• YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Podcast
kresta-blog

Recent Posts

  • White House Will Revise “Accommodation” for HHS Mandate

    via the National Catholic Register

    by Joan Frawley Desmond

    joan desmondIt has taken two and half years, and an explosion of lawsuits , but The Wall Street Journal has reported that the White House will tweak the “accommodation” it provided to religious nonprofits that filed legal challenges to the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate.

    The Journal’s story, and another in the Washington Post odon’t say what precisely  will change. But they credit the U.S. Supreme Court’s July 3 reprieve for Wheaton College, an evangelical institution that also objected to the federal law, as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. You can read my story about the  high court’s ruling that provided a temporary injunction to Wheaton here. The Journal reported:

    The Obama adminstration said Tuesday it would revise  a compromise arrangement for religiously affiliated universities and charities that object to providing contrapceiton in workers’ health insurance plans in response to a Supreme Court order this month.

    …The Supreme Court’s Wheaton order said that the government should allow the college to simply state its objections to the Department of Health and Human Services, rather than filling forms that authorized its insurer to take on responsibility for coverage.

    Justice Department lawyers said Tuesday the govenrment would issue new regulations in the next month that would apply to all nonprofit institutions that say the faith with which they are affiliated is opposed to the use of most forms of contrapcetion.

    The Washington Post reported Tuesday:

    The administration made its plans known in a legal brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. The alternative plan, which is still being developed, is in response to a recent Supreme Court order questioning the government’s current process for allowing nonprofit organizations to opt out of a requirement that their health plans cover all contraceptives that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

    Few specifics have been provided, but the Post said

    administration officials suggested that the new process will not replace the old but will rather be added as a second way for nonprofit groups to opt out. Federal agencies “intend to augment their regulations to provide an alternative way for objecting nonprofit religious organizations to provide notification,” a senior administration official said. The official added that the new accommodation will be available “within a month.”

    The latest news from the White House has not yet prompted the uncorking of champagne bottles, maybe because nonprofit HHS plaintiffs are already exhausted and dispirited by the ongoing church-state dispute, which will soon begin a new chapter. Last week, Obama issued an executive order approving the inclusion of gender identity as a new protected class in the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA). Despite calls for a broad religious exemption for ENDA, the White House chose a different path. You can read more about ENDA here.

    Still, it might be time for a modest hope that the Wheaton College solution — a letter to the government confirming a religious employer’s faith-based oppposition to services covered under the HHS mandate, instead of signing Form 700, which triggers coverage of the HHS mandate to employees — could be the White House’s approved solution. Almost too good to be true. And think how struggling religious hospitals and charities might have spent the many hours and resources they devoted to challenging the federal law.

  • Bishop of Baghdad: Why is the world silent?

    via Vatican Radio

    “Where is the respect for the rights of Christians?” the Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Shlemon Warduni asks Vatican Radio. “We have to ask the world: Why are you silent? Why do not you speak out? Do human rights exist, or not? And if they exist, where are they?  There are many, many cases that should arouse the conscience of the whole world: Where is Europe? Where is America?”

    There has been no rest or refuge from Islamic State militants for Iraq’s minorities amid Western silence. ISIS jihadists launched a mortar attack against the village of Tilkif Wednesday in an attempt to break into one of the towns in the Nineveh Plain, – Northern Iraq – where families fleeing from Mosul had found refuge.

    Chaldean Catholic priest Paul Thabit Mekko told Fides Agency “The attack started from a village controlled by jihadists but was rejected by the Kurdish Peshmerga troops. In the night panic had driven dozens of Christian families to flee to Dohuk, but the Kurdish soldiers who were controlling a checkpoint told them that the situation was under control and could return home”.

    The attack reinforces that Islamic State militants  are pushing ahead with their goal to extend control over the Nineveh Plain. However, it also underscores the Kurds determination to stop them. Kurdish Peshmerga milita also repelled ISIS attacks on other villages in and around the Christian majority area of Qaraqosh.

    However,  these villages are suffering from a lack of electricity, water and medicines. They were connected to Mosul’s electric grid and a water pipeline from Salamiya , but ISIS has cut them off.

    The German based aid agency Christian Aid Program of Northern Iraq (CAPNI) – one of the few operative in the area – reports that all churches and monasteries in Mosul have been seized by Islamic State jihadists.

