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Blinken Presses U.S. Allies to Bring Back Islamic State Jihadis

Yeah, come on, people. What could possibly go wrong? Sure, they might commit a jihad massacre here or there, but what’s a few deaths compared to the horror of being Islamophobic?

US Blinken presses allies to repatriate Islamic State fighters

France24, June 28, 2021 (thanks to Henry):

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday pressed US allies to bring back citizens arrested overseas for joining the Islamic State group, warning they could not be held indefinitely in Syria. Blinken made the appeal in Rome at a meeting of an 83-member coalition on defeating the extremist network, where he and the Italian hosts called for greater attention to the jihadist threat in Africa….

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Vatican Rocked by Gay Sex Scandals

When asked by the media about homosexuality Pope Francis responded, “If a person is gay — who am I to  judge?” Here is the video of his comment:

Well it appears now that Pope Francis has a problem and perhaps his comment has contributed to it? Perhaps Pope Francis should reconsider his position and begin judging behaviors that are inconsistent with social and biblical norms?

Philip Pullella from Reuters reports:

Pope Francis asked for forgiveness on Wednesday for scandals at the Vatican and in Rome, an apparent reference to two cases of priests and gay sex revealed this month during a major meeting of bishops.

“Today … in the name of the Church, I ask you for forgiveness for the scandals that have occurred recently either in Rome or in the Vatican,” Francis said in unprepared remarks during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

“I ask you for forgiveness,” he said before tens of thousands of people, who broke into applause. The pope then read his prepared address and did not elaborate.

Click here to read the full story.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of Pope Francis speaking as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican, October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini.

The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America

CatholicGraphs_gendividePope Francis is coming to America this week and will be addressing the U.S. Congress at the invitation of Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner. Pope Francis starts his visit to America on Tuesday, September 22nd and plans to stop in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia.

Indications are that Pope Francis will be talking about several issues including climate change and the refugee crisis in the Middle East. But there is one topic Pope Francis may not be talking about – spiritual matters important to American Catholics.

Perhaps Pope Francis should be using this opportunity to address how to stop the decline and fall of the Catholic Church in America?

In his seminal five volume work History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire published in 1782, Edward Gibbon, Esq. wrote:

After a diligent inquiry, I can discern four principal causes of the ruin of Rome, which continued to operate in a period of more than a thousand years. I. The injuries of time and nature. II. The hostile attacks of the Barbarians and Christians. III. The use and abuse of the materials. And, IV. The domestic quarrels of the Romans.

The Roman Empire has gone with the wind. Will the Catholic Church in America suffer the same fate?

Let us look at each of these four principal causes of the ruin of Rome and compare them to the Vatican and American Catholics.

I. The art of man is able to construct monuments far more permanent than the narrow span of his own existence; yet these monuments, like himself, are perishable and frail; and in the boundless annals of time, his life and his labors must equally be measured as a fleeting moment.

The Catholic Church is witnessing a reduction of its monuments in the United States.

According to the non-profit Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, in 1990 there were 19,620 parishes in the U.S. In 2014 there were 17,483 parishes or a loss of nearly 11%. As parishes closed so did other Catholic monuments: churches, schools and hospitals.  In 1965 there were 10,667 Catholic Elementary Schools, in 2014 that number was 5,368 (a 50% loss of Catholic Elementary Schools). Catholic Secondary Secondary Schools went from a high of 1,986 in 1970 to 1,200 in 2014 (a 40% loss). Even Catholic Colleges and Universities declined from 305 in 1965 to 225 in 2014 (a 26% loss).

Time and nature has taken its toll on Catholic Churches in the U.S. As the Catholic population ages, parishes close. CARA notes, “As the largest religion in the U.S., Catholicism has the largest number of former members (some later return as reverts). Catholicism has a higher retention rate than most other religions in the U.S. (including all Protestant denominations).

It is the institutions that must survive to carry on the word of the Gospel. As the institutions decline so does the Catholic Church in America.

