At Purity Balls, Young Girls Give Their Virginity to Their Fathers

‘You are married to the Lord and your daddy is your boyfriend’:  Purity balls, in which girls ‘gift their virginity’ to their fathers until marriage, sweeping America

  • Purity balls now take place in 48 states in the US, and in 17 countries 
  • Daughters promise to remain pure and give virginity to fathers to ‘protect’
  • Girls given a ring as well as having wedding style ‘first dance’ with fathers

Purity balls, in which a girl pledges to remain ‘pure’ until her wedding day, symbolically ‘marries’ God, and promises her father that she will remain a virgin until she’s a wife, have become a phenomenon in America, now taking place in 48 out of the 50 states.

The balls resemble giant wedding ceremonies, with the girls – all around the age of 12 – wearing white gowns and dancing with their fathers who promise to ‘protect’ their daughter’s chastity.

During the ceremony, fathers present their daughters with purity rings, which they wear to symbolise their commitment to virginity.  

Ron Johnson, who is the head pastor at the Living Stones Church, kneels to present one of his younger daughters with her purity ring in the new documentary exploring the growing phenomenon of father daughter purity balls
Dancers carry a cross into the ballroom at the annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2007. Balls now take place in 48 states in the US, and in 17 countries worldwide

 Daughter pledges purity to dad in new US doc, Purity Balls

 

 In the movement purity means no sexual contact of any kind, including kisses, until after marriage.

One of the largest father-faughter purity balls – which is the subject of a Nightline Prime investigation – has been held for 14 consecutive years in Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. 

The event sees upwards of 60 fathers pledging to ‘protect their daughter’s choices for purity’. 

Fathers taking part are expected to sign a ‘purity covenant’ in which they, as ‘High Priest of their home and family’ pledge ‘before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity’

The daughters silently commit to live pure lives before God through the symbol of laying down a white rose at the cross, before engaging in a wedding-type dance with their father.  

An unidentified father and daughter kneel at a cross after the girls lay white roses symbolising their commitment to purity at a ball

 Ron Jonson places the ring on the forth finger of his daughters left hand - her wedding finger

Ron Jonson places the ring on the forth finger of his daughters left hand – her wedding finger

 A new documentary follows two families who are taking part in this ritual; the Wilsons, whose father Randy is one of the founders of the father daughter balls, and the Johnsons from Indiana. 

While all seven of the Wilson children are home schooled, socialising mainly with other members of their church community, the Johnson children attend a regular high school.

But while they might be exposed to normal teenage behaviour at school, at home they have the message of purity enforced by father Ron, who is the head pastor at the Living Stones Church.

One scene sees Ron kneeling in front of one of his younger daughter, gifting her with her purity ring.

‘One of the things you’ve been asking daddy about is “when am I going to get my purity ring?”

‘One of things I think it’s important to remember is this is your desire to do it the Lord’s way and really save yourself from kissing lots of toads along the way and wait for your prince charming to come along,’ he says.  

'You keep this on your finger and as this point you are married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend,' Ron explains in the new documentary
A young girl signs the purity covenant as a witness: It states that her father, as High Priest of the household, will now protect her virginity
A father presents his daughter with her ring: Randy Wilson founded the first Father Daughter Ball in 1998

 Brandishing a gold ring, Ron continues: ‘This is just a reminder that keeping yourself pure is important. So you keep this on your finger and from this point you are married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend.’

He then places the ring on the forth finger of his daughter’s left hand – her wedding finger.

The concept of purity pledges exists in in over 17 countries and across America, blossoming from the original purity movement that began in the USA in the 1980s.

Adolescent members of church groups began taking vows of abstinence and wearing rings to symbolise their commitment as a backlash to the perceived sexual liberation of the past decades and the growing AIDS epidemic.

They soon began wearing rings to symbolise their commitment, but the idea of girls giving their virginity to their father to safeguard until marriage, and the ceremonial purity balls, developed much later in alliance with Evangelical church movements. 

