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World Cup Notes, Hobby Lobby and Liturgical Corrections

Fans at World Cup

Gustave Deghilage

John Burger - published on 06/27/14

News you may have missed this week.

With Islamic terrorists continuing to threaten vast populations in Syria and Iraq, including Christians; with ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, particularly with the signing of an economic pact with the European Union; and with the southern U.S. border being overrun with youthful illegal immigrants, the World Cup seems to have come at a good time. No matter what Ann Coulter might say, it’s good to have such relief from the cares of the world.

As in many sports, we find the best and the worst in the world of soccer. A couple of stories have emerged from the Copa Mundial which can give us all a little encouragement.

First, there’s Cristiano Ronaldo, a Portuguese who plays on the Spanish team Real Madrid. What’s unusual about him, aside from his skills, is the fact that you won’t find one tattoo on his body. That sets him apart from most soccer stars, who, as the saying goes, “love their ink.”

But the reason Ronaldo refuses tattoos is because he wants to keep donating blood.

“Regarded by many as an arrogant pretty boy, Ronaldo has made substantial donations to help children with debilitating diseases,” says a report in Australia’s news.com. “He skips the ink so he can continue to donate blood. In many countries around the world, new tattoos can impact a person’s eligibility to give blood due to risks of cross-contamination and hepatitis.”

Then there’s Clint Dempsey, captain of the US team and a Catholic who, according to this article, is “not afraid to talk about his faith.” He grew up in a Catholic family in Texas and went to Mass every Sunday with his grandmother. “Thanks to her, I learned that faith is important,” he said.

But when he was 12, he lost a sister to a brain aneurism, an event that led him to place God at a distance in his life. When he was in college, through a Bible study group, he found peace reading the Word of God. He wanted to enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord.

Today, he said in an interview with Sport Spectrum, "I play to the best of my abilities and am thankful for the many opportunities and amazing success [God] has given me. Through it all, I want to do right, not make mistakes, and live a life that is pleasing to Him."

It’s hard to resist the tempttion, of course, to suggest that Jesus is watching over all of the proceedings in Brazil, considering the presence of the large Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, site of last year’s World Youth Day with a quite well-known fan of soccer. Well, apparently someone couldn’t resist the temptation to bring Christ into the game. According to the Huffington Post, the statue was bathed in light one night–alternating colors of all the teams that were playing in the World Cup.

The World Cup put Germany in the news this week, of course, with its team beating the US. But there was also a very special meeting of Germans at the Vatican. A scribe at the Ratzinger Forum informed us that Bavarian Minster-President Horst Seehofer had a private audience with Pope Francis. But how could the leader of Bavaria not stop in to see Papst Benedikt?

“Seehofer brought the retired Pope a gift of very special pastries, including bread with coriander made at the bakery in the Rimsting where Benedict’s mother spent part of her childhood and youth,” the blog noted, apparently based on a report in the German press. “Benedict told Seehofer that he could not visit his native Bavaria because he now lives like a monk inside the Vatican. He has imposed this rule on himself and can no longer travel…. Seehofer said Benedict’s health was quite good and he holds his Bavarian homeland in his mind and heart.”

As the nation awaits the Hobby Lobby decision, on Monday, news that another HHS Mandate challenge failed came late in the week:

“I was deeply disappointed to learn that U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Buckwalter has denied charitable entities related to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, along with the Archdiocese itself, a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, in a statement. “Elements of the Act would force religious employers to cooperate in providing employees with access to contraceptives, abortifacients and other services that violate Catholic beliefs.”

The archdiocese filed an appeal with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which granted a temporary injunction on Friday.

As we wait to learn of the nine justices’ opinions in the case, a long but worthwhile article to read is Richard Doerflinger’s examination of one of the friend-of-the-court briefs in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby.

Delving into the brief submitted by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Doerflinger, Associate Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, writes at The Public Discourse: “A look at ACOG’s factual claims before the court, and the claims it is making in other forums about the very same facts, raises troubling questions.”

The trouble stems from the fact that Hobby Lobby and other companies owned and operated by devout Christians have urged the Court to exempt them from covering four specific birth control methods—those that attack the newly conceived unborn child, by preventing his or her implantation in the mother’s womb. The cited methods are the “emergency contraception” drugs Plan B and Ella, as well as two types of IUD (hormonal and copper).

But ACOG disputes the claim that Plan B and Ella prevent implantation, saying it is “not supported by current scientific data…. To the contrary, scientific research shows that Plan B and Ella both function by inhibiting or postponing ovulation; they do not prevent fertilization or implantation. . . . Equally unsupported is Respondents’ characterization of any of the FDA-approved contraceptives or emergency contraceptives as ‘abortifacients.’”

But in another context, Doerflinger points out, ACOG and other medical groups have claimed that a variety of commonly used birth control methods do attack embryos after fertilization, and that because of that fact, “legislators and voters should defeat efforts to declare legal personhood for human beings from fertilization onward.”

So which is it, Doerflinger asks?

Those who have an interest in the proper celebration of the Mass and related liturgical matters will be interested in these two items:

On June 22, when American dioceses celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi, Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., issued a document called Ars celebrandi et adorandi.

Many of us have visited churches we’ve never been in before and looked around to find out where the tabernacle is. It’s in that direction that we want to genuflect, to acknowledge the Lord’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament and do him homage.

But while in the “old days,” it was easy to locate–right in the middle of the sanctuary (and thus the reason why so many people unthinkingly genuflect toward the altar, whether or not the tabernacle is there), these days you can’t always be sure.

Bishop Paprocki wants that situation rectified in his diocese. “I direct that in the churches and chapels of our diocese, tabernacles that were formerly in the center of the sanctuary, but have been moved, are to be returned as soon as possible to the center of the sanctuary in accord with the original architectural design,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, also on the Feast of Corpus Christi, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila in the Philippines, asked priests to do away with the habit of greeting parishioners with a “good morning” as Mass begins. The expression “the Lord be with you” is sufficient, he said.

“With all due respect, my brother-priests, I do not see the need for saying ‘good morning’ and similar greetings when God’s real presence in the Holy Eucharist alone suffices,” he said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines website.

If that is the case, might we also ban the practice of saying “Have a nice day” after the final blessing? Wouldn’t the blessing itself assure that those sentiments will be fulfilled?

A couple of weeks ago, we reported the PornHarms, an inititative of the dogged Catholic-founded Morality in Media, got a concession from search-engine giant Google to restrict risque ads that pop up all over the place as we “google” things.

Now, Breitbart’s Austin Ruse reports that PornHarms has won another victory, convincing Verizon to stop showing films on its Fios adult channel with titles such as Daddy Likes Em Young. We need not go into the raunch here, but anything that counters a troubling trend of sexualization of girls sounds like a good development to us.



John Burger
is News Editor for Aleteia.org’s English edition.

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