II. The hostile attacks of the Barbarians and Christians.

Today the hostile attacks are coming from the “new Barbarians”: Collectivists, Marxists, the Communist Party USA, atheists, the pro-choice movement, the feminist movement, homosexuals and government.  Today it is the followers of Mohammed who are attacking the people of the Cross globally and in America.

There is a coalition within America that is anti-Catholic, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic. Their tactics and strategy are to diminish the role of religion by removing God from the public square. As that has happened in America we now have Collectivists, atheists, abortionists, homosexuals (some of whom are practicing witchcraft) and the U.S. government taking positions and implementing policies which are anti-Catholic, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic.

As Sandy Ikeda in his article “Progressivism Is Illiberal” writes, “Progressivism [Collectivists] today goes beyond the liberal position that, for example, same-sex marriage should have the same legal status as heterosexual marriage, to the belief that the state should threaten physical violence against anyone who refuses to associate or do business with same-sex couples.”

In the Middle East Catholic Churches are being burned to the ground, Christians slaughtered, Christian children sold into sex slavery and Christians crucified as was done in ancient Rome.

The attacks against Catholicism are real and palpable. Daily news reports tell us that a unholy war is being conducted against the Catholic church.

III. The use and abuse of the materials.

Materialism is the God of many in America. The quest for power and riches outweigh the need for God and redemption. Collectivists demand submission to the state as does Islam, which literally translated means “to submit.” Government becomes God and by doing so restricts what the individual can and cannot do.

As Ayn Rand wrote, “The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.” In a short 19 page paper Rand wrote:

“A great many people today hold the childish notion that society can do anything it pleases; that principles are unnecessary, rights are only an illusion and expediency is the practical guide to action.

It is true that society can abandon moral principles and turn itself into a herd running amuck to destruction. Just as it is true that a man can cut his own throat any time he chooses. But a man cannot do this if he wishes to survive. And society cannot abandon moral principles if it expects to exist.”

In America corn is used to produce Ethanol, a gasoline additive. Over 50% of the corn produced in America goes toward the production of Ethanol. According to the World Food Programme, “Some 795 million people (1 in 9) in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life.”

Using food for fuel is immoral.

The use and abuse of materials and the people is the greatest threat to Catholics and the Church. For whenever the individual is diminished so to is the role of the Catholic Church. Jesus was an individualist who fought government. Many question why won’t the Catholic Church follow in Jesus’ footsteps and fight against government and defend individual rights including religious liberty.

IV. The domestic quarrels of the Romans.

The United States was founded on Judeo/Christian beliefs and values. Today the various Christian denominations are quarreling amongst themselves about social and political issues. This quarreling is occurring while all Christian and Jewish organizations are under attack from the new barbarians and the followers of Mohammed (see item II above).

CatholicGraphs_decline

Perhaps it is time for pastors, priests and rabbis to unite in one cause – to preserve their belief in God and the Judeo/Christian way of life.

The American way of life has led to great happiness and prosperity both in the homeland and throughout the Western world. A way of life that insures life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as guaranteed by United States Constitution. A way of life that celebrates life over death. A way of life that insures salvation and the return of the Kingdom of God to this earth.

There are lessons to be learned, for if we forget the history of the decline and fall of Rome, we are doomed to repeat it.

Perhaps Pope Francis would better serve the Church if he addressed Catholic persecution by the new barbarians and Muslims in America?

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The Slow-Motion Financial Suicide of the Roman Empire by Lawrence W. Reed & Marc Hyden

More than 2,000 years before America’s bailouts and entitlement programs, the ancient Romans experimented with similar schemes. The Roman government rescued failing institutions, canceled personal debts, and spent huge sums on welfare programs. The result wasn’t pretty.

Roman politicians picked winners and losers, generally favoring the politically well connected — a practice that’s central to the welfare state of modern times, too. As numerous writers have noted, these expensive rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul efforts were major factors in bankrupting Roman society. They inevitably led to even more destructive interventions. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the old saying goes — and it took a while to tear it down as well. Eventually, when the republic faded into an imperial autocracy, the emperors attempted to control the entire economy.

