Top Catholic Tweets – July 3, 2015

With the Supreme Court decisions, global terrorism attacks, Greece & Puerto Rico bankruptcy, Pope Francis’ travel plans, and reactions to the new papal encyclical — I have never seen such a flood of social media reacting to these issues, and it was hard to keep up with it all.  Following are what I hope are meaningful stories that show perspectives from all sides of these important cultural & spiritual issues.  It was interesting that the Vatican Communications office was restructured this week with a new Moto Proprio from Pope Francis that will now emphasize a greater role for digital media. This week there are special sections for:  Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marraige, Care for Creation and Laudato Si’, and details released about Pope Francis’ visit to America.

Today is the Feast of St. Thomas the apostle.  Don’t doubt your Faith in Jesus Christ!  One of the most beautiful messages of Christ is in the Gospel of John 20:24-29 (Jesus and Thomas):

Jesus said to him, “You have believed because you have seen me.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”  John 20:29 (RSV 2nd Ed.)

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

May God Bless America this July 4th, and grant us courage to live the Gospel Life and prayers for the Fortnight for Freedom to protect Religious Liberty.

Pax Et Bonum,

John

Image:  CatholicTV airing the Mass on July 4th for the Fortnight for Freedom at 12pm ET

Image: CatholicTV airing the Mass on July 4th for the Fortnight for Freedom at 12pm ET

Top Catholic Tweets for July 3, 2015

  • Papal Tweet: “How wonderful it is to proclaim to everyone the love of God which saves us and gives meaning to our lives!” (Pope Francis, June 30th)
  • Vatican Panel Recognizes Oklahoma Priest as Possible 1st American Martyr (Aleteia) ow.ly/ORn7S
  • Father Mychal Judge, O.F.M. statue unveiled in East Rutherford (NorthJersey.comow.ly/ORmBb
  • Pope Francis approves the decrees for canonization of Louis & Zelie Martin – parents of Little Flower, & professed to Secular Franciscan Order (Vatican Radio) ow.ly/ORZNT
  • Pope Francis promulgates Motu Proprio instituting the ‘Secretariat for Communications’ ow.ly/OSGZN
  • ACTION ALERT:  Save Blessed Junipero Serra, the first Hispanic saint in the United States (CitizenGO) ow.ly/OT3M9
  • Prayers and condolences for victims of terror attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait, and France (Vatican Radio) ow.ly/OTxhE
  • Beautiful Prayer Videos – Our Father, Nicene Creed and more… (California Network/Catholic Online) ow.ly/OTBCx
  • Video: Catholic grandparents pass on the faith (CNS) ow.ly/OUBZn
  • Paraguayan bishop ousted by pope scrutinized for spending in Paraguay (AP) ow.ly/OU5Rs
  • Changes in the Pallium Ceremony on June 29 encourage greater participation of the faithful (Salt + Light Blog) ow.ly/OUwyg
  • Video: Ohio’s House of Miracles (GloriaTV) ow.ly/OUCFn
  • 5 Extraordinary Eucharistic Miracles that Left Physical Evidence (With Pictures!) | ChurchPOP ow.ly/OVPuE
  • Tattoos aren’t just a fashion statement for Egypt’s Copts | Crux ow.ly/OW2rU
  • Supreme Court upholds lethal injection procedure (The Washington Post) ow.ly/OW97j
  • Historic meeting between pope and patriarch could be near (Deacon Greg Kandra – Patheos) ow.ly/OWz0u
  • Milwaukee Art Museum’s embrace of condom portrait of pope draws disgust (Journal Sentinel) ow.ly/OWzxo
  • Katy Perry and Elderly Nuns Fighting For Control Of Spectacular Los Feliz Convent (Curbed LA) ow.ly/OXQUD
  • Short Video: Stir into flame the gift of god (Archdiocese of Cincinnati) ow.ly/OXSJu
  • Vatican details of pope’s trip July 5-12 to South America (CNS) ow.ly/P6o5f
  • These nuns are making the Pope’s vestments for his Ecuador visit on July 6-7 :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) ow.ly/OZgU8
  • The Catholic Church in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay (News.va) ow.ly/OZuNp
  • Chewed or brewed: A brief history of Popes and coca leaves :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) ow.ly/P148b
  • Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for July (News.va) ow.ly/OZmwt
  • Pope’s visits to Cuba, U.S. to highlight families, charity, tolerance | CNS top stories ow.ly/OZy5d
  • Blessed Alberione’s Prayer before Using Social Media (Sister Anne Flanagan, D.S.P.) Nun Blog ow.ly/P0jaM
  • 10 Commandments statue must be removed from state Capitol, Oklahoma Supreme Court rules (KOCO.com) ow.ly/P0qZj
  • Buddhists, Catholics call for closer cooperation on shared values (Vatican Radio) ow.ly/OZ2XP
  • ‘He’s Jesus Christ’: Doctor who works where others have fled is driven by his Catholic faith | Crux ow.ly/P1eS4
  • Mosque aids Catholic church that was vandalized (Deacon Greg Kandra – Patheos) ow.ly/P2hJL
  • Kudos to Archdiocese of Cincinnati as it launches Food for All campaign | Catholic Telegraph ow.ly/P2rP1
  • The Pope expresses his closeness to Greece in time of crisis (Vatican Radio) ow.ly/P2sKu
  • Junipero Serra: saint or not? | National Catholic Reporter (to be canonized in Washington DC on Sept. 23rd) ow.ly/P2xEf
  • Why Junipero Serra’s canonization is important for the new evangelization (CNA) ow.ly/P3gCa
  • Supreme Court Protects Pennsylvania Charities from HHS Mandate (NCRegister.com) ow.ly/P2OYf
  • Lou Holtz Rocks It at Franciscan U #Steubenville (Lisa Hendey – Patheos) ow.ly/P2Put
  • Display of Flags in Catholic Churches (USCCB) ow.ly/P3dJO
  • Video: How to Make It to the Doors of Heaven (Aleteia) ow.ly/P3CtS
  • Pakistani Blasphemy Law: It is illegal to send a text message that reads ‘Jesus’ (Rome Reports) ow.ly/P5Vjg
  • Pontifical University Plans to Offer Degree in Child Protection by 2016 (NCRegister.com) ow.ly/P6mS3
  • The Episcopal Church approves religious weddings for gay couples after controversial debate (The Washington Post) ow.ly/P6r6e
  • Prayers for Nigeria: Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kill 97 people in Nigeria attack (Reuters) ow.ly/P6z4t
  • NEW Fund that supports the rescue of Middle Eastern Christians in Iraq & Syria (The Cradle Fund) ow.ly/P7mbu