Watch the full story on “Nightline Prime,” Saturday, March 22 at 9 p.m. ET.

PURITY COVERING AND COVENANT

I ………’s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. 

I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and my family as the High Priest in my home. This covering will be used  by God to influence generations to come.

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2586036/You-married-Lord-daddy-boyfriend-Purity-Balls-girls-gift-virginity-fathers-

 

Vatican Bank Targeted In €3 Trillion Fake Bond Fraud

Vatican Bank IOR Unveils Shroud of Mystery, Opens Web Site for Transparency
Italian police have arrested two men for allegedly trying to deposit trillions of fake bonds at the Vatican Bank

Two men have been arrested in Italy after allegedly trying to deposit trillions of euros in fake bonds in the Vatican bank.

The American and a Dutch national were found with a briefcase containing bonds with a face value of €3 trillion ($4.1tr; £2.5tr).

Officials claimed they had an appointment with bank officials to gain entry and open a line of credit at the bank.

The bank runs the private accounts of cardinals, bishops and religious orders from all over the world.

Financial Guard police officer Davide Cardia told AP news that the two suspects were later released pending further investigation.

Pope Francis ordered a reform of the bank, having sacked two former directors who may face trial on money-laundering charges.

The bank, which is officially called the Institute for the Works of Religion, is no stranger to scandal and the Pope has invited outside experts to regulate what is seen by outsiders as a murky world.

 

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/vatican-bank-targeted-3-trillion-fake-bond-fraud-1442597

Wisconsin bishop enforces ban on washing feet of women on Holy Thursday

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Laus deo!!   May God bless the good bishop for standing up and defending Holy Mother Church and her Sacred Truths. I wish I could say the same for the Bishop of Rome!!

It’s unusual to see something like this in a secular paper, but a reader spotted this in the Madison State Journal: 

Just a few weeks after his election last spring, Pope Francis stunned papal observers by washing the feet of two women during a Holy Week ritual.

The rite — on Maundy Thursday, just prior to Easter Sunday — re-enacts Jesus’ washing of the feet of his 12 male disciples at his Last Supper. Traditionally, popes washed the feet only of men.

Catholic traditionalists believe the men-only rule should remain — at least for everyone below the pope — and many canon lawyers say church law agrees with that position. However, some dioceses in this country had begun including women long before the pope’s example, and a statement on the website for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says that to include women is “an understandable way of accentuating the evangelical command of the Lord.”

Three years ago, Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino issued guidelines that gave priests the option of either using only men or not celebrating the ritual at all. Given the heightened attention to foot-washing last year, some parishioners thought Morlino might re-evaluate his position.

That has not happened. Brent King, the diocesan spokesman, said priests have the same two options this year — men-only or no ritual. Holy Thursday Mass falls on April 17. Easter is April 20.

As has become his tradition, Morlino will celebrate Holy Thursday Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Downtown Madison, King said, where he will wash the feet of 12 seminarians.

Last year, at least two priests — at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Madison and Nativity of Mary in Janesville — took a pass on the ritual due to the male-only rule.

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2014/03/wisconsin-bishop-enforces-ban-on-washing-feet-of-women-on-holy-thursday/

 

 

 

USCCB: Pray, Fast for Amnesty!!!

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WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration and bishops who will attend the Mass on the Border and “Mission for Migrants,” in Nogales, Arizona, March 31-April 1, invite all Catholics to unite in prayer, fasting and action for immigration reform.

Catholics can join in prayer with the bishops who will visit the desert in Nogales in several ways:
By following the Mass led by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston and brother bishops in memory of the thousands of migrants who have lost their lives trying to cross the Arizona desert. The Mass will be live streamed. Supporters also might participate in a Mass or prayer service in their own communities. The Mass in Nogales will be celebrated at 9 a.m. (PT) /12 p.m. (ET). 

