BY Msgr. Charles Pope
I was talking recently with a friend and we were both lamenting the “strange and stranger” quality of our culture today; we had both seen the video at the bottom of this post. In it, the interviewer (who is a 5’9” white man), through a series of questions, gets a number of college students to accept that he is actually a 6’5” Chinese woman, or, alternately, a seven-year-old boy. They consider the way he “identifies” himself to be more significant than the obvious reality before them.
That such an appeal can convince a college student (or anyone for that matter) demonstrates that we have collectively taken leave of our senses. My friend said that the image that came to his mind was of the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland. When something as obvious as a person’s sex is unclear, when large numbers of people are willing to go along with calling a well-known man and former Olympic decathlete a woman, we have definitely fallen down a rabbit hole into a strange and nightmarishly bizarre world marked by absurdity after absurdity.
Alice in Wonderland may capture it, but to me it is more reminiscent of the children’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. The tale contains many eerie parallels with our current culture. While most are familiar with the tale, I will provide a brief synopsis:
The story begins with an Emperor who is described as being excessively fond of new clothes. Knowing his weakness and seeking to profit by it, two swindlers offer to weave him a set of glorious set of clothes with the wonderful property of being invisible to anyone who is unfit for the office he holds or who is extraordinarily simple. The Emperor is intrigued by the idea of being able to find out who within his realm is unfit for his office as well to be able distinguish between the wise and the foolish. So he pays the swindlers a large sum of money and supplies them with copious quantities of expensive fabrics (which they stash in their bags) so that they can begin work immediately.
The Emperor periodically sends members of his staff to observe their progress. The rogues point to the empty looms and pretend to point out the magnificence of the non-existent material. But none of them will admit to seeing nothing and each returns to the Emperor with a glowing report of the splendid cloth. Finally, the Emperor himself pays a visit to the weavers (and also, obviously, sees nothing at all). Embarrassed by his inability to see the cloth, he (like the others) pretends to be amazed by its beauty.
Finally, the day arrives for the Emperor to wear these glorious clothes in a procession through the kingdom. The “clothes” are brought out by the swindlers, who explain that they are “as light as a spider’s web. One would almost think he had nothing on, but that’s what makes them so fine.” The Emperor undresses and the rogues pretend to dress him, one garment after another. This is all done to the applause and fawning commentary of both the Emperor and his entourage, all of whom see nothing at all!
Then the procession begins. The nearly naked Emperor parades through the streets under his high canopy, accompanied by noblemen carrying the ends of his magnificent, invisible train. The townsfolk, not wanting to be considered simpletons, applaud the magnificent clothes and comment aloud on the Emperor’s “finery.”
But then a young child, not yet fearful of the opinions of others, states the obvious: “But the emperor has nothing at all on!”
As the news of the child’s cry passes through the crowd, they become emboldened and begin to repeat, “He has nothing at all on!”
On hearing this, the Emperor realizes that the people are right. However, he decides that the procession must go on. And so he continues walking along in his underwear, with his staff taking greater care than ever in maintaining the façade, holding up the train that doesn’t exist.
And thus we have a parable for our times. Like the Emperor in the tale, many are willing to imagine things in order to preserve their vanity. And out of fear of being considered unenlightened, intolerant, etc., they play along with what is obviously absurd: that a man can really be a woman, or that human beings come in dozens of genders rather than two, or that a man having sexual relations with another man is not disordered, or that a child in the womb is something other than a human person, or that the head of the largest abortion provider in the U.S. should be honored at a Catholic university with a standing ovation, etc. Yes, many play along with the absurd.
And those who raise objections or state that such views are not in conformity with basic reality, those who say (in effect) that “the emperor has no clothes” are told to be quiet, to not talk about the obvious absurdity before everyone’s eyes. Such people are labeled unenlightened and intolerant because they cannot see the “beauty” that the enlightened and tolerant can.
In the story above, a mere child could easily see the absurdity before him and simply spoke to what was obvious; children are often that way. They have less to lose. They have not yet become jaded by flattery and the thousand little (and big) lies we adults like to tell ourselves and others. Little children have not yet gotten the memo that appearing right is more important than being right. They are still shocked by lies and inconsistency; they often speak the truth in impolite, unrefined, and even blunt ways.
But as innocence dies out and circumspection dawns, too many of us begin to indulge deception. We go along to get along, “drinking the Kool-Aid” of a world gone increasingly mad. Even as the absurdity multiplies and we are asked to deny the plainly obvious, the fear among many of being considered unenlightened seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.
Here’s to the little child in us that is still shocked by lies, inconsistencies, and absurdity. Here’s to that innocent child who can still cry out, “But the emperor has nothing at all on!”
For having known God, they glorified Him not and neither were they thankful; but they became vain in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened (Rom 1:21).
Here is the video that sparked this post. Absurdity seems to know no limits.
