US Army chaplain resigns in protest over US drone policy, Why not us ?

Dear Bishop and my fellow clergy, priests and deacons in the Diocese of Kalamazoo, MI:

I have just received news that a US Army chaplain resigned in protest over the US drone, “policy of Stop-dronesunaccountable killing” (See this link).   At first I was so excited that perhaps it was a Catholic chaplain.  But then read that it was our fellow Christian, Rev. John Antal, a Unitarian Universalist Church minister from New York. I praise God for his courage in saying: “The executive branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials.”… While deployed in Afghanistan, he concluded that   “our drone strikes disproportionately kill innocent people.” 

“I resign because I refuse to support the  US policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy, and global power projection.”

I am wondering and puzzled why no Catholic chaplain has done likewise. What is wrong with our seminary training? Why doesn’t our diocese have an office of Justice and Peace ? Why does the present American Catholic  Hierarchy ignore its own Catholic Social Teaching , even now, with the election of Pope Francis ?   Why should I have been refused permission, by a panicky temporary pastor, to continue preaching  the Church’s teachings on Justice and Peace ?

droneprotestI know that you are aware that I helped Kathy Kelly of the Chicago Voices for Creative Nonviolence,  with the help of the Peace House in Kalamazoo, plan and carry out a walk from Chicago, around the bottom of Lake Michigan and through our Diocese to the Drone base located near Battle Creek, where we demonstrated against drone warfare, and that these demonstrations do continue.

When I tried to place an article in our diocesan newspaper showing that the Vatican was moving ahead of the US bishops in understanding  that the Just War theory was no longer viable, you told me to go somewhere else Benjamin_Salmonwith this, because it would be disturbing to our Catholics here.  I received the same reasoning,  while attempting to start a new chapter of Pax Christi at one of our diocesan parishes, when the pastor told me to take down the sign showing that Pope John Paul II had called the Iraqi invasion unjust, immoral, and illegal.

So to some extent, I have turned to other venues. I have been working with Pax Christi of Michigan, the local chapter of the official voice of American Catholic peacebuilding;  with the Michigan/ Meta Peace Team, an Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping group operating both here in the US, and countries across the world; the people of Pace e Bene, big on nonviolence training,  sponsoring actions of nonviolence across the country, and trying to unite the many American  peace groups;  with my son Paul, who created and owns SirenGPS, a mass warning and tactical communication platform for city and county Emergency Managers across the county; and with the Peace and Justice Studies Association, which ties together educators and activists across the country.

My present activities, after returning from 3 months this winter teaching English in a rural, outback town in Colombia, South America, where I was able to meet the President of Colombia, and observe his efforts to try to bring peace to the 50 years of civil war in that country, include:Mn_Peace_Team action_smaller

  1. Currently, I am working with the organizers of the coordinated protest demonstrations being planned for the Republican National Convention (RNC) this summer, offering training services from Meta Peace Team, which did security for the 2012 RNC, and the use of SirenGPS, a tactical communications platform used by the best emergency managers in the US.

    And applying for an adjunct position at local colleges to get back into teaching Justice and Peace to young people, maybe even at the high school level again.

Recently, we celebrated the death of Rene Voillaume , founder of the Little Brothers of Jesus, on May 13th .  I Charles_de_Foucauldsometimes feel in a similar place as Charles de Foucauld  – trying to do what he thought Jesus was calling him to, but he attracted no followers. He died alone in the desert.  But then his vision did not die. Later a 16 year old, young student read about him, and it changed his life. 12 years later, now a priest, he and 4 others followed Foucauld’s  model , and it spread.

Voillaume_lachend“Little we are before the task we have to accomplish. All our lives we shall remain unprofitable servants, and we must wish to be so dealt with,” Rene Voillaume.



Well, I still hold out hope that there will be some place for me within the Diocese of Kalamazoo.

Yours in the peace of Christ,  Deacon Jim Rauner

“ I see my mission, as God has made it known to me, to help make the Catholic Church into what it should be, a peace church.”   Fr Richard McSorley, S.J.

