Priest killed, another one injured in attack at Catholic church in Phoenix

(Photo: Chad Bricks/12News)


A shooting at a Catholic church in Phoenix left one priest dead and another one in critical condition, authorities said early Thursday.

A 911 call came in about 9 p.m. Wednesday local time from the Mother of Mercy Mission Catholic Church, said Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department.

One of the victims made the call about the attack, which Martos described as a burglary.

When police arrived, they found the two priests badly injured. One had gunshot wounds and later died at the hospital, Martos said.

The other priest is in critical condition, but authorities declined to say what kind of injuries he has.

A green 2003 Mazda Tribute stolen from the church property was later found with no one in it, he said.

Man on probation arrested, let go, then allegedly kills Catholic priest

Church shooting: A hymn, then chaos and prayer as pastor dies

CNN first learned of the shooting via Twitter


Home Depot founder worries Pope Francis neither loves or understands rich Americans

Pope Francis on the papal flight back to Italy from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, on July 28, 2013. (AFP)

The Raw Story

In an interview on CNBC on Monday, Home Depot founder and devout Catholic Ken Langone said that the Pope’s statements about capitalism have left many potential “capitalist benefactors” wary of donating to the Church or its fundraising projects.

According to Langone, an anonymous, “potential seven-figure donor” for the Church’s restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral is concerned that the Pope’s criticism of capitalism are “exclusionary,” especially his statements about the “culture of prosperity” leading to the wealthy being “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor.”

Langone said he’s raised this issue with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who yesterday praised Pope Francis for “shattering the caricature of the Church.”

“I’ve told the Cardinal,” Langone said, “‘Your Eminence, this is one more hurdle I hope we don’t have to deal with. You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don’t act the same as rich people in another country.’”

Cardinal Dolan told CNBC that he had, in fact, spoken to Langone, and had told him that “that would be a misunderstanding of the Holy Father’s message. The pope loves poor people. He also loves rich people.”

He then thanked Langone for bringing this anonymous donor’s concerns to him, and insisted that “[w]e’ve got to correct — to make sure this gentleman understands the Holy Father’s message properly.”

Langone further said that, in the future, he hopes Pope Francis will “celebrate a positive point of view rather than focusing on the negative.” He does worry, though, because of “the vast difference between the Pope’s experience in Argentina and how we are in America. There is no nation on earth that is so forthcoming, so giving.”

Dolan assured Langone that he had communicated to the new Pope the “legendary generosity of the Catholic Church in the United States.”

Watch the segment from CNBC here…



Pope Francis slams super salaries for the rich while the poor survive on “crumbs”

Pope Francis (Credit: AP/Domenico Stinellis)

The current budget brokered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is up for a vote today.  It will be interesting to see if it passes both houses.

Giving more tax break to the rich and cutting subsidies for the underemployed and poor seems to be a bipartisan effort these days.


Pope Francis has made yet another strongly worded statement on growing inequality and economic justice, this time slamming outsized salaries and bonuses for corporate executives while others survive on “crumbs.”

In a message to mark the Catholic Church’s World Peace Day, Francis called on international leaders and corporate executives to implement “effective policies” to bridge the growing wealth gap.

“The grave financial and economic crises of the present time … have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy,” he said. ”The succession of economic crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles,” he said.

Rush Limbaugh has yet to comment, but presumably he thinks President Obama is currently having an orgasm somewhere.


‘Tell Rush Limbaugh: We Support Pope Francis!’ Catholic Petition Demands An Apology

Limbaugh: “Pope Francis words are pure marxism.”

As a follow-up to the earlier post:  The Right is going batsh*t crazy over Pope Francis’ agenda. Case in point…

The Huffington Post

“Tell Rush Limbaugh: We Support Pope Francis!” urges a petition which has already garnered almost 4,000 signatures on the website of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

Catholics and non-Catholics alike were infuriated by Limbaugh’s comments about Pope Francis on his radio show on Nov. 27, as the Pontiff has captured the hearts of many worldwide.