Knights of Columbus Provides Major Report on Genocide of Christians to State DepartmentReport made public at National Press Club event today WASHINGTON, March 10, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The major report that makes the case that the terror campaign being waged against Christians by ISIS and its affiliates against Christians and other religious minorities meets the definition of genocide was released today at a news conference at the National Press Club by the Knights of Columbus (K of C) and In Defense of Christians (IDC). It was presented to the State Department yesterday.The 280-page report includes substantial material not previously available, including the most comprehensive information to date on Christians who have been killed, kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery, driven from their homes, and dispossessed, as well as on churches that have been destroyed. It also details interviews with witnesses to the atrocities that were collected during a Knights of Columbus fact-finding mission to Iraq last month.Senior State Department officials had requested that the K of C produce such a report four weeks ago, as they neared a congressionally mandated March 17 deadline for making a determination as to whether or not ISIS was committing genocide against Christians and other minority groups. The report is available online at http://www.kofc.org and http://www.StopTheChristianGenocide.org. The latter site also hosts a petition on this subject to Secretary of State John Kerry. It has been signed by more than 60,000 people.The report includes an executive summary, a legal brief outlining the case for a genocide declaration, and addenda including summaries of witness interviews, a database of crimes known to have been committed against Christians by ISIS and its affiliated groups, lists of Christians killed, estimates of the number of dead in various regions under ISIS control, statements by other governments and world leaders, and additional evidence of ISIS’ intent and actions against Christians that has been widely overlooked in the Western media.”There is only one word that adequately, and legally, describes what is happening to Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. That word is genocide,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson in presenting the report Thursday morning.He pointed out that the UN Convention on genocide and U.S. statue that mirror it state that genocide occurs even when the destruction of the group is “in part.” He also noted that non-legal terms such as “ethnic” or “religious” cleansing or even legal terms such as “crimes against humanity” lack the adequate elements necessary to address the situation.He continued: “In her 2002 book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, wrote that ‘the United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide, and in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred.’ She documents a long history of American inaction in places like Bosnia, Rwanda, and Cambodia.”Anderson commended “the courageous action of [then] Secretary of State Colin Powell who became the first member of any United States Administration to apply the label genocide to an ongoing conflict when he reported to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that ‘genocide has been committed in Darfur … and that genocide may still be occurring.”He noted that “Secretary of State Kerry has a similar opportunity to exercise moral leadership.” Support for calling what is happening to Christians – and other religious minorities – genocide includes a global consensus, a strong majority of the American people according to a K of C-Marist poll and bi-partisan support from candidates of both parties including former Secretary of State Clinton who applied the label to what is happening to Christians.As the report makes clear, both U.S. and international law are clear on the matter, and this case meets the legal definition of genocide at every level.Anderson also noted that 200-plus members of Congress from both parties are co-sponsoring H. Con. Res. 75. He added that “today we renew our support for this excellent piece of legislation and applaud its progress.””The evidence contained in this report as well as the evidence relied upon by the European Parliament fully support—I would suggest compel—the conclusion that reasonable grounds exist to believe the crime of genocide has been committed,” Anderson said.”While we believe this to be the most comprehensive report on this subject to date, covering incidents in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, we continue to receive new reports and new evidence,” said Anderson. But with new reports pouring in every day, he cautioned: “It may only be the tip of the iceberg.”Anderson noted that Secretary of State John Kerry himself in August 2014 stated: “ISIL’s campaign of terror against the innocent, including Yezidi (sic) and Christian minorities, and its grote
Source: Knights of Columbus Provides Major Report on Genocide of Christians to State Department — WASHINGTON, March 10, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —
<blockquote>Last week, TV actress Amy Brenneman told the women’s magazine Cosmopolitan that she has never regretted her abortion.Brenneman said she felt prompted to tell her story after asking Nancy Keenan, the former president of the radical pro-abortion group NARAL, why the pro-abortion movement is losing support while the pro-life movement is gaining it.“She answered with one simple word: ‘stories,’” Brenneman said. “This makes sense to me. I am a storyteller by trade, after all. I believe that we connect and learn by the specifics of stories, our own and others’.”“I have never, not for one moment, regretted my abortion. My husband of 20 years and I became parents when we had built a home to nurture our children. Indeed, being a parent has only strengthened my commitment to reproductive justice as access to legal abortion allows children a fighting chance to be born into families that desire them and can support them,” she said.Now, Rep. Diane Black, a Tennessee congresswoman, has written an open letter to Brenneman.Black was a registered nurse for 40 years. Her letter follows:I read with interest your February 29th column in Cosmopolitan magazine about your personal experience with abortion. While we approach this sensitive issue from different viewpoints, I thank you for sharing your story. I agree that women, regardless of their opinion, should talk honestly about this matter. I also know that some who, like me, identify as pro-life and oppose abortion have not always conveyed that opinion with the compassion and empathy that should be afforded to this topic on both sides of the debate, and for that I am sorry.CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE! Like you, I know what it is like to be single, pregnant, and uncertain of what the future holds. I was carrying my youngest child to term when my first husband left me amid the demons of alcoholism. Later, in my career as an emergency room nurse, I met other young women in this same precarious position. I believe that the pro-life community has a responsibility to those women. It is why I have long supported the work of my local crisis local pregnancy center and other nonprofits that offer real, tangible help to women in this very situation – everything from diapers and formula to counseling and prayer.I want you to know that I agree with you on the need to defend every woman’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As you and I know, this has not historically been the case and I am keenly aware of those whose shoulders I now stand on as a woman who cannot only vote but can also serve in Congress.I want every young girl, including my two granddaughters, to be able to – as you say – “choose their destiny.” I believe that protecting those rights, however, starts with protecting the most foundational right of all: the right of a preborn, human being with a beating heart to see the light of day. A young woman cannot choose her destiny if her life is cut short in the womb.When we frame abortion as a means of female empowerment, we don’t tell the full story. Indeed, studies show that abortions worldwide disproportionately impacts baby girls. Consider a 2012 report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph on abortion practices in India, where there are believed to be as many as eight million cases of female sex-selective abortion over the last decade, a phenomenon that is now affecting the country’s overall gender ratio.
I say this not to shame any woman who has made the difficult decision to have an abortion but rather in hopes of raising the consciousness of this nation so we can enact needed protections for these members of the human family.
