Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sharing violent images and videos on social media: a "social sin"?

What is our responsibility in the use of social media? As moral agents and Christians are we called to moral discernment as to whether we choose to view, use and share videos and images that portray violence? Should we take into account our cooperation in the immoral manipulation and violation of human beings and the dignity of others on social media?

"Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. "Structures of sin" are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a 'social sin.' "CCC 1869

We are meant by God to see and do good. Perhaps our choice to view violence and share it could be added to examination of conscience and confessed when necessary.

The power of social media confers responsibility as well as privilege.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Statement of Cardinal Wuerl on Persecution of Christians, Religious Minorities in Iraq

Dear Friends,
Every day we learn more about the atrocities perpetrated against Christians, Yezidis and others in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.  It is almost incomprehensible that today, in organized military action, Muslim extremists are torturing and killing innocent unarmed women and children, attempting forced conversions to Islam and inflicting every type of inhumanity on fellow human beings, including crucifixion.
In light of this growing crisis, Pope Francis and agencies of the Holy See, together with other religious leaders, have been increasingly insistent in their calls for peace and for humanitarian response to the new waves of refugees fleeing terror and death.  Yesterday, our Holy Father wrote to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, saying that the situation “cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence and assuring the necessary and urgent assistance for the many displaced people as well as their safe return to their cities and their homes.”
Earlier this week, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said that followers of all religions and all men and women of goodwill could only “unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity.” As reported by the world media, the long list of atrocities includes: the despicable practice of beheading and hanging bodies in public places; the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis of conversion to Islam, the payment of a “jizya” tax, forced exile or death; the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick; the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war; and the list goes on.   No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. 
Pope Francis has spoken out often to demonstrate his closeness to the Iraqi population, especially those who have been severely affected by the continuing conflict and are in dire need of help and encouragement.  Recently he also met with Cardinal Fernando Filoni, his personal envoy to Iraq, and gave him a significant sum of money to be used for urgent assistance to the people who have been most severely affected.  This is a concrete sign of the Pope’s concern in responding to this dramatic situation. 
Members of the Christian community, including the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches, are taking a strong stand in defense of the Iraqi Christians and their right to survive and to live in peace in their own homes, where for the last 2,000 years they have been active and contributing to the development of the region. In the face of this systematic, organized and well-funded push by extremists to drive Christians and others from their homes, none of us can remain idle bystanders, whatever one’s religious beliefs.
People of faith turn to God in prayer on behalf of all of those who are suffering so much in this present crisis.  The Archdiocese of Washington will hold a special Mass for peace tomorrow, August 15, at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle, and host aninterfaith service later that day at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine.  At the request of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, local Catholics will join in a national day of prayer for peace in Iraq this Sunday.
In addition to prayer, we can support the work of groups like Catholic Relief Servicesand the Knights of Columbus to provide humanitarian relief to displaced Iraqi families, including emergency food, water and bedding, and planning in the longer term for resettlement needs.
We all need to raise our voices in an expression of human solidarity, calling on allpeople of goodwill to recognize this overwhelming human tragedy, to speak out against it.  We urge the international community to stir itself to find ways to protect the innocent.  And we implore the changing of hearts so that in that troubled part of the world toleration and religious freedom become accepted characteristics of whatever political order is established.
Peace can only come when there is mutual toleration among and between differing religious and political groups, and when there is the recognition of religious freedom, religious liberty.  The branding of people, their religious heritage and ethnic backgrounds as “enemies” only fosters the intolerance that leads to hatred and that breeds violence.
Christians realize that true peace can only come out of hearts possessed of God’s grace and love, even while, as disciples of Christ, we also clearly recognize the right and sometimes the obligation to defend ourselves and others from unjust aggression, especially the weak and innocent.  In working for genuine peace, our hearts must be touched with compassion and courage.  We mustnever allow violence, extremism, intolerance and hatred to infect us and our response to it.
Our prayers, material assistance and united voices are a sign of our communion with all those in Iraq who suffer so cruelly at the hands of these extremists.  Today let us join together in making another impassioned appeal that the whole world raise up with one voice a cry for peace, religious liberty, toleration and security in Iraq and throughout the region.  Those who are being assailed are no strangers, they are our brothers and sisters, children of God, and they need our help.     
With every good wish, I am                                
                                                                               Faithfully in Christ,

                                                                               Donald Cardinal Wuerl
                                                                               Archbishop of Washington


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Prayer for Peace by His Beatitude, Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Sako

The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    How Dating a Non-Catholic Can End In Making Catholics Practical Protestants

    No practicing Catholic I know would ever say that Jesus Christ is not the most important Person in their lives. With that being the case, though, many fail the test of making their actions match their words. God is truly present in the Eucharist, but many Catholics end up living without the Eucharist.

    Dating a non-Catholic often begins very serenely, often with the non-Catholic attending Mass. Couples in love very seldom choose to discuss issues that threaten to divide them. But when the engaged couple start making choices as to ceremony and venue they may be putting down roots of division without realizing it.

