Saturday, September 1, 2012

Meditation on the Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar

Today, September 1, is the First Saturday of the Month. The First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was first mentioned by Our Lady of Fatima on July 13, 1917. After showing the three children a vision of hell she said, "You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace... I shall come to ask for... the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays..." The First Saturday devotion is as follows:
It consists in going to Confession, receiving Communion, reciting five decades of the Rosary and meditating for a quarter of an hour on the mysteries of the Rosary on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. The Confession may be made during the eight days preceding or following the first Saturday of each month, provided that Holy Communion be received in the state of grace. Should one forget to form the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it may be formed at the next Confession, occasion to go to confession being taken at the first opportunity.
Jesus in the Garden
Today I wish to share my meditation on the Second Sorrowful Mystery:  the scourging of our Lord at the pillar.  This mystery of the Rosary has to do with the Passion of our Lord and how he suffered in reparation for our sins.  The Passion started of course, in the Garden of Gesthesame the previous night when our Lord endured untold agony as He prepared to take the sins of the world - past, present and future - onto himself as our perfect and complete Sacrifice to the Father. 

Shortly thereafter he was betrayed by Judas and taken prisoner by the Romans, who beat, mocked and spit upon him.  He was taken to the High Priest's house, where he was tried in a mock, totally illegal trial and found guilty of blasphemy against God.  They then took Jesus to Pilate, who wanted nothing to do with the execution of Jesus.  Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, as we are told in Luke 23:7-11:
Jesus before Herod Antipas
And when he [Pilate] understood that he [Jesus] was of Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him away to Herod, who was also himself at Jerusalem, in those days. And Herod, seeing Jesus, was very glad; for he was desirous of a long time to see him, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to see some sign wrought by him.  And he questioned him in many words. But he answered him nothing.  And the chief priests and the scribes stood by, earnestly accusing him.  And Herod with his army set him at nought, and mocked him, putting on him a white garment, and sent him back to Pilate.
Pilate, not happy that he now had to make a decision of what to do with Jesus, thought up the "brilliant" plan of scourging Jesus, hoping that the people would be satisfied with this and give up the idea of actually crucifying Jesus. 

The Romans had scourging down to a science.  From

Flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in eases of desertion) were exempt. The usual instrument was a short whip (flagellum) with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. Occasionally, staves also were used.  For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post. The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers (lictors) or by one who alternated positions. The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the lictors and was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death.  After the scourging, the soldiers often taunted their victim.
Roman whips used on Jesus
Medical Aspects of Scourging
As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim's back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and Subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock.  The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross.
My back is covered with cuts, as if a farmer
had plowed long furrows. (Ps. 129:3)
Scourging of Jesus
At the Praetorium, Jesus was severely whipped. (Although the severity of the scourging is not discussed in the four gospel accounts, it is implied in one of the epistles [1Peter 2:24]. A detailed word study of the ancient Greek text for this verse indicates that the scourging of Jesus was particularly harsh. It is not known whether the number of lashes was limited to 39, in accordance with Jewish law. The Roman soldiers, amused that this weakened man had claimed to be a king, began to mock him by placing a robe on his shoulders, a crown of thorns on his head, and a wooden staff as a scepter in his right hand. Next, they spat on Jesus and struck him on the head with the wooden staff. Moreover, when the soldiers tore the robe from Jesus' back, they probably reopened the scourging wounds.

Our Lord, the most innocent and the only perfect human being who ever lived, the One who created the Universe, suffered one of the most brutal beatings ever invented by man, with every inch of his precious Body covered in cuts, lacerations and bruises.  He did this all in reparation for our sins, offering it up to His Father and asking forgiveness for us. 

