Tag: Pope Francis

Why We Need to Save the Death Penalty and Two Suggestions as to How


shutterstock_307561823Pope Francis’s visit to the United States brought a tide of stories not directly associated with his address to Congress, but one matter he did discuss — and subsequently followed-up on — seems to have slipped past with little discussion. To wit, Francis found time between his surreptitious visit with Kim Davis and various other activities to have a curious letter be written on his behalf to a Georgia parole board requesting clemency to one Kelly Gissendaner, who had been sentenced to death for her involvement with the murder of her husband in 1997 by her lover. Regardless, Gissendaner was executed on Wednesday after various appeals were denied.

The pope’s position on the death penalty is, at the very minimum, consistent with his position on abortion. But foolish consistency can be the hobgoblin of small minds. It’s one thing to be consistent, but it’s another thing entirely to be morally consistent. That’s where my position on the death penalty comes in. It seems appropriate to draw distinctions between the taking of innocent versus guilty life.

Our system of criminal justice — and, thus, our use of the death penalty — is based upon retributive justice. This is distinct from “revenge,” which has a connotation of arbitrariness, disproportion, and emotionality. Under retributive justice, we punish wrongdoers in a fashion meant to be in proportion to their offense. In the case of property crime, offenders will frequently be imprisoned for some period of time in proportion to the severity of the damage suffered by their victims and, in some cases, face a financial penalty. In the case of murder, it should be obvious that nothing could replace that which was taken. What financial sum could replace a life? What term in prison could serve as just retribution equal to another person’s value to society? The answer, of course, is none but we attempt to do so by imprisoning people for the remainder of their natural life without the possibility of parole.

Ricochet Essay Question of the Weekend, or, Michelangelo for Sale?


Pieta For SaleLet us suppose that a rich man — a very, very rich man, such as, for example, Jack Ma, who possesses a net worth of some $20 billion — makes a straightforward proposition to the Vatican.

Aware that Pope Francis speaks constantly about the plight of the poor, an inspired by the Morris West novel, Shoes of the Fisherman, which culminates in a decision by the pope of the day to sell all the Vatican’s treasures to avert a famine, Mr. Ma has decided to make an offer for one Vatican treasure in particular: the Pieta.

If Pope Francis will sell him the Pieta, Mr. Ma says, he will pay, let us say, $5 billion. That would be by far the highest amount ever paid for a work of art, Mr. Ma acknowledges, but the Pieta is perhaps one of the half dozen most magnificent pieces of art ever created — and, since he knows the money will go to the poor, Mr. Ma explains, he has no intention of quibbling.

Kim Davis, the Pope, and NPR


Kim-Davis-mugshotAn email from a friend:

“A holiday, like Liberalism, only means the liberty of man. A miracle only means the liberty of God. You may conscientiously deny either of them, but you cannot call your denial a triumph of the liberal idea. The Catholic Church believed that man and God both had a sort of spiritual freedom. Calvinism took away the freedom from man, but left it to God. Scientific materialism binds the Creator Himself; it chains up God as the Apocalypse chained the devil. It leaves nothing free in the universe. And those who assist this process are called the ‘liberal theologians.'” — G. K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy

If like me you listened to NPR’s Morning Edition this morning, you’d know that the entire first ten minutes of the broadcast was a survey of news that the Pope had summoned and met with Kim Davis. The lede of the piece? Its entire conceit? That the Pope had probably made a mistake; that an aide had entrepreneurially set up the meeting; that just a day before Pope Francis was heard to have said something which could be construed as suggesting that he didn’t even know who Davis was, so he probably — certainly! definitely! — did not request the meeting with Davis; it must have been a mistake.

Report: Pope Francis Met With Kim Davis


From the NYT:

Pope Francis met secretly in Washington last week with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who defied a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, her lawyer said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. Francis gave her rosaries and told her to “stay strong,” the lawyer said. Ms. Davis and her husband, Joe, were sneaked into the Vatican Embassy by car on Thursday afternoon, according to Ms. Davis’s lawyer, Mathew D. Staver. The couple met for about 15 minutes with the pope, who was accompanied by security, aides and photographers. Mr. Staver said he expected to receive photographs of the meeting from the Vatican soon.

