Table of Contents,
SECULARISTS DISCOVER ANTI-CATHOLICISM, Colleen Carroll Campbell, 07(21)2011
LESSONS FROM NEW YORK, Colleen Carroll Campbell, 07(07)2011
DEGRADING CYCLE TARGETS GIRLS By Colleen Carroll Campbell
The Sex Abuse Crisis and the Culture of the Church
The Shock Of Conversion; Magnificat Meditation, 11(13)2009
MISLEADING INDICATORS, The Miseducation of Economists, by Charles Wilber
Faith-Based ECONOMICS, A Keynes’ Comeback? by Alan Reynolds
MISSOURI CATHOLIC CONFERENCE NEWS, 10(03)2009
What Jesus Was Inviting Martha To
THE FAITH THAT SAVES
FORMING CONSCIENCES FOR FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP
Election Update, October 14, 2008
John the Baptist: Patron Saint of Self-Giving
PRO-LIFE CANDIDATE SURVEY, BACKGROUNDER & EXPLANATION OF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS
NATIONAL PRO-LIFE ALLIANCE
CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE SURVEY QUESTIONS
Celebrating Augustine 08(28)2006
Honor Your Father and Mother, Johnson CSJ
Blessed John XXIII Daily Plan for Life
Immigration, the American Economy and the Constitution
New Legislation Would Limit Court Jurisdiction Over Abortion
Cardinal warns against secularism’s dangers
Magnificat Meditation, 04(04)2007
Distance, Czeslaw Milosz
Magnificat Meditation, 03(11)2007
Magnificat Meditation, 03(12)2007
The Presence They Rejected
Magnificat Meditation, 03(13)2007 Loaning God Our Own Pity
Thoughts Gleaned at St. Peter Parish Mission 03(04-08)2007
Blessed Charles DeFoucauld, Magnificat 12(02)2006
Magnificat Meditation of 10(30)2006, Freed From Our Infirmity
Magnificat Meditation of 08/13/2006, What Makes Us Want To Forgive
Magnificat Meditation of 08(10)2006 Applies to Stem Cell Research
Ten Commandments For Welcoming People With Disabilities
How To Give To Caesar What Is Caesars, Magnificat Meditation, June 6, 2006
Father Don Wilger Gifts Carmen Pampa 2005
For Our Friend, Magnificat Meditation, May 19, 2006
The DaVinci Code: Fact & Fiction shows need for education.
Right S.T.A.R.T. And Pornography
Subversive Virginity, An Anidote By Sarah Hinlicky
Daily Lenten Meditations by Father Rolheiser
Anti-gay edict stirs priest to step aside
Priest hangs up collar for change
Magnificat MeditationOctober 24, 2005, Jesus’ Purpose,
The Self-Satisfaction of the Pharisees, October 11, 2005,
Magnificat Meditation October 27, 2005,
The Essence of Reform, 10(10)2005, Magnificat Meditation
Freedom From Religion VS. Freedom of Religion
On Labor Day, Justice for Church Employees by Rev. Richard P. McBrien, Theologian
The Church and Change by Rev.Richard P. McBrien, Theologian 9/05/05
The New Pope as Theologian by Richard P. McBrien
Bioethicist Shatters Stem Cell Myths
KNOM, Nome, Alaska, Oldest Catholic Radio Stations in the U.S.
Inspirational Spots to November 2005
NRLC Will To Live Project
National ProLife Alliance Effort
Corpus Christmas Letter 2004
St. Louis Catholic Radio, WRYT
Reflections on the Rapidly Changing Catholic Priesthood
Catholics in Political Life
Being Catholic when being so isn’t ‘cool’
St. Louis Cleric Softens Stand on Voting by Catholics
The Humble Exalted, Sunday, 08/29/2004, Magnificat
How to Appreciate Christ’s Authority, Monday, 08/30/2004, Magnificat
Marriage and our Fundamental Need, Friday, 08/13/2004, Magnificat
The Grace of Correction, Wednesday, 08/11)2004, Magnificat
The Vatican Or The Gospel
Cardinal George Interviewed by NCR
Meditation of the Day, Monday, May 24, 2004, Magnificat
Meditation of the Day, Monday, May 10, 2004, Magnificat
Meditation of the Day, Thursday, December 5, 2002, Magnificat>
Hymn: Sing Me To Heaven
10 Things to Know in Understanding Islam & Muslims:
Peach and Chocolate: A Brief History
Morality In Media: Combat Pornography
The Tremendous Value of the Holy Mass
Some Buddhist Terms and Their Definitions
Muslim, Jewish, Christian Prayer for Peace
Prayer to Christ the Healer
Claim Your Vote, Be Informed about Legislation:
Ozark Chapter of Sierra Club
Weather, Earthquake & National Parks Links
Time of Day & Calendar Date
Welcome to Faith Matters Table of Contents, This Page:
SECULARISTS DISCOVER ANTI-CATHOLICISM, Colleen Carroll Campbell, 07(21)2011
LESSONS FROM NEW YORK, Colleen Carroll Campbell, 07(07)2011 DEGRADING CYCLE TARGETS GIRLS By Colleen Carroll Campbell The Sex Abuse Crisis and the
Culture of the Church The Shock Of Conversion; Magnificat Meditation, 11(13)2009 MISLEADING INDICATORS, The Miseducation of Economists, by Charles Wilber Faith-
Based ECONOMICS, A Keynes’ Comeback? by Alan Reynolds MISSOURI CATHOLIC CONFERENCE NEWS, 10(03)2009 What Jesus Was Inviting Martha To THE FAITH
THAT SAVES FORMING CONSCIENCES FOR FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP Election Update, October 14, 2008 John the Baptist: Patron Saint of Self-Giving PRO-LIFE
CANDIDATE SURVEY, BACKGROUNDER & EXPLANATION OF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS NATIONAL PRO-LIFE ALLIANCE CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE
SURVEY QUESTIONS On Profiling Muslims by John Byorth Celebrating Augustine 08(28)2006
Honor Your Father and Mother, Johnson CSJ
Blessed John XXIII Daily Plan for Life
Immigration, the American Economy and the Constitution
New Legislation Would Limit Court Jurisdiction Over Abortion
Cardinal warns against secularism’s dangers
Magnificat Meditation, 04(04)2007 –
Distance, Czeslaw Milosz Magnificat Meditation, 03(11)2007 – Suffering
Magnificat Meditation, 03(12)2007 – The Presence They Rejected
Magnificat Meditation, 03(13)2007 – Loaning God Our Own Pity
Thoughts Gleaned at St. Peter Parish Mission 03(04-08)2007
Blessed Charles DeFoucauld, Magnificat 12(02)2006
Magnificat Meditation of 10(30)2006, Freed From Our Infirmity
Magnificat Meditation of 08/13/2006, What Makes Us Want To Forgive
Magnificat Meditation of 08(10)2006 Applies to Stem Cell Research
Ten Commandments For Welcoming People With Disabilities
How To Give To Caesar What Is Caesars,
Magnificat Meditation, June 6, 2006
Father Don Wilger Gifts Carmen Pampa 2005
For Our Friend, Magnificat Meditation, May 19, 2006 The DaVinci Code:
Fact & Fiction shows need for education.
Right S.T.A.R.T. And Pornography
Subversive Virginity, An Anidote By Sarah Hinlicky
Daily Lenten Meditations by Father Rolheiser
Anti-gay edict stirs priest to step aside Priest hangs up collar for change
Sabbath Attitude October 24, 2005,
Magnificat Meditation Jesus’ Purpose, October 27, 2005,
Magnificat Meditation The Self-Satisfaction of the Pharisees, October 11, 2005,
Magnificat Meditation The Essence of Reform, 10(10)2005,
Magnificat Meditation Freedom
From Religion VS. Freedom of Religion
On Labor Day, Justice for Church Employees by Rev. Richard P. McBrien, Theologian
The Church and Change by Rev. Richard P. McBrien, Theologian 9/05/05
The New Pope as Theologian by Richard P. McBrien
Bioethicist Shatters Stem Cell Myths
KNOM, Nome, Alaska, Oldest Catholic Radio Stations in the U.S.
Inspirational Spots to November 2005
NRLC Will To Live Project National ProLife Alliance Effort
Corpus Christmas Letter 2004 St. Louis Catholic Radio,
WRYT Reflections on the Rapidly Changing Catholic Priesthood
Catholics in Political Life Being Catholic when being so isn’t ‘cool’
St. Louis Cleric Softens Stand on Voting by Catholics
The Humble Exalted, Sunday, 08/29/2004,
Magnificat How to Appreciate Christ’s Authority, Monday, 08/30/2004,
Magnificat Marriage and our Fundamental Need, Friday, 08/13/2004,
Magnificat The Grace of Correction, Wednesday, 08/11)2004,
Magnificat The Vatican Or The Gospel
Cardinal George Interviewed by NCR Meditation of the Day, Monday, May 24, 2004,
Magnificat Meditation of the Day, Monday, May 10, 2004, Magnificat Meditation of the Day, Thursday, December 5, 2002, Magnificat> Hymn: Sing Me To Heaven 10 Things to Know in Understanding Islam & Muslims: Peach and Chocolate: A Brief History Morality In Media: Combat Pornography The Tremendous Value of the Holy Mass Some Buddhist Terms and Their Definitions Muslim, Jewish, Christian Prayer for Peace Prayer to Christ the Healer Claim Your Vote, Be Informed about Legislation: Ozark Chapter of Sierra Club Weather, Earthquake & National Parks Links Time of Day & Calendar Date
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SECULARISTS DISCOVER ANTI-CATHOLICISM, Colleen Carroll Campbell, 07(21)2011
Point of view º Smearing Bachmann
Secularists suddenly discover anti-Catholicism
“Move over, Sarah Palin. Michele Bachmann is the new bogeyman – er, woman – of the left. She opposes pornography and abortion. She’s stingy with the taxpayer money entrusted to her. There are even rumors that she gets headaches – really, really bad headaches.
As for her family values, well, yes, Bachmann and her husband raised five children of their own and nearly two dozen foster children. But crack investigative journalists have uncovered evidence that some of those 23 foster kids only lived with her family for a short time. They were, in other words, foster children rather than adoptees. So that really should not count in her favor, should it ?
And if that’s not enough to dissuade Republican primary voters from warming to this Minnesota congresswoman and Tea Party favorite now eying the White House, consider this: Bachmann once belonged to a conservative Lutheran church that expressed clear disdain for the papacy.
That’s right: Bachmann, a Protestant, belonged to a church that rejected the authority of the pope. Shocking. Bachmann, of course, has not attended that particular church in two years and publicly rejected Martin Luther’s description of the pope as the “Anti-Christ.”
“It’s abhorrent, it’s religious bigotry,” Bachmann said, when confronted with that statement at a 2006 debate. “I love Catholics.”
To the unseasoned observer, her denial of animus toward Catholics might ring true. Bachmann, after all, stands firmly on the side of the Catholic Church on a whole host of issues that the church has defined as non-negotiable, from her rejection of embryo-destructive stem cell research to her defense of traditional marriage.
But left-leaning pundits know better. They can see right through Bachmann’s charade of supporting Catholic positions and cultivating Catholic backers and detect the fire-breathing anti-Catholic bigot beneath.
Their sudden concern for the problem of anti-Catholicism is surprising, given that some of the same folks now flogging Bachmann for a 500-year-old anti-papal phrase buried in her former denomination’s doctrinal statements frequently tell Catholic Church leaders to shut up and butt out of public policy debates – unless, of course, those debates concern immigration or the death penalty. They mock the pope and Catholic teachings, blast lay Catholics who defend those teachings in the political arena and call for the revocation of the church’s tax-exempt status when they hear priests defending Catholic teachings too pointedly from the pulpit around Election Day.
Many of these secular critics of the Catholic Church do not blink an eye when Bill Maher describes the pope as a “Nazi” and the Catholic Church as “a child- abusing religious cult.” Nor do they speak up when government officials force Catholic Charities out of the adoption business for refusing to place children with same-sex couples because doing so would contradict Catholic doctrine. Apparently, they consider anti-Catholicism acceptable after all, as long as it come; from the left end of the political spectrum.
Their cynical attempt to smear Bachmann with the anti-Catholic label does not negate the role that religious concerns play in candidate evaluations. Asking questions about the beliefs of presidential contenders is perfectly appropriate during this election cycle, just as it was in 2008, when America learned that Barack Obama had spent decades in a church led by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, of “God damn America” fame. Back then, many in the establishment media dismissed Wright’s inflammatory rhetoric as irrelevant to the presidential candidate who had sat listening to it during his formative years.
They were wrong. It matters how a politician views God, the world and others who do not share his beliefs. And given the history of anti-Catholicism in America, Catholics are right to take an interest in the way political leaders view their church and its role in society.
Yet they also should note how politicians express those views in action. Most Catholics who adhere to their church’s moral teachings would happily take a Protestant who supports Catholic values over a cafeteria Catholic who opposes his own church at every crucial turn. The question they ask when evaluating the religious character of a candidate is not simply “what do you believe” but “how do your beliefs shape the way you act in the public square?”
That’s a good question for Americans of all religious stripes to ask of 2012 presidential contenders, including our sitting president. Don’t just tell us what you believe, we should say; show us how the beliefs and principles you profess have impacted the decisions you made as a leader. In other words, show us how you walk the talk.”
Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.
— Post Dispatch, Thursday, July 21st, 2011
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LESSONS FROM NEW YORK, Colleen Carroll Campbell, 07(07)2011
Defenders of a man-woman marriage should ignore the bullies and speak up.
“In the political battle that ended last week with New York’s legalization of gay marriage, Catholic defenders of man-woman marriage found themselves pitted against an unlikely batch of adversaries: fellow Catholics.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo – who, like his father, has spent his career touting his Catholic credentials while ignoring church teachings that clash with his liberal social agenda – jump-started that battle last summer by declaring same – sex marriage a top legislative priority for 2011. His influence propelled the same-sex marriage bill to a vote and it passed with support from numerous Catholic lawmakers. Among them was state senator Mark Grisanti, who infuriated many constituents by reversing his gay-marriage opposition after receiving the full-court press from celebrities and gay rights activists. “I’m not here as a senator who is just Catholic,” Grisanti said, attempting to explain how his well-publicized view of marriage as a man-woman union squared with his support for its redefinition as a gender-neutral institution. “I know that with this decision, many people who voted for me will question my integrity.”
It’s not only Grisanti’s integrity that invites questioning. His logic also perplexes. Like many Catholic lawmakers, Grisanti seems unable to distinguish between his private sectarian beliefs and the reason-based arguments for man-woman marriage that faithful Catholics share with millions of other Americans. Those arguments spring from human nature and human history, not simply sacred texts.
