Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Does GDPR- New European Union Rules- Apply for Bloggers?

A bit of a diversion from my normal content today – today’s post is just for bloggers. If you aren’t a blogger you might want to skip this one. If you are, then today’s post is all about GDPR for bloggers. In my ‘proper job’ I’m part of the team responsible for ensuring our organisation complies with GDPR so I’ve a little understanding about it. Most organisations are very much finding their feet with this – even the multi-million pound ones. No one really knows how it’s all going to work once it goes live but based on what I’ve learned at work and what I’ve read online, this is how I think GDPR will be for bloggers.

What is GDPR and why is it important?

GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulations that come into force 25 May 2018. This is a big update to the Data Protection Act 1998.
Anyone processing personal information must register with the Information Commissioners Office and comply by law.
If you are found to have breached GDPR then the fines are EPIC. We are talking fines of an upper limit of €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover – whichever is higher! Fines are also stackable per offence.
Separate to these fines and penalties, individuals will have the right to claim compensation for any damage suffered as a result of violating the GDPR.

Does GDPR apply to me?

It applies to you if you process personal information AND are processing it as part of an enterprise. Article 4(18) defines enterprise as ‘a natural or legal person engaged in an economic activity, irrespective of its legal form, including partnerships or associations regularly engaged in an economic activity’. So basically, it seems that if you aren’t making any money through your blog you are ok. If you are making any money, then you need to read on…
Processing means: obtaining it, recording it, storing it, updating it or sharing it.
Personal information means any detail about a living individual that can be used on its own or with other data to identify them. For bloggers, this is likely to be named email addresses (brands, PRs and email list subscribers), prize winner addresses and IP addresses.
This site advises that, ‘a simple operation of storing an IP address on your web server logs constitutes processing of personal data of a user. Some usual ways in which a standard WordPress site might collect user data:
  • user registrations,
  • comments,
  • contact form entries,
  • analytics and traffic log solutions,
  • any other logging tools and plugins,
  • security tools and plugins.
Any plugins that you use will also need to comply with the GDPR rules. As a site owner, it is still your responsibility, though, to make sure that every plugin can export/provide/erase user data it collects in compliance with the GDPR rules.’

"Traditional Disobedience Renewing the Legacy of Catholic Activism" by John Gehring, Catholic Priests, Nuns and Bishops on Traditional Disobedience to Unjust Laws, Commonweal Magazine

"When forty Catholics holding rosaries were handcuffed and led away by police at the U.S. Capitol in late February during a protest to show support for young undocumented immigrants facing deportation, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, prayed over the demonstrators.
“I ask God’s blessing upon those who are acting in civil disobedience, part of a longstanding tradition of not supporting unjust laws,” the bishop said as television cameras angled in and congressional staff watched from the rotunda balcony in the Russell Senate Office Building.
Catholic activists have a long history of taking part in nonviolent civil disobedience in the United States and around the world. But the bishop’s presence in Washington that day created a buzz. Compared to the 1980s, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released major pastoral letters on war, peace, and economic justice that received national attention, the Catholic hierarchy in recent years has put most of its advocacy muscle behind efforts to oppose birth control coverage in Obamacare, defeat same-sex marriage, and address a range of religious-liberty concerns.
In a sign of those shifting priorities, the last time the USCCB raised the possibility of civil disobedience for Catholics—and launched a major mobilization effort in parishes—came in 2012, as several Catholic institutions filed lawsuits challenging the Obama administration’s inclusion of contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act. “Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified,” the bishops wrote in church bulletin inserts used in parishes across the country. “When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.”
In an interview, Bishop Stowe reflected on his decision to bless the Catholic activists arrested on Capitol Hill, and shared that he is in conversation with several bishops about ways to demonstrate greater public urgency in opposing the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants. (Full disclosure: I participated in the civil disobedience action.) Young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, often called “Dreamers,” are of particular concern to church leaders because their fate is now uncertain after Trump rescinded an Obama-era program that offered them protection from deportation. The USCCB has written letters to Congress, lobbied lawmakers behind closed doors, and in February hosted a national call-in day for Dreamers. The bishop thinks more dramatic action is needed.

Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Ky., speaks during a “Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers” protest to press Congress to protect “Dreamers” outside the U.S. Capitol Feb. 27 in Washington. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
“We’re not in a usual political situation, and bishops have to be more creative,” said Stowe, a Franciscan appointed by Pope Francis to lead the Lexington diocese three years ago. As for why he ultimately decided not to get arrested, he pointed to a bishop’s responsibility to be a sign of unity in his diocese, and a concern over potentially weakening his ability to be a teacher who can reach Catholics across political and ideological lines. “A sizable part of my diocese is in Appalachia, and it’s Trump country. I have to weigh whether or not as a church leader getting arrested might lead people to dismiss me as a radical and tune me out. I have to be attentive to how that action is received.” As a student at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Stowe was arrested with other Catholics during a civil-disobedience action in the early 1990s at a nuclear test site in Nevada. He cited Pope Francis’s use of symbolic public actions such as praying at the concrete wall that separates the Israeli-occupied West Bank from Jerusalem, and his first official papal visit to the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, off which thousands of migrants have drowned, as examples of how “the visual image can speak.” Nonviolent civil disobedience, the bishop thinks, is something that church leaders should be considering.

