Genuine Urban Renewal As Envisioned By Pope Benedict

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 \PM\.\Wed\.

Hat tip to Amy Welborn

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday took advantage of a traditional homage paid to Our Lady by residents of Rome on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to deliver this timely reflection on urban life.

Some of you may remember the TV series “Naked City”, which closed with the famous line “There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This… has been one of them.”  Then as now, of course, the media focused mainly on the stories of corruption, violence, and depravity; however, Pope Benedict reminds us that there are many, many other stories of grace which go untold and unnoticed.

I find this address particularly pertinent in light of the fact that many cities have come to be identified so closely with their most notorious residents or elements (e.g. gambling and prostitution in Las Vegas; decadent entertainment and lifestyles in L.A./Hollywood; political corruption in Chicago; financial greed on Wall Street/NYC) that it’s easy to forget the good that many of their residents do quietly and faithfully every day.

Here is his address in its entirety:
Dear brothers and sisters!
In the heart of Christian cities, Mary constitutes a sweet and reassuring presence. In her self-effacing style, she gives everyone peace and hope during the happy and sad moments of life. In churches, chapels or the walls of buildings, a painting, mosaic or a statue stand as a remainder of the Mother’s presence, constantly watching over her children. Here too in Piazza di Spagna, Mary stands high, on guard over Rome.
What does Mary tell the city? What does her presence remind us? It reminds us that “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more (Rom., 5:20), as the Apostle Paul wrote. She is the Immaculate Mother who tells people of our time: Do not be afraid, Jesus defeated evil, uprooted it, freeing us from his rule.
When do we need such good deeds? Every day, in the newspapers, television and radio, evil is told to us, said again, amplified, so that we get used to the most horrible things, and become desensitised. In a certain way, it poisons us, because the negative is never fully cleansed out of our system but accumulates day after day. The heart hardens and thoughts become gloomy. For this reason, the city needs Mary, whose presence speaks of God, reminds us of Grace’s victory over sin and makes us hope even in the humanly most difficult situations.
Those who invisible live or rather survive in the city. They make it to the front page of newspapers or the top of TV newscast—they are exploited until the end, for as long as the news and the images are newsworthy. Few can resist such a perverse mechanism. The city first, hides then exposes them to public scrutiny, without pity or with false pity. Everyone would like to be accepted as a person and considered as something sacred, because each human story is a sacred story that deserves the utmost of respect.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are the city! Each one of us contributes with our lives to its moral climate for better or worse. The border between good and evil runs across everyone’s heart and none of us should feel entitled to judge others. Instead, each one of us must feel duty-bound to improve ourselves. Mass media make us feel like “spectators” as if evil only touched others and that certain things could not happen to us. Instead, we are all “actors” for better or worse, and our behaviour influences others.
We often complain about air pollution, that in some parts of the city the air is unbreathable. That is true. Everyone must do his or her part to make the city a cleaner place. However, there is another kind of pollution, which the senses cannot easily perceive, but which is equally dangerous. It is the pollution of the spirit, which makes us smile less, makes us gloomier, less likely to greet one another or look into each other face . . .
The city has many faces, but sadly, collective factors lead us to forget what is behind them. All we see is the surface. People become bodies, and these bodies lose their soul, become faceless objects that can be exchanged and consumed.
Mary Immaculate helps us rediscover and defend what is inside people, because in her there is perfect transparency of soul and body. She is purity in person in the sense that the spirit, soul and body are fully coherent in her and with God’s will. Our Lady teaches us to open up to God’s action and to look at others as he does, starting with the heart, to look upon them with mercy, love, infinite tenderness, especially those who are lonely, scorned or exploited. “[W]here sins increased, grace overflows all the more.”
I want to pay tribute publicly to all those who in silence, in deeds not in words, strive to practice the Evangelical law of love which drivers the world forward. There are so many of them even here in Rome. They do not make the headlines. They are men and women of all ages, who realise that it is not worth condemning, complaining or recriminating; that it is better to respond to evil doing good; to changes things; or better, to changes people, hence improve society.
Dear Roman friends and all of you who live in this city! Whilst we are busy in everyday tasks, let us listen to Mary’s voice. Let us hear her silent but pressing appeal. She tells each one of us that wherever sin increases, may grace overflow all the more, first in our hearts, and then in our lives! Thus, the city shall be more beautiful, more Christian and more humane.
Thank you, Holy Mother, for this message of hope. Thank you for your silent but eloquent presence in the heart of our city. Immaculate Virgin, Salus Populi Romani, pray for us!
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A Perfect Post

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 \PM\.\Wed\.