In nearly every known society throughout history, marriage has existed for the purpose of keeping men and women united for the sake of the children they bring into the world together. The civic institution of marriage exists, in other words, to bridge the divide between the sexes and promote the welfare of the next generation, not to ratify private romantic feelings or eradicate homophobia.
The justification for this common-sense, civic definition of marriage does not depend on some obscure religious doctrine, Catholic or otherwise. But you would never know that from listening to many same-sex marriage advocates, who attempt to silence their opponents by deriding them as knuckle-dragging bigots.
They get plenty of help from Catholic lawmakers like Grisanti, who shrink from wrestling through the logical implications of their votes and opt instead to use the “personally-opposed-but” excuse for legislating politically correct measures that they claim to disdain. It’s a nonsensical, cowardly move. Yet it provokes praise from media elites who continue to peddle the fiction that the only Americans not yet on the gay-marriage bandwagon are religious fanatics and residents of those “middle places” where one sees “the dance of the low-sloping foreheads,” as New York Times columnist David Carr recently described Missouri, during a discussion of another charged political issue.
Like the snobbery of some coastal pundits, the incoherence of cafeteria Catholic politicians makes them an easy target for the ire of their fellow believers. But last week’s razor-thin victory for same – sex marriage was facilitated not only by the fuzzy-headed logic and moral malleability of Catholic politicians. It also was enabled by a larger Catholic populace – including many Catholic clergy – who snoozed through the same-sex marriage fight, unwilling to speak out boldly or organize effectively until it was too late.
It’s a problem that afflicts many committed believers of other traditions, as well: diffidence about broaching sensitive social issues for fear of being labeled one of those low-sloping-forehead types. Their timidity masquerades as tolerance and they tell themselves they are biding their time, ready to speak out when it counts.
The longer they wait, the more freedom they lose. Canada already has speech codes regulating what citizens can say on these issues. We soon may have the same. And observant Catholics will be prime targets for freedom-stripping measures. Already, we have seen attacks on the conscience rights of Catholic health care workers, government agencies attempting to strip Catholic colleges of their religious exemptions and Catholic adoption agencies forced out of business for refusing to place children with same-sex couples.
The struggle to maintain religious liberty is broader than any single issue or religious tradition. But for Catholics who value religious freedom, and all Americans who resent attempts to dismiss man-woman marriage as a mere relic of bigotry, the lesson from New York is clear: Speak now or forever hold your peace.”
Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.
MORE LETTERS ONLINE
“David Brooks still doesn’t get it,” writes Mark Talarico of Wentzville, MO. “He said the Democrats have stopped making concessions and are becoming fanatics. They aren’t, they’re just refusing to deal with fanatics.”
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DEGRADING CYCLE TARGETS GIRLS By Colleen Carroll Campbell
Backlash against child victim in Texas highlights sexualization, shaming of girls
“The crime alone was heinous enough. According to police in Cleveland, Texas, an 11 year old girl there was gang raped six times last fall by a total of at least 19 assailants, some of them boys, some of them ex-cons more than twice her age. Her assailants documented their attacks using phone videos and photos that went viral among the victim’s middle – school classmates. Police said the images were shot inside an abandoned trailer where the girl was raped by a string of men, some of them summoned by other assailants who phoned their buddies to invite them to join in the brutality.
The final shocker came when police began making arrests. Many Cleveland residents openly blamed the victim. At a community forum earlier this month, attendees complained that the girl dressed older than her age, flirted too much and made suggestive comments on her Facebook page. As one woman told an Associated Press reporter, “she wanted this to happen. I’m not taking nobody’s side, but if she hadn’t put herself in that predicament, this would have never happened.”
The monstrous crime – and the appalling reaction of some Cleveland citizens – has sparked nationwide headlines and an online backlash. Writers from across America have sent angry missives to the local newspaper reminding its readers that no 11-year-old “asks for” gang rape. On Monday, representatives of various advocacy groups held a press conference in the town to urge locals not “victimize the victim.”
The collective scorn heaped upon Cleveland’s criminals and their excuse – making enablers is richly deserved. Yet taking aim at that distant target does not excuse the rest of us from considering the possibility that Cleveland is not the only place in America where a girl can be stripped of her innocence while a chorus of onlookers scolds her for it.
What happened to that little girl in East Texas is a one-of-a-kind nightmare, far surpassing in its horror the indignities visited on the average middle-schooler. Still, there are shades of her literal striping and shaming that is taking place among a growing number of American girls today.
The process begins as early as elementary school, when girls first become aware that they are expected to demonstrate their value by demonstrating their sex appeal. They usually learn this first from television, where Lolita-like characters clutter the airwaves and teenage girls routinely are portrayed as sexually insatiable women hiding in children’s bodies. A 2010 Parents Television Council analysis of prime-time broadcast shows geared to teens found that when underage girls are on screen, more sexual content is shown, girls are shown responding almost uniformly positively to their own sexualization and their sex acts are portrayed mostly as jokes and hook-ups — incidents that happen outside any form of committed relationship.
Bombarded by such images, encouraged by clueless or complicit parents and submerged in a society where child porn is an epidemic, many girls come to see themselves as the wider culture does: budding sex objects. At age 8, they buy padded, push-up bikini tops from Abercrombie Kids and sport super-skinny jeans with “Juicy” stamped across their rear ends. A few years later, while still in the pre-teen or “tween” years, they sport T-shirts that scream “Legal-ish,” “Hottie” or “Vixen.”
And then they go online, where the toxic stew of Internet pornography, free-for-all social media sites and wall-to-wall coverage of celebrity bad girls confirms their suspicion that the only way to get noticed is to get raunchy. “Sex-ting” – the sending or receiving of sexually explicit text messages or photos – often follows. A 2009 survey by AK Tweens, a marketing company, found nearly one -third of pre-teen girls engaged in sex-ting. The girls typically received the sexualized messages and images as early as age 10 and begin sending their own by age 12. Their most frequently cited motive: to “get attention.”
Of course, the attention they get too often is from adult sexual predators or male classmates who share the girls’ nude photos with everyone they know, leading to school-wide or even city-wide bullying. In several high-profile cases in recent years, teenage girls at the center of such sexting scandals have committed suicide. They were victims of merciless peers and their own bad choices, yes, but also casualties of a culture that long ago forgot how to protest girls’ innocence yet still remember how to shame them when that innocence is lost. The blame for the atrocities that transpired in that trailer in Cleveland lies with those who perpetrated them, not their victim, her fashions or her Facebook posts. But the problem of a culture that goads girls into growing up too fast, then mocks and shames them for the consequences of their own sexual exploitation, extends well beyond the limits of one sleepy Texas town.
Coleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com. This POINT OF VIEW COLUMN – St. Louis Post Dispatch – Thursday, March 31, 2011”
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THE PRICE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Rights protected on a case-by-case basis soon are not protected at all. “In his engaging new biography, “Johnny Appleseed: the Man, the Myth, the American Story,” journalist Howard Means scrubs away nearly two centuries of rumor and myth to uncover the truth about 19th-century pioneer nurseryman John Chapman, a national folk hero whom most of us know only from Disney cartoons and children’s books, Means’ meticulous research reveals Chapman as an ascetic, conservationist and pacifist well-suited to serve as patron saint of today’s faith-based “creation care” movement, it also exposes Chapman as a bona fide religious eccentric. The itinerant preacher traveled alone and barefoot across the frontier proclaiming a peculiar twist, on Christianity known as swedenborgianism, based on the writings of Swedish scientist and self-proclaimed divine visionary Emanuel Swedenborg.
Swedenborgianism never got much traction as American religious movements go. Its founder’s refutation of Christian orthodoxy and claims to have seen heaven and hell down to the last detail -the angels’ celestial homes have “gardens, flowerbeds, and lawns” just like ours, Swedenborg said – proved too dubious to attract a mainstream following. Yet Chapman remained a devoted disciple to the end, inspired by Swedenborg’s writings to live a life as unconventional as the theology he preached.
Chapman was an unusual religious character, to be sure, but as Means notes in his book, unusual religious characters were ubiquitous on the American frontier. Although we tend to view our nation’s early years through the rose-tinted lens of “Little House on the Prairie” reruns, real early American life – and the real religious scene during America’s formative years – was anything but orderly and orthodox. As Means notes, “a whole new horizon of possibilities was forming for religious seekers” during Chapman’s day, including mysticism, pantheism and universalism. Utopian movements flourished, Armageddon seemed just around the corner. Religious groups splintered at alarming rates, and zealous preachers armed with little more than a Bible and a tent jostled each other for the title of leading frontier revivalist.
Means’ description of this wild-and-woolly 19th-century religious scene makes today’s American religious marketplace sound positively tame. And it offers some historical context for the troubling ease of Terry Jones, the loose-cannon pastor in Gainesville, Fla., whose Quran -burning stunt recently sparked deadly riots overseas and much hand-wringing stateside about the dangers of religious freedom.
Commenting recently on Jones’ provocations – the pastor’s next plan is to put Mohammed “on trial” and to lead an anti-Islam protest outside America’s largest mosque – Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said, “Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II, you had limits on what you could do if it inspired the enemy.”
Actually, our freedoms of speech and religion are more than great ideas. They are bedrock principles upon which this nation was founded, the very principles for which we purportedly are fighting overseas. And they apply in times of war as well as times of peace – the former of which is looking much more like America’s normative condition these days than the latter.
Inflammatory and irresponsible as Jones’ antics are – and embarrassing as they are to mainstream Christians who know that desecrating another religion’s holy book is an exceptionally ineffective means of evangelization, to put it mildly – they fall squarely within the realm of constitutionally protected speech. In America, being an outspoken, offensive religious nut is not illegal – at least, not yet.
Muslims have a right to be angry about Jones’ offensive actions. But no one has the right to murder over such acts. If we affirm that truth in principle, yet call for the muzzling of people such as Jones in practice, we prove that America’s defense of free speech and religious freedom is just a ruse. And we open the door to exactly the sort of religious oppression we condemn in Muslim theocracies, an oppression no less dangerous because it begins with the apparently benign goal of banishing intolerance. The messy, sometimes ugly reality of religious freedom gave us the incendiary Terry Jones. It also gave us the pacifist Johnny Apple-seed, not to mention the heroic Martin Luther King Jr. And it has given millions of Americans, from our nation’s rough-and-rugged frontier days to our own, the liberty to adopt and express religious beliefs that others consider silly, dangerous or downright vile. That’s a freedom not recognized or protected by our enemies. We should not capitulate to them by forfeiting it, even in the hard cases.”
Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speech writer and television and radio HOST of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com. This POINT OF VIEW COLUMN appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch – Thursday, April 7, 2011”
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The Sex Abuse Crisis and the Culture of the Church
“In a letter for Pentecost, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia, said that among other factors, the church’s “culture of forgiveness, which tends to view things in terms of sin and forgiveness rather than crime and punishment” played a role in the clerical sex abuse crisis. In the May 23 letter, Archbishop Coleridge said he has come to believe that a complex combination of some aspects of the church’s culture played a role in the crisis. Archbishop Coleridge discussed these factors that “may have combined to make the problem cultural rather than merely personal”: “a poor understanding and communication of the church´s teaching on sexuality, shown particularly in a rigorist attitude to the body and sexuality” celibacy, while not a factor in itself, may have been attractive to men who had pedophile tendencies; seminary training lacking in human formation that led to “institutionalized immaturity”; clericalism understood as a hierarchy of power rather than service; triumphalism in the image of the church; prioritizing discretion; and the underestimation of the power and subtlety of evil. He said some of these factors must be abandoned, including a rigorist notion of the body and sexuality, gaps in seminary training and the types of clericalism they can produce, triumphalism and the underestimation of evil. He said celibacy must be purified and that there must be a greater awareness that the church´s culture of forgiveness and discretion “can turn dark.” The archbishop’s letter follows”.
“It has taken a tragically long time for other Australians to begin to see the faces and hear the voices of indigenous people. For too long indigenous Australians were simply unseen and unheard; and that was the way the rest of us seemed to want it. Their land was terra nullius; they were not citizens.
Now that indigenous people are visible and audible, we others are not sure what exactly to do about their suffering, but at least we can see them and hear them – and even say sorry.
The same is true, I now think, of the survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and elsewhere. For too long they were unseen and unheard. To see their faces and hear their voices has taken people like me a tragically long time. But at least now we can see their faces and hear their voices, even if we have no quick fix for the devastation we see and hear.
The story of sexual abuse of the young within the Catholic Church has been the greatest drama of my 36 years in the priesthood. So let me tell my own story of growing awareness of the reality; the story is mine but I suspect it is not unlike the story of many.
I speak in retrospect but with no illusions about the present or the future. I cannot say that abuse of the young is not still happening in the church nor that it will not happen in the future. What I can say is that the bitter lessons of the past have made it more likely that I and the church will deal sensitively with abuse and its aftermath now and in the future.
The first case I heard of was in the 1970s when I was a young priest in Melbourne. When the news broke, I thought it was weird and distressing. I had hardly heard the word pedophilia in my early life and seminary training; I knew what it meant, but I would have struggled to spell it.
If I thought of pedophilia at all in the church, I would have found it mind-boggling that a priest, to whom the young are entrusted in a special way, could abuse children. But there it was undeniably, and I thought it was a tragic and isolated episode.
But then more cases came to light through the 1980s and 1990s. Some of these were all the more troubling because among the abusers were priests who seemed well-functioning human beings and good pastors. By the mid-’90s, I was serving as spokesman for the church in Melbourne, so I had to try to know the facts, understand them and speak about them in public.
At that stage I could not accept that this abuse was somehow cultural, by which I mean that it was more than merely personal, that it was the product of a “system.” I insisted that it was a matter of personal, not communal or institutional culpability, that it did not represent something systemic in the culture of the Catholic Church. Individual clergy and religious had not only sinned grievously but had also committed crimes, and they needed to answer for it personally before God and the law. That much seemed clear to me.
It was at this time that I had my first meetings with survivors of sexual abuse as individuals and in groups. These meetings showed me the extraordinary damage done to many of them by the abuse they had suffered. This was something that I had not encountered or understood previously, and I was deeply shocked.
“We owe the Irish an immense debt of gratitude for what they have given us, but for complex historical reasons the church in Ireland was prey to the rigorist influence that passed from the continent to Ireland… and found fertile soil there. It then passed into the Irish diaspora.”
I was taken aback at times by the force of their anger, which was of a kind I had rarely if ever encountered, and it was something in the face of which I felt at times powerless to respond. I could see that these were people in need of all the care and compassion we could offer and that any response that did not have them as its prime concern was bound to fail – at least if the Gospel was the measure of success and failure.
I could also see, and have come to see more clearly since, that those abused can be overlooked, even hidden. The challenge for me was to see their faces and to hear their voices, and that was not easy.