From Spiritual Combat by Lorenzo Scupoli:
WHEN A CONSIDERABLE length of time [as a half-hour, hour, or an even longer period] is to be spent in prayer, it is advisable to make a meditation on some feature of our Savior's life or passion; the reflections naturally arising from such meditation should then be applied to the particular virtue we are striving to attain.
If, for instance, you need patience, contemplate the mystery of your Savior scourged at the pillar. Consider first the blows and revilements hurled at Him by the soldiers as they brutally drag their innocent victim to the appointed place as ordered. Secondly, consider Him stripped of His garments, exposed to the piercing cold. Thirdly, picture those innocent hands, bound tightly to the pillar. Fourthly, consider His body, torn with whips until His blood moistened the earth. And finally, envision the frequency of the blows, creating new wounds, reopening others on that sacred body.
Dwelling on these or similar details, calculated to inspire in you a love of patience, you should try to feel within your very soul the inexpressible anguish so patiently borne by your Divine Master. Then consider the excruciating agony of His spirit, and the patience and mildness with which that agony was endured by Him Who was ready to suffer even more for God's glory and your welfare.
Behold, then, your Master, covered with blood, desiring nothing more earnestly than your patient acceptance of affliction; and be assured that He implores for you the assistance of the Heavenly Father that you may bear with resignation, not only the cross of the moment, but the crosses to come. Strengthen, therefore, by frequent acts your resolution to suffer, with joy; and, raising your mind to Heaven, give thanks to the Father of mercies, Who didst send His only Son into this world to suffer indescribable torments, and to intercede for you in your necessities.
Conclude your meditation by beseeching Him to grant you the virtue of patience, through the merits and intercession of this beloved Son in Whom He is well pleased.
When life seems to be overwhelming us and we feel powerless against the temptations and trials of this earth, it is good to meditate upon the suffering that our dear Lord offered for us so that we might be united to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and forgiven of the sin that so easily besets us.  The love of Jesus in offering his body for our reparation and to redeem us from hell is beyond our capacity to understand, but to catch just a glimpse of it should be enough to inspire us to say no to the devil and the world and yes to the great God of the Universe.

But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mitt Romney Disagrees with GOP Pro Life Platform

If you have  been paying attention to the news this past week, you are well aware of the fact that GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney has attacked Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri for saying that abortion should not be used in pregnancies resulting from rape.  Romney and others have used the convenient excuse of attacking Akin because he made the faux pas of using the words "legitimate rape", an admittedly stupid thing to do, and for which  Akin has apologized profusely.  But Romney's real disagreement with Akin has to do with the fact that Romney supports abortion in cases of rape, as he made very plain in an interview with CBS news.  This is in contradiction to the GOP Platform which opposes abortion in all cases, including rape or incest.  This is also in complete contradiction to the plain teaching of the Catholic Church, which teaches that abortion, the direct and intentional killing of an unborn child, is always intrinsically evil and should never be used. 

I have been told by good, devout Catholics that I must vote for Romney because he is our best chance of overturning Roe v. Wade.  Really?  This is what Romney said in this CBS interview.  ""Recognize this is the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court," he said. "The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years, but this is a matter in the courts. It's been settled for some time in the courts."  Romney says the matter is settled.  That doesn't sound like someone who wants to overturn this decision.  In fact, Romney says this matter is no more than a "distraction", just like the Chick-Fil-A matter was a distraction and not part of his campaign.

Here is an article from Life Site News regarding this interview:
Romney: ‘I’m in favor of legal abortion for health and life of mother,’ rape, incest
by Kathleen Gilbert

Tue Aug 28, 2012 09:19 EST
Comments (75)
Tags: abortion, election 2012, mitt romney

MICHIGAN, August 28, 2012 ( - GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney told an interviewer this week that he supports legal abortion in cases that threaten either life or health of mother, as well as rape and incest.

The former Massachusetts governor emphasized his differences with the GOP platform position on abortion, which embraces a pro-life position without exceptions, during a CBS interview at a campaign stop in Michigan.

“The platform as written at this convention for the Republicans does not allow for exceptions on abortion with regard to the health of the mother or rape or incest. Is that where you are?” asked CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley.

“No. My position has been clear throughout this campaign. I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother,” said Romney.
  [What does "health and life of the mother" mean?  This is completely consistent with the pro abortion forces.]

The candidate, expected to receive the Republican nomination on Thursday, said the abortion issue does not belong in the political arena and is a question for the courts: “But recognize, this is a decision that will be made by the Supreme Court. The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years, but this is a matter in the courts. It’s been settled for some time in the courts.”

“I’ve come down on the side of life [Really?  I hadn't noticed]. I respect people who have a different point of view. ... But this issue of life is an important one. And we have different views on this and people should consider them,” he said.  [A beautiful example of double speak.  Thank you, Mitt.]
The relevant portion of the interview is below.  If Romney is elected, ain't nothing gonna change.

The Lesson of John the Baptist: What Are You Willing to Die For?

