Tagged Pope Francis

Argentina Unit Study

Living Books:

Other resources that may be helpful:

Argentina Booklet: A Country Study – $3.50 digital download

Animal Habitats free download

Christmas Around the World: Argentina

A unit study here from Homeschool in the Woods

Can’t forget the food!


Start at 6:00 to see them try Argentinian foods:

The Chocotorta! Very similar to Italian Tiramisu, but you don’t have to make zabaglione.

From Where I Stand, Pope Francis: Mid-Visit Musings

Pope Francis Korea Haemi Castle 19 (cropped)

Like most everyone else our family is in a Pope Francis frenzy these days. Reading, talking, listening, praying. How can we not? The whole country is paying attention, or at least those of us on social media .

As always, I am fascinated with all the different responses to the Pope. I like watching how the Holy Spirit moves, and is He moving!!

Some people are frustrated because he didn’t do this, didn’t say that. Predictable: we just can’t seem to be satisfied with much these days. Since we take the job of evangelization seriously, we always feel let down when we interpret the Pope’s actions or words as lacking, and we can’t help but whine and gripe a bit. “Dad, tell him off! Why didn’t you?” That’s okay, I do it too.

His speeches so far seem to be smaller editions of Laudato Si’ — all encompassing, and compared to his fiery speeches in the Philippines, rather mild and gentle in tone. A friend pointed out that it may be the editing; in the Philippines his speeches were edited by Bishop Gabby Reyes. I have no idea who’s editing his speeches here in the US, but there is quite a difference that’s noticeable for those of us who are comparing. [Related reading: Does the Pope write his own speeches?]

Despite that, I can’t seem to find much cause to worry. As with many things, I really enjoy (and recommend) sitting back a bit and surveying the big picture of what’s going on. This cartoon from Tim Hartman is one good summation.

And you know how actions speak louder than words? No matter what we think may be missing from Pope Francis’ speeches, we cannot ignore the fact that he visited the dined with the homeless instead of Boehner et al. Those two actions in themselves send messages far more effective than anything he’s said, and we do have a couple more days with him, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Right now, there are no words to explain what’s going on, except “Holy Spirit”. I must have read 25 different accounts yesterday of non-Catholics or minimal Catholics having been MOVED by this Pope in some way, whether into action or a reconsideration of what Christianity is about. (Join Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples Forum to see some of those stories and more. Better yet, read the book too.) This Pope feels like Jesus to so many. There’s no other world leader right now that can make the same claim.

In case we haven’t figured it out yet, Papa Francis is all about the encounter. Only through encounter, can we see beyond ideologies, beyond the memes. Do we see each other as people? Or are we stuck in “label” thinking? “The liberals”, “the conservatives”, “the rad trads”, “the migrants”, “the progressives”, “the right-wingers”. Meanwhile the Holy Spirit has His own agenda, one that we may not anticipate or agree with all the time.

From Day 1 of his papacy, Pope Francis has been all about forcing the conversation to happen. Whether it’s same sex marriage, divorce and annulment, family, homosexuality, climate change, capitalism, abortion, contraception, immigration, poverty… the approach has been consistent. It’s his mission to get people talking TO each other, getting that LIGHT shone into all the hidden corners, getting the Truth OUT.

Papa Francis’ focus, from my point of view, is not to take us to the finish line, but to move us closer to it. He constantly draws us, out of our comfort zones and our complacencies, and pushes us forward, bit by bit, into CONVERSATION… into CONVERSION… into COMMUNION.

Come, Holy Spirit!

I Saw the Pope in Paris When I Was an Atheist; It Changed Me |”I Believed in That Man”: The Power of Peter, Even Now
I’ve been enthralled with the Pope’s visit, and amazed, in awe….
The Pope speaking at the US Congress is indeed history being made but more than that it also shows how unifying, assimilating and inclusive his image and his message is….
Fox News’ Shep Smith on Pope Francis’ words
Matthew Kelly: Pope Francis changing church’s conversation
Not Catholic But

Dear Mainstream Media, We Know What You’re Doing

image from Mike Brummond
image from Mike Brummond

Today my feed was inundated with Pope Francis supposedly relaxing the rules on abortion.

Except that’s not quite accurate.