The risks and opportunities some Catholic bishops are grappling with today over whether to engage in civil disobedience are far from new. In different eras, the role of conscience, and debates over what is morally required of a Christian in the face of unjust laws, military actions, or oppressive regimes have preoccupied everyone from church leaders and theologians to the everyday faithful in the pews.
Robert Ellsberg, the editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and a prominent chronicler of Dorothy Day, the Catholic Worker co-founder who was arrested a number of times for civil disobedience, thinks such actions have lost much of their ability to shock and garner widespread media attention compared to past decades. But he sees the Trump era as fertile ground for a new generation of leaders.
“Civil disobedience can be strategically very important, and it goes to the heart of the Gospel,” said Ellsberg, whose father Daniel Ellsberg leaked the “Pentagon Papers.” “What is the leadership of the Catholic Church doing now to address the harshness, inhumanity, and cruelty we see from this president? We know bishops can mobilize and show outrage over contraception provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Where is the outrage when Trump and other Republicans cloak themselves in religious liberty while they violate basic human rights?” Ellsberg says his father was not a religious person, but when deciding to leak national security documents, he drew inspiration from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” remains an iconic defense of civil disobedience, and a searing challenge to clergy who view moderation as inherently superior to confrontation.
King later unnerved many Americans and even some of his closest advisors when he denounced the Vietnam War from the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York City. And it was Vietnam that led the Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan and the rest of the “Catonsville Nine” to burn hundreds of draft files they took from the Selective Service Office in Catonsville, Maryland, in 1968.
The Vietnam War also inspired now-retired Detroit Bishop Thomas Gumbleton to participate in his first act of civil disobedience: unlawfully entering an Air Force base where pilots were trained for bombing missions. “The Christian tradition going back to the beginning says God’s law must come before human law,” said Gumbleton, now eighty-eight years old. The bishop estimates he has been arrested more than a dozen times over the years. When the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq in 1990, Gumbleton traveled there to deliver food, medicine and other supplies. For years, he has refused to pay federal income tax to protest military budgets. “We need more Catholic teachers, priests, and bishops educating Catholics that there are times when it’s appropriate or even an obligation to break the law,” he said.
Opposition to nuclear weapons has also inspired consistent civil-disobedience actions from Catholics. Since the 1980s, thousands have been arrested during nonviolent protests at a Nevada nuclear test site located about sixty miles northwest of Las Vegas. Pro-life activists, including some bishops in past decades, have also faced jail time for protesting what they consider unjust laws legalizing abortion.“Jesus did civil disobedience,” argues Fr. John Dear, an internationally renowned peace activist who has been arrested eighty times. “Almost everything he did was illegal. Jesus was clearly upping the ante all the time and confronting the empire. The early Christian church was a movement of nonviolent civil disobedience.” The priest can no longer vote and can’t travel to some countries. Several Catholic dioceses have banned him from speaking. “From Jesus to Ghandi to King, history shows the only way to make change is from the bottom up,” he said. “Think about the abolitionists, the suffragists, the labor movement. In every one of these nonviolent movements there has been a front line of people who take risks by breaking bad laws and accepting the consequences.”