Adios Francisco


PopeAirToward the end of last week, a Jewish friend asked me what I thought of Pope Francis’s performance on his North American tour. I hesitated to answer. What I wanted to say was that he’s driving me crazy. “I’m conflicted,” was the best I could come up with.

I’m the type who thinks you don’t talk smack about the pope. Call it the Catholic version of Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment.

Yet I struggle, like so many of my conservative Catholic friends, to hold my tongue when the Holy Father pronounces on such non-dogmatic issues as capitalism and climate change, or when he scolds the American bishops for being “harsh” and “divisive.” So much of what he says—and how he says it— seems deliberately aimed at Catholics who actually stuck with the church all these years, defending her honor against those who would run her out of the public square. We feel like we’re being singled out for criticism.

The Francis Effect


shutterstock_313976906According to a comprehensive Pew poll, since Francis became the supreme pontiff, the number of Catholics in this country has remained unchanged, the rate at which Catholics attend mass has remained unchanged, and the rates at which Catholics go to confession or participate in volunteer activities in their churches and communities has remained … unchanged.

In view of all this, Mollie Hemingway on the Pope’s visit:

It’s wonderful that some people say that Francis makes them feel the church is more welcoming to them. But if it’s just making people feel more comfortable in their politics, instead of making them feel the comfort of absolution, communion and strengthening of faith, that’s not much to get excited about.

This week, Larry Kudlow and Tim Pawlenty discuss the Pope’s arrival on our shores and his views on global warming, capitalism, importance of marriage, immigration.

Also, why the Iran deal must be stopped, should the Republicans shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding? Tell us your opinion in the comments.

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Pope Francis addressed Congress, today, calling on America to open it’s borders, not close them. The Hill reports: Noting his own status as “the son of immigrants,” the pope pivoted to a more sensitive subject: The flow of illegal immigrants across the United States’s southern border. Preview Open

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shutterstock_106824764In the most literal sense, the Industrial Revolution was dirty business. Never before in our planet’s history had man done as much damage to the land, the air, and the waters as when we first acquired powered machines. In search of energy, forests were torn down, peat bogs were ripped up, and coal was extracted and burned in ways that we’d find repulsive today.

Though that point is often presented as an ipso facto condemnation of the Industrial Revolution, that’s not the only possible interpretation. Perhaps, as unhealthy and disgusting as that era was, the costs were worth the gains. The very same processes that polluted the Earth also brought goods and services to millions that, only years before, had been available only to the wealthy few (if at all).

Given that the Industrial Revolution began and grew in one of the freest societies to have graced the planet, we might conclude that the British understood the trade-offs and  accepted them. Indeed, despite the the smog clouds and drudgery they offered, cities and industrial mills attracted people like never before, and apparently with good reason: despite all the shortcomings those places offered in terms of health and welfare, life expectancy and purchasing power soared. Simply put, the costs of breathing smog outside were worth the benefits of burning coal inside.

A Fool’s Errand? Attempting to Educate Pope Francis on the Climate and Economics

The First Family of the US with the pope at the White House on September 23, 2015.

The First Family of the US with the pope at the White House on September 23, 2015.

Below is a piece that Heartland Senior Fellow James Taylor and I got published at US News and World Report yesterday about how Pope Francis is being misinformed by the bureaucrats at the United Nations about the causes and consequences of climate change. (Hint: It’s not caused by man, and any natural warming that might occur is not bad .. and might be good!)

America, Give Francis a Chance


21663687125_ad4250b5d1_kPope Francis has arrived in America. Good for him and hooray for the American Catholic Church. It’s always nice to hear a good news. Living in Ireland, where the Roman Catholic church has been turned into the proverbial boogeyman once reserved for my English cousins — with falling priest numbers and even fewer congregations — I am always happy to see a positive story about the Catholic Church, no matter the occasion. Let us hope it leads to a boom in vocations in the American homeland, and perhaps a trickle here in Ireland, too.

