POPE FRANCIS CONTINUES REMARKABLE TRANSFORMATION OF MUSTY, MOLDY EXPRESSION OF CATHOLICISM … plus … THE PHONY BASTARDS ARE DOING IT AGAIN: STATEHOUSE POLLS WANT TO SHOW YOU FOR WHOM THE TURNPIKE TOLLS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, JULY 30, 2013) — You may have missed it, though it was hard to miss. Check out these words from Pope Francis, from an impromptu press conference as he was flying home from his visit to Rio de Janeiro:
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis told journalists, as he flew from Rio de Janeiro to Rome. “The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem…They’re our brothers.”
The Pope’s words were warmly received by gay activists in Italy and abroad. “From now on, when I hear a bishop or a priest say something against me, I’m going to say, ‘Who are you to judge?’” says Franco Grillini, president of Gaynet Italia, the association of gay journalists in Italy. (quoted in Time online).
These remarkable words, and the Pope’s statement that he does not judge gay priests, exemplify the dramatic shift not so much in Catholic doctrine — Francis has kept that intact — but in how he communicates the Church’s position on various issues. Since his election, Francis has steered the Church away from the dense, self-righteous, self-referential, and pompous expressions that have been typical of the pre-Francis Vatican. The new Pope wants to de-fossilize a Vatican bureaucracy that in its petrified distillations of a simple message have turned so many people away from the faith.
This can clearly be seen in the way the Pope has moved the Church away from its fixation on sexual morality (e.g., gay rights, procreative choice) and into reason, common sense, and humility when discussing these matters. Homosexuality and abortion driven by the extreme right wing became practically the sole issues of the public face of “political Catholicism.” This was a great misrepresentation of a faith much more diverse and rich.
As Pope Francis has demonstrated with his recent trip to Rio, the authentic political stance of Catholicism lies with its identification of the downtrodden and the underdogs. Unlike his two previous predecessors ( dating back to the late 1970s), Pope Francis has no problem with the social radicalism of Liberation Theology, though we doubt he would ever use that term.
Another example: In May, Francis made headlines by saying that there’s no reason why atheists can’t make it to heaven. He communicated this in direct words, not using volumes of tortured parsings to murk it up. Here is a section from Catholic Online:
Francis delivered his message by sharing a story of a Catholic who asked a priest if atheists were saved by Christ.
“They complain,” Francis said, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” He explained that Jesus corrected them, “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.”
The disciples, Pope Francis explained, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong… Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation.”
“Even them, everyone, we all have the duty to do good, Pope Francis said on Vatican Radio.
“Just do good” was his challenge, “and we’ll find a meeting point.”
Francis explained himself, “The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart, do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ, all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!” We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
After John Paul II‘s doctrinaire, right-wing presentation of Catholic dogma and following the dense, pedantic style of Benedict XVI, Francis comes as a fulfillment of Pope John XXIII‘s desire to throw open the windows of the Church to let the mold and mildew out and fresh air and sunshine inside. It’s more than symbolic that Francis broke with calloused Church tradition when he declared John XXIII a saint, waiving the subjective requirement of two attributed and accepted miracles.
If this guy keeps it up, you never know: We might actually be proud again to be a Catholic.
STATEHOUSE POLS STICK IT TO WESTERN MASS. — AGAIN
Our fearless lawmakers on Beacon Hill have decided that the Berkshires are not contributing enough in taxes to keep the gold dome of the statehouse in Boston polished to sufficient luster, and they have done something about it. Who says these politicians are good-for-nothing bums who don’t take action?
The state legislature approved an order that the state Department of Transportation shall, get this, “devise and implement a fair and reasonable fee structure” on the current stretch of “free” Turnpike tolls — from exit one to exit six in Chicopee. At least Gov. Deval Patrick tried to prevent this further example of highway robbery, but the House (125-33) and Senate (35-5) over-rode Patrick’s veto.
When the state planned and built the Mass. Turnpike (opened in 1958), the funding provision called for making the entire stretch, “from Stockbridge to Boston,” free of tolls, beginning in the Orwellian year of 1984, when the bonds would be paid off. As we all know, 1984 came and went, and the tolls remained in place for the residents of Taxachusetts. The bastards proved they were lying to us.
Twelve years later, Republican Gov. Bill Weld, said enough! The folks living in Western Mass., living between exits 1 and 6 need a break. Weld lifted tolls for that stretch. Every since, the Democrat-dominated legislature has been looking to reinstate the exit one-six tolls.
“We’re hopeful that [the new tolls] are going to be added. We don’t know 100 percent for sure, but we’ve proposed it as part of our budget going forward, it’s been discussed with the state Legislature, and we’re confident we’ll be able to reinstate the tolls 1-6, which were taken out a number of years ago,” MassDOT Chief Financial Officer Dana Levenson told WBUR radio, recently. “That will add approximately $10.5 million to the tolls collected throughout the system.”
What he means: “That will take approximately $10.5 million out of the pockets of Pike users from Western Mass.”
Our local reps — Cariddi, Farley-Bouvier, Mark, and Pignatelli — couldn’t possibly support this. Right? They live here. They represent the people most affected by this crass money grab by the politicians. They could not go along with this pocket picking — not in a million years. Right? Right?
State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, a Democrat from Lenox, thinks the reinstatement of tolls is a great idea.
“I support it. I’ve been advocating this for several years now. In a state that needs revenue, and a transportation system that definitely needs revenue, 1 through 6 is a loss leader,” Pignatelli told WBUR news. “I think that it’s foolish not to try to catch some revenues.”
But Smitty, what about the promise that the Turnpike would become a toll-free road once the bonds were paid off?
“When the Turnpike was built, one of the selling points to the taxpayers of Massachusetts was when the bonds are paid off, it will become a free way,” Pignatelli said. “But you know what, there’s a cost to maintenance.” In other words, “We lied to You The People to sell it, then we broke our word. No big deal.” As for Smitty’s claim about maintenance, that why we have the gasoline taxes. It was supposed to pay for maintenance and then some.
In the 1980s, after the initial bonds were paid off, the state went out and took our more bonds, “creating an environment where the bonds could never be paid off.” That quote is from a website you must check out: www.citizensagainsttollroads.org. There, we learn that only half the United States, 26, have toll roads.
LegiScan, an online service that provides roll call on votes in the Statehouse, had no roll-call record information available on H-3415. The Senate version is S-1770. What are the odds, ladies and gentlemen, that anyone from the Cariddi-TFB-Mark Gang of Three voted against the reinstatement of tolls? How about Sen. Ben Downing?