Writing in the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas articulated a moral case for opposing civil authority. “Human law is law only by virtue of its accordance with right reason, and thus it is manifest that it flows from the eternal law,” he wrote in the Summa Theologica. The Catechism of the Catholic Church cites Aquinas on unjust laws in its treatment of Catholics’ responsibility to participate in social life. “If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order,” the Catechism reads, “such arrangements would not be binding in conscience.” Gaudium et spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, a landmark document of the Second Vatican Council, also underscores the importance of conscience, and defends the right of conscientious objection to military service. The U.S. bishops’ 1993 statement, The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, specifically cites the right to participate in civil disobedience as part of a commitment to “resist manifest injustice and public evil with means other than force.”
San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, a moral theologian who also earned a doctorate in political science from Stanford University, distinguishes between two types of civil disobedience. The first category involves breaking a law that is clearly unjust and requires a citizen to commit an immoral act. In this case, the law is broken precisely to avoid moral wrongdoing. The second category of civil disobedience occurs when a citizen disobeys a morally neutral law in order to call attention to a moral wrong which is not specifically related to the law being broken. Protestors during the civil-rights movement, he said, broke laws regulating general assembly in order to point to the evils of segregation. The brutal reaction of civil authorities riveted the attention of the nation on the horrors of Jim Crow segregation.
“In the Catholic tradition, civil disobedience is called for when you’re placed in a position where an unjust law is forced upon you and is of such gravity that you can’t comply with it,” McElroy said. Depending on how Congress decides to handle cases of young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children after President Trump rescinded an Obama-era DACA policy (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), McElroy sees the potential for bishops participating in civil disobedience. “It’s possible that the government might require us as bishops to fire DACA employees. That is immoral and I would not do it,” he said. “I would be called to disobey the law.” In this example, it would be the compulsion by the government to do something that is morally wrong that provokes the act of civil disobedience. This is a different theological category, the bishop argues, then when someone takes part in a symbolic, prophetic action that calls attention to something unjust. “There are a variety of ways to escalate the public witness,” McElroy said. “Civil disobedience is not the only way. The question is how do we escalate and engage in strategies that highlight this terrible human tragedy facing immigrants. A lot of bishops are working to try to figure that out.”
Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who chaired the U.S. bishops’ immigration committee from 2007 to 2010, has taken part in those conversations. “As a bishop, the question I think about is what is the most effective way for me to speak out,” he said. “I’m pastor to 350,000 Catholics. How would getting arrested affect my ministry? For example, we’re fighting against late-term abortion here. If I get arrested does it weaken my position with legislators on this issue and other issues? Bishops have to look at so many variables.”
Still, Wester agrees civil disobedience is a powerful moral tool. He has not ruled out risking arrest himself in the future. “In many ways, bishops have tried every avenue to defend immigrants and it hasn’t worked. You still see these mass deportations. As I think about it there are situations where it may become more likely.” At national meetings, Wester has also urged his fellow bishops to consider offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants facing deportation by housing them in churches. Most bishops are leery of offering sanctuary in part because they don’t want to give false hope that an immigrant will be guaranteed protection in a church. Wester understands the complexity, but focuses on the urgency. “If people are being deported to certain death, we need to consider sanctuary,” the bishop said.
David DeCosse, a professor of religious studies who directs the campus ethics program at Santa Clara University, contrasts a “resistance” model of civil disobedience with an “institutional” approach. He views a resistance framework as more symbolic or spiritual. This model also views the civil law or the system it is opposing as largely corrupt and beyond reform. An institutional model, DeCosse argues, grows out of a broader social mobilization and has more hope in the ability to influence traditional political structures. He points to the United Farm Workers’ actions of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta in the 1960s, which often included Catholic nuns and clergy, as an example of an institutional approach.
 “I think it’s especially important now for the Catholic community in these politically charged times to move into the space of the institutional model of civil disobedience,” DeCosse said. “Whether it’s on account of our anti-government libertarian culture or identity-based tribalism on the right and left, civil disobedience can fall too easily now into an opt-out mode of being symbolic but ineffectual. It’s important to re-engage civil disobedience as a mode of opting into and re-affirming the American political community. Our theological emphasis on civil disobedience should also be balanced with an emphasis on running for office so that we not only encourage protest to change laws, but also encourage the political responsibility to pass and enforce them.”On the ground level, Fr. Chris Wadelton, pastor of a largely Hispanic congregation in Indianapolis, doesn’t spend a lot of time parsing theological arguments. He decided to participate in civil disobedience for the first time in March. “If your letters and rallies and talks don’t seem to be working, civil disobedience is the natural next step,” Wadelton said.
When Sister Tracey Horan, an organizer with Faith in Indiana—a network with more than sixty congregations from various denominations across the state—called for blocking a downtown street to call attention to the plight of Dreamers, Wadelton eagerly participated. A few hundred activists shut down the corner of Pennsylvania and Ohio Street, near the offices of the state’s U.S. senators the group hopes to influence. Nineteen people, including Wadelton, were arrested. “I would encourage priests and bishops to consider civil disobedience,” he said. “It’s a strong public statement. It shows you’re willing to put yourself out there. We have complete control over whether we get arrested or not. But immigrants can go to work in the morning and end up in detention by the afternoon. It’s intolerable. We need to respond.”  