He didn’t relax the rules on ABORTION per se — it’s STILL considered a sin in the Catholic Church — always has been, always will be. We already know that most folks in mainstream media these days are too lazy to do any real research or real reporting, although since they had an idea this was going to happen back in May, you’d think they’d have done some of the legwork between then and now, but no.

[Edited to add: It always also has been a forgivable sin, because ALL sin is forgivable in the Catholic Church, given the conditions necessary for forgiveness. Priests for Life, a pro-life organization, has for a long-time talked about this here. This is misleading.]

So, for the sake of those who might stumble upon this and actually want to learn something:

What Pope Francis relaxed was the way the sin of abortion is forgiven, so that the person can once again partake of the Sacraments.

Note that Pope Francis is simply addressing the FORGIVENESS of those who PROCURED an abortion. He doesn’t say anything about ABORTIONISTS. And he makes a distinction between those who know how serious a sin abortion is when they get one, versus those that don’t or that are coerced into getting one. This is called culpability.

Despite reconsidering their position on abortion. The tide IS turning, and media is panicking.

Presenting Pope Francis’ words this way makes it appear that the Catholic Church is either changing Her teaching or realizing that She’s been wrong about abortion all along. In a sound bite world, people will read those headlines and conclude wrongly that abortion really isn’t the major evil that CMP, conservatives and pro-lifers and all those fanatic Christians/Catholics are always portraying it to be.

Except that it still is.

In so doing, those of us who respect life in all its stages from conception/fertilization to natural death can be painted as “holier than the Pope”. See the reversal here?

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
– Isaiah 5:20, RSVCE

To sum up: Abortion is still a sin. Relaxing the rules on forgiveness of the sin still requires repentance. It still requires Confession. It is not automatic. It is not planning to sin and then planning to confess later since one will be forgiven anyway: that’s What Pope Francis’ Abortion Announcement Really Means

More info for those who actually want to understand:

What Pope Francis actually said (though translation is somewhat clunky): Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis According to Which an Indulgence is Granted to the Faithful on the Occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy
From Jimmy Akin: Holy Year Gestures on Abortion and the SSPX: 12 Things to Know and Share
From Canon Lawyer Dr. Edward Peters: Pope Francis on reconciliation for abortion (I will not pretend to understand this better than the average Catholic, though some points were clearer to me than others.)

Loaves and Fishes: We Can Be the Miracle


Sunday morning before Church I decided to stop by Twitter, where I saw this tweet from Grist:

Can you have kids and still be a good person?

The article it links to asks:

“How, in a world where we are increasingly aware of how our carbon footprint is dooming the planet to uninhabitability, do we make the decision to have a child? Or two children? Or three?”

And I know it’s difficult to see the poor, especially children, suffering around the world, and not ask this question. However, depopulating is not the answer!

The overpopulation myth has been debunked so many times, but it just won’t die. I’ll let other moms who have answered that charge before speak for me:

Big families, the new green
“Are You Done Yet?” In Defense of our 5th Child
Why My Big Family Is Not Overpopulating the Earth

You gotta love God’s timing, though. We left for Mass and I was still upset over the Grist tweet, but the Gospel that day was about the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. Various homilies I’ve heard through the years focus on the Miracle, and Jesus’ divine power to multiply the loaves and fishes to feed the multitude; others focus on the generosity of those who contributed the loaves and fishes to be multiplied. And coming out of Mass that day, I decided that the answer to Grist’s question is yes, you can have children, and still be virtuous, and actually have the well-being of the planet in mind.

Jesus continues to give Himself to us daily, in the Holy Eucharist. This Gift of all gifts is multiplied through us. We are called to be part of that miracle by being good stewards of this earth and sharing the gifts we are blessed with. Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si’ talks about this stewardship. The Vatican (and in essence, the Church) has always been concerned about world hunger, as this 1996 document illustrates: World Hunger a Challenge for All: Development in Solidarity.

What’s puzzling to me is that we’ve made so many scientific and technological advances that we are now to the point where we can develop artificial uteri, but we can’t seem to think of better ways to end world hunger and get safe drinking water to those who need it most! We excel in finding ARTIFICIAL solutions, but for some reason we always balk at NATURAL solutions. Why can we not find ways to work WITH God’s creation instead of AGAINST it?

