Confusion over the Sanders going to the Vatican story

The original title of the New York Times article that I linked in my earlier post was “Bernie Sanders Accepts Pope Francis’s Invitation to Travel to the Vatican”. The article title now reads “Bernie Sanders to Travel to Papal Conference in Rome”.

Now why would the Times make an adjustment like that, the blogger innocently asks?

First, as the original title implied, it was believed that not only had Pope Francis personally invited Sanders to the conference, but that the Senator was going to meet personally with the Pontiff. Because those who write article titles are not the same people who write the article itself, I’m willing to let that claim go as a simple misunderstanding.

Second, it was initially believed that Sanders is going to the Vatican at its invitation. According to Politico, Sanders had the following exchange on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show:

“How did this come about?” co-host Mika Brzezinski said of the invitation.

“It was an invitation from the Vatican,” Sanders replied.

“That’s kind of impressive,” Brzezinski said.

“It is,” Sanders replied.

“I am a big, big fan of the pope,” he continued. “Obviously, there are areas where we disagree, on like women’s rights or gay rights, but he has played an unbelievable role — an unbelievable role — of injecting the moral consequence into the economy.”

There are two problems with this. First, Politico reports that Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, an autonomous institution that receives some funding from the Holy See but is not officially part of it, made the invitation to Sanders. Second, there is confusion as to who reached out to whom for Sanders to participate in the conference. Margaret Archer, president of the academy, told Bloomberg that “Sanders made the first move, for the obvious reasons”. Both the Sanders campaign and Bishop Sorondo insist that the Vatican invited Sanders to the conference, although the Bloomberg report notes that the Bishop “repeatedly declined to say who initiated the contact.”

 

 

Pope Francis publishes Amoris Laetitia, and Bernie Sanders to visit the Vatican before the New York primary

There are two big Vatican-related news items today.

First, Pope Francis published today his apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia. Given the US media’s combined cluelessness of Catholic doctrine and tendency to discuss religious matters within the narrow spectrum of American liberal politics, there’s no reason to react to any of their stories. I haven’t had a chance to read it myself, so I’ll hold off on providing my thoughts until I have. Given that the pdf is over 250 pages, that may take a while. Meantime, I’ll share some initial judicious thoughts from canon lawyer Edward Peters here.

Second, yet receiving far less coverage than the exhortation thus far, the New York Times reports that Bernie Sanders has accepted an invitiation to attend a Vatican conference on social, economic and environmental issues. It is not yet clear whether Sanders will be meeting Pope Francis when he’s there. However, the timing of Sanders visiting the Vatican days before the New York primary on April 19th is, well, let’s keep it as interesting, shall we?

This story raises a whole host of questions. For now, I’ll just focus on one: why would the Vatican invite a nominee for President of the United States to an academic conference just days before a significant primary election? This action looks like the Vatican is implicitly endorsing Sanders to be the next US President.

The Vatican’s involvement in American politics, however indirectly, can be very damaging to it and American Catholics. Perhaps there is more to the story. I hope so. I’ll keep monitoring it and post developments as they come.

California’s new minimum wage law shows what’s wrong with Progressivism in a nutshell

On Monday, April 4th, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a gradual increase in the minimum wage so that by the year 2022, it will be $15 an hour.  On the one hand, given the pervasiveness of progressive thinking in this state, it’s not suprising that such a law has been passed. On the other hand, Governor Brown made clear that he understands the costs of the law, yet signed it anyways. At the signing ceremony, Brown said:

Economically, minimum wages may not make sense, but morally, and socially and politically, they make every sense because it binds the community together and makes sure that parents can take care of their kids in a much more satisfactory way.

For the lucky parents who are able to keep their jobs after all of the increases have been implemented, this may be true. That will not be true, however, for those workers who currently work for less than $15 an hour and will need to find a job after their employers have decided that the minimum wage exceeds the value they provide.

The case against a minimum wage is so simple, it can be drawn on a napkin. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a napkin handy, so a small notepad had to do:

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A minimum wage law creates a gap between those who are willing to work at that wage, and those are willing to hire at that wage. Further, the number of people working at that wage will be fewer than at the prevailing, lower wage. Clearly, raising the minimum wage impedes the very goal Brown is supposedly trying to acheive, which is to bind the community together and make sure that parents can take of their kids.

The case against the minimum wage can also be demonstrated empirically. Professor Hanke of Johns Hopkins University points to a recent study that shows that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage in a developed country would cause teenage employment to fall by 2 to 4 percent.

What’s ironic about the current progressive claim that minimum wage laws help the working poor is that their predecessors implemented such laws over 100 years ago to keep that very group out of the work force. According to Professor Leonard of Princeton:

Labor reformers then believed that a legal minimum would hand a raise to deserving white Anglo-Saxon men, and a pink slip to their undeserving competitors: “racially undesirable” immigrants, the mentally and physically disabled, and women. The original progressives hailed minimum-wage-caused job losses among these groups as a positive benefit to the U.S. economy and to Anglo-Saxon racial integrity.

In other words, those who pushed for a minimum wage back then knew exactly how it worked, and used it to acheive goals, however distasteful, that were consistent with it. Today, there are progressives like Brown who understand the economic impact of such a law, yet somehow believe that people will magically benefit from it because the Pharoah has decreed it so. Such foolish thinking will harm the very people they seek to help.

Memebuster No. 1: the false choice

While Facebook memes can be informative, far too many people use them to reinforce their own beliefs. They do this primarily by posting memes that remind themselves about how stupid their opponents supposedly are. There are so many bad memes flying around, I thought it would be worthwhile to dedicate posts on particular memes and what’s wrong with them. I couldn’t have found a better meme to begin with than the following that I saw today:

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My immediate reaction to this meme was simple: this is mindnumbingly stupid. If someone see that I’m choking, of course I want that person to perform the Heimlich manuever on me!  Stop pretending to offer me options and just do it!

What makes anyone think that if person A observes person B choking, person A will actually contemplate between the two options while person B is turning blue? And yet, far too many New Atheists believe that there are real people out there whose religious beliefs would actually lead them to do just that. Furthermore, whoever wrote this apparently thought that it furthers their argument that atheists are the only rational and reasonable people out there, and religious people won’t act to save someone’s life because their imaginary friends will do it for them.

What happens if a Christian observes someone choking and performs the Heimlich maneuver? Has she inadvertantly shown her underlying lack in faith by doing something concretly to save that person’s life rather than just standing there and praying? Absolutely not. In fact, by taking such actions, Christians are helping to build Christ’s kingdom on earth. Jesus made this abundantly clear to his disciples as he explained to them who shall be with him in heaven:

“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

To be Christ-like –Christian – one must follow in his footsteps and his commandments: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:35-40). In other words, a Christian must always look out for the welfare of others, regardless of their beliefs or circumstances. This is reflected beautifully in Teresa of Avila’s poem Christ Has No Body:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

When a Christian performs the Heinlich maneuver on a choking Atheist, she is praying for his welfare, both in this life and in the next, through her action. The two are not separable.