Pope Francis issued a scathing rebuke of Catholics who prioritize some church laws and doctrines ― including those condemning abortion ― over fighting for the poor and the oppressed.
In an apostolic exhortation released Monday, Francis lamented that some Catholics think of protecting many marginalized groups as a secondary or superficial issue. The pontiff said that while efforts to restrict abortion are crucial, it’s just as important for members of his flock to fight for the rights of the “already born.”
Francis wrote in his exhortation, “Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”
The Gateway Church in the Dallas-Forth Worth area is one of the largest churches in the country. Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times
I grew up in a little Baptist church in small-town Alabama. The Baptist part is inherited, like baldness or dimples: Both of my grandfathers and three of my uncles were Baptist preachers, and my parents met as graduate students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Genes aside, the church — plastic chairs, pilling carpet and grape juice for communion — was the organizing institution of my childhood, where I met my closest friends and most of the significant adults in my life.
Church attendance has been in generational decline. I began calling around, exploring whether people in small towns were looking for community elsewhere and, with the white nationalist rallies so often in the news, whether young white people were looking for meaning in the grim sanctuaries of the alt-right.
But I kept hearing about something different. Pastors, theologians and sociologists were talking of how black worshipers were leaving white-majority churches. They were leaving quietly and not en masse, a family here, a single person there. But it was happening everywhere, a movement large enough for some to see the unraveling of decades of efforts at racial reconciliation. Read the rest of the article HERE.
First we celebrated Advent, the 40 day period leading up to Christmas, complete with frenzied shopping and partying. (BTW, it seems that the commercial “Christmas” season starts earlier every year. I saw Christmas in stores in early October this year!) Now we are celebrating the 12 days of Christmas, ending with Epiphany on January 6. 12 days of Christmas? I thought that was just a song? Well, it is, but it stands for a very real, and now very expensive, tradition.
The ’12 Days of Christmas’ Costs a Little More This Year
This year it’ll cost a little more if you want to put everything from the “12 Days of Christmas” song under your tree. The complete set of prices for buying everything in the song from a physical store is as follows:
Partridge, $20; last year: $25
Pear tree, $190; last year: same
Two turtle doves, $375; last year: $290
Three French hens, $182; last year: same
Four calling birds (canaries), $600; last year: same
Five gold rings, $750; last year: same
Six geese-a-laying, $360; last year: same
Seven swans a-swimming, $13,125; last year: same
Eight maids a-milking, $58; last year: same
Nine ladies dancing (per performance), $7,553; last year: same
10 lords a-leaping (per performance), $5,509; last year: same
11 pipers piping (per performance), $2,708; last year: $2,635
12 drummers drumming (per performance), $2,934; last year: $2,855
According to Edwin and Jennifer Woodruff Tait, writing for Christianity Today, the “real” 12 days of Christmas are important because they give us a way of reflecting on what the the birth of Jesus means in our lives. Christmas commemorates the most momentous event in human history—the entry of God into the world God made, in the form of a baby. December 26 is the feast of St. Stephen—a traditional day for giving leftovers to the poor. St. John the Evangelist, commemorated on December 27, is traditionally the only one of the twelve disciples who did not die a martyr. On December 28, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Innocents, the children murdered by Herod.
Finally, on Epiphany (January 6), the celebration of Christmas comes to an end. “Twelfth Night” (as all lovers of Shakespeare know) is the ultimate celebration of Christmas madness (Shakespeare’s play features one of his many “wise fools” who understand the real meaning of life better than those who think they are sane). Epiphany commemorates the beginning of the proclamation of the gospel—Christ’s manifestation to the nations, as shown in three different events: the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the turning of water into wine. In the Western tradition, the Magi predominate. But in the Eastern churches, Jesus’ baptism tends to be the primary theme. Read the complete article here.
Catholic teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests will probably go on forever said Pope Francis during his trip to Sweden. He referred to a letter written in 1994 by Pope John Paul II who said that Jesus only chose men to be disciples. Read more here and here.
The conventional wisdom in American politics has long been that someone who is not religious cannot be elected president of the United States. Most Americans have consistently said that it is important to them that the president have strong religious beliefs. And a new Pew Research Center survey finds that being an atheist remains one of the biggest liabilities that a presidential candidate can have; fully half of American adults say they would be less likely to vote for a hypothetical presidential candidate who does not believe in God, while just 6% say they would be more likely to vote for a nonbeliever.
The new survey shows that among religious groups, fully half of white evangelical Protestant voters (including both Republicans and those who identify with the Democratic Party or as political independents) think Trump would make a “good” or a “great” president. Evangelicals – who are among the most reliably Republican religious constituencies in the electorate – express a similar degree of confidence that Carson and Cruz would be successful presidents.
On the Democratic side, the view that Sanders and Clinton would be good presidents is most common among two reliably Democratic religious constituencies – black Protestants and religiously unaffiliated voters (i.e., religious “nones”). Read more here.