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« Reply #255 on: Jul 16, 2014, 06:09 AM »

Pope Francis: Children Who Migrate Alone Must Be 'Welcomed And Protected'

By John Amato
CrooksAndLiars
July 15, 2014 10:54 am

Pope Francis jumped into the migrant children debate the US is having and demanded that these children are welcomed and protected instead of being immediately sent back home.

Pope Francis: Children Who Migrate Alone Must Be 'Welcomed And Protected'

Pope Francis jumped into the migrant children debate the US is having and demanded that these children are welcomed and protected instead of being immediately sent back home. There are many Catholic politicians and pundits like Bill O'Reilly who not only want to turn the children away, but are demanding a military response and presence to be included in controlling the border.

Jack Jenkins:

    Pope Francis directly addressed the growing crisis surrounding unaccompanied children on the U.S. border this morning, speaking up on behalf of the young immigrants and calling on the international community to do more to care for their needs.

    In a message sent to the Mexico-Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development, the first Argentinian pope called for an immediate humanitarian response for the roughly 50,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed the U.S. border this year.

    “I would also like to draw attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence: This is a category of migrants from Central America and Mexico itself who cross the border with the United States under extreme conditions and in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be vain,” he said. “They are increasing day by day. This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”

    Francis also noted that, in addition to a robust relief effort by those on the U.S. side of the border, the international community should also move to address the vicious cycles of violence and poverty that are spurring the children to flee their countries of origin.

    “These measures, however, will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin,” he said. “Finally, this challenge demands the attention of the entire international community so that new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted.”


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« Reply #256 on: Jul 16, 2014, 10:07 AM »

Hi All,

I am attaching a picture taken during the recent World Cup of football in Brazil that was taken by an ABC camera person that incredible capture the Sun within the outstretched arm of the giant statue of Jesus in the hills above the city of Rio.

God Bless, Rad


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« Reply #257 on: Jul 22, 2014, 08:01 AM »

Is the Pope being Catholic or communist when he attacks capitalism for ignoring the poor?

By The Conversation
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 8:29 EDT
By Bruce Duncan, University of Divinity

A blog in The Economist recently accused Pope Francis of following the founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, in adopting an “ultra-radical line” on capitalism. The blog, “Francis, capitalism and war: the Pope’s divisions”, was reacting to the Pope’s interview on June 9 in Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, in which he linked an earlier form of capitalism with imperialism as the main causes of World War One.

In response, in an interview with the Italian daily Il Messaggero, the Pope said:

    The communists have stolen the flag. The flag of the poor is Christian … The poor are at the centre of the Gospel.

Francis pointed to the Beatitudes, and Matthew’s Last Judgment scene when God will judge us on how we treated the hungry, naked, the prisoners.

“The communists say that all this is communist,“ Francis said, yet Christians said this 20 centuries earlier. Pope Francis said one could reply to the communists: “you are Christians” in your concern for the poor.
Reasserting Catholic social thinking

Pope Francis’s views are arousing controversy, since many people seem unaware how strongly Catholic social thinking is opposed to the neoliberal policies of the free-marketeers. In the La Vanguardia interview, Francis was distressed that in some countries unemployment levels exceed 50% of workers. He had been told that 75 million young Europeans under 25 years of age were unemployed.

“That is an atrocity, discarding an entire generation to maintain an economic system” that was collapsing, and that depends on the armaments industry to survive. Francis supported the possibilities of globalisation, but deplored the discarding of the young and the elderly.

It was “incomprehensible” that so many people in the world are still hungry. Francis said “the world economic system is not good”, and “we have put money at the centre, the god of money”.

Others disputed the Pope’s critique of inequality. In the UK Telegraph, Allister Heath contested the views of Francis for his attack on economic inequalities and the “new tyranny” of the “absolute autonomy of markets”:

    Francis’ wholesale condemnation of inequality is thus tantamount to a complete rejection of contemporary economic systems. It is not a call for reform … but a radical denunciation.