"O God, who willed that Saint John the Baptist
should go ahead of your Son
both in his birth and in his death,
grant that, as he died a Martyr for truth and justice,
we, too, may fight hard
for the confession of what you teach. 
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."

(Collect from the Ordinary Form of the Mass)

Today we celebrate, both in the Traditional Calendar and the Contemporary Calendar of the Church, the Feast Day of the Martyrdom of John The Baptist, who was beheaded by Herod Antipas. Our Lord said of His cousin:  "Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist."  There are many reasons why John the Baptist is the greatest "born of women".  Taking a look at his life gives many clues.

John the Baptist was conceived and born  as the result of a miracle from God after his mother's child bearing years had ended.  His father was a priest in the temple in Jerusalem, a prestigious position, yet despite this lofty position, his parents had suffered their entire married lives from the social stigma of being childless.  Childless couples were viewed as being cursed by God, having done something to merit God's disfavor.  Even after John's birth, they no doubt still felt the pain of being judged by others.

Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary
and the baby John the Baptist
John the Baptist could have had a comfortable life as a priest in the Temple.  But he chose instead to go literally go off into the wilderness, rejecting all worldly comforts, and instead live with the outcasts of society - those who were deformed physically or mentally in some way, those whom society had rejected.  It is estimated that only 20% to 30% of the Jews were even allowed into the temple.  All the rest were, for various reasons, considered unclean and unfit to even enter the temple. John rejected a position with the elite of society and instead chose the weak and poor and those who "mourned", as our Lord described them.

The Preaching of St John the Baptist by
Alessandro Allori, 1601-1603
John the Baptist is often described as a sort of wild man, kind of frothing at the mouth and condemning everyone for being great sinners.  The fact is, he was the Mother Teresa of his day, taking care of those who had been rejected by the rest of society.  He had a great many followers because he truly loved and ministered to them. 

But, as the Gospels also tell us, he did not waste words in pointing out those who were oppressing the weak and poor, and told them, "Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father. For I tell you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire."  (Matt. 3:7-10). It is well to remember that John the Baptist may have personally known those he was condemning as he had once lived in Jerusalem at the temple with his parents.  So while John was very popular with the "common" people because of his great love for them, the Jewish leaders despised him because he called them out for exactly what they were and did not spare any words.

It is interesting to note that Jesus started his public ministry by being baptized by John the Baptist, this social and religious outcast, looked down upon by elite members of religious society. 

John the Baptist rebuking Herod and Herodias
But John didn't stop at the religious leaders.  He did not shy away from pointing out the political leaders when they were involved in evil.  That included Herod Antipas, who was married to his brother's wife, an evil and scandalous act, and John paid a heavy price for his fearless condemnation.  Mark 6:17-20:
For Herod himself had sent and apprehended John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias the wife of Philip his brother, because he had married her. For John said to Herod: It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. Now Herodias laid snares for him: and was desirous to put him to death, and could not. For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a just and holy man: and kept him, and when he heard him, did many things: and he heard him willingly.  
Herodias finally got her chance to get rid of John the Baptist at Herod's birthday party.  She had her daughter perform a particularly provocative dance for Herod, getting him into such a state that he promised her anything she wanted in return.  At her mother's prompting, she asked for the head of John the Baptist, who was being held prisoner.  Herod, knowing that he was killing a good and holy man, nonetheless cut off the head of John the Baptist.

