Sunday, April 17, 2016


Augusta, and I don't have to add the name of the state, has an international reputation for one thing and one thing only the Augusta National and the Masters.

But apart from that, even though its nickname is the Garden City, it is anything but! I love Augusta but it doesn't in any way compare to Savannah or Charleston, cities of similar size.

Augusta is a predominately Bible Belt Protestant town but more diverse and cosmopolitan than most cities in the south its size. It has always had a very strong Catholic minority from the beginning, French to start in the late 1700's and then the Irish beginning in the 1840's.

But because of its large Army post and its university system which includes the states Medical College, people from all over the world live there. It has strong Jewish community, Muslim and Hindu community too with a variety of eastern orthodox too.

But today's Sunday morning paper which I get on line and as it looks in print, has three complete stories on the Catholic Church. I can't help but think this assists us with the new evangelization:

This is above the crease on the front page of the Sunday Morning Paper:

Pope comes home with 12 refugees

Syrians stuck in island camp flown to Vatican

FILIPPO MONTEFOrTE/ ASSOCIATED PrESS Pope Francis blesses a man at a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.
PeTRos GiannakouRis/assoCiaTed PRess Pope Francis meets migrants at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, where many migrants arrive after finding their way across the Aegean Sea.

ROME — Pope Francis says his gesture is “a drop of water in the sea” of Europe’s migration crisis. Yet for 12 Syrian refugees, the pope’s decision to fly them back to Italy from Greece is an act of kindness that will resonate for the rest of their lives.

“Thanks be to God,” exulted Wafa, the mother of two children who made the trip with her husband Osama, as she arrived in Rome. “I thank the pope for this very human gesture.”

The three Muslim families, including six children, had all fled their homes amid the devastation of Syria’s civil war. They were plucked from a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, where they have been stranded for weeks. The pope said they were chosen because they had their documents in order, not to make a political point to Europe about the need to better integrate Muslims.

“Their privilege is that they are children of God,” Francis told reporters en route home to Italy after the emotional trip to Lesbos on Saturday.

The Roman Catholic charity Sant’Egidio, which is providing the refugees with preliminary assistance, welcomed them at their headquarters in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood late Saturday. The mothers were given red roses, and they were applauded as they arrived.
Sant’Egidio released some details about the refugees but didn’t give any of their last names for privacy concerns.

Hasan and Nour, both engineers, and their 2-year-old son fled their home in Zabadani, a mountainous area on the outskirts of the Syrian capital of Damascus that has been heavily bombed. They headed to Turkey and took a boat across the Aegean Sea to Lesbos, like hundreds of thousands before them, hoping to reach Europe. But Austria and several Balkan nations shut their borders to refugees in early March, stranding more than 50,000 people in Greece.

Ramy and Suhila, a couple in their 50s, came from Deir el-Zour, a Syrian city close to the Iraqi border that has been devastated in street-by-street fighting between Islamic State militants and government troops. They arrived in Greece with their three children in February via Turkey. Ramy is a teacher and Suhila a tailor, Sant’Egidio said.

The third family, Osama and Wafa, hail from the Damascus suburb of Zamalka. Their youngest still wakes each night – and even stopped speaking for a time – apparently because of the trauma of the war and the journey to Europe.

They were selected after being identified as vulnerable and deserving of humanitarian protection, and after being interviewed about their hopes for settlement in Europe, said Daniela Pompei, the Sant’Egidio official who helped facilitate the project. She said all 12 had been registered as asylum-seekers in Greece but will now actually make their requests in Italy.

They had all arrived in Lesbos in the past two months, meaning they had lived through the brunt of Syria’s civil war, she said.

Francis said his decision to bring the refugees to Italy was a “purely humanitarian” gesture and not a political act. Speaking on the flight home, Francis said the idea came to him only a week ago from a Vatican official. He said he accepted it “immediately” because it was in keeping with the message of humanity that he wanted to send with his trip to Lesbos.

Francis said the Vatican would take full responsibility for the 12 Syrians.

He cited Mother Teresa in responding to a question about whether his gesture would change the debate about Europe’s migrant crisis.

“It’s a drop of water in the sea. But after this drop, the sea will never be the same,” he said.

This is on page 6 A, the first section of the Augusta Chronicle:

Pope says meeting is not related to politics

ROME — Pope Francis said his brief encounter Saturday with U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was a sign of good manners “nothing more,” and hardly evidence of interfering in American politics.

The White House hopeful called it a “real honor” to meet “one of the extraordinary figures” in the world, a kindred spirit on economic inequality, which is a main Sanders’ campaign theme.

“This morning when I left Sen. Sanders was there. … He knew I was leaving at that time and I had the kindness to greet him and his wife and another couple who were with them,” the pope told reporters traveling back with him to the Vatican.

“When I came down, I greeted them, shook their hands and nothing more. This is good manners. It’s called good manners and not getting mixed up in politics. If any one thinks that greeting some one means getting involved in politics, they should see a psychiatrist,” the pope said.

Earlier, Sanders said that he told the pope that he appreciated the message that Francis was sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. Sanders said that was a message he too, has tried to convey.

“We had an opportunity to meet with him this morning,” Sanders said. “It was a real honor for me, for my wife and I to spend some time with him. I think he is one of the extraordinary figures not only in the world today but in modern world history.”

This is in the Editorial Section:


Birth-control case puts a valuable human right on trial

JacQUELYn MaRtin/aSSociatED pRESS Nuns and their supporters rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on March 23 as the court heard arguments to allow birth control in health care plans in the Zubik vs. Burwell case. The Supreme Court seems deeply divided over the arrangement devised by the Obama administration to spare faith-based groups from having to pay for birth control for women covered under their health plans.

