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My People

Vol. 27, Issue 8, August 2014

"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." — 2 Chronicles 7:14


Migrants arriving at Lampedusa. Credit: Caritas

Religious Persecution Is Alarming

Pope Francis denounced religious persecution at a June 20 meeting in Vatican City on "International Religious Freedom and the Global Clash of Values." The meeting was hosted by St. John's University of New York and the Libera Università Maria Ss. Assunta of Rome.

The Pope's remarks follow:

"... The debate over religious freedom has become very intense recently, turning to both Governments and religious Confessions. On this matter, the Catholic Church refers to the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae, one of the most important documents of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.

"In fact, every human being is a 'seeker' of the truth of his own origin and of his own destiny. In the person's mind and in the 'heart,' thoughts and questions arise, which cannot be repressed or smothered, such that they emerge from a profound place and are intrinsic to one's intimate essence. They are questions of religion and, in order to fully manifest themselves, require religious freedom. They seek to shed light on the authentic meaning of existence, on the links that bind it to the cosmos and to history, and seek to rend the darkness that would engulf human history should such questions not be asked, should they remain unanswered. The Psalmist says: 'When I look at Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast established; what is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou dost care for him?' (Ps 8:3-4).

"Reason recognizes in religious freedom a fundamental human right which reflects the highest human dignity, the ability to seek the truth and conform to it, and recognizes in it a condition which is indispensable to the ability to deploy all of one's own potentiality. Religious freedom is not only that of private thought or worship. It is the liberty to live, both privately and publicly, according to the ethical principals resulting from found truth. This is a great challenge in the globalized world, where weak thought — which is like a disease — also lowers the general ethical level, and in the name of a false concept of tolerance, it ends in persecuting those who defend the truth about man and its ethical consequences.

"Legal systems, therefore, whether state or international, are called upon to recognize, guarantee, and protect religious freedom, which is an intrinsic right inherent to human nature, to the dignity of being free, and is also a sign of a healthy democracy and one of the principal sources of the legitimacy of the State.

"Religious freedom, acknowledged in constitutions and laws and expressed in consistent conduct, promotes the development of relationships of mutual respect among the diverse Confessions and their healthy collaboration with the State and political society, without confusion of roles and without antagonism. In place of the global clash of values, it thus becomes possible to start from a nucleus of universally shared values, of global cooperation in view of the common good.

"In light of the acquisitions of reason, confirmed and refined through revelation and the civil progress of peoples, it is incomprehensible and alarming that still today discrimination and restrictions of rights continue for the single fact that one belongs to and publicly professes an unwavering faith. It is unacceptable that real persecution is actually sustained for reasons of religious affiliation! Wars as well! This distorts reason, attacks peace, and humiliates human dignity.

"It causes me great pain to know that Christians in the world submit to the greatest amount of such discrimination. Persecution against Christians today is actually worse than in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs today than in that era. This is happening more than 1700 years after the edict of Constantine, which gave Christians the freedom to publicly profess their faith. . ."

"Blossoms Of Prayers" Offered For Migrants

by Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, S.D.B.

Caritas in Lampedusa provides help to the newly arrived migrants. Credit: Caritas

(Editor's note: This report was provided by Caritas. Cardinal Maradiaga is the president of Caritas. He is a staunch defender of human rights and a powerful defender in the global fight against poverty.)

We live in a world today which seems like science fiction compared to the one I grew up in. If you have a computer, you can stay at home and videochat with friends in another country, shop, and bank online and access whole libraries of information. This is our globalized world today.

Unfortunately, rather than creating the conditions for a "globalization of spirit" where we live in a state of peaceful co-existence and fraternity, we are increasingly experiencing a "globalization of indifference."

This is what Pope Francis spoke about during mass on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa in July 2013. It is a place where thousands of migrants have died - drowned at sea - trying to reach Italy.

I've been thinking about the Pope's visit to Lampedusa as I prepare to speak at a major migration conference in Washington organized by Catholic Charities USA, the US Bishops' Conference, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

We have worked so hard to break down the barriers to trade, travel, and communication and yet we build walls and fences to stop the movement of people. Many migrants don't have the option of staying at home to surf the net and to take advantage of this globalized world because not only do many not have a computer, but often they can't even afford to provide their children with regular nutritious meals.

While there is inequality, poverty, and a lack of opportunities in many countries people will have no option but to leave if they want themselves and their families to prosper. It is a question of human rights but also, quite simply of humanity.