On the show, Limbaugh said that the pope “doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism,” and speculated that his latest apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” was overtly influenced by others who have “gotten to him.” He claimed the document was “pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope.”

He’s not the only political conservative to take a dig at the pope and face the ire of his many fans. Sarah Palin publicly apologized a few weeks ago for saying she was taken aback by some of his “liberal” statements, and was unsure that she could trust media reports about him.

Reza Aslan, a religious scholar and author of “Zealot: The Life And Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” succinctly responded to Limbaugh’s comments by saying in the Washington Post, “Somebody did get to Pope Francis. It was Jesus.”

He also cited Palin, writing, “These two paragons of the far right – both of whom regularly invoke the teachings of Jesus to bolster their own political views – have suddenly turned their backs on the man whose actual job description is to speak for Jesus.”

In response to Limbaugh’s comments, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good started a petition, writing:

We are disturbed by Rush Limbaugh’s incendiary comments last Wednesday, November 27th about Pope Francis and are joining together with Catholics and other allies throughout the nation to support the Holy Father. To call the Francis a proponent of “pure marxism” is both mean spirited and naive. Francis’s critique of unrestrained capitalism is in line with the Church’s social teaching. His particular criticism of “trickle down economics” strengthens what Church authorities have said for decades: any economic system which deprives the poor of their dignity has no place within a just society.Contrary to what Mr. Limbaugh suggests, the Catholic Church isn’t built on money, but on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.

We call on Mr. Limbaugh to apologize and retract his remarks. We urge other Church organizations and leaders–both ordained and lay–to also condemn Mr. Limbaugh’s comments.

We proudly stand with Pope Francis as he provides prophetic leadership for the Catholic Church and the entire world. 

They have already surpassed their goal of 1,000 signatures fourfold.

Signer Thomas Hofstad wrote, “I am not Catholic, yet this offends me. The Pope is a man of great honor and compassion. I cant say this about Rush L.,” and Vicki Goux said, “I have the MOST respect for your new Pope but I’m not a Catholic. He is amazing and deserves to be treated with respect.”

See the petition here


10 worst right-wing statements of the week — Marxist pope edition

10 worst right-wing statements of the week -- Marxist pope edition
Pope Francis (Credit: Associated Press)

You can’t make this stuff up.

I challenge any conservative leaning person or blog to match the insanity featuring similar left-wing statements…


Pope Francis came down on the dangers of trickle-down economics — and conservatives promptly lost their mind

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Before the Thanksgiving floats, there was the usual parade of right-wing nuts this week, many of whom became apoplectic after Pope Francis’ much-publicized Joy of the Gospel document, which critiqued unfettered capitalism and insinuated that thoroughly discredited trickle-down economics is naïve and just plain wrong.

1. Stuart Varney lectures Pope Francis about capitalism.

Not even the pope is safe from the wrath of Fox. How dare the pope attack “deified markets” and the idolatry of money? Who does he think he is? God?

Fox Business host Stuart Varney was just stewing about the pontiff’s remarks. “Capitalism, in my opinion, is a liberator,” he lectured Pope Francis from his television pulpit. “The free choice of millions of people is the essence of freedom. In my opinion, society benefits most when people are free to pursue their own self-interest. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it is not.”

It isn’t. It just isn’t.

Oh, yeah, and another thing. The pope has no business mixing politics with religion. Especially when his political views diverge with those of Fox. Varney again:

“I go to church to save my soul. It’s got nothing to do with my vote. Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. He has characterized negatively that system. I think he wants to influence my politics.”

Pope John Paul II was much more to Varney’s liking because he was very against communism, and very into private property. He never made rich people feel bad for having too much, while millions of others went without.