Many Stories and Opinions on the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage:

  • Supreme Court redefines marriage throughout US by a 5-4 decision (CNA) ow.ly/OQ7Oh
  • How Should Christians Respond to the Court’s Decision on Same-Sex Marriage? (Fr. Dan Horan, O.F.M – America Magazine) ow.ly/ORl79
  • Statement on Supreme Court Marriage Decision (Fr. Sean Sheridan, T.O.R. – Franciscan University of Steubenville) ow.ly/ORowp
  • Things Are Going to Get Very Tough, Very Quickly, for the Church and Her Allies (Monsignor Charles Pope – NCRegister.comow.ly/ORlor
  • A disappointing decision by the Supreme Court (Cardinal Seán O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap. Blog) ow.ly/OTGkn
  • Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine (LifeTeen.com for Catholic Youth) ow.ly/OU2bg
  • Statement by Virginia’s Bishops Paul S. Loverde & Francis X. DiLorenzo on Supreme Court Marriage Decision (VCC) ow.ly/OQl1G
  • Atlanta archbishop responds to US Supreme Court decision (Georgia Bulletin) ow.ly/OS0kn
  • Detroit-area Catholic leaders urge gay marriage supporters to skip Communion (Detroit Free Press) ow.ly/OU3At
  • What the Catholic Church does (and does not) teach about same-sex marriage (Jennifer Manning – CNA) ow.ly/ORnq2
  • Supreme Court Decision on Marriage “A Tragic Error” Says President USCCB ow.ly/OQoCd
  • Now’s the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions (TIME) ow.ly/OU38H
  • 13 Powerful Pope Francis Quotes Defending Marriage and the Family | ChurchPOP ow.ly/OQAgg
  • Stephen Colbert Roasts Justice Scalia – Then Dares Him To Be a Guest on The ‘Late Show’ | Alternet ow.ly/OU4FQ
  • Gay Marriage, Love, and Lessons from Canada (Lisa Mladinich – Amazing Catechists) ow.ly/OTIuC
  • We’ve Been Here Before: Marriage and the Room of Tears (Fr. Robert Barron – Word On Fire) ow.ly/OWcVi
  • Video: Archbishop Cupich on SCOTUS rulings (CNS) ow.ly/OWL5L
  • In Times Like these…A scriptural guide to for those who live in troubled and confused times. (Monsignor Charles Pope) ow.ly/OXOJP
  • List of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality – not complete w/ 41K Christian denominations (Wikipedia) ow.ly/P6DCw
  • LGBT Catholics: An Interview w Arthur Fitzmaurice (America Media) ow.ly/OXPIZ
  • The Great Marriage Martyrs: 8 Hero-Saints Who Can Inspire Us Today (ChurchPOP) ow.ly/OZ62H
  • How Will Kids Respond to Gay Marriage? (Video) : 5 Truths To Teach Your Children (Catholic Link) ow.ly/P7trL
  • Oregon Silences Bakers Who Refused to Make Cake for Lesbians & fines of $135,000 (The Daily Signal) ow.ly/P7Cbr
  • Video: Fr. Barron on the SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Ruling (Word On Fire) ow.ly/P6sCn
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White House celebrates Supreme Court decision by lighting White House & changing Social Media logos with rainbow colors.


Care for Creation & Laudato Si’

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  • Franciscan superior: With “Laudato Si,” Pope Francis asks us to take a step forward and act (Rome Reports) ow.ly/OVPWe
  • Lex credendi, lex vivendi: A response to Laudato Si’ (Sister Ilea Delio, O.S.F. – Global Sisters Report) ow.ly/P0Kgd
  • Laudato Si’ presents three shifts in Church teaching, says Catholic environmentalist (Vatican Radio) ow.ly/OS9jY
  • The Dalai Lama Endorses Pope Francis’ Climate Change Encyclical (Alternet) ow.ly/P0NkI
  • Good Infographics: What’s Really Warming the World? Climate deniers blame natural factors; NASA data proves otherwise (Bloomberg) ow.ly/OQD2r
  • Video: The #LaudatoWay: Five lifestyle changes you can make today (CNA) ow.ly/P3SLJ
  • Pope applauds ecology advocates in Rome from many religions (The Washington Post) ow.ly/OVXpT
  • The Ecology Encyclical: Care for Our Common Home (Salt & Light TV) ow.ly/OW0mZ
  • USCCB offering more resources on Laudato Si’ – Environmental Justice Program ow.ly/P2REG
  • Climate experts and activists: Broad, diverse alliances needed to fight climate change (Rome Reports) ow.ly/P3maD
  • Franciscan Friars Minor: Pope’s encyclical draws on his Latin American background (Vatican Radio) ow.ly/P5rgB
  • Laudato Si': Pope Francis’ Tolkienian Encyclical | TRUE MYTHS ow.ly/P6rml
  • Will Rising Heat in the Climate Change Debate Propel Action? (Fr. James Martin, S.J. – Wharton School) ow.ly/P7tfO
  • What Would Saint Francis Drive? (John Clem, O.F.S. – Call To Holiness) ow.ly/P4iOJ
  • A Prayer for the Earth – text by Pope Francis – music by Steve Clapper & Br. Al Mascia, O.F.M. ow.ly/P6ojG