Quite often, the richer a person or a country becomes, the higher the barriers they build between themselves and others. The fear of losing what they've got becomes more powerful than their love and responsibility towards others.

A year after his visit to Lampedusa, the Holy Father has written to the Archbishop of Agrigento, Sicily, in a "spiritual revisitation" to the island and to throw "blossoms of prayer" into the waters for the suffering of the women, children, and men who flee poverty and wars in search of a better of a better life.

The Pope says that the migration crisis needs to be faced not with the "logic of indifference" but with the "logic of hospitality and sharing" so that we can promote human dignity.

For any person of faith, there is no clearer message of how we should respond to migrants than the story of the Good Samaritan. Welcome the stranger. Feed him, bathe his wounds, and take care of him. Welcome the one who is different to you.

The migrants who arrive at our borders are often frightened and traumatized. They have taken their courage in their hands and have embarked on a journey of thousands of kilometers with no guarantee of success. They may have faced trafficking and abuse and hunger. But when I look at how the international community is reacting to the migration crisis, I wonder who's the most afraid: the migrants or the countries where they're heading?!

In some parts of the world, migrants - including children - are locked up in cells and made to sleep on concrete floors. The authorities seem to not even consider the person's dignity or the psychological damage inflicted by detaining the migrants like prisoners.

The walls and fences will never be high enough nor strong enough to keep millions of migrants from their destinies because they have courage, strength, and determination on their side. If their countries offered the migrants opportunities and a dignified life, they would stay at home and use these qualities and their talents to invest in the building of their own countries.

Pope Francis encourages us to offer a welcoming hand to the migrants arriving on our shores and at our borders. He invites us to do this without fear and with tenderness and comprehension.

Can we have courage, strength, and determination to match that of the migrants so we are able to welcome them, to help change the systems which mean their countries stay poor while others get rich and to build a globalization of solidarity?

To do this, we need to break down the barriers within ourselves before anything else. Maybe we can start by offering "blossoms of prayer" for those who have died on the migrant journey and for those who are still travelling.

Migrants Face Critical Issues

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, addressed the UN's Human Rights Council meeting on June 13 in Geneva. His address follows:

"The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants clearly points out several critical issues concerning exploitation of migrants and underlined the emergence of new vulnerable groups among people on the move. He also has rightly emphasized that the role of the recruitment agencies should be analyzed in a specific way. Migration is certainly beneficial for all involved, countries of origin, of arrival and for migrants themselves. After the anxiety and adjustment difficulties of the first impact between newcomers and host population, ample documentation supports the conclusion of the overall beneficial contribution of migrants, a fact that should be highlighted for an appropriate public perception of this phenomenon. As recalled by Pope Francis 'A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization — all typical of a throwaway culture — towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world' (Pope Francis, Message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, 2014). There remains, however, a tragic and suffering side of this experience: trafficking of persons, abuse of migrant domestic workers, and slave labor. Among the relatively new categories of people on the move who call for a new form of protection and urgently demand the attention of the International Community are unaccompanied minors, whose numbers and abuses are fast growing.

"Forced displacement of people caused by current wars and the multiplication of violent conflicts in several regions of the globe is pushing hundreds of thousands of people to risk their lives in the search for survival. A poignant reminder of the futility of violence is the thousands of children who leave their homes and become asylum seekers. In 2011, 12,225 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in Europe. They represented all the trouble spots of the Middle East and Africa. Symptomatic is also the explosion of child migrants travelling alone in the hope of crossing the border into the United States. The child migrants surge has resulted in a steady increase from 2008 to today, so much so that in 2013, 38,883 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the United States-Mexican border and authorities anticipate that the numbers will double to well over 70,000 for 2014. On make-shift boats that cross the Mediterranean or on the railroads that connect from Central America to the North, these children are exposed to sexual violations, to starvation, to mutilations when they fall, and even to the loss of life when their boats sink or they get lost in the desert. This child exodus is primarily caused by the destabilization and endemic violence in the home-countries. Some children want to exercise their natural right to be with their families since these may be for years residing in another country without proper documentation. Others are faced with the necessity to escape an environment where more than 90% of the victims of homicide are young male adults and where as well 90% of those who commit homicide are young male adults: both are prompted to escape for survival. Others still prefer to die on the way to a dreamed destination of survival rather than dying of hunger or being killed by gangs and organized crime at home. Finally, the allure of a different lifestyle presented by television pre- socializes other children to move.