    On Tuesday, the leaders of the Iraqi Christian communities, Catholic and Orthodox met in Erbil, appealing to people worldwide to break the silence surrounding the ethnic cleansing of Christian, Yezedi and Shabak minorities from Northern Iraq.

    “We are faced with this situation. The patriarch and bishops we now find ourselves in the north and we are trying to get to grips with this serious, very serious situation”, the Auxiliary Bishop Warduni tells says.

    “We ask ourselves why is this happening? These things against human dignity? Against God, against mankind … “These [people] rip the medicines from the hands of children, small children and throw them on the ground …”.

    “This morning, we went to the President of Kurdistan and made great promises to us. He said: “Either we all leave go together, or we stay, but all together. We have to stop these people, who are unconscionable because they do terrible things to people, to children, to the elderly, the sick … “. He assured protection for Christians”.

    The prelate adds that the silence of the West is compounded by rumors that more than 2000 militants among the ISIS troops “are European and US mercenaries”. Christian political parties have gone to the UN office in Ankawa to demand that the international community protect Iraqi Christians.

    More than 1.2 million people are now believed to have fled their homes in the last month. As violence and instability continues to spread, and as summer temperatures reach 45°C, those displaced are in urgent need of assistance. Moreover there are more than 225,000 refugees from Syria already in northern Iraq

  • Rubio kicks off GOP Social Justice agenda at Catholic University of America

    via the National Catholic Register

    by Joan Frawley Desmond

    joan desmondIn recent months, the Republican Party and its intellectual braintrust have been debating how to offer a competing vision of social justice that promotes economic mobility, fosters  personal responsbility and maintains a safety net for the truly needy. In a widely-circulated article in Commentary published in February 2014, Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, and a Catholic, called on conservatives to do more than take pot shots at President Obama:

    [T]he administration’s failure to achieve the president’s stated goals is nothing for his opponents to celebrate. Few conservatives begrudge the wealthy their gains, and many are skeptical that income inequality is meaningful in and of itself. But the fact that many Americans continue to suffer years after the technical end of the Great Recession should offend any sense of plain justice. The administration’s pathetic performance demands not schadenfreude, but answers. Conservatives need a social-justice agenda of their own.

    It seems that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida – a rising star in the GOP who is comfortable engaging radioactive issues like same-sex marriage — has been listening  carefully and is prepared to jump into the conversation. The text of his address is here.

    During a substantive address at The Catholic University of America, Rubio argued that U.S.leaders need to promote moral truths and practical policies that can help struggling Americans create stable, successful families.

    In America, if you get an education, find a good job, and wait until marriage rubioto have children, your chances of achieving economic security and professional fulfillment are incredibly high. In fact, if everyone in America lived lives that went in this order, in the order I’ve just outlined, some estimates are that the poverty rate would be cut by an estimated 70 percent.

    But now, each element of this “success sequence” is eroding in our country. Many Americans lack the education needed for the better jobs of the 21st century. Many either can’t find a good job, or have quite frankly stopped looking for one, given up. Marriage rates are on a steep decline. And a higher proportion of children are raised in single parent homes in America than in the vast majority of developed nations.

    The economic price of this erosion in the success sequence is staggering. The unemployment rate is almost twice as high for those with only high school diplomas as it is for those with bachelor’s degrees, and almost three times as high for high school dropouts. Over 20 percent of children raised without both parents live in poverty long-term, compared with just 2 percent of those raised in intact families. And only around 40 percent of children growing up in poor single parent homes will ever make it to the middle class or beyond.

    Recently, U.S.universities have  witnessed a rise in rhetorical attacks on students of “privilege” who challenge liberal orthodoxy on campus.  Rubio, for his part, said he considered himself privileged  “because I was raised by two parents who were married to each other” — even if they were immigrants working in low-paying jobs.

    Seeking to help more poor Americans take part in the “success sequence,” Rubio outlined policies that he said could help raise the status of legal marriage, and increase access to better education through tuition subsidies for private schools and the expansion of charter schools.  He also proposed solutions designed to help single parents with job training and flexible work hours to care for their children. Echoing th views of  Sen.Paul Ryan, Rubio called for a greater for the states, rather than the  federal government in administering anti-poverty programs.