Debt forgiveness in ancient Rome was a contentious issue that was enacted multiple times. One of the earliest Roman populist reformers, the tribune Licinius Stolo, passed a bill that was essentially a moratorium on debt around 367 BC, a time of economic uncertainty. The legislation enabled debtors to subtract the interest paid from the principal owed if the remainder was paid off within a three-year window. By 352 BC, the financial situation in Rome was still bleak, and the state treasury paid many defaulted private debts owed to the unfortunate lenders. It was assumed that the debtors would eventually repay the state, but if you think they did, then you probably think Greece is a good credit risk today.

In 357 BC, the maximum permissible interest rate on loans was roughly 8 percent. Ten years later, this was considered insufficient, so Roman administrators lowered the cap to 4 percent. By 342, the successive reductions apparently failed to mollify the debtors or satisfactorily ease economic tensions, so interest on loans was abolished altogether. To no one’s surprise, creditors began to refuse to loan money. The law banning interest became completely ignored in time.

By 133 BC, the up-and-coming politician Tiberius Gracchus decided that Licinius’s measures were not enough. Tiberius passed a bill granting free tracts of state-owned farmland to the poor. Additionally, the government funded the erection of their new homes and the purchase of their faming tools. It’s been estimated that 75,000 families received free land because of this legislation. This was a government program that provided complimentary land, housing, and even a small business, all likely charged to the taxpayers or plundered from newly conquered nations. However, as soon as it was permissible, many settlers thanklessly sold their farms and returned to the city. Tiberius didn’t live to see these beneficiaries reject Roman generosity, because a group of senators murdered him in 133 BC, but his younger brother Gaius Gracchus took up his populist mantle and furthered his reforms.

Tiberius, incidentally, also passed Rome’s first subsidized food program, which provided discounted grain to many citizens. Initially, Romans dedicated to the ideal of self-reliance were shocked at the concept of mandated welfare, but before long, tens of thousands were receiving subsidized food, and not just the needy. Any Roman citizen who stood in the grain lines was entitled to assistance. One rich consul named Piso, who opposed the grain dole, was spotted waiting for the discounted food. He stated that if his wealth was going to be redistributed, then he intended on getting his share of grain.

By the third century AD, the food program had been amended multiple times. Discounted grain was replaced with entirely free grain, and at its peak, a third of Rome took advantage of the program. It became a hereditary privilege, passed down from parent to child. Other foodstuffs, including olive oil, pork, and salt, were regularly incorporated into the dole. The program ballooned until it was the second-largest expenditure in the imperial budget, behind the military.It failed to serve as a temporary safety net; like many government programs, it became perpetual assistance for a permanent constituency who felt entitled to its benefits.

In 88 BC, Rome was reeling from the Social War, a debilitating conflict with its former allies in the Italian peninsula. One victorious commander was a man named Sulla, who that year became consul (the top political position in the days of the republic) and later ruled as a dictator. To ease the economic catastrophe,Sulla canceled portions of citizens’ private debt, perhaps up to 10 percent,leaving lenders in a difficult position. He also revived and enforced a maximum interest rate on loans, likely similar to the law of 357 BC. The crisis continually worsened, and to address the situation in 86 BC, a measure was passed that reduced private debts by another 75 percent under the consulships of Cinna and Marius.

Less than two decades after Sulla, Catiline, the infamous populist radical and foe of Cicero, campaigned for the consulship on a platform of total debt forgiveness. Somehow, he was defeated, likely with bankers and Romans who actually repaid their debts opposing his candidacy. His life ended shortly thereafter in a failed coup attempt.