“We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been unwilling to pay any significant price for peace. We want peace with half a heart and half a life and half a will. The war making continues because the waging of war is total but the waging of peace is partial.”

Daniel Berrigan,   May he rest in Eternal Peace

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The Catholic Church and The Black Lives Matter Movement – The Racial Divide in the United States Revisited

by Bishop Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.police-baltimore

I. Introduction


Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, ‘Nigger.’

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That’s all that I remember.

-Countee Cullen

(2) When I was a senior at Quigley Preparatory Seminary studying to be a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago, I was the only Person of Color in my class of several hundred seminarians. A group of us saw the film version of the late Harper Lee’s brilliant, Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It is the story of Tom Robinson set in Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression. Tom, an upright and honest, innocent Black man is falsely accused of sexually assaulting a White woman. He is defended by an equally upright and honest White attorney, Atticus Finch. Predictably, the all-White jury finds Tom “guilty,” though he is, in fact, innocent and he is killed while “attempting to run from the police” during the appeal process. Tom Robinson’s family is devastated by the murder and Atticus is angered by the miscarriage of justice born of racial prejudice. In our discussion after this extraordinary film, one of my classmates said his father had taught him that “all you need to know about the relationship between people of different races is this: ‘Birds of a feather flock together.’ This is simply the law of nature. This is why the Archdiocese of Chicago has Polish parishes, Irish parishes, German parishes, Italian Parishes, and Black parishes. People of similar backgrounds want to live, work, and worship with their own kind! It has always been this way and it always 5 will be. It’s that simple: birds of a feather flock together.” He said nothing about the death of Tom Robinson, as if his life did not matter. I have never forgotten that conversation.

(3) I did not write about the Black Lives Matter Movement in my Pastoral Letter,“The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection for the World Day of Peace 2015.” At that time, the movement had not yet attained the high visibility and considerable influence that it has today. Readers of this reflection would benefit from having an awareness of the main themes addressed in my 2015 Pastoral. That Letter is an invitation to readers, inviting them:

  • To imagine how African-Americans experience the Catholic Church which almost always uses European-based religious art depicting God, Jesus, Mary, the saints and angels as White and almost never depicting them as African, Asian, or Hispanic;
  • To allow the new awareness of the racial divide to move Catholics to think about the way the followers of Jesus Christ should speak and act in the face of the racial divide;
  • To come face-to-face with accounts of the events surrounding the deaths of numerous African-American men in altercations with White law enforcement agents and the international protests that followed;
  • To review the Catholic Church’s teachings (“Brothers and Sisters to Us,” “What We have Seen and Heard”) concerning the racial divide in America;
  • To discontinue the Church’s common practice of referring to People of Color with biased terms like “minorities,” “minority” Americans and “minority” Catholics, since all are Americans and all are Catholics;
  • To refer to people as who they are rather than who they are not (e.g., African-Americans, not “a minority group,” or Baptists, not “non-Catholics”);
  • To commit themselves to praying, listening, learning, thinking, and acting in ways that will help to bridge the racial divide…

Click here to read the entire pastoral letter.

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Civil & Religious Leaders Address Racial Issues at Birmingham Conference


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Pope Francis Welcomes in New Year with Call to End ‘Arrogance of the Powerful’

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Friday called for an end to the “arrogance of the powerful” that relegates tPopehe weak to the outskirts of society, and to the “false neutrality” toward conflicts, hunger and persecution that triggers a sometimes-deadly exodus of refugees.

Welcoming the new year, Francis emphasized the need to “let ourselves be reborn, to overcome the indifference which blocks solidarity, and to leave behind the false neutrality which prevents sharing.” He recommended cooperation as the way to build an “ever more just and fraternal world, a world in which every person and every creature can dwell in peace.”

In his homily in St. Peter’s Basilica, he reflected on the “countless forms of injustice and violence which daily wound our human family.”