Through the 1990s, I came to realize that, just as we had failed to understand the effects of the abuse, so too we had not understood the nature of the pathology or the scale of the problem. We have learned a great deal on both counts in recent years, though there is still much to be learned as things continue to unfold; but at least now our learning is set on a firmer base.
One thing we have learned is just how compulsive the pathology can be. At first I thought that most incidents of sexual abuse were one-off incidents, and that can be true at times. But I now know that most pedophile abuse is serial. I was aghast to read transcripts of the trials of pedophile clergy; it seemed that their lives revolved around the grooming and abuse of children.
It was apparent that this kind of abuse was something other than a moral lapse, a fall into sin, which could be made good by appropriate repentance, penance and a fresh start. During this period, it was becoming clear to me that genuine rehabilitation of the pedophile was a very uncertain prospect, though the clinical experts were not and are not of one mind on this. Whatever about their professional disagreement, the sense that there was no place for the pedophile in the priesthood was growing stronger in me.
Another aspect of the pathology that I came to see was its hiddenness. This was abetted by a general ignorance in the community, but pedophile clergy were extraordinarily adept at concealing their abuse of the young. I have known priests who lived with some of the worst offenders, and it has been presumed at times that they must have known what was going on and turned a blind eye. But my sense is that those living with pedophile clergy knew nothing of the abuse that was going on and were horrified when it came to light. So too there were clergy who were known to have around the presbytery children – usually boys – but nobody I knew imagined that some of them were molesting the children, as it turned out they had been.
It is also true that offenders were often incapable of recognizing the grave harm they had done. The wrongdoing, indeed the crime, was hidden even from them. Yet they themselves were highly visible in the life of the church, especially in the life of bishops.
The institutional invisibility of the abused was a major reason why, initially at least, there was so much attention given to offending clergy and so little to their victims, who were unseen and unheard by comparison.
A further thing I learned was the complexity of the field of criminal sexual offense, which lies at the intersection of medicine, law and social morality – not to mention, in the case of Catholic clergy, the church’s moral teaching and the discipline of celibacy. For example, I learned the difference between pedophilia and ephebophilia. The word pedophilia may have been strange to me, but the word ephebophilia was totally unknown. Where pedophilia refers to the sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children, ephebophilia refers to the sexual attraction to post-pubescent adolescents. A good deal of what was coming to light in the years of my growing awareness was not pedophilia but ephebophilia.
In general, it seems to me now that the church and society have not understood well enough the implications of complexity in this area: Again, we know more than we did, but there is still a lot of learning to be done.
“The authority proper to the ordained could become authoritarian, and the hunger for intimacy proper to human beings could become predatory.”
It was only as more and more cases came to light that I began to understand the scale of the problem. It is true that the number of offenders is a small percentage of the Catholic clergy and that the percentage is about the same as in the wider community. But viewed from another angle, where even a single offense is appalling, it was an incomprehensible number, with the figure made worse because of the exceptional trust placed in Catholic clergy. That is a trust which has produced wonderful fruit in both priests and people, but it was the same trust which enabled the abuse to happen and made it all the worse.
No one now can deny the scale of the problem, and the urgent task is to go further along the path of understanding and action in a way that is deeply sensitive to the harm done to those who have been abused and determined to do everything possible to root out the evil from the church.
One question that came to trouble me more, especially when I was working in the Vatican from 1997 to 2002, was whether or not the problem was cultural in the church. The question was unavoidable as through those years I followed closely the drama of the U.S. church in its attempt to come to grips with the crisis and the way in which the Holy See sought to help, as it did in the unprecedented meeting of the U.S. cardinals with Pope John Paul II early in 2002.
I came to think that the problem was in some way cultural, but that prompted the further question of how: what was it that allowed this canker to grow in the body of the Catholic Church, not just here and there but more broadly? I would part company with some answers to this question because they seem to me ill-informed, one-dimensional or ideologically driven. There is no one factor that makes abuse of the young by Catholic clergy in some sense cultural. It seems to me rather a complex combination of factors which I do not claim to understand fully, even if I now understand more than I did.
I should also say that the combination is not the same from culture to culture or from one era to another. Pedophilia – or the sexual abuse of children – is a universal phenomenon, but it is configured differently from culture to culture and from one historical period to another. So too the factors that have made it cultural within the Catholic Church at this time are configured differently from one place to another, even if there is in some sense a Catholic culture which takes root in different human cultures. But this should not be overstated.
Here I mention briefly several factors which in my view may have combined to make the problem cultural rather than merely personal, at least in the Australian situation. My reflection at this point is very much a work in progress, and I make no claim that this list is complete or even correct.
—One factor was a poor understanding and communication of the church’s teaching on sexuality, shown particularly in a rigorist attitude to the body and sexuality. This was mediated in part through the formative influ-ence of Irish Catholicism in the life of the church in Australia.
We owe the Irish an immense debt of gratitude for what they have given us, but for complex historical reasons the church in Ireland was prey to the rigorist influence that passed from the continent to Ireland – often under the name of Jansenism – and found fertile soil there. It then passed into the Irish diaspora, of which Australia was part.
This rigorist influence led to an implicit denial of the Incarnation, which had people thinking they had to deny their humanity to find their way to the divinity. The irony of this is that the Incarnation stands at the very heart of the Catholic sense of a sacramental universe. Jansenism grew from Catholic soil, though it was tinged with Calvinism too. But there was nothing incarnational about Jansenism, and the Catholic Church rejected it, even if its influence has been hard to erase, with traces remaining still. with traces remaining still.
Catholic teaching on sexuality offers deep insights and rich resources which we will need to explore in new ways as we seek to deal with the current crisis.
–Clerical celibacy was not in itself a factor, but – like any form of the Christian life lived seriously – it has its perils. When clerical celibacy works well, it is a unique source of spiritual and pastoral fruitfulness in the church; when it works badly it can be very damaging all round. It becomes especially risky when sundered from the ascetical and mystical life which it presumes: This is a large challenge, especially perhaps for secular clergy in the bustle of their daily lives.
“It is hard to believe that the church´s response
would have been so poor had lay people been involved
from the start in shaping a response.”
The discipline of celibacy may also have been attractive to men in whom there were pedophile tendencies which may not have been explicitly recognized by the men themselves when they entered the seminary.
–A further factor was certain forms of seminary training which failed to take proper account of human formation and promoted therefore a kind of institutionalized immaturity. Seminaries were not always seen as schools of discipleship, since faith was taken for granted in a way that looks seriously questionable now.
Seminary formation was not tied to a vision of lifelong formation, so that a man once ordained was thought to have completed all the formation he would need for his priestly ministry through life. This was fateful, given that pedophile tendencies, usually latent at the time of seminary training, often emerged only after ordination.
–Clericalism understood as a hierarchy of power, not service, was also a factor. It was a fruit of seminary training that was inadequate at certain points, and it is almost inevitable once the priesthood and preparation for it are not deeply grounded in the life of faith and discipleship. Clergy could be isolated in ways that were bound to turn destructive. The authority proper to the ordained could become authoritarian, and the hunger for intimacy proper to human beings could become predatory.
It is hard to believe that the church’s response would have been so poor had lay people been involved from the start in shaping a response. In more recent years, lay men and women – not all of them Catholic – have been much involved in shaping the church’s response, and that is one reason why we are now doing better. The task belongs not just to the bishops and priests but to the whole church, with all working together in this fraught situation.
–A certain triumphalism in the Catholic Church, a kind of institutional pride, was a further factor. There is much in the Catholic Church, her culture and tradition, about which one can be justifiably proud, as one can be of her achievements in this country; and Easter is always a motive for triumph of the right kind. But there can be a dark side to this which leads to a determination to protect the reputation of the church at all costs.
Through the radical social and cultural changes of the 20th century, the Catholic Church was seen to have risen above the maelstrom of history and not to be afflicted in the way other churches and Christian communities were. At least in this country, our institutions in areas such as education, health and welfare were mighty contributions to society as a whole; and this gave the impression that we were a church that went from strength to strength. Others may suffer decline, but we did not. What mattered was to present well in public in order to affirm to ourselves and to others that we were “the great church.” Such hubris will always have its consequences.
–Another factor was the Catholic Church’s culture of forgiveness, which tends to view things in terms of sin and forgiveness rather than crime and punishment. But in the case of clerical abuse of the young, we are dealing with crime, and the church has struggled to find the point of convergence between sin and forgiveness on the one hand and crime and punishment on the other.
True, sin must be forgiven, but so too must crime be punished. Both mercy and justice must run their course and do so in a way that converges. This relates to larger questions of how the church sees her relationship with society more generally. We are “in the world but not of it”: But what precisely does that mean in the here and now?
There is also the large question of the relationship between divine and human judgment. The church insists that it is to God, not to human beings, that final judgment belongs. Yet how does that fit with the need for human judgment when we move within the logic of crime and punishment? We have been slow and clumsy, even at times culpable, in shaping our answer to such questions.
–Playing its part too was the culture of the Catholic Church insofar as it favors a certain discretion, which in the case of the sacrament of penance becomes an absolute confidentiality. The church has long spoken of the sins of calumny and detraction. The first refers to the spreading of false allegations against others; the second refers to the spreading of allegations which are true but defamatory. Both are sinful.
“I have wondered if the whole of society is somehow mysteriously and unconsciously complicit in the phenomenon of child abuse, but in the end it seems to me that the blame game in any of its forms cannot take us far along the path of healing, reconciliation and reform that lies before us.”
There are many things known to us about others – certainly known to clergy – but which charity forbids us to spread abroad. This is not always a matter of protecting the reputation of the church but of protecting the dignity of others in a way that charity commands. Yet this culture of discretion turned dark when it was used to conceal crime and to protect the reputation of the church or the image of the priesthood in a country that has never known the virulent anti-clericalism of elsewhere.
–The church may also have underestimated the power and subtlety of evil. This may seem strange to say of the church, which is often regarded as taking evil and sin more seriously than do other churches and Christian communities. But it is evil we are dealing with in the case of sexual abuse of the young; and it is an evil which is not just personal. It is a power which reaches beyond the individual; it seems more metaphysical than moral.
A suprapersonal power seems to take hold of human beings who are not in themselves wholly evil. But they are in the grip of a power which they can, it seems, do little to understand or control; and it is a power which is hugely destructive in the lives of those they have abused and in their own lives.
None of these factors alone would have made the problem cultural in the church, but the combination may have done so. Clearly, some have to be abandoned – rigorist notions of the body and sexuality, gaps in seminary training and the kind of clericalism they can produce, triumphalism, the underestimation of evil. Others – like the living of celibacy in the priestly life – need to be purified rather than abandoned. Some – like the church’s culture of forgiveness and discretion – clearly need to be retained, though with a greater awareness of what they can encourage and how they can turn dark.
I am perplexed when I hear it said that the church – at least in this country – has done nothing about the problem. A great deal has been done by many people, but there is still a great deal to be done. I do not believe that the bishops are simply indulging in “damage control” and trying to “manage” the problem. That may have been true in the past, but I do not think it is true now.
There has been a growing awareness among them that the church’s approach has to be essentially pastoral, with its prime focus on the needs of those who have been abused. That is the thrust of the structures and protocols which have been put in place and are being continually refined as we learn more.
The attached document shows what has been done in this country and what is being done. What is clear is that there will be no quick fix to this problem, the roots of which go deep and wide. We are in for the long haul.
On that journey, there is a need for cool heads and compassionate hearts which resist apocalyptic scenarios and keep striving instead to understand the reality calmly and comprehensively, always attending primarily to the victims we have not seen and the voices we have not heard.
I have asked myself often enough who has been to blame in all this. Clearly the victims were not, though we have treated them at times as if they were. Just as clearly, the offenders were to blame and must bear the full weight of judgment, both human and divine. The bishops? Yes, insofar as they concealed or denied the abuse. The media? Not too often, although there have been appalling instances of trial-by-media with the presumption of innocence cast aside; some reporting has been jaundiced by sensationalism and anti-Catholicism, while other reporting has actually helped the church to see the faces and hear the voices. The lawyers? Only infrequently, even though there have been lawyers who have behaved in ways that have not only dishonored their profession but also treated victims in ways which themselves have been abusive.
At times I have wondered if the whole of society is somehow mysteriously and unconsciously complicit in the phenomenon of child abuse, but in the end it seems to me that the blame game in any of its forms cannot take us far along the path of healing, reconciliation and reform that lies before us.
All can see that this is a time of crisis for the Catholic Church, even though the nature of the crisis would be understood differently by different people within the church and outside. The word crisis comes from the Greek word krisis, which means judgment. The church is under judgment. That judgment is in part human, as many point the accusing finger at the Catholic Church and especially at her leaders. But also and more important, the judgment is divine.
The God who has called the church “out of darkness into his own wonderful light” (1 Pt 2:9) is acting now as he has done in the past, as the Bible attests: God stands in judgment upon us and calls us into an experience of lamentation that acknowledges sin and looks beyond the disaster that sin has caused to the new future God is preparing for the people he loves.
Paradoxically, this lamentation does not preclude the joy of Easter. We normally think that lamentation and joy are mutually exclusive, but now they have to find a home together in the one heart, the heart of the church, just as they dwell together in the heart of Jesus Christ. At the moment, the Catholic Church and the bishops in particular are being pounded mightily and dismissed as lacking all credibility or worse. This is hardly surprising, and it can be humiliating. But it is not the end of the world; nor is it the end of the church. Paradoxically, the Catholic Church has often been at her best when down for the count.
History shows that new and unexpected surges of Gospel energy have come not infrequently in the wake of devastation. My hope is that we may now be moving slowly and painfully toward a moment of that kind. That is surely the promise of Easter, which is what sustains me and many others through this troubled time. My deepest and most heartfelt prayer is that the same promise of life out of death will sustain the survivors of sexual abuse whose faces I have seen and will see, whose voices I have heard and will hear.”
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“In his letter, Bishop Marie Coleridge mentioned an attached document that detailed what the church in Australia has done and is doing to protect children. Following are excerpts: “Since the late 1980s, when the issues of abuse by church personnel became more widely known in Australia and overseas, the Australian Catholic bishops and the leaders of religious institutes have worked together to put in place procedures to address allegations of abuse….”
“Today the church reiterates the apology made when the revised protocol was published in 1996 as ‘Towards Healing’: ‘We acknowledge with deep sadness and regret that a number of clergy and religious and other church personnel have abused children, adolescents and adults who have been in their pastoral care. To these victims we again offer our sincere apology.’…
“The ‘Towards Healing’ principles and procedures have been independently reviewed in 2000 and 2009…. Submissions for the reviews came from a wide range of people….