Is it because people stand to lose money if we were to end world hunger? Are bottled water companies not paying attention?

Here in the US, we are obsessed with “perfect food”, when billions out there would be happy with just any real food. I’ve seen the video I linked to above so many times, and it still disturbs me. But we can’t just say “too many people” and leave it at that. Food waste is a huge problem, not just here in the US, but in places like China and India as well. Clearly it’s a problem of distribution too. I’m glad to see solutions like this one and would love to see it implemented all over.

At the same time, giving the poor access to healthy food doesn’t solve everything. People these days are so dependent on processed food, and so disconnected from the food that they eat, they don’t even know where it comes from.

I personally would love to downgrade from our large refrigerator and get a smaller one. Things get lost in there. Ten years ago when we got it it made sense for our family of six living in a small town in Pennsylvania, stocking up on Asian food from two hours away. These days we have access to local farmers, and the international store is just ten minutes away. We’re also trying to grow more food for ourselves than we have before. These Nanofarms in San Francisco sound wonderful!

If you’ve got a favorite charity or group that works specifically on world hunger and water distribution, especially if it’s one you’ve worked with personally and can vouch for, please comment so we can check them out.

If The Shoe Fits (Laudato Si’ )

my compost pile :D
my compost pile 😀

Laudato Si’ seems to have been buried under all the hubbub from the SCOTUS decision on same sex “marriage”…. so I’m just now catching up with commentaries and reactions to Laudato Si’, after finally finishing the encyclical, which can be found here, if you haven’t read it yet.

I had to comment though on the, well, childish reactions to the encyclical, because I tend to look at everything from the eyes of a mom, and they reminded me too much of my kids’ reactions to lectures.

“It wasn’t me!”

“I didn’t do that.”

“You don’t understand!”

We’re the parents of five kids. When we need to, we sit them down individually, or in a smaller group of two or three depending on need, and talk to them about specific problems or issues we need to pay attention to and work through.

But most of the time, we give general instructions, that everyone needs to hear, for the good of the whole family, whether there’s one or two or three “guilty parties” in the audience.

Why do people keep getting upset about things the Pope says, that does not apply to them?

Surely there were people who, when Humanae Vitae came out, said, “Yay us! We’re doing exactly as the Church teaches!! ITA with the Pope on this one!!” Others grumbled, or followed begrudgingly. Yet others shrugged and went their merry way. But some are just now looking at HV and saying, “Oh. THAT’S what he meant. Now I get it.” And then you’ve got the reverts and newbies saying “Wow. What awesome teaching! Why did no one ever tell me this?”

So I’m puzzled with the Laudato Si’ comments on how the Pope doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or that he’s condemning guns or air-conditioning or what have you.

If the lesson doesn’t apply to me, then it doesn’t. If I’m already responsible about my use of the earth’s resources — if I don’t waste food or water, if I reuse, reduce, recycle, if I’m not a hoarder — then yay me! If I’m already doing my bit to help other people, keep myself informed about ways to help those who are suffering from lack of water or food, then I can be happy that I’m part of the solution and not the problem. If I’m not promoting abortion or contraception, not advocating for depopulation policies because I believe that’s the solution to the economy or the environment, then the lecture isn’t for me.

If, however, I realize that in my own home or my own community or places where my pocket can reach, there are still things I could work on, then I will wear the shoe, for the simple reason that it fits.

The point is that there’s ALWAYS something that we could be doing more or less of.

My main take from the encyclical is this:

We are stewards of the earth, and we have countless innovations that ARE directed toward bettering life for ourselves and others. It’s when we get selfish that we take things to the extreme, and make gods out of our own creations, and allow these gods to rule us instead. We’ve become humans so far removed from the reality of our own humanity, that too many of us have forgotten our dependence on God’s plan and His providence.

A good place to start: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Here in our own family, we’re talking about how we can be more self-sufficient in terms of food and develop a more personal relationship with the land and with our local farmers. We’re also discussing about how we can help with the water shortage in other places (there are many charitable organizations but which one to support?). And we’ll continue to minimize our personal consumption of the earth’s resources and make good use of what we already have.

If you have specific suggestions on any of these, please share in the comments section. I’d love to explore concrete solutions with you.

