Higher Ground: Francis vs. Fido

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Dogs and cats are fine as pets, but don’t substitute them for family, warned Pope Francis during Mass this week.

Speaking to a group of married couples gathered for a service, Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis stressed the importance of faithfulness, dedication and fertility for a healthy Catholic marriage.


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The problem, Pope Francis said, is the childless culture that has developed in the last decade, which promotes time for a couple to travel or to raise “a dog, two cats [but] the love goes to the two cats and the dog [and not children].

“Is this true or is this not? Have you seen it?” Pope Francis asked. “Then, in the end, this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.”

The pontiff stressed that faithfulness is like a “light” in a marriage, while a marriage without dedication cannot develop into a family.

“Married life must be persevering, because otherwise love cannot go forward,” Pope Francis said. “Persevering [means] they get up every morning, the man and the woman, and carry the family forward.”

HUMANIST CHAPLAIN REJECTED

Less than two months after the Army announced that “humanist” was an officially recognized “faith code” within its ranks, the Navy rejected an application for the first humanist chaplain in its ranks.


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The Religion News Service reported Wednesday that Jason Heap’s application for a commission with the Navy was recently rejected.

The details of the decision were not available, but Lt. Cmdr Chris Servello, USN special assistant for the Public Affairs Chief of Naval Personnel, said “all applications for the Chaplain Accession board were carefully reviewed in accordance with policy. Due to the highly competitive nature of the board, less than 50% of the applicants could be recommended for a commission in the United States Navy.”

Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, called the decision “discriminatory.”

In an open letter to the American Humanist Association last year, Mr. Heap said he was applying for the chaplain commission because “I want to serve my country — to give back something to the people who have given me so much over my life — and to serve others who share similar values and perspectives.”

Ron Crews, retired chaplain and executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said his organization commended the Navy’s decision to reject the application for an “atheist chaplain.”

“You can’t have an ‘atheist chaplain’ any more than you can have a ‘tiny giant’ or a ‘poor millionaire,’” he said.

Humanism, according to the American Humanist Association, is “nontheistic,” and while they “don’t mean to say there is no God instead, we say that there is no proof for the existence of God, any gods, the supernatural or an afterlife.”

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