“Involvement of Police”
“The church encourages those with a complaint of criminal abuse to go to the police and will assist them to do so. It realizes that for many reasons some victims choose not to do this. Nevertheless the church will take the complaint seriously and take such other steps as are necessary to ensure no person is at risk. “When the complaint concerns an alleged crime, the contact person or director of professional standards shall explain to the complainant that the church has a strong preference that the allegation be referred to the police so that the case can be dealt with appropriately through the justice system. If desired, the complainant will be assisted to do this. Where it applies, the contact person shall also explain the requirements of the law of mandatory reporting.” (TH, 37.1).
“When a complainant does go to police, the church still offers counseling and other assistance and advises the person that they may approach the church again when any criminal process is concluded (cf. TH, 37.2).
“Even where a complainant insists that he or she will not go to police, the church believes that it has an obligation to pass intelligence to police (not identifying the complainant) and is currently working on protocols and structures which will enable that to extend to all states and territories (TH, 37.4). “The church complies with all state/territory laws concerning mandatory reporting of abuse and concerning oversight of investigations…” (TH, 34.6, 37.5).
“Continuing in Ministry”
“If a matter proceeds outside of ‘Towards Healing,’ the church still investigates whether there is any possible risk to children or the vulnerable if the accused were to remain in ministry (TH, 36.6).
“The church stands a person aside from any particular ministry or from all ministries, pending investigation, where there is risk of harm to others should the allegations prove to be true (TH, 38.10).” “The church adheres to best practice in deciding the response to those guilty of abuse. In particular, those who have abused children or young people are not given back the power they have abused.”
“If guilt has been admitted or proved, the response must be appropriate to the gravity of what has happened, while being consistent with the civil law or canon law which governs that person’s position. Account will be taken of how serious was the violation of the integrity of the pastoral relationship and whether there is a likelihood that such behavior could be repeated. Serious offenders in particular those who have been found responsible for sexually abusing a child or young person, or whose record of abuse of adult pastoral relationships indicates that they could well engage in further sexual exploitation of vulnerable adults, will not be given back the power they have abused. Those who have made the best response to treatment recognize this themselves and realize that they can no longer return to ministry” (TH, 27; cf. 42.3, 42.4, 42.5, 42.6).
“Being concerned to protect children and other vulnerable people into the future, the church has not always sought lalcization for some older priests and religious but has put in place supervision and support structures while removing them from situations which might entail risk to others. While this may be more onerous than simply releasing such persons into the community, this is seen as contributing more to the safeguarding of the vulnerable.
“For claims of abuse which do not go to criminal law or civil law processes, the ‘Towards Healing’ protocols provide a means by which the church can still respond to those who have been harmed by any of its personnel.”
“Contact persons help provide details of allegations and the effects on the person making them. Independent assessors investigate the allegations and make findings about them. In facilitated meetings church authorities meet victims and come to an understanding of the impact of abuse on them. Through hearing the experiences of victims, church authorities aim to provide assistance in dealing with victims’ present needs and assist in taking some steps toward healing”.
“Experienced facilitators have told professional standards personnel that bishops and leaders who have participated in meeting with victims in this way have themselves grown in understanding of the effects of abuse and in their own spirituality.”
“Prevention of Abuse”
“The church acts in accordance with good child protection practices in verifying the suitability of persons for employment or as volunteers.” “Church bodies… shall have in place procedures, consistent with good child protection and industrial relations practice, for verifying the suitability of persons for employment or for participation as volunteers. They shall obey all applicable laws concerning employment screening and the prohibition of certain convicted persons from employment involving children” (TH, 45.3). “The church has in place procedures to verify the suitability to minister of its clergy and religious who transfer between jurisdictions” (TH, 45.6,45.7).
“The church has in place documents which state the standards of behavior for its clergy, religious and lay personnel and… runs training programs for its personnel….” “The church continues to develop programs within parishes, schools and other church institutions, which assess risk to children and the vulnerable and seeks to put in place structures, procedures and behavior codes which will lead to safe environments.”
“The revised “Towards Healing” restates public criteria according to which the community may judge the resolve of church leaders to address issues of abuse within the church. If we do not follow the principles and procedures of this document, we will have failed according to our own criteria. (TH, Introduction).””
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The Shock Of Conversion; Magnificat Meditation, 11(13)2009
Magnificat Meditation on the Feast of Frances Xavier Cabrini, November 13, 2009
“Whoever Loses His Life Will Save It”
“”Blessed are those who die in the Lord,” and at the very time grace has touched them and converted them to God. They will not accumulate the faults and errors which lie in wait on life’s road for those who have received the rude shock of conversion, those to whom is suddenly given the superhuman precept to live “as not living.” Was it not to the first Christians, all of whom were converts, that Saint Paul said: “Know ye not, that as many of us as were baptized unto Christ Jesus, we were baptized unto his death? We were buried therefore with him through this baptism unto death…”
Every Christian is essentially a “separated” being, separated from the world by the shroud of Christ’s death; but for the convert, it is by a sudden blow – which tears apart his bonds with himself and with others – that he is separated from the world! In one instant, at the hour of grace, all values have been moved about for him. And he becomes a strange being in the eyes of his neighbor whom he loves or tries to love “as himself” – but who does not love or understand him, and looks with a surprise not unmixed with distrust upon this bizarre inhabitant of a city infinitely removed from the roads known to this world. The world is without shame because it is animal but the Christian must bend his efforts to becoming a spiritual man. The world respects greatness of quantity and strength, the spiritual man must glorify God through humility and poverty.
Eternity has descended upon a soul devoted until then to passing time; it has struck it like lightning. The divine storm has laid waste our disorder, and charity has only begun to order within us our different loves.
The intention of the convert from then on hangs suspended to the immutable and eternal truth, perceived within the faith, and the convert must now put to rights all the objects in a house made topsy-turvy by the invasion of grace.”
RAISSA MARITAIN. Raissa Maritain (+1960) was born in Russia. She was a convert to Catholicism and the wife of philosopher Jacques Maritain,
MISLEADING INDICATORS, The Miseducation of Economists,
by Charles Wilber
“How U.S. Economists Missed The Great Recession
Economists, for the most part, failed to foresee the current financial and economic crisis-the worst since the 1930s. Now they cannot reach a consensus on how to resolve it. A few-such as Nouriel Roubini and Robert Schiller-saw what was coming but were ignored. James Galbraith, an economist at the University of Texas, said: “It’s an enormous blot on the reputation of the profession. There are thousands of economists. Most of them teach. And most of them teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless.” When Judge Richard Posner, a leading theorist of law and economics, was asked why the warnings about a looming crisis were ignored rather than investigated, he responded, “Many economists and political leaders are heavily invested in a free market ideology which teaches that markets are robust and self-regulating.” A reasonable question might be: Why listen to economists?
How Economics Works
Economics is a lot like theology, despite the former’s claim to be a science. Theology uses self-evident first principles from revelation or natural law and then, through the use of intermediate principles and judgments, evaluates real world issues. Economics uses an abstract model constructed from similarly axiomatic assumptions about how the world works, such as the principles that people are motivated by self-interest, that wants exceed resources or that resources are mobile and fungible. From these principles, economists then develop economic policies, with appropriate regard for real world exceptions to their models.
The problem for both theologians and economists lies in going from the general to the specific. I cannot speak for theologians, but economists are seldom trained in the specifics of how the real world works. Instead, a graduate student in economics spends all of his or her time learning mathematics, statistics and general theory. These tools are then used to develop policy by finding a data set somewhere and applying the given tools to yield an answer. Economic theory says, for example, that interpersonal wage differences are the result of different amounts of human capital embodied in workers.
Yet how is human capital to be measured? Since no such actual thing exists, a proxy for human capital has to be used, a measurable datum, like years of schooling for a worker. Yet the result of this method is that the theory being tested is rendered self-fulfilling. If a statistical test appears to falsify the theory being tested, the test is rejected and the economist tries different proxies until the test comes out the way he or she expects. The data will be massaged and the test redone until the results “prove” the theory. Why? Because economists believe the tenets of microeconomic theory the way theologians believe the core tenets of their faith.
Becoming an Economist
How do people become economists? David Colander writes in his delightful book, The Making of an Economist, Redux:
Were an undergraduate student to ask an economist how to become an economist, he would tell her to go to graduate school. She might demur, asking, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to go to Wall Street and learn how markets work?” Getting firsthand expe-rience may sound like a good idea to her, but most economists would briskly dismiss the suggestion. “Well, maybe I should get a job in a real business– say, turning out automobiles.” The answer will be “no” again: “That’s not how you learn economics.” She might try one more time. “Well, how about if I read all the top economists of the past-John Stuart Mill, David Ricardo, Adam Smith?” Most economists would say, “It wouldn’t hurt, but it probably won’t help.” Instead, he would most likely tell her, “To become an economist who is considered an economist by other economists, you have to go to graduate school in economics.” So the reality is that, to economists, an economist is someone who has a graduate degree (doctorates strongly preferred) in economics. This means that what defines an economist is what he or she learns in graduate school. Over the past 30 years or so the graduate economics curriculum has become more and more like a program in applied mathematics with a corresponding de-emphasis of economic history, history of economic thought, industry studies and industrial relations. This narrowing of focus gets reinforced as the student finishes the Ph.D. and gets a job in the academy. The greatest rewards go to those who make advances in theory and publish in the half dozen top academic journals. Few articles will be accepted by these journals that do not start with the standard abstract model and then derive some new “interesting” result. Publishing in public policy journals, by contrast, is considered much less prestigious and can even count against an aspiring academic by showing that one is not a serious economist. And of course, after receiving tenure this is what one knows how to do.
Laissez-faire Meets Keynes
The microeconomic model that forms the core of economic theory is a beautiful mathematical construct. Based on the assumptions of self-interested economic actors, perfect mobility of resources, perfect competition, no externalities and so on, the model yields a Pareto optimal outcome- that is, one in which no one can be made better off without making someone else worse off. Since economists rule out interpersonal comparisons of utility, there is nothing more to be said. The result is that economists learn to believe that this is the way the world works, and students drawn to study economics are frequently those who already believe this. In addition, behavioral economics research indicates that as undergraduate students study economics, they themselves demonstrate ever more self-interested behavior.
Until the mid-1930s, most economists believed a “free-market” economy would solve whatever problems arose. If goods and services and inputs into production were bought and sold in markets, they believed, the economy would function optimally. The result was a hands-off policy of laissez-faire economics; government would not interfere with the market.
With the breakdown of the economy in the 1930s, however, laissez-faire economics seemed discredited. In its place came the activist policies of Keynesian economics, which dominated until the stagflation of the late 1970s. One of the cornerstones of Keynes’s thought was his theory of investment. He argued forcefully that investment decisions were closely linked with what he called “animal spirits,” the emotional affect that governs human behavior. The term suggested fragility and instability in markets, even when the term was, in large measure, narrowed to refer to profit expectations or business optimism.
Keynes had ample evidence for his theory in the Great Depression, for even though investment was sorely needed then and the interest rates had fallen below 1 percent, there was still minimal investment. No sane businessperson would invest, regardless of the interest rate, if he or she was convinced that the project would incur losses in the future. Thus the psychological basis of profit expectations makes economics more of an art than a science.
In addition, Keynes rejected the neoclassical notion that wage reductions would restore full employment by leading employers to hire more workers because of lower costs. Instead, he argued that wages were more than simply a cost of production, but formed a part of aggregate demand. If wages fall, he argued, aggregate demand for goods and services and sales will fall. If sales fall, profits will decline and firms will require fewer workers. The experience of the Great Depression seemed convincing to all who were not wedded to classical or neoclassical economics.
A small band of economists, however, never accepted the Keynesian notion that government could play an important role in stabilizing the economy or that markets were not self-regulating. Almost from the beginning there were efforts to reinterpret Keynes to make his macroeconomics compatible with neoclassical microeconomics. Eventually this work pro-duced the idea of “microfoundations,” the method in which any macroeconomics was built on individual behavior that was rational and informed. In this theory of rational expectations, in which the economic actors have perfect knowledge, they act in such a way that any governmental policy will not work unless it is a complete surprise. Thus Keynesian policy is seen as ineffective at best and most probably harmful.
This revised version of laissez-faire economics reigned in the 1980s after the election of Ronald Reagan. At the heart of the theory is a belief that markets are self-correcting. Financial economists developed this into the “efficient market hypothesis,” which argued that markets quickly and correctly incorporate all publicly available information into prices. Under the strong version of this theory, the only reason prices of assets like stocks change is that new information becomes available; thus financial markets could not consistently mis-price assets and therefore needed little regulation.
Between their narrow technical training and their bias toward free markets, most economists failed to see the coming perfect storm of economic recession and financial crisis. In fact they paved the way for it by urging the deregulation of financial markets, which in turn allowed the creation of all kinds of dubious new debt instruments, wildly increasing the leverage of bank capital, and even allowing huge Ponzi schemes to go undetected. When the extremely low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve were added to this, the “bubble” created in the housing industry was a natural outcome, and the spread to the financial sector was catastrophic.
The most astonishing admission of failure of the free market model was that of former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan in autumn 2008, when he admitted that the Fed’s monetary management regime had been based on a “flaw.” The “whole intellectual edifice,” he said, “collapsed in the summer of last year.”
Robert Schiller, an economist at Yale, thinks the failure to foresee the financial collapse is the result of fearing to deviate from the consensus of the profession. And he does not think that economists have learned the lesson: “The rational expectations models will be tweaked to account for the current crisis. The basic curriculum will not change.” Dani Rodrick, an economist at Harvard University said, referring to the free-market model, “We have fixated on one of the possible hundreds of models and elevated that above the others.” John Kay, a financial columnist for The Financial Times, wrote: Max Planck, the physicist, said he had eschewed economics because it was too difficult. Planck, Keynes observed, could have mastered the corpus of mathematical economics in a few days–it might now have taken him a few weeks. Keynes went on to explain that economic understanding required an amalgam of logic and intuition and a wide knowledge of facts, most of which are not precise: “a requirement overwhelmingly difficult for those whose gift mainly consists in the power to imagine and pursue to their furthest points the implications and prior conditions of comparatively simple facts which are known with a high degree of precision.” On this, as on much else, Keynes was right.
I must not end without saying some positive things about economics and economists. There is much new work, even though still seldom included in the core curriculum, that is exciting and holds out varying degrees of hope for a regeneration of economics. Behavioral economics, evolutionary economics, happiness economics, economics of social capital and social norms, and the economics of asymmetric information all hold out hope of breaking through the twin constraints of methodological formalism and competitive equilibrium. Also, behavioral finance theory should provide a sounder basis than does the efficient-market hypothesis for future analyses of financial markets.