“Sometimes we ask ourselves how it is possible that human injustice persists unabated, and that the arrogance of the powerful continues to demean the weak, relegating them to the most squalid outskirts of our world.” He continued: “We ask how long human evil will continue to sow violence and hatred in our world, reaping innocent victims.”

Francis cited no country, continent or conflict. But his words clearly evoked images of the refugees and migrants, more than 1 million of whom flooded into Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia in 2015, on dangerous sea or overland journeys. He spoke of “witnessing hordes of men, women and children fleeing war, hunger and persecution, ready to risk their lives simply to encounter respect for their fundamental rights.”

The Catholic Church dedicates New Year’s Day to the theme of peace, and Francis this year is stressing mercy as the path toward reconciliation.

To highlight the benefits springing from forgiveness and reconciliation in the world, Francis declared a Holy Year of Mercy, which began last month and runs through November 2016. Early Friday evening, he was to visit a Rome basilica, St. Mary Major, where he sometimes slips away to pray, to open a normally sealed Holy Door as a symbolic threshold to cross toward mercy for Catholic faithful.

Associated Press – Published January 01, 2016

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To Italy, a “Julie Andrews” Moment, and then Home

On Thursday and Friday, May 21-22, we visited this experimental university in sophia panel, Italy.  In the picture we are listening to a panel of students chaired by Professor Amy Uelman.  Our students were impressed by the truly international student body.  This panel from left to right included students from Syria, Brazil, Argentina, Italy and India.  The university has as its goal giving students the skills to build a ‘culture of unity.’   There are students studying communication, economics, philosophy and theology, and political science.   Management students especially work to build a new style of business building an ‘economy of communion,’ where profits are divided into thirds, one third reinvested in the business, one third to promote the wider economy of communion in the community, and a third to be used to support the poor.

We were quite impressed by the focus on religious diversity on campus and the related emphasis on dialogue and understanding in contrast to proselytizing.  The expectation is that students of different religious backgrounds, including ‘no-religion,’ would hear and learn from each other and learn to pursue a common ‘golden rule.’ That will bring peace.

While in Loppiano, we also visited the local arts program, where some remarkably talented and globally grounded artists produce works that contribute to cross cultural unity.  We also visited several cooperative enterprises ranging from a café, a winery and a fabric producer who are guided by the economy of communion concept.

After our visit to  Loppiano, our final stop is Marzabotto, Italy (between Florence and Bologna).  We picked an agrituristicaMarzabotto chapel site for our last three days so that students could prepare their final project proposals in a relaxing and reflective community.  We have stayed at Chiesa D’Ignano 1778, lodging built into an old chapel destroyed by the Nazis in 1944 as they fought partisans in retreating from Central Italy.  Marzabotto was the site of a Nazi massacre of civilians in this beautiful mountain region.  The massacre is much like that at Oradour-sur-Glane in France, except it was spread across a mountain into two valleys.  The massacres in this region have recently been the subject of two films – Spike Lee’s “Miracle at St. Anna (2008) and an Italian film, whose English title is “The Man Who Will Come.”  The images which differ in the emails, show how half the chapel was destroyed when a German tank fired into the front door.  Both films show how the Nazis rounded up people in the churches and killed the priests and the parishioners, as at Oradour.

On a lighter, final note, after drafting the policy proposal, the students climbed to the top of Monte Sole which is the center of a National Park dedicated to peace.  In the image, they could not help recalling scenes from the “Sound of Music,” and Marzabotto Hills are Aliveas they posed on the meadow just below the summit they hummed “The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music.”

While the final student proposal is only in draft form, it focused on helping Alma College learn from the emphasis on peace, economic justice, openness to religious and cultural diversity that they experienced during the visit to Sophia University.