The individual is on trial in the U.S. Supreme Court. It just might lose. And that could very well herald the death of the individual and the final triumph of the state.

Under Obamacare, employers are required to arrange for birth control in their health care plans – even if they object on deep religious grounds.

The high court recently heard oral arguments in a challenge to that requirement, in the case called Zubik v. Burwell – but more famously entangling a group of nuns known as the Little Sisters of the Poor.

In essence, the government is arguing that it has a compelling interest to – in other words, it has no other choice but to – force the sisters, the other plaintiffs, and every other religious opponent of killing the unborn to participate in what they con sider to be doing just that.

The government says not only that it has a compelling interest in decreeing universal access to birth control – but also in forcing employers to provide it, so it’s “seamless.”

In short, the government is saying that women can’t be expected to pursue birth control on their own – even if it’s free and provided by another entity. Nope, it has to be employers who arrange for it and fill out any necessary paperwork – in short, participate in it.

Again, why does the government feel it can trample on the religious liberties of objectors? Answer: so that access to birth control is “seamless” – in other words, convenient.

Think about that for a moment. This government is arguing that the convenience of access to birth control trumps the employers’ religious liberties under the Constitution.

And let’s be real, here. Much if not most of birth control is used for recreational sex. And while you may have a constitutional right to that, you do not have a right to force another human being to violate his or her religious conscience by participating in it in any way.

As convenient as that may be.

This is a frightening new low in our republic’s history. This case could signal the end of the individual in America, at least as we’ve known it under the Constitution. The “seamless” convenience of the many outweighs the deeply held religious beliefs of the few? That doesn’t even sound like the America we knew.

What rights does an individual have after that?

“Does the government really have a compelling interest in making sure women can not just get free birth control but get it without so much as filling out any paperwork?” writes Stephanie Slade at Reason magazine. “Is needing to enroll in a separate plan from my employer’s – even if the supplementary plan will be paid for by the government – such an enormous obstacle to my good health as to warrant trampling the religious liberties of the Little Sisters of the Poor and others?”
Pray not.

In essence, the government is arguing that it has a compelling interest to – in other words, it has no other choice but to – force the sisters, the other plaintiffs, and every other religious opponent of killing the unborn to participate in what they consider to be doing just that.

And now, at the very bottom of the barrel, is this in this Sunday morning's editorial section of the Macon Telegraph by the former Catholic and former Catholic priest, Dr. Bill Cummings, still banging that 1960's drum and ideology. He just doesn't get it! But we Maconites gets this drivel from him almost every Sunday!

Are you a Christian?

Read more here:


Anonymous said...

My question is why the Pope chose to bring Muslim families when it is the Christians who are being slaughtered in Syria? There has been an open request to him from the patriarch but nothing ...

@Asked why they were all Muslim, he said there was something wrong with the papers of a Christian family that had originally been on the list.@

This is nothing more than the usual publicity stunt. No one knows more than the Pope of the plight of Christians and he does nothing about it. Shame is the word that springs to mind ...

Anonymous said...

Nice to actually see nuns in habits. The leadership in our two Georgia dioceses would like us to think that is just a curiosity of the past.

George said...

Jan, I understand your concern and how this would come mind. One thing Pope Francis is doing though is setting an example for others (including and especially Muslims) that this is what Christians do. While certain adherents of the Muslim faith kill and destroy in the name of Allah those who are outside their faith, Christians will come to the help of others, irregardless of their faith and creed. If the Holy Father had just brought Christians back with him,what would that demonstrate to those in the countries the migrants come from, who are predominately non-Christian? Even non-Christians and those of no faith at all are willing to help their own.
What is going on in some of the countries of Europe is of a whole different dimension though. It involves more than the application of just the corporal works of mercy. Governments in Europe have to make prudential and practical judgements on how many numbers of migrants can absorbed, along with adequately providing for the safety and welfare of their own citizens. It will be some time before we know the effect of all this migration, good or bad. What is happening could be seen as a chastisement on the West for abandoning God by not obeying His Holy laws.
It would be good though if Pope Francis, or someone he delegates to do so, would also bring back to Italy some of the migrant Christian families,who have suffered much because of the turmoil in that part of the world.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, George, I believe he would have set a better example if he had brought Christians home and highlighted their plight, the fact that they are being persecuted and driven out of the Middle East. He has done nothing for three years about it.

Anonymous said...

If the Pope can't [or won't] help the Christians in the Middle East, who will? He was quick to say after the beheadings that they are martyrs but what must they think now that he has taken all Muslim families and none of the Yazidis or Christians the two most suffering minorities in the Middle East. The more I think about it, the more disgusted I am. Better to have brought no families to Rome at all.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think it is untoward to attribute bad motives to everything Pope Francis does with his gestures. Being hypercritical is not healthy. But with that said, I think Pope Francis could be compulsive with some gestures and doesn't think it through. Not including Christians was a tactical error but might be attributed to his underlings who did not consider how this would come across in its details. Keep in mind how poorly served Pope Benedict was with his advisors.

Anonymous said...

Father, I am sorry but I certainly don't think the Pope is stupid. He has done more or less as he wishes since he took office. If he had wanted to bring Christians to Rome, he would have brought them to Rome. Anyone with the courage of their convictions or who wished to show mercy would have insisted on a mixed group or none at all. I think he is his own man.