My favorite commentaries on Laudato Si’:

The New Encyclical: Laudato Si from Robert Royal
“Laudato Si” focuses on the heart of man and the disorders of our age from William Patenaude
“Laudato Si'” and Romano Guardini from Fr. Robert Barron

The Pope Didn’t Say “Divorce”


What he said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: We know well that every family on occasion suffers moments when one family member offends another. Through our words, actions, or omissions, instead of expressing love for our spouse or children, we can sometimes diminish or demean that love. Hiding these hurts only deepens such wounds, leading to anger and friction between loved ones. If these wounds are particularly deep, they can even lead a spouse to search for understanding elsewhere, to the detriment of the family, especially children. Being one flesh, any wounds that spouses suffer are shared by their children, born of their flesh. When we remember how Jesus warned adults not to scandalize little ones (cf. Mt 18:6), we better understand the vital responsibility to maintain and protect the bond of marriage which is the foundation of the human family. We thank God that although these wounds may lead some to separation, even then many men and women remain true to their conjugal bond, sustained by faith and by love for their children. For those who enter into so-called irregular situations, we must reflect on how best to help and accompany them in their lives. Let us ask the Lord for a strong faith to see with his eyes the reality of family life, and for a deep love to approach all families with his merciful heart.

Source: General Audience of 24 June 2015

What mainstream media heard/reported:
Yahoo: Pope says family separation can be ‘morally necessary’

which quickly mutated to

New York Post: Pope Francis: Divorce can be ‘morally necessary’
New Zealand Herald: Pope admits divorce may be ‘morally necessary’
Premier Christian Radio: Pope Francis: Divorce sometimes “morally necessary”
from the “Catholic” US Catholic: Can divorce be morally necessary to protect kids? Pope Francis thinks so
Kenya Today: Pope Francis: It is sometimes ‘morally necessary’ to divorce your partner
Australian Women’s Weekly: Pope Francis says divorce is sometimes “morally necessary”
RT.com: Pope Francis: Sometimes divorce can be a ‘moral necessity’

Does mainstream media even do any real reporting anymore?

On the contrary, Pope Francis was emphasizing

When we remember how Jesus warned adults not to scandalize little ones (cf. Mt 18:6), we better understand the vital responsibility to maintain and protect the bond of marriage which is the foundation of the human family.

Even this statement, We thank God that although these wounds may lead some to separation, even then many men and women remain true to their conjugal bond, sustained by faith and by love for their children, can in no way be interpreted as “divorce may be morally necessary”.

It is the same conjugal bond which St. Pope John Paul II talks about in Familiaris Consortio:

Like each of the seven sacraments, so also marriage is a real symbol of the event of salvation, but in its own way. “The spouses participate in it as spouses, together, as a couple, so that the first and immediate effect of marriage (res et sacramentum) is not supernatural grace itself, but the Christian conjugal bond, a typically Christian communion of two persons because it represents the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and the mystery of His covenant. The content of participation in Christ’s life is also specific: conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter- appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, the unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility (cf Humanae vitae, 9). In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.”

The Holy Father isn’t saying anything different from what is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Marriage under the regime of sin

1606 Every man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character.

1649 Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble.


Further clarification from Canon Lawyer Ed Peters:

Of course, say “separation” these days and the world hears “divorce”; mention “divorce” and the world immediately assumes a “right to remarriage”. Francis, however, mentions neither divorce nor remarriage. He could have, if he so chose, reminded his audience that even civil divorce (which does not destroy a natural marriage bond, let alone a sacramental one!) is a morally licit option under certain circumstances (see, e.g., CCC 2383), but he would never have suggested a divorced person’s simply proceeding to remarriage, for such would be contrary to the plain teaching of Christ. But civil divorce and remarriage are complex topics that do not lend themselves to adequate presentation to a crowd of pilgrims standing under the hot summer sun.

Contraception, Abortion, Population Control, and Laudato Si’


From Laudato Si’:

50. Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health”. Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”. To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”. Still, attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations, as a result of the interplay between problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life.

95. The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others. That is why the New Zealand bishops asked what the commandment “Thou shall not kill” means when “twenty percent of the world’s population consumes resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive”.

120. Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away”.