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From France, and then Switzerland, and on to Germany

This photo is from Monday, May 11 in Chambon-sur-Lignon, France.  We’re standing in front of the church of Andre Trocme, Trocme churchthe reformed church minister in the town who with his wife inspired the community of 5,000 people to shelter an equal number, mostly Jewish fleeing the holocaust.  The story of the courage of the towns of the region to simply open their doors to foreign strangers of a different faith is amazing and came for the students after we left Oradour-sur-Glane, the town that symbolizes the worst in human nature.  There is an absolutely wonderful film about Chambon, “Weapons of the Spirit,” produced by a Jewish film producer who happened to have been born in Chambon in 1944 while his family was living [hiding] on a farm outide of town.  The students also read a great book on Chambon, “Lest Innocent Blood be Shed.”  Even today, the current generation in Chambon is sheltering 25 refugee families from Verdun Cathedralplaces like Syria and Kosovo.

Here is the side wall of Verdun Cathedral (where there was the Pax Christi info) in France.  The outsides of the Cathedral are pick marked with holes from exploding shells from WWI.


Last night in the back of Verdun Cathedral we found the French Pax Christi newsletter – prominently on the info table!

UN gate Geneva group

Heading to Switzerland, we had visits with international agencies and non-governmental organizations in Geneva.  The student really liked Jesuit Refugee Service, the World Council of Churches and Doctors Without Borders!

UN Conf Rm Group

These pictures are from our visits in Geneva, Switzerland.  Two are at the UN headquarters, one the gate and the other in one of the conference rooms.  In addition to touring the UN facilities, the students met with officials of the UN affiliated international Labor Organization (ILO).

Jesuit refugee group

This picture is from our meeting with Father Mike Gallagher, S.J., Geneva coordinator for Jesuit Refugee Service.  We met with both his office and also leaders of the World Council of Churches.

Nuremberg doc center discussion

This picture (it was hard to get a perfect one) was taken during a discussion of Alma students with a staff expert on propaganda at what is called the Nazi Documentation Center in Nuremberg.  The center (and there is a similar one we visited today in Munich) focuses on how an advanced, modern society could fall for a racist regime like the Nazis.  The discussion focused on some samples of propaganda from early in the 20th century.

Nuremberg courtroom 600

A picture of the courtroom where the Nuremberg Trials were held.

Nuremberg Justice Process

A picture of students going through the exhibit above the Nuremberg Trials courtroom that does an excellent job of showing the evolution of international justice from the 19th century through the International Criminal Court, showing both the pioneering role of U.S. leaders such as Abraham Lincoln through our failure to join the International Criminal Court.

Dachau Carmelite Convent

At the Dachau Concentration Camp students walk into the chapel, one of five at the former concentration camp (there are a
Catholic, Protestant, Russian Orthodox and Jewish center at the back of the former concentration camp just outside Munich).

In the afternoon of May 19 we visited the various White Rose memorials at Munich University.  This image shows one onWhite Rose Inside Univ. the wall of the foyer where Sophie Scholl distributed flyers by the anti-Nazi group (she was caught after this and she and her brother and other leaders were beheaded a few days later).  The university remembers the White Rose leaders, including their professor, Huber, who also was beheaded.

Sophie school fountain

This fountain, outside the main door of the University of Munich honors the Scholl Siblings who led the White Rose and who were beheaded in February 1943.  An identical fountain and park across the streets honors their Philosophy Professor Dr. Huber.  Here the Alma students stand by the fountain

Finally, on May 19 we visited the new Nazi Documentation Center in Munich (opened April 30, 2015) where we received an amazingly informative tour focused on the rise and legacy of Nazism.  In this photo, the Alma students are listening to a presentation on “fighting forgetting.”  The role of the museum is to educate the public both in Munich and around the world Nazi Doc Center Munich fight forgettingin learning from the rise of the Nazis and continued racism, anti-immigrant and super nationalistic movements.   How can modern societies avoid these movements which effectively use fear, economic uncertainty and modern propaganda techniques to turn societies against others?