In 60 BC, the rising patrician Julius Caesar was elected consul, and he continued the policies of many of his populist predecessors with a few innovations of his own. Once again, Rome was in the midst of a crisis. In this period, private contractors called tax farmers collected taxes owed to the state. These tax collectors would bid on tax-farming contracts and were permitted to keep any surplus over the contract price as payment. In 59 BC, the tax-farmer industry was on the brink of collapse. Caesar forgave as much as one-third of their debt to the state. The bailout of the tax-farming market must have greatly affected Roman budgets and perhaps even taxpayers, but the catalyst for the relief measure was that Caesar and his crony Crassus had heavily invested in the struggling sector.

In 33 AD, half a century after the collapse of the republic, Emperor Tiberius faced a panic in the banking industry. He responded by providing a massive bailout of interest-free loans to bankers in an attempt to stabilize the market. Over 80 years later, Emperor Hadrian unilaterally forgave 225 million denarii in back taxes for many Romans, fostering resentment among others who had painstakingly paid their tax burdens in full.

Emperor Trajan conquered Dacia (modern Romania) early in the second century AD, flooding state coffers with booty. With this treasure trove, he funded a social program, the alimenta, which competed with private banking institutions by providing low-interest loans to landowners while the interest benefited underprivileged children. Trajan’s successors continued this program until the devaluation of the denarius, the Roman currency, rendered the alimenta defunct.

By 301 AD, while Emperor Diocletian was restructuring the government, the military, and the economy, he issued the famous Edict of Maximum Prices. Rome had become a totalitarian state that blamed many of its economic woes on supposed greedy profiteers. The edict defined the maximum prices and wages for goods and services. Failure to obey was punishable by death. Again, to no one’s surprise, many vendors refused to sell their goods at the set prices, and within a few years, Romans were ignoring the edict.

Enormous entitlement programs also became the norm in old Rome. At its height, the largest state expenditure was an army of 300,000–600,000 legionaries. The soldiers realized their role and necessity in Roman politics, and consequently their demands increased. They required exorbitant retirement packages in the form of free tracts of farmland or large bonuses of gold equal to more than a decade’s worth of their salary. They also expected enormous and periodic bonuses in order to prevent uprisings.

The Roman experience teaches important lessons. As the 20th-century economist Howard Kershner put it, “When a self-governing people confer upon their government the power to take from some and give to others, the process will not stop until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked bare.” Putting one’s livelihood in the hands of vote-buying politicians compromises not just one’s personal independence, but the financial integrity of society as well. The welfare state, once begun, is difficult to reverse and never ends well.

Rome fell to invaders in 476 AD, but who the real barbarians were is an open question. The Roman people who supported the welfare state and the politicians who administered it so weakened society that the Western Roman Empire fell like a ripe plum that year. Maybe the real barbarians were those Romans who had effectively committed a slow-motion financial suicide.

Lawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s.

Real Hero Cato the Younger: The Man Who Almost Stopped Julius Caesar by Lawrence W. Reed

In the estimations of many historians, two men hold the honor as the most notable defenders of the Roman Republic. Marcus Tullius Cicero was one. Marcus Porcius Cato, or “Cato the Younger,” was the other.

Since there was a “younger,” there must have been an “elder,” too. Cato the Elder was the great grandfather of the younger. Both men, separated by more than a century, were influential in public office. Think of the elder as the social conservative, concerned in his day with preserving the customs and traditions of Rome. The younger was one of history’s early libertarians, interested more in personal and political liberties because he believed that if they were lost, nothing else mattered. It is this second one to whom I refer in the balance of this essay as simply “Cato.”

By the time of Cato’s birth in 95 BC, the Roman Republic was long in the tooth. Founded four centuries earlier, it had risen from obscurity to political and economic dominance in the Mediterranean. Rome was easily the world’s wealthiest and most powerful society. It wasn’t a libertarian paradise — slavery was a part of its makeup, as it was even more brutal everywhere else — but Rome had taken liberty to a zenith the world had never seen before and wouldn’t see again for a long time after it finally fell. The constitution of the republic embodied term limits; separation of powers; checks and balances; due process; habeas corpus; the rule of law; individual rights; and elected, representative legislative bodies, including the famous Senate. All of this was hanging by a thread in the first century BC.