Since his election two years ago, Francis has done more wonders for the Catholic Church’s public relations than 1,000 spin merchants working day and night across the oceans. Ordinary people — believers and non-believers, Catholics and non-Catholics — who would normally never give the Church or its leaders the time of day fall over themselves to praise or take interest in him.

Whilst it unnerved (and still unnerves) this exceptionally lousy, traditional Catholic to see friends and liberal celebrities offer their praise Francis — especially give the way they unfairly excoriated Pope Benedict — I have come to realize that he may be a shepherd who can reach out beyond those who are already within the Catholic tent. This has to be good, right? Even the secular liberal press who normally enjoy sticking the knife into conservatives and orthodox Catholics have taken it upon themselves to spin for Francis (whether he knows about this or what they are stating/pushing on his behalf is unclear). While also unnerving, given some of the lies told on his behalf, it is also welcome.

Francis in Cuba


From an editorial in the Washington Post:

A Cuban dissident is prevented by securiThe pope is spending four days in a country whose Communist dictatorship has remained unrelenting in its repression of free speech, political dissent and other human rights despite a warming of relations with the Vatican and the United States. Yet by the end of his third day, the pope had said or done absolutely nothing that might discomfit his official hosts.

Flyover 42 – Soto Returns!


Frank Soto joins us this week; pessimistic about the pope, optimistic about conservatives’ political future. Is Marco Rubio out of the race? We’re done talking about Trump, and — given the prescience of Flyover Country — let us simply assume that this is the start of something. Speaking of which, Rob Long points out an article in which Newsmax declares Flyover Country to be the #1 conservative podcast in the Multiverse. You’ve got to read between the lines, but that’s essentially what they’re saying.

Intro includes a song from Ronald Jenkees; closing music this week comes from Public Service Broadcasting; h/t Ricochet member Lance.

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Francis the First is the Bishop of Rome, and holds in his office the authority granted by Jesus to Simon Peter, the first Bishop of Rome. He is the first among all the bishops of the Catholic Church. He is also the head of a medieval institution in which even his relatively plain residence looks like […]

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A GOP congressman plans to miss the pope’s speech because he does not like some of the pontiff’s views. I urge him to reconsider because: we are not Democrats who are rude to official visitors to our country who happen not to be dictators, witness Obama’s invitation of a pro-abortion nun to meet with Pope […]

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‘To Those That Were Robbed of Life…’


Pope Francis babyTO THOSE WHO WERE ROBBED OF LIFE: the unborn, the weak, the sick, the old, during the dark ages of madness, selfishness, lust and greed for which the last decades of the twentieth century are remembered….” C. Everett Koop, MD

Much has been made of the recent decision of Pope Francis to allow priests to absolve those involved in the grave sin of abortion. Catholics and non-Catholics alike who depend on the major media for what this means might misinterpret his letter. Many outlets are reporting that this decision leaves the possibility that the act of an aborting a child might no longer be a grave sin, or was not a grave sin in the first place. This is not the case.

Let me start with a quote from Pope Francis’s full letter as reprinted by The Catholic Herald UK.

Laudato Si and a Pope in Tune with the Spirit of the Times



Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote that “The Church aims, not at making a show, but at doing a work. She regards this world, and all that is in it, as a mere shadow, as dust and ashes, compared with the value of one single soul.” Pope Francis, in a sense, would agree. In March, for example, he said in a homily that “the style of the good God is not to produce a spectacle: God acts in humility, in silence, in the little things.” Of course, the papacy is not a little thing, and so much of a pope’s activity inadvertently can become “spectacle.” Yet this pontificate has been anything but quiet.

From the pope riding in a Kia to colorful off-the-cuff remarks in interviews, Francis seems to relish the spotlight. Now the pope has written Laudato Si, an encyclical about “doing a work,” albeit a work to save this world.  After some time to consider Laudato Si, and to observe some responses to the document, we can better appreciate its significance for the Church going forward.