172. For poor countries, the priorities must be to eliminate extreme poverty and to promote the social development of their people. At the same time, they need to acknowledge the scandalous level of consumption in some privileged sectors of their population and to combat corruption more effectively. They are likewise bound to develop less polluting forms of energy production, but to do so they require the help of countries which have experienced great growth at the cost of the ongoing pollution of the planet. Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies which allow developing countries access to technology transfer, technical assistance and financial resources, but in a way which respects their concrete situations, since “the compatibility of [infrastructures] with the context for which they have been designed is not always adequately assessed”. The costs of this would be low, compared to the risks of climate change. In any event, these are primarily ethical decisions, rooted in solidarity between all peoples.

More thoughts later.

It’s Not About Rabbits, But Maybe It’s Not About You Either

It’s been a little over 24 hours since I woke up to Facebook hopping (pun unintended) because of a remark the Pope made on the plane to Rome from Manila, where he spent four days with the Filipino people, celebrating, teaching, loving.

Many are upset because once again, the Pope said something that just *hit* them the wrong way.

I am a Filipina who came to the US when I was 18. I’ve lived here, got married, had kids and raised them for the next 28. Today I also work with a pro-life group in the Philippines. The entire transcript is a must read if one wants to fully understand, but I ask that you not stop there. Please consider reading the transcripts from his four days in Manila. The Pope’s rabbit remark has to be evaluated not just within the context of everything he said on that plane, but ALL the teaching he did in the third world last week. I am hoping that today’s clarification helps.

In a nutshell, and because I tend to ramble on, he’s basically teaching BALANCE. In Manila he taught a lot about being open to life, about GENEROSITY. Prompted by further quetions on the plane, he continued the lesson, this time highlighting RESPONSIBILITY. These two go hand in hand. His words on the plane did not cancel out what he said in Manila, as some claim. On the contrary, they are but parts of a whole. But there are farther nuances I’d like to point out if I may.

(Image Credit: ofelio.com)

He came to the Philippines to be with the poor. While there he addressed corruption, the cause of so much suffering there, as opposed to the liberal anti-life mantra of overpopulation. He spoke against foreign ideologies, many of which are funded and exported by us US taxpayers. Instead of helping them with the basics like food, clothing, shelter, education that uplifts them and upholds their dignity — we give them instead contraception, abortion, pornography, and contribute to their corruption. Pope Francis described this ideological colonization as insidious. The colonizers of old may have used guns and swords to conquer other lands. Today they use books, movies, music, social media, to conquer hearts, minds, souls. In addition, programs brought in by population controllers and eugenicists do irreparable harm.

In that same homily, he reiterated the Church’s teachings on the value of human life. During his trip he also traveled to see the victims of Yolanda, and spent time with the youth, many of whom experience suffering as a daily reality. (The rest of the transcripts are at Salt and Light TV.)

When he got on that plane, it’s reasonable to assume that his mind was still on the people he encountered. I’d like to propose that his words on RESPONSIBILITY AND GENEROSITY cover so much more than what appears on the surface:

He was calling pastors to shepherd their flock well, to catechize better. In the Philippines, many are cultural Catholics. They live the faith, but have little understanding of the Church’s basic teachings, especially Her teachings about sex. Many men still think it is their right to have on-demand sex and many women still think they are obligated to comply. Yes, this is partly a failure on the part of the clergy. The Pope is saying they need to teach more effectively; their flock need to listen and understand better. It is a pressing need and Pope Francis addressed it, for which I thank him.

Each person with his pastor seeks how to do that responsible parenthood.

When the Pope talked about responsibility, however, he was addressing not the first-world mother who has access to modern hospitals and well-trained doctors and the newest technology. A woman having an 8th caesarean section in the US is different from a woman having an 8th child in a third world country, caesarean or not. Here in the US, we have 911; they don’t. Here we have a medical team, in the Philippines you’re lucky if you can afford to go to a private hospital. Midwives there are not the same as midwives here. The Philippine maternal mortality rate has improved, but it is not the same as first world numbers.