The meditation from today's Magnificat  is from a priest who was executed by the Nazis on February 2, 1945 in Berlin, Germany.  His name is Father Alfred Delp, S.J.  Father Delp was part of the Resistance movement in Germany against Adolph Hitler.  Father Delp was arrested and imprisoned on July 28, 1944 by the Nazis after a major attempt on Hitler's life.  Although the Nazis were not aware of it, Fr. Delp took his final vows to the Jesuit Order on December 8, 1944 while in prison.  He wrote that day: It was too much, what a fulfillment, I prayed for it so much, I gave my life away. My chains are now without any meaning, because God found me worthy of the "Vincula amoris" (chains of love). 
Father Alfred Delp, S.J.
The figure of John demonstrates two laws about authentic people and shatters two dangers to which man's authenticity generally succumbs.  He shatters two situations in which an authentic man so very often suffocates and drowns.  The first law and the first danger:  the prophet stands before the king.  And the first point:  do not permit regard for private security or personal existence to make you into an inauthentic person.  So very often throughout history, whenever prophet and king have encountered one another, the king is always in the superior position.  What is easier, what is simpler, than to muzzle a prophet!  Yet, indeed, hasn't it been - not the voices of those who went into the palaces and were welcome there - but rather the voices calling in the wilderness who filled the cosmos, who prepared the way, who directed people toward Advent, and who arranged for the proper meeting with the end and the Ultimate?
Prophet and king!  The prophet must have known that the king's power and force and majesty would fall upon him and crush him if he said, "Non licit:  That is wrong because it is inauthentic and is not in accordance with the divine order."  And John said it, and he was crushed, and he was brutalized, and - for all time and eternity - he stands as the witness within history, as the witness before the face of the Lord, as authenticity itself.  And he was right!
Along with that are the second law and the second danger.  Futility or ineffectiveness do not dispense one from speaking the truth, declaring what is wrong, and standing up for what is right and just.  How could this prophet think he could interfere in the family history and family scandals of the king, and be successful?  Whoever considers success, or makes his decisions or attitudes dependent upon whether something is futile or certain of success, is already corrupt.  Then authenticity no longer means his personal encounter with what is real; it is rather his personal dependence upon success, upon being heard, on popularity and applause, and on the roar of the great throngs.  He is already corrupt.  And woe if the prophets are mute out of fear that their word might not be heeded.
John the Baptist had great love for God and no fear of his fellow man. He cared only in serving God and, in turn, serving and loving his fellow man. And sometimes that meant pointing out their sin, their hypocrisy, letting others know that unless they change, they are headed for eternal damnation. And nothing would stop John the Baptist, not fear of death or death itself. He could have played "nice" with Herod, but instead he took the fearless road of serving God.

There is much we could take from the example of John the Baptist to apply to the situation in which the Church finds herself today in the United States.  The Church is facing an enemy who wants to effectively destroy her.  We have an enemy who espouses evil and calls it good.  This is no time for "dialog" and "civility."  It is highly unlikely that John the Baptist, or even Father Alfred Delp, would spend a night of fun and frivolity with Barack Obama as Cardinal Dolan is planning. As Father Delp wrote, the prophet must be willing to say:  ""Non licit: That is wrong because it is inauthentic and is not in accordance with the divine order."  John the Baptist would not be talking about "religious freedom."  He would be talking about good and evil, pointing out the sin that threatens to destroy millions of souls. 

Our Bishops need the fearlessness of John the Baptist.  He called out Herod because he knew that there is no "dialog" with evil.  Evil must be called out for what it is and dealt with accordingly, even if it means giving our lives, as both Father Alfred Delp and John the Baptist did.  As Father Delp warned us:
Futility or ineffectiveness do not dispense one from speaking the truth, declaring what is wrong, and standing up for what is right and just. .  . .Whoever considers success, or makes his decisions or attitudes dependent upon whether something is futile or certain of success, is already corrupt. Then authenticity no longer means his personal encounter with what is real; it is rather his personal dependence upon success, upon being heard, on popularity and applause, and on the roar of the great throngs. He is already corrupt. And woe if the prophets are mute out of fear that their word might not be heeded.

Monday, August 27, 2012

11-Year Old Christian Boy Tortured and Killed in Pakistan

Terrible stories of persecution by Muslims of Christians continue to come out of the Middle East and other parts of the world, and the MSM in America continues to ignore these stories.  I found this latest one in a London paper, The Telegraph.  It can be found elsewhere on the Internet, but not on any of the mainstream media sources, not even the conservatives' beloved Fox News.  And you certainly aren't going to hear Rush Limbaugh or any of the other talking heads even mentioning this atrocity.

Below is the article concerning the brutal torture and murder of an 11-year old Christian boy in Pakistan.  We ignore these stories at our own peril.  It is not just an accident that these stories are not being reported to us in the mainstream media.  They don't want us to know about them.  They don't want us to know that the hostility and hatred of Christians around the world and in our beloved United States is growing and deepening.  And it is only a matter of time before we see it here in the western world.

Christian boy tortured and killed in Pakistan

The tortured body of an 11 year old Christian boy has been found in a town in Punjab, Pakistan, days after a young Christian girl was arrested on blasphemy charges.

