Pope Francis: Young people are the ‘now’ of God

youth photoPope Francis says Mass at Campo San Juan Pablo II for World Youth Day Panama Jan. 27, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

By Hannah Brockhaus

Panama City, Panama, (CNA/EWTN News) – Serving God and his mission is not a passing thing, but can and should be pursued in the present, with one’s entire life, Pope Francis said Sunday at the closing Mass for World Youth Day in Panama City.

“Brothers and sisters, the Lord and his mission are not a ‘meantime’ in our life, something temporary; they are our life!” the pope said Jan. 27. “Not tomorrow but now, for wherever your treasure is, there will your heart also be.”

Jesus “wants to be our treasure, because he is not a ‘meantime,’ an interval in life or a passing fad; he is generous love that invites us to entrust ourselves,” he continued. “You, dear young people, are not the future but the now of God.”
At the end of the Mass, which officially closed World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, announced that the next international youth gathering will be in Lisbon, Portugal in 2022.

“At the conclusion of this celebration,” Pope Francis said, “I thank God for having given us the opportunity to share these days together and to experience once more this World Youth Day,” adding that the “faith and joy” of the young people present “made Panama, America and the entire world shake!”

“I ask you not to let the fervor of these days grow cold. Go back to your parishes and communities, to your families and your friends, and share this experience, so that others can resonate with the strength and enthusiasm that is yours.”

In his homily at Mass in Campo San Juan Pablo II, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel passage, which speaks of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, when he returned to Nazareth where he had grown up and preached in the synagogue.

Not everyone in the synagogue was ready to listen to Jesus, Francis said, and the same can happen to Catholics today, when people do not believe that God can be “that close and real.”
He said, “You too, dear young people, can experience this whenever you think that your mission, your vocation, even your life itself, is a promise far off in the future, having nothing to do with the present.”

“We do not always believe that the Lord can invite us to work and soil our hands with him in his Kingdom in that simple and blunt a way,” he continued. So instead, people prefer “a distant God: nice, good, generous, but far-off, a God who does not inconvenience us.”

But that is not who God is, he said, “He is concrete, close, real love. Indeed, this ‘concrete manifestation of love is one of the essential elements in the life of Christians,” he said, quoting a 2006 homily of Benedict XVI.

Jesus “invites you and calls you in your communities and cities to go out and find your grandparents, your elders; to stand up and with them to speak out and realize the dream that the Lord has dreamed for you,” he said.

“Do you want to live out your love in a practical way? May your ‘yes’ continue to be the gateway for the Holy Spirit to give us a new Pentecost for the Church and for the world,” he concluded.

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-young-people-are-the-now-of-god-72051

How dangerous is marijuana for young men’s mental health?

marijuana photoWhen it comes to health, we never know as much as we think we do. Illustration: George Wylesol

By Alex Halperin

Just because today marijuana is widely regarded as safer than alcohol doesn’t mean that’s the final word. A bestselling anti-marijuana book is making waves for suggesting that the drug may be far more dangerous than the industry would have us believe. But how much credence should we give it?

Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence, by the former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, reminds readers that when it comes to health, we never know as much as we think we do.

The most demonstrable health risk associated with marijuana is that for a small portion of users, largely men in their teens and early 20s, the drug may induce psychosis and schizophrenia, sometimes after only short-term use. By highlighting this real, and terrifying, risk of marijuana use, Berenson has done an important public service.

But as others have pointed out, the book overreaches in trying to establish a causal link between cannabis use and violence. And it suffers from Berenson’s refusal to consider marijuana as anything other than a serious threat to a relatively small segment of the population.

Science takes time and is not immune to the dogmas of its era. Today doctors universally recognize the dangers of cigarette smoking, but it took decades – and millions of early, agonizing deaths – before the consensus solidified. The best parts of Tell Your Children document the connection between pot smoking and psychosis, from 19th century Mexico and India to the present day.