Specific to your concerns on the Texas abortion law now in question before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, I readily admit my own bias. That said, I believe the standards you call “onerous” and “unnecessary” to be quite modest.
As you know, the disputed Texas law has two key provisions. First, it requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles so that a patient receiving an abortion can be quickly transferred in the event of complications and, secondly, it requires abortion clinics to abide by the same safety standards and licensing requirements as other outpatient surgery centers in the state. To be clear, the law does not attempt to illegalize abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
I passionately believe in protecting the unborn, but I also believe equal attention must be devoted to protecting their mothers. While I disagree with the choice of abortion, I do not believe any woman should lose her life at the hands of an unregulated, unsafe abortion clinic or a fly-by-night abortion doctor. That is what this law aims to prevent.
It is my hope that women’s advocates – and you are certainly a needed and influential one – will take a deeper look at this law and applaud these commonsense standards rather than attempt to turn back the clock and strip them away.
<p>Source: <a href=”http://www.lifenews.com/2016/03/08/congresswoman-writes-amazing-letter-to-amy-brenneman-who-doesnt-regret-aborting-her-baby/”>Congresswoman Writes Amazing Letter to Amy Brenneman, Who Doesn’t Regret Aborting Her Baby | LifeNews.com</a></p></blockquote>
The weakness of people in the Church in leadership positions encourages Isis and Islam.
This is the stuff of that should prompt a Congressional Investigation or Naval Court of Inquiry. Call your US Congressman. Do what you can!
DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP
Bob Lonsberry © 2016
The account of two U. S. Navy vessels being seized by the Iranian navy earlier this week seems completely implausible.
No part of it makes any sense.
The story is that two river patrol boats – bristling modern-day incarnations of the Vietnam swift boats – were navigating south from Kuwait to Bahrain. At some point, via some means, the two boats, with their contingent of five sailors each, surrendered to the Iranians.
Two accounts have been offered as to how that happened. The first was that one of the vessels lost its engine and that they both then drifted into Iranian waters. The other was that the two boats had been operating fine, but inadvertently navigated into Iranian territory.
Simply put, they got lost.
Neither account seems possible.
First off, if one of the boats broke down, and the sailor aboard trained to tend the engine couldn’t fix it, the other boat would merely take it in tow and they would proceed on their way. That is not a novel maritime undertaking.
The second scenario – oops, we got lost – is even less likely. It turns out that navigation and navigation equipment are kind of a high priority for the Navy. Boats don’t get lost. Highly technical navigation equipment on both boats would have told crew members exactly where they were.
And in the unlikely event that both boats lost all electronic navigational equipment, and the compasses lost track of magnetic north, there is the simple fact that sailing from Kuwait to Bahrain pretty much involves nothing more complex than keeping the shore on your starboard side. And should you lose sight of shore, and can remember that the map has safety to the west and danger to the east, you’d think that the position of the sun in the sky or the fact that prevailing winds in the Persian Gulf in the winter are northwesterly, would somehow have allowed our sailors to find the Saudi shoreline instead of Iranian waters.
And all of that presumes that these two boats were operating alone in the open seas, which they presumably were not. There is, in fact, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier battle group operating in the Persian Gulf.
The USS Harry S Truman owns the Persian Gulf these days, and the significant American military presence in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – lands immediately proximate to the waters where our sailors were operating – makes us the biggest dog on the block.
And we’ve got radar and helicopters and airplanes and stuff like that.
And if an American vessel breaks down at sea, or strays from course, under those operational conditions, there are a lot of American assets that would both notice the problem and be able to offer relief.
Yet no one did.
We’re supposed to believe nobody radioed a couple of inexplicably lost boats to ask where they were going? When one of them supposedly broke down, a carrier battle group had no means to come to their assistance?
That makes no sense.
It’s completely unbelievable.
So is the apparent conduct of the sailors in the face of a supposed challenge by the Iranian military.
If one of the vessels was disabled, as is claimed, and hostile craft are approaching, bringing with them the prospect of capture and captivity, don’t you put all 10 sailors on the able boat, sink the disabled boat, and race the bad guys back to international waters?
From the Iranian video, it looks like two or three bass boats and four guys in mismatched uniforms, with a couple of AK’s, captured two far-larger and better-armed American boats, both of which were bristling with mounted machine guns.
Here’s a fact: When you’re kneeling on the deck of your own boat, with your hands clasped behind your head, and some guy’s shouting at you in terrorist language, things didn’t go right.
And yet, that’s exactly what supposedly happened here. Ten American sailors, successors to Captain James Lawrence, are on their knees next to their unfired guns, in the face of a smaller and less well-armed opponent – with little American flags snapping in the breeze.
This is not the stuff of Commodore Perry and Admiral Farragut.
And you wonder whose call it was.
How far up the chain of command did they have to go to find the cowardly lion who ordered this genuflection before a bunch of savages? Did this get bounced all the way to the Pentagon, or the Situation Room? Which secretary of what made the decision not to put a squadron of naval aviators above those two boats to keep the camel jockeys at bay?
It is shameful, a worldwide embarrassment for the nation and the Navy.
And it is topped off by an obsequious videotaped apology, and pictures of our sailors, captive in hostile hands, the female with a towel over her head.
The President can ignore this.
But we can’t.
We got pantsed. We got humiliated. We showed either weakness or incompetence. And unfortunately either one only invites aggression against us.
It is inconceivable that you could find 10 Americans willing to surrender themselves and their equipment without a fight. It is not plausible that any young man or woman entering into the naval service would willingly kneel on the deck of a combat-capable ship.