The possibilities for a resurgent Catholic activism will depend in part on whether or not more young Catholics fuse their generation’s commitment to service and social justice with a stronger faith identity. But with millennials increasingly detached from institutional religion, that’s far from certain.
Writing about the Catholic civil disobedience action on Capitol Hill in America, Colleen Dulle asked, “Where are all the Millennial Catholic activists?”
Religious sisters will always draw attention at protests—indeed, that is often a goal of including them in a demonstration. But seeing these older sisters arrested while advocating for undocumented people my age, in their early 20s, shocked me. Where were all the Catholic 20-somethings who should have been protesting for our peers alongside these sisters? Why is the face of Catholic activism today so often a Baby Boomer?
At thirty-three, Jason Miller is considered a “late Millennial.” Neither his weekly Mass attendance nor his experience with civil-disobedience actions are emblematic of his generation. The director of campaigns and development for the Franciscan Action Network, Miller acknowledges that in many cases he is often one of the younger Catholics at social-justice events. In part, he sees that as an indictment of Catholic institutions that never fully embraced the Second Vatican Council’s push to engage lay Catholics in reading the “signs of the times” and taking action to address injustices. “I think church leadership turned the clock back on Vatican II and forgot about our prophetic tradition. Many young Catholics don’t find what they are hearing in the pulpit relevant, and don’t understand the link between that kind of activism and our faith. But that’s hardly the fault of millennials. It’s a failure of church leadership.”
Christopher Kerr is the executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, a Cleveland-based organization that partners with Jesuit high schools and universities across the country to help cultivate faith-based advocacy. “The evolution of social media has changed the dynamic of how student activism plays out,” he said.
Civil disobedience and direct action in the streets are less a typical reference point for these young Catholics, Kerr suggested, than using digital platforms such as Facebook Live and Twitter to reach a wide audience. But young Catholics are still organizing. Kerr points to a student-led effort at Georgetown University, which successfully pressured the administration to increase pay for janitorial and food service workers. Organizers put out research reports, used digital media, and even staged a hunger strike to win their campaign. And in 2014, after Michael Brown was shot to death by police in Ferguson, Missouri, students at St. Louis University, a Jesuit institution, played a key role in forcing university officials to develop a detailed plan for addressing racism on campus and in the wider community.
Kerr also sees renewed energy among Catholics on campus in the Trump era, especially in defense of immigrant students now fearing deportation. This spring, the Ignatian Solidarity Network helped draw attention to a medical student at Loyola University in Chicago whose father faces deportation. At Brophy College Preparatory School, a Catholic boys school in Phoenix, students have rallied behind several of their classmates who are Dreamers. “Students recognize that many of those being targeted by the administration are their peers or their family members,” Kerr said.Michael Lee, a Fordham University professor who in the late 1980s protested against nuclear weapons as part of a Catholic Worker community, cites what he calls a “generational vacuum” among younger Catholics today. Boomer and Generation X Catholics, the fifty-year-old says, grew up with the long shadow of King, Dorothy Day, and the Berrigan brothers “Even if I didn't know much about them, they were part of the atmosphere of my Catholic child and young adulthood,” Lee said. “That my students today have to latch onto the same figures indicates a gap.” Even so, Lee has watched his students over the past decade become involved with Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and other forms of activism. Less visible is a sense of distinctive Catholic identity in that advocacy.
“As the struggle for LGBT rights dramatically shows, they often experience the Catholic Church and church leadership as an obstacle, not as a source of support for their activism,” Lee said. “More students see support for their activism in Pope Francis, but it is in a general or global sense. They don't have many local bishops, priests, self-identified lay Catholics to draw from, and the ones they do have are often getting a lot of heat from the conservative Catholic blogosphere. The deeper question is whether young Catholics view social transformation as integral to, not just a byproduct of, their faith. That is the question that requires introspection by Catholics of all ages.”
Richard Wood, a sociologist at the University of New Mexico who studies faith-based organizing and has consulted with the U.S. bishops’ conference, suggests that traditional or conservative Catholic institutions are often more successful in forging a stronger Catholic identity among young people than Catholic networks on the left. Catholic activism with a more liberal bent, Wood says, addresses core justice issues but often has less success in forming young people’s sense of deep Catholic identity. To fill these gaps, Woods thinks prayer groups, spiritual retreats, and liturgical experiences should make clear connections between faith and justice. This takes educating clergy and lay leaders who teach the faith to see spiritual formation and justice formation as linked.
A renewal of broad-based Catholic activism and organizing will require educating a new generation of leaders, institutionalizing justice advocacy into parishes and Catholic schools in a more intentional way, and putting financial resources behind these efforts. Successful grassroots movements that create social change don’t happen spontaneously. Rosa Parks made a decision not to give her seat up on a Montgomery bus in 1955, but she trained at the Highlander Center in Tennessee as an organizer before she made headlines. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other institutions provided structure for a movement. Catholic activists have a deep well of theological and historical resources to draw from that can teach us about the best traditions of our past. This rich legacy can also help inspire new ideas and creative ways to put faith into action at a time when the public square is in urgent need of moral movements that transcend political tribalism and tap into deep values that can resonate across race, class, and region.
Our current dark populism feeds on fear and the resentment stoked by demagogues who want to divide. White Christians, in particular, have too often been complicit in this betrayal of the Gospel. If Catholic bishops and lay Catholics are going to play a more potent role in resisting injustice and reclaiming the common good as a political virtue, there needs to be an honest reckoning with the limits of traditional advocacy efforts, such as lobbying and sending letters to Congress. Civility is important. But it can also become an unwitting capitulation to systemic evils. When immigrant children are being taken from their parents’ arms as a matter of federal policy and people of color face lethal police brutality every day, tempered statements of concern and calls for prayers ring hollow. It’s time for Catholics to rediscover our prophetic tradition of civil disobedience."

Bishop Michael Curry's Royal Wedding Sermon- Connecting Love, Poverty and Justice

Bishop Michael Curry gives an address during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
..."This day was “not just for and about a young couple who we rejoice with,” he said. It was about love, which “can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive.”
“When love is the way,” he said, “then no child would go to bed hungry in this world ever again.” He quoted the Book of Amos: With love, “we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream, and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.” With love, he said, “poverty will become history” and “the earth will become a sanctuary.” At the end, he concluded, “may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.”
Poverty, hunger, justice, and care for the earth aren’t typical themes for a wedding sermon. But they’re typical for Curry, who has called for a transformative “Jesus movement” and has an unapologetically fierce preaching style. He was installed as the first black presiding bishop of the Episcopal church in 2015, bringing a new voice of leadership to an extremely homogenous denomination: The Episcopal Church is 90 percent white in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center."

What is So Good about Original Sin? by Crispin Sartwell, New York Times, How About Original Blessing? Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Detail from The Fall, after 1479, by Hugo van der Goes.Credit Bridgeman Images

My response: This article about original sin in the New York Times got my attention!

While I get the positive secular spin on original sin as rooted in the human condition of limitations can help us grow in humility, the theology of original sin developed by St. Augustine and others has inflicted spiritual damage on Christians over the centuries.  This toxic theology presents God as an abusive father who sends his son to make up for the sin of Adam and Eve. I believe in original blessing espoused by many thinkers and theologians like Matthew Fox. In this view, we grow in an every evolving awareness of divine, infinite love within creation and within our souls as our ultimate reality. This theology does not deny our human limitations and spiritual failures, but offers hope in ongoing grace and divinity within us and all around us guiding us through the darkness and stumbles on our journey through life.