"In this complex situation it would be useful if the Special Rapporteur would add his contribution in helping Governments to devise some urgently needed solutions. Children on the move constitute a humanitarian emergency that calls for immediate remedies. Detention of minors is not an option and the best interest of the child should prevail even in these challenging circumstances. In an effort to prevent the continual flow of minors, international solidarity can be effective by helping to address urban violence at the source of the children's exodus. Legal channels for family reunification will also avoid children resorting to unsafe routes where their exploitation becomes almost unavoidable. Humanitarian values suggest as well the creation of some mechanisms of regularization that would allow children to live with their parents. This natural human right certainly takes priority over administrative infringement of border regulations. Finally, joint projects could open up some educational and employment opportunities for young people that would give them a sense of hope for the future and the reason to stay at home."

Solidarity Is A Duty

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Vatican to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland, addressed a meeting of the UN on June 13. It was a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. His address follows:

"...As States and civil society continue intensive efforts to plan strategically the future development of our planet and its peoples, we continue to be burdened, at this moment of history, with a long-term financial crisis. It has deeply affected not only those high-income economies where it was initiated, but also those struggling economies that depend so much on global opportunities in order to emerge from centuries-long oppression by abject poverty or by the remnants of colonialism, or by more recent unjust trade policies.

"Moreover, in view of the escalating conflicts between and within various States, the human family often appears incapable of safeguarding peace and harmony in our troubled world. Nor can we ignore the destructive effects wrought by climate change both on the natural patrimony of this earth and on all women and men who have been made the stewards of creation.

"Among the diverse causes of human suffering we must also consider the role of personal greed, which leads to the literal 'enslavement' of millions of women, children, and men in clear situations of abuse and total disregard for the human person. Similarly, we must also consider the situation of people in low-paid employment who work under extremely negative conditions from which they see no way of escape. In the face of these seemingly insurmountable challenges, we must recognize the constant refrain: the poor and marginalized citizens of our world suffer the most negative effects and find it increasingly more difficult to extract themselves from their daily suffering.

"Such tragic and unjust situations led Pope Francis to exclaim recently: '… inequality is the root of social evil' (Tweet by Pope Francis @pontifex, April 28, 2014) and to insist that 'money must serve, not rule' (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 2013, par. 58). Indeed, the inequalities in our present-day society cause the gap between the rich and the poor to fester and to produce deep fissures in relations among people on local, national, regional, and global levels.

"...Relying on the well-articulated Social Teaching of the Catholic Church, my Delegation proposes the principle and practice of solidarity as the only effective means to exit from the vicious cycle of poverty, of profiting at the expense of others, and of conflicts in this world. Solidarity is not a mere feeling of vague compassion, but rather, as Pope Paul II stated, 'it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; this is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all' (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 1987, par. 38). The Independent Expert on the Human Rights and to International Solidarity, in turn, focuses on the implementation of this principle in relations between States by observing that it '…is a vital component of the duty of States to provide and seek international cooperation and assistance in the implementation of their human rights obligations' (Report of the IE, A/HRC/26/34).

"Recent history has already confirmed the fact that global interdependence in our time is evident in such areas as public health, economy, and the environment. However, such interdependence must be animated and driven by a spirit of solidarity. Understood and applied in this manner, solidarity can prevent, or at least, mitigate the impact of the global challenges, which are only too well known by all sectors of today's society. Mere international cooperation, for example, can be perceived as a form of political 'palliative care,' never tackling the root causes of the imbalances between developed and developing countries, nor removing the structural obstacles that generate poverty worldwide. On the other hand, full implementation of the principle of solidarity can shift the focus from cooperation based on a logic of profit extracted from one country by another to one based on mutual help in a spirit of brotherhood exercised without any conditionality.

"On the micro level, the recognition of the principle of solidarity can help to elicit the support of individuals and communities in first resisting, and then resolving, such seemingly such intractable problems as human trafficking. Thus, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime launched a public awareness campaign asking people to self-reflect on this social scourge and to avoid any economic involvement in businesses that are based on such illegal activities. The Independent Expert makes reference to 'preventive solidarity' (Report of the IE, A/HRC/26/34) as an appropriate and needed response to climate-related disasters. How many of us respond immediately, with donations of money or material goods, when such disasters strike and we see the evidence of massive destruction of homes, community infrastructure, and human life? But, would it not be much better if we demonstrated solidarity by joining skill, expertise, experience, and resources to strengthen efforts at disaster preparedness and building of sturdy structures to withstand the forces of nature? In a similar way, how many more tragedies of migrants, and of would-be migrants, do we need to experience before we finally prompt a new comprehensive approach that favors prevention rather than a so-called 'cure?'