    One reform I proposed this year was a wage enhancement credit that would bolster a low-wage earner’s paycheck, thus encouraging work over dependence. We know that a working father is much more likely to support his children financially, which also makes him likelier to be an active and positive influence in their lives.

    In the wake of Mitt Romney’s failure to win the White House in 2012, the GOP leadership has been under pressure to back off from its defense of traditional marriage. Rubio showed no such inclination.

    Thousands of years of human history have shown that the ideal setting for children to grow up is with a mother and a father committed to one another, living together, and sharing the responsibility of raising their children. And since traditional marriage has such an extraordinary record of success at raising children into strong and successful adults, states in our country have long elevated this institution and set it apart in our laws.

    That is the definition of marriage that I personally support – not because I seek to discriminate against people who love someone of the same sex, but because I believe that the union of one man and one woman is a special relationship that has proven to be of great benefit to our society, our nation and our people, and therefore deserves to be elevated in our laws.

    Read More

     

  • Why women are (not) using birth control

    via Catholic News Agency

    by Hillary Mast

    Last week the social media entertainment site, Buzzfeed, published a list of 22  reasons why women use artificial contraceptives. With the recent Supreme Court ruling for Hobby Lobby causing a collective outcry from those who believe other people should pay for their contraceptives, it’s no wonder that the site wished to portray it as a necessity to women everywhere.

    Although the article claimed that all the women’s answers were different, half of them had to do with wanting to have sex without having a baby, while a handful of others echoed some sentiment of “my body, my choice” and some were related to medical conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS, menstrual cramps and acne (all of which can be treated with alternative or natural methods).

    I found this post very disappointing mainly because it seemed to act as an advertisement for the miraculous wonder-drug. Strangely enough, however, the post made no mention of the fact that hormonal birth control is actually listed as a class 1 carcinogen by the World Heath Organization (just like tobacco and asbestos, but we all know those are perfectly harmless, right?) nor that the makers of other contraceptives such as Yaz and NuvaRing are embroiled in large class action lawsuits because of the damage and deaths their products have caused.

    buzzfeed bc 1

     

    buzzfeed bc 2

     

     

     

    buzzfeed bc 3

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Strange. I thought prescription drug advertisements always had to list the possible side effects, but I suppose pages of tiny subscript about mood swings, nauseamigraines, weight gain, stroke,  blood clotsdecreased sex drive just wouldn’t have seemed to flow very well with, “Because sex is fun, but kids are not … yet.”

    I was, however, very pleased to see a response post on the same site that listed 24 reasons why a different group of women don’t use birth control.

    Their answers ranged from wanting to respect the natural way a woman’s body works to the joy of raising children. My personal favorites were the following:

    buzzfeed no bc 3

     

    buzzfeed no bc 1

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    buzzfeed no bc 2

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    These women seemed to have a better understanding of and respect for the way their bodies function. They know that although a woman isn’t fertile 24/7 and pregnancy can be avoided during infertile times, that sex is naturally geared towards the creation of new life and intimacy between the couple — something our culture has only half remembered. They know that the use of artificial birth control comes with a whole laundry list of unnatural side effects and that when used to “treat” illness it can often mask symptoms instead of treating the medical issue.

    See the full list

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 24, 2014—Hour 1

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 24, 2014—Hour 1

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Kresta Comments: Do Muslims want a Caliphate?

    • Description: News of the Islamic State's persecution of Christians increases every day. The terrorist group is trying to establish a Caliphate—a world where Islam reigns supreme. Is the Islamic State just another group of rogues, or does it reflect a goal of Muslims worldwide? Al discusses the latest news from Iraq and how Muslims throughout the world are reacting to the situation.

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Kresta Comments: New HHS Accommodations?

    • Description: President Obama is reportedly going to announce new accommodations for non-profit organizations who oppose the HHS mandate. Al discusses the possible implications of these accommodations, and why non-profits shouldn't be celebrating just yet.

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Kresta Comments: Islamic State

    • Description: Al continues to discuss the latest news from Iraq and the movements of the Islamic State.
  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 24, 2014—Hour 2

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 24, 2014—Hour 2

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Kresta Comments: History of the Caliphate

    • Description: The Islamic State wants to bring back a Caliphate- a state ruled by Islamic law. Al discusses the origins of the caliphate.

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Direct to My Desk

    • Description: Al talks with listeners about the need to increase awareness of Muslim violence against Christians.