Pope Francis’ visit to America

  • Pope Francis’ Official Schedule: 2015 Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to the United States of America (USCCB) ow.ly/OZ0PI
  • 2015 Papal Visit in the Archdiocese of Washington – details and sign-up for e-mail or text updates (by FlockNote) ow.ly/P15B9
  • Jailhouse is ready to rock for Pope Francis (Catholic Philly) ow.ly/P4iDi
  • YouServe – NEW Video contest to win tickets to Papal Mass in Washington, D.C. (Archdiocese of Washington) ow.ly/P4iYa
Official logo for Pope Francis' visit to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia this September

Official logo for Pope Francis’ visit to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia this September


 

Year of the Consecrated Life

  • Franciscan Sister:  Muralist says inspiration of Holy Spirit drives her creativity, artwork (CNS) ow.ly/OSSe3

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Prayers for the poor, the marginalized, the lonely, and the oppressed:

May Jesus comfort you in all your afflictions.
May He sustain you in dangers, watch over you always with His grace,
and indicate the safe path that leads to eternal salvation.
And may He render you always dearer to His Divine Heart
and always more worthy of Paradise.
Amen (by St. Padre Pio)

Image: shared by Larry  A. Carrigan, O.F.S.

Image: shared by Larry A. Carrigan, O.F.S.


 

John ClemTop Catholic Tweets are compiled by John Clem, O.F.S. who is the Director and Media Minister at Catholic Web Services (http://catholicws.com/). John is a professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order, and loves to share his talents in faith, technology, and journalism in service to the church. John’s blog is entitled Call To Holiness (http://www.calltoholiness.us/). Follow John on Twitter at@Catholicwebs, on Facebook and at Google+.  monkatcomputer

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Catholic Charities USA – Parish Social Ministry Training

Dr. Chris Gross talking during Theology on Tap

Dr. Chris Gross talking during Theology on Tap

Church of the Incarnation and the Diocese of Richmond was honored to host one of two regional gatherings for Social Ministry trainings held by Catholic Charities USA.  This two day conference offered many great speakers sharing their experiences and resources in social ministries serving in the local parish community and abroad.

Prayers sung in Haitian Creole before luncheon.

Prayers sung in Haitian Creole before luncheon.

Friday evening began with Theology on Tap with Dr. Chris Gross, who is currently teaching at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.  Dr. Gross offered a compelling talk about how Social Justice issues and Respect Life issues are linked and should not be separated.  Dr. Gross drew close ties between Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium and Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae  in making his case that social ministries need to be attentive to all social justice issues facing the modern church.   This was a theme that echoed among many speakers including the keynote talk on Sunday from John Carr.  John Carr teaches at Georgetown University and writes for America Magazine.  Mr. Carr spoke about how he help develop a guidebook for parishes to develop Social Ministries with the United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops called Communities of Salt and Light (link below).

 USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development uses this document as a lens through which to explore contemporary social ministry today and offers resources, best practices, and other materials to aid social ministry in a variety of settings.

 

Listen to John Carr’s great talk on how to help social ministries at parishes (MP3)

 

John Carr offering keynote speech to Parish Social Ministry conference

John Carr offering keynote speech to Parish Social Ministry conference

The Social Ministry conference also offered inspiring talks from Fr. Gerry Creedon, Chair of Peace and Justice Commission (Diocese of Arlington) who spoke about his amazing journey serving around the world in his talk “Pro-Justice, Pro-Life, Pro-Advocate.”  Dr. Kimberly Maczyk of Catholic Relief Services spoke about “Partnerships with Catholic Relief Services” and that there are many great resources offered by CRS for parishes (link below)

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Fr. Gerry Creedon leading small discussion groups.

 

Haiti Ministry

The Diocese of Richmond now has 53 parishes who are twinned with another parish community in Haiti.  The Haiti Committee reported on successes in their programs helping with poverty, healthcare, and education.  The Shalom Fund has been established to offer scholarships to students performing well in school, and just awarded funding to 15 students who will keep getting continued support, as long as grades remain in good standing.  JustHaiti coffee was served and sold at this event, which offers fair trade coffee supporting funding back to the local growers.  The Church of the Incarnation has a twinning project in Haiti with the Little Brothers and Sisters of the Incarnation, and have built a school, health clinic, and now support chicken farming which have enriched the community to help them be self-sustaining.

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Hispanic Ministry

There was a very good panel discussion on how parishes can help to bridge the divisions between Latino and Anglo parishioners within a parish.  Daniel Villar from the Diocese of Richmond’s Hispanic ministry recommended we need to help educate and understand each other’s cultures and to work toward integration not assimilation.  The conference offered simultaneous Spanish translations for attendees wearing a radio headset, and a variety of the conference talks were held in Spanish.  Fr. John Converset (Comboni missionary priest) also offered a wonderful talk about “Caring for God’s Creation” and his work with both in Latin America and Africa.

Many resources offered by many ministries and support organizations at conference.

Many resources offered by many ministries and support organizations at conference.

 

LINKS

Catholic Charities USA

Office of Social Ministries – Diocese of Richmond

Catholic Relief Services – CRS Resource Center

Haiti Ministry – Office of Social Ministries – Diocese of Richmond

Hispanic Ministry – Diocese of Richmond

Communities of Salt & Light (USCCB)

Diocese of Richmond Global Partnership Handbook

Parish Social Ministries Handbook – Catholic Charities USA

JustHaiti Coffee

Catholics Mobilizing Network

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Footprints for Peace

Moving-towards-a-nuclear-free-future

This past weekend, my parish–Church of the Incarnation, hosted a group called Footprints for Peace.  They are marching, running, and cycling from the nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to the UN Building in New York City, and stopped in Charlottesville overnight for refreshment and fellowship.  Footprints for Peace states on their website:

We are a global community of friends who are dedicated to creating change through peaceful action. We organize events throughout the world that bring together in solidarity a moving community to deepen our understanding of spiritual, cultural, and environmental issues. Our aim is to educate, inspire, and empower individuals and communities in building a sustainable future.

