CBS News correspondent Dr. John Lapook has an important story about a Zika outbreak in the Rio Grande Valley, affecting 18 pregnant women in the area thus far in 2017. Dr. Lapook interviewed the mother of adorable baby Hugo, pictured above, who said of her newborn, “I feel so happy, I’m so in love with him.”
Let’s hope that Dr. Lapook’s responsible, compassionate, human life-affirming approach to the challenge of the Zika virus inspires other journalists, news and opinion, to keep their eyes on the ball: to fight the Zika virus, not the babies affected by it, by suggesting that their lives are somehow less valuable, less precious in the eyes of God than other babies.
Here is the link to the CBS story:
Two separate plea initiatives from concerned Catholics, lay and ordained, have emerged to challenge Pope Francis and his tragic course for the Catholic Church. Earlier in July, a letter was sent to the cardinals and patriarchs urging them to disregard much of the content of Pope Francis’ encyclical Amoris Laetitia. Among the 45 signers of the letter were priests and seminary professors who wrote:
We request that the Cardinals and Patriarchs petition the Holy Father to condemn the errors listed in the document in a definitive and final manner, and to authoritatively state that Amoris Laetitia does not require any of them to be believed or considered as possibly true…
In addition to this positive sign of resistance to Pope Francis was a video produced by LifeSiteNews, featuring one bishop and 15 Catholic heads of pro-life organizations, all pleading with the pope to clarify his confusing statements. The video is twenty-nine minutes long and well worth watching. Most moving was the plea from Colleen Bayer, President of Family Life International, New Zealand. In her message, Ms. Bayer gently says two crucial things to the pope. First, she says that it’s not irresponsible to have more than two children, a reference to the pope’s infamous “breeding like rabbits remark.” She then goes on tell the pope that she would love for him to meet her special needs children, including her child with Down Syndrome.
In the United States at least, the abortion rate for pre-born Down Syndrome babies hovers around 90 percent. Couple that chilling statistic with the pope’s imprimatur for abortifascient birth control mechanisms to avoid having babies with Zika virus-related microcephaly and the urgency, and poignance, of Ms. Bayer’s plea comes into sharp relief.
As this video appeal comes from conservatives within the Catholic Church, the remarks from some of the video participants expressing alarm over the pope’s perceived concessions to the LGBT community – and they are wrong perceptions indeed – will not be welcomed by all, including me. Nonetheless, the video is well worth viewing for all people who care about the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, and who are rightly alarmed that Pope Francis is tilting the Catholic Church in a direction more in line with secular thinking on the subject of human conception: namely that life begins when human beings say so.
The passing of Natalie Cole is shocking and sad beyond words. The only thing I can say for now is that perhaps God decided to take Natalie home at the very dawn of a new year, precisely so we could reflect on the gifts He bestows upon us, even as our world deals with all manner of evil. Natalie and her father were special gifts to our country, and indeed to the world. Heartbreaking as Natalie’s passing is, reflecting and rejoicing over God’s immense gifts to humankind, like the talents of Natalie and Nat King Cole, is actually a blessed way to start off a new year.
Rest in peace, Natalie. I love you. I miss you already, and I’m profoundly grateful that you shared not only your talent, but your beautiful heart, with the world.
Justices Scalia, Breyer, Alito, Kagan and Thomas chose not to attend Pope Francis’ address before Congress. The four other justices, Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, and one of my favorite people in the world, Sonia Sotomayor, did attend.
So far, no overarching theory has emerged as to this latest 5-4 Supreme Court split, and there may never be. Given the make up of the split, coming up with a theory would be difficult.
Scalia, a Catholic father of nine, could not have been too thrilled with Pope Francis’ reprehensible comments from earlier this year that Catholics need not breed like rabbits. I’d like to think that his four colleagues, including Kagan and Breyer, had the wisdom to see that no matter what our philosophical differences may be in the course of this life, there is never, ever an excuse to condescend other people’s families, and that their absence was a sign of solidarity of sorts with Scalia.
I’d also like to think that the four justices who did attend, including my favorite, Sotomayor, and who heard Pope Francis use his platform in our U.S. Congress to clearly condescend same-sex parented families, which he did at the close of the speech, will realize that investing in a person – including a basic investment of one’s time – who obviously feels entitled to condescend other people’s families does nothing for the good of democracy and our Constitution, and even less for the spiritual well-being of all.
Related article on Pope Francis’ address before Congress:
In yet another airplane interview, Pope Francis said to reporters and the entire world that “Catholics don’t need to breed like rabbits.”
Simply put, there are no words to adequately describe the heartlessness of that statement, no matter how he or his legions of yes-men may try to contextualize it.