"Indeed, in the global arena, 'one also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at political, juridical, and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity' (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 2009, par. 67).

"Mr. President, solidarity comes from an absolutely binding ethic; it is not simply an option, but rather a duty. It becomes, therefore, urgent to continue the effort and arrive at a full recognition and legal application of the principle of solidarity. In order to fully implement this principle, all members of the human family are called 'to change the … attitudes which define each individual's relationship with self, with neighbor, with even the remotest human communities, and with nature itself; and all of this in view of higher values such as the common good or,… the full development of the whole individual and of all people' (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 1987, par. 38)."

Prison To Praise: Saved From Pornography

by Travis Malone

"Divine charity is the most precious gift of the Heart of Christ and of His Spirit: It is this which imparted to the Apostles and martyrs that fortitude, by the strength of which they fought their battles like heroes till death in order to preach the truth of the Gospel and bear witness to it by the shedding of their blood."

Pope Pius XII,
Haurietis Aquas

(Editor's note: Mr. Malone writes from Texas. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)

Greetings to you. I know everyone is busy, so thank you for taking the time to hear my story. After two years in federal prison, I feel that the Lord and the Blessed Mother want me to share with you an issue, a crime, and most importantly a sin that seems to be affecting Catholic men specifically.

But first, I must ask you to accept my apologies. I am a great speaker but when it comes to putting my thoughts in writing I am lacking. Growing up in Montana, with a learning disability, I have been blessed with bad grammar and even worse spelling. My generation never needed to learn how to spell or correct grammar. The computer did it for us. I hope you don't have too many issues translating this message. The computers we use to type don't spell or grammar check.

...I am a 37-year-old prisoner in Seagoville, Texas. I am serving a five year sentence for possession of child pornography. Pornography is a sin that has affected our society greatly and has effected so many people, for this I beg your forgiveness. I grew up on a ranch outside of Choteau, Montana. I was raised in a very Catholic family. When I was young I was always told I should be a priest because of my love of the Church and my good speaking abilities. School was always a struggle for me. I graduated near the bottom of my class. I also lost my father and mother at a very young age. Despite having many difficulties, the Lord blessed me with a successful life. I moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, for college, and there I fell into a career in radio with ABC in Spokane, Washington. I was involved in the Church and had always hoped for more of a religious life, but in the radio business here is a lot of sin, like drinking, drugs, and sex. Going to mass was more of a political affair to help my career rather than to praise the Lord. In 2007, I moved back to Montana, where my heart always was, to do radio there. I suffered all my life from depression and hated life at times even though God had given me so much. On September 30, 2010, I turned myself into the United States Marshals for my crime.

At this time I won't get into how I got into pornography, how it has ruined my mentally, physically, sexually, and spiritually. That story needs to be told as well, but in the future when the time is right. If you have never used pornography, I feel I need to let you know how it controlled me and my life. In this letter I will only focus on the repercussions of my addiction, upon request I can and want to let everyone know details. It is my hope that sharing my story will help the fight against pornography, a fight I hope to join somehow, someday. But I will tell you this today. I was never a smoker, never got hooded on drugs or alcohol. But this addiction is like someone addicted to tobacco. Pornography was the first thing in my life in the morning, before work, during lunch, after work, before bed, etc. All the time. Many of the men here have the same story.

What I want to address here today is the amount of Catholic men doing time for child pornography. The numbers are alarming. Here there are around 1,000 men on child pornography charges. We guess around 600 are Catholic, went to Catholic school, had a parent that was Catholic or has had some type of connection with the Catholic church. In my last prison the percentages were the same and it seems like all over the Bureau of Prisons the larger percentage of men doing time for child pornography are Catholic. Most of these men have fallen away from the Church. Many of them blame the Church, as I did at first. The largest group has lost all faith. We lose a lot of men to the Protestants and the Messianic Jews. All stories are similar and every way of life is affected. Doctors, lawyers, laborers, eighteen-year-olds to great grandparents in wheelchairs. No part of society is not represented by this crime. There are some who even worked for the Church, including a priest I have met. There are stories of mothers and fathers and their son all going to prison. Stories where kids are taken away from families. Eighty-five year olds in wheelchairs who get 15 years and will die in here. I wish I understood why so many Catholic men are affected.