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Every five years, Footprints for Peace have walked as a group from Oak Ridge, TN, where the Hiroshima bomb was manufactured and where weapons of mass destruction are still being developed, to the UN Building in New York City, in time for the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review.   Our parish hosted a bountiful potluck dinner and breakfast for the group, and they shared stories in their lives of why they were making this pilgrimage:

  • One marcher was a Buddhist Monk for 40 years who was living only 100 miles from the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan.  He was very disturbed by the devastating long-term environmental and human impacts of the nuclear pollution in his home country and is hoping he will be heard in New York.  It was moving to hear his story and see his heartfelt devotion to march to the United Nations.
  • One speaker was from the aboriginal peoples of Australia.  She was very concerned about uranium mining in her homeland and the horrible impacts that have displaced communities.  She loves Australia, and wants to protect the people and environment, and you could really identify with the plight of so many people being displaced without regard for human life as she told her story.

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There was also a meaningful discussion about local environmental issues facing the local area:

  • Fracking of gas in West Virginia and to bring pipeline across Virginia by Dominion Power.
  • Additional nuclear reactor proposed at Lake Anna Nuclear Power Plant by Dominion Power.  The current reactors needed to shut down and repaired after a 5.2 magnitude earthquake in August 2011, and realization that reactors sit on the fault-line.
  • Mountain-top removal in nearby coal mining areas of Virginia and West Virginia.
  • Fracking approved in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

Encouragement was mutual with all in attendance to continue to lobby for issues to protect the environment.  It was amazing to see this ecumenical group from many nations and faiths united in a noble cause to end use of nuclear power and weapons for future generations.  I am really looking forward to the upcoming encyclical from Pope Francis, who will likely touch on the issues of protecting the environment and finding new ways to get power with renewable resources such as solar, geo-thermal, and bio-energy.  Please keep this group in your prayers as they will be marching to Three-Mile Island Nuclear facility for a prayer vigil, and then onto New York City at the United Nations building by April 25, 2015.

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LINKS

Footprints for Peace Website

Follow Footprints for Peace on Facebook

United Nations Non Proliferation Treaty Review April 27 – May 22

Environmental issues in Virginia from Sierra Club

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2015 March for Life in Washington, DC

March for Life 2015

2015 March for Life coming up Capitol Hill

This year’s March for Life was a success with 500,000+ people marching peacefully for the respect for life.   Christians came from many corners of America with many inspired young people, and also many other religious communities, colleges, and high schools.  The mild weather was a blessing that helped bring in larger crowds, a big change over the usually chilly Washington Winter.

Warming up the pipes before the March for Life

Warming up the pipes before the March for Life

 

Media at the March for Life:

In the media area was EWTN and The Catholic Channel (Sirius/XM Satellite Radio).  I did see Brian Patrick, Teresa Tomeo, and Gus Lloyd, who all are in the photo below.  It was great to see all the Catholic Media, but disappointed that there was very little main stream media coverage.  The Washington Post provided a half- page article the next day.

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Preparations at the stage in the National Mall before speakers rally.  March for Life Twitter and App were good sources of info to marchers during the day.

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Supporters at the Supreme Court moments before the March for Life arrives…

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There was one interesting moment this year.   There was a group of people protesting the March for Life wearing bloody trousers in support of “abortion on demand”.  Normally they are here each year and protest without incident on the side.  But this year they came across the street and physically blocked the march.  The March for Life groups were always peaceful and cooperated with the Capitol Police who handled the situation very professionally.  Nobody is allowed to block a public roadway and the protestors were in violation of that law, so the Capitol Police are required to issue three warnings before making an arrest.  All but about ten of the protestors gave up who were then taken away by Capitol Police in a peaceful resolution.

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March for Life obstructionists who refused three warnings, were arrested by Capitol Police to allow the March for Life to continue.  The whole process stopped the March for Life for about 30 minutes.   The March for Life participants were very understanding and many said we need to pray for these people also — that they have a change of heart in their understanding of life.

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The March went on peacefully and successfully!

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Our Lady of Fatima and Drum and Pipe Corp brought the March for Life to its conclusion…until January 22, 2016.

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Great Homily by Cardinal Sean O’Malley at the Vigil Mass at the 2015 March for Life at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

LINKS

March for Life

Personhood USA

Powerful Homily of Cardinal Sean O’Malley at the Vigil Mass

St. Thomas More Society – legal assistance

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Peace & War & Memorial Day

I write this blog today with a heavy heart knowing that there is so many places in the world that still suffer the ravages of war, but also hopeful there are great efforts for making peace in this world such as the messages and actions of Pope Francis.  Pope Francis condemned those who supply weapons and help prolong wars and request we pray for their conversion.  I pray that his efforts help bring peace to the many peoples and religions of the Holy Land.

Pope Francis in the Holy Land

Pope Francis arrive in Jordan.

Pope Francis arrives in Jordan.

This Memorial Day Weekend began with the historic pilgrimage that Pope Francis is making to the Holy Land.  Just before leaving on his trip the Vatican website began to offer an Arabic language version for the first time in history, showing the efforts Pope Francis is making with interreligious dialog.  When Pope Francis arrived in Jordan, he thanked for Jordan for their efforts for peace and helping the many refugees who have fled Syria in their war.  Here is a condensed version of his speech in the arrival in the Holy Land:

I thank God for granting me this opportunity to visit the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. …

Jordan has offered a generous welcome to great numbers of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, as well as to other refugees from troubled areas, particularly neighboring Syria, ravaged by a conflict which has lasted all too long. Such generosity merits the appreciation and support of the international community. The Catholic Church, to the extent of its abilities, has sought to provide assistance to refugees and those in need, especially through Caritas Jordan…