Somebody told them to give up.
And that somebody, and the philosophy he represents, will be the death of us.
– by Bob Lonsberry © 2016
This came in the mail today:
Subject:Civilization cica 2016
• Cooking – Fireless
• Cars – Keyless
• Food – Fatless
• Tires –Tubeless
• Dress – Sleeveless
• Youth – Jobless
• Leaders – Shameless
• Relationships – Meaningless
• Babies – Fatherless
We are SPEECHLESS,
Government is CLUELESS,
And our Politicians are WORTHLESS!
Frankly, if I had half a mind I’d be scared Shitless!
All too true? It needn’t be this way. Let’s do what we can to progress with Christ the King leading our nation. Governments and politicians can’t do it, but God can, person to person, one person at a time.
This is what happens when the company operate in accord with its beliefs !!!!!!
Subject:MAN WALKS INTO CHICK-FIL-A
MAN WALKS INTO CHICK-FIL-A: Is Completely Blown Away When He Saw This for Veterans
By Bill Callen
| Top Right News
Chick-fil-A, the same fast-food outlet has once again proved apositive to the world. This time it did so by unveiling an amazing Veterans Day tribute that left Georgia resident Eric Comfort in complete shock.
According to a Facebook post he published on Monday, when he walked into a local Chick-fil-A, Comfort discovered a “Missing Man Table” that contained a single rose, a Bible and a folded American flag, as well as a plaque within which was the following explanation: “This table is reserved to honor our missing comrades in arms. The tablecloth is white — symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call of duty. The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing and their loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers. The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted — to symbolize their inability to share this evening’s toast. The chair is empty — they are missing.”
After the story went viral, the store manager, Alex Korchan, explained to WSB that his team members had set up the table because they “wanted to honor veterans.” Furthermore, he revealed that he planned to offer free meals to all veterans and their family members this Veterans Day between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Korchan also put up a poster so that customers could write in the names of loved ones who they have lost. “We’ve had a lot of people who have come in and seen it and been touched by it,” Korchan continued. “It’s been special to see.”
PLEASE SHARE this article if you admire what Chick-Fil-A has done to honor our vets…
NEWS CONFERENCE BEGINS AT 5:29 ON VIDEO
Jerome Cartillier of AFP.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. One hundred and twenty-nine people were killed in Paris on Friday night. ISIL claimed responsibility for the massacre, sending the message that they could now target civilians all over the world. The equation has clearly changed. Isn’t it time for your strategy to change?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, keep in mind what we have been doing. We have a military strategy that is putting enormous pressure on ISIL through airstrikes; that has put assistance and training on the ground with Iraqi forces; we’re now working with Syrian forces as well to squeeze ISIL, cut off their supply lines. We’ve been coordinating internationally to reduce their financing capabilities, the oil that they’re trying to ship outside. We are taking strikes against high-value targets — including, most recently, against the individual who was on the video executing civilians who had already been captured, as well as the head of ISIL in Libya. So it’s not just in Iraq and Syria.
And so, on the military front, we are continuing to accelerate what we do. As we find additional partners on the ground that are effective, we work with them more closely. I’ve already authorized additional Special Forces on the ground who are going to be able to improve that coordination.
On the counterterrorism front, keep in mind that since I came into office, we have been worried about these kinds of attacks. The vigilance that the United States government maintains and the cooperation that we’re consistently expanding with our European and other partners in going after every single terrorist network is robust and constant. And every few weeks, I meet with my entire national security team and we go over every single threat stream that is presented, and where we have relevant information, we share it immediately with our counterparts around the world, including our European partners.
On aviation security, we have, over the last several years, been working so that at various airports sites — not just in the United States, but overseas — we are strengthening our mechanisms to screen and discover passengers who should not be boarding flights, and improving the matters in which we are screening luggage that is going onboard.
And on the diplomatic front, we’ve been consistently working to try to get all the parties together to recognize that there is a moderate opposition inside of Syria that can form the basis for a transition government, and to reach out not only to our friends but also to the Russians and the Iranians who are on the other side of this equation to explain to them that ultimately an organization like ISIL is the greatest danger to them, as well as to us.
So there will be an intensification of the strategy that we put forward, but the strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work. But as I said from the start, it’s going to take time.
And what’s been interesting is, in the aftermath of Paris, as I listen to those who suggest something else needs to be done, typically the things they suggest need to be done are things we are already doing. The one exception is that there have been a few who suggested that we should put large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground.
And keep in mind that we have the finest military in the world and we have the finest military minds in the world, and I’ve been meeting with them intensively for years now, discussing these various options, and it is not just my view but the view of my closest military and civilian advisors that that would be a mistake — not because our military could not march into Mosul or Raqqa or Ramadi and temporarily clear out ISIL, but because we would see a repetition of what we’ve seen before, which is, if you do not have local populations that are committed to inclusive governance and who are pushing back against ideological extremes, that they resurface — unless we’re prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries.
And let’s assume that we were to send 50,000 troops into Syria. What happens when there’s a terrorist attack generated from Yemen? Do we then send more troops into there? Or Libya, perhaps? Or if there’s a terrorist network that’s operating anywhere else — in North Africa, or in Southeast Asia?
So a strategy has to be one that can be sustained. And the strategy that we’re pursuing, which focuses on going after targets, limiting wherever possible the capabilities of ISIL on the ground — systematically going after their leadership, their infrastructure, strengthening Shia — or strengthening Syrian and Iraqi forces and Kurdish forces that are prepared to fight them, cutting off their borders and squeezing the space in which they can operate until ultimately we’re able to defeat them — that’s the strategy we’re going to have to pursue.
