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Urbi Et Orbi 2013

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours (Lk 2:14)

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Christmas!

I take up the song of the angels who appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem on the night when Jesus was born. It is a song which unites heaven and earth, giving praise and glory to heaven, and the promise of peace to earth and all its people.

I ask everyone to share in this song: it is a song for every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty.

Glory to God!

Above all else, this is what Christmas bids us to do: give glory to God, for he is good, he is faithful, he is merciful. Today I voice my hope that everyone will come to know the true face of God, the Father who has given us Jesus. My hope is that everyone will feel God’s closeness, live in his presence, love him and adore him.

May each of us give glory to God above all by our lives, by lives spent for love of him and of all our brothers and sisters.

Peace to mankind

True peace is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely “façade” which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment, starting from God’s gift, from the grace which he has given us in Jesus Christ.

Looking at the Child in the manger, our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think too of the elderly, to battered women, to the sick… Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!

Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling hatred and vengeance. Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid. We have seen how powerful prayer is! And I am happy today too, that the followers of different religious confessions are joining us in our prayer for peace in Syria. Let us never lose the courage of prayer! The courage to say: Lord, grant your peace to Syria and to the whole world.

Grant peace to the Central African Republic, often forgotten and overlooked. Yet you, Lord, forget no one! And you also want to bring peace to that land, torn apart by a spiral of violence and poverty, where so many people are homeless, lacking water, food and the bare necessities of life. Foster social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused numerous victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state.

Prince of Peace, in every place turn hearts aside from violence and inspire them to lay down arms and undertake the path of dialogue. Look upon Nigeria, rent by constant attacks which do not spare the innocent and defenseless. Bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favourable outcome to the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Heal the wounds of the beloved country of Iraq, once more struck by frequent acts of violence.

Lord of life, protect all who are persecuted for your name. Grant hope and consolation to the displaced and refugees, especially in the Horn of Africa and in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Grant that migrants in search of a dignified life may find acceptance and assistance. May tragedies like those we have witnessed this year, with so many deaths at Lampedusa, never occur again!

Child of Bethlehem, touch the hearts of all those engaged in human trafficking, that they may realize the gravity of this crime against humanity. Look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers.

Lord of heaven and earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity. Help and protect all the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines, gravely affected by the recent typhoon.

Dear brothers and sisters, today, in this world, in this humanity, is born the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Let us pause before the Child of Bethlehem. Let us allow our hearts to be touched, let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God; we need his caress. God is full of love: to him be praise and glory forever! God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness.

The Holy Father said the following words in Italian after giving his urbi et orbi message:

“To you, dear brothers and sisters, gathered from throughout the world in this Square, and to all those from different countries who join us through the communications media, I offer my cordial best wishes for a merry Christmas!

On this day illumined by the Gospel hope which springs from the humble stable of Bethlehem, I invoke the Christmas gift of joy and peace upon all: upon children and the elderly, upon young people and families, the poor and the marginalized. May Jesus, who was born for us, console all those afflicted by illness and suffering; may he sustain those who devote themselves to serving our brothers and sisters who are most in need. Happy Christmas!”

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What are we to fight for?

My friend and I had a brief discussion today about the proper role of Christians in politics, a discussion that was prompted by the common secular refrain that Christians should avoid trying to “impose” their beliefs on others through legislation, i.e. voting. We could probably argue for all eternity about the true meaning of the concept of being “in the world and not of the world” (a paraphrase of John 15.19). It is my belief that in order to reconcile our command to make believers of all with our command to live by Christ’s teachings, we cannot exclude introducing those we hope to be believers to those teachings. From a more practical, just standpoint, why do secularists get to do so much belief imposing while we should sit aside and wait for God to act?

CrusaderWait for God to act, right? Yes, pray, but how does God typically act? Is it a thunderbolt from the sky? A booming voice in the clouds? He acts through us! We act on His behalf and yes that even includes voting, political activism and other uses of the inherent power of the state and the mechanisms set up by the state for individuals to act as policy influencers.

My friend argues that not acting, as an opportunity to bring upon persecution (say the state decides to ban Christianity) is a worthwhile step as that persecution is what we should welcome. But here is the problem. If we sit back and never say “Abortion is wrong! Gay marriage is wrong! Capital Punishment, unjust war, and ignoring the sick and poor are all wrong!” we will never be persecuted! Persecution only comes when someone stands up to the wrongdoers. Christians sitting on their collective butts will not bring persecution and it certainly will not bring Parousia. What it will bring is irrelevancy and, I would guess, Satan’s will being done on a massive scale.