Please don’t get me wrong, as the mom of 5 who has a lot of mom friends, many of whom live heroic lives of sacrifice, I do have some sense of the confusion or, as one commenter put it, devastation, that some of them felt when they heard the phrase. I have great compassion for them who have been so generous with their lives and with their bodies; and it’s not about the number of children anyway. That’s not the point and never was. Church teaching is clear that it’s a prudential decision left to husband and wife, and that’s beyond the purview of even us pro-lifers. But while those of us who have more than “the experts’ ‘required'” 2.1 kids sit here, tweeting, Facebooking or blogging away, getting our voices heard, what about the moms who don’t even have access to a computer or even a phone, much less good medical care? What about their voices?

Pope Francis was talking to the parents about being responsible because each child needs a mother and a father. In the first world, a mother’s chance of surviving childbirth is higher than it is in the third world. A child losing a parent in the first world, while he/she would not be any less devastated emotionally, would almost certainly have better access to material support and resources than his or her third world counterpart. We may have homeless and jobless people here, but in poverty-stricken Philippines, if a mother is lost, where do the orphans end up? If not in orphanages such as the one Pope Francis visited, they end up in the streets, begging for their food, or prostituting themselves. Trafficking is a huge problem, and it is directly related to poverty. The Philippines is easy prey for those who believe contraception and abortion to be the answer to these ills.

Understanding what responsible parenthood is about and getting access to what Pope Francis refers to as licit ways to plan the family aren’t the same either. NFP instructors have a hard time promoting NFP because those “insidious programs” that Pope Francis talked about refuse to give it priority or simply pay them lip service. The recently passed RH Law, for instance, mandates that people get access to whatever contraceptive method they choose. Millions are budgeted for artificial birth control, with subsidy coming in from outside sources; zero for the Church-approved NFP, which is left entirely to the laity to fund and promote.

NFP instructors have to deal with the “Pinoy macho image”. They hesitate to teach NFP outside of the Catechism *because* they need the Catechism to provide the backbone — there are places where the secular or scientific approach won’t be adequate or appropriate. Often the responsibility falls on the woman. And while that in itself isn’t a problem specific to the third world, the difference is that in the poorest areas of a third world country, men who don’t understand NFP and/or Church teaching fully end up raping their wives during the fertile period — this from a veteran NFP instructor. In the population controllers’ eyes, this is one more reason to accuse the Church of inefficiency and oppression, and one more excuse to promote aggressive anti-life measures.

I ask that you keep these in mind as you read the Pope’s words. All these are part of the whole, and when we take that whole apart and nitpick what is offensive to us, we not only turn a blind eye to those who are most in need of compassion, we undermine our own Church’s and our Pope’s ability to speak out on these issues that we may not fully understand but nevertheless exist. More than that, I am afraid that we also undermine our own efforts to reach those who see the Church’s teachings as archaic and oppressive, and to open their eyes to the truth.

Recommended Reading:
Breed Like Rabbits: The Pope and an Anti-Catholic Slur
Someone is getting lost in all this talk about Francis and rabbits
Pope Francis and Catholic Rabbits–5 Points to Consider
The Pope Said What about Rabbits? And I said Ee-I-ee-I-oh!
“Breeding like rabbits”, eh?
About the Pope’s “don’t be like rabbits” remark UPDATED

Habemus Papam!!

Well, that was a short conclave!! Thank You, Holy Spirit!

waiting with bated breath for the Pope's appearance, ready for screenshots
waiting with bated breath for the Pope’s appearance, ready for screenshots

I don’t know what we were expecting, but we sure didn’t expect the text from Pope Alarm telling us about the WHITE SMOKE!! We all rushed in front of the computer and forgot all about lunch. It was already a late lunch as I was teaching my 14-year-old how to make a spicy tofu stir-fry, and it was made even later because we found ourselves glued to EWTN online and couldn’t look away. Consequently, lunch wasn’t served ’til ~3:30 pm. But no matter. We were jumping up and down, hungry and teary and just joyful and thankful all around. What a beautiful day! We ended the day with a late dinner after the kids’ various activities.

Allergen-Free Dinner in honor of the Pope
Allergen-Free Dinner in honor of the Pope: Argentine “Fried Rice”, Roasted Shrimp with Chimichurri Sauce, Sauteed Spinach, a 2011 Malbec, and some Dulce de Batata con Chocolate

This is such an exciting time!!!