The connection hadn’t been a secret. According to a 2013 statement from the American Psychiatric Association, “current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development”. But Berenson has amplified it more effectively than anyone else.

It isn’t a fashionable argument right now. The for-profit cannabis industry promotes the drug as a nearly harmless “medicine” and it seems to be working. Last year, Canada became the first large country to legalize recreational cannabis. About 90% of Americans favor access to medical marijuana and roughly two-thirds favor full legalization.

The rapid shift in US public opinion towards legalization has been fueled by disgust with the war on drugs and mass incarceration, as well as the largely unproven hopes that medical marijuana can mitigate complex health crises such as the opioid epidemic.

According to Berenson, “the great majority” of teenagers who smoke weed will not be affected by psychosis. But young people who are at greatest risk deserve the best available information. By describing numerous psychotic breakdowns in excruciating detail, the book’s scare tactics could save a few lives. Berenson is also not the first person to soundly argue that the high-potency pot products available now are likely to make the problem worse.

The second part of Berenson’s argument, however, has attracted more criticism. He attempts to show that because marijuana can cause psychosis and psychosis can cause violence, marijuana causes users to commit senseless, nightmarish acts of violence. (For rebuttals see here, here, here and here. For a discussion of the issues involved see here.)

Tell Your Children opens with an Australian woman who knifed eight children to death, seven of them hers. Later it tells the story of Jared Loughner, a 22-year-old Arizona man who in 2011 shot six people to death and nearly killed then congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; Loughner also smoked pot. There’s lots more.

Yet legal marijuana markets don’t seem to have witnessed an uptick in ultraviolence. Berenson suggests the crimes are out there but have not been well-publicized, and that the problem is gestating. Maybe, but the argument suffers from a definition of psychosis which seems to encompass everything from low-level paranoia to fits of homicidal rage.

And while Berenson focuses on questionable concerns over violence, he misses a number of less cinematic, but perhaps more dangerous threats. He could have looked, for example, into the little studied question of whether cannabis use by pregnant women can impair fetal brain development.

Every adult in America, meanwhile, knows someone they think smokes too much weed, not because the user mutilated someone, but because it seemed to diminish their emotional or intellectual capacities. By some estimates, 10% of marijuana users develop a dependency on the drug. Under any legalization scenario, it’s this population, the anonymous problem user, who will weigh most heavily on society.

A better anti-weed book would tell their stories. But this would force questions Berenson has no interest in answering. If 20% of marijuana users have a problem, 80% don’t. Berenson doesn’t want to come off as a prig. He gets that people like to get high and tries not to hold it against them. But he’s uninterested in why people get high, much less able to acknowledge the possibility that there’s any good reason for it.

Like a lot of weed opponents, he says only a small fraction of marijuana users use it to treat a clinical medical need. That’s true. Much about weed invites this kind of easy contempt. But the great bulk of users feel it’s beneficial, because it helps them relax, it improves their sex life or makes it more fun to play with their kids. Maybe it helps them drink less alcohol, which they find more destructive.

And at the other end of the spectrum from the problem users is a population who consider weed something like a performance-enhancing drug. They can be found, among other places, throughout the ranks of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. The last century of music, one might argue, was brought to us by weed.

The book would have been better if Berenson had some understanding of, or curiosity about, the drug’s allure and complexity, or even could put its dangers in context.

“By some criteria, I am dependent,” the journalist Andrew Sullivan wrote in 2017. “Weed most definitely isn’t for everyone. But compared with all the other substances available, and most other avenues to chill and friendship, it remains, it seems to me, a no-brainer to legalize it, and for many sane adults, one of God’s great gifts to humankind.”

 

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/28/how-dangerous-is-marijuana-for-young-mens-mental-health

Appeals court upholds La. law regulating abortion clinics

abortion photoThe March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 22, 2015. Credit: Addie Mena/CNA

New Orleans, La.- The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday rejected a request from abortion rights’ advocates to rehear a case challenging a Louisiana law that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The Jan. 18 decision effectively upholds its earlier ruling in favor of the bipartisan law, known as the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, or Act 620. Unless an appeal to the US Supreme Court is filed, it will take effect Jan. 28.