I am not calling for Christians to be Republicans or Democrats, liberals nor conservatives. The teachings of Christ are decidedly independent and non-partisan. Even better than the one time promise of our current American President, Christ is absolutely pre-partisan. I am calling for Christians to be vocal outside of the Church instead of allowing this world we are in to be shaped by those who may well not be of the one we claim to inhabit. You may shy away from imposing your beliefs on others but you are naive to think others–today’s secularists are not very much different from the Caliphs that prompted the Crusades–are not going to be very enthusiastic about imposing their beliefs on you.

Lila Rose and James O’Keefe: When is it OK to lie?

Lila RoseJames O'Keefe

I have thought about how to write this for some time now and I admit that I still find myself in an ethical quandary. Here is some background.

James O’Keefe is the person who did undercover videos that exposed the group ACORN, showing that some ACORN employees had broken laws, ultimately leading to the end of the entire organization. I have argued this with a few friends of mine and my argument rests on the basic premise that by using a hidden camera and claiming he is someone he is not while claiming he wished to procure a service he didn’t really wish to procure, O’Keefe was, basically, lying. Legally, he was committing fraud. If he were a law enforcement officer, he would be guilty of entrapment. But, most simply, what he was doing was a blatant violation of the Eighth Commandment.

You shall not bear false witness against your
neighbor.

You may be less familiar with Lila Rose. She is the leader of a group named Live Action. Before I go on, there is one thing to clarify: Lila Rose is very clearly and very publicly a Catholic Christian. I cannot speak at all to if James O’Keefe is a Christian. Lila and her group have went to locations of Planned Parenthood and, using hidden video cameras, posed as people they are not and asked for services they didn’t actually want. This has led to quite a few problems for Planned Parenthood, including videos of their employees offering to break the law and cover up instances of sexual abuse of teenage girls. All of these videos have been the main impetus behind the current effort to de-fund Planned Parenthood. There is no dispute that Lila and her organization, like James O’Keefe, have lied in these Planned Parenthood exposès. Fraud. Entrapment. Lies. There is no question that these are lies, and violations of the Eighth Commandment, either. In both cases, there is a misrepresentation of the truth in a relation with another person, and the intent was to deceive. The Church does not let anyone off the hook in its teachings here.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to be morally and intellectually consistent. I have tried to explain away my discomfort with an argument from ends. O’Keefe was lying to further a partisan political goal, Rose is lying to save innocent lives. Their means may be the same, but their ends are far different. I am not entirely convinced that there isn’t some merit to that distinction and we have long accepted lies to save; the priests who forged birth certificates during World War II in order to save Jews, police undercover actions and spying are all examples of how we condone lying by not only our government but even our clergy in order to save the innocent. But would I tolerate Lila Rose’s lies if Planned Parenthood didn’t do abortions, but still provided birth control, something that is still intrinsically evil but not at the level of abortion?

So the disappointing finale of this post is that I still haven’t decided, for sure, what I think. I think I am still forming my conscience on this one, and even great thinkers within the Church today are split on this issue. So, in that case, I guess it’s OK that I can’t decide.

Naked pictures are no reason to not hire me

Google search of "What kind of bad things has Megan been doing?"

During my Catholic Moral Theology class yesterday, our professor spoke about how the majority of human resources managers now believe it is acceptable to Google a job candidate as part of the interview process. He was speaking in the sense of how we should be careful about what we put on our blogs, Facebooks and Twitters as those things stick around, especially if our real names are attached to them in any way. He used the rule of if you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it, don’t put it online. This lead to an even more in depth discussion among me and some friends today and there seem to be three basic opinions: the hard line, the “well it depends” position, and my position.

The hard line says you are responsible for what goes online, you know it is visible to other people, and if you lose your chances at a job, that is your own fault. The thought here is that employers have a right to weed out possible bad employees in any way possible.

The “well it depends” position tends to agree with the hard line, but says employers shouldn’t jump to conclusions and should give applicants a chance to explain things found online.

My position is this: Using Google to look up a job candidate is a form of stalking. It is morally reprehensible and I would never accept or continue in a job with a company that used such tactics. I know from personal experience that things can be said online that are harmful to someone and those things often occur through no fault of our own. A few weeks ago, I made a comment on Mashable calling people on “4chan” criminals for attacking and shutting down websites over stealing movies and songs. By the end of the day, they had made posts on their little area of 4chan using my full, real name, my picture and they had found an out of context tweet to say I supported that girl throwing puppies into the river. Of course some of them also commented on my Youtube that they had killed my cat, but the fact that 4chan is made up, generally, of some rather vile people is beside the point. If someone Googles my name, they can see “Oh, Megan, she favors drowning puppies, let’s not hire her.” Not only do we need to account for malicious attacks by others, we need to be able to overlook people’s behavior on their own free time. If a girl puts up a naked picture of herself on Facebook, that has nothing to do with the type of employee she will be. How many of the people doing the hiring will stand up to having their lives inspected?