Even more encouraging is a growing recognition that economies require ethical behavior in addition to self-interest. Modern economics has selectively adopted Adam Smith’s metaphor of the invisible hand, focusing on the economically wondrous effects of the butcher and baker trading out of their self-interest and ignoring Smith’s prior description of the same deistic hand’s propelling the creation of a virtuous society. Virtue serves as “the fine polish to the wheels of society,” while vice is “like the vile rust, which makes them jar and grate upon one another.” As Jerry Evensky, an economist at Syracuse University, argues for Smith “ethics is the hero-not self-interest or greed-for it is ethics that defends the social intercourse from the Hobbesian chaos.” Indeed, Smith sought to distance his thesis from the notion that individual greed could be the basis for social good. His understanding that virtue is a prerequisite for a desirable market society remains an important lesson.”
ON THE WEB Charles K. Wilber answers readers’ questions. americamagazine.org/qa
CHARLES K. WILBER is emeritus professor of economics and a fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
America Magazine, September 28, 2009
THE RIGORS OF LEARNING
William J. O’Malley, S.J. “…We should never consider the teaching of religion… an easy matter for teachers or students. Real learning is tough. Genuine education is rigorous. We accept that fact for math, English, physics, computer science, but some educators become “soft” in teaching the faith. The old adage “knowledge maketh a bloody entrance” is still true.”
…faith gives future lives purpose and focus…it must be taught in a way that is rationally secure and builds a strong foundation to equip (us) for life in a secularist and pluralist culture.
Malcolm Gladwell – “…the secret of people who achieve success is spending “ten thousand hours” on the project before ever making a break through.”
Father O’Malley – “…Has anyone, student or teacher, yet spent the requisite 10,000 hours to pierce the wall of love and mystery that is the divine desire to be with us?”
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Faith-Based ECONOMICS, A Keynes’ Comeback? by Alan Reynolds
“Keynes makes a comeback, but his ideas are still wrong
A recent Wall Street Journal article describes “the new old big thing” in economic policy: “Around the world . . . policy makers are invoking the ideas of British economist John Maynard Keynes … who argued that governments should fight the Great Depression in the 1930s with heavy spending.” In the New York Times Magazine, Robert Skidelsky appoints Keynes “”man of the year.”” Robert Reich, labor secretary under President Clinton, praises the “rebirth of Keynes.” Long before Keynes published The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money in 1936, he was a highly persuasive and witty writer on economic issues, often appearing in London newspapers and talking on the radio. But that was very long ago, and Keynes died in 1946. Economics has since become less reliant on armchair theorizing and more deeply grounded in statistical fact.
Using quaint Keynesian arguments to rationalize heavy spending is nothing new. But its resurgent popularity is somewhat surprising. Democrats and their favorite economists spent the past 25 years bemoaning the “twin deficits” of the 1980s and then claimed that the strong economy of the late 1990s was the result of President Clinton’s fiscal restraint-the precise opposite of “fiscal stimulus.” Also working in the anti-Keynesian mode, former treasury secretary Robert Rubin co-authored a 2004 paper with forecaster Allen Sinai and Peter Orzsag of the Brookings Institution, who now has been tapped by Obama to lead the Office of Management and Budget. They argued that “budget deficits decrease national saving, which reduces domestic investment and increases borrowing abroad.” Big budget deficits, warned Rubin, Orzsag, and Sinai, would “reduce future national income” and risk a “decline in confidence [which] can reduce stock prices.”
Democrats´ anxieties about future deficits had abated only slightly by January 2008, when the incoming head of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, co-authored a Brookings paper with Jason Furman, nominated deputy director of Obama’s National Economic Council. They strongly favored monetary stimulus over fiscal stimulus, and they warned that “it is critical that efforts to fight a recession do not end up increasing the long-run budget deficit and thus harming long-run growth.” Elmendorf and Furman rightly noted that “the idea that Congress should make legislative changes to tax or spending policies in order to counter the business cycle has fallen into disfavor among economists.”
In November 2000, for example, Skidelsky wrote in The Economist that “what survives today of Keynesian economics is … Keynes’s intuition that… the source of instability lies in the logic of financial markets.” In other words, not much. Skidelsky noted that “monetary policy has supplanted fiscal policy as a short-term stabilizer.” And he concluded that deep experience with governments´ “capacity for error and folly suggests that discretionary policy should be used very sparingly.”
Many of the economists who repeatedly prophesied in ominous fashion about the dangers of relatively trivial deficit spending during the Reagan and Bush years have inexplicably become enthusiastic supporters of deficits likely to exceed 10 percent of GDP during the Obama administration. If asked about this remarkable political agility, they would probably say their change of heart comes because (1) some forecasters now say this recession is going to be extremely long and deep, and (2) the Fed doubled the monetary base (bank reserves and currency) from September to December, but that action did not produce instant recovery.
John Kenneth Galbraith had advice for the first point: “Never base policy on a forecast.” As recently as August, some prominent forecasters were warning of runaway inflation and urging the Fed to tighten. Forecasters failed to predict the financial crisis in September and today have no idea how long or how deep the recession will be. They’re making guesses.
On the second point, the lagging effects of monetary policy can take some time to become apparent. The U.S. economy does not turn on a dime. Some are arguing that what the Fed is doing will be both ineffective and inflationary, which is contradictory. My advice: Never underestimate the Fed.
Keynes was not quite as skeptical of the efficacy of monetary policy as many of his followers have become. He wrote that the effect of increasing the quantity of money is “not nugatory,” and that “the terms on which the monetary authority will change the quantity of money enters as a real determinant into the economic scheme.” But by the 1960s, Keynes’s apostles were minimizing the role of monetary policy and exaggerating the apparently magical properties of government borrowing. Inflation was considered a useful lubricant in the machinery of full employment. In the late 1960s and 1970s, rising inflation was routinely described by a thermal metaphor (“overheating”), and regarded as a social problem to be endlessly fought with fiscal policy (a surtax) and with income policy (wage/price controls), but never with monetary policy.
Milton Friedman’s 1967 address to the American Economic Association described how Keynesian theorizing had come to underestimate the power of the Federal Reserve: Keynes offered simultaneously an explanation for the presumed impotence of monetary policy to stem the Depression, a non-monetary interpretation of the Depression, and an alternative to monetary policy for meeting the Depression, and his offering was avidly accepted… . The wide acceptance of these views in the economics profession meant that for some two decades monetary policy was believed by all but a few reactionary souls to have been rendered obsolete by new economic knowledge. Money did not matter. Its only role was the minor one of keeping interest rates low, in order to hold down interest payments in the government budget, contribute to the “euthanasia of the rentier,” and maybe stimulate investment a bit to assist government spending in maintaining a high level of aggregate demand.
Unlike Keynes´s 1930 Treatise on Money, his General Theory offered no coherent theory of inflation or the price level but instead treated nominal and real income as the same thing. He suggested that “an increase in the quantity of money will have no effect whatever on prices, so long as there is any unemployment.” That idea was later formalized in the Phillips Curve tradeoff, whereby lower unemployment could supposedly be achieved through higher inflation. The results of that policy bias were the disastrous inflationary recessions of 1974-75 and 1980-82.
In 1978, future Nobel laureate Robert Lucas Jr. wrote an obituary for these ideas, “After Keynesian Economics,” along with Thomas Sargent of the University of Minnesota. They showed that “Keynesian… predictions were wildly incorrect and that the doctrine on which they were based is fundamentally flawed.” The hubris of expert demand-management through fiscal policy should have suffered a permanent loss of credibility 30 years ago. But memory is short.
ONE reason Keynesian theorizing never quite disappears is that our national-income model deliberately incorporates Keynesian concepts. Keynes described the overall economy in terms of how money is spent rather than how it is earned. He divided national income into a few arbitrary accounting categories, describing income (denoted by the letter “Y”) as being spent for consumption (“C”), investment (“I”), government (“G”), and net imports (“X”). Ignoring foreign trade, as Keynes usually did, this yields the famous equation: Y=C+I+G “The decisions to consume and the decisions to invest,” he wrote, “between them determine incomes.” The theory remains much too popular–because it is much too simple. Keynes’s discussion of consumption makes no distinction between durable and nondurable goods, and regards consumption as dependent on current income alone, not wealth. Yet young people clearly consume out of human capital (expected future income) and seniors consume out of accumulated financial capital.
How many times have we read the demand-side fallacy – namely, that economic growth “depends on” consumption, because consumption accounts for 70 percent of GDP? To say that income growth depends on consumption would be absurdly circular even in Keynesian terms, because Keynes argues that consumption depends on income. In reality, Keynes attributed sudden gyrations in income to changes in investment. This is a real theory of the business cycle, which may be both the best and least understood part of Keynes’s work. Recessions arise, he said, “where investment is being made in conditions which are unstable and cannot endure, because it is prompted by expectations which are destined to disappointment.” Think of highly leveraged investments in Las Vegas condos a few years ago by those who thought they could resell at a higher price before the teaser rate on the mortgage went higher.
If such wrongheaded private investment collapsed, Keynes worried, fear could keep investment depressed for a long time. So he proposed offsetting the drop in private investment with government purchases. When it came to public works, the more wasteful the better-because unproductive investments would not crowd out private investment: “If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coal mines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again . . . there need be no more unemployment.”
Such reasoning lay behind the infamous “multiplier,” which the late Harry Johnson described as an “inexhaustibly versatile mechanical toy.” Because people employed in burying and digging up bottles will supposedly employ other people by spending their paychecks, the initial increase in government spending was aside from transfer payments, the sources of income are payments for producing something consumers or taxpayers are willing to pay for. Saving generally involves spending too (buying stocks or bonds), with sellers receiving what the buyers spend. The fear-driven urge to keep savings piling up in cash (rather than stocks, bonds, or property) could become deflationary. But that is why the Fed has been meeting that surge in the demand for money with additional supply, while also making it unrewarding for potential investors to just sit on T-bills.
Today’s business press is full of Keynesian stories about the “paradox of thrift” – fretting about consumers’ saving more and therefore buying less. Yet it’s quite possible for both savings and consumption to rise at the same time if income or wealth rises. And incomes and wealth will rise if conditions become more favorable for producers, including workers. Lower inflation, for example, was already raising households’ real disposable income by October and November of 2008.
I sometimes joke about having had trouble with Keynesian accounting in school-because I always wanted to subtract G. It’s not just a joke. Government purchases of real resources absorb labor, land, equipment, and materials, and thereby raise the cost thought to have a multiple effect on total spending. And that, said Keynes, will lead to an “increase in employment and hence in real income.” But checks received for producing nothing are not real income. Real income per worker depends on real output per worker-incentives to produce, not incentives to spend.
If there is no multiplier effect, the multiplier is one–a billion dollars of government spending adds a billion to national income, but no more. Keynes offered a hypothetical example suggesting the multiplier could be ten if people promptly spent 90 percent of added income on consumer goods. That is how he came to imagine that “public works even of doubtful utility may pay for themselves over and over again at a time of severe unemployment if only from the diminished cost of relief expenditure.”
Recent research finds multipliers to be very small at best, if not negative. In 2002, the IMF published “The Effectiveness of Fiscal Policy in Stimulating Economic Activity-a Review of the Literature” by Richard Hemming, Michael Kell, and Selma Mahfouz. They found that “short-term multipliers average around a half for taxes and one for spending, with only modest variation across countries and models.”
The C+I+G rubric is a tautology-true by definition. Yet it seduces people into confusing the uses of income (spending) with the sources of income (production). One person’s spending is another person’s income, but that does not mean the mere act of spending money creates real income. If that were true, then every poor country could become rich by simply dropping money from helicopters.
of production for private businesses, damaging the profitability of private investment. Government transfer payments are a disincentive for those who receive the benefits and for the taxpayers who pay.
Alberto Alesina of Harvard published a major long-term study of fiscal policy changes in 18 economies in The American Economic Review, September 2002. What they found was that “fiscal stabilizations that have led to an increase in growth consist mainly of spending cuts, particularly in government wages and transfers, while those associated with a downturn in the economy are characterized by tax increases.” Ireland experienced miraculous economic growth after cutting spending by an amount equal to 7 percent of GDP (the equivalent of the United States’ elimi-nating two Pentagons’ worth of spending) in the late 1980s, then slashing marginal tax rates on profits and capital gains. As an IMF report explained, Ireland also “significantly reduced the exceptionally progressive nature of the progressive tax structure and increased work incentives.” By contrast, Japan ran budget deficits that averaged 5.8 percent of GDP from 1993 to 2005, and the economy was stagnant. In 1997, Christina Romer, Obama’s choice to head the Council of Economic Advisers, found that a U.S. tax increase amounting to one percent of GDP reduces real GDP by nearly 3 percent within three years, with employment falling 1.1 percent and housing and business investment by 12.6 percent. Explaining the persistence of the damage from tax increases, she suggests “tax changes could have large supply-side effects.”
theory that can explain everything explains nothing. If Keynesian theorists refuse to accept any evidence as contradicting their theory, they are practicing a secular theology, not science. Confronted with such inconvenient facts, Keynesians spin a different theory. When the economy recovers (as it always does), they say that is because budget deficits stimulate demand. If the economy later slumps, they’re likely to say that it is because budget deficits crowd out investment. If the dollar goes up, some Keynesians are sure to argue that budget deficits attract foreign investment. If the dollar goes down, they’ll say it’s because budget deficits create fears of inflation. If inflation goes up, that will be considered proof that budget deficits are inflationary. If inflation goes down, that just proves budget deficits are not large enough. The answer is always the same; only the questions change.
A theory that can explain everything explains nothing. If Keynesian theorists refuse to accept any evidence as contradicting their theory, they are practicing a secular theology, not science. A dozen years of massive public-works spending in Japan were associated with the weakest economic performance of any major economy of the time. Yet Paul Krugman now speculates that “even in Japan . . . public spending probably prevented a weak economy from plunging into an actual depression.” That leaves Keynesians with no testable hypothesis. They predicted that more G in Japan would produce much more Y, through the magic of multipliers. Whenever their predictions fail, Keynesians insist their theory is correct but reality has gone awry.
WHEN the government spends money, or gives it away in rebate checks, that undoubtedly “stimulates” those who receive the cash. But it has the opposite effect on those who pay the bills. Karl Marx, in his 1852 critique of Louis Bonaparte, explained that “the people are to be given employment: initiation of public works. But the public works increase the people’s tax obligations… Taxes are the life source of the bureaucracy. . . . Strong government and heavy taxes are identical.”
When the government borrows from Peter to pay Paul, taxpayers then have an obligation either to pay interest to Peter (forever) or to repay the debt. Government money does not become free money simply because it was borrowed. True, the U.S. government has been able to borrow at extremely low interest rates lately, but that never lasts for long. The extra debt the new administration plans to dump on the backs of future taxpayers will have to be rolled over at higher interest rates, sooner or later (more likely sooner) and the rising cost of debt service will be borne by tax-payers unless the government defaults (which is already the subject of some speculation).