"Honoring all of creation as Original Blessing, Creation Spirituality integrates the wisdom of Eastern and Western spirituality and global indigenous cultures, with the emerging scientific understanding of the universe,and the passion of creativity. It is both a tradition and a movement, celebrated by mystics and agents of social change from every age and culture.It is also the tradition of the historical Jesus himself since it is the wisdom tradition of Israel." Matthew Fox
                                                                                                                                                                                                               –Matthew Fox
Briefly, we (including all creation)  are blessed, beloved, connected to all that is- with our imperfections on a journey to wholeness and holiness. While we admit honestly our flaws and our personal  failures and sins, we rejoice in our deepest reality- that we are infinitely loved and blessed- in our humanity. For followers of Jesus, we find our way as live the Gospel vision in the beatitudes, the path to fullness of life- found in  love, compassion and justice.   In our spiritual messes - grace is always present- guiding us to discover our identity as reflections of the Holy Spirit, God, or however we name or image incomprehensible divine mystery that permeates us and all being.  Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP #womenpriestsnow,

New York Times Article: secular understanding of original sin:
"The doctrine of original sin — in religious or secular versions — is an expression of humility, an expression of a resolution to face our own imperfections. In undertaking any such act there is risk. To allow the self-scrutiny required in this act to turn to self-loathing would be debilitating. But a secularized doctrine of original sin, a chastened self-regard, doesn’t entail consigning ourselves to the flames. There is much to affirm in our damaged selves and in our damaged lives, even a sort of dignity and beauty we share in our imperfect awareness of our own imperfection, and our halting attempts to face it, and ourselves."

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

John Cooney:A Historical Overview of Ireland's Upcoming Vote on Legalization of Abortion Amendment to Constitution

John Cooney 
In January 1983 I returned to Dublin after six wondrous years in Brussels as  Irish Times European Correspondent and was appointed News Focus and Opinion Editor, a position which thrust me into a managerial role in this newspaper’s coverage of the most bitter and divisive ideological event in Irish history. 
Although not unaware of how in 1979 during his historic visit Pope John Paul II pleaded with the people of Ireland to defend traditional Catholic values against secular permissiveness, I was more familiar with the CAP – the common agricultural policy – than with PLAC, the Pro-Life Amendment Campaign, which was launched on April 27th1981 in Buswells Hotel, just a stone’s throw from Leinster House. This campaign had secured political support from Fianna Fail’s Charles J. Haughey and Fine Gael’s more liberal Garret FitzGerald over three general elections held in 1981-2.  Indeed, in a much publicised radio interview FitzGerald launched “a Republican crusade” to remove sectarian features from the Constitution and laws of the land. 
In the first quarter of 1983 I readjusted to the climate of tribal religious polemics with which I had become familiar as Religious Affairs Correspondent from 1972-1976.    
A decisive moment came on April 28th, 1983 when after intensive lobbying of politicians by PLAC the Dail voted in favour of a Fianna Fail alternative wording to the Fitzgerald’s Government proposal in spite of a warning from Attorney General Peter Sutherland that its adoption would present dangers to the lives of women. In Fine Gael only Alan Shatter and Monica Barnes voted against the Fianna Fail wording. In the Seanad there was eloquent opposition from Mary Robinson, Michael D. Higgins, Catherine McGuiness, Brendan Ryan, John Robb, Shane Ross and Katherine Bulbulia.   
This vote thrust the issue into the public domain when September 7th was announced as the date for holding a constitutional referendum. With the approval of editor Douglas Gageby, we devised a three-fold strategy to open the daily opinion column to all sides of the debate; secondly, to assign Peadar Kirby to travel around the country to report on grass-roots opinion and, thirdly, for Seamus Martin to monitor each day’s radio and television head-to-heads. 
This approach, of course, was in addition to comprehensive daily news coverage under the direction of News Editor, Conor O’Cleary, who confided to me his frustration with Religious Affairs Correspondent, the late Pat Nolan, who was distinctly “a Bishops’ man”. However, my administrative duties, which included running the paper’s “Keep up with the Changing Times” advertising campaign on radio and television, prevented me from taking up Conor’s invitation to contribute critical daily comment on the unfolding “moral civil war”.
Today in the final phase of a no less divisive campaign than in 1983 – and after successive battles to legalise condoms, the decriminalisation of homosexual activity between consenting adults, the removal of the constitutional prohibition of divorce and, in 2015, the recognition of same sex marriage - three exceptions to my enforced neutrality come back to mind. 
During my Brussels days I had become friendly with the Rev Ian Paisley, after he was elected a member of the European Parliament in 1979. This paid a special dividend when he agreed to an interview in which he sided with the views of the mainstream Protestant church leaders that abortion was not a matter to be dealt with in the Constitution but was rather an area of responsibility for legislation or prohibition by elected representatives in the Dail. 
Second, as pulpits in Catholic Churches throughout the land thundered the simplistic but misleading message that to vote against the amendment would be a vote for abortion, I highlighted publication by the Dominican review, Doctrine and Life, of a book of essays, Abortion and the Law, exploring the complexity of the legal and moral issues.  In these essays concerned liberal Catholics urged Cardinal Tomas O’Fiaich and Archbishop Dermot Ryan of Dublin to issue a statement recognising the right in conscience of Catholics to vote against the amendment.            
My third contribution came on August 22nd when a balanced statement was published by the Episcopal Conference at its meeting in Maynooth, which, while supporting the amendment, nonetheless recognised the right of Catholics to vote against it. 
However, this united front was thrown into confusion when Archbishop Ryan and Bishop of Kerry, Kevin McNamara, issued unilateral statements insisting that Catholics must vote for the amendment. In an opinion piece I criticised Ryan and McNamara for acting like authoritarian pre-Vatican Two prelates who did not accept pluralism and religious freedom.
Thirty-five years on, numerous episcopal statements in favour of retaining the Fourteenth Amendment show a conservative majority which reflects the confessionalism of Ryan and McNamara and shows starkly that they have not learned humility from the horrendous revelations of clerical child abuse scandals.
Unlike 1983, in 2018 PLAC does not have a leader with the seductivee charm of the late Senator Des Hanafin. Young people have abandoned church attendance in droves, and the alliance of Bishops and Fianna which was exploited ruthlessly by Haughey has been broke by the party’s present leader, Micheal Martin. 
I shall vote for repeal of a clause that should never have been put into the Constitution. However, sharing the reservations of many that the proposed legalisation of abortion up to three months smacks too much of abortion on demand, I consider that is a matter for another parliamentary day.