Occasionally one runs across a post that’s particularly nicely done. I think Matthew Boudway’s recent reflections on a column by Clifford Longley on the new atheists comes dangerously close to perfect. It’s brief, highlights an interesting article, and adds a thoughtful perspective that provides more depth to the article it cites. Here’s a snippet:

[In response to Richard Dawkins’s claim that it is wrong to “indoctrinate tiny children in the religion of their parents, and to slap religious labels on them,”]

“There is no such thing as value-free parenting,” Longley writes…Longley proposes this as an argument about parenting, but it is hard to see why it wouldn’t also apply to education. If the argument doesn’t apply to education, why doesn’t it? If it does — and if it is a good argument — then people of faith have a compelling reason not to send their children to schools where the subject of religion qua religion is carefully avoided. One could, I suppose, argue that the tacit message of such schools is that religion is too important to get mixed up with the tedious but necessary stuff of primary education, but of course public schools approach important matters all the time, and cannot avoid doing so.

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Bishops Disappointed by Senate Vote to Kill Pro-Life Amendment

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 \PM\.\Wed\.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Pro-Life Secretariat just released a statement denouncing the defeat of the Pro-Life Nelson Amendment.  In addition the USCCB will not support any health care bills that diminishes the Stupak Amendment that was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Here is their released statement in its entirety:

December 9, 2009

Bishops Call Vote a Grave Mistake and Serious Blow to Genuine Reform

Say the Senate Should Not Support Bill in its Current Form

Hope That House Provisions on Abortion Funding Prevail

BISHOPS DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED BY SENATE VOTE

TO TABLE NELSON-HATCH-CASEY AMENDMENT

WASHINGTON—“The Senate vote to table the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment is a grave mistake and a serious blow to genuine health care reform,” said Cardinal Francis George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The Senate is ignoring the promise made by President Obama and the will of the American people in failing to incorporate longstanding prohibitions on federal funding for abortion and plans that include abortion.”

Bishop William Murphy, Chair of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said: “Congress needs to retain existing abortion funding restrictions and safeguard conscience protections because the nation urgently needs health care reform that protects the life, dignity, conscience and health of all. We will continue to work with Senators, Representatives and the Administration to achieve reform which meets these criteria. We hope the Senate will address the legislation’s fundamental flaw on abortion and remedy its serious problems related to conscience rights, affordability and treatment of immigrants.”

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Its not a baby at this stage or anything like that.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 \PM\.\Wed\.

Hattip to Ed Morrisey at Hot Air.  Live Action, under the intrepid direction of Lila Rose, continue their undercover exposes of Worse Than Murder, Inc., a\k\a Planned Parenthood.  It will come as little surprise to pro-lifers that Planned Parenthood’s counseling of pregnant women consists of a sales pitch for their “abortion services”.  It may come as a surprise to the general public.  Bravo to Lila Rose and Live Action for their innovative tactics and courage!  No Worse Than Murder, Inc, employee can ever know for certain now when they might become part of a YouTube expose.  Good!


Some 500 Years Ago Like An Abduction In the Night, The Virgin Mary Was Taken From Many Christians

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 \AM\.\Wed\.

For many Christians today, the thought that the leaders of the Protestant Reformation believed in the Immaculate Conception of Mary or her bodily Assumption into heaven would seem ludicrous, even more bewildering would be the devotions many of the Reformation’s leaders had for the Blessed Mother. Believe or not it, they did. In this month of December when Catholics celebrate three feast day’s commemorating the Mother of our Lord, perhaps it is time to remind our separated brethren of the truths their founder’s believed.

Sometime ago when I was writing my book, The Tide is Turning Toward  Catholicism,  I showed a friend of mine, who is an Evangelical, a homily about the Virgin Mary delivered in the 1500s. I asked him who gave that homily, “probably some pope,” he exclaimed. No, I said it was Martin Luther. He replied, “Dave I trust in almost everything you say, but I am going to have to call you out on this one. I mean isn’t that what the Reformation was all about, ending superstitions like those about Mary?” His mouth dropped when I showed him the passages. I am sure many of today’s Evangelicals, especially of the Calvinist lineage, would have the same reaction.

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Avoid the Doghouse

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 \AM\.\Wed\.

My friend Rick Lugari brought this to my attention, and I pass it along to our male readers as an act of Christian charity.  (A repeat from last year, but this message can never be repeated too often!)