And we will continue to generate more partners for that strategy. And there are going to be some things that we try that don’t work; there will be some strategies we try that do work. And when we find strategies that work, we will double down on those.
Margaret Brennan, CBS.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. A more than year-long bombing campaign in Iraq and in Syria has failed to contain the ambition and the ability of ISIS to launch attacks in the West. Have you underestimated their abilities? And will you widen the rules of engagement for U.S. forces to take more aggressive action?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, we haven’t underestimated our abilities. This is precisely why we’re in Iraq as we speak, and why we’re operating in Syria as we speak. And it’s precisely why we have mobilized 65 countries to go after ISIL, and why I hosted at the United Nations an entire discussion of counterterrorism strategies and curbing the flow of foreign fighters, and why we’ve been putting pressure on those countries that have not been as robust as they need to in tracking the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria and Iraq.
And so there has been an acute awareness on the part of my administration from the start that it is possible for an organization like ISIL that has such a twisted ideology, and has shown such extraordinary brutality and complete disregard for innocent lives, that they would have the capabilities to potentially strike in the West. And because thousands of fighters have flowed from the West and are European citizens — a few hundred from the United States, but far more from Europe — that when those foreign fighters returned, it posed a significant danger. And we have consistently worked with our European partners, disrupting plots in some cases. Sadly, this one was not disrupted in time.
But understand that one of the challenges we have in this situation is, is that if you have a handful of people who don’t mind dying, they can kill a lot of people. That’s one of the challenges of terrorism. It’s not their sophistication or the particular weapon that they possess, but it is the ideology that they carry with them and their willingness to die. And in those circumstances, tracking each individual, making sure that we are disrupting and preventing these attacks is a constant effort at vigilance, and requires extraordinary coordination.
Now, part of the reason that it is important what we do in Iraq and Syria is that the narrative that ISIL developed of creating this caliphate makes it more attractive to potential recruits. So when I said that we are containing their spread in Iraq and Syria, in fact, they control less territory than they did last year. And the more we shrink that territory, the less they can pretend that they are somehow a functioning state, and the more it becomes apparent that they are simply a network of killers who are brutalizing local populations. That allows us to reduce the flow of foreign fighters, which then, over time, will lessen the numbers of terrorists who can potentially carry out terrible acts like they did in Paris.
And that’s what we did with al Qaeda. That doesn’t mean, by the way, that al Qaeda no longer possess the capabilities of potentially striking the West. Al Qaeda in the Peninsula that operates primarily in Yemen we know has consistently tried to target the West. And we are consistently working to disrupt those acts. But despite the fact that they have not gotten as much attention as ISIL, they still pose a danger, as well.
And so our goals here consistently have to be to be aggressive, and to leave no stone unturned, but also recognize this is not conventional warfare. We play into the ISIL narrative when we act as if they’re a state, and we use routine military tactics that are designed to fight a state that is attacking another state. That’s not what’s going on here.
These are killers with fantasies of glory who are very savvy when it comes to social media, and are able to infiltrate the minds of not just Iraqis or Syrians, but disaffected individuals around the world. And when they activate those individuals, those individuals can do a lot of damage. And so we have to take the approach of being rigorous on our counterterrorism efforts, and consistently improve and figure out how we can get more information, how we can infiltrate these networks, how we can reduce their operational space, even as we also try to shrink the amount of territory they control to defeat their narrative.
Ultimately, to reclaim territory from them is going to require, however, an ending of the Syrian civil war, which is why the diplomatic efforts are so important. And it’s going to require an effective Iraqi effort that bridges Shia and Sunni differences, which is why our diplomatic efforts inside of Iraq are so important, as well.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. In the days and weeks before the Paris attacks, did you receive warning in your daily intelligence briefing that an attack was imminent? If not, does that not call into question the current assessment that there is no immediate, specific, credible threat to the United States today?
And secondly, if I could ask you to address your critics who say that your reluctance to enter another Middle East war, and your preference of diplomacy over using the military makes the United States weaker and emboldens our enemies.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Jim, every day we have threat streams coming through the intelligence transit. And as I said, every several weeks we sit down with all my national security, intelligence, and military teams to discuss various threat streams that may be generated. And the concerns about potential ISIL attacks in the West have been there for over a year now, and they come through periodically. There were no specific mentions of this particular attack that would give us a sense of something that we need — that we could provide French authorities, for example, or act on ourselves.
But typically the way the intelligence works is there will be a threat stream that is from one source, how reliable is that source; perhaps some signal intelligence gets picked up, it’s evaluated. Some of it is extraordinarily vague and unspecific, and there’s no clear timetable. Some of it may be more specific, and then folks chase down that threat to see what happens.
I am not aware of anything that was specific in the sense — that would have given a premonition about a particular action in Paris that would allow for law enforcement or military actions to disrupt it.
With respect to the broader issue of my critics, to some degree I answered the question earlier. I think that when you listen to what they actually have to say, what they’re proposing, most of the time, when pressed, they describe things that we’re already doing. Maybe they’re not aware that we’re already doing them. Some of them seem to think that if I were just more bellicose in expressing what we’re doing, that that would make a difference — because that seems to be the only thing that they’re doing, is talking as if they’re tough. But I haven’t seen particular strategies that they would suggest that would make a real difference.
Now, there are a few exceptions. And as I said, the primary exception is those who would deploy U.S. troops on a large scale to retake territory either in Iraq or now in Syria. And at least they have the honesty to go ahead and say that’s what they would do. I just addressed why I think they’re wrong. There have been some who are well-meaning, and I don’t doubt their sincerity when it comes to the issue of the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, who, for example, call for a no-fly zone or a safe zone of some sort.