Cato was just five years of age when Rome went to war with its former allies in the Italian peninsula — the so-called “Social War.” Though the conflict lasted just two years, its deleterious effects were huge. The decades to follow would be marked by the rise of factions and conflict and local armies loyal to their commanders instead of the larger society. A “welfare-warfare” state was putting down deep roots as Cato grew up. The limited government, personal responsibility and extensive civil society so critical to the republic’s previous success were in an agonizing, century-long process of collapse. Even many of those who recognized the decay around them nonetheless drank the Kool-Aid, succumbing to the temptations of power or subsidies or both.

Before the age of 30, Cato had become a supremely disciplined individual, a devotee of Stoicism in every respect. He commanded a legion in Macedon and won immense loyalty and respect from the soldiers for the example he set, living and laboring no differently from day to day than he required of his men. He first won election to public office (to the post of quaestor, supervising financial and budgetary matters for the state) in 65 BC and quickly earned a reputation as scrupulously meticulous and uncompromisingly honest. He went out of his way to hold previous quaestors accountable for their dishonesty and misappropriation of funds, which he himself uncovered.

Later he served in the Roman Senate, where he never missed a session and criticized other senators who did. Through his superb oratory in public and deft maneuverings in private, he worked tirelessly to restore fealty to the ideals of the fading Republic.

Since the days of the Gracchus brothers (Gaius and Tiberius) in the previous century, more and more Romans were voting for a living to replace or supplement having to work for one. Politicians were buying elections with expensive promises to distribute free or subsidized grain. Cato saw the debilitating effect such cynical demagoguery was exacting from the public’s character and opposed it at first. The one time he compromised on this issue was when he supported an expansion of the dole as the only way to prevent a demagogue named Julius Caesar from coming to power. It was a tactic he hoped would be temporary, but it ultimately failed, becoming the only blot on an otherwise virtuous and principled public career.

It was Cato’s fierce and relentless opposition to Julius Caesar that made him most remarkable. He saw in the ambitious, power-hungry general a mortal threat to the republic and tried to block his every move. He filibustered for hours on end to prevent a vote on Caesar’s bid to attain Rome’s highest office, the consulship. Caesar eventually got the job, but while in office, Cato vexed him more than any other senator. Caesar even ordered Cato dragged from the Senate in the middle of one of his orations, whereupon another senator declared, according to historian Cassius Dio, that he “would rather be in jail with Cato than in the Senate with Caesar.”

In Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Caesar’s Mortal Enemy, authors Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni underscore Cato’s implacable resistance:

It had been an unprecedented year of obstruction and deadlock, all spearheaded by Cato. Never before had a senator brought forth such a range of legislation to the same dead halt in a matter of months. The tax contracts, the postwar plans for the East, the land reform, Caesar’s triumph (a costly public spectacle), Caesar’s bid for a strong consulship and a provincial command — Cato had not stood against them alone, but he was the common thread between each filibuster and each “no.”

Cato stood in the way of Caesar’s ambitious agenda but couldn’t prevent his postconsulship appointment as a provincial governor. In that post, Caesar mustered his forces for an assault on the very republic he had governed as a consul. In 49 BC, he famously crossed the Rubicon River and headed for Rome to seize power.

As a sign of strength and magnanimity, Caesar might have pardoned his old foe. Some contemporaries and present-day historians believe that was, in fact, Caesar’s intent and would have been a politically smart thing to do. Quoting again from Goodman and Soni:

But Cato would not give Caesar the gift of his silence; he had scripted his own scene. He would not recognize a tyrant’s legitimacy by accepting his power to save. As Cato saw it, Caesar broke the law even in offering pardons, because he offered them on no authority but his own. To accept forgiveness would be conceding Caesar’s right to forgive, and Cato would not concede that.

So in April 46 BC in Utica, using his own sword to do the deed, Cato committed suicide rather than live under the thumb of the man whose power lust was about to extinguish the old republic. While Cato lived, write Goodman and Soni, “every Roman who feared that the traditional virtues were guttering out, who saw the state’s crisis as a moral crisis — as the product of terrifyingly modern avarice or ambition — looked, in time, to Cato.”