2. Cliff Kinkaid: Marxists have infiltrated the Catholic Church.

The problem goes a lot deeper than Stu Varney (and Rush Limbaugh) had feared. The Catholic Church itself is infiltrated with Marxists. This conspiracy theory is brought to you by the right-wing, misnamed Accuracy in Media director, Cliff Kincaid.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m not here to beat up on the pope,” Kinkaid insisted in a video recently uploaded to YouTube. “That’s not my job. But I can read. I can read this document. I can see what he is saying, and I can tell you right now that this is a very, very disappointing document, and it makes me wonder about the future of the Roman Catholic Church in this world and what they’re heading towards.”

Kinkaid says he has proof that there is an evil commie plot in the Roman Catholic Church, that it supports one world government and that Pope Francis is using “flowery language” to camouflage this sinister plot, or  “what we might euphemistically call a new world order, a new world economic order.”

But he is not attacking the Manchurian Pope.

3. Pam Geller: How dare the Pope actually read the Koran!

It’s not the communism that Islamophobic blogger/activist Pam Geller is worried about with Pope Francis. It’s how nice he is to Muslims. It’s downright unChristian of him to imply that there might be Muslims who don’t want to kill the rest of us. He obviously condones the killing of Christians.

Talk about a leap of faith.

“At a time when Christianity worldwide is under siege by Islamic jihadists, the leader of the Catholic Church claims that the Quran teaches non-violence. As Christians across the Muslim world live in abject terror and fear kidnapping, rape and slaughter to the bloodcurdling cries of ‘Allahu akbar,’ the pope gives papal sanction to the savage,” Geller wrote on her blog.

What the pope actually did in his apostolic exhortation, which has sent shockwaves throughout the right-wing wackosphere, was to contrast “violent fundamentalism” with “authentic Islam.” The latter, he wrote, was “opposed to every form of violence.”

“How does he know that? When did he become an imam?” Geller writes.

Because you have to be an imam to read the Quran. Geller has read a few passages as well, especially the ones about slaughtering Christians in the name of jihad. Wait, so does that make her an imam?

4. Jeb Bush: Obama is taking revenge on Catholics by moving Vatican embassy.

So, even though the pope is a socialist and a Muslim, for some reason our socialist Muslim president is out to get the Catholic Church.

Jeb Bush took it upon himself to perpetuate the Republican lie that President Obama is attacking Catholics by relocating the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican. He’s very vindictive, you know, the president. And he wants to punish Catholics for the Church’s opposition to Obamacare. When Obama did all those mea culpas about the problems with Obamacare, that was just code for blaming the Catholic Church.

Here’s what former Florida governor Bush tweeted out last Wednesday:

“Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare.”

Jeb is not the first Bush to be willfully ignorant of history and geography. A modicum of research reveals that the process of moving the embassy from its current location to the compound at the U.S. Embassy to Italy actually began under Jeb’s brother, President George W., whose administration purchased the buildings. The new location is actually a tenth of a mile closer to the Vatican. And, just for knowing, many Catholic organizations supported the Affordable Care Act.

5. Birther preacher Manning: Obama had mother of his lovechild killed.But, hey, since when did actual facts get in the way of an ad hominem political attack on the country’s first black president?

Despite the pope’s apparent sanity, there was still plenty of lunacy in the right-wing pulpit this week. Take birther preacher (yes, that’s a category) Rev. James David Manning, pastor of Atlah World Missionary Church, who leveled this bizarre accusation: Remember the apparently mentally ill woman who was shot and killed after she tried to ram her car into a barrier outside the White House in October? Her name was Miriam Carey, and that was no random, tragic incident. According to Manning, that woman was the mother of Barack Obama’s illegitimate child.

The proof, says the good reverend—who also believes Michelle Obama was born a man and that the president was born in Kenya—will come when Miriam Carey’s young child is given a paternity test. Just to make extra sure.

While the incident is being investigated, neither the family nor their attorney has suggested this conspiracy. Their denial of the conspiracy, says Manning, is just more proof that Obama had his secret baby mama killed.