By Dean Nelson, South Asia Editor
6:19PM BST 23 Aug 2012
Detectives in Faisalabad, around 60 miles from Lahore, said they were investigating whether accusations of blasphemy had also been made against the boy.

Human rights campaigners condemned the killing of Samuel Yaqoob whose burned and tortured body body was discovered on Eid, the celebration which marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

His lips and nose had been sliced off, his stomach removed and there was evidence that his legs had been mutilated too.
The boy had been missing since Monday when he left his home in the town's Christian Colony to visit a local market. His relatives identified his body from a distinctive mark on his forehead.

Yaquub was reported to be an orphan but in local newspaper reports his mother Asia Bibi was quoted denying he had been accused of blasphemy. "We neither received any phone call for ransom nor were we told that Samuel had committed blasphemy," she said.
Police said they were investigating whether blasphemy had been behind the attack on Samuel. His death comes just days after the arrest of Rimsha Masih, an eleven year old girl with Down's Syndrome, after Muslims in Islamabad accused her of burning pages from the Koran for cooking.

President Asif Zardari intervened in the case after dozens of Christians fled their homes fearing violence. He said the country's controversial blasphemy laws, in which those guilty of insulting Islam face the death penalty, must not be misused to settle scores.

The country's leading human rights campaigner Ansar Burney said he had "strongly condemned the brutal murder" of Samuel Yaqoob who had been killed "mercilessly".
Pray for the souls of these martyrs who die for love of Jesus, and pray even more for the souls of those who kill them, for truly they are in much more need of prayers than those who have found eternal rest in the arms of our Lord.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Religion and Politics: A Deadly Mix For Religion

Mixing politics and religion makes me a little queasy.  Politics are always corrupt, so I'm not worried about any harm to politicians, but why would someone whose purpose is to serve God and save souls want to get involved in the matters of this world other than preaching the Word of God and showing people the way to salvation. 

Things have always been different in Europe since the times of Constantine in the fourth century when the Roman Emperor decided it was better to join forces with the Christians as opposed to fighting them, which only seemed to give the Christians even more strength.  Europe became Catholic in nature and the Church always had great influence in those who governed.  Many feel that Christendom ended with the French Revolution in the 18th Century.  Certainly the history of Europe since that time has been one bloody fight after another reaching a climax in the 20th Century with WWII.  Europe's slide into atheistic secularism has been on a fast track since then.

John F. Kennedy and Pope Paul VI
The Catholic Church has never had the influence in America that it had in Europe.  Despite the fact that many point to the Judeo-Christian ethic that this country was supposedly founded upon, Catholics have always been viewed with suspicion and were actively persecuted in most of the 19th Century.  Governor Al Smith of New York, who lived from 1873 to 1944, was rejected as a presidential candidate when he ran in 1928 because of his Catholicism.  Even in 1960, when John F. Kennedy ran for president, Catholicism was still viewed as a danger to the country and he was forced to distance himself from the Catholic Church. 

But despite all of this, politicians have always and continue to court the Catholic vote just because there are so many of us.  And in this 2012 presidential election both the Democrats and Republicans are trying to cozy up to the Catholic vote. 

I have just recently posted on the scandal involving Cardinal Dolan's invitation to pro-abortion President Barack Obama.  His Eminence says he is doing this:
[T]o show both our country and our Church at their best: people of faith gathered in an evening of friendship, civility, and patriotism, to help those in need, not to endorse either candidate. Those who started the dinner sixty-seven years ago believed that you can accomplish a lot more by inviting folks of different political loyalties to an uplifting evening, rather than in closing the door to them.
Cardinal Dolan is living in a fantasy world if he thinks that he can "make nice" with any politician whose avowed purpose is to destroy the Catholic Church.   No politician ever shows his true face, especially to those whom he considers to be his enemy.  And have no doubt, Barack Hussein Obama considers the Catholic Church to be his worst enemy. Personally, I don't think Mitt Romney has a whole lot of love for the Catholic Church, either. 

The New York Times just recently ran an article focusing on how the Republicans are pushing for the Catholic Vote by trying to make nice with Cardinal Dolan, head of the US Bishops, and that Cardinal Dolan seems to be positively responding to them.  The article also cites the Democrats as pursuing the Catholic vote as well.