With Cicero’s death three years later under the orders of Caesar’s successor, Marc Antony, the Republic died and the dictatorship of the empire commenced.

More than 17 centuries later, in April 1713, Joseph Addison’s play Cato: A Tragedy debuted in London. Depicting the ancient Roman as a hero of republican liberty, it resonated for decades thereafter in both Britain and America. George Washington ordered it performed for his bedraggled troops at Valley Forge during the awful winter of 1777–78. Congress had forbidden it, thinking its sad conclusion would dispirit the troops, but Washington knew that Cato’s resistance to tyranny would inspire them. And thankfully, it did.

“Few leaders have ever put ambition so squarely in the service of principle,” write Goodman and Soni. “These were the qualities that set Cato apart from his fellows — and that made posterity take notice.”

Putting ambition in the service of principle instead of one’s own glory or power or wealth: now that’s a virtue to which every man and woman in public office — in any walk of life, for that matter — should aspire today.

For further information, see:

The Fall of the Republic” by Lawrence W. Reed

Enemy of the State, Friend of Liberty” by Lawrence W. Reed

Are We Rome?” by Lawrence W. Reed, and other essays on Rome


Lawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s.

EDITORS NOTE: Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.

Pope Francis Calls for a Synod of Bishops on Sunday, October 5th, 2014 in Rome

Hope all is well on this wonderful “Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi” – arguably the greatest of all saints and the first ever to bear the Stigmata – the “5 wounds of Christ”. And, St. Francis is also the name sake of our 266th Catholic pope, the former Jorge Bergoglia of Argentina. And, this weekend – beginning tomorrow, Sunday, October 5th, a very significant event in the history of the Catholic Church, will be taking place – THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS in Rome.

synod

Synod.

The Synod of Bishops, in the Roman Catholic Church, is an advisory body for the Pope. It is:

“[A] group of bishops who have been chosen from different regions of the world and meet together at fixed times to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel in the preservation and growth of faith and morals and in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline, and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world”.

Of its nature, the Synod of Bishops is permanent, even when not in session. Periodically, it holds assemblies, which are either general, if called to consider matters directly concerning the universal Church, or special, if called for problems of a particular geographical area. The general assemblies are either ordinary (held at fixed intervals) or extraordinary (held to treat of some urgent matter).

As well as holding these periodical assemblies, the Synod of Bishops has a permanent secretariat which is headquartered in Rome but is not part of the Roman Curia. The Code of Canon Law’s chapter on the Synod of Bishops comes after that on the Pope and the College of Bishops, and before that on the cardinals. In the Annuario Pontificio, information on it is given before that on episcopal conferences.

The “Extraordinary Synod” – the third of its kind in the modern history of the Catholic Church – is part of a process of reflection that will last more than a year. It’s likely to reveal both the nature and, most likely, the limits of the change heralded by Pope Francis. And, it could not have come at a better time. Our world is in a “world of hurt” – sin, violence, war, persecution of Christians, abortion, terrorism, Ebola virus outbreaks, deterioration of the family, you name it.

The coming together of our our Bishops with our Holy Father is truly what I believe GOD has been calling for, for years, now. And, with Pope Francis – the bold and humble leader that he is – I honestly think that the setting and the timing could not have been better. I have personally been calling and pleading for a “Vatican III” for the past several years, as we truly need to get the Holy Catholic Church back on track – back to where Jesus envisioned it over 2,000 years ago when He built our solid Church upon the Rock of Peter.

The Second Vatican Council – commonly known as Vatican II – was, in theory at least, the seismic event in the modern history of the Catholic Church. It was a huge event! It ran from 1962 to 1965 with over 2,800 bishops involved. Some think that it was quite controversial. Others felt like it was the best thing that ever happened to the Holy Catholic Church.