The CBO estimates that the 2009 budget deficit will be S1.2 trillion, or 8.3 percent of GDP. Obama’s “recovery and reinvestment” plan is expected to increase the deficit by $825 billion over two years. Assuming that sum is split evenly between 2009 and 2010, it would raise the estimated deficit to 11.3 percent of GDP this year and 7.6 percent in the following year. And that’s not counting another $350 billion for the TARP slush fund.
A deficit of 11.3 percent of GDP would be nearly twice the previous peacetime record of 6 percent, set in 1983. Japan’s deficit was nearly as high in 1998, however, reaching 10.7 percent of GDP. Did that jump-start Japan’s economy? No, it did not.
The Obama team must not believe their lavish spending plans will do anything useful. They have claimed that spending an extra $825 billion over two years will add or save 3 million jobs. Those had better be terrific jobs, because the cost to taxpayers amounts to $275,000 per job. Why spend so much for so little? Deep recessions are invariably followed by strong recoveries, without gargantuan federal spending schemes. In fact, a 1999 study by Christina Romer showed that the average length of recessions from 1887 to 1929 was 10.3 months-without any Keynesian spending schemes-while the average recession from 1948 to 2000 lasted 10.7 months.
After the 1975 recession, employment grew by 6.2 million jobs in two years and 10.2 million in three. After the 1981-82 recession, employment grew by 5.5 million jobs in two years and 10.1 million in three. The population was much smaller in the past, making Obama’s target of 3 or 4 million jobs appear even less ambitious.
Before rushing to add another trillion dollars in TARP and stimulus spending to a deficit already above a trillion, is it too much to ask for some shred of evidence that “fiscal stimulus” ever worked?
Paul Krugman offers only one dubious success story. He says, “The Great Depression in the United States was brought to an end by a massive deficit-financed public works program, known as World War II.” But in “What Ended the Great Depression?” Christina Romer found that “monetary developments were very important and fiscal policy was of little consequence…. Even in 1942, the year that the economy returned to its trend path, the effects of fiscal policy were small.” Sending most young men overseas to fight certainly reduced the unemployment rate, but wartime price controls and rationing exaggerated measures of real income during the war.
What about post-war fiscal policy? Alan Auerbach of the University of California at Berkeley surveyed that topic in 2002, concluding that there is “little evidence these effects [of fiscal policy] have provided a significant contribution to economic stabilization, if in fact they have worked in the right direction at all.”
Andrew Mountford of the University of London and Harald Uhlig of the University of Chicago have a new statistical study of the U.S. fiscal experience, “What Are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Shocks?” (It can be found at nber.org.) They compare their results with several of the latest studies, including one co-authored by Romer: As with Blanchard and Perotti (2002) we find that investment falls in response to both tax increases and government spending increases and that the multipliers associated with changes in taxes [are] much higher than those associated with a change in spending. This latter result also accords with the analysis of Romer and Romer (2007) who find large effects from exogenous tax changes…. Our results… are thus more in line with those of Burnside, Eichenbaum and Fisher (2003) who find that private consumption does not change significantly in response to a positive [government] spending shock… . The responses of investment, consumption and real wages to a government spending shock are difficult to reconcile with the standard Keynesian approach.
The wonderful Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street appeared a year after Keynes died. In that film Maureen O’Hara says, “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” To persist in believing today, in innocent defiance of 60 years of experience and data, that Keynes devised a simple, safe, and reliable way to prevent or cure recessions requires that sort of blind faith. Given the Left’s antipathy toward faith-based initiatives, it’s hard to imagine how Keynesian ideas endure.”
Mr. Reynolds is a senior Fellow of the Cato Institute and the author of Income and Wealth. Faith-Based ECONOMICS, A Keynes’ Comeback? by Alan Reynolds, NATIONAL REVIEW, FEBRUARY 9, 2009
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Missouri Catholic Conference News, 10(03)2009
HEALTH CARE REFORM SABOTAGED BY PRO-ABORTION AGENDA
As seen on firstname.lastname@example.org – Health care Reform “An historic opportunity to reform the nation’s badly flawed health care system is being sabotaged by a pro-abortion agenda. On Wednesday, September 30, the Senate Finance Committee rejected an amendment by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of any health plan that includes abortion coverage, with the exception of abortions performed due to rape, incest, or a threat to the life of the mother.
If adopted, the Hatch proposal would have put into permanent law the Hyde amendment, which is named after the late Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Illinois). The Hyde amendment prohibits federal funding of abortion except for the limited circumstances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. At present, the Hyde Amendment must be adopted annually when funding programs like Medicaid.
The Hatch amendment would have applied the Hyde abortion restrictions not just to Medicaid but to the federal subsidies people could use to purchase private health insurance through the newly created and federally administered insurance exchanges. People would have been allowed to obtain coverage for non-Hyde abortions through a separate insurance rider, paid for using their own money. By requiring a separate insurance rider, the Hatch amendment would have ensured that no tax dollars would subsidize non-Hyde abortion insurance coverage.
The Finance committee’s bill purports to do the same thing, but fails in this regard. Government bureaucrats would determine the basic per enrollee, per month cost of including abortion coverage. The bill states that the cost of the abortion coverage could be as little as one dollar per month. This is just an accounting game. Media reports notwithstanding, the bill does not require people to pay for their own abortions. Your insurance premiums and your tax dollars would be subsidizing abortion.
Congress is ignoring the views of most Americans that government should not fund or promote abortion. A recent Gallup poll reported that a majority of Americans (51%) now self-identify as “pro-life.” A poll by International Communications Research (ICR) found that 60% of those Americans favoring health care reform oppose the use of federal tax dollars to fund abortion coverage.
For weeks the media has reported that the Senate Finance Committee would likely adopt the “most moderate” of the various health care reform bills under consideration in Congress. That didn’t happen. For those like the U.S. Catholic bishops who support creating access to affordable health care for all Americans, the action by the Senate Finance committee is profoundly disappointing.
There is a moral contradiction in expanding health care for the needy while expanding access to abortion. As Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ pro-life committee, recently stated in his Statement for Respect Life Sunday, “It bears repeating: Abortion – the direct, intentional killing of an unborn girl or boy – is not health care.” For more on the perspective of the U.S. Catholic bishops, visit their health care reform website.
Neither Senators Christopher (Kit) Bond nor Claire McCaskill serve on the Senate Finance Committee. Both need to hear from pro-life constituents NOW before the health reform legislation comes to the full Senate for debate. Your Congress person also needs to hear from you before the House takes up health care reform.”
I don’t want my tax dollars or insurance premiums to subsidize abortion insurance coverage. Only a separate insurance rider for abortion coverage will ensure that my tax dollars and premiums do not subsidize someone else’s abortion. Abortion is not health care but the taking of innocent human life. KEEP ABORTION OUT OF HEALTH CARE REFORM. AMERICA NEEDS HEALTH CARE REFORM, BUT PLEASE KEEP ABORTION OUT OF HEALTH CARE REFORM. Your U.S. Senators are:
U.S. Sen. Christopher (Kit) Bond (R) – Phone: (202) 224-5721
————– U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) – Phone: (202) 224-6154
Your U.S. Representatives are:
District 1 – William Lacy Clay (D) – 202.225.2406
District 2 – Todd Akin (R) – 202.225.2561
District 3 – Russ Carnahan (D) – 202.225.2671
District 4 – Ike Skelton (D) – 202.225.2676
District 5 – Emanuel Cleaver III (D) – 202.225.4535
District 6 – Sam Graves (R) – 202.225.7041
District 7 – Roy Blunt (R) – 202.225.6536
District 8 – Jo Ann Emerson (R) 202.225.4404
District 9 – Blaine Luetkemeyer (R) – 202.225.2956
________________ Helpful Links
Missouri Catholic Conference
U.S. House of Representatives
Prayer for the Uninsured
Father of goodness and love, Hear our prayers
for the uninsured members of our community and for all who are in need.
For those who seek care, but find that it is out of reach,
may they find consolation in your healing presence.
For all who are blessed with health and security,
may they strive to fulfill the needs of those who are sick and insecure.
For leaders who make decisions that affect the health and well-being of others,
may they work to ensure the fundamental right to health care.
We ask this through Christ our Lord who healed those who believed. Amen.
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What Jesus Was Inviting Martha To
“Man thinks of God as a stern and lofty challenge, as the relentless Holy One. But he is nearer to us than ever a lover was to his dearest one; he bears in his heart our deepest concerns and bestows on us his ever watchful care. He is devoted to us with the ceaselessly creative trust in the beloved: “You are! You can! And I will give you everything so that you may become what I have implanted in you.”
Man thinks of God as remote and unreal, and this is the worst of all his misconceptions. Power and awfulness are great things. But it is terrifying to think of God as a pure abstraction, dissolving into nothingness. It is terrifying if all the things around us, houses and trees and people and events, become so real that they oppress us and yet he becomes a mere theory, a concept, an insubstantial sound, or a vague atmosphere. Nevertheless, God is real! How near the heart can feel him! How surely it can experience his awakening and consoling reality! God is the Comforter.
What is the meaning of comfort? How does it come about? Certainly not by reasoning and reckoning. Advice and argument are no comfort: they leave us cold. They leave man alone in his need and suffering. Nothing comes to him from them. But comfort is full of life; it has an immediacy and an intimacy that make all things new.
To comfort, you must love. You must be open and enter into the other’s heart. You must be observant; you must have the free and sensitive heart that finds the paths of life with quiet assurance; you must be able to discover the sore and withered places. You must have the subtlety and strength to penetrate to the living center, to the deep source of life that has dried up. The heart must combine with this source of life, must summon it to life again so that it can flow through all the deserts and ruins within.”
— MONSIGNOR ROMANO GUARDINI, Monsignor Guardini (+ 1968) was born in Italy and was a renowned theologian and writer. — As seen in Magnificat for July 29th, 2009; P. 397.
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THE FAITH THAT SAVES
“Love of God… is the essential principle of the spiritual life; without it everything else is useless. But man is a rational being; one cannot love the unknown. So knowledge must precede love. And if that love is going to mean a complete abandonment of one’s own self, a losing of one’s own life, to find a new self, a new life – to find one’s all, in fact, in membership of Christ, it is still more urgent to have a sure and certain knowledge of Christ and his love. But in this world, the only way one can know God supernaturally is by faith. Reason can give us a certain, but natural, knowledge of his existence and of some of his attributes; but faith alone can tell us of the wonders of his love and his plans for us. Faith alone can put us in vital contact with him, for when we believe in God, we share his knowledge, we lean on him, and draw our strength from him… The Church insists that reason authorizes faith, and so far from asking us to deny our reason, she teaches that faith insists on being founded on reason. Once, however, the reasonableness of believing our authority is established, that authority may ask us to go beyond our reason, but never to go against it… “Faith,” as Prat points out, “is not a pure intuition, a mystical tendency towards an object more suspected than known; it presupposes preaching; it is the yielding of the mind to divine testimony. Faith is opposed to sight, both as regards the object known and the manner of knowing; one is immediate and intuitive, the other takes place through an intermediate agent. Nevertheless, faith is not blind: it is ready to give a reason for itself and aspires always to more clearness.””
–Dom M. Eugene Boylan, O.C.S.O.
Dom Boylan (+1963) was a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Mount Saint Joseph, Roscrea, Ireland
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Election Update, May 8, 2014
Election Day – November 4th 2014 – is just less than six months away.
Some of you, especially those of you in “swing” states, are probably tired of the ads and phone calls. But we hope that you’ll engage with candidates and other voters during this critical time, and encourage registered voters to vote for the common good!
Here are some suggestions from NETWORK for engaging others during this election season:
Contact Your Candidates – Get in touch with your candidates and tell them your priorities for our country and your community. Use NETWORK’s Election Resources – Check out the election information on our web site. Get Out to Vote – As Early as Possible! 1. “Contact your Candidates
We encourage you to contact the campaigns of the candidates running for office in your area. Challenge your candidates to keep focused on the common good as they address the critical issues facing our country.
You can follow these links to send personal messages to the campaigns of John McCain, Barack Obama, and your Congressional candidates:
* John McCain –
* Barack Obama –
* Congressional Candidates –
While you will find some suggested talking points for each letter, we encourage you make each reflect your own views and concerns. Some of the resources below can provide further background information as you craft your letters.
2. Use NETWORK’s Election Resources
The following are some resources from NETWORK to guide you as you talk with your friends and neighbors about the issues at stake in this election and make your choices on November 4th.
* 2008 Presidential Candidate Chart for Conscientious Catholics – Compares the positions of the presidential candidates in the context of Catholic Social Teaching
* CapWiz Election Guide – From this link, click on your state (on the map) or enter your street address to find information about your Congressional, state, and local races, including candidate profiles and issue positions.
* Platform for the Common Good – Presents a vision of and agenda for creating a “more perfect Union” focused on the common good
3. Get Out to Vote – As Early as Possible!
Early voting is a great way to avoid long lines at your polling place on Election Day and to ensure that your vote is counted. If you vote early, you can address any problems with your voter registration and avoid last-minute glitches in voting equipment. Early voting has expanded in many states since 2000. In this election, about a third of the electorate is expected to vote early. Varieties of early voting include: voting on a voting machine at a designated polling place and voting in-person with an absentee ballot. Many states now also offer early/absentee voting by mail with no excuse required. The types and timeframes of early voting vary from state to state. Check out the websites listed below for early voting procedures by state and for links to your own state’s election website.
* NETWORK’s voter registration and early voting information page
* League of Women Voters Education Fund, Election Information Website
* Early Voting Information Center at Reed College
Be sure to take your family, friends and neighbors with you to vote!”
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FORMING CONSCIENCES FOR FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP
“A Call to Political Responsibility
from the Catholic Bishops of the United States USCCB
— Visit the USCCB home page
Welcome to the Faithful Citizenship Web site
of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops!
Download the bishops’ statement
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship in PDF.
– United States Catholic Conference
See the “Faithful Citizenship” image/icon
You can order copies of the statement and
other Faithful Citizenship materials from USCCB Publishing.
Sign up for the Faithful Citizenship e-mail list and
be registered to win an iPod with Catholic content!
Do’s And Don’ts: Political Responsibility Guidelines
to Keep in Mind during Election Season
What’s allowed and encouraged?
What should parishes avoid? Here’s help for:
* All Catholics
* Parish & School Leaders
* Diocesan & Community Leaders
* Young Catholics
VIDEO: Thought for the Day
VIDEO: Take a Faithful Citizenship quiz with Steve Angrisano.
View this video and more.