Invitation to Cardinal Shows G.O.P.’s Catholic Push

August 24, 2012

Some benedictions bestow a bigger blessing than others, and Mitt Romney hit the jackpot by signing up Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., next week.
The move is perhaps the clearest sign of a more aggressive push by Republicans to win over Roman Catholic voters this election cycle. Four years ago, Barack Obama won the votes of a majority of Catholics, assisted in part by his Catholic running mate, Joseph R. Biden Jr. [I would have to take exception to this statement.  I highly doubt that any Catholic, practicing or not, voted for Barack Obama on the basis of his presidential candidate, Joe Biden.]
But this time the Republicans sense an opportunity to cut into that advantage, at least with moderate and independent Catholics, because of two recent developments: President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage and the standoff between the Obama administration and Catholic bishops over the requirement that Catholic hospitals and schools must provide coverage for birth control in their employee health insurance plans. The issue has become the centerpiece of a campaign by the bishops to defend what they consider a matter of religious liberty. [I have stated previously that this is a losing strategy on the part of the bishops.  By making this issue one of "religious liberty" instead of what it is, which is one of good versus evil, they are denying the reality of what is actually happening and turning it into a secular issue.] 

The Obama campaign is aggressively contending for Catholic voters too, and the rivalry has been sharpened this year because Catholics are in the vice-presidential slot on both tickets.  [This is a very debatable statement.  Everything Joe Biden does and says is in complete opposition to the teachings of the Church.  To call him "Catholic" is like calling a wax flower a plant.]  Mr. Biden and the Republican challenger, Representative Paul D. Ryan, represent competing factions within their own church: Mr. Biden places a premium on the church’s social justice tradition of caring for the needy, while Mr. Ryan champions church teaching against abortion and same-sex marriage. Both are accused by their critics of being “cafeteria Catholics” willing to abandon the church teachings they do not politically support.
Mr. Romney had been courting Cardinal Dolan since April. That month, the two had a private meeting, previously undisclosed, at the chancery in New York, across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, said Peter G. Flaherty, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign who is Catholic and who served as Mr. Romney’s liaison to the religious community when he was governor of Massachusetts.

“We’re going to have outreach to Catholics in a coordinated, organized effort — state by state, diocese by diocese, parish by parish and pew by pew,” Mr. Flaherty said in an interview.  [And they're going to conveniently leave out all of Romney's past anti-
Catholic positions.]

He added that Mr. Romney, a Mormon, had close ties with Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and traveled to Rome for the ceremony at which the prelate was made a cardinal. But Mr. Romney sought out Cardinal Dolan to give the benediction at the convention, Mr. Flaherty said, because of his stature as president of the bishops’ conference and his proclamations that religious liberty is at risk because of Obama administration policies. Mr. Romney has echoed this theme on the campaign trail and in a television advertisement. [This video is a bit of a joke.  It talks about the assault on religious freedom by Obama, then includes a clip of Romney quoting JPII as saying "Be Not Afraid."  But it doesn't tell us what Romney plans to do about the "assault on religious freedom."]
It is also the message of a slickly produced video aimed at religious voters that the Romney campaign says it did not produce but that clearly helps its cause. The video juxtaposes people entering a voting booth with a blacksmith forging the words “life,” “marriage” and “freedom” in a raging fire, and it ends by asking, “Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire?” There are two versions of the video, one for Catholics and one for evangelicals. The evangelical version has been viewed fewer than 30,000 times, while the Catholic version has been seen more than 1.9 million times.
Here is the video if you want to watch it.  Frankly, I feel insulted by it.  This video names the important issues, but gives no promises that the Republicans will do things any differently than the Democrats have done.

Catholics make up about a quarter of the electorate, but they hardly vote as a bloc any longer [this shows how the Church herself has become fragmented, some still following Church teaching, but the vast majority becoming their own magesterium and deciding what is right or wrong]. The Catholic vote is instead a bellwether that mirrors the general electorate. Exit polls showed that in 2008 Mr. Obama prevailed among Catholic voters by nine percentage points.

This time, Gallup’s daily tracking poll, taken from July 30 to Aug. 19, showed Mr. Romney with a slight edge among registered voters who are Catholic.

“Since 1972, the candidate who has won the Catholic vote has won the popular vote as well,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington. “The Catholic vote does tend to be on the side of the winning candidate. It’s the quintessential religious swing group.”  [This is the only reason the political parties are paying attention to the Catholics.]