•  By advocating for immigration reform sending an electronic postcard to members of Congress. Or by using the toll free number: 1-855-589-5698 to “support a path to citizenship and oppose the SAFE Act.” 

•  By fasting in solidarity with migrants and immigrants. Fasting turns peoples’ attention away from their own needs and allows them to open their hearts to the suffering of others.

•  By spreading the word via social media, using the Twitter hashtag #BorderMass and following the latest developments on Facebook and Twitter. 

•  More resources for prayers and Masses, a link to the electronic postcards and the Mass on the Border live stream can be found at: www.justiceforimmigrants.org. More information on the event can be found at: www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/mass-on-the-border.cfm

The Mass on the Border will be streamed live on April 1, at 9 a.m. (PT) /12 p.m. (ET). It can be followed on YouTube at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqY9GcA6lCA.

http://www.usccb.org/news/2014/14-058.cfm

After the sacking of ‘Bishop Bling,’ will more follow?

Commentator claims a wave of bishops’ dismissals is unlikely

<p>Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, former bishop of Limburg. File picture: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-404404p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Jorg Hackemann</a>/<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a></p>

Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, former bishop of Limburg. File picture: Jorg Hackemann/Shutterstock.com

 The news that Pope Francis fired — or “accepted the resignation of” — the German churchman known as “Bishop Bling” because of his big-spending ways has touched off speculation among Catholics that other dismissals could be in the offing.

Here’s the answer in four words: Perhaps, but probably not.

Recent history shows why: Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., remains in office 18 months after his conviction – and $1.4 million spent on his defense — for failing to report a priest suspected of abuse. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony enjoys a high-profile retirement in spite of the disapproval of his own successor over Mahony’s abuse record. Similarly, Cardinal Bernard Law, formerly of Boston, is still living a gilded existence in Rome years after he was plucked from the U.S. amid the clergy abuse scandal.

Not to mention Newark, N.J., Archbishop John Myers, who heads his diocese amid questions about his handling of abuse cases as well as pricey additions to his upscale retirement home.

Read more

http://www.ucanews.com/news/after-the-sacking-of-bishop-bling-will-more-follow/70590

Rick Santorum excited by Pope Francis

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Rick Santorum: ‘What he’s doing is the right thing’!??!

(Huffington Post) Although Pope Francis has been hailed for being more open to gays and lesbians within the Roman Catholic Church than his predecessors were, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) — a Catholic known for his socially conservative views — had nothing but praise for the pontiff on Sunday.

When asked by NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd whether he is as “excited” by Pope Francis as other Catholics around the world appear to be, Santorum replied, “I am. He’s a humble man. He lives the faith out in his own personal life. … He’s here to be a shepherd; he isn’t here to be a scold. I think that’s a good thing for the church and for the world, frankly.”

Francis has not veered from the Catholic Church’s basic doctrine against homosexuality, but he has suggested he would not judge priests based on their sexual orientation.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” the pope stated last year.

The Washington Post reported recently that gay Catholics in Italy are feeling the “Francis effect” — “a burgeoning spirit of acceptance in pockets of the church’s grass roots.”

Santorum, however, said he doesn’t believe the pope appears to be more progressive on social issues.

“I don’t think he’s coming across as lenient at all,” said Santorum. “He’s actually given speeches very much staying with the line. What he’s doing is the right thing. He’s looking at a world, he’s looking at his faithful that are really struggling right now, struggling with their faith. And he wants to focus on the central thing, which is the good news. He’s not out there saying you can’t do this and that, and we’re against this and against that.”

Last year, Santorum also tried to shoot down suggestions that the Catholic Church may become more accepting of gay men and women after the pope’s now-famous remarks.