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A Synopsis of the Itinerary:

  • May 5: Arrive in Madrid, Spain. Visit Prado
  • May 6: Visit Museo Reina Sofia. Depart Madrid for Valladolid. Visit Colegio de San Gregorio.
  • May 7: Leave Valladolid for Arantzazu.
  • May 8: Visit Guernika Peace Museum and Basque Assembly Hall; Depart San Sebastian for Bordeaux, France
  • May 9: Rent cars and drive to Oradour-sur Glane. Oradour is a Shrine.
  • May 10: Depart Oradour by car for Chambon-sur-Lignon
  • May 11: Visit Chambon-sur-LignonEurope
  • May 12: Depart Chambon-sir-Lignong for Geneva, Switzerland. Visit the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
  • May 13: Visit World Council of Churches and the International Labor Organization
  • May 14: Visit Jesuit Refugee Service and the Red Cross.
  • May 15: Visit Emmanuel Tronc, Humanitarian Advocacy & RepresentationCoordinator, Médecins sans Frontièrs (Doctors Without Borders). Depart Geneva for Verdun, France.
  • May 16: Visit Centre Mondial de la Paix and tour WW I battlefield and cemetery.
  • May 17: Depart Verdun for Nuremberg, Germany.
  • May 18: Visit Dokumentationzentrum and Memorium Nürnberger Prozesse.  Depart Nuremberg for Munich.
  • May 19: Visit Dachau, the White Rose memorial, and Rupert Mayer shrine and Munich Nazi Documentation Centre.
  • May 20: Depart Munich for Incisa, Italy
  • May 21: Visit Sophia University and the School of Civil Economy, Incisa in Val d’Arno.
  • May 22: Visit Community of Loppiano and Loppiano Cooperative in Incisa Val d’Arno
  • May 23: Depart Incisa for Monzano-Vado.
  • May 24: Field trip to Sept. 29, 1944 massacre site.
  • May 25: Final papers prepared; spend night at Chiesaignano Agroturismo, Italy
  • May 26: Depart for home.

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A Glimpse at the Leadership in Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Syllabus

As we follow PCM Council Members Ed and Marilyn Lorez – leading this Human Rights Class across Europe – we gain even more understanding of where they’re going and why by reading the class syllabus (HERE).  This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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PCM Council Member Leads Spring Semester Peace Leadership Class

Alma College Public Affairs Spring Term class on Leadership in Human Rights and Conflict Resolution is visiting various organizations and sites in Western Europe related to the struggles over the last 500 years to develop legal procedures to protect human rights and regulate the conduct of war.  This excursion is coordinated by PCM State Council member and Alma College professor, Ed Lorenz.  Over the first three weeks in May, the students will visit France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, beginning with Spain.  The first two days were spent in Madrid and Valladolid, Spain.

Here are brief descriptions:

Prado Lawn

Prado Lawn: Upon the arrival of the students overnight from Canada, they visited the great Prado Art Museum in Madrid, and here are taking a well-deserved break on the Prado’s back lawn.  It was a gloriously refreshing spring day.  The Prado has many great paintings, especially some by Goya that portray the horrors and foolishness of war and the pompous leaders who often send their country into war.

Reine Sofia Door

Reine Sofia Door: On our first full day in Spain we began with a visit to see Picasso’s Guernica, the world’s great symbol of the horrors of modern war.  They waited for the Reine Sofia Museum to open on Wednesday morning.  Two days later they would visit the Peace Museum and other sites in the town of Guernica.  The painting from 1937 is inspired by the April 1937 bombing of the city during the Spanish Civil War.

San Paulo Valladolid

San Paulo Valladolid: In midday on Wednesday, the class took a high speed train to Valladolid a city about 140 miles northwest of Madrid.  Valladolid was the location of what is often called the Great Debate About Human Rights in 1550.  Here the students stand in front of the grand Church of San Paulo adjacent to the site of the 1550 debate.


Dramatic Reading: The students were allowed to do a dramatic reading of “The Controversy of Valladolid,” a play by Jean-Claude Carriere that dramatized the effort by Bartolome de Las Casas in 1550 to get the Spanish government and the Church to recognize the humanity and thus the human rights of the indigenous peoples in the Americas.  Here the students practice their readings in front of the altar where the debate took place.

Collegio Courtyard Window

Collegio Courtyard Window: After the dramatic reading, the students went to look at the beautiful courtyard of the Collegio de San Gregorio where the great debate took place.  Again, the weather was perfect for our visit.

