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Catholic in America: 2014: What hast thou wrought?

The Michigan Catholic

December 26, 2014

Al Kresta

It’s late December, and the close of another year. Of what have we been concerned, and what have we learned, in 2014?

Torture: Senate Democrats recently released a report criticizing the CIA for using “torture” to extract information from detainees. The debate revolved around the definition of “torture.” The debate is an old one.

World War I, the “Great War,” experimented with new destructive devices: machine guns, tanks, poison gas, aerial bombardment. Churchill wrote “When all was over, torture and cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian states had been able to deny themselves: and these were of doubtful utility.” That was the sad limit of military restraint mustered by the most morally cultivated nations in human history (Southern Baptist theologian Albert Moehler in First Things).

‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’: Celebrated director Ridley Scott retold the story of the Hebrew people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt. Many Christians complained that it minimized the supernatural and made God look cruel. But there is one unambiguous sign in the film that is clearly supernatural: the death of the Egyptian firstborn on Passover night accompanied by an ominous shadow from heaven falling over the land. Film critic Steven Greydanus reflected that the hand of God is nakedly working in slow, progressive stages to shape his chosen people, despite the resistance of human sinfulness: “God’s character and nature were thus more clearly understood in Moses’ day than in Abraham’s, and more in Isaiah’s day than Moses’ — and more in Jesus’ day than Isaiah’s.”

Race and Ferguson: Recently, Fr. Robert (Rosy) Rosebrough, pastor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Church in Ferguson, Mo., took a walk down a street often seen during the protests and looting.

“I felt proud to live in Ferguson,” he said. “I saw creative and thoughtful artwork. Many people of faith and love have transformed the plywood covering the windows into pieces of art and joy. Trumping fear and despair. I love the one phrase on Natalie’ Cakes boarded window that says: ‘Love Wins.’”

Pastor “Rosy” sensed a growing hope and enthusiasm emerging in the aftermath of the racial strife and he exhorted his flock.

“We, the parishioners of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, choose to live on the edge with hope.
“We, as disciples of Jesus Christ, will not be thrown off our mission to right some of the wrongs that we have allowed to occur in the past within our community;
“We, as disciples of Jesus Christ, will open our hearts and listen to the stories of others in order to experience them as brothers and sisters;
“We as the disciples of Jesus Christ will pray … for three years asking God to form and shape us … He is the potter and we are the clay, the work of His hands.”
Cyber-terrorism: North Korean cyber-hackers threatened to wage a 9-11 scale attack in theaters if Sony released its movie, “The Interview,” which features a corrupt, tyrannical North Korean dictator. Full of disgrace, the multinational entertainment giant caved to the cyber-terrorists’ demands. Newt Gingrich tweeted: “No one should kid themselves. With the Sony collapse, America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very, very dangerous precedent.”

Hobby Lobby and the HHS mandate: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the retail chain Hobby Lobby need not provide insurance covering abortifacient contraceptives. Barbara Green, matriarch of the family that founded the firm, declared that “the Supreme Court reaffirmed what our family has always believed: that America is a country founded on and sustained by religious liberty. It’s been a long journey but an important one for our family and for those who wish to be guided in all areas of life, including their businesses, by faith and conscience.”

ISIS and culture shock: Living in Nazareth, Fr. Gabriel Nadaf of the Greek Orthodox Church requires the highest level of security protection offered by Israeli authorities. Why? Because every five minutes, a Christian is martyred in the region where Jesus lived.

Beheadings of Western journalists, Christian children, and Muslims who disagree with ISIS should jolt the West. Hear the exiled archbishop of Mosul as he chides our sloppy thinking and self-righteous political correctness:

“Please, try to understand us [Iraqi Christians],” he said. “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. Consider our reality in the Middle East. Because you are welcoming an ever-growing number of Muslims, you are in danger.”

Hear the cry of a shepherd who watched his flock decimated by wolves as the West stood by calling for tolerance. Emerging from years of collaborating with religious leaders to locate the paths to world peace, mild-mannered, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now a Catholic, startled interviewers by warning that radical Islamism remains the greatest threat to international peace.

Pope Francis: It is in this world that his admonitions and priorities must guide us. Daily, “bring the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they be our neighbors or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching which takes place in the middle of a conversation … Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.” Amen.

Al Kresta is president and CEO of Ave Maria Communications in Ann Arbor. His radio program, “Kresta in the Afternoon,” can be heard from 4-6 p.m. daily on 990 AM-WDEO and EWTN.


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