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Direct to My Desk (continued)

    • Description: Al talks with listeners about the need to increase awareness of Muslim violence against Christians.
  • White House: More changes to contraception mandate coming

    via the Washington Times

    by Ben Wolfgang

    ben wolfgangSeveral nonprofit religious groups expressed skepticism Wednesday over the White House’s latest change to Obamacare’s contraception mandate, saying it remains to be seen whether the administration is fully embracing the notion that employers with religious objections should be free from providing employees with free birth control.

    The change, announced by administration officials late Tuesday night, would allow nonprofit groups to opt out of the mandate simply by writing a letter to the federal government.

    Until now, nonprofit religious groups such as charities and universities had to file paperwork with health insurance companies allowing those companies to offer birth control directly to employees — a form of “permission giving” that some religious objectors view as a form of complicity.

    But that approach was condemned by the Supreme Court earlier this month. The high court issued an order saying Wheaton College, a private Christian University, should not be forced to help its employees find access to birth control in any way, shape or form.

    The White House now appears to be responding to the high court’s order and the concerns of religious groups with a permanent change in Obamacare regulations.

    The move also comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which freed closely held, for-profit birth controlcompanies from providing birth control to employees if they have moral and religious objections.

    But critics say it’s still unclear whether the administration’s latest change to the mandate, which will not be finalized for another month, will suffice, and fears remain that the White House still may try to force employers to facilitate access to contraception, including forms pro-lifers view as abortifacient and to which Hobby Lobby objected.

    “If the government just kept us out of the process altogether of either triggering, authorizing, or in any fashion being the gateway for employees to receive coverage for objectionable practices, that would satisfy our concerns,” said the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, a nonprofit, pro-life organization. “Of course, we would have to carefully examine any changes the administration makes to its current policy, in order to verify that what our faith considers immoral cooperation is completely excluded.”

    The White House, which has been forced to adjust key parts of Obamacare on multiple occasions, cast the move as a simple tweak in the spirit of compromise.

    “In light of the Supreme Court order regarding Wheaton College, the departments intend to augment their regulations to provide an alternative way for objecting nonprofit religious organizations to provide notification, while ensuring that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate coverage of contraceptive services without cost sharing,” a senior White House official said.

    “While we are working through the details now, we expect this rulemaking to be issued within a month,” the official said.

    If nonprofit employers are no longer involved in the process in any capacity, it appears as if the federal government will bear the responsibility of securing arrangements between workers seeking birth control coverage and their health insurance companies.

    “Technically, all they would be asked to do is announce to the world that they have a religious objection. What the government does with that information is beyond their control,” Holly Lynch, an expert on health policy and ethics at Harvard Law School, wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

    Despite the supposed compromise, critics still fear the administration isn’t fully embracing religious liberty as it applies to the contraception mandate.

    “This is just the latest step in the government’s long retreat on the [contraception] mandate,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “We hope the government will listen to the thousands of voices that called on the government to protect religious liberty. It’s time for the government to stop fighting the 30 federal court orders — including two from the Supreme Court — protecting religious ministries from the mandate.”

  • Today on “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 24, 2014

    Talking about the “things that matter most” on July 24

     
    Direct to my Desk

    Border crisis in southwest

    -When you ask, “What should we do about this?” who is the “we” you are referring to? Is it “we” as Catholics, as Americans, as a political group or something else?

    -What is the Church’s responsibility? How can you as an individual contribute to the Church’s responsibility?

    Most effective tactics in the Pro-Life cause

    -Is the Rosary always the right political message?

    -Was it the best message in front of the Supreme Court on the day the Hobby Lobby case was decided?

    -Is it the best message to convey to millions of Americans who fear that we are trying to impose the Catholic faith on them?

    -Is it possible to be overly pious?

    Vatican calls for “genuine fraternity” with Muslims

    -What does it mean to say we have genuine fraternity with the unbaptized?

    -How do you have fellowship with darkness?

    -Are we brothers if we don’t have a common father?

    -How do we reconcile this with what we are seeing from ISIS and Boko Haram?

    Image vs. Reality: Why does our culture create a distorted view of reality?

    -What is your understanding of the true reality that our culture obscures?

    -How do you explain this to others?

    -How do you combat the false reality presented by the culture?