Pope's Message to Gay Sexual Abuse Survivor Cruz: “God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."

If the Pope Believes God Loves LGBT People, He Should Say So
He said he talked to the pope about being gay, and that the pope told him to essentially not worry about it. “You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter,” Cruz told El Pais and other publications over the weekend. “God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."

My Response: I agree. Pope Francis should proclaim this message to all LGBTI and move the church toward living God's all-embracing love for everyone. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP #womenpriestsnow,,

A victim of clerical sex abuse in Chile spent three days in Rome with Pope Francis. He says the Pope told him it’s OK to be gay. So far, the Vatican is saying nothing.

700 Families Separated Due to U.S. Immigration Policy- Catholic advocates denounce US plan, We Must Challenge Injustice and Human Rights Violation, National Catholic Reporter

My response: The separation of children from their families is a human rights violation. Our oneness as a human family connects us all. We cannot crucify our sisters and brothers by doing things like separating families at our border and call ourselves people of any faith or no faith. Anywhere we find injustice, we must speak out and take action to remedy the situation. This is what the religion of prophets, mystics and Jesus of Nazareth taught. 

We need to pass immigration reform legislation now and  fix this mess as well as reach out to the countries from where people are fleeing drug violence with supportive policies that address the root issues. It is our duty to contact our legislatures to make our voices heard. 

..."shortly after a New York Times article documented around 700 cases of family separation since October 2017, HHS admitted it had lost track of nearly 1,500 unaccompanied minors who were placed in foster care; several of those minors were discovered being trafficked."

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

#women priests now

Carrying out 100-percent policy splits up families, including asylum seekers

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Central Americans wait to present themselves for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing April 29 in Tijuana, Mexico. (CNS/David Maung)
Calling a new policy that will lead to the separation of more families at the border cruel and unjust, Catholic advocates and asylum experts condemned a plan they say will cause immigrants added pain and trauma without deterring them from seeking refuge in the United States or addressing the root causes of migration.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced May 7 that the Department of Homeland Security will refer 100 percent of illegal border crossing cases to the Department of Justice, which will begin prosecuting 100 percent of those cases. Asylum seekers are not excepted from the policy, although it doesn't apply if they turn themselves in at ports of entry.
The policy isn't being presented as a family separation effort but will necessarily split up more families. Children cannot accompany parents to criminal jails while the parents wait to be prosecuted or serve a sentence of up to six months for the misdemeanor of illegal entry.
So far this fiscal year, nearly 36 percent of migrants apprehended at the southern border were unaccompanied minors or family units, and the vast majority of those children and families came from the violent "Northern Triangle" countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
"Government officials are responsible for the foreseeable results of the actions they take and what flows from that," said Camilo Perez-Bustillo, director of advocacy, leadership development and research at the Hope Border Institute in El Paso.
The new policy was piloted in the El Paso sector July to November 2017 before it was applied to the whole nation; during that time period, apprehensions of family units actually increased, although not as dramatically as in other sectors during the same time period, even though overall apprehensions were down.
Officials have recognized that increased family separation will result from the policy. Assisting anyone, even one's own minor child, to enter the U.S. illegally, is considered smuggling.
"If you're smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law," Sessions said in his announcement. "If you don't want your child separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally. It's not our fault that somebody does that."
Some Catholics pushed back against officials' claims that they are only following the law; in the past, people seeking asylum usually had those cases processed before officials decided if prosecution was necessary.
"I can't imagine where this idea of following the law, which is supposed to be a matter of justice, can take precedence over the injustice of essentially putting children in a jail of their own where they have no access to the parents who love them enough to risk their lives to come all the way to the United States," said Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College.
Legally, immigrants are allowed to seek asylum whether they come to a port of entry at the border or cross between ports and end up in Border Patrol custody, multiple advocates pointed out. And while crossing between ports of entry is technically illegal even for asylum seekers, that doesn't mean the law requires 100-percent prosecution, said Ashley Feasley, director of policy at the U.S. bishops' conference Migration and Refugee Services Office.
Feasley pointed out that even aside from humanitarian and child welfare concerns, the government is spending an estimated $620 per night detaining the average separated family rather than using its discretion to divert those resources to combatting real threats.
When families are separated, children are taken under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement while the parents are placed in the custody of the U.S. Marshals.