And this is an example of the kind of issue where I will sit down with our top military and intelligence advisors, and we will painstakingly go through what does something like that look like. And typically, after we’ve gone through a lot of planning and a lot of discussion, and really working it through, it is determined that it would be counterproductive to take those steps — in part because ISIL does not have planes, so the attacks are on the ground. A true safe zone requires us to set up ground operations. And the bulk of the deaths that have occurred in Syria, for example, have come about not because of regime bombing, but because of on-the-ground casualties. Who would come in, who could come out of that safe zone; how would it work; would it become a magnet for further terrorist attacks; and how many personnel would be required, and how would it end — there’s a whole set of questions that have to be answered there.
I guess my point is this, Jim: My only interest is to end suffering and to keep the American people safe. And if there’s a good idea out there, then we’re going to do it. I don’t think I’ve shown hesitation to act — whether it’s with respect to bin Laden or with respect to sending additional troops in Afghanistan, or keeping them there — if it is determined that it’s actually going to work.
But what we do not do, what I do not do is to take actions either because it is going to work politically or it is going to somehow, in the abstract, make America look tough, or make me look tough. And maybe part of the reason is because every few months I go to Walter Reed, and I see a 25-year-old kid who’s paralyzed or has lost his limbs, and some of those are people I’ve ordered into battle. And so I can’t afford to play some of the political games that others may.
We’ll do what’s required to keep the American people safe. And I think it’s entirely appropriate in a democracy to have a serious debate about these issues. If folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan. If they think that somehow their advisors are better than the Chairman of my Joint Chiefs of Staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate. But what I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning, or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people, and to protect people in the region who are getting killed, and to protect our allies and people like France. I’m too busy for that.
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. I wanted to go back to something that you said to Margaret earlier when you said that you have not underestimated ISIS’s abilities. This is an organization that you once described as a JV team that evolved into a force that has now occupied territory in Iraq and Syria and is now able to use that safe haven to launch attacks in other parts of the world. How is that not underestimating their capabilities? And how is that contained, quite frankly? And I think a lot of Americans have this frustration that they see that the United States has the greatest military in the world, it has the backing of nearly every other country in the world when it comes to taking on ISIS. I guess the question is — and if you’ll forgive the language — is why can’t we take out these bastards?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Jim, I just spent the last three questions answering that very question, so I don’t know what more you want me to add. I think I’ve described very specifically what our strategy is, and I’ve described very specifically why we do not pursue some of the other strategies that have been suggested.
This is not, as I said, a traditional military opponent. We can retake territory. And as long as we leave our troops there, we can hold it, but that does not solve the underlying problem of eliminating the dynamics that are producing these kinds of violent extremist groups.
And so we are going to continue to pursue the strategy that has the best chance of working, even though it does not offer the satisfaction, I guess, of a neat headline or an immediate resolution. And part of the reason, as I said, Jim, is because there are costs to the other side. I just want to remind people, this is not an abstraction. When we send troops in, those troops get injured, they get killed; they’re away from their families; our country spends hundreds of billions of dollars. And so given the fact that there are enormous sacrifices involved in any military action, it’s best that we don’t shoot first and aim later. It’s important for us to get the strategy right. And the strategy that we are pursuing is the right one.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I think a lot of people around the world and in America are concerned because given the strategy that you’re pursuing — and it’s been more than a year now — ISIS’s capabilities seem to be expanding. Were you aware that they had the capability of pulling off the kind of attack that they did in Paris? Are you concerned? And do you think they have that same capability to strike in the United States?
And do you think that given all you’ve learned about ISIS over the past year or so, and given all the criticism about your underestimating them, do you think you really understand this enemy well enough to defeat them and to protect the homeland?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, so this is another variation on the same question. And I guess — let me try it one last time.
We have been fully aware of the potential capabilities of them carrying out a terrorist attack. That’s precisely why we have been mounting a very aggressive strategy to go after them. As I said before, when you’re talking about the ability of a handful of people with not wildly sophisticated military equipment, weapons, who are willing to die, they can kill a lot of people. And preventing them from doing so is challenging for every country. And if there was a swift and quick solution to this, I assure you that not just the United States, but France and Turkey, and others who have been subject to these terrorist attacks would have implemented those strategies.
There are certain advantages that the United States has in preventing these kinds of attacks. Obviously, after 9/11, we hardened the homeland, set up a whole series of additional steps to protect aviation, to apply lessons learned. We’ve seen much better cooperation between the FBI, state governments, local governments. There is some advantages to geography with respect to the United States.
But, having said that, we’ve seen the possibility of terrorist attacks on our soil. There was the Boston Marathon bombers. Obviously, it did not result in the scale of death that we saw in Paris, but that was a serious attempt at killing a lot of people by two brothers and a crockpot. And it gives you some sense of, I think, the kinds of challenges that are going to be involved in this going forward.
So again, ISIL has serious capabilities. Its capabilities are not unique. They are capabilities that other terrorist organizations that we track and are paying attention to possess, as well. We are going after all of them.
What is unique about ISIL is the degree to which it has been able to control territory that then allows them to attract additional recruits, and the greater effectiveness that they have on social media and their ability to use that to not only attract recruits to fight in Syria, but also potentially to carry out attacks in the homeland and in Europe and in other parts of the world.