  • Gay group attacks first amendment

    via the Catholic League

    Bill Donohue comments on the Human Rights Campaign:

    The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is ill-named: it is a gay rights group that often disrespects the human rights of those with whom it disagrees. Its latest burst of intolerance occurred yesterday when it attacked David Tyree, the New York Giants’ hero in the 2007 Super Bowl. HRC president Chad Griffin blasted the Giants for hiring Tyree as its Director of Player Development.

    Tyree’s sin? He believes, as does most of the world, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. He also believes that homosexuals can change their identity; he knows men who have. His sentiments are grounded in his religious convictions. Anyone is free to disagree with him, but to condemn a man for espousing such positions shows contempt for his twin First Amendment rights: freedom of speech and freedom of religion. In short, it is un-American.

    The attempt to silence public figures for espousing traditional beliefs on sexuality is gaining momentum in the gay activist community. It must be resisted, especially by people of faith. It would never occur to me, as the president of the Catholic League, to fire off a statement condemning the hiring of an athlete who shared HRC’s views.

    Griffin is particularly exercised over Tyree’s belief that sexual orientation can change. But many gays believe the same. After all, when the LGBT community added a “Q”—as in LGBTQ—they did so to include “Questioning.” Now what is there to question if sexual orientation is fixed? Their logic implodes.

  • Meriam Ibrahim Arrives in Rome, Meets Pope Francis

    via the National Catholic Register

    by Edward Pentin

    Pope Francis received in private audience this afternoon Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who was jailed and sentenced to death by a sharia court in Khartoum for “apostasy” and for marrying a Christian.

    Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters the Pope meriam meets pope“thanked Meriam for her witness to the faith,” adding that she and her family “thanked the Pope for his closeness, prayers and his support, and that of the Church.”

    Their conversation, which was “very calm and affectionate”, also covered the future of women in Sudan. Fr. Lombardi said the Pope wanted their meeting “to be a gesture of closeness to all those who suffer for their faith, lived in difficult situations or with restriction.”

    Meriam and her family spent half an hour with Pope Francis, arriving just before 1pm. The conversation took place in private, in the presence of Coptic Father Yohannis Lahzi Gaid, an official in the papal household who served as a translator. After quarter of an hour, the meeting was expanded to include other members of Meriam’s party, according to Sismografo.

    The 26 year old doctor and her family arrived aboard an Italian government plane at Rome’s Ciampino airport at around 9.30 this morning. She was accompanied from Khartoum by Italy’s deputy foreign minister, Lapo Pistelli.

    Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, was among those present to welcome the Ibrahim family on their arrival. “It’s a day of celebration,” he said.

    Born to a Muslim father and Christian mother, Meriam was jailed and in May sentenced to death by a Sudanese court, accused of converting from Islam to Christianity. She was also charged with committing adultery since her marriage to a Christian cannot be recognised under sharia law.

    Forced to give birth to a baby girl while in shackles, Meriam has said she never came close to renouncing her faith.

    Her treatment caused an international outcry, leading to her eventual release. Meriam and her family now plan to travel to the United States. Her husband Daniel lives part of the year in New Hampshire.

    ***

    The Holy See has released the following statement:

    Pope Francis Receives Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag and her family

    This afternoon at 1:00 p.m.. at Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis received Mrs. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, the Sudanese Christian woman who had been imprisoned for the past few months in Sudan. She was accompanied by her husband Daniel Wani and her two young children, Martin who is 18 months old and Maya who was born in prison two months ago.

    The family was accompanied by Lapo Pistelli, Italian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs who had traveled to Sudan yesterday to finalize her release and to accompany Meriam and her family to Italy where they are preparing to emigrate to the United States.

    The meeting with Pope Francis lasted for a little less than half an hour and took place in spirit of affection.  The Pope thanked Meriam and her family for their courageous witness and constancy of faith. For her part, Meriam expressed gratitude to the Pope for the great support and comfort she received from his prayers and from so many others believers of good will.

    Monsignor Yohannis Gaid, personal secretary of the Pope served as interpreter for the meeting.  At the end of the meeting, Pope Francis greeted the members of the Italian government who accompanied Meriam and her family on their trip to Italy.

    With this gesture, Pope Francis desired to show his closeness, attention and prayer also to all those who suffer for their faith, in particular to Christians who are enduring persecution or limitations imposed upon their religious freedom.

YouTube Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Podcast