I take this opportunity to reiterate my profound respect and esteem for the Muslim community and my appreciation for the leadership of His Majesty the King in promoting a better understanding of the virtues taught by Islam and a climate of serene coexistence between the faithful of the different religions. I am grateful that Jordan has supported a number of important initiatives aimed at advancing interreligious dialogue and understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims. I think in particular of the Amman Message and the support given within the United Nations Organization to the annual celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

I would also like to offer an affectionate greeting to the Christian communities present in this country since apostolic times, contributing to the common good of the society of which they are fully a part. Although Christians today are numerically a minority, theirs is a significant and valued presence in the fields of education and health care, thanks to their schools and hospitals. They are able to profess their faith peaceably, in a climate of respect for religious freedom. Religious freedom is in fact a fundamental human right and I cannot fail to express my hope that it will be upheld throughout the Middle East and the entire world. The right to religious freedom “includes on the individual and collective levels the freedom to follow one’s conscience in religious matters and, at the same time, freedom of worship… [it also includes] the freedom to choose the religion which one judges to be true and to manifest one’s beliefs in public” (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 26). Christians consider themselves, and indeed are, full citizens, and as such they seek, together with their Muslim fellow citizens, to make their own particular contribution to the society in which they live.

Finally, I cordially invoke peace and prosperity upon the Kingdom of Jordan and its people. I pray that my visit will help to advance and strengthen good and cordial relations between Christians and Muslims.

I thank you for your courteous welcome. May the Almighty and Merciful God grant happiness and long life to Your Majesties, and may he bless Jordan abundantly. Salaam!

This visit to the Holy Land also marks 50 years since Pope Paul VI has made the same visit and met with Patriarch Anthenagoras to end 900 years of division between the Eastern and Western Catholic Churches.  Pope Francis will be meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew to continue the friendship and work toward Christian unity in the modern era.

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Pope Francis at the River Jordan (site where Jesus was Baptized)

Pope Francis at the River Jordan (site where Jesus was Baptized)

Memorial Day Weekend

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This is a special weekend for many Americans in honoring those who serve our country in the military, and especially for those who gave their lives in service to the United States of America. Archbishop Timothy Broglio serves the largest single diocese — the Archdiocese of the Military.  He offers this inspiring message in the following video from Catholic News Service in what Memorial Day means to Catholics:

Suicide in the US Military

One of the very sad issues facing many men in the military is the increasing problem of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression that has caused many to take their own lives through suicide.  The number of veterans committing suicide now is a 22 per day or 660 per month.  This is twice the rate in the general population, and an increase from just two years ago.  The military and veterans are trying to offer better education and supports.

Here in Charlottesville the Center for Peace and Justice collaborated with Vets for Peace to help raise awareness about the large suicide rate and to help with prevention.

My friend Evan is a vet, and in the following picture,  got a local artist to display 660 dog tags on a tree on our Downtown Mall Plaza to represent visually the impact of how many people commit suicide every month in America.

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Veterans for Peace — 660 Dogtags on tree represent the monthly suicide rate in America currently.

Vets were also passing out the ACE card with instructions to family and friends of vets in how they can help prevent suicides.

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How can we change the world towards making peace?

PRAYER, ACTION, & ADVOCACY:

Making peace is a hard task, and actually even harder than making war, BUT it can be done.  First, I think that the power of prayer can help, and one of the best prayers is the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen

 

Second, we can take individual action to help working towards peace and healing.  We should be engaged in government to advocate for peace – maybe a letter to a congressman, or attending a rally, standing up to talk publically to show action for peace.

 

Third, we need to have better advocacy for peace.  There are too many lobby groups in Washington for making war, and the military companies who make weapons have too powerful a lobby at this time.   We need to personally & financially support groups locally and in Washington, that make efforts for peace to match the power of these opposing lobby groups–to have effect of legislators and change attitudes.  You can support groups like Pax Christi, USA,  Catholic Relief Services, Caritas, and World Beyond War.

LINKS

Custos of the Holy Land (Franciscans)

Pope Francis’ Visit to the Holy Land (Catholic News Agency)

Archdiocese of the Military, USA

Veterans Affairs Mental Health

Suicide Rate for Veterans (Center for Public Integrity)

Veterans for Peace

Pax Christi, USA

Caritas

Catholic Relief Services

World Beyond War

David Swanson (Peace Activist and Blogger)

 

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Archbishop Charles Chaput visits UVA

 

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., D.D.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., D.D.

We were very honored to have a visit in Charlottesville from Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., on February 18th, as a speaker at the St. Anshelm Institute for Catholic Thought at the University of Virginia.  Archbishop Chaput gave a very good talk entitled City Upon a Hill:  Augustine, John Winthrop and the soul of the American Experiment Today.  Archbishop Chaput has been a great advocate for American Catholics to know their role in being faithful citizens, and it is part of everyone’s call to holiness to be involved in making a free and just society.

Archbishop Chaput speaking at The University of Virginia's St. Anshelm Insitute of Catholic Thiught

Archbishop Chaput speaking at The University of Virginia’s St. Anshelm Insitute of Catholic Thought

Archbishop Chaput is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, and was the second Native American to be ordained bishop in the United States, and the first Native American archbishop. He chose as his episcopal motto: “As Christ Loved the Church” (Ephesians 5:25)  Archbishop Chaput has served as a bishop of South Dakota and worked in the church for Native American issues, and spoke about Indian Spirtuality and its good and bad points, and why many Native American’s are drawn to the love of Jesus Christ.  Archbishop Chaput has also served as bishop of Denver, and presently in Philadelphia.  I find it most interesting that he as a Franciscan Capuchin, and his fellow bishop (Cardinal Sean O’Malley) were both called to “rebuild the church” in two of the most challenging dioceses in America (Philadelphia & Boston) that were affected by scandal and corruption.  I am extememly proud of my fellow Franciscan bishops, and that Pope Francis, in choosing his name, to take on this task of renewing our beautiful Catholic Faith in the spirit of St. Francis “to rebuild God’s house.”