I am gathering here a collection of pictures and articles that caught my eye/our eyes yesterday and today.

Pope Francis the Liberal or Pope Francis the Conservative…


Viva Il Papa from Teresa Tomeo


Pope Francis’ first 24 hours: Doing it his way


Francis offers his second blessing as Pope to pregnant woman


Pope Francis pays his hotel bill, avoids pomp and visits chapel revered by Jesuits from Radio Vaticana


“What is that banana peal doing on MY SIDEWALK?” from Fr. Zuhlsdorf


The First American Pope from George Weigel


Traditionalists and Pope Francis: Can We Take a Deep Breath and Please Calm Down?


Pope Francis on Same-Sex Marriage: ‘A Move of the Father of Lies;’ ‘A Total Rejection of God’s Law’


Pope Francis to cardinals: ‘I hope God forgives you’


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from L'Osservatore Romano on FB
from L’Osservatore Romano on FB

Pope Francis’ First Homily

Brazilian Cuisine: Pao de Queijo

Pao de Queijo made from mix
Pao de Queijo made from mix
the kids making pao de queijo balls
the kids making pao de queijo balls



Pao de Queijo from scratch
Pao de Queijo from scratch

Pao de Queijo from scratch: mixing the dough. Working with this dough was such fun — because it’s made from starch, the feel that’s most similar is working homemade playdough — have you ever made some? It’s made with flour and cornstarch and salt and oil (the salt is so that kids don’t eat it). Because of the oil in playdough, and in this pao de queijo dough, it is not necessary to flour the board and kneading the dough reminded me once again of why I love to bake, and bake bread specifically.


Pao de Queijo made from scratch — yummier according to my kids — I didn’t realize their palates were that refined, as I hardly noticed the difference myself; but the pao de queijo made from the mix did have a different aftertaste, though very slight. There was also a vaguely discernible powdery feel to the outside of the mix-bread, though I don’t know if this quality is desirable or not. I’d definitely choose to make this from scratch anyday of the week, even if it’s just to avoid any bad fats or preservatives.


The inside of a Pao de Queijo, where you can see the stretch — similar in appearance to gluten strands, but of course this bread is gluten-free. I would describe it as gelatinous, except that the word makes me think of icky goo, from which this bread is miles apart. Biting into it is akin to biting into a gougere, except that the exterior offers more resistance and does not have the typical almost-crumbling of a good gougere. The cheese smell is pleasing and not overpowering at all, making these adorable little balls an excellent accompaniment to some tomato or tomato-based soup.

Paco, 10, with his Pao de Queijo Man
Paco, 10, with his Pao de Queijo Man

The recipe I used — but modified just a wee bit — can be found here. I did half-and-half sour and sweet tapioca starch, used only 2 eggs, and 125 grams of grated Romano — I was out of Parmesan. I would have used a fresh Mexican cheese which I’ve heard is best for this if you can’t find Brazilian cheese, but I wanted to use up my Romano. Perhaps next time.


another recipe, from recipezaar

The dough is very sticky to work with at first, but once you add the eggs in and work the dough it turns into this pliable, smooth, fragrant cheesy mass — the kind of dough I like to call baker-friendly:). Because it’s warm dough (like I said, it’s like working with playdough) it’s a particularly fun bread to make during winter. And there’s enough oil to keep it from sticking to your work surface.

Tapioca starch comes from the manioc root, a.k.a. cassava a.k.a. yucca or yuca, a tuber — botanical name manihot esculenta found all over South America and also in Aisa. There are two kinds: the bitter, poisonous kind — which is also eaten but processed differently — and the sweet kind, which we can buy here in the US fresh, or frozen, or processed. It is made into flour and starch, and it’s also where tapioca balls comes from. Interestingly, manioc flour or harina de mandioca is very coarse, the texture similar to cornmeal rather than flour. Here in the US look for it in Mexican or other Latin American stores (Yoki or Goya brand), or health food stores — Bob’s Red Mill I think makes it too.

Look for

  • Tapioca Starch
  • Manioc Starch
  • Yuca Harina
  • Almidón de Yuca
  • Polvilho Doce
  • Amido de Mandioca

For the sour starch, if using, look for:

  • Sour Starch
  • Almidón Agrio
  • Polvilho Azedo