In a discussion with my Catholic brothers who have not fallen away from the church, all of us agree that we did not know that pornography use was a sin. Many of us didn't know it was a crime. In my case, I had saved hundreds of thousands of images. Of these, 251 were of girls ages fifteen to seventeen. I knew some were young. I was sick and suicidal when I found out how young. The FBI had birth certificates for the girls in those images. God only knows how many more underage women there may have been that haven't reported their ages when the photos were taken to the FBI. I got and deserved all the time I got in prison. One other detail I will give out about my case is that most of the images were "selfies" or pictures women (and is some inmates cases, men) take of their selves to send to their boyfriends or husbands. Women need to not do this! It can and will end up on the internet. It is also, as I and others have learned the hard way, a grave sin. Along with affecting my relationship with God, and losing 5 years of my life in prison, I am now a sex offender. I am in the category of some of the most violent criminals. I will have to register as a sexual offender for the rest of my life. I will only be allowed to sexual offender housing. Getting work will be a difficulty. If you know anyone or are using pornography please my warning and get help! If you know someone who is using pornography it may help you when you approach them to know that when my case went public I was mostly embarrassed. Everyone here felt the same way. It was hard to face our family and friends knowing the fact that I was looking at pornography.

I know first hand that this is something the Lord and the Blessed Mother take most seriously and want to help people. Whether you are using or need to get help for someone, please pray on it. Those of us who have turned to God and Mary have received many blessings. Jesus and His mother, all of us agree, will answer your prayers quickly as sexual sins cause them much sadness. Many of my family members who have prayed for me have gotten answers fast. It's an experience that I or they cannot put into words. If you turn this over to Jesus and His spirit with all your faith He will help! Through my prayers I have learned God sent me to prison not to punish me but to save me. I have been able to turn prison into one of the greatest gifts God has given me. With the intercessions of the blessed mother I have found peace. I am now closer to my family and friends as well as God. I now live life and everything I try to do for the Lord. I knew the Lord was calling me, but I only heard Him when convenient to me. Now I listen! Through the Bible and Liturgy of the Hours I have gained so much wisdom.

I hear all the time around the prison that we today can't relate to the Old Testament, or the Old Testament is not relevant, but I disagree. I can find warnings to all my sins in the Old Testament. While I never bowed down and worshiped the baals of the Old Testament, I did worship the modern baals of money, sex, music, television, (one of the most popular shows on TV is called American 'Idol') just to name a few. In the past I went to mass only when my other gods were not keeping me busy. But in prison I have started listening to the silence, and in the silence I have heard a message of faith, hope, and love. I wish I had more time to tell you of my journey back to the Church, in prison, through the Liturgy of the Hours but this letter is getting long. I pray that somehow God will give me a forum to tell my story of sin to warn people of the dangers of pornography and also how many joys God will provide for us if we only listen to the silence.

If you know anyone who is using pornography, please get them help, it is an addiction and should be treated like one. If you know anyone in prison, please suggest to them learning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Many of us has found answers through the psalms and for some unexplained reason the Hour's speeds up time. The last two years have been the fastest of my life. Other fellow prisoners that pray the Hours say the same thing when most other prisoners feel the opposite that time is slow. Could you pray for breviaries for prisoners, many want to pray the hours but breviers are expensive. Also pray that I may be able to tell my story and join the fight against pornography.

I want to mention we are desperate for help with apologetics. We lose so many men to other faiths. In prison the speaking of untruths about the Catholic church is out of control. All of us have no idea now to stop it. Nor the education. It is hard when all the faith based re-entry programs are Protestant (a lof of Rick Warren type stuff). Is there even any Catholic re-entry programming in the federal system? Could you pray for this as well?

Author Urges Change

by Michael Halm

His book, Complex Craniofacial Problems: A Guide to Analysis and Treatment, is not a best seller, but his newest book is. One Nation, What We Can All Do To Save America's Future by Ben Carson continues his diagnosis and treatment for what ails America shared in his other books and is co-authored with his wife, Candy.

"We each need to take an active role in changing the course of our nation," he writes, "if we are to live up to the motto 'one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' We are the pinnacle nation in the world right now, but if the examples of Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Great Britain teach us anything, it is that pinnacle nations are not guaranteed their place forever. If we fail to rediscover the basic principles of common sense, manners, and morality, we will go the same way they did."

"Knowing that the future of my grandchildren is in jeopardy because of reckless spending, godless government, and mean-spirited attempts to silence critics left me no choice but to write this book," he says. I have endeavored to propose a road out of our decline, appealing to every American's decency and common sense."