That’s the wonderful thing about conspiracy theories. Everything proves them right.

6. Dinesh D’Souza: Obama is a grown-up Trayvon. I take it back. No, I stand by it. No, I take it back.

Conservative provocateur Dinesh D’Souza called President Barack Obama a “Grown-Up Trayvon” on his Twitter page, earlier this week. “I am thankful this week when I remember that America is big enough and great enough to survive Grown-Up Trayvon in the White House!” was the tweet, according to Politico.

Then he deleted it. Then he defended it, saying the President himself had said he was like Trayvon, showing a deep understanding of the President’s compassionate speech. Then he deleted that.

Make up your racist mind, D’Souza.

7. Colorado school board member recommends castration for trans people.

Intolerance and hate comes in so many packages—this time, it’s a little old white lady in Colorado who holds a small amount of local power. It came to light this week in Gawker, that Katherine Svenson, a school board member for the Delta County school district, recently suggested that transgender students not be allowed to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity unless they have been “castrated.”


“Massachusetts and California have passed laws relating to calling a student, irrespective of his biological gender, letting him perform as the gender he thinks he is, or she is,” Svenson said at the meeting. “I just want to emphasize: not in this district. Not until the plumbing’s changed. There would have to be castration in order to pass something like that around here.”

Given the chance to walk back those inflammatory remarks when questioned by a local news station, Svenson declined.

“I don’t have a problem if some boys think they are girls,” she said. “I’m just saying as long as they can impregnate a woman, they’re not going to go in the girls’ locker-room.”

(h/t Gawker)

8. Klingenschmitt: The devil sent transgendered boys to rape your daughters.

Discharged former Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt has similar qualms about transgendered people. They are out to rape your daughters; the “demon of rape” sent them, Klingenschmitt ranted on his Internet broadcast recently. Even when the transgendered person is really young, like 6-year-old Colorado girl Coy Mathis, who was born a boy.

“He has been dressed as a girl by his parents because his parents have a political agenda to push these coed bathroom bills into Colorado state law,” Klingenschmitt declared, without any apparent evidence or need for evidence.

The parents, who have had the wisdom to accept their kid for what she is, and fight for her right to be who she is, are “abusive,” according to Klingenschmitt, and they are part of a broader movement, “to violate your daughters.”

Changing your gender identity to carry out rape. That’s a lot of trouble to go through.

(h/t: Right-Wing Watch)

9. Florida Tea Partier: GOP ‘gay thugs’ are forcing employers to hire effeminate males and masculine women.

The author of this little piece of absurdity is one Danita Kilcullen, co-founder of the Fort Lauderdale Tea Party, who is very upset that 10 Republicans joined Democrats to approve the Employment Non-Discrimation Act (ENDA) in the Senate. She blames that “thug organization,” the Log Cabin Republicans, for this turn of events, and promises that the act will force employers to “hire someone with orange hair, body/neck/face covered with tattoos, multiple piercings, or a man in a dress … or for that matter, a demonstrative effeminate male or purposeful butch-looking female,” according to an email obtained by the Broward County/Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel.

That would be terrible, especially if that orange-haired, tattooed, pierced person could actually do the job.

10. Alec Baldwin: Gay Fundamentalists?

Alec Baldwin, liberal actor with an anger problem and a streak of homophobia, flailed around this week after his temper got him into trouble once again, and cost him his flagging TV show. First, he compared his lashing out at a no-doubt extremely annoying paparazzo allegedly with a homophobic slur to Martin Bashir’s suggestion that Sarah Palin be subjected to the slave punishment of defecation in her mouth. (Bashir later apologized. We forgive him.)

When that didn’t work, Baldwin blamed “gay fundamentalists” for his demise.

We just have one question, Alec: What are gay fundamentalists?


10 things you need to know today: October 4, 2013

All clear. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Week

A car chase ends in a shooting at the U.S. Capitol, Congressional Republicans ramp up efforts to end the government standoff, and more

1. Car chase ends in shooting at the U.S. Capitol
A Connecticut woman led Secret Service and Capitol Police officers on a car chase Thursday through the streets of Washington, D.C., locking down Congress and sending elected officials and congressional staffers scurrying for cover. The suspect, 34-year-old Miriam Carey, rammed her carinto a temporary barricade outside the White House before crashing into another barrier outside the Capitol, all with her 18-month-old toddler in the backseat. Carey was shot and killed at the scene, but the child survived and is in protective custody. [NBC New York]

2. Congressional Republicans ramp up efforts to end shutdown
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) discussed a deficit deal Thursday with senior House Republicans that would concede some increases to federal programs hampered by sequestration in exchange for long-term changes to programs like Social Security. Meanwhile, about 20 lawmakers from both sides joined a proposal to reopen and finance the government for six months while repealing ObamaCare’s tax on medical devices. [The New York Times]

3. Twitter files its initial public offering
Twitter filed its S-1 form Thursday as part of its journey toward becoming a public company. Providing data on finances and users, the S-1 lets investors analyze how Twitter stacks up in the industry. According to the form, Twitter has more than 200 million monthly active users, and its initial valuation is expected to surpass $10 billion. [New York]

4. Boehner privately promises to avoid a federal default
House Speaker Boehner, whose refusal to allow a vote on a Senate budget bill stripped of ObamaCare provisions played a large role in the current government shutdown, appears unwilling to let the Treasury Department run out of money on Oct. 17. Multiple Republican lawmakers said Thursday that Boehner had privately indicated he would use a combination of Republican and Democratic votes to raise the debt ceiling if necessary. [The New York Times]

5. China and Malaysia announce major strategic partnership
During a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Malaysia on Thursday, the two countries debuted a five-year plan to significantly increase bilateral trade and boost military cooperation, especially between their navies. China is already Malaysia’s top trading partner, and new measures, such as supporting each other’s industrial parks, aim to triple bilateral trade by 2017, to $160 billion total. [Reuters]

6. Pope Francis calls on Catholic Church to shun vanity
In a speech given in the central Italian town of Assisi on Friday, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church must strip itself of all “vanity, arrogance and pride.” Francis has already been hailed for his appreciation of simplicity and his treatment of the poor — he visited a slum in Brazil this summer — and his declaration came after he discarded two previously prepared speeches and spoke off the cuff. [Reuters]

7. Wendy Davis announces run for Texas governor
Texas state Senator Wendy Davis announced her bid for the Texas governorship Thursday. Davis, a Democrat, attracted national attention in June with her 13-hour filibuster of a controversial abortion bill in the state legislature. Her platform for governor, however, will likely focus on education and highlight her efforts to halt spending cuts. Her main competition will be Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who is widely expected to win in the conservative state. [CBS News]

8. Tropical storm Karen incubates in Gulf of Mexico
The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for the area between Grand Isle, La. and Destin, Fla. on Thursday as tropical storm Karen churned in the central Gulf. The storm was about 340 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River as of late Thursday night, and is expected to drop 4 to 8 inches of rainfall on the central and eastern Gulf coast through the weekend. [CNN]

9. Samsung on track for a record-setting third quarter
Samsung released a report saying it would claim an operating profit of $9.2 billion — a roughly 23 percent increase over last year’s third quarter. At $54 billion, sales for the South Korea-based company were also 11 percent higher than sales for the same quarter last year. [CNN]

10. Miley Cyrus and Sinead O’Connor trade barbs on social media
Sinead O’Connor posted an open letter to Miley Cyrus on Thursday, in which she said Cyrus is being “prostituted” and should fire her advisers for exploiting her. Unmoved by O’Connor’s concern, Cyrus uploaded an image to Twitter depicting several tweets O’Connor posted two years ago and compared them to the notorious rants of Amanda Bynes. O’Connor then threatened legal action while Cyrus made light of the exchange. [USA Today]

10 things you need to know today: September 30, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner is in a tight spot.

The Week

The House votes to delay ObamaCare, the Breaking Bad finale airs, and more

1. Shutdown looms for U.S. government
The U.S. government appears to be on the verge of shutting down for the first time in 17 years. The slow-motion budget crisis will continue Monday with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) set to reject measures the House approved early Sunday to delay President Obama’s Affordable Care Act for one year, repeal a tax on medical devices, and guarantee that paychecks are sent to active-duty military service members. House GOP leaders are likely to again face a decision about how to handle the simpler six-week government funding bill the Senate approved last week. [Washington Post]

2. Breaking Bad finale airs 
Breaking Bad‘s highly anticipated series finale aired Sunday night on AMC. As millions of viewers tuned in to see how the saga of chemistry teacher turned meth dealer Walter White ended, cast member Aaron Paul hosted a finale viewing party in Los Angeles’s Hollywood Forever ceremony, raising $1.8 million for his wife’s anti-bullying nonprofit. As for the finale itself, The Week‘s Scott Meslow noted, “Walt got what I suspect manyBreaking Bad fans were looking for,” while Variety said the finale “got the chemistry just right.” [The Hollywood ReporterVariety]

3. Netanyahu to advise caution in dealing with Iran
Mortified that the world may be warming up to Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to tell the White House and the United Nations this week not to be fooled by Tehran’s new leadership. Netanyahu says Iran is using conciliatory gestures to conceal a march toward a nuclear bomb. He will deliver that warning, and some new intelligence to bolster it, to President Obama today in an attempt to persuade the U.S. to maintain tough economic sanctions and keep the threat of military action on the table. [Associated Press]

4. Twitter plans to make its filing public this week
Twitter plans to make its IPO filing public this week, following a September 12 filing with U.S. regulators. Twitter, which is expected to be valued at up to $15 billion, filed confidentially and without disclosing a timeline, under a process available to emerging companies. The IPO could still be delayed by a variety of factors, from changes to the prospectus to a shutdown of the U.S. government. [Quartz]

5. Sainthood date announced for two popes
Pope Francis announced Monday morning that Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be declared saints on April 27, 2014. The pope said in July that he would canonize two of his predecessors, after approving a second miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II. Poland-born John Paul, the first non-Italian pope for more than 400 years, led the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005. Pope John XXIII was pontiff from 1958 to 1963. [BBC News]

6. Nissan and Mazda issue vehicle recalls
Japanese automakers Nissan and Mazda issued separate recalls on Sunday for more than 260,000 cars. Doors in up to 98,000 recent Mazda 6 vehicles may open while the car is in motion, the automaker announced. For its part, Nissan stated that its M35 and M45 models may stall while moving. No injuries have been reported as a result of the issues. Both automakers said they would notify vehicle owners this fall. [CNN Money]

7. Second Amanda Knox trial begins in Italy
Amanda Knox’s second appeals trial opened Monday in Knox’s absence. Italy’s highest court ordered a new trial for Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, overturning their 2011 acquittals in the gruesome 2007 killing of Meredith Kercher. The appellate court in Florence is expected to re-examine forensic evidence to determine whether Knox and her former boyfriend helped kill the 21-year-old Kercher while the two women shared an apartment in the town of Perugia. The appellate court hearing the new case could declare Knox, now a University of Washington student, in contempt of court, an act that carries no additional penalties. [ABC News]

8. Apple named world’s No. 1 brand
Brand consulting group Interbrand named Apple the most valuable brand in the world in its annual “Best Global Brands” report. Previous No. 1 brand Coca-Cola fell to No. 3, and was passed by Google, which took second place this year. Ranking criteria included financial performance. Apple’s brand was valued at $98.3 billion, in comparison to Coca-Cola’s $79.2 billion. [The New York Times]

9. Second phase of BP trial begins
The civil trial of oil company BP begins its second phase today. This part of the trial will determine the amount of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that killed 11 workers and soiled hundreds of miles of beaches. While BP insists it was properly prepared to respond to the disaster, plaintiffs’ attorneys will argue that the London-based company could have capped the well much sooner. The plaintiffs’ lawyers also say BP repeatedly lied to federal officials and withheld information. [USA TODAY]

10. NBA voting on Finals format changes
The NBA Finals is reportedly returning to its former 2-2-1-1-1 home-court advantage format. The league’s current 2-3-2 championship format allows the team with home-court advantage to host the first and last two games, with the lower-seeded team hosting the middle three. Critics say the current format disproportionately favors the higher seed, leading to more-predictable contests. The NBA Competition Committee voted unanimously for the change, and the decision is now awaiting owner approval. [Sports Illustrated]

What the GOP could learn from Pope Francis

Winning converts takes more than holding babies on the rope line.

Just sayin’…

The Week

The pope warns against being “obsessed” with gay marriage and abortion

Pope Francis is a hit. In July, he drew three million people to Mass at Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach. A Pew Research Center poll released this month shows that 79 percent of Catholics have a favorable view of him, compared to only four percent who view him unfavorably.

It’s not only Catholics who approve. “Seldom has a religious leader been embraced so warmly across the Christian world, including by many evangelicals,” Timothy George, executive editor of Christianity Today,wrote earlier this summer.

And he may have won over a whole new crowd who have grown disillusioned with organized religion, after he chastised the Roman Catholic Church for being “obsessed” with abortion, contraception, and gay marriage. Francis’ remarks, published in 16 Jesuit journals worldwide, have rocked the Catholic world.

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” he said. “We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

The GOP could learn a few lessons from His Holiness.

To concerned Republicans (and especially Republican Catholics): No, the Pope isn’t advocating that priests start marrying gay couples in Catholic churches. In fact, for all the praise he has received from liberals, the Vatican’s official positions on abortion, gay marriage, and contraception are no different from when Pope Benedict XVI was running things.

But he is focusing heavily on problems that Catholics have traditionally cared about — namely, alleviating suffering and poverty — but which have fallen out of the spotlight due to a few divisive, hot-button issues.

The GOP, like the Catholic Church, didn’t always base its identity so fiercely on abortion and gay marriage. In 1972, the Republican Party platform contained no references to God or any religious issues.

Then, in 1980, the year of Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority, it introduced an entire section on abortion. By 1992, Pat Buchanan was giving his fiery “culture wars” speech, in which he decried the “prophets of doom” of the Democratic Party who would usher in a “homosexual rights movement.”

As Republicans moved to the right on social issues, many Catholics — who were among the first to protestagainst Roe v. Wade — went with them, both on the abortion issue and other aspects of the culture wars. Indeed, Republican politicians stoked social issues as much as they could, knowing it would result in a larger conservative turnout at the polls.

As recently as last year, Pope Benedict XVI called gay marriage a threat to “human dignity and the future of humanity itself.” Compare that to Pope Francis, who said in Rio de Janeiro this summer, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

The GOP needs to make a similar shift, wrote conservative columnist and Crossfire co-host S.E. Cupp after the pope made that statement, especially since the majority of Americans now support gay marriage:

Popular opinion is never a reason for a group to abandon its principles. But when its principles are so obviously in conflict not only with the group’s survival, but with the group’s stated philosophy — in this case, one that abhors big government intrusion into private life and champions monogamy and stability within marriage — it’s time to consider softening, not abandoning, those principles. [New York Daily News]

Furthermore, Pope Benedict “always seemed to be the Dick Cheney of pontiffs,” wrote The Daily Beast’s John Avlon, “reaffirming strict doctrine and famously arguing that a smaller church of more devout believers would be more desirable than what might be called a ‘big tent.'”