PODCASTS: Pray a novena for life, justice, and peace:
Novena for Faithful Citizenship. Listen to this Podcast and more. Catholic Communication Campaign USCCB Publishing”
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PRO-LIFE CANDIDATE SURVEY, BACKGROUNDER & EXPLANATION OF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS
Thousands of underage girls, faced with an unplanned pregnancy, currently fall prey to the propaganda efforts of the abortion industry and lose their baby, often without the benefit of discussion and counseling, or even the prior knowledge of the girls’ parents. Often, the decision to obtain an abortion is made hastily and under duress. Under current federal law, abortion clinics are not even required to inform a woman about the physical and psychological risks involved in destroying her unborn child. One of the biggest distortions under the veil of the “pro-choice” argument is that one parent, the father, is given no “choice” regarding the life or death of his unborn son or daughter under the law. Female victims of abortion outnumber baby boys by as high as a three-to-one margin – a statistic ignored by many self-styled “feminist” pro-abortion advocates. Every fiscal year, countless efforts are made by pro-abortion groups and their political allies to insert abortion-funding language into nearly every federal department’s budget. The Clinton Administration rushed approval of the RU-486 abortion pill by skipping adequate testing and disregarding standard approval procedures on a drug designed to kill children, which has also been linked with uterine cancer, carcinogenic risk, severe hemorrhage, and even death. The radical pro-abortion lobby realizes that the American people reject the extremist notion of abortion-on-demand and that controlling the courts is th only way they can successfully advance their agenda. To maintain that control, pro-abortion Senators have resorted to unprecedented obstruction of any and all nominees who do not share their radical views. The Founders never intended for the Supreme Court to create a “constitutional right” to an abortion. For this reason, legislation has been introduced in past congresses to limit the judiciary’s jurisdiction over abortion, thereby allowing the enforcement of federal and state laws to protect the unborn. When it handed down the dreaded Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court admitted that if Congress established when life begins, the so-called “right” to an abortion would “collapse,” as unborn children would then be protected as “persons” under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, A Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would permanently protect all unborn children from dying at the hands of abortionists.
NATIONAL PRO-LIFE ALLIANCE
CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE SURVEY QUESTIONS
Thousands of underage girls, faced with an unplanned pregnancy, currently fall prey to the propaganda efforts of the abortion industry and lose their baby, often without the benefit of discussion and counseling, or even the prior knowledge of the girls’ parents.
Will you support federal legislation giving parents the right to stop any abortion from being performed on their minor daughter, except to prevent the death of the mother?
Often, the decision to obtain an abortion is made hastily and under duress. Under current federal law, abortion clinics are not even required to inform a woman about the physical and psychological risks involved in destroying her unborn child.
Will you support requiring a 48-hour “cooling off” period, and mandatory counseling on the risks and consequences of abortion for persons who believe they may want to have an abortion?
One of the biggest distortions under the veil of the “pro-choice” argument is that one parent, the father, is given no “choice” regarding the life or death of his unborn son or daughter under the law.
Will you support federal legislation requiring spousal notification and consent before any abortion is performed?
Female victims of abortion outnumber baby boys by as high as a three-to-one margin – a statistic ignored by many self-styled “feminist” pro-abortion advocates.
Will you support legislation to outlaw so-called “sex selection” abortions?
Every fiscal year, countless efforts are made by pro-abortion groups and their political allies to insert abortion-funding language into nearly every federal department’s budget.
Would you vote to prohibit the U.S. government from granting any public funds to groups that recommend or perform abortions in the United States or abroad?
The Clinton Administration rushed approval of the RU-486 abortion pill by skipping adequate testing and disregarding standard approval procedures on a drug designed to kill children, which has also been linked with uterine cancer, carcinogenicy, severe hemorrhage, and even death.
Should the federal government bar the distribution of “home abortion drugs” like RU-486?
The radical pro-abortion lobby realizes that the American people reject the extremist notion of abortion-on-demand and that controlling the courts is the only way they can successfully advance their agenda. To maintain that control, pro-abortion Senators have resorted to unprecedented obstruction of any and all nominees who do not share their radical views.
Will you support nominees to the United States Supreme Court and the lower federal courts who will uphold the constitutional right to life of every human person, born and unborn?
The Founders never intended for the Supreme Court to create a “constitutional right” to an abortion. For this reason, legislation has been introduced in past congresses to limit the judiciary’s jurisdiction over abortion, thereby allowing the enforcement of federal and state laws to protect the unborn.
Will you support legislation which, under Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, would remove from the federal courts jurisdiction over the question of abortion?
When it handed down the dreaded Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court admitted that if Congress established when life begins, the so-called “right” to an abortion would “collapse,” as unborn children would then be protected as “persons” under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Would you support and cosponsor a Life at Conception Act defining that life begins at the moment of conception thereby resolving for all time, as stated by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, “the difficult question of when life begins”?
A Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would permanently protect all unborn children from dying at the hands of abortionists.
Will you support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning abortion except to save the life of the mother?
NOTE: These are the exact questions that were sent to the rival candidates of United States House and Senate in our state. We encourage you to use your power as a voter. Insist your candidates support the above pro-life measures.
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John the Baptist: Patron Saint of Self-Giving
John the Baptist: Patron Saint of Self-Giving “The bold affirmations of humanity´s divine origins and future are not peripheral to the Catholic view of things. They are bedrock truths of faith. They are also Catholicism´s answer to a perennial criticism: that faith in Jesus Christ robs us of maturity, condemns us to endless adolescent dependence, and promotes a romantically unrealistic view of the world. “You have made us for yourself,” Saint Augustine wrote of God´s intentions toward us, “and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” That restlessness is a summons to deepen, not avoid, our humanity. That is what meeting Jesus Christ means.
The Catholic view of human dignity and destiny, as revealed in Jesus Christ, is profoundly countercultural in one important respect. For more than two hundred years the idea that human fulfillment comes through self-assertion has been widespread in Western societies. The Catholic claim, which is true to the teaching of Jesus, is precisely the opposite. The Church´s claim is that we reach our fulfillment as human beings not by asserting ourselves, but by giving ourselves – by making ourselves into the gift to others that life itself is to us.
That none of us is the cause of our own existence is no mere accident of biology; it is an empirical fact that, viewed through the lens of faith, reveals a profound truth about the human condition. Self-assertion, in the Catholic view of things, is the “original sin,” the perennial human temptation that beset Adam and Eve at the very beginning of the human story. Self-giving, according to the Second Vatican Council, is the royal road to human happiness: we discover our true selves in a “sincere giving” of ourselves. In a culture that teaches that freedom means self-assertive and radical autonomy from any external authority, this may seem to be weakness, even wimpishness. Jesus reveals a different, deeper truth about the human condition: that “whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Lk 17: 33).”
George Weigel is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
Magnificat, Vol 10, No. 6 August 2008, Pp. 396-397
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On Profiling Muslims by John Byorth
Celebrating Augustine 08(28)2006
John responded to the following e-mail with the article that follows.
“Please read the following carefully and pass it on if you care to. Is there more than a thread of truth below? You decide for yourself!
Interesting article….. Can A Muslim Become A Good American Citizen? Can a good Muslim be a good American? I sent that question to a friend who worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years. The following is his reply:
Theologically – no. Because his allegiance is to Allah, the moon god of Arabia. Religiously – no. Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah except Islam (Koran, 2:256) Scripturally – no. Because his allegiance is to the five pillars of Islam and the Quran (Koran). Geographically – no. Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day. Socially – no. Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews. Politically – no. Because he must submit to the mullah (spiritual leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and Destruction of America, the great Satan.
Domestically – no. Because he is instructed to marry four women and beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Quran 4:34). Intellectually – no. Because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt. Philosophically – no. Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran do not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist. Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic. Spiritually – no. Because when we declare, “one nation under God,” the Christian’s God is loving and kind, while Allah is NEVER referred to as heavenly father, nor is he ever called Love in The Quran’s 99 excellent names.
Therefore after much study and deliberation….perhaps we should be more suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. At the very least, we should be more aware of what a Muslim is, and what a Muslim believes. They obviously cannot be both “good Muslims ” and good Americans.
Call this what you wish….it’s still the truth.
If you find yourself intellectually in agreement with the above statements, perhaps you will share this with your friends. The more who understand this, the better it will be for our country and our future.
Pass it on Fellow Americans if you care to. The religious war of Islam is bigger than we know or understand.
John’s Response: “It is with heavy eyes and skepticism that I read the original email message above as it alludes to the condemnation of an entire religion’s capability to conform to the ideal of a “good American citizen.” This sort of immediacy in a such a complex topic is short-sighted and intellectually vacant. It reminds me of the anti-German and anti-Japanese sentiments here in the United States during WWII–not all Germans were Nazis, not all Japanese supported the Emperor. Perhaps my shirttail relatives, the Blindauers and Schneiders, have some memory of this sort of discrimination in their pasts.
Critical thought and consideration are healthy qualities in arriving at a well conceived opinion, and to that end, the original email can contribute to a breadth of literature. But taken alone, it is an abysmal representation of the matter. It is my gut feeling that few of you who received the email have the time or inclination to pursue further study of Islamic culture and its reconciliation with American ideals to balance it with. If you do, I apologize for the assumption and would invite meaningful discourse on the subject as I am vested in the topic. But knowing, for example, that my own siblings are chin deep in their careers, marriages, elementary school and church activities, their own graduate studies, yard work, and rare moments of recreation that it is not likely. So let me share some insight from my own experiences and research.
To categorize “ALL MUSLIMS” as one in the same is a damaging generalization to understanding a multifarious religion in the same way speaking of all Christians as one united “people” convolutes an understanding of that western religion. As we all know, there are a multitude of divisions within Christianity with diverging views, beliefs, dogmas and sub-cultures: Eastern Orthodox v. Roman Catholic v. Protestant, and then a family tree of sects beyond these. The Muslim community is similar, broken between two major sects who have not agreed since the death of Mohammed in 632 on much of anything. Nearly immediately there were divisions, identifiable today by the two major sects: Sunni and Shi’ites. The hatred between them is prolific, as voracious as the Catholic/Protestant wars in the 16th century, and easily seen in the oppositional relationships pervasive throughout Iraq’s current civil war, etc. Superimposed on these divisions are ethnic tribes. Arabs v. Persians. Turk v. Kurd. Pashto v. Tajik. Uzbek v. Turkmen; whose animosities go back so far in time that most of our Anglo-Saxon relatives were still going Viking. Today, retribution for ancient family and tribal skirmishes trump even religious unity. These two facts alone, sects and ethnicity, make the statement “ALL MUSLIM” incredibly ignorant. Muslims living in America come from more countries alone than make up the whole of European-American backgrounds, and have a diversity of beliefs and cultures that further negate any sort of Muslim generalization.
Theologically, Muslims see Islam as the succession of previous monotheistic religions-Judaism and Christianity. Their Allah is the Allah of Abraham, the ancestor of all three of these major monotheistic religions. This was not lost on Mohammed. In the early years after his revelations, his first order of business was not to divide and conquer the world, but to unify it and its tribes, Arabian and otherwise. In order to do so, he offered considerable tolerance toward non-Muslims. In fact, the Quran commanded Muslims to protect “people of the book,” Jews and Christians who possessed a revealed scripture. Remember that it was the angel Gabriel who revealed God’s word to Mohammed, the same angel who revealed to Mary of her blessing. Unfortunately, whomever authored the email below sites the Koran Sura II verse 256. It is completely way off in their usage of it. Here is what that passage says taken from my Quran bought on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan: “God! There is no God but He; the Living, the Eternal; Nor slumber seizeth Him, nor sleep; His, whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth! Who is he that can intercede with Him but by His own permission? He knoweth what hath been before them and what shall be after them; yet nought of His knowledge shall they grasp, save what He willeth. His throne reacheth over the heavens and the earth, and the upholding of both burdeneth Him not; and He is High, the Great!”
As can be plainly seen, this passage has nothing to do with discrimination of other religions, but affirming Islam’s monotheistic foundation, which, by the way, reiterates our own first Commandment. Sura 259, however, makes some nod towards those who do not believe in God, which excludes, obviously, Jews and Christians, but includes the pagan gods popular in the 7th century Arabian desert.
Indeed, Sura II verse 59 reads: “Verily, they who believe (Muslims), and they who follow the Jewish religion, and the Christians, and the Sabeites–whoever of these believeth in God and the last day, and doeth that which is right, shall have their reward with their Lord: fear shall not come upon them, neither shall they be grieved.”
Religiously, Islam is by nature understanding and tolerant. However, it is the beliefs of but a few radical religious teachers that abnegates tolerance. Doesn’t it seem suspect that ALL MUSLIMS would miss this teaching and subscribe to the teachings of the most radical?
Scripturally, there is no doubt that Muslims ignore the Pentateuch (Torah) and the New Testament as the final word of God. However, by the reasoning of the author, Muslim allegiance to the Five Pillars of Islam precludes their ability to conform to the same natural laws of mankind that have trickled down into our Constitution and Bill of Rights. I might suggest that while there is some dogmatic absolutes, the fact is that the Five Pillars are hardly different from our own Christian teachings in the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, and hence, their differences are interpretative by nature. If you practice the Five Pillars, with the exception of the Haj or pilgrammage to Mecca, it is parallel to practicing the Ten Commandments and fulfilling Jesus’ teachings. Both are amenable to living under the Constitution of the United States and by the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.
I’m not sure how the significance of Mecca in prayer detracts from one’s ability to be a good American, and am interested in the author’s ideas. I do know Jews pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as do some Christians, and Catholics also have Rome, which is much more of a political entity than Mecca. Indeed, should we hold Roman Catholics to the same standard as Muslims? While we don’t point toward Rome to pray, many hold allegiance to the Papacy and his directives on abortion, homosexuality, and fornication. The significance for Mecca is much different than that. Previous to Mohammed’s revelations, Mecca was the trade center of Arabia and a significant place of worship at the Ka’ba shrine for animist cults. When Mohammed’s new Muslim army defeated the Quraysh tribal army outside Mecca, he knew of the cultural significance of the Ka’ba shrine to locals (which he was one), and maintained it out of strategic need for smooth conversion of these people. Today, Muslims point that direction because it signifies submittal to Allah. We do the same as we kneel before the cross.
Perhaps the greatest cleavage in Islam today is the rectification of church and state. For Muslims in America, however, this cleavage is not as prominent because of the existing separation between the two. In developing Muslim countries, ie. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc., the tensions are self-evident and being worked out, although again, complicated by tribal divisions and variations in tribal law. In America, however, one should consider the fact that many Muslim-Americans (one figure is 13 million Americans) immigrated here because of their desire to live freely from strict interpretations of Shari’at (religious social laws) and Purdah (laws governing women) Laws, and made considerable sacrifices to realize this dream. One article of a mullah in Brooklyn was striking to me in this way. I believe it was the New York Times, and if you do a search of nytimes.com around March 3 (I think the 5th, if memory serves me) I’m sure you will find it. The mullah is young, in his 40s, and spoke of the problems he faces rectifying Islamic law and American culture. His prerogative was that Muslim-Americans struggled with fidelity in their relationships, divorce and behavior (drugs, alcohol, pre-marital sex). His feeling was that it was the degradation of adherence to Islamic social norms because of an immersion in a much more liberal American culture. The thing is, I think that many of us would agree these things are the rot for all who strive to lead a moral life, and at that, one that makes us good American citizens.