Common sense, manners, and morality, however, are not common. The Carsons see as logical not redefining of marriage, a proportional tithe-like taxation, creation rather than evolution, personal rather than national health care.

Denis Vukosav wrote, "If you share the opinion of the author, his book will make you even more convinced, and if you were against it, you will oppose even harder." The Wall Street Journal's review rather put it as, "The Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon may not be politically correct, but he's closer to correct than we've heard in years."

As Abe Krieger explains it, "[This book]'s 100% common sense, nothing that any sane person can disagree with. Live within your means. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Play hard but fair. Get educated. Read." Given the insane dependance on government handouts, however, Krieger considers it "too late," definitely not Carson's message.

Vanessa Bush notes that Carson intersperses his argument for change with his own inspirational life story and biblical passages. Dr. Miguel Faria, also a retired neurosurgeon, agrees, "He has done a great job putting his thoughts and ideas into words that every American can read and understand."

L. F. Lettier adds some advice to those understand, but may not like what the doctor says, "We would do well to listen to the Doctor and heed his prescription. A valuable read for all persuasions."

Rosalie Chaplet expressed her hope, "If only the leaders of this country would listen and read this book, we could save the USA from the path we are on." Robert McNutt added, "It should be required in grade school." Ann Parker even includes a prayer with her review, "It is so refreshing to hear solutions — opinions are a dime a dozen. Thank you, Dr. Carson, I am praying for you.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, which was made into a film, told of his personal and medical successes, how God and a belt buckle changed his life. After his keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast last year he has focused more on national issues. When asked afterward about running for president, Carson responded: "If the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it, I would."

He has said, "I believe it is a very good idea for physicians, scientists, engineers, and others trained to make decisions based on facts and empirical data to get involved in the political arena and help guide our country," and has done so in several previous books.

In America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great Carson looked back on American history and at its present and future. He points out too that at one time our leaders were not exclusively politicians and lawyers. Once upon a time our populous was well-read, rather than spoonfed. "In 1931, [when] Alexis de Toequeville came to our country ...anybody finishing the second grade was completely literate."

In Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence, he gave a prescription for both individual and national excellence. The acronym "think big" points out the principles to live by: T for your gifts of talents and time, H for hope for good and honesty, I for insight from people, N for being nice to all people, K for knowledge, the key to living, B for good books, I for in-depth learning skills, and last but not least, G for God. These are the remedies for the epidemic of wasted time and talents, hopelessness and dishonesty, ignorance and godlessness.

Take the Risk is subtitled "Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk." First comes a four-part method of identifying the risk, the Best/Worst Analysis (B/WA). It means simply asking yourself what is the best and worst that could happen if taking or not taking a risk and basing your choices on the honest answer. It also includes "a short review of risk-taking in history."

His book, The Big Picture is about why you should take risks. It is based on asking ourselves three questions, "When my life is over, what do I want to be remembered for?", What do I want to be doing five, 10, and 20 years from now?" and "What do I want to be sure I am not doing five, 10, and 20 years from now." By honestly answering these questions we can choose to take the risks to broaden our perspectives, find our life vision, changing our priorities, energizing your efforts, and being inspired as he has been to change the world for the better.

Light to the Nations

(A Christian Perspective on World News)

God Does Not Forget Us

Vatican City (VIS) - After taking leave of the young people at Castelpetroso, Pope Francis transferred by car to the penitentiary center of Isernia, a journey of around half an hour, to visit the detainees. The meeting took place on the prison forecourt and, in his address to the inmates, the Holy Father insisted on the need for rehabilitation, "a path we must all undertake, because we all make mistakes in this life, and must all ask forgiveness for our errors."

"Whoever says they have no need of rehabilitation is a liar!" he exclaimed. "And when we ask the Lord's forgiveness for our sins, for our mistakes, He always forgives us, He never tires of forgiving us. He says to us: 'Turn back from this road, because it will not do you good to go there.' And He helps us. And this is rehabilitation, the path that we must all take. The important thing is not to stay still. We all know that still waters become stagnant, they are the first to become impure. … We must move ahead, a step a day, with the Lord's help. God is the Father, He is merciful. …" He lifts us up and fully restores our dignity. … God does not forget us. And with this confidence we can walk on, day by day. And with this faithful love that accompanies, hope never disappoints. … Some think that they must take a path of punishment, of mistakes, of sins, and that they must suffer, suffer, and suffer. It is true, one suffers. As one of your companions said, here one suffers. One suffers inside and outside, when one sees that he or she does not have a clear conscience and wishes to change it. It is a suffering that purifies, like fire that purifies gold; it is suffering with hope."