Archbishop Chaput was just two weeks earlier called by Pope Francis to join the new Pontifical Council on the Laity.  Archbishop Chaput spoke in his talk of the great importance of the laity to help with the church in evangelization, prayer, support, and active participation amongst everyone, including those in the secular world.  Archbishop Chaput said he does not know yet what he will be doing on this new council, but looks forward to the challenges ahead.  I was pleased to meet him after his talk, and wished him well and said that he will be in my prayers.

I encourage you to view his entire talk, because I can’t do it justice in my writing, and the Q&A afterward in link below.

LINKS

Video of Archbishop Chaput’s Talk

St. Anshelm Institute for Catholic Thought at UVA

Archbishop Chaput’s website at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Pontifical Council for the Laity (Vatican)

Previous Blog about Archbishop Chaput at the Fortnight for Freedom Mass in DC

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Cold Hard Truth — March for Life 2014

It was a cold five degrees today in Washington, D.C. for the 41st Annual March for Life, but that did not dampen the enthusiam for tens of thousands of people from across America advocating for the dignity of life from conception to natural death in this country.  I was very moved at the fortitude of so many people coming out in harsh weather conditions to fight for a noble cause in saving innocent life.  Life that is under constant threat regarding abortion, aging, healthcare, and developemental disability rights.  It is sad to report that the count is now up to 55 million babies murdered since the passage of Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973.

Many arriving at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for prayers and Masses.

Many arriving during snow storm at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for prayers and Masses.

The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

There were thousands of people who came to visit the National Shrine on Tuesday for many activities including, Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, and Confessions, and Prayer Vigil for Life that filled the many chapels and the Basilica with faithful from around the nation.  It was so upilifitng to see the youth of today practicing their faith so devoutly.

Pilgrims arriving to pray at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

Pilgrims arriving to pray at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

Blessed John Paul II Shrine

I then went to visit the Blessed John Paul II Shrine which is just a few blocks away from the National Shrine.  I was blessed to attend a Mass at the Shrine and the chaplain invited attendees to  venerate a new relic that was a piece of the vestment that Pope John Paul II wore when he was shot.  It was a moving experience for many, and especially this year when he will be officially canonized on April 27th (Divine Mercy Sunday) along with Pope John XXIII.  During our Mass there was a lot of construction noise as the Knights of Columbus are busily getting the Shrine ready for events in April.  There will be many events announced soon for the canonization including a Masses at the National Shrine and a procession of the Holy Eucharist up the road to the “Saint John Paul II Shrine.”  There will be a new 400 seat chapel unveiled for the canonization that includes a new sacristy and confessionals where the sacrament of reconciliation will be offered every day.  They are also remaking a 14,ooo square foot area in the basement featuring interactive displays on the life and teachings of Saint John Paul II, but unfortunately will not be ready until July.

Veneration of a new Blessed John Paul II relic (his vestment when he was shot).

Veneration of a new Blessed John Paul II relic (his vestment when he was shot).

March for Life 2014

I arrived early at 10am on the National Mall and was one of the first to see all the crews setting up the sound system.  I was really psyched to meet Matt Maher as he arrived for his sound check in fridged tempertures to play an accoustic guitar.  I have included a link to his last music album below from SoundCloud – definately worth a listen.

Matt Maher warming up for March for Life performance

Matt Maher warming up for March for Life performance

I was also priviledged to meet Gus Lloyd and Fr. Jonathan Morris from The Catholic Channel on XM/Sirius Satellite Radio.  Great to see them in action providing wonderful Catholic radio programming accross the nation.  I also met Teresa Tomeo, from EWTN, and seeing their camera teams in action offering live TV coverage interviewing many eager participants in the march.

Gus Lloyd braodcasting for XM/Sirius Satellite Radio

Gus Lloyd braodcasting for XM/Sirius Satellite Radio

Catholic New Media

The March for Life became more involved with using social media including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  The March for Life also unveiled a new logo for 2014.  There were also two new Apps that became good resources for the March for Life this year.

  • The March for Life App offered a list of events, maps, ticket links, news, video, take action, and education resources.
  • Nine Days for Life App offering a nine day novena from January 18-26.  It offered prayers, meditation, and suggested exercises of faith.  I also like that it offered the time of day you could select to get a reminder text sent to you from the USCCB.

New Ways in Saving Lives

Save The Storks Bus

Save The Storks Bus

Save the Storks is a new program offering mobile vans that offer loving support to women thinking about abortions.  The vans are equipped with a screen to watch supportive pro-life videos, and offer 3-D sonograms of their babies.  Pregnancy resource centers are able to park these units outside abortion clinics to show Christ’s love and compassion to help women in making a lifesaving decision.  Save the Storks is looking to grow this program to more communities, and has made a wonderful start in serving the Archdiocese of Boston over the past three years.

Interior of Save the Storks van.

Interior of Save the Storks van.

Lifeboat Coffee is a new coffee company that offers gourmet coffee in both ground and whole-bean.  All the proceeeds from the sale of these coffees go to help for the cause of the pro-life movenent.  You can find out more about their wonderful story and how to get their coffee at the link below.

LifeBoatCoffee

 

 

 

 

 

Bagpiper playing Hail Holy Queen

Bagpiper playing Hail Holy Queen

The Supreme Court

Monsignor Charles Pope in front of the Supreme Court

Monsignor Charles Pope in front of the Supreme Court

The crowds from many walks of life marched up Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court.  When I arrived with the other photographers before the crowd turned the corner, I was pleased to see my cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope there praying the rosary.  He is a wonderful priest for the Diocese of Washington, and is the main writer for the diocesan blog which now has many readers.  He recently rededicated the Ten Commandments monument which is just behind the Supreme Court which had been vandelized.  I continue to pray for the end of legalized abortions and the protection of innocent life in our country and thankful for so many people who came out for the 2014 March for Life — God Bless you all.

The Ten Commandments Monument

The Ten Commandments Monument

God’s Grace

I did have one other casualty on the March for Life — my iPhone battery.  It was so cold that it drained much quicker than anticipated.  I think the Holy Spirit intervened– while visiting a Starbucks, some very kind young people from Florida who were here for the March for Life, let me borrow their charger, which was a life-saver (God Bless you again).