But Mr. Jones said he did not see evidence of major shifts among Catholic voters this time — not among white Catholics, who tend to favor the Republican, and not among Latino Catholics, who tend to favor the Democrat. Neither the bishops’ religious liberty campaign nor the president’s initiative to lift some restrictions for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children has resulted in much of a change, Mr. Jones said.

Both campaigns are organizing Catholic leadership teams in the states, and they have announced slates of prominent Catholics to serve as national co-chairmen and surrogates. The Romney campaign has enlisted six former American ambassadors to the Holy See as national co-chairmen of Catholics for Romney.
The co-chairmen of Catholics for Obama are scholars, prominent laypeople like Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Senator Ted Kennedy, and politicians like Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio and Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois. [None of these people should be allowed to call themselves "Catholic" as they stand against the Church in every issue.]
The Obama campaign is counting on the social justice Catholics who are concerned that the Romney-Ryan team would cut the safety net for the needy and the elderly. Polls have also shown that many Catholics support same-sex marriage and do not accept the bishops’ assertions that religious liberty is at risk. [This is why making the war with Obama about "religious liberty" is such a terrible mistake.  Even Catholics don't understand why Obama is wrong because no one is explaining it to them.  Maybe if the bishops would actually teach the beliefs of the Church, more people would understand why Obama's actions are evil and must be opposed.]

Staff members with the Obama campaign who did not want to be quoted said it would be highlighting the fact that the bishops had repeatedly issued letters criticizing the budget proposed by Mr. Ryan over its failure to protect what the Bible calls “the least of these.” [There is a much more vulnerable group that needs the bishops' attention - the unborn, who are being killed by the millions in our country.  In the City of New York, which is a major part of Cardinal Dolan's archdiocese, there are 89,000 babies killed every year.  41% of all pregnancies in this city end in abortion, and over 60% of all pregnancies in the minority communities are aborted.  That is where the bishops' focus should be.]

The invitation to Cardinal Dolan circumvented church protocol, said the cardinal’s spokesman, Joseph Zwilling. Usually, the local bishop gives the prayer at the convention. So when the Romney campaign asked Cardinal Dolan to deliver the benediction, the cardinal first checked with Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., who gave his approval, Mr. Zwilling said.

Cardinal Dolan accepted but said that he would be giving only a prayer, not an endorsement, Mr. Zwilling said. The cardinal also said that he had informed the Democratic Party that he would accept a similar invitation from it. A spokesman for the Obama campaign said that it had not offered one but suggested that it was close to announcing its religious lineup. [The Democratic party has since said they will not be inviting Cardinal Dolan to their convention.  Why Cardinal Dolan would even want to go this convention, which will be a celebration of abortion and same sex marriage, is beyond my understanding.]
* * * 
Raymond Arroyo of EWTN just did an interview with Mitt Romney in which he asked Romney what, as president, he will do about the HHS Mandate.  Father Z has a partial written transcript on his blog:
Raymond Arroyo: The Catholic community in this country and people across the faith spectrum were outraged by President Obama’s HHS Mandate – requiring abortifacients and contraceptives to be made available to employees. It set off protests by the Catholic bishops and individual people of faith. What will you do as president about that HHS Mandate?

Gov. Romney: Well, first of all I’ll continue to meet with to Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan [of New York and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] – who by the way is going to offer the benediction on the last evening of the Republican Convention after my acceptance speak. So I am making it very clear that the interest of religious freedom is something I support wholeheartedly and will work with him and with others to assure that each piece of legislation that we consider is thought also in terms of its impact on religious freedom and tolerance. This is a nation where our first freedom is the right to worship God as we choose, and any effort on the part of the federal government to intrude on religious liberty and to reject tolerance in favor of a government mandate is a violation of that first freedom.
Did you notice something missing from Romney's answer?  He talks about the importance of freedom and assures us that he supports religious freedom.  He also promises that he will continue to meet with Cardinal Dolan.  Romney tells us "the interest of religious freedom is something I support wholeheartedly and will work with him [Cardinal Dolan] and with others to assure that each piece of legislation that we consider is thought also in terms of its impact on religious freedom and tolerance."  But he does not say what he will do about the mandate.  Catholics, are you listening?