So to all the big, beautiful and loving families of this world, whatever your creed, I say thank you for bringing love into the world. Each conceived soul is a gift from God, not an economic asset or liability on Pope Francis’ or Planned Parenthood’s spreadsheets.
One day people will see that. Until then, we must keep our hope alive, and rejoice in the love that does exist in this world, expressed in so many ways, including by parents whose hearts are filled with joy and excitement with the addition of each new child in the family.
(Oren Simcha Noah, Age 22, of Hoshaya, Israel)
They were men whose lives were cut short, and were doubtless some of the most hated people in the world, serving in the army of what is now one of the most hated countries in the world: Israel. Yet at this time of year-end reflections and media selections for “Persons of the Year,” this dissident blogger chooses a group of men whose loss I not only mourn, just as I do the loss of the far greater number of Palestinians, but who have won my total respect: the fallen soldiers of the IDF of 2014.
One need not offer a political blessing to the so-called “Operation Protective Edge,” which resulted in the deaths of nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, or for that matter offer one’s blessing to the current Israeli government’s broader military defense posture – I certainly do not – in order to appreciate the contributions these beautiful fallen men have made, not only to their country, the only Jewish state in the world, but to the basic decency of modern nation-states.
When nations send their young adults off to war, and those people are killed in war, it is right, and should be normal, that the nation grieves the loss of those young lives. To do the opposite – to not grieve as a nation – is to reduce those lives to mere cannon fodder. That, in a word, is ungodly.
Recently, the Catholic cable channel, EWTN, aired a program with the Rev. Paul Check, the executive director of Courage, a Catholic organization dedicated to helping same-sex attracted Catholics who desire to live according to the teachings of the Magisterium live celibately and, thus, find peace and happiness. While Rev. Check’s psychological and theological assumptions about homosexuality were as disdainful as any other conservative Christian, Catholic or Protestant, he made one point that those of us who view homosexuality as a precious, naturally non-procreative gift from our heavenly Creator ought to consider: nouns, and sexual identity labels in particular, have their limitations in the spiritual realm. Amen to that.
Though religious conservatives like Rev. Check may never see homosexuality, like this writer does, as God’s natural offering to men and women who desire sacred, naturally non-procreative sexual union, that does not mean these conservatives don’t have anything to offer human sexual progress, and progressives like myself: namely, people who have no hang-ups about the human body and sexual desire, but who wish all people would stop denigrating the lives of others, including their sex partners, and especially our unborn baby brothers and sisters.
A photo from Reuters/CNS of the Central American refugee children, sleeping at a federal immigration processing center in Brownsville, Texas. These centers across the Mexico-U.S. border are the real cities of Los Angeles of our time.
Fifty years ago today, just a few weeks before Martin Luther King Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech at the March on Washington, a miracle happened: a baby girl was born. She would grow up to become a global superstar, but most importantly, she would be faithful, even in the midst of inner battles, to the mission God gave her: to bring love and joy to this world through the gift of song. The baby girl’s name was Whitney Elizabeth Houston. Her family would call her, simply, Nippy.
Over a year has gone by since Whitney passed away at 48 years of age. For many of us, the sorrow will really never go away. And yet, for me anyway, the more that time passes, the more that sorrow swims alongside a flowing, gushing, and unadulterated gratitude: gratitude for Whitney, and gratitude for God for giving our world such a miracle.
Down below is a link to one of Whitney’s 1991 hits, Miracle. This line from the song resonates with me now as it did back then:
Nothing should matter
Not when love grows inside you
A voice of love is crying out
Don’t throw love away
There’s a miracle in store…
Ironically, on this day, August 9, we also remember the dropping of the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki in 1945. As Whitney sang in Miracle, we all have love – individual talents from the Creator – growing inside each and every one of us. It is always we human beings who throw away that love, who throw away the “miracle in store,” when we use our talents for war and other destructive purposes, or perhaps countenance or, quite commonly, live in fear of, those who do.
It is never, ever God who is throwing away the love that was put inside of us from the moment we were conceived.
It may sound like a stretch, but perhaps God decided that baby Whitney should be delivered into the world on August 9, simply to get us to stop throwing our hands up in the air when war and injustice take place, asking – and indeed shouting – “Why God why!”
God is always, always doing his part: giving us miracles of love inside each of us to work with, every single day. Miracle upon beautiful miracle.
Despite her battle with the dreadful disease of addiction, Whitney never threw away her miracle. Even in the last few years of her life, when her voice was wearing down, she still was faithful to her call – singing from the depths of her soul the best she could. She gave, and gave, and gave.
Generations yet to come will be blessed by God’s generosity that came in the form of this beautiful person, just as we have been so blessed.
Happy 50th Birthday, and rest in peace, Whitney Elizabeth Houston. Yes, we will always love you.
Here is Whitney’s video for the classic song, Miracle: