Monday, October 26, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett is in the Supreme Court!

After much bickering from the left and a few Republicans, Judge Amy Coney Barrett has been approved by the Senate and is on her way to the Supreme Court of the United States of America!  She will be sworn in later tonight by Justice Thomas Clarence at the White House.  More to come!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Pope Francis Endorses Gay Civil Unions?

Pope Francis has once again caused an uproar with comments made during the filming of a documentary entitled Francesco. Or did he?  

In the documentary, the pope seems to give an endorsement to same-sex civil unions.  The comments have sent shock waves around the world.  The pope says: 

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to have is a civil union law—that way they are legally covered. I supported that.”

American magazine claims his words are an endorsement of civil unions for same-sex couples. Their articles states, "The pope’s words in the film are an endorsement of civil union protections for same-sex couples, in that the pope publicly expressed support for them."  They are not the only ones. Other Catholic media outlets have voiced the same and even suggested the pope has always endorsed same-sex civil unions.  

CNA reports that he had made some comments as archbishop/cardinal in Argentina and as pope in 2014. NCRONLINE reporter Joshua J. McElwee writes: 

"Francis expressed such a view in 2017 as part of an interview with the French author Dominique Wolton. Asked then about the possibility of marriage for same-sex couples, the pope replied: "Let's call this 'civil unions.' We do not joke around with truth." The pope also spoke about civil unions in a 2014 interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, in which he acknowledged that states passing civil union laws were primarily doing so in order to provide same-sex partners legal rights." He continues: "Those last words appear an acknowledgement of the role then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio played as archbishop of Buenos Aires in urging the bishops of Argentina to support civil unions. As The New York Times reported in March 2013, Bergoglio was a key behind-the-scenes negotiator during a tense period in 2010 when the Argentinian government was considering whether to allow same-sex marriage. The cardinal reportedly suggested that the bishops instead seek passage of a civil union law, angering many of his peers in the episcopate."

Mike Lewis of Where Peter Is has also jumped on this line of reasoning believing the pope has endorsed civil union for same-sex couples and that he always held this view.  He tweeted: 

However, not everyone holds this view. Many Catholics are pushing back on the pope's alleged comments.  In fact, they seem to contradict Church teaching and the words of previous pontiffs.  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI described same-sex marriage as deriving from the antichrist in a book Titled Benedict XVI: The Biography: Volume One. He stated: 

“One hundred years ago, everybody would have considered it to be absurd to speak of a homosexual marriage. Today, one is being excommunicated by society if one opposes it... The fear of this spiritual power of the Antichrist is then only more than natural, and it really needs the help of prayers on the part of an entire diocese and of the Universal Church in order to resist it." 

 Some Catholic online pundits weighed in:

Mark Shea wrote on his blog:

"As human beings, gay people have certain rights. Among these, as the pope is stating clearly, are the right to love who they love, to live where and with who they wish, and to share their property as they see fit.

Now it is true that the Church teaches that homogenital sexual relations are contrary to human dignity. It does not, however, teach that “being gay is wrong”. It is, in fact, silent and agnostic on the origins of sexual orientation.

So in fact, the Church’s doctrinal teaching here is pretty circumscribed: homogenital sex is a sin. Much of the rest of it comes down to prudential judgment, which is what Francis is talking about.

Now prudential judgment is about how best, not whether, to implement the Church’s teaching. What Francis is doing here is addressing that. And what he is saying is that the prudent thing–the thing that has in mind the good of the person who is gay–is that Caesar should protect the rights of that person as of any person to love who they love, to live where and with whom they wish, and to share their property as they see fit. Attempts to attack that wound their dignity as human beings.

What he is not doing (and cannot do) is changing the sacrament of marriage. The reason he cannot do that is the same reason he cannot baptize with beer or consecrate Twinkies and Seven Up as the Eucharist. The Church cannot change the matter of the sacraments. The matter of the sacrament of Marriage is one man and one woman." The media had a field day with this story spreading false claims that the Church changed her teachings and that the pope supports same-sex unions."
Several bishops also weighed in:

Archbishop Etienne writes:

“While I have not yet seen exactly what our Holy Father said, he is reported to have made comments in support of civil unions and the legal protections they provide for LGBTQ couples. I do know from prior statements and writings that Pope Francis has expressed his care and concern for people who have same-sex attraction. Here are important facts to keep in mind:

When the Holy Father speaks and or teaches, he is almost always speaking to the Universal Church. The United States already recognizes civil unions of same-sex couples, who are able to marry and receive all the legal protections which that guarantees. However, in many other parts of the world, people with same-sex attraction face considerable oppression, including in some countries, death.

Similarly, and this is very important, Pope Francis continues to strongly support the teaching of the Church that marriage is between a man and a woman and is a permanent union. He has no problem making the necessary distinction between the two realities of civil unions and marriage. His focus on civil unions is more about public policy than church teaching.”

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan writes:

“He is not out to destroy our morals and orthodoxy. He just wants to do as Jesus himself did. He valued being kind and compassionate more than being right and righteous.

When he read the letter of the man who was raising three children with his homosexual partner, and who expressed his longing to be part of a parish community but was afraid because he knew his kind of life was not approved of in the Church, Pope Francis said, ‘Go and join the parish anyway.’

He did not say ‘Follow the Church laws first before you join the parish community.’ And yet he did not tell him outright that he approved of his homosexual relationship and his effort to come up with a semblance of family by adopting three children and trying to raise them into decent human beings.” 

One prelate claims the words of the pope were NOT misinterpreted. His comments are being used by those who disliked Pope Francis as ammunition against him:

Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez claims:

  “always recognized that, without calling it ‘marriage,’ in fact there are very close unions between people of the same sex, which do not in themselves imply sexual relations, but a very intense and stable alliance. They know each other thoroughly, they share the same roof for many years, they take care of each other, they sacrifice for each other. Then it may happen that they prefer that in an extreme case or illness they do not consult their relatives, but that person who knows their intentions in depth. And for the same reason they prefer that it be that person who inherits all their assets, etc. This can be contemplated in the law and is called ‘civil union’ [unión civil] or ‘law of civil coexistence’ [ley de convivencia civil], not marriage. “What the Pope has said on this subject is what he also maintained when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires... For him, the expression ‘marriage’ has a precise meaning and only applies to a stable union between a man and a woman open to communicating life…there is a word, ‘marriage,’ that only applies to that reality. Any other similar union requires another name.”


Some Catholics have even taken to St. Peter's Square to voice their concerns at the pontiff's words.  Austrian layman Alexander Tschugguel who gained notoriety after vandalizing a Catholic Church in order to steal the figures used during the Amazon synod and dumping them into the Tiber held a protest at the Vatican. He and those with him called for clarity from the Holy Father.

My thoughts:
Based on the excerpts I saw, I noticed that the flow of the interview did not work. The pope was asked one thing and his response touched on it at first and seemed to lose cohesion.  It is clear that his words were edited in such a way to make it seem as if he was making a point on something which he was never intending to make.  For example, he says that homosexuals deserve a family. He is referring to those who are kicked out of their homes for "coming out."  Then the interview moves into the realm of civil unions.  The word the pope uses is "Convivencial Civil" which  can be cohabitation or laws dealing with living at home and having legal protection.  Nowhere does he literally mention civil unions or same-sex unions.  

What are you thoughts?  Post them on Disqus below. Be sure to follow the rules on posting comments.  


Friday, October 9, 2020

Masks Do Help

Masks have become a common sight around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their use has been advocated by health organizations as a measure to prevent the spread of the virus. The science behind masks is based on their ability to block respiratory droplets, which are a primary mode of transmission for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.

Evidence supporting the effectiveness of masks comes from various studies. For instance, a systematic review and meta-analysis published in The Lancet indicated that mask-wearing significantly reduces the risk of viral transmission (Chu et al., 2020). 

Another study published in Health Affairs compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia, finding that mask mandates led to a slowdown in daily COVID-19 growth rate (Lyu and Wehby, 2020).

Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) references multiple studies on their website that demonstrate masks' effectiveness in community settings. One such study showed that adherence to universal masking policies reduced transmission within a Boston hospital system (Wang et al., 2020).

In addition to blocking droplets, masks also encourage behavioral changes that can further reduce the spread of viruses. For example, wearing a mask can prevent individuals from touching their face, which is another potential route of infection.

It's important to note that not all masks offer the same level of protection. N95 respirators are more effective than surgical masks, which in turn are more effective than cloth masks. However, any mask is better than no mask at all when it comes to preventing virus spread.

In conclusion, there is substantial scientific evidence and real-world data supporting the use of masks as a simple, yet powerful tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. By reducing droplet transmission and encouraging safer behaviors, masks play a crucial role in our collective efforts to control the pandemic.

One of the key pieces of evidence comes from a study published in Health Affairs, which found that states with mask mandates saw a greater decrease in daily COVID-19 cases compared to states without mandates. Another study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed that mask-wearing reduced the number of infections significantly, especially when combined with other preventive measures like hand hygiene.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports mask-wearing. According to their research, masks can help block exhaled respiratory droplets from reaching others, which is crucial since COVID-19 can spread before a person shows symptoms.

Furthermore, a systematic review in The Lancet found that face masks could lead to a large reduction in risk of infection. The study analyzed data from multiple studies across 16 countries and found that mask-wearing was associated with a 67% reduction in transmission risk.

In conclusion, the evidence is clear: masks do work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.  I speak also from personal experience. Neither I or anyone in my family has gotten Covid-19.   By wearing a mask, you're not only protecting yourself but also those around you.  

What do you think? Post your comments below on Disqus. Be sure to follow the rules. 


- Chu, D.K., Akl, E.A., Duda, S., Solo, K., Yaacoub, S., Schünemann, H.J., ... & Hajizadeh, A. (2020). Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet.

- Lyu, W., & Wehby, G.L. (2020). Community Use Of Face Masks And COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US. Health Affairs.

- Wang, X., Ferro, E.G., Zhou, G., Hashimoto, D., & Bhatt, D.L. (2020). Association Between Universal Masking in a Health Care System and SARS-CoV-2 Positivity Among Health Care Workers. JAMA.Masks have been a critical tool in combating the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. The science behind mask-wearing is robust, with numerous studies demonstrating their effectiveness.

Additional references include:

- A meta-analysis in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which concluded that masks are effective in community settings.

- Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) which provides guidance on the types of masks that are most effective.

- A study from Science Advances that evaluated different types of fabric masks and their ability to filter particles.



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