Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Pope St. John Paul II's Friendship With American Philosopher Comes to Light

It is no secret that Pope Saint John Paul II had many good friendships, with Christians as well as people from other religions.  Friendships are good for human beings. St. Augustine wrote about the blessings a good, holy friendship can bring into one's life.

 I was however surprised to read in an article that Pope St. John Paul had a special relationship with a woman philosopher that spanned many decades. I had never heard of it before and that's why I found it so surprising.  But recently letters that he wrote to the American philosopher Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka have been made public and they show that they had a deep, intellectual friendship that they both found rewarding and special. He called her "a gift from God." How endearing.
Pope Francis spoke about the relationship to reporters on his recent trip back to the Vatican from Mexico. He remarked that he was aware of the special relationship between St. John Paul II and the American philosopher Anna-Teresa but that he felt it was fine for even popes to have good, healthy, holy friendships with women. I would agree.

As Pope Francis pointed out,  many saints have had special friendships such as St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi and the Carmelite saints,  St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Also St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac were friends and co-founded the Daughters of Charity. So friendships between saints is nothing new or between a saint and a layperson.
Unfortunately,  when some people have tried to have good, intellectual, platonic friendships because of gossip and lies, lives have been ruined. There's nothing wrong with friendships but sometimes in the Church, people like to gossip and spread misinformation and that's a cause for concern because a good friendship based on intellectual respect can become suspect. That's unjust.

As far as Pope St. John Paul II having a special friendship with a woman, I think it makes him more human, at least in my eyes. He had the need for friendship with another intellectual and given the pressures he had in life and all he accomplished in his blessed life, it seems it was a good thing for him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Who Will Help Care for and Support Poor Babies Born With Microcephaly from Zika

The first day of the penitential season of Lent is as good a time as any to think about those poor babies born with microcephaly, a condition linked to the mosquito that transmits the Zika virus. The World Health Organization has called the Zika virus and the birth defects it apparently causes an international health emergency.
These babies are being born into poor families in Brazil and other Latin and South American countries as well as the Caribbean.  Families already living in poverty are now being challenged with having a baby with special needs. One mother was quoted as saying, "How can we do this, how can we support this child?" That remark has haunted me. Doctors are haunted by mothers who ask them if their babies will improve, if their small heads will grow larger.
I hope that Catholic Relief Services will begin a program to support these families. I intend to write them, but I'm sure they've already thought of it.
There are many people who would be willing to help these families and international organizations who try to set up programs for these children as they grow.
In this Year of Mercy, these children must be shown mercy, compassion and love and their families supported, so that their burden is lessened.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Pope Francis Receives Visit From Actor Leonardo DiCaprio

Pope Francis granted the famous actor Leonardo DiCaprio a private audience recently at the Vatican. Leonardo wanted to discuss their common interest in helping the environment (God's creation). Leonardo has his own Foundation to support environmental initiatives. Leonardo was quoted as thanking the Pope for granting him a private audience (he brought his father along) and he gave the Pope a book of works by the 15th century painter Hieronymus Bosch which contained a reproduction of a work that hung over Leonardo's crib as a child and greatly affected him. He also gave Pope Francis a check to be used for the Pope's charities.
Who would have ever believed that Pope Francis and Leonardo DiCaprio would have something in common but they do. They both believe that something must be done to stop the degradation of the environment, the polluting that is hurting not only the environment but threatens humankind on many levels.
Di Caprio who has been nominated for an Oscar for his role in the movie, "The Revenant," needs some blessings and perhaps being near to holy Pope Francis will give him the edge he needs to win an Oscar. I saw the movie, it was very violent, too violent for me, but the story was amazing and DiCaprio did an incredible job acting.
Pope Francis gave DiCaprio a leather bound copy of "Laudato Si" and "The Joy of the Gospel. " I hope Leonardo reads them both.
He would be a great evangelizer for the message the Pope is trying to get across to modern society. We must preserve and protect this beautiful creation that God gave us, or we will all pay the consequences of not doing so.