Focus Today: Pope’s ‘New Look’ Church,
Syria, Obama On Guns, NU Defense

Those heartwarming 90th birthday celebrations left a warm glow but also an increased realization that I must cut back on time devoted to column writing and give more thought to things like preparing “my papers” for presentation to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Library.

Then there is some estate planning to be done.

That means less time for column-writing, more time for taking care of personal matters.  I’ll try to continue offering something of substance but in shorter columns including some quick hits on two or three subjects.

Trial Run For New Approach
Let’s Turn To The New Format

My principal topic for the week, I’m pleased to say, is one that I hope—and believe—was welcomed around the world:  A message from Pope Francis I to Catholics warning that the Catholic church has become so focused on opposition to abortion, same-sex marriages and other social issues that it risks overshadowing its broader pastoral, moral mission, threatening to bring down the church “like a house of cards.”

In a wide-ranging interview with a Jesuit journalist, the pope said, “We need to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”

Eileen Burke-Sullivan, a Creighton University associate professor of theology, said the pope’s comments are a dramatic example of his continuing effort to set a more merciful tone for the church.

“All too often the Catholic church comes across heavy-handed, arch-conservative and uncaring,” Burke-Sullivan said.

Interview Published In 16 Jesuit Journals

The interview with the Jesuit journalist was published simultaneously last Thursday in Jesuit Journals, including America Magazine in the United States.

Omaha Archbishop George Lucas said that the pope is challenging “all of us to more conform to Christ in compassion.”

In the report of the interview with the Jesuit journalist, the pope mentioned also use of contraceptives as part one of the issues on which the church did not need to spend so much time re-emphasizing its well-known opposition.

Among Catholic friends whom I know well enough to discuss religion, the use of contraceptive practices is widely acknowledged.  My personal view is that this makes them no less good Catholics.

* * *

Obama Misses Gun Control Target;
Syrian Intervention By U.S. Would Be Risky

Next a shot at President Barack Obama’s totally off-target approach to the subject of gun control.

On more than one occasion recently, Obama has used the shooting deaths of 13 people in the Washington Navy yard as an argument for more effective gun control legislation.  The killer (who died in a gun battle with police) was a former Naval reservist and employee of a contractor within the Navy yard.  He had been under treatment for a mental condition but was given free access to the Navy yard on that fatal day.

And he was using a shotgun.  Not an automatic weapon, nor a semi-automatic weapon, but a shotgun—a weapon which, in its variety of non-automatic modes is owned by uncounted millions of law-abiding Americans for recreational purposes or, in some cases, for the security of their homes.

Try as they will, gun-control advocates can’t get around a simple truism:  Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.  And too many potential people-killers are diagnosed as potentially dangerous but turned loose, in some cases with almost predictable tragic results as in the Washington Navy yard disaster.

* * *

No Justification For Intervention In Syria

I think it is unwise (irresponsible might not be an inappropriate word) for Senator John McCain and President Obama to even consider military intervention in the Syrian mess—especially when poll after poll indicates that the great majority of the American people don’t want to get involved in any way.

The Soviets, who have strong political and economic interests in Syria, are not going to stand idly by if the U.S. attempted decisive military intervention to topple the Assad regime.

* * *

Another View Of Husker Defense
Take A Look At The Numbers:

I end on a note of disagreement with Nebraska Cornhusker Coach Bo Pelini.

Coach Bo, whom I like and customarily agree with, didn’t have a single kind word for the performance of the Husker defense in the 59-20 victory over South Dakota State University last Saturday.

In the second half—in which South Dakota State scored three points—the Huskers forced three punts.  And although the defensive statistics were not broken down by halves in the summary which I saw, most of the defensive damage was done in the second half and the Husker statistics were very impressive:

Six Huskers were involved in a four-quarter total of seven tackles resulting in a total South Dakota State losses of 50 yards.

South Dakota State defenders accounted for two loss-of-yardage tackles for losses totaling seven yards.

Again in total-game totals, Nebraska defenders made six quarterback sacks accounting for losses of 41 yards.  South Dakota State recoded no sacks.

Nebraska made two pass interceptions, one ending in a touchdown.  South Dakota made no interceptions.

Now I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but as a Husker fan who saw his first game in 1933 (Nebraska 22-Oregon State 0) and sat through some lean years which included a Nebraska-Colorado game in which the Huskers failed to make a first down, I think I’m qualified to offer at least a fan’s dissenting opinion to Coach Pelini’s appraisal of the defense’s performance as worst of the season.

The Husker defenders played impressively well in the second half last Saturday, well enough to bury South Dakota State in the four-quarter defensive statistics.

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