SOURCE

Huffington Post

http://www.cathnewsusa.com/2014/03/rick-santorum-excited-pope-francis-hes-right-thing/

EDITOR TRIES TO DENY FINANCIAL CONNECTION WITH MEL GIBSON

 Gibson Still Supports Pro-Abort, FEMEN Mouthpiece

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Edit: we’d published an article last week about Mel Gibson’s strange relationship with an online tabloid that gives positive news coverage for FEMEN and attacks Pro-Life causes. It was a head scratcher for sure.  To date, nothing has come to light showing that Mr. Gibson has altered his relationship with TheLip or Mr. Lustig, although his son no longer works for the company.
The original publisher of the article, The Deadline’s editor, Mike Fleming, however, has chosen to defend its article while attempting to portray Allison Hope-Weiner’s alleged change of heart as the honest to goodness truth, even going so far as to write about how The Passion had changed his life.  He denies any financial relationship with Icon or Mr. Gibson.
The Deadline is an entertainment and media news source, which featured  an opinion piece was  by journalist Alison Hope-Weiner.  Ms. Weiner not only writes for Deadline, but she writes for TheLip.com, a publication where Mel Gibson’s son until quite recently worked, and which is partly owned by Gibson’s production company, Icon. 
Whether or not Ms. Weiner’s extraordinary conversion took place as result of a real change of heart or for other reasons doesn’t belie the fact that she failed to disclose an obvious conflict of interest based on the financial relationship her employer has with Mr. Gibson.  
Full article

Cardinal defends Vatican abuse policy exempting bishops from having to report suspected child sex abuse to the police

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Italy’s Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco has defended a Vatican policy exempting bishops from having to report suspected child sex abuse to the police.

A leading Italian cleric has defended a decision to adopt a Vatican-approved policy exempting bishops from having to report suspected child sex abuse to the police.

“The Vatican requires national laws to be respected, and we know that there is no such duty (to report abuse) under Italian law,” Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting in Genoa on Saturday.

A day earlier, the conference published guidelines stipulating that clergy are under no obligation to inform authorities about suspected abuse but have a “moral duty” to act to protect the vulnerable and “contribute to the common good”.

The guidelines sparked fury among victim support groups, with the US-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) deploring the “stunning, depressing and irresponsible contradiction between what Vatican officials say about abuse, and do about abuse”.

The Church has repeatedly been accused by victims of covering up abuse by priests and moving predator clerics from one diocese to another rather than reporting them, thereby putting other children at risk.

Bishops in possession of information on possible abuse cases have been required by the Vatican to report to the authorities since 2010, but only in countries where they are required to do so under national law.

Bagnasco said the decision to adopt the Vatican’s policy had been taken in part to protect victims who may not want to press charges.

“What is important is to respect the will of the victims and their relatives, who may not want to report the abuse, for personal reasons,” Bagnasco said.

The Vatican was denounced by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in February for failing to stamp out predatory priests.

Pope Francis has defended the Church, saying it has done more than “any other institution” in tackling pedophilia, and last weekend he appointed a woman who had been molested by a priest as a child as part of a new commission on fighting clerical sexual abuse.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/03/30/cardinal-defends-vatican-abuse-policy

 

Men try to deposit fake bonds in Vatican bank

Rome seen from the Sistine Chapel, St Peters Square.
Rome seen from the Sistine Chapel, St Peters Square. Photo: iStock

Rome: Vatican police have apprehended a US man and a Dutch man trying to deposit billions of euros and US dollars in fake bonds in the Vatican bank.

The men were stopped by the police when they approached one of the guarded gates at the Vatican and asked to be let through to the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), as the bank is formally known, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

The bonds were discovered in a briefcase they were carrying and the men were handed over to Italy’s financial police, who found false passports and other fake documents in their hotel rooms.

The haul came a day after Italian prosecutors said two former top executives at the Vatican bank will go on trial for alleged money laundering in a case that led to the seizure of 23 million euros ($34.18 million).

