Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” highlighted many of the economic and social justice issues of today’s world and prompted reactions from critics worldwide. William Purcell, associate director for Catholic Social Tradition and Practice at the Center for Social Concerns, said the pope “is not being an idealist, but a realist with ideals.” Purcell said the apostolic exhortation’s contents are both prescriptive and intellectual, focusing largely on pastoral theology and how the Church can engage and shepherd people. “Francis addresses [“Evangelii Gaudium”] to the whole people of God, so not just to the laity, but also to the bishops, clergy and religious,” Purcell said. “He’s talking to the leaders at all levels, including lay leaders … and he’s challenging us to find creative ways to share the key emphasis of God, which is love.” Many of the critiques of and negative reaction to the text are “short-sighted,” Purcell said, misunderstanding the context of the pope’s statements and its background in Catholic Social Tradition. One notable criticism came from talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who said Francis’s ideas were “pure Marxism” in a Nov. 27 show about the document, titled “It’s Sad How Wrong Pope Francis Is.” Purcell said people should remember that the pope is writing about theology, not ideology. “What he’s really talking about is joy – that’s what ‘gaudium’ means,” Purcell said. “He’s talking about how we’re called to evangelize and that nobody likes a grim do-gooder. “What he’s saying is that we’ve got to be joyful about it, we’ve got to be embracing it. We should attract people by our actions, and so we should be joyful and life-giving.” The apostolic exhortation is the first thing Francis has written completely on his own during his papacy, and Purcell said it presents his vision of what the Church is about, speaking from his position as the head of the institution. “I think it’s exciting because people have been taking notice,” Purcell said. “Some people react to it out of their ideology and not their theology, and people struggle with some of the things he’s talking about.” Purcell said throughout the document, Francis quotes bishops from across the world, as well as past popes and saints. Because of this, the content “isn’t new, but part of our tradition.” “His insight comes from talking about these things in a new style, in an uplifting way, so people see the power of what we’re called to do,” Purcell said. “He becomes so welcoming, so charismatic, and he speaks to the common person. “It doesn’t become esoteric or dense, because he’s speaking to the person in the pew. People can read this and understand it … and I think they get excited by it.” The four main themes of the text are joy, poverty, peace and justice, Purcell said. Beyond the thematic theological elements, Francis “becomes prescriptive and deals with real, concrete ways of addressing problems,” he said. “The beauty of the exhortation is that he writes so well, and he writes so positively and so openly,” Purcell said. “This is a pope who is a Jesuit, so he’s a thinker. There are ideals of things like solidarity and the common good, but he’s being a realist about how we try to address those things. “He gives concrete examples; he names saints or people or particular things so it doesn’t just become words like ‘solidarity,’ but you get the stories and symbols and scripture behind that makes it come alive.” To best utilize the document’s wisdom, Purcell said parishes need to find a way to break it into parts and find pastoral applications for it. “It’s too much to swallow all at one time, because it’s so rich and there’s so much good within it,” he said. “But it’s fun to look at since [Pope Francis is] just so positive, and he speaks so directly. He’s prophetic, but not obnoxious.” Contact Ann Marie Jakubowski at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ken Holman Good vibes and positively-stoked energy filled the beautifully wooded trails of Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, Virginia, at a recent off-road handcycling event organized by the PVA Mid-Atlantic Chapter, that truly exemplifies the incredible spirit of this exceptional group Veterans in Pocahontas State Park Trails and Cycles Program Director John Arbino The adaptive cycles bring new life to the veterans, so they can once again enjoy what they love doing. “A lot of people look down to us in wheelchairs because they think we’re disabled,” said Arbino. “They pity us because they think we can’t take care of ourselves. But when they see us out there on the mountain bike trails… then they realize, “wow”, they’re not disabled, they just passed me on the mountain bike trail!” Holman agrees, “This park has given to our community a part of our lives that was kind of taken away from us, so this park has accommodated us, not only in the trails, but the facilities (the port-o-john), the tent, changing the gravel so the chairs and bikes can maneuver, so we can have opportunities for fellowship with each other.” Jody Shiflett “For me personally, it’s an opportunity to feel a part of the community that I once enjoyed without disability, so this park makes it easy for us to be integrated back into the community doing the things that we love, to keep our health, our sanity, to be part of nature, and enjoy this aspect of our