Pope Francis is more of a populist. He famously broke Vatican tradition by washing the feet of 12 female inmates instead of 12 male priests on Holy Thursday. He regularly cold-calls ordinary people, like when he reassured an Italian woman that she would find a priest to baptize her baby even though it was born out of wedlock. His car? A 1984 Renault given to him to by an old priest.

Instead of spending his time preaching against supposed dangers like gay marriage and abortion, he has cast himself as a pope of the people, willing to go out and address issues that affect people every day.

That leads to another lesson that some conservatives think Republicans could learn from Pope Francis.

“Republicans are seen as defenders of the rich and powerful instead of the poor and vulnerable,” wrote Marc Thiessen, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, earlier this year in The Washington Post.

To change that, they “don’t have to abandon their principles,” he argued, but instead should “emulate Francis” and demonstrate that their values are meant to help the poor:

It’s not enough for Republicans to simply vote for school choice; they need to spend time with students struggling in failing schools. It’s not enough to rail against dependency; they need to spend time helping those trapped in dependency to get the skills they need to get off public assistance. It’s not enough to complain about Obama’s class-warfare rhetoric; they need to spend time fighting for the vulnerable. [The Washington Post]

Young people — including many young Catholics — overwhelmingly support gay marriage. Many are out of work and struggling financially. If the GOP wants to attract more of them in the future, they might want to follow the example of the pontiff.


Pope: Church Should Stop Being “Obsessed” with Abortion, Gay marriage and Contraception

Sensible Pope…

Daily Kos

I really like this new Pope. A lot.

From the NYT:

Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics.

Pope Francis said the church needs to be a “home for all” rather than a “small chapel” sticking to a narrow set of so-called moral teachings.

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” the pope told the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal whose content is routinely approved by the Vatican. “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.“We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

This is a tremendous shift from the two most recent popes, and especially from Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI . Although consistent with statements Francis has been making since becoming head of the Catholic Church, he definitely broke new ground in terms of emphasis with these recent remarks. The article’s author argues, rightly I would say, that these remarks set up a clash between the Vatican and some U.S. bishops who have essentially focused just about all their public energy on the ‘holy trinity’ of abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.

Rather than these issues, Pope Francis has focused his energies on other aspects of Catholic teaching that have been, shall we say, neglected in recent years by the church hierarchy. In particular, he has drawn attention to the plight of the poor and the deepening inequality in our world. Pope Francis is without question speaking the language of the 99%.

In a July visit to Brazil, for just one example, Francis spoke out:

“No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world!” Francis told a crowd of thousands who braved a cold rain and stood in a muddy soccer field to welcome him. “No amount of peace-building will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins or excludes a part of itself.”(snip) Francis blasted what he said was a “culture of selfishness and individualism” that permeates society today, demanding that those with money and power share their wealth and resources to fight hunger and poverty.

I don’t think any of us imagined that, when Benedict stepped down, we’d get a new pope like this one. While he will never declare himself pro-choice or pro-gay marriage, I wouldn’t expect him to. But his focus on economic inequality — the fight against which is a core Catholic value — is truly a wonderful surprise that I am hopeful will have a real effect on our politics.

Many thought that liberation theology, once predominant in Francis’ home continent of South America, was dead. However, whether he embraces the term or not, if it walks like a liberation theologist, and talks like a liberation theologist, well, you get the picture.

Evening Roundup – 7-2-2013

Bush and Obama arrive at the U.S. Embassy in Dar Es Salaam.

The Daily Beast – Cheat Sheet

1.   Romney Didn’t Want to Run in ’12

2.   Egyptian Army Would Scrap Constitution

3.   More Countries Deny Snowden Asylum

4.   AZ Firefighters Lacked Escape Route

5.   Pierce Brosnan’s Daughter Dies

6.   John Paul II Moves Closer to Sainthood

7.   Abortion Restrictions Hit 5 States

8.   Obama, Bush Meet in Tanzania

9.   Netflix Scores With ‘Orange’ Series

10. Colo. Sen.’s Brother Missing