Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
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Pope’s climate push at odds with U.S. Catholic oil investments
Richaard Valdmanis, Reuters

But some of the largest American Catholic organizations have millions of dollars invested in energy companies, from hydraulic fracturing firms to oil sands producers, according to their own disclosures, through many portfolios intended to fund church operations and pay clergy salaries.

Bill Ritter reflects on small role 
in encyclical
Dennis Webb, The Daily Sentinel

Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter this week hailed the significance of a recent encyclical by Pope Francis on climate change — a document Ritter played a small role in helping develop.“Really it’s less about church doctrine than almost any other encyclical ever written,” Ritter said during the 12th annual AREDAY (American Renewable Energy Day) Summit.

Snow: His dictum misreads science, will doom billions to poverty
Catherine Snow, Austin American-Statesman

These are challenging times for some faithful Catholics such as me. Because, while I have utmost respect and love for our popular, approachable pontiff, I believe he has been sadly misinformed about climate change, as evidenced in his encyclical on the environment released in June.

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Braekeleer_Ferdinand_de_A_Peasant_Family_Gathered_around_the_Kitchen_Table_Oil_on_Panel-largeWith the expansion of economic freedom and the resulting prosperity, we’ve reached an unprecedented position of personal empowerment and vocational choice. This is a welcome development, and it can be seized for good in any number of ways. But it also comes with its own risks and temptations.

As with any surface-level “freedom,” unless we seek God first and neighbor second, our action will quickly be steered by pleasure, pride, pursuit of power, or plain old personal preference — leading to shackles that may be looser, but remain shackles nonetheless. Such illusions are nothing new, and lurk no matter what the sphere of our stewardship. But if modernity has wielded a tangible, visible blow to one area in particular, it’s that of the family.

Over the last few decades, marriage has increasingly been misunderstood, and our misaligned approaches to business, education, and politics haven’t helped. Rather than a basic starting point, a foundation of a flourishing society, the family has become just another optional perk in the worship of narrow self-fulfillment.

“Oh that? It’s not for me. Not now.”

As a result, marriage is increasingly seen as a mere contractual arrangement, a 50-50 partnership for the purposes of personal pleasure rather than duty and sacrifice. In turn, culture and family have “evolved” accordingly. Fewer and fewer people are getting married, and those who do are doing so later and later and having fewer and fewer kids, if any at all. Divorce is routine. The basic definition of marriage is constantly questioned. (more…)

sex-workers-rightsAmnesty International, the human-rights watchdog organization, voted Tuesday to support the decriminalization of “sex work” at its Dublin-based International Council Meeting. This was in spite of the fact that anti-human trafficking organizations around the globe pushed for just the opposite.

Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse,’ Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, said in a statement.

Shetty called it “a historic day” for the organization. Equality Now, an organization that works against female genital mutilation and human trafficking, released a statement regarding Amnesty International’s decision:

Amnesty International today has voted to adopt a policy that seeks to decriminalize all aspects of the commercial sex industry in the name of protecting the human rights of people in the sex trade. In doing so, it has ignored the clear links between prostitution and sex trafficking that it says it opposes, as well as the incompatibility of the commercial sex trade with gender equality, human rights and international law. It has ignored survivors of the commercial sex trade who repeatedly called on the organization to rethink its position based on their experiences and to adopt a policy that seeks to curb, rather than facilitate, the commercial sex trade.

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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
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Cuba Sees Christianity Boom As Bibles Pour Into Communist Nation
Pravoslavie.ru

Cuba experiencing a Christian revival, as tens of thousands of Bibles pour into the communist-ruled nation.

What Do the Poor Need? Try Asking Them
David L. Kirp, New York Times

To improve poor neighborhoods, the people who live there must have a hand in deciding their own fate.

Broken Homes Are Overloading Social Services
Joseph Turner, The Federalist

To protect American kids from harm on a large scale, we need to recognize a basic truth: children are better off living with their married biological parents.

Congress fraudulently registered as a small business, watchdog says
Bonnie Kristian, The Week

In a lawsuit filed with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals on Monday, Judicial Watch alleges that Congress is illegally spending millions of Washington, D.C.’s municipal tax dollars on its own health care.

yuanSeveral years ago economist Bryan Caplan provided the most succinct and helpful statement about how we should think about free trade: “We’d be better off if other countries gave us stuff for free. Isn’t ‘really cheap’ the next-best thing?”