"There is a beautiful thing when the Lord forgives us: He does not say, 'I forgive you, now get on by yourself!' No, He forgives us, takes us by the hand and helps us to go ahead on this path of rehabilitation, in our personal life and also in social life. He does this with all of us. To think that the inner order of a person may be corrected only through punishment, this is not God's way, this is mistaken. Some think, 'No, we should punish more, with longer sentences, more!' This does not solve anything. Imprisoning people because - and forgive me for this - for the mere fact that if they are inside we are safe, this is not useful, it does not help us. The most important thing is what God does with us: He takes us by the hand and He helps us to go on. And this is called hope! And with this hope, with this trust, we can walk on, day by day. And with this faithful love, that accompanies us, truly hope never disappoints."

Finally, the Pope told the detainees that every fifteen days he makes a telephone call to a prison in Buenos Aires to speak to the young inmates, and said, "When I meet one of you, who is in a detention center, who is on the path to rehabilitation, but who is in custody, sincerely I ask myself this questions: why him and not me? This is what I feel. It is a mystery. But from this sentiment, with this feeling, I accompany you."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

Pope Prays For Immigrants

Vatican City (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a letter on July 7 to Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento on the anniversary of his visit in July 2013 to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa to pray for the African immigrants who lost their lives when the boat they were travelling on capsized. "One year on, the problem of immigration is becoming worse, and tragedies of this type continue to occur with dogged regularity," writes the Pope. "Our heart struggles to accept the death of these, our brothers and sisters, who face extenuating journeys to escape from dramatic situations, poverty, wars, and conflicts, often linked to international politics. Once again I spiritually reach out to the Mediterranean Sea to weep with all those who suffer and to launch flowers of prayer for the souls of the women, men, and children who are victims of a drama that seems to be without end."

In his letter, Pope Francis emphasizes that this situation must be faced "not with the logic of indifference but with the logic of hospitality and sharing in order to protect and promote the dignity and centrality of every human being." Likewise, the Pontiff encouraged "Christian communities and all people of good will to continue to reach out and lend a helping hand to all those who are in need, without counting the cost, without fear, with tenderness and understanding," and expressed his hope that "the competent institutions, especially at the European level, may be more courageous and generous in relief for refugees."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

Pope Convokes jubilee year

Vatican City, (VIS) - The convocation of the Celestine Jubilee Year in the Cathedral Square of Isernia was the final act of Pope Francis' visit on July 5 to the Italian region of Molise; the birthplace of the hermit Pietro da Morrone, the future Pope Celestine V (1209-1296), elected in the Conclave of 1292-1294 and who, after a five months abdicated from the papacy to resume his life as a hermit.

Francis addressed the citizens of Isernia from the main square and the focus of the city's life. "The square is the place where we meet as citizens, and the cathedral is the place where we meet with God, we listen to His Word, to live as brethren; brethren and citizens. In Christianity there is not opposition between sacred and profane, in this sense: citizens and brothers."

"There is a powerful idea that has struck me, thinking of the legacy of St. Celestine V. He, like St. Francis of Assisi, had a very strong sense of God's mercy, and the fact that God's mercy renews the world. Pietro da Morrone, like Francis of Assisi, knew well the society of his time, with its great poverty. They were very close to the people, to the population. They had the same compassion of Jesus towards many people, for the weary and the oppressed; but he did not limit himself to dispensing good advice, or pious consolations. They were the first to choose a way of living that went against the grain; they chose to entrust themselves to the Providence of the Father, not only in terms of personal ascesis but as a prophetic witness to the paternity and fraternity that constitute the message of Jesus Christ's Gospel."

"And it always strikes me that with their strong compassion for the people, these Saints felt the need to give the people the greatest wealth they could offer: the Father's mercy and forgiveness. 'Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.' In these words of the Lord's prayer there is a whole plan for life, based on mercy. Mercy, indulgence, the remission of debts, are not merely devotional, intimate, a spiritual palliative. No! This is the prophecy of a new world, in which the goods of the earth and of work are fairly distributed and no one is deprived of necessities, because solidarity and sharing are the concrete consequence of fraternity. These two Saints offer us an example. They knew that, as clerics - one was a deacon, the other was a bishop, the Bishop of Rome - as clerics, they should both set an example of poverty, mercy, and their full abnegation of themselves."