Angels from Florida

Angels from Florida

LINKS

March for Life

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Blessed John Paul II Shrine

Matt Maher on SoundCloud

March for Life App (iTunes)

March for Life App (Google Play)

9 Days for Life Website

9 Days for Life App (iTunes)

9Days for Life App (Google Play)

Save the Storks

Lifeboat Coffee

Crowds Marching up Capitol Hill

Crowds Marching up Capitol Hill

 

March for Life 2014 up Capitol Hill

March for Life 2014 up Capitol Hill

 

A person's a person no matter how small (Dr. Suess)

A person’s a person no matter how small (Dr. Suess)

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WWJD = What Would Jesus Drive

 

2014 Pagani Huayra

2014 Pagani Huayra

I am a big fan of automobiles, and have always kept up with the latest innovations in the auto industry.  I have always wanted to drive an exotic supercar, but am content to motor around town in my 2005 Honda CRV.  Pope Francis has certainly been frugal with his mode of chosen transportation with a Ford Focus over the Mercedes-Benz Popemobile. Pope Francis recently wrote in the opening of his Apostolic exhortation The Joy of The Gospel:

1. The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.

2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.

The Catholic Church is NOT against the wealthy, we all need wealthy citizens to help in making a robust economy for a nation, as well the need to be generous in giving in charity.  I think that Pope Francis is saying that the disparity of the wealthy and the middle/poor class has gotten to be too great.  Does a wealthy person really need a home of 50,000 square feet, or a $1,400,000 automobile?  Could they buy something of fine quality and perhaps still have money left to give to charity or invest in jobs?

Here is a suggestion for the wealthy to live closer to living the Gospel Life that Pope Francis suggests.  Following is a video of one of the most expensive and exotic sports cars with a $1,400,000 price tag called the 2014 Pagani Huayra.   I admit that after viewing the video about this incredible hyper car, it creates a desire to own and drive one, BUT this is the type of excess that Pope Francis is preaching against.  This car will be owned by very few people, and employs very few people in its production and maintenance.

Now here is a video of the new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Z-51 with a $70,000 price tag,  which is still an incredible car with a much more reasonable price.

Could there be a happy medium for the wealthy that still allows for enjoyment of toys travel, and technology, and also helps the middle-class and poor?  Here is a suggestion to the wealthy in living the Gospel Life, that will bring driving joy, as well as a joy in life of giving to the needy:

  • Buy a 2014 Corvette Z-51 at $70,000 and help build a more just society with the savings.
  • Suggested donations & investments of $1,330,000 to charities and industries that help the poor and middle-class from remaining savings from buying a Pagani:
  1. Invest $1,000,000 in salaries for new or existing employees (helps economy & employment)
  2. Donate $200,000 to Catholic Charities (helping feed, shelter, and clothe many of the poor and homeless in many areas of the world including Haiti, Syria, Sudan, and Afghanistan)
  3. Donate $130,000 to St. Jude Children’s Hospital (helping pay for children who can’t afford needed healthcare)

This Christmas reminds me of a quote from Henry Ford who invented the mass production process for automobiles with the Model-T and believed in paying good wages, so his employees could afford to buy the products he manufactured.  Henry Ford sent the following Christmas message in 1923:

“Christmas stands for the human factor which makes life tolerable midst the hurry of commerce and production.  All of us need the annealing effect of Christ’s example to relieve the hardening we get in the daily struggle for material success.”

Henry Ford

Pope Francis has certainly been an inspiration with his choice of vehicles and purchased a Renault 4 that runs in bio-diesel, and requested that priests purchase modest cars for their use.

Pope Francis' Renualt 4

Pope Francis’ Renualt 4

My own pastor recently needed a replacement for his car, and purchased a Toyota Prius which is economical and environmentally friendly.  Apparently an artist agreed with this choice and made this mock-up ad for Toyota:

What Would Jesus Dive by Chris Dalton

What Would Jesus Dive by Chris Dalton

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May we all help to build a more just society in 2014 and the years to come.

God Bless,

John

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Greater Good Technology – NEW ministry

Greater Good TechnologyGreater Good Technology is a new ministry developed by Catholic Web Services to help give disadvantaged people access & training in technology.  We have developed a successful pilot program here in our hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.  Greater Good Technology’s program aims to help homeless people, by giving them a fair seat at the table to search for a job.

 Empowering those transitioning from homelessness

Today’s society requires modern communications to be on a level field for employment.  We train a Lead Training Mentor that targets 12 other men and women transitioning from homelessness to train.  The lead trainer receives a Google Chromebook with which to train his trainees and receives payment for each trainee they graduate that is verified by our online training system at Catholic Web Services.   Each trainee receives a Google gmail account, Google Voice number for email, begins to create a resume, and receives training on how to make calls online.

Successful Pilot

Catholic Web Services is successfully working with Howard, our first Lead Training Mentor, in the Charlottesville pilot program.  Our Director of Technology, Carl Stacy became friends with Howard through a local mentoring program. Howard wanted a way to give back to the community, the same community that had provided him assistance in his time of need, and was very enthusiastic about sharing his new technology skills with others to help them find employment.

We were thankful for an initial grant from the Lions Club, but need your help to grow this deserving ministry.  Please contact us if you are interested in bringing Greater Good Technology to your community.

 

Charlottesville’s Support Network for Homelessness

One of the reason’s this program works well is because it adds to a great support system of people and agencies who provide a network of services helping the homeless gain independence, housing, and employment.   Charlottesville’s system of supports has grown over the years and is getting better through the cooperation of our great provider groups: PACEM, The Haven, Lion’s Club, The Salvation Army, and county and city social services.

PACEM

PACEM is a grassroots organization that coordinates space and volunteers to provide shelter for individuals in our community who are homeless.  Charlottesville currently has no permanent shelter for the homeless, so the religious community united to help in the cause of sheltering the homeless during the cold months of the season.