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Central Americans wait to present themselves for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing April 29 in Tijuana, Mexico. (CNS/David Maung)
As documented in a Joint Complaint on Forcible Separation of Families in Customs and Border Protection Custody from several immigrant rights organizations, during this separation it can be very difficult for parents to learn where their children are and even more difficult to communicate with them. This can complicate court cases when some family members have documents or information that others need, said Feasley.
While the families can be reunited after the parents are released, there's no government mechanism to ensure that this happens, Feasley added, leaving the burden of navigating multiple agencies to social services providers, attorneys and extended family. In some cases, parents are even deported before being reunited with their children.
Increasing advocates' concerns is the worry that HHS isn't keeping children safe. In late April, shortly after a New York Times article documented around 700 cases of family separation since October 2017, HHS admitted it had lost track of nearly 1,500 unaccompanied minors who were placed in foster care; several of those minors were discovered being trafficked.
The fact that the administration implemented a policy that will increase family separation right after those pieces of information became public is "really disturbing" said Perez-Bustillo.
"There's no reason to assume that we know what happens when children are separated in this way. What does it mean if you're one of those children that they have 'lost track of?' " he asked. "What does that do to your emotional and psychological health and development? What are the lingering effects of this? How do you ever undo that damage? And then let's multiply it as the policy is intensified."
Gerald Gray, a clinical social worker who serves as a consultant for the Hope Border Institute and has decades of experience working with refugee survivors of torture, described this form of indefinite and uncertain separation as a form of "forced disappearance" which he also called torture.
"It's an induced pain, it's not for the benefit of the person who's disappeared or their caretakers, and it's not wanted," said Gray. "It's not as if this is a medical procedure. It's an attempt to terrify, usually whole communities, certainly families, and put them in great pain, sometimes unending pain. I can't say more about its nature as torture."
Forced disappearance, like others forms of torture, often results in depression and post-traumatic stress disorder — manifesting in children through symptoms such as developmental regression, difficulty maintaining interpersonal relationships, and emotional issues such as aggression and suicide, Gray said.
Although parents might also be traumatized by the separation, effects are especially severe for children, particularly if that trauma is compounded by past traumatic experiences, said Gray. "We know in clinical work with torture that those sorts of collection of traumas last for years if obtained during childhood."
Against the common good
Family separation is also damaging from a theological perspective, said Imperatori-Lee. "It's kind of the destruction of the domestic church. We talk about the family as the first place where children learn about God and children learn about God's unconditional love."
Because, in Catholic teaching, families are the "basic cells of civil society" added Boston College theology professor Kristin Heyer, "policies that separate families at the point of detention not only traumatize minors and parents themselves, in violation of their human dignity, they also threaten the common good."
Christianity calls people to recognize others' human dignity and face migrants' real struggles, Imperatori-Lee added. "The church should be not just a place of comfort but a place where we confront our discomfort. We sit there in the pews and stare at a crucified body. The least we could do is turn our attention to the people who are being crucified in our midst today."
Imperatori-Lee and others expressed concern that the government was taking the opposite approach, trying to deter asylum seekers instead of recognizing that they flee from genuine threats.
"The deterrent factor is once again in complete violation of Catholic social teaching which holds that people have a right to migrate," said Imperatori-Lee, "… They're leaving genuinely violent, dangerous, life-threatening circumstances. So to deter that is essentially to condemn people to death."
The desperation migrants experience may mean that the policy is not even effective as a deterrent, Appleby pointed out. "The forces that are driving families to come to the U.S. are much stronger than any deterrence policies that the admin could employ. When you're facing death … you're going to take your chances."
"One thing we know, is that when conditions are bad enough, nothing will stand in the way of people fleeing and seeking safety, especially for members of their family," said Perez-Bustillo. "… It's like the incentives don't work in that context."
A more effective and more humane tactic would be to focus on addressing root causes, many of which can be traced to U.S. policies such as the war on drugs, free trade, supporting corrupt governments and being the source of guns and gangs, advocates said.
"Until we address the root causes in these countries, in the Northern Triangle, the violence, the economic depravity and the political corruption in these countries, you're not going to solve the problem," said Appleby. "The problem is that Washington doesn't have the patience for that. Politicians want an immediate fix."
"This could be the opportunity for those deeper questions to be asked, and for issues to be reframed, and for the focus to be on what are the causes that produce these flows and how U.S. policy contributes," Perez-Bustillo concluded. "Hopefully we can take that path. But the administration seems committed to a very different path, which means intensifying the current pattern of serious human rights violations."
[Maria Benevento is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is]