IOR press officer Max Hohenberg said the US man and the Dutch man “are neither clients of the bank, nor were they expected”.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/attempt-to-deposit-fake-bonds-in-vatican-bank-20140330-zqolp.html#ixzz2xTgJiUHr

Francis and President Obama – Dr. Robert Moynihan

Francis and President Obama

The two were scheduled to meet for just half an hour, but their private discussion lasted 52 minutes. At the end, they exchanged gifts, with the Pope offering Obama two medallions and a copy of his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium]. ‘You know, I actually will probably read this when I’m in the Oval Office, when I am deeply frustrated, and I am sure it will give me strength and will calm me down,’ Obama said. ‘I hope,” the Pope responded.”

— Associated Press report on today’s meeting in the Vatican of US President Barack Obama with Pope Francis by Jim Huhnhenn and Nicole Winfield. The photo below shows the Pope handing Obama the copy of his encyclical, which Obama said he will “probably read.” US Secretary of State John Kerry can be seen in the far background between Obama and Francis.

(Pope Francis and President Barack Obama smile as they exchange gifts at the Vatican Thursday, March 27, 2014)

Here is a link to the original AP article, which includes a brief video of the beginning of the meeting. One can see that the two men spoke via translators. Pope Francis speaks a little English, and understands some English, but he prefers to speak in Spanish or in Italian :http://news.yahoo.com/obama-tells-pope-francis-great-admirer-101935536–politics.html

Details Sketchy

Details about what was said this morning in the Vatican during a 52-minute meeting between Pope Francis and US President Barack Obama are still sketchy hours after the meeting ended.

We know from the Vatican press communique released after the meeting that the points touched upon were mainly of two types: (1) world issues and (2) US issues.

But we do not know — and this is important — which of these matters were discussed directly with Pope Francis, and which were discussed with other high-ranking Vatican officials, like Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who met with Obama after the meeting with the Pope ended. The Vatican’s press communique lumps all the meetings together, so it is impossible to know from the communique which topic was discussed with which person.

(1) What “World Issues” Were Discussed?

As of now, we still do not know with precision.

All we know is that “international themes” (as the Vatican press release phrased it) and “questions of particular relevance for the Church in that country (i.e., in the United States) were discussed. So, world issues, and national issues inside the United States.

So, what might these “themes” have been?

It seems likely that they included two important ones:

(a) Ukraine and the confrontation there between Russia and the Western powers, and

(b) Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than two years and where US bombing raids against the Assad regime were scheduled to begin in early September, until Pope Francis called for a world day of prayer and fasting for peace. If the “themes” included Syria, they would by extension, have included Syria’s neighbors — Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt — in general, the entire Middle East, as it is known that the Pope is concerned about the shrinking presence of Christians throughout the region, and as Francis is planning a trip to Jordan, Israel, and the occupied territories from May 24-26, just two month from now — the official schedule was just announced yesterday).

Were other “themes,” like the civil strife in Venezuela, or the economic and cultural (and moral) effects of “globalization”?

We simply do not yet know.

But, we know what type of solution was discussed: “it was hoped that there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution.”

To put it succinctly: that compromise can be reached (“negotiated”) without war, in each case.

(2) What “US Issues” Did the Two Men Discuss?

Again, the official communique is very brief, hardly more than a note. Still, it lists the following topics:

(a) “the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection”

(b) “the issue of immigration reform”

(c) “the eradication of trafficking in human persons”

So, clearly, in this part of the discussion, there was discussion of the “Obamacare” health insurance legislation, and the Church’s position that Catholics — and others as well — who do not believe it is moral to support abortion, sterilization and contraception should not be forced to do so.

Here is the complete communique published by the Vatican:

This morning, 27 March 2014, the Hon. Barack H. Obama, President of the United States of America, was received in audience by His Holiness Pope Francis, after which he met with His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial meetings, views were exchanged on some current international themes and it was hoped that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved.

In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, there was a discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform. Finally, the common commitment to the eradication of trafficking of human persons in the world was stated.
Will Obama Learn from Francis?