More than sixty congregations in the Charlottesville area take turns opening their doors – setting up cots, serving warm evening meals, and providing companionship. Through PACEM, congregations of many faiths and community groups come together to address the need for shelter in our community.  The name, PACEM, is an acronym for (People And Congregations Engaged in Ministry). Pacem is also a Latin word meaning peace.

 

Director Tom Shadyac visiting his friends at The Haven

Director Tom Shadyac visiting his friends at The Haven

The Haven is a safe and welcoming place for the homeless and very poor of Central Virginia to be during the day. Opened for business on January 18, 2010, The Haven provides this community with a central place to receive vital services and get connected to social service providers.  The Haven came into being through the generosity of UVA alumni & Movie Director Tom Shadyack.  Tom came back to Charlottesville in 2006 to film the movie Evan Almighty, a hit comedy retelling of the Noah’s Ark story, and he gave proceeds of the film to buy an old city church to make it a “haven” for the poor and homeless.

The Haven provides meals, short-term storage, showers, laundry facilities, computer access, living room, community garden and referrals to on-site service providers offering substance abuse assessment, mental health peer support, financial literacy and counseling, legal assistance, public housing applications, resume development and job search coaching, health advocacy and navigation, social services such as food stamp screening.  It has been a wonderful asset to bring all the services under one roof, and Greater Good Technology is working to help with technology training to give these men and women an opportunity at a better life.

Help Us GROW! — YOUR SUPPORT NEEDED

We would like to continue this program and grow it to other communities, but we need your support.  Your help with financial support, and through prayers are very much appreciated.   We are seeing a great need to help the homeless and your support in any way helps us to keep our ministry going.  We are looking for people who could donate any size donations which are very much appreciated.  We are fundraising now through Christmas with an indiegogo crowd-source funding campaign.  You can contact Catholic Web Services Director, John Clem, if you have any questions:

John Clem, Director of Catholic Web Services

Office (434) 202-4297

e-mail:  jclem@catholicws.com

Please click here for secure donation to Catholic Web Services using Indiegogo Campaign & PayPal to support Greater Good Technology ministry

indiegogo for Greater Good Technology

LINKS

Greater Good Technology (Catholic Web Services)

PACEM (People And Congregations Engaged in Ministry)

The Haven

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Laura Ingraham at UVA Law

Laura Ingraham speaking at UVA Law School

Laura Ingraham speaking at UVA Law School

Laura Ingraham came to the University of Virginia Law School as an alumnus to speak about her work and experience in law and politics from a very personal perspective.   Laura was invited by The Federalist Society for Law Public Policy Studies to speak about politics and the public perception of the Supreme Court.  Maybe I was expecting to hear the same brash personality from FOX News, or from her conservative radio show, but really she offered a very honest and rational view of the state of America.  Laura was critical of Democrats, but even more so of her own Republican Party.

Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham

 

Laura shared with us that she is friends with both of the candidates for the Virginia Governors race,  Terry McAuliffe & Ken Cuccinelli.    She said that she goes to the same church as Terry McAuliffe, and often has friendly debates with him, even though they do not agree ideologically.  She said Ken Cuccinelli is a “good man,” but does not have a vibrant personality needed to win with voters.  Laura made clear that she thinks many of the people in Washington are well-intentioned politicians, but we need someone who can lead our nation and “wright the ship” from a $17-trillion deficit or disaster will come soon. She said she does not care what party a politician follows, she just wants to see America get leadership in place that will address the biggest issues of jobs, the economy, and liberty.

Laura is true patriot and wants to see a better future for her children, and very worried about the state of our nation.  Laura commented that the current problems with the Affordable Health Care website are representative of of the problems of the Obama administration, showing his lack of experience in running a business.  Laura said that our next president should have experience in leadership running a business, as a vital requirement of the Chief Executive.  Laura said she is not critical of Barrack Obama as a person, but rather about his lack of leadership skills needed for the office.  Laura did comment that the US Courts also need good leadership, and questioned the ruling by Supreme Court Justice Roberts on the Affordable Care Act.

Adoption

The most important thing in Laura’s life is her family.  Laura is a wonderful mother who adopted three children, and is a strong advocate for domestic and foreign adoptions.  Two of Laura’s children were adopted from Russia, where she had to use her legal skills and ability to speak the Russian language in their courts to save these children. Laura was recently outraged at the ban on foreign adoptions made by Vladamir Putin in Russia.  In response, she has started a charity to help promote a culture of supporting adoptions called Burning Both Ends.   Laura shows us bi-partisan leadership in partnering with Democrat Mary Landrieu for this wonderful cause. Great video below worth your time to view:

A Charitable Heart

Laura helps many charities, and shows a love of people with the many works of mercy and financial supports in her work.  Laura has been a supporter of the military with the Wounded Warrior Project, and a number of worthy causes for our troops.  Laura is a breast cancer survivor who helps others afflicted, and in finding a cure.  She is also a staunch supporter of life–from conception to natural death.  Following is a list of her worthy charities:

Laura Ingraham’s Favorite Charities

 

Convert to Catholicism

Laura is a recent convert to Catholicism.  Laura has a very strong faith, and it is wonderful that she shares her faith with her listeners on her radio show.  Laura is friend’s with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, and they both share time with their families and appear on each other’s shows.

Raymond Arroyo & Laura Ingraham

Raymond Arroyo & Laura Ingraham (photo Huffington Post)

Laura said she was very grateful of her experiences from living in Charlottesville, and attending the University of Virginia.  She said it gave her the skills and knowledge that has guided her well in life. It was an honor to listen to her talk tonight, and I join her in praying that we find leadership in America to help us all out of this mess.

LINKS

Laura Ingraham’s Website

The Federalist  Society

Burning Both Ends (adoption charity)

Great Blog:  SENATOR MARY L. LANDRIEU AND LAURA INGRAHAM UNITE IN BI-PARTISAN ADOPTION COALITION

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