"Here, therefore, there is the meaning of a new citizenship, which we feel strongly here, in this Square in front of the Cathedral, where we speak of the memory of Saint Pietro da Morrone, Celestine V. Herein is the very timely meaning of the Jubilee Year, this Celestine Jubilee Year, which I declare open from this moment, and during which the door of Divine Mercy will be open wide for all. It is not a flight, it is not an evasion of reality and its problems; it is the answer that comes from the Gospel: love as force of purification of consciences, the force of renewal of social relations, force of plans for a different economy, placing the person, work, and family at the center, rather than money and profit."

He continued, "We are all aware that this way is not that of the world; we are not dreamers or naive, nor do we wish to create oases outside the real world. Rather, we believe that this way is the one that is good for all; it is the way that brings us close to justice and peace. However, we also know that we are sinners, that we are always tempted not to follow this way but instead to conform to the mentality of the world, the mentality of power, the mentality of wealth. Therefore, we entrust ourselves to God's mercy, and we commit ourselves, with His grace, to bear fruits of conversion and works of mercy. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, always accompany and support us on this path."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

Use Investments To Aid Poor

Pope Francis addressed a June 16 conference on "Impact Investing for the Poor" in Vatican City. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace promoted the meeting. The Pope's address follows:

"...A sense of solidarity with the poor and with the marginalized has led you to reflect on impact investing as one emerging form of responsible investment. Representatives of the Roman Curia have joined you in these days of study aimed at assessing innovative forms of investment which can benefit local communities and the environment, as well as providing a reasonable return.

"Impact investors are those who are conscious of the existence of serious unjust situations, instances of profound social inequality and unacceptable conditions of poverty affecting communities and entire peoples. These investors turn to financial institutes which will use their resources to promote the economic and social development of these groups through investment funds aimed at satisfying basic needs associated with agriculture, access to water, adequate housing, and reasonable prices, as well as with primary health care and educational services.

"Investments of this sort are meant to have positive social repercussions on local communities, such as the creation of jobs, access to energy, training, and increased agricultural productivity. The financial return for investors tends to be more moderate than in other types of investment.

"The logic underlying these innovative forms of intervention is one which 'acknowledges the ultimate connection between profit and solidarity, the virtuous circle existing between profit and gift … Christians are called to rediscover, experience, and proclaim to all this precious and primordial unity between profit and solidarity. How much the contemporary world needs to rediscover this beautiful truth!' (Preface to the book of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Povera per i poveri. La missione della Chiesa ['Poor for the Poor.' The Mission of the Church]). We are truly in need of this!

"It is important that ethics once again play its due part in the world of finance and that markets serve the interests of peoples and the common good of humanity. It is increasingly intolerable that financial markets are shaping the destiny of peoples rather than serving their needs, or that the few derive immense wealth from financial speculation while the many are deeply burdened by the consequences.

"Advances in technology have increased the speed of financial transactions, but in the long run this is significant only to the extent that it better serves the common good. In this regard, speculation on food prices is a scandal which seriously compromises access to food on the part of the poorest members of our human family. It is urgent that governments throughout the world commit themselves to developing an international framework capable of promoting a market of high impact investments, and thus to combating an economy which excludes and discards.

"On this day when the Church celebrates the memorial of Saints Quiricus and Giulitta, a son and mother who, in the persecution under Diocletian, left all their possessions behind in order to accept martyrdom for the name of Christ, I join you in asking the Lord to help us never to forget the transience of earthly goods and to renew our commitment to serve the common good with love and with preference for the most poor and vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. With great affection I bless you and your work. Thank you."

Edge To Edge

Pray The News

Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.

  • We pray that we will have the Heart of Jesus for migrants.
  • We pray for openness to the Holy Spirit in determining immigration policies.
  • We pray for students, teachers, and parents as school resumes.
  • We pray for those addicted to pornography to be freed by Jesus.
  • We pray for peace throughout the world and especially in the Middle East.
  • We pray that we will "give a hand up" to the poor and suffering.
  • We pray for persecuted Christians.
  • We pray that we will share our blessings and resources with others.
  • We pray for leaders to be followers of Jesus and open to the Holy Spirit.
  • We pray for the homeless, unemployed, underemployed, outcasts, and the marginalized.
  • We pray for the sick and those who care for them.
  • We pray for the elderly.

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Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378,



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