And so our ability to shrink the space in which they can operate, combined with a resolution to the Syria situation — which will reduce the freedom with which they feel that they can operate, and getting local forces who are able to hold and keep them out over the long term, that ultimately is going to be what’s going to make a difference. And it’s going to take some time, but it’s not something that at any stage in this process have we not been aware needs to be done.
Q (Off-mic) — Mr. President?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay, go ahead.
Q Should I wait for the microphone?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, I can hear you.
Q Okay, thank you so much. (Inaudible.) I want to ask a question (inaudible). These terrorist attacks we’ve seen allegedly have been attacks under the name of Islam. But this really takes — or upsets the peaceful people like countries like Turkey. So how can we give off that (inaudible) this is not really representative of Muslims?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, this is something that we spoke a lot about at the G20. The overwhelming majority of victims of terrorism over the last several years, and certainly the overwhelming majority of victims of ISIL, are themselves Muslims. ISIL does not represent Islam. It is not representative in any way of the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of Muslims. This is something that’s been emphasized by Muslim leaders — whether it’s President Erdogan or the President of Indonesia or the President of Malaysia — countries that are majority Muslim, but have shown themselves to be tolerant and to work to be inclusive in their political process.
And so to the degree that anyone would equate the terrible actions that took place in Paris with the views of Islam, those kinds of stereotypes are counterproductive. They’re wrong. They will lead, I think, to greater recruitment into terrorist organizations over time if this becomes somehow defined as a Muslim problem as opposed to a terrorist problem.
Now, what is also true is, is that the most vicious terrorist organizations at the moment are ones that claim to be speaking on behalf of true Muslims. And I do think that Muslims around the world — religious leaders, political leaders, ordinary people — have to ask very serious questions about how did these extremist ideologies take root, even if it’s only affecting a very small fraction of the population. It is real and it is dangerous. And it has built up over time, and with social media it has now accelerated.
And so I think, on the one hand, non-Muslims cannot stereotype, but I also think the Muslim community has to think about how we make sure that children are not being infected with this twisted notion that somehow they can kill innocent people and that that is justified by religion. And to some degree, that is something that has to come from within the Muslim community itself. And I think there have been times where there has not been enough pushback against extremism. There’s been pushback — there are some who say, well, we don’t believe in violence, but are not as willing to challenge some of the extremist thoughts or rationales for why Muslims feel oppressed. And I think those ideas have to be challenged.
Let me make one last point about this, and then unfortunately I have to take a flight to Manila. I’m looking forward to seeing Manila, but I hope I can come back to Turkey when I’m not so busy.
One of the places that you’re seeing this debate play itself out is on the refugee issue both in Europe, and I gather it started popping up while I was gone back in the United States. The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. They are parents, they are children, they are orphans. And it is very important — and I was glad to see that this was affirmed again and again by the G20 — that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.
In Europe, I think people like Chancellor Merkel have taken a very courageous stance in saying it is our moral obligation, as fellow human beings, to help people who are in such vulnerable situations. And I know that it is putting enormous strains on the resources of the people of Europe. Nobody has been carrying a bigger burden than the people here in Turkey, with 2.5 million refugees, and the people of Jordan and Lebanon, who are also admitting refugees. The fact that they’ve kept their borders open to these refugees is a signal of their belief in a common humanity.
And so we have to, each of us, do our part. And the United States has to step up and do its part. And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution — that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.
When Pope Francis came to visit the United States, and gave a speech before Congress, he didn’t just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn’t call on Catholic parishes just to admit to those who were of the same religious faith. He said, protect people who are vulnerable.
And so I think it is very important for us right now — particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard — not to fall into that trap, not to feed that dark impulse inside of us.
I had a lot of disagreements with George W. Bush on policy, but I was very proud after 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the fact that this is not a war on Islam. And the notion that some of those who have taken on leadership in his party would ignore all of that, that’s not who we are. On this, they should follow his example. It was the right one. It was the right impulse. It’s our better impulse. And whether you are European or American, the values that we are defending — the values that we’re fighting against ISIL for are precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith. We don’t kill people because they’re different than us. That’s what separates us from them. And we don’t feed that kind of notion that somehow Christians and Muslims are at war.
And if we want to be successful at defeating ISIL, that’s a good place to start — by not promoting that kind of ideology, that kind of attitude. In the same way that the Muslim community has an obligation not to in any way excuse anti-Western or anti-Christian sentiment, we have the same obligation as Christians. And we are — it is good to remember that the United States does not have a religious test, and we are a nation of many peoples of different faiths, which means that we show compassion to everybody. Those are the universal values we stand for. And that’s what my administration intends to stand for.
Thank you very much, everybody.
by Fr. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M.Cap.
Today’s world-wide conflict between the Church and secular society over the family has been anticipated and even prophesied — both by John Bosco’s dream in 1862 (see my previous post, Oct. 1, 2015), and by the powerful encyclical, Humanae Vitae, issued by Pope Paul VI in 1968.
Bishops against bishops, cardinals against cardinals? Worldwide conflict? Who expected this instability to explode in our own day and even enter the heart of the Church at her highest levels. But it has begun. Today at the October 2015 Synod in Rome, bishops and cardinals are sharply divided and challenging one another over the very meaning of marriage, human sexuality, and the family.
Even before the Synod, Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany championed the reception of Holy Communion for the civilly divorced and remarried in certain cases, and also said that we should honor homosexual relationships which last –and recognize “elements of the good” in them.
