s Climate Change Encyclical
Sunita Viswanath, Huffington Post

Through this Encyclical, the Pope has invited every person on the planet into dialogue on the many pressing ecological issues facing humanity – and their impact on the poorest people of the world. As I read the Ramayana and lose myself in the beautiful descriptions of forests, lakes and roaring confluences of rivers, each such site is revealed to me as holy. I am filled with renewed conviction that the only thing I can do in the face of gargantuan challenges such as global warming and global hunger and poverty is to try and keep my heart as clear as the river where Valmiki bathed, and learn to transform my grief and despair into selfless service (seva).

Pope Francis’ Call for Climate Action
Gina McCarthy, Huffington Post

Earlier this year in a series of meetings at the Vatican on the Encyclical with key Papal advisors, Cardinal Turkson laid out our moral obligation to act on climate change not only from the compelling scientific data, but also from his own firsthand experience in Ghana. The meetings ended with a sense of urgency, but also with a feeling of opportunity and hope.

Boehner versus the pope
Bill Press, The Hill

The pope also condemned capitalism because of its role in development of global warming, thereby putting “at risk our common home, sister and mother earth.” As in his recently published encyclical Laudato Si’, Francis preached that climate change is real, that its primary cause is human activity and that political leaders have a moral duty to do something about it. This certainly won’t sit well with Congress’s Republican posse of climate deniers.

This Catholic supports climate fix
Tom Engelmann, Quad-City Times

Republicans, can you see the reality of what’s happening? Sens. Joni Ernst, Chuck Grassley? I wanted to write before when the Pope’s encyclical came out and the Quad-City Times interviewed the vice-chair of the Scott County Republican party to demonstrate Catholic opposition to the Pope’s words. At that time, the only point he made was the Pope should keep his nose out of politics and stick to morality.


kindness-heart-image-orgspringSurely, there is not one social conservative or conservative Christian that has not been shaken by the events in our nation over the last week or two. It seems as if everything we know and believe to be true has been cast aside and trampled upon. Should we take the Benedict option? The Buckley option? Should we just put our heads down and go quietly about our lives, hoping no one notices us?

The New York Times’ David Brooks has an idea worth pondering. First, he says (as have many others), we must realize we live in a post-Christian culture. (I think most of us have gotten this point, loud and clear.) Perhaps though, Brooks opines, we are now in a post-cultural war culture as well. It’s over – at least to a point.

Consider putting aside, in the current climate, the culture war oriented around the sexual revolution.

Put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations from any consideration of religion or belief. Put aside an effort that has been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex. Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.


Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, June 25, 2015

Conservative Catholics Try to Domesticate Laudato Si
Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches

Meanwhile, the response from the US leadership of the church to Francis’ urgent plea for action has been noticeably muted. Mark Silk reports that at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ eagerly anticipated presser on the encyclical last week, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and other leaders seemed to go out of their way to tone down Francis’ message….

Pope Francis’s Poverty And Environment Ideas Will Worsen Both
Kathleen Hartnett White, The Federalist

As a lifelong Catholic with graduate degrees in religious studies and a long stint as the head of an environmental agency second in size only to the Environmental Protection Agency, I am deeply troubled by Pope Francis’ encyclical “Praise to You, Lord (Laudato, Si’): On Care of Our Common Home.” Long anticipated for revelation of the pope’s support for a global climate treaty, the encyclical is, and is not, focused on global warming.

Where Did Pope Francis’s Extravagant Rant Come From?
Maureen Mullarkey, The Federalist

Subversion of Christianity by the spirit of the age has been a hazard down the centuries. The significance of “Laudato Si” lies beyond its stated concern for the climate. Discount obfuscating religious language. The encyclical lays ground to legitimize global government and makes the church an instrument of propaganda—a herald for the upcoming United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Paris.