As we continued our human rights and peace leadership class, we visited some additional sites on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (May 7-9).  Here are some descriptions linked to the attached photos:

Arantzazu Sanctuary

  1. Arantzazu Sanctuary: On Thursday and Friday, May 7-8, 2015, we visited the Arantzazu Sanctuary near Onati, Spain. This is an old center for pilgrimage that in recent years has become a center for meetings on peace and conflict resolution. The students have read essays and books on the development of cooperatives and peace building processes in the Basque country of northern Spain.  The sanctuary is both a wonderful symbol of successful peace making and an absolutely awesome sight up a long mountain road and at the base of cliffs, pastures filled with sheep, cattle and goats, and forests.
  1. Arantzazu Group: Before departing the Sanctuary Aranzazu Groupfor a visit to the peace museum in Guernica, Spain, the students posed against the mountains south of Arantzazu. We then drove an hour to Guernica, the site of the first major incendiary bombing, during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. The peace museum in Guernica does an excellent job of relating four issues together: 1. The Right to Life; 2. The Right to Freedom of Expression; 3. The Right to Equality of Opportunity; and 4. The Right to Peace.  Simply working for one of the four leads to general failure to build a good society that will be stable.
  1. Oradour Street: On Friday evening the group crossed into southwest France and went to Oradour StreetBordeaux for the evening. On Saturday we drove to Oradour-sur-Glane, a town in France that was eradicated by the Nazis four days after D-Day (June 10, 1944), sending a message that the Germans would tolerate no resistance. On the morning of June 10, the Waffen SS surrounded the town, ordered all men into one of several town squares and put the women and children in the church.  They then shot all but four of the men (who managed to hide).  Then they went to the church, the doors of which were barred.  They gassed the women and children, then threw hand grenades into their midst (killing all but one).  A total of 642 civilians were slaughtered.  France decided to maintain the town as a reminder of human brutality, fencing it a limiting access through a below ground visitor center.  In this photo Alma students are walking down the former main street of Oradour.

Oradour Church

  1. Oradour Church: The church in Oradour has been left as it was after the Nazis killed all the women and children and burned the bodies and the whole town. Next to desecrated altar is the remains of a baby stroller. The remnant town identifies itself with all the other towns that faced similar atrocities both during World War II and down to the present.  A terrible characteristic of modern societies has been the temptation to brutalize civilians in the name of some distorted crusade.  Everyone leaves Oradour silent but hopefully determined to teach these they meet about the horrors we are prepared to bring to others and, thinking back to Arantzazu, that we can change and take steps to undermine hate.



Follow PCM Council Member Ed Lorenz as he leads a group of human rights and international law students to France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland to study and meet leaders and visit sites related to development of international law and organizations to control and reduce conflict.

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Pope Francis to Families: Get Off Your Screens and Actually Talk to Each Other


The Pontiff says technology should be used to enable conversation, not hinder it

“By growing daily in our awareness of the vital importance of encountering others, we will employ technology wisely, rather than letting ourselves be dominated by it,” the Pontiff said Friday in his annual message for World Communications Day.

In other words, cut down on your screen time, kids.

Not that mothers and fathers aren’t beyond reproach: “Parents are the primary educators,” he said, “but they cannot be left to their own devices.”

“The media can be a hindrance if they become a way to avoid listening to others, to evade physical contact, to fill up every moment of silence and rest, so that we forget that ‘silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist,’” Pope Francis said.

This isn’t the first time the Pope has implied those family-centric Apple ads might be misleading. “Maybe many young people waste too many hours on futile things,” like “chatting on the Internet or with smartphones,” he said last year.

Glued to the ScreenEven in 1967, long before the dawn of the selfie, Pope Paul VI remarked upon the rapidly expanding world of communications, noting how television and other media leave “their deep mark upon the mentality and the conscience of man who is being pressed and almost overpowered by a multiplicity of contradictory appeals.”

It’s like they say in Proverbs 18:2: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion [on Twitter].”

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