If that wasn’t startling enough, the “Kasper Proposal” uncovered a lot of hidden approval among the bishops: Archbishop Blase Cupich, recently appointed to the influential Archdiocese of Chicago stated : “If people come to a decision in good conscience then our job is to help them move forward and to respect that. ” And he said: “It’s for everybody”. But, does he mean this “everybody” to Include racists and pedophiles? Apparently this means that communion is open to all as long as they are following their conscience—and only they know that.
This is truly a rupture of belief among the hierarchy. Consider that at the very opening of the Synod Cardinal Peter Erdo stated that the push to permit the civilly divorce and remarried to be able to receive Holy Communion is “a pressure with no foundation.” In other words it is a closed question.
Cardinal Erdo’s statement met with complete resistance from other bishops: Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher responded by saying that giving communion to the civilly divorced and remarried was still an “open question.”
This is truly a chasm between Church teaching and the push to re-fashion the Church to reflect the modern world, which is the exact opposite of the advice given to the Christian by St. Paul who urged: “Do not be conformed to this world”
READ MORE via capuchins.org Source: John Bosco’s Prophecy (Part II): The Synod at the Crossroads | Capuchin Franciscans – News Blog
Who really died?
I never saw
The light of day.
Of a kind
I knew not,
And then no more….
How did I know you?
All I knew was you.
You flavored my becoming,
Your genes, my genes,
By blood connection.
And then no more…..
How did I feel you?
Warmth, gentle rocking
To and fro.
I felt you,
You whooshed at times
And then no more…..
How did I leave you?
I knew anguish
As once I knew you,
Your blood feeding mine,
I knew as parting,
Leaving behind mother
As gift withdrawn,
And bid goodbye.
Too young for endings,
Too soon to die,
And then no more…..
How now and by and by?
Sorrow and black
And then the Light.
New Day, as womb,
Beginning yet again.
And I behold
The Face of God.
I wait for you.
Eternity has a door,
God knocks from His side,
I listen for you.
Pray but open the latch.
That you might die no more,
And free from sin,
There is yet more.
Who really died that day?
Patrick Madrid podcast: the Vatican on Christian Persecution in Mideast, What it means to be fully human and Relativism according to Jean Vanier, and Reincarnation – all on this podcast with on the ground input from the Assyrian community.
The recently displaced archbishop of Mosul, Iraq was speaking with particular candor when I met him last fall in the Middle East.
He said, “People in the West say ‘they don’t know.’ How can you not know? You either support ISIS or you must have turned off all the satellites. I am sorry to say this, but my pain is big.”
Like so many Christians in Iraq and Syria who watched ISIS kidnap their leaders, burn their churches, sell their children, and threaten all others with conversion or beheading; the archbishop wonders how it is that these maniacs so easily took his home city this summer?
The people whose lives have been threatened or destroyed by ISIS just don’t understand how this pre-modern evil could run unchecked.It is a good question.
Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city and was once the home of Iraq’s most vulnerable and persistent Christian community, tracing their lineage nearly to the time of Christ.
Now there are no Christians left.
All of this happened under the watchful eye of West, and while you’d hope that the humanitarian threat alone would have motivated the West to act, you would be certain that Mosul’s strategic importance would do so.
Neither proved true.
Mosul was easily taken by ISIS troops, riding in on their decrepit pick up trucks with guns bolted to them. Her ancient streets have since been turned red with innocent blood, and the city has become a base for a jihad that rages wildly throughout the entire region and boils underground in scores of countries throughout the world.
The archbishop’s perspective represented the sentiment of nearly everyone I have met or have communicated with in the region. The people whose lives have been threatened or destroyed by ISIS just don’t understand how this pre-modern evil could run unchecked.
They wonder how it could be that it took the most powerful nations in the world, using airstrikes, over four months with the help of Kurdish forces to defeat a few hundred jihadists waging war in the town of Kobani, and how it is that ISIS has been able to openly run its “state” from a self-determined capital city called “Raqqa” without the daily threat of hundreds of unrelenting airstrikes. They also wonder how it is that Turkey’s border remains so porous allowing jihadist after jihadist to readily join ISIS.
The examples of Western inaction are unending.
At present, as many as 300 Assyrian Christians remain in captivity having been kidnapped two weeks ago as ISIS assaulted ten Assyrian, Christian villages along the Khabour River in Syria. That assault was conducted by a group of ISIS fighters travelling in a convoy of more than 40 clearly marked ISIS vehicles directly toward these vulnerable, Christian villages.
How is it possible that Western satellites didn’t spot a forty-car ISIS convoy in route to unarmed Christian villages in Syria, and if it was spotted how is that it wasn’t destroyed?
The title of this article is also the name of an extremely valuable online booklet by the late Father Henry V. Sattler, CSsR (1917-1999), yet it is also an assignment for today’s parents.
Our children and grandchildren are bombarded daily with messages that contradict common sense and put their very lives in jeopardy. It is the rare school teacher, public or private, who sifts through the sexually provocative material being presented as education and chooses only that which does not offend the sensitivities of the young in her charge.
For example, with your tax dollars, Planned Parenthood is indoctrinating children on all manner of perversion, including oral sex. In one of STOPP’s reports, we read:
The CDC report, Prevalence and Timing of Oral Sex, shows that about two-thirds of 15-24-year-olds have engaged in oral sex, with those ages 15-17 having a considerably higher incidence of oral sex without sexual intercourse than others. According to the report, almost half of boys and girls ages 15 to 19 have engaged in oral sex.
Planned Parenthood vice president of education Leslie Kantor said, in a recent New York Times article, that the important thing about the study is that it shows “that it’s probably equally likely for oral sex to happen before intercourse as after . . . so we need to provide sex education to young people that provides all the information they’ll need, from STDs to pregnancy prevention.”