The pope’s climate change message is really about rethinking what it means to be human
Stephen P. White, Vox

What makes this encyclical controversial is its reading of contested questions of science, economics, and politics. What makes it radical — in the sense of going to the root — is the pope’s reading of the profound human crisis that he sees underlying our modern world. Abuse of our environment isn’t the only problem facing humanity. In fact, Pope Francis sees the ecological crisis as a symptom of a deeper crisis — a human crisis. These two problems are related and interdependent. And the solution is not simply to eliminate fossil fuels or rethink carbon credits. The pope is calling on the world to rediscover what it means to be human — and as a result, to reject the cult of economic growth and material accumulation


Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pope’s new encyclical will provoke backlash, says Peruvian archbishop
Catholic Herald

Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, told Catholic News Service: “(The encyclical) will have many critics, because they want to continue setting rules of the game in which money takes first place. We have to be prepared for those kinds of attacks.”

Protecting the Whole of Creation
La Civiltà Cattolica

In many societies, from the 1970s to the beginning of the 1990s, awareness of ecological threats grew consistently and progressively. Saint John Paul II was the first pope to talk about the consequences of industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs.

Martyred American nun could be the patron saint of the pope’s eco-encyclical
John L. Allen Jr, Crux

On Thursday, however, Francis provided an indirect clue that there’s another strong candidate as the patron, someone much closer in time though not yet formally declared a saint: Sister Dorothy Stang, an American missionary nun assassinated in Brazil in 2005 for defending the Amazon rainforest and the rights of poor farmers.


I was reading through Abraham Kuyper’s inaugural speech at the founding of the Free University in Amsterdam, in which he lays out his vision of “sphere sovereignty,” and this passage struck me as particularly noteworthy. It is reminiscent of the appeal that Aslan makes to the “Deeper Magic” wrought at the dawn of creation in Narnia (and by which, incidentally, he overcomes the tyrannical claims to absolute sovereignty made by the White Witch):

Sphere sovereignty defending itself against State sovereignty: that is the course of world history even back before the Messiah’s sovereignty was proclaimed. For though the Royal Child of Bethlehem protects sphere sovereignty with His shield, He did not create it. It existed of old. It lay in the order of creation, in the structure of human life; it was there before State sovereignty arose.

Kuyper goes on to say much more about sphere sovereignty, including the historical form the struggle between sphere and State sovereignty has taken.

Read “Sphere Sovereignty” in Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, ed. James D. Bratt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998). There’s also another version of the speech available here.

And check out more details on the ongoing work of the Abraham Kuyper Translation Society.

Author and social critic Os Guinness joined us here at the Acton Building on April 28 (an event that had to be rescheduled due to an earlier encounter with the glorious mess that is Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport) to discuss his most recent book, Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times.

Many Christians today are discouraged by current events, and left wondering if the best days of the Christian faith are behind us. Guinness answers with a resounding “no,” but notes that the church in the modern world has some very large tasks ahead of it, not the least of which is shedding its own worldliness. Video of Guinness’ presentation is below.

thornburyPresident of  The King’s College in New York City and one of this year’s Acton University plenaries, Greg Thornbury, gives his top 5 book picks for today’s college students.

1. Plato’s Dialogues

Plato’s dialogues are good for virtually everything that ails our society. He takes on relativism, skepticism, materialism, and incivility. Gorgias clarifies the difference between truth-seeking and posturing.


090806-N-6220J-004President Obama remarked that he would like faith organizations and churches to speak to poverty solutions “in a more forceful fashion” at a Georgetown University summit in mid-May. The meeting included faith leaders from Catholic and evangelical denominations, and included political thinkers Robert Putnam of Harvard, and the American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks.

Putnam said the voice of the faithful in the U.S. is critical to alleviating poverty.

Without the voice of faith, it’s going to be very hard to push this to the top of the agenda,” said Putnam, co-author of “American Grace,” and “Our Kids,” a book about the widening gap between rich and poor children in America.

If religious observance includes an obligation to the poor, the religious can be a powerful force for positive action and social justice, said Putnam.

Rev. Robert Sirico, co-founder of the Acton Institute, commented on the summit’s call for more involvement by churches in meeting the needs of the poor. (more…)