    Outdoor weddings are popular, but the Church will not grant a dispensation in order to recognize the ceremony. This makes a second Catholic convalidation ceremony necessary: a further complication and possible source of marital friction. Also, if the non-Catholic party will not agree to raise the children Catholic the dispensation necessary for a convalidation cannot be granted.

    The result of all this is that the Catholic ends up a practical Protestant: attending Mass but unable to receive Communion. In such a case, choices for unnecessary things, such as an outdoor ceremony, have led to the loss of the one thing necessary: the Lord Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Missa Cantata for Solemnity of Assumption on 15 August in Benedict, Maryland

    Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption
    Missa Cantata

    15 August 2014
    8 pm
    at the church of Saint Francis de Sales

    Benedict, Maryland






    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Christian Genocide in Iraq: An urgent message of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako

    An urgent message of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad Mosul Christians:

    Whither? To all who have a living conscience in Iraq and all the world

    To the voice of moderate brother Muslims who have a voice in Iraq and all the world

    To all who have a concern that Iraq could remain a country for all His Children

    To all leaders of thought and opinion

    To all who announce the freedom of the human being

    To all protectors of the dignity of human beings and of religion PEACE AND MERCY FROM GOD!

    The control exercised by the Islamist Jehadists upon the city of Mosul, and their proclamation of it as an Islamic State, after several days of calm and expectant watching of events, has now come to reflect negatively upon the Christian population of the city and its environs. The initial sign was in the kidnapping of the two nuns and 3 orphans who were released after 17 days. At the time, we experienced it as a flash of hope and as a clearing of the sky after the appearance of storm clouds.

    Suddenly we have been surprised by the more recent outcomes which are the proclamation of an Islamic state and the announcement calling all Christians and clearly asking them to convert to Islam or to pay the joziah (the tax all non- Muslims must pay while living in the land of Islam) – without specifying the exact amount. The only alternative is to abandon the city and their houses with only the clothes they are wearing, taking nothing else. Moreover, by Islamic law, upon their departure, their houses are no longer their properties but are instantly confiscated as property of the Islamic state.

    In recent days, there has been written the letter ‘N’ in Arabic on the front wall of Christian homes, signifying ‘Nazara’ (Christian), and on the front wall of Shiite homes, the letter ‘R’ signifying ‘Rwafidh’ (Protestants or rejecters). We do not know what will happen in future days because in an Islamic state the Al – sharia or Islamic code of law is powerful and has been interpreted to require the issuance of new I.Ds for the population based on religious or sectarian affiliation. This categorization based upon religion or sect afflicts the Muslims as well and contravenes the regulation of Islamic thought which is expressed in the Quran which says, “You have your religion and I have my religion” and yet another place in Quran states, “There is no compulsion in religion”. This is exactly the contradiction in the life and history of the Islamic world for more than 1400 years and in the co – existence with other different religions and nations in the East and in the West.

    With all due respect to belief and dogmas, there has been a fraternal life between Christians and Muslims. How much the Christians have shared here in our East specifically from the beginnings of Islam. They shared every sweet and bitter circumstance of life; Christian and Muslim blood has been mixed as it was shed in the defense of their rights and lands. Together they built a civilization, cities, and a heritage. It is truly unjust now to treat Christians by rejecting them and throwing them away, considering them as nothing.

    It is clear that the result of all this discrimination legally enforced will be the very dangerous elimination of the possibility of co – existence between majorities and minorities. It will be very harmful to Muslims themselves both in the near and the distant future. Should this direction continue to be pursued, Iraq will come face to face with human, civil, and historic catastrophe.

    We call with all the force available to us; we call to you fraternally, in a spirit of human brotherhood; we call to you urgently; we call to you impelled by risk and in spite of the risk. We implore in particular our Iraqi brothers asking them to reconsider and reflect upon the strategy they have adopted and demanding that they must respect innocent and weaponless people of all nationalities, religions, and sects.

    The Holy Quran has ordered believers to respect the innocent and has never called them to seize the belongings, the possessions, the properties of others by force. The Quran commands refuge for the widow, the orphaned, the poor, and the weaponless and respect “to the seventh neighbor.” We call Christians in the region to act with reason and prudence and to consider and to plan everything in the best way possible. Let them understand what is planned for this region, to practice solidarity in love, to examine the realities together and so be able together to find the paths to build trust in themselves and in their neighbors. Let them stay close to their own Church and surround it; endure the time of trial and pray until the storm will be over.

    † Louis Raphael Sako Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldean 17 July 2014

    The original "framily": the Church

    There are friends and family plans to save you money on your phone bill. There is also the friends and family plan of Jesus Christ to save you loneliness as you seek to live in this world in faithfulness to him; it's called the Church, the original "framily". "The Church is one because of her source: 'the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.' The Church is one because of her founder: for 'the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body.' The Church is one because of her 'soul': 'It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity.' Unity is of the essence of the Church: ' 'What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her "Church." ' " (CCC 813)

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