 Although I did not participate directly in this meeting, as a secretary in the Celam, I can testify to the many echoes that were recorded in the corridors and walls of our offices about what was said and concluded there.
The following expressions of my Bishop Gerardo Valencia Cano, although unknown to the missionaries and in general to all the people within the Church, impacted us and made us rethink the action in the Missionary Pastoral as such:
"From my first contacts with the Indigenous cultures, I had the concern that the missionaries were forced many times to intuit or improvise our pastoral action for lack of greater anthropological knowledge; I have had the impression that our pastoral work often fails due to lack of adequate planning ... "Bishop Gerardo Valencia Cano. 
Gerardo Valencia Cano., Bishop of Buenaventura, being president of the DMC (Department of Missions of the Celam) convened the meeting after an exhaustive preparation, which took into account the analyzes extracted from the data thrown by the surveys sent to all missionary bishops on the occasion of said preparation, the reports and contributions requested to each of them on the conditions of missionary work in their respective jurisdictions, the opinions of social scientists who, during the development of their anthropological investigations, knew and valued the work carried out by the different churches in the different national territories, the expectations, doubts and programs that arose in the so-called mission territories about the future of the communities entrusted to their pastoral work.With all that material collected through the work prior to the realization of that First Missionary Encounter of Latin America, this event was held in Melgar from April 20 to 27/68
Melgar-Colombia, name of the town, where the meeting was held, turned out to be a one hundred percent prophetic act . Its importance was not understood at the time but by a minimum group of missionaries who put it into practice in their respective fields of action. His analyzes and conclusions were collected in a beautiful document that after his impression was subjected to the punishment of living in perpetual darkness because his light compromised too clearly the need for a profound change in the missionary action.
After a careful and long preparation, the presented document was elaborated with the intense work, during eight days, of 18 Bishops and Missionary Prelates of Latin America, together with more than forty specialists in the different sciences and disciplines (AG 26) related to the pastoral missionary
Brief summary for an approach to such an important document:
In Education , showed the urgent need to discover pedagogical models that allowed the conservation and dynamization of different cultural identities, so as to correct the disintegration that produced the sole teaching of values, and organization of national society. Impossible to ignore, the contributions, comments and suggestions of anthropologists,  José  de  Recasens and  Gerardo Reichel- Dolmatoff.
In Liturgy, he  visualized the different expressions of the "Seeds of the Word" present in the religious rituals of the Afro and indigenous communities. He showed the need to enrich the Roman rituals with the autochthonous traditions, not only in the matter of songs, gestures and celebrative matters, but also in the very conception of the fair and fraternal sharing proposed by the memory of the Eucharistic supper. In this space, the role of present advisors as the one of Josep Camps was decisive .
In Evangelization, he  courageously addressed the dilemma of evangelizing from the enlightenment of faith in a loving, fraternal, egalitarian, libertarian and just God that is present in all cultures, evangelization that allows to respect in that way the norms and rites of religions. own of each culture. This presentation by the theologian Noel Olaya Perdomo , was taken up by  Buenaventura Klopemburg when he gave his presentation on the religious syncretism in Brazil, specifically referring to the Christian elements of Voodoo and Candomblé.
In Spirituality.  The paper by Gustavo Gutiérrez   emphasized Jesus' preference for the poor, his total commitment to justice, and the immediate urgency to create just, supportive, free, happy and fraternal Christian communities in the style of the acts of the apostles. Second Galilee with his presentation on the small Christian communities that through the method of seeing-judging-acting gathered around the prayerful reading of the word to analyze from the poor the cause of injustice, reaffirmed the spiritual line of commitment to the poor and the urgency to create spaces where it would be possible to live the project of the Kingdom of God.
In politics / economics, it was clearly formulated that fidelity to the gospel requires always seeking consensus, organization based on the participation of all, privileging authority as a service from and with the poor. No to the absurd and inhuman accumulation of wealth. Yes to the fair and equitable distribution of goods.
In inculturated apostolic forms,   Monsignor Samuel Ruiz , Bishop of Chiapas, presented in his presentation the need to open up to priestly forms that privilege service as the essence of the priestly exercise. In this way, it would be possible that starting from their own cultural condition of service and their essential status as head of the family, the Church could approach a solid and authentic evangelization between different cultures.
The challenge to the formation of the native clergy was open, without violating their customs and ethnic culture . Situation, which has not yet become present among us, due to the presence of foreign clergy. In our environment "the lack of autochthonous vocations is mainly due to reasons of intellectual nature, 68%, and of affective order such as celibacy, absence of the family, etc. 62% ". (1)
In ecclesiology , the definition of the Church was privileged as the meeting of a community of communities in which there are diversity of cultural forms, of celebration, with fidelity and respect for the authority that serves the people of God, guiding them towards full communion of services until reaching the full brotherhood and humanity of the sons and daughters of God.
The liturgical manifestation of the Encounter , presented a radical change within the known liturgical structure, not without having previously argued the why of each moment.
It was based on the readings of the Word of the day, explaining and making known the history of the first Christian communities, who gathered in the houses of the believers offered their homes and in them the news and events that affect the believers were heard, friends and family absent from the first Christian communities. The Nicene Creed was intoned, as the creed of the Universal Church. The bread was shared, which was distributed to those present, by the lay missionaries present.
The absence of other moments of the Liturgy, were open to the expressions of the different customs, and cultures of the ethnic groups of Latin America. The above was the definitive beginning to become aware of Western-Greco-Roman decolonization, recognizing the identity and culture of our peoples.
This document has suffered ignorance and forgetfulness, censored by one of the attendees present, who being sent as a special observer guest,  Bishop Sergio Pignedoli , his comments taken to Rome, were nefarious, who "scandalized", commented: "It has been a celebration made without following the canons established by the Church. "
We present these brief comments in view of the celebration of the "50 Years Medellín 1968", emphasizing the contribution that the missionary bishops made in that meeting, towards the construction of a poor Church, of the poor, with the poor , with all the evangelical sense that Pope Francis presents and challenges us today.
Those who read the documents of Medellin can well recognize the influence of Melgar's document, in its worrying diagnosis, and suggestions for the new Evangelization starting from the "seeds of the Word" present in Latin America.
They ask me, for the photographic memory. If there was and well collected by the professional camera of the official photographer of Celam; Brother José Arnaiz, Marianist. I do not know of any publication that has been made, I suppose because of the pressure, condemnation and censorship that was present at those moments.
* Roman Catholic Presbyter .
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