Remember there was a politician in 2008 who made big promises during his campaign.  Barack Obama said the first thing he would do if elected president would be to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.  He actually even signed an executive order that it be closed.  Yet, it is still open, almost four years into his presidency, and in fact, Obama doesn't even mention it anymore.  Politicians lie, folks, and when a politician couches his words as Romney did in answering Raymond Arroyo's question, it would be foolhardy to believe any of what he is saying. 

I watched all of Raymond Arroyo's interview with Mitt Romney, and it was basically one softball question after another.  One of Arroyo's "pressing" questions was why Paul Ryan has stopped wearing ties since he began campaigning with Romney.  Arroyo never once questioned Romney on his changing positions regarding abortion, on the fact that he supports abortion in cases of rape, that he supports homosexuals as leaders of the Boy Scouts, that he supports same sex civil unions, that he supports the adoption of children by homosexuals, the fact that RomneyCare was the basis of ObamaCare and that Romney covered abortions in his healthcare plan, or any of a myriad of other issues that are of importance to any thinking Catholic. 

I can only repeat one more time:  we have no choice in this election.  Barack Obama and Mitt Romney look different from each other and may even sound different, but they are one and the same person.  Nothing will change under Mitt Romney.  I would love to be wrong, but I have no choice but to face reality and admit the sad reality that American voters, and particularly Catholics, are screwed in this election.

The following are 40 ways that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are essentially the same candidate….

1. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both supported TARP.

2. Mitt Romney supported Barack Obama’s “economic stimulus” packages.

3. Mitt Romney says that Barack Obama’s bailout of the auto industry was actually his idea.

4. Neither candidate supports immediately balancing the federal budget.

5. They both believe in big government and they both have a track record of being big spenders while in office.

6. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both fully support the Federal Reserve.

7. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both on record as saying that the president should not question the “independence” of the Federal Reserve.

8. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have both said that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke did a good job during the last financial crisis.

9. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both felt that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke deserved to be renominated to a second term.

10. Both candidates oppose a full audit of the Federal Reserve.

11. Both candidates are on record as saying that U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has done a good job.

12. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have both been big promoters of universal health care.

13. Mitt Romney was the one who developed the plan that Obamacare was later based upon.

14. Wall Street absolutely showers both candidates with campaign contributions.

15. Neither candidate wants to eliminate the income tax or the IRS.

16. Both candidates want to keep personal income tax rates at the exact same levels for the vast majority of Americans.

17. Both candidates are “open” to the idea of imposing a Value Added Tax on the American people.

18. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both believe that the TSA is doing a great job.

19. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both supported the NDAA.

20. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both supported the renewal of the Patriot Act.

21. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both believe that the federal government should be able to indefinitely detain American citizens that are considered to be terrorists.

22. Both candidates believe that American citizens suspected of being terrorists can be killed by the president without a trial.

23. Barack Obama has not closed Guantanamo Bay like he promised to do, and Mitt Romney actually wants to double the number of prisoners held there.

24. Both candidates support the practice of “extraordinary rendition”.

25. They both support the job-killing “free trade” agenda of the global elite.

26. They both accuse each other of shipping jobs out of the country and both of them are right.

27. Both candidates are extremely soft on illegal immigration.

28. Neither candidate has any military experience. This is the first time that this has happened in a U.S. election since 1944.

29. Both candidates earned a degree from Harvard University.

30. They both believe in the theory of man-made global warming.

31. Mitt Romney has said that he will support a “cap and trade” carbon tax scheme (like the one Barack Obama wants) as long as the entire globe goes along with it.

32. Both candidates have a very long record of supporting strict gun control measures.

33. Both candidates have been pro-abortion most of their careers. Mitt Romney’s “conversion” to the pro-life cause has been questioned by many. In fact, Mitt Romney has made millions on Bain Capital’s investment in a company called “Stericycle” that incinerates aborted babies collected from family planning clinics.

34. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both believe that the Boy Scout ban on openly gay troop leaders is wrong.

35. They both believe that a “two state solution” will bring lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

36. Both candidates have a history of nominating extremely liberal judges.

37. Like Barack Obama, Mitt Romney also plans to add “signing statements” to bills when he signs them into law.

38. They both have a horrible record when it comes to job creation.

39. Both candidates believe that the president has the power to take the country to war without getting the approval of the U.S. Congress.

40. Both candidates plan to continue running up more government debt even though the U.S. government is already 16 trillion dollars in debt.
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