A three judge panel of the Fifth Circuit had upheld Act 620 in September by a 2-1 vote. Abortion rights’ advocates were asking the court to rehear the case en banc – by a greater share of the court’s judges.

“I applaud the Fifth Circuit’s decision to reject the abortion providers’ latest legal challenge to Louisiana’s pro-life and pro-woman admitting privileges law,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. “Act 620 is common-sense measure that ensures women will receive proper care if they have complications.”

The Fifth Circuit voted 9-6 to reject the petition for rehearing en banc.

Act 620 was authored by Democratic State Rep. Katrina Jackson, who authored the legislation and is chair of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus. She has said the law is about “the safety of women.”

It was passed in 2014 by an 88-5 vote in the Louisiana House, and a 34-3 vote in the Senate.

The Unsafe Abortion Protection Act requires that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.

The law also clarifies that informed consent protections also apply to chemical abortions, procured by ingesting mifepristone, and that chemical abortions must be reported anonymously to the Department of Health and Hospitals, which already tracks surgical abortions. Doctors who perform more than five abortions per year must also maintain proper licensing.

When the Fifth Circuit upheld Act 620 in September, it found that the law does not impose a substantial burden on women seeking to procure abortion.

Act 620 was challenged in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2016 Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision.

In that case, the high court struck down a Texas law that required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and abortion clinics to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers. In the 5-3 vote, the majority found that the law put an “undue burden” on a women’s right to an abortion, posing a “substantial obstacle” to that right without showing the necessary benefits of its regulations to women’s health.

Considering Louisiana’s law in light of Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Fifth Circuit wrote that “the facts in the instant case are remarkably different from those that occasioned the invalidation of the Texas statute in WWH.”

“Here, unlike in Texas, the Act does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women under WWH and other controlling Supreme Court authority. Careful review of the record reveals stark differences between the record before us and that which the Court considered in WWH.”

“The Louisiana Act passes muster even under the stringent requirements of WWH,” wrote Circuit Judge Jerry E. Smith.
Similarly, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in September ruled that Missouri may enforce its own law mandating that doctors who perform abortions have hospital privileges and that abortion clinics to have the same standards as similar outpatient surgical centers.

The Eighth Circuit also cited the Hellerstedt case, saying that decision analyzed purported benefits of the law at issue related to abortion in Texas, not Missouri, and that it found courts should consider the asserted benefits of a law.

Fifth Circuit Judge James L. Dennis dissented from the court’s decision not to rehear the challenge to Act 620, asserting it is “in clear conflict” with the Hellerstedt decision and that “the panel majority’s attempt to distinguish WWH is meritless because it is based on an erroneous and distorted version of the undue burden test required by WWH and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey.”

Landry welcomed the majority’s decision not to rehear the challenge to Act 620, saying: “The Fifth Circuit once again affirmed what we have repeatedly said: our law is both factually and legally different from the Texas law that the Supreme Court ruled against.”

“I once again thank Representative Katrina Jackson for authoring this public safety legislation and Solicitor General Liz Murrill for preserving the Legislature’s intent,” he added.

When the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act was passed in 2014, there were five abortion clinics in Louisiana. By the time the Fifth Circuit upheld the law in September 2018, there were three, in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport.

The day before it declined to rehear the challenge to Act 620, the Fifth Circuit vacated a previous injunction barring Texas from stripping Planned Parenthood affiliates of Medicaid funding.

Circuit Judge Edith Jones affirmed that Texas has the right to exclude a healthcare provider from Medicaid funds, and criticized the Planned Parenthood affiliates’ argument that the Office of Inspector General has insufficient expertise to determine the qualifications of abortion providers.

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/appeals-court-upholds-la-law-regulating-abortion-clinics-20560