I remember having a discussion about this with my dad, who is an attorney who practices in employment and labor law as a defense counsel for corporations. I remember this quote from him when we talked about this issue: “If a company routinely uses Google to check out potential employees, I know some great plaintiff’s attorneys who would like to depose their management.” This is his point about why companies shouldn’t do this. Imagine you interview someone and it goes well, you think you may hire them. Then you do a Google search that leads you to Facebook, Twitter, whatever. Through that, you find out the person has AIDS. For totally different reasons, you decide to hire someone else, but the person finds out you do the Google searches. What are the odds, that when you end up at your deposition, you will get asked about AIDS and if that had anything to do with your hiring decision? The odds are about 100%. Doing a search is making it likely that a company will find out information about someone that they are not supposed to know when it comes to hiring people; information about disabilities, religion, and even sexual orientation. My point is, I am not just some whining girl who does not want to be held accountable as someone at school called me. Companies that do this are not only acting immorally, they are acting stupidly, and acting stupidly in this area means they probably act stupidly in most other areas.

The internet doesn’t mean we have given up our privacy or the privilege of doing dumb things and being forgiven.

I’m not

Stupid. You have a different life experience than me, and probably more life experience. That doesn’t mean that you are more intelligent or capable than I am. My grandmother has far more life experience than you and she doesn’t go around calling you stupid.

A cynic. People are always capable of doing better and they usually come through. I don’t believe in questioning the motives of others unless they have given me a good reason to do so.

Sarcastic. If you have known me for any length of time, you know of my contempt for sarcasm; I consider it a tool of an uncreative mind and, even more certainly, a serious lack of writing skill.

Confident. The confident girl you see here does not actually exist. I push myself to do things but so much of my time is spent in doubt.

Thick-skinned. You really don’t know how easy it is to make me cry. I wish it wasn’t and I wish I wasn’t usually lashing out at people through tears.

Calm. I’m anti-calm. I am alternately excited, moody, angry, forgiving, bellicose and at any time in mid meltdown or temper-tantrum.

I’m not.

Outgoing

Hard

Big

Tall

Sexy

Charismatic

Artistic

Tactful

Exciting

Ready.

Will Smith

If the movie is 1% good tomatoes (or 99% rotten tomatoes…I forget how the tomato system works), directed by someone whose previous work is made up entirely of commercials for Vern Fonk Insurance (if you live near the Pacific Northwest you know them) and has a soundtrack by first round Idol losers I will likely not go see it unless…it stars the one and only…ladies and gentlemen…

Mr. Will Smith

Will Smith

Don’t even try to tell me there is an actor who combines handsomeness, intelligence, humor, grace, sensitivity, and toughness any better than Will. In Hollywood terminology, it is said that he is the one actor who can “open” a movie better than any other. His movies make more at the box office, on average, than any other actor. Independence Day, Men In Black 1 and 2, I am Legend, I Robot, Hancock, Seven Pounds, Enemy of the State, The Pursuit of Happyness. Will has only appeared in 19 movies, a low amount for most actors, and only the first two didn’t make over $100 million.

Funny Will (bad language!)

What makes a great actor? Maybe being the star of a huge movie where you are the only person on the screen for about 2/3 of the film as Will does in I am Legend. And then, when he is actually on screen with another person, Will startles and amazes me.

I don’t like movies with cursing, and I don’t care for scary movies or movies with a lot of violence yet I can watch Hancock, or I am Legend again and again. And I do, plus I also have I Robot, both Men in Black, and Seven Pounds on DVD. Because of Will. Are there any actors that will cause you to see a movie, no matter how bad it looks, just because they are the star?

Cardinal Bertone is right. Gays are responsible

Apparently gay activists are outraged over comments from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone regarding homosexuality and the Church sexual abuse scandals. It doesn’t take much at all to get activists outraged about anything, given that manufacturing outrage is the raison d’être of anyone calling themselves an activist. But in this case, the outrage (as it usually is) is misplaced. There is nothing incorrect about what the Cardinal said:

“Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relationship between celibacy and pedophilia but many others have demonstrated, I was told recently, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia.”

The vast majority of boys, approximately 86%, who are sexually abused are abused by men. That, by definition, makes the act not only an act of pedophilia, but an act of homosexuality. Given that the vast majority of victims of abuse in the Church are boys, and the perpetrators are all men, simple logic tells us that homosexuality is a driver behind the acts committed by the priests. The Cardinal stated there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia. The facts back him up. In my opinion, there is no reason to think that people who choose that lifestyle are not more more likely to engage in other “deviant” behaviors. Perhaps gay activists should worry less about being outraged by people telling the truth and focus on helping address the problem?

But that will not get them any headlines on CNN.

http://scrambledmegsntoast.xanga.com/725367518/cardinal-bertone-is-right-gays-are-responsible/

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