Heath rejected Francis’s criticism of “trickle-down economics” as a caricature of free-market arguments. Instead, Heath regarded capitalism as “the greatest alleviator of poverty and liberator of people ever discovered”.

Paul B. Farrell’s suggestion in the Wall Street Journal is for Francis to support Bill Gates’ “Giving Pledge” for the super rich to give away half their fortunes in their lifetimes. So far 122 of the super rich have agreed to do so. Alas, this would do nothing to challenge the causes of the perverse distribution of wealth in most capitalist economies.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires before he became Pope, Bergoglio experienced the trauma of Argentina going into the biggest financial default in history in 2002, owing nearly US$100 billion, much of it lost by mismanagement and war under earlier military regimes.

The percentage of Argentina’s population plunged into poverty rose to 50%, compared with 7% in the 1970s. Millions lost their savings, a quarter of workers lost their jobs and a quarter of the population was left destitute and hungry.

While most of the debt was restructured, so-called “vulture funds” bought up some of the debt for a pittance and demanded that Argentina pay US$1.33 billion, making a return of 1000% to these 1.6% of original bondholders. Despite a German court striking out similar “vulture fund” claims in 2013, astonishingly the US Supreme Court in June 2014 ordered the full debt be paid.

Francis is speaking against the background of such predatory forms of capitalism.
Francis condemns gross inequality

On April 28, the Pope tweeted:

    Inequality is the root of social evil.

    — Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 28, 2014

Francis was quoting from his exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, #202.

The message quickly drew thousands of retweets, some critical. Joe Carter, the director of the Acton Institute, an American free market think-tank that is underpinned by religious thought, tweeted:

    Seriously, though, what was up with that tweet by @Pontifex? Has he traded the writings of Peter and Paul for Piketty?

    — Joe Carter (@joecarter) April 28, 2014

Thomas Piketty’s massive tome Capital in the Twenty-first Century had recently been published in English, arguing that the capitalist economy was inherently geared to greatly increasing inequality. Francis considers extreme “unbridled consumerism combined with inequality” outrageous. He fears that resentment by impoverished populations will fuel revolutions, as it has in the past.

Francis is not arguing for absolute equality, as some of his critics have claimed. The Catholic Church has never called for absolute equality. It has argued for a just distribution of goods and services that ensures everyone the possibility of a reasonable life and standard of living. Perhaps “social equity” is a better translation for what the Pope has in mind, but this implies more than the notion of equality of opportunity, since outcomes matter as well.

While sharply critical of the neoliberal views that exacerbated the global financial crisis, Francis strongly supports economic policies that promote material and social uplift more equitably. Speaking in Rome last month, Francis said:

    It is increasingly intolerable that financial markets are shaping the destiny of peoples rather than serving their needs, or that the few derive immense wealth from financial speculation while the many are deeply burdened by the consequences.

These issues are likely to figure prominently in the forthcoming document on the environment that Francis’s team of advisers have been preparing.

The Conversation

Bruce Duncan is a Catholic priest of the Redemptorist Congregation and a member of the social advocacy organisation Social Policy Connections.


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« Reply #258 on: Jul 24, 2014, 06:56 AM »


Sudanese woman spared death for apostasy meets Pope Francis

Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death for apostasy in May, sparking an international campaign to save her life

Mark Tran and Lizzy Davies in Rome
theguardian.com, Thursday 24 July 2014 13.43 BST    

Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian Sudanese woman spared a death sentence for apostasy after an international outcry, has met Pope Francis after arriving in Italy.

The 27-year-old and her family were received at the pontiff's guesthouse for 30 minutes and she was thanked by the head of the Catholic church for her "witness to faith" and "perseverance", Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told journalists.

According to the Italian news agency Ansa, Lombardi added: "It's a gesture that goes beyond the meeting and becomes a symbol", saying Francis, 77, wanted the meeting to be a "sign of closeness to all those who suffer due to their faith and practice of their faith."

Earlier on Thursday, Italian television showed Ibrahim leaving the aircraft at Ciampino airport in Rome accompanied by her husband, two children and Italy's vice-minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli.

Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to death for apostasy in May, sparking an international campaign to lift the death sentence. More than a million people backed an Amnesty International campaign to get her released, with David Cameron, the British prime minister, and the US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson among world leaders who clamoured for her release.

While on death row, Ibrahim, a graduate of Sudan University's school of medicine, gave birth in shackles in May. It was a difficult birth as her legs were in chains and Ibrahim is worried that the girl may need support to walk.

Ibrahim was told that her death sentence would be deferred for two years to allow her to nurse the baby.

Under the Sudanese penal code, Muslims are forbidden from changing faith, and Muslim women are not permitted to marry Christian men.

During her trial in Khartoum, she told the court that she had been brought up as a Christian, and refused to renounce her faith. She and Daniel Wani – an American citizen – married in 2011. The court ruled that the union was invalid and that Ibrahim was guilty of adultery.

Her convictions, sentences and detention in Omdurman women's prison while heavily pregnant and with her toddler son incarcerated alongside her caused international outrage. After an appeal court overturned the death sentence, Ibrahim, Wani, and their two children tried to leave last month, but were turned back. The Sudanese government accused her of trying to leave the country with false papers, preventing her departure for the US.

Her lawyer, Mohaned Mostafa, said he had not been told of her departure on Thursday.

"I don't know anything about such news but so far the complaint that was filed against Meriam and which prevents her from travelling from Sudan has not been cancelled," Mostafa told Reuters.

Ibrahim and her family had been staying at the US embassy in Khartoum. 


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« Reply #259 on: Jul 28, 2014, 07:07 AM »

A Liberal’s Handy Guide to the Bible’s Exaltation of the Poor

By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson
PoliticusUSA
Monday, July, 28th, 2014, 8:09 am   

Because the so-called Religious Right is reluctant to listen to Jesus’ words; because the only Jesus who concerns them is a long-haired cracker with an AR-15, it has ironically enough fallen to the alleged “party of the Godless” – Democrats, to preach the Gospel to the Religious Right and the GOP.

It is a task we do not undertake lightly.

Because the Religious Right prefers cherry-picked and out of context Old Testament fire and brimstone, I thought, Heathen that I am, that I would take it upon myself to put together a handy list of Old Testament passages testifying to YHWH’s concern for the poor. This is far from a complete list, but it should get your started and perhaps provide fuel for further research.

Here’s the thing, fellow missionaries: from listening to conservatives you would get the idea that the entirety of the Bible is dedicated to condemning homosexuality, which in any case is a pathology of the 19th century CE and not the 19th century BCE. And besides, very little of the Bible, Old Testament or New, concerns itself with homosexuality.

Nearly the entirety of the Religious Right’s case rests on two passages from Leviticus:

    You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

    “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

And in the New Testament we find:

    For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.(Romans 1:26-27)

Religious Right figures speak of Sodom and Gomorrah as further examples of God’s displeasure with the so-called “gay lifestyle” but in reality, Sodom’s sins had nothing to do with the dreaded “gay agenda.” The Bible itself tells us,

    Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

Egads! Sodom’s sin was not in advancing the gay agenda but rather in disregarding the poor and needy!

Sound like any group you know?

Really, there isn’t much in the Bible condemning homosexuality. A few passages, a couple of minutes worth of reading. It is hardly the case, as the Religious Right pretends, that the entirety of the Christian Religion is dedicated to opposition to homosexuality (let alone abortion!).

But it is the undeniable case that the Bible abounds with concern for the poor. So without further ado, here is your handy list of poor-oriented Bible passages. Feel free to spread the Gospel with your godless Religious Right neighbors.

First a quick overview of Jesus on the subject, just to provide some context, since these are the passages studiously avoided by Republican politicians and their Religious Right puppet-masters like David Barton and Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins and Ralph Reed, etc, etc.

Jesus roundly condemned the rich and heaped praise on the poor:

Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Luke 18:25
For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luke 6:20
Looking at his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

Luke 6:24
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”

Mark 10:21-22
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

1 John 3:17-18
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

From the guy many Christians believe was Jesus’ brother in the Epistle of James:

James 5:1
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.

And Paul is as concerned with the poor as Jesus, and no more welcoming of the rich:

1 Timothy 6:9
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Acts 20:35
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Conservatives will quote from Romans when it suits their needs but they will not cite this passage:

Romans 12:13
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Those little children on the border are God’s people. Almost to a man (and woman) the Republicans would turn them away.

2 Corinthians 9:6-13
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

The Old Testament provides abundant evidence that when he wasn’t ordering the bellies of pregnant women to be cut open, or condemning them to sexual slavery, YHWH was greatly concerned with the plight of the poor:

Psalm 12:5
“Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,” says the LORD. “Then I will protect them from those who malign them.”

Psalm 35:10
“You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”

Psalm 72:4
He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.

Psalm 72:12-14
For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.

Psalm 82:3-4
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 102:17
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.

Psalm 107:9
… for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Psalm 109:31
For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.

Psalm 113:7
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.

Psalm 140:12
I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.

Psalm 146:7-9
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

Proverbs 3:27-28
Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow” — when you now have it with you.

Proverbs 10:3
The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

Proverbs 11:24-25
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Proverbs 12:14
From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.

Proverbs 14:21
It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.

Proverbs 14:31
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Proverbs 19:17
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 22:9
The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

Proverbs 22:16
He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich — both come to poverty.

Proverbs 28:27
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

Deuteronomy 15:7
If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.

Deuteronomy 15:8
Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need.

Deuteronomy 15:11
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Similarly, Jesus said,

John 12:8
“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Isaiah 1:17
Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 10:1-3
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Compare to Jesus at,

Luke 4:18
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.”

Jeremiah 22:16
“He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD.

Ezekiel 16:49
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

Zechariah 7:9-10
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’”

Job 5:15-16
He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.

It is clear that if it obsesses about anything, the Bible obsesses about the plight of the poor. The rich are condemned by Jesus yet exalted by the Religious Right and their pet Republicans. The poor are condemned by the Religious Right and their pet Republicans yet exalted by Jesus. These are facts. It is impossible to refute them and if the Bible is the Word of God, as Republicans insist, how can they deny it? But they do, every day.

What we find at the end of the day, in Jesus’ own words, is that the Republican Party and the Religious Right have become what the New Testament has Jesus condemn most, the alleged hypocrisy of the Pharisees:

Luke 11:39-42
Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God.”

‘Nuff said, I think.


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« Reply #260 on: Today at 06:07 AM »

Pope Francis sounds too much like Obama to be honored by Congress, Republican says

By Scott Kaufman
RawStory
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 9:59 EDT

A bipartisan congressional resolution that would honor Pope Francis before his potential appearance in Philadelphia next year may not be acted upon because of Republican worries that the pontiff is perceived as being “too liberal,” The Hill reports.

House Resolution 440 aims to “congratulate Pope Francis on his election and recognize his inspirational statements and actions,” but according to one Republican backer of the legislation, the resolution is dead because Pope Francis is “sounding like Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged.”

Republicans are upset because of comments the Pope made concerning the free market. Last November, for example, Francis published his Evangelii Gandium, in which he noted that ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

The resolution states that Pope Francis should be honored for, among other things, being the first pontiff from the Americas, as well as “his commitment to economic justice and improving the lives of the poor, and his outreach to individuals from all walks of life have been universally praised and are living examples of Jesus Christ’s message.”

Of the 221 co-sponsors of the legislation, only 19 are Republicans. Democratic Representative John Larson (CT) sent House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) a letter last Friday requesting a vote on the resolution.

“To my knowledge this would be an historic first. I ask that you take a look at a bipartisan resolution introduced by Representative Peter King and myself, acknowledging the first Pope from the Americas … it is my sincere hope that you will consider this resolution for the suspension calendar for a vote,” Larson wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill.


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