I personally believe that it was “necessary” – just like I believe that this Synod of Bishops taking place in Rome this weekend is long over-due. We need a “shake-up” in the Catholic Church…We need those “Judas warm Catholics” – those sitting on the fence – to wake up and get involved. We need some “house cleaning” – the House of the Lord! We need to overturn those tax collector’s tables all over again at the Temple and run all those out who are sinning and manipulating the system. And, we need all of our clergy – including some of our prominent church leaders – to get back on the same page – the same book – the Holy Bible.

My prayer is that this shake-up isn’t a controversial one – a negative one – but, rather a positive one. One that will even catch the liberal, secular media by surprise and stop them in their tracks. That same media that is salivating, waiting for the pope to make a comment that they can take out of context and make the pope appear that he is just as liberal as they are. They are dying for him to fail, to fall through the cracks. This opportunity is when I truly believe that Pope Francis will have the “global stage” – the platform and the attention of the entire world – and be able to lay down the real Truths of the Catholic Church teachings. I have referred to the pope’s approach as a “Global Open House” – where he has embraced and invited the entire population – the atheists, the sinners, the homosexuals, the outcasts, etc. to come to listen to what he has to say. I think that this Synod of Bishops will be a huge step in the pope’s process of laying down the “law of the land” from a devout Catholic’s perspective.

And, since the topic of discussion at this particular Synod will be “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”, you can just imagine how tense the air will be. With so much attention being paid to same sex marriage in today’s society – with “19” states in America allowing same sex marriage to take place in their respective states today…with Pope Francis marrying 20 couples a few weeks ago right there at St. Peter’s Basilica (with some of the couples having lived together and a couple having babies out of wedlock) – you know that there is bound to be some heads turning and some ears burning with what may come out of these conversations.

Is Pope Francis going to play it conservatively and not make any waves with this topic of Family, or is he going to make some statements that may ruffle feathers with the conservative Catholic faithful? How is the Holy Father going to tackle the issue of same sex marriage at this Synod when he already caught the entire world’s attention last year when he calmly made that comment about not judging the homosexual lifestyle during his interview on an airplane coming back from World Youth Day in Rio by uttering those “famous 5 words”: WHO AM I TO JUDGE?

Friends: The stage is set for this weekend in Rome as we truly need to pray that the Holy Catholic Church gets back to the basics of Catholicism – the basics of our beloved Catechism – the principles & doctrines that our church was built on. I, for one, love the “old school” as well as the New Evangelization that Saint John Paul II instituted less than 25 years ago where I honestly believe that every Catholic in this country needs to maintain that balance in his or her walk in Faith. Maintaining that tradition from the true, Traditional Holy Roman Catholic Church, tied in with the New Evangelization that the past 3 popes have clearly elaborated on – is the ideal formula for the Catholic Faithful to build their faith on and to help build the Catholic Church today. That is what Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus were banking on and what I pray that Pope Francis continues to push and takes it to another level.

Change is tough. It can be good, but it can be controversial. My prayer is that Pope Francis institutes some wholesome, positive changes (if need be), within the parameters of the institution of the Family and that nothing he institutes or comments on during this Synod, causes the Catholic Faithful to turn on the Holy Father and criticize him for being too liberal, too progressive. Pope Francis will NOT be changing Catholic Church doctrine – just merely delivering it an a less orthodox fashion. As of today, countless Catholics all over the world have criticized the pope for being too liberal and too progressive and for playing too much to the liberal media. The last thing we need at this Extraordinary Synod is for the pope to say something about okaying same sex marriage and having it twisted and turned every which way by every reporter in the world. In my heart of hearts, I think that Pope Francis knows what he is doing and will do what the Holy Spirit has asked him to do in leading the Catholic Church. And, the Holy Spirit is that passionate third person in our Blessed Holy Trinity. GOD and His son, Jesus, will be watching closely and with all the angels and saints – including the humble saint in whose Feast Day we celebrate today, and whose namesake our beloved Holy Father took after – we will be in good hands…in GOD’s hands.

And, all the Catholics in this world said: AMEN…

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of RTE News.