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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.

A Romanian girl, now in a shelter, bears the "brand" of her trafficker

A Romanian girl, now in a shelter, bears the “brand” of her trafficker

UPDATE: More on Romania and Human Trafficking

Where are the young women, the girls of Romania? If they are not hidden, they are trafficked. That is a harsh reality in a country of harsh living.

Stefania is 18 and a rarity. She still lives in a rural home with her father, in a ramshackle house with no electricity. She dreams of going away “somewhere” for an education and is resolute that she will never take money from a man.

Then there is Christina. Nightly, her mother would prepare her daughter for her night of work: feeding her, setting out her clothes and condoms. Christina – who has since disappeared – has been supporting her family since age 14 by prostitution.

According to the U.S. State Department’s 2014 “Trafficking in Persons” report, one-third of Romania’s trafficking victims are underage girls. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
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The Religion of Climate Change
Nicholas G. Hahn III, Wall Street Journal

Lending the power of the pulpit to the cause of environmental politics.

4 Reasons We Must Protect Freedom for Everyone After Supreme Court’s Marriage Ruling
Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal

The Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage has left many concerned about protecting freedom for everyone who believes that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Court Says 4 Catholic Nonprofits Must Allow Workers Access to Contraception
Stephanie Clifford, New York Times

Four Roman Catholic nonprofits in New York must allow employees access to contraception, a federal appeals court panel ruled on Friday, reversing a decision by a lower court that allowed the organizations to get around a requirement in the Affordable Care Act.

16 States, Religious Groups Ask Supreme Court to Take Contraceptive Mandate Case
The Becket Fund

Multiple friend-of-the-court briefs filed today in support of Texas Baptist universities and Westminster Theological Seminary.

EA-Logo-redbgYou may have noticed over the past couple of years that effective altruism has become the hot new trend/buzzword in philanthropy. As the Centre for Effective Altruism explains,

Effective Altruism is a growing social movement that combines both the heart and the head: compassion guided by data and reason. It’s about dedicating a significant part of one’s life to improving the world and rigorously asking the question, “Of all the possible ways to make a difference, how can I make the greatest difference?”

As a broad concept, effective altruism is a refreshing change from the all-too-common strand of charity that puts more emphasis on good intentions than effectiveness. Rather than a consumer-driven, feelings-based approach to philanthropic activity (think: TOMS Shoes’ “buy one, give one” model), effective altruism (EA) tends to rely on evidence to maximize individual impact on solving problems.

For example, some EA advocates choose to use their skills to get a high-paying job rather than work directly for a non-proift or charity. The thinking is that instead of earning $25,000 a year working for Oxfam you can earn $100,000 on Wall Street, live on $25K a year, and donate $75,000 to hire other workers. Doing that allows an individual to triple their contribution to the solution.

In general, this is likely to be a much better angle than pure do-goodism (though as Anne Bradley and Jay W. Richards explain, enterprise is the most effective altruism). But this approach can become less effective and even hindered by a person’s worldview beliefs, such as what a person believes about the “end times.”
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Blog author: bwalker
Monday, August 10, 2015
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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew receives interfaith environmental honor
Ecumenical Patriarchate

Bartholomew said he was “pleased to learn of the very recent Clean Power Plan of President Obama, which is a significant step in the right direction for the United States of America and which is already approved by the U. N.”

Pope designates Sept. 1 as World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation
Cindy Wooden, National Catholic Reporter

Like their Orthodox brothers and sisters, Catholics formally will mark Sept. 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis has decided.The day of prayer, the pope said, will give individuals and communities an opportunity to implore God’s help in protecting creation and an opportunity to ask God’s forgiveness “for sins committed against the world in which we live.”

Should we heed the pope’s climate change message? Yes
Michael E. Kraft, Arizona Daily Sun

Pope Francis argues that markets often fail to bring out the best in us, and he is right about that. Yet moral injunctions alone cannot move societies toward a low-carbon future.

Should we heed the pope’s climate change message? No
Catherine Snow, Arizona Daily Sun

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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foster childGenerally speaking, social services do not remove children from their homes as a first choice. Most have family programs that work with parents to resolve issues with parenting skills, nutrition, education, addiction issues and so on. A child has to be in imminent danger for them to be removed from their parents’ care.

A lot of kids are in imminent danger.

Not only that: the social workers who must work with these families are overwhelmed. Joseph Turner reports:

In my home state of Indiana, an employee of Child Protective Services (CPS) recently sued the state over the fact that CPS workers’ caseloads are in overwhelming excess of the legal requirements. State law mandates that employees should serve no more than 17 families at one time. In some counties, the average is closer to 50.

This stems from a massive increase in reports of abuse and neglect in recent years, up 81 percent from 2009. Caseload limits seem reasonable enough, except you can’t legislate supply and demand. The state can’t keep up with its child-abuse problem, so caseworkers are dangerously overloaded. Morale is low, turnover is high, and kids are suffering.

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