lives,” shared veteran Ken Holman, of Chester, Virginia, about the indescribable bliss of participating in the adaptive trail cycling. Engaging in the forest is salve for the soul, Holman added, “It’s a calming, you know, for those of us that are veterans that suffer from PTSD. It’s a time to reflect, relax, and not worry about the things you can no longer do, but focus on things you can do.” If you want to see courage, inspiration, and excellence face-to-face, you’ve got to meet the resilient, respected athletes with Paralyzed Veterans of America. Shiflett especially thanks Pocahontas State Park for leading the way in accommodating those with disabilities. “The park rangers here are very supportive to our being included. There’s not a lot of off-road opportunities on the East Coast, especially and particularly for people with disabilities, so we’ve been taking advantage of this infrastructure here. So I want to just praise them for…allowing us to have access to this and being supportive, because they have to maintain these trails, and since these certain trails are being maintained to a wider width, well guess what, that probably increased their cost two-fold. They could spend less money and make it narrow, but they’re very accommodating.” That freedom to explore means a lot to these athletes, says Director of Racing and Fitness Jody Shiflett. “You can go where it’s quiet and solemn and run across some wildlife, and just hearing the wind go through the leaves, the brooks, the creeks, it can be meditative, or it could soothe, maybe you have a sense of adventure you’re trying to find.” Pocahontas State Park is well-known for its dedicated group of volunteers, including RVA MORE and Friends of Pocahontas State Park, who give of their time to maintain the trail system at the park and support of the veterans. Adaptive Sports Program Manager John Arbino says events like this are crucial for veterans who’ve been injured. “It gets them back outside again and gets them back in nature and gets them out being part of the community again. We have a lot of people that are able-bodied that are volunteering to support this event. This event is so great to get us back interacting.” Events like this are much appreciated says Holman. “It’s an opportunity for us get together and have fun. We don’t have to worry about the other people who are not accustomed to our bikes and our way of lives. We all have similar problems, and similar injuries so we can relate to each other.” Erin Green, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America hopes what is happening here at Pocahontas State Park, leads to positive change nationwide.“It’s significant because our trails are starting to become more adaptable to individuals with disabilities, and inclusive, and that’s an important part. I think all state parks should look into becoming more adaptable, so our members of the community with disabilities, not just veterans, but civilians as well, can use and get out in nature and utilize the state parks we have in Virginia and the U.S.”
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With 61,202 fans packed into MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday, the majority rooting for Penn State, it caused some communication breakdowns in Scott Shafer’s first game as Syracuse’s head coach.The start to his tenure ended with a 23-17 loss in New York’s College Classic, a contest that was considered a home game for the Orange, but had a road feel with a sea of blue and white in the bleachers. “It’s one of those deals where we have to continue to work crowd noise,” Shafer said on his Tuesday teleconference. “I’m sure Northwestern’s fans will be excited and loud, so we’re preparing for that.”SU travels to Evanston, Ill., on Saturday to face the Wildcats at 6 p.m.Shafer said he wasn’t nervous at all before his first game as a head coach, but there were still the usual hiccups to be expected from a first-year head coach. There was a boneheaded penalty or two and chaos on the field — Shafer worked exclusively up in the box as a coordinator in past seasons — was a bit of a shock for the new head coach.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThese, though, are the kinks that can be fixed in the coming weeks. Syracuse is inexperienced all over the field, so these are the things that can be solved simply with repetitions.“We just have to keep continuing to work on our operation mode,” Shafer said. “At times we got into a good flow, but other times it wasn’t as clean as we need it to be, so that will be an emphasis as we move forward.” Comments Published on September 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm Contact David: email@example.com | @DBWilson2 Facebook Twitter Google+
A visa abolition agreement has been expanded between Jamaica and Guatemala that will now seen holders of diplomatic and official passports being granted visa exemptions.The agreement was signed in Mexico last Wednesday by Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith and Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Carlos Raúl Morales Moscoso .Jamaica and Guatemala already have a Visa Abolishment Agreement for citizens who travel between the two countries for tourism purposes.Last month, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic signed a visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic and official passports.