As with any simplification, critics could find many reasons to grumble about what that leaves unstated (e.g., trade leads to offshoring of jobs). But it highlights an important point about why free trade matters. Free trade is about as close to a “free stuff” economy as you can get in the real world.

Well, almost. China has actually found a way that is even closer: currency devaluation.

A simplified explanation of is that China is implementing policies to make it’s currency (the Yuan) 1.9 percent weaker versus the U.S. dollar. This makes Chinese goods now less expensive. The effect is like adding a “2 percent off everything” sale on goods America buys from China, a boon to millions of U.S. consumers, especially those in low-income groups.

As Mark Perry explains, by devaluing their currency China is essentially giving “foreign aid” to America:
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192442-400px_gow2_gaia

Mother Earth?

As eco-warriors glom onto Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical for its dire warnings of climate change, they often ignore this inconvenient line: “Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate.” Quoting the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Francis writes:

 At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health.” Yet, “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.” [50]

The pope continues to explain that it’s not the population that matters inasmuch as consumerism and waste that’s the problem. But, but let’s be clear about this, the pontiff doesn’t advocate for zero population growth or anything remotely resembling it however much the climate-change crowd ignores this fact (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
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What caused the Civil War? That seems like the sort of simple, straightforward question that any elementary school child should be able to answer. Yet many Americans—including, mostly, my fellow Southerners—claim that that the cause was economic or state’s rights or just about anything other than slavery.

But slavery was indisputably the primary cause, explains Colonel Ty Seidule, Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The abolition of slavery was the single greatest act of liberty-promotion in the history of America. Because of that fact, it’s natural for people who love freedom, love tradition, and love the South to want to believe that the continued enslavement of our neighbors could not have possibly been the motivation for succession. But we should love truth even more than liberty and heritage, which is why we should not only acknowledge the truth about the cause of the war but be thankful that the Confederacy lost and that freedom won.

kivaDo you recognize the name Jessica Jackley? What about Kiva? Jackley is the young woman who started Kiva in 2005. Kiva, a crowdfunding site, asks not simply for donations, but for micro-loans. To date, Kiva has facilitated $730 million in loans in 83 countries, funding entrepreneurs in agriculture, clothing manufacturing, and transportation, just to name a few areas of endeavor.

In an interview with Christianity Today, Jackley discusses her new book, Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least, her faith and her work.

When asked about “the poor you will always have with you” (Matt. 26:11) and how she interprets that, Jackley replies:

I know now that the story behind it is more than what I imagined as a child. I used to imagine a long line of poor people following me around everywhere, which terrified me. But the idea that there will always be need—in every one of us—makes more sense to me today. There are different kinds of poverty, including spiritual poverty, relational poverty, and emotional poverty. There are needs we all encounter as human beings; we all experience poverty at some point in our lives. Need is universal.

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Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
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Pope declares Sept. 1 a ‘World Day of Prayer’ for the environment
Rosie Scammell, Crux

The Vatican on Monday announced a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the latest move by Pope Francis to push environmental issues up the global agenda.

For Caritas India, Laudato si’ provides the country with an opportunity for growth and development
AsiaNews

For Frederick D’Souza, executive director of Caritas India, spoke to AsiaNews about Pope Francis’ Laudato si’ encyclical two months after its publication.

Bp. Stika (D. Knoxville) on true human ecology, Planned Parenthood, trauma
Fr. Z’s Blog

Reading the news around the Catholic world you would think that prelates and priests and lay faithful alike are going absolutely loony about climate change. Since Laudato si’ it seems as if those who read selectively have been rushing lemming-like to the ever warming sea. Running screaming waving their front legs… which lemmings can’t really do and still run. But I digress.

Diocesan social action directors take time to focus on ‘Laudato Si’’
Ed Langlois, National Catholic Reporter

“To be at odds with creation is to be at odds with God,” Dominican Sr. Kathleen McManus, associate professor of systematic theology at the University of Portland, said in a presentation to the institute’s 275 participants. “And it’s to be at odds with our neighbor and with our deepest selves.” Sponsored by the Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action Directors, the institute convened at the University of Portland July 19-23, focusing on the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

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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.