“Given his great moral authority, when the Pope speaks it carries enormous weight,” Obama said in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Serapublished ahead of his papal visit. “He can cause people around to the world to stop and perhaps rethink old attitudes and begin treating one another with more decency and compassion.”

Will President Obama himself “stop and perhaps rethink old attitudes” following his meeting with Pope Francis?

We do not know.

But, at the end of the meeting, during a time when gifts were exchanged — Obama gave Francis a packet of seeds from the White House garden, to be planted in the Vatican Gardens at Castel Gandolfo, outside of Rome, where the Vatican has a small farm which supplies milk, eggs, vegetables and fruit for the papal table — there was a striking moment.

Pope Francis handed Obama a copy of his encyclical letter on “The Joy of the Gospel” (Gaudium evangelii), published on November 24, 2013 (the single most important written product of the first year of Francis’ pontificate).

“You know,” Obama told Francis, “I actually will probably read this when I’m in the Oval Office, when I am deeply frustrated, and I am sure it will give me strength and will calm me down.”

“I hope,” the Pope responded.

If Obama actually reads the Pope’s words, what will he find?

He will find an analysis of modern economic activity which is sharply critical of oppression of all types, and calls for an economy and society of “solidarity” so that the poor and unfortunate are not ground down into misery.

But he will also find an analysis of conscience and of morality which is likely to challenge Obama.

“The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism,” the Pope writes near the beginning of the encyclical, “is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.” (Paragraph 2)

“A blunted conscience…”

The Pope makes a powerful critique of our present economic system, and he is of course right. There is much about our system which cries out for criticisms, and for reform. The Pope finds the source of our problem in “the denial of the primacy of the human person.”

“The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person!” the Pope writes. “We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.” (Paragraph 55)

The Pope adds: “Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.” (Paragraph 58)

But Francis also denounces the “narcissism” and “elitism” of individuals, in a passage which warns of the dangers of the ancient heresy of “Gnosticism” and of “Pelagianism,” now re-emerging as a “Promethean neo-Pelagianism.”

“Spiritual worldliness, which hides behind the appearance of piety and even love for the Church, consists in seeking not the Lord’s glory but human glory and personal well-being,” Francis writes (Paragraph 93).

“This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings.

“The other is the self-absorbed Promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.” (Paragraph 94)

In his teaching, Pope Francis is very clear that Christians have a role in public life. He writes: “No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society. Who would claim to lock up in a church and silence the message of Saint Francis of Assisi or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta? They themselves would have found this unacceptable. An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it. We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us, and we love the human family which dwells here, with all its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses. The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters. If indeed ‘the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics,’ the Church ‘cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.'”

And, this fight for justice includes the protection of all human lives. Christians seek social justice, they seek to lift up the oppressed, and they take seriously the injunction “thou shalt not kill.” And this means that Christian morality will always be “pro-life” and opposed to what Pope John Paul II referred to as a “culture of death.”

So Pope Francis speaks very strongly on behalf of the poor. He writes: “In all places and circumstances, Christians, with the help of their pastors, are called to hear the cry of the poor. This has been eloquently stated by the bishops of Brazil: ‘We wish to take up daily the joys and hopes, the difficulties and sorrows of the Brazilian people, especially of those living in the barrios and the countryside – landless, homeless, lacking food and health care – to the detriment of their rights.'” (Paragraph 191)

But Pope Francis is also a powerful defender of the unborn. And, in his famousParagraph 213, he makes this crystal clear: “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development.”

So, if Obama does sit down in the Oval Office, and if he does pick up this text by Pope Francis, given to him as a gift this morning, he will find much to reflect upon, perhaps enough even to cause him to “rethink old attitudes” and to begin treating the most innocent among us “with more decency and compassion.”

The Anthropological Question

You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because, in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.” —Walker Percy (1916-1990), American Catholic convert and writer, author of The Message in the Bottle and Lost in the Cosmos