Domestically, there is another cleavage between more modern Muslims and those who subscribe to traditional interpretations of the Quran. In much of the Islamic world, this translates into a cultural difference between urban and rural people. The norm in urban centers IS NOT polygamy. This is a tribal characteristic. Urban Palestinians, Lebanese, Afghans, Egyptians, Jordanians, etc. do not have multiple wives, perhaps because they understand that it is hard enough to please one woman much less four (ha!). Seriously, urban dwellers look down on such archaic interpretations of polygamy.
Sura IV Verse 34 does not prescribe four wives or beating and scourging and all the rest. It reads: “And whoever shall do this maliciously and wrongfully, We will in the end cast him (emphasis added) into the Fire; for this is easy with God.”
The verse is in relation to the 33 verse: “O believers! Devour not each other’s substance in mutual frivolities; unless there be a trafficking among you by your own consent: and commit not suicide: of a truth God is merciful to you.”
As you can see, the verse calls for the eternal damnation for anyone meets wrongdoing with wrongdoing or complicity. Note that it is this verse that damns suicide, hence suicide bombings. This is a seriously held belief among Afghan Muslims. The verse that talks of four wives is as follows: Sura IV Verse 3: “And if ye are apprehensive that ye shall not deal fairly with orphans, then, of other women who seem good in your eyes, marry but two, or three, or four; and if ye still fear that ye shall not act equitably, then one only; or the slaves whom ye have acquired: this will make justice on your part easier. Give women their dowry freely; but if of themselves they give up aught thereof to you, then enjoy it as convenient, and profitable:”
The verse does NOT command Muslims to marry four women, but only as many as a man can support equitably. This is common among many tribal cultures. Granted that was a long time ago for many cultures, and it is a bit weird for us monogamists of modern day. But consider that there are sects of LDS in Utah that still grasp at some straws to legitimize their bigamy. I don’t think this makes them bad Americans, just bad husbands.
Intellectually and philosophically, much of the Islamic world is diametrically opposed to western thought and culture, as the author writes, but not all. For one, we arrived at our Constitution through an evolutionary tract that included 1000 years of darkness, ie, the Dark Ages. We had to rebirth those classical ideas of ancient Greece and Rome through the Renaissance and the Age of Reason, the Reformation, and finally the Enlightenment, which gave birth to a multitude of social ideas; communism, socialism, liberalism, republicanism and transcendentalism among them. But we had to work at it, and it took revolution, the hapless deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents and not so innocents. So it is perhaps an unnecessary judgment to say that much of the Islamic world is living in its own Dark Ages-it is evident. The Ayatollah of Iran recently said as much in his defense of scientific progress for nuclear energy-his point was that Persia was once the leader of the world in science, literature, architecture, etc., and had a responsibility to return to that greatness. Now, as much as that scares the hell out of me, it does point to the backward nature of Islamic countries at this point in time. However, I wonder if this is the choice of the oppressed masses or the queer authoritarian and dictatorial Islamic regimes, like the Taliban, that have made this decision. I’d guess not. The aegis of totalitarian regimes is not to allow choice, so even our own “intellectual” ability as modern Americans to quantify universal Islamic belief in democracy is replete with holes.
Democracy requires an educated public, John Dewey once argued when the US government was wavering on free public education. The inability for Muslim people to adhere to democratic principles is not the Quran, but ignorance. You see this in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq at this very moment. They are struggling with democracy not because of their religion, but, in the case of Afghanistan, because of the “brain drain” that has occurred after thirty years of regime changes, war and oppression. All the smart people have left and are in the United States, in Virginia, the Bay Area, and in Germany, etc., leading productive, democratic lives. Give these people left behind opportunity and their potential to become good American citizens is endless (of course, some have no chance so long as they adhere to strict 7th century interpretations of the Quran). For perspective, forget not that two of the greatest philosophers in the history of mankind were Rumi and Hafiz, and were from Central Asia and under considerable Islamic influence. Only through education and opportunity can people of oppressive Islamic countries realize such greatness as the freedoms of America, and rise to our standard of a good citizen.
The author of the email below is correct in pointing out one possible interpretation of incompatibilities between the secular/Judeo-Christian West and Islamic East, but there is so much more to it than what I read below. To me, this email suggests that ALL MUSLIMS are fundamentalists and radical, and implies a certain discrimination that seems to be based on ignorance and misunderstanding-the very traits that demarcate Islamists from moderate Muslims. There are a great many good Muslim-American citizens, I’ve met some, and to ignore their accomplishments of overcoming despots, narrow minded mullahs, and oppression only to come to the United States to realize religious freedom, growth and opportunity-pursuit of the American Dream-only serves to perpetuate this horrible division among people who believe in the same God; none of which I imagine Jesus would condone, but I am not authorized to make judgments on His behalf.
I urge anyone who has read the email below not to succumb to unbridled suspicion of Muslims, nor to judge their ability to be “good American citizens.” Instead, learn more about their religion, culture and communities, and reach out to them. Strengthen ties with them, because they are our first line of defense against radicals, not our supposed Intelligence. Indeed, it was a Muslim who tipped the Royal Police off to the planned airline bombings in London a few weeks ago. That person is an ally, a quintessential citizen, and someone I’d like to shake hands with and thank.”
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Honor Your Father and Mother, Johnson CSJ
“When you whispered a prayer this morning while sipping your coffee and eating your toast, to whom exactly did you pray? An old man with a beard somewhere beyond the clouds? Sophia, otherwise known as Holy Wisdom? The Holy Spirit? Jesus?
Elizabeth Johnson wants to know. In her new book, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God (Continuum, 2007), she examines how Christians the world over have experienced the presence of God in new ways since the last half of the 20th century. Theologians agree, she says, that we´re in a “golden age of discovery.”
Even before her groundbreaking 1992 book, “She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse” (Crossroad), Johnson has been fascinated by how believers view God. “This might sound a little archaic,” she told Fordham Online, “but I take my cue from Thomas Aquinas-the study of God and all things in the light of God. That articulates for me what theology is about.”
A sister in the Congregation of St. Joseph who hails from Brooklyn, Johnson has been president of both the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society. Winner of the U.S. Catholic Award in 1994, she served as a member of the national Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue, a consultant to the Catholic bishops´ Committee on Women in Church and Society, a theologian on the Vatican-sponsored dialogue between science and religion, and on the Vatican-sponsored study of Christ and the world religions.
We´re hearing a lot from atheists today who want to persuade us that God doesn´t exist.
What do you as a theologian think about that?
Atheists are rejecting the old images of God that don´t really work that well even for Christians anymore. Just who is the God in whom Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin), doesn´t believe? I found a great quote from a review of his book, in which the reviewer said that Dawkins envisions God “if not exactly with a white beard, then at least as some kind of chap, however supersized.” This is not the Christian God.
Also a lot of the atheists writing today are scientists who just want to clear the deck of God so they can do their science. They´re primarily opposed to the fundamentalist approach.
You´ve said that Christians today have many “stale, worn-out images of God that no longer satisfy.” What are they? We might be a bit beyond Michelangelo´s image from the Sistine Chapel of the old man with the beard, but nevertheless, God is too often still a “chap.” It´s just assumed that God is this single individual with more power than anyone else, who intervenes now and then to get certain things done, and whom you need to satisfy on a number of levels. Again, this isn´t the God of Christian revelation. When you hear talk radio or people in the press talking about God, this is the God they´re talking about. This image is so unworthy of us.
My daily bread is teaching college students and graduate students, and I find among them that this image just doesn´t work. Especially as they rebel against their parents, which one tends to do at that stage, it´s even less attractive to have the super-parent idea of God. Both in this and other countries, I see a terrific hunger for a mature faith, but that´s not being fed by much of the preaching that people hear, most of which also uses this stale idea of God.
Where did this image come from?
In the Middle Ages, or even at the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, ideas about God were drawn mainly from scripture and sacramental practice and from people´s spirituality. Once the Enlightenment started in the 17th century, as Western philosophers began to throw off authority and to sort out ideas on their own, theologians adapted that method as well. They began to reason toward the fact of God´s existence on the basis of natural phenomena, and they came up with the idea of a superior being at the apex of the pyramid of being. We call it the God of theism.
What is forgotten in this image is that this God became incarnate, that God is everywhere present in the Spirit, that God is filled with compassion. It became a much more distant God, while at the same time ironically not distant enough because God became just a more powerful player than we are.
This theistic God is also in competition with the world. It´s a zero-sum game: more of God, less of me; more of God, less of the natural world; more of God, less of my own freedom. That is an aberration from the Christian understanding of God, which is that God set the world up in its own integrity and gives us our freedom. The more we have of God, the freer we are. All of this got lost after the Enlightenment.
Before the Enlightenment, were biblical images more alive in the church?
I don´t want to paint any age as the golden era, including our own, although I think we´re in a renaissance right now. If you look at the Middle Ages, you see God spoken of as “the fountain fullness overflowing.” Richard of St. Victor speaks of the deep relationality that is at the heart of God.
Theologians in the Middle Ages wrote tomes on these ideas. We didn´t have anyone doing that during the Enlightenment, with the exception of Cardinal John Henry Newman in England, but he went back and read the Fathers of the church, which caused the whole God question to open up for him again.
The Enlightenment didn´t touch the East in the same way. Even today if you read Christian Orthodox theologians, you get a much different sense of the fullness of God´s trinitarian life, inviting the world into communion. It´s so different from this monarchical, solitary ruler God that we have, the God about whom we ask questions like, “Why is God letting this illness happen to me?" What did I do that´s wrong?
What is attractive about this idea of God?
This all-powerful God can bless you or curse you; therefore you better please him to get the blessing and not the curse. That´s a pattern of relationship that people have with their parents. It´s familiar. It brings a certain measure of security. Also many people don´t know any other God. They haven´t been exposed to any other understandings.
There are some exceptions: You see some wonderful renewed parishes, for example, where people are living a more biblical approach to God. And this image of God is not widespread in the Hispanic community, where people have the sense of God walking with them. Their home altars and other expressions of their popular religion all indicate the closeness of God, a whole different sort of relationship.
Hispanic theologians today say that their community did not go through the Enlightenment. Conquistadors brought with them to the Americas late medieval Catholicism, which blended with indigenous religion. While Europe went through the Enlightenment, the believers in the Americas did not.
But in general I think the image of the theistic God is very widespread in our country. You hear it in sermons. And it´s not just me saying this: The U.S. bishops have said that preaching in our country is in a very bad way in terms of the Catholic tradition. The late German theologian Karl Rahner, S.J. was saying the same thing back in the 1950s and ´60s. He said that the words of the preacher fall powerlessly from the pulpit “like birds frozen to death and falling from a winter sky.” I sit and listen to some sermons and I think, “Come on, think of all the wonderful things you could say with this text.”
How does one´s theology of God affect one´s everyday life and faith?
If you´re a believing person, you draw your deepest values from that. How you make moral decisions and vocational decisions, how you treat other people – it all flows from how you see God working.
None of the newer theologies of God are innocent in terms of politics. Every one of the ideas I explore in my book has political implications. They are concerned with power and who uses it and the powerless and how they are affected. So if you let any one of those theologies get into your understanding, you´re going to vote differently, you´re going to volunteer differently, you´re going to use your money differently. Theology, I think, can be very powerful as a tool. It´s my conviction that we all have a theology, so how it shapes your life depends on what it is.
What are some of the theologies of God that you´ve been investigating?
They include images from feminist theology, from Latin America and from Latinos in the United States, as well as the God who emerges from encounters with religious pluralism. Also God as envisioned in Europe after the Holocaust, God as seen through the African American experience, and several others.
Each of the new images of God I studied has biblical grounding, each refers in some way to the Trinity, each of them is oriented in some way to religious practice. All of them support the idea that God is deeply involved, deeply concerned with what happens in the world. If you love God, then your heart needs to be conformed and configured to God´s heart. You have to feel that way toward the world as well. There will certainly be differences of opinion about how to do that.
You mentioned the Trinity. This solo God of the Enlightenment doesn´t seem to have anything to do with the Trinity. The Trinity has been just about lost forever in the West. Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the Vatican, says the Holy Spirit is the Cinderella of theology in the West, in the kitchen doing all the work while the other two get to go to the ball.
The view of God in classical theism also does not see God through the lens of Jesus Christ, which is basic to the Christian understanding of God. Therefore it leaves out everything that is beautiful and attractive and that makes people want to be Christian. Jesus and his life, death, and Resurrection just don´t factor in.
The new theologies from Africa and Latin America, on the other hand, are examples of a new kind of trinitarian theology. They don´t let Christ and the Spirit drop away. They´re rooted in an understanding of God related to the world. These understandings are so basic to Christian faith and tradition, I call them a gift to all the rest of us.
You frequently use the term “the living God.” What does that mean??
It´s a term found all through the Bible. I love it. The living God is always ahead of us, always surprising, always calling us to come ahead. Wherever “the living God” is used, it indicates a life of fullness, of flowing water, new reality, new justice, new peace. The different theologies I studied use different words for it: getting back to the God of the Bible, the God of Jesus Christ, the God of life.
These new theologies of God start with human experience.
What´s the significance of that?
When I was writing She Who Is, it dawned on me that our original approach to God, where God first reaches us, is through our experience-and that´s the Spirit. The Spirit is present in nature, in our human interactions, in the depths of our own soul, at the end of our reaching out in love.
Take the Catholics of Latin America. Where did they get the idea of God as liberator? They didn´t just say one day, “Let´s have a new idea of God.” It started in the struggle for justice, for a well that had clean water so babies wouldn´t die before their first birthday. In that work, and in their prayer and reflection over that work, people said, “This is what God wants us to do.” Then when they read the Book of Exodus, they read it with new eyes because of their new experience.
In every single one of these theologies, it is experience that opens the door, that leads the way in. Then theologians come along and think about it, but they couldn´t do that without the experience of the Christian people first. We believe, as St. Anselm said a thousand years ago, that theology is faith seeking understanding. You have the church–the community–and theologians reflect on what the community´s faith means. The experience is there as a primary source.
What is revelation then?
In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, revelation became highly intellectualized. It came down to doctrine: We knew certain truths, certain beliefs. You´re a Christian if you believe this. I would say Vatican II´s Dei Verbum, The Constitution on Divine Revelation, changed all that. Its opening sentence says, “In his goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of his will.” In the gift of God´s own self comes understanding something of who God is, so revelation becomes much more experiential right from the start. That experience is then articulated in words and finally it is written down. We call it revelation.
I always regret that word, revelation. It sounds like an object, but it´s a relational dynamic that has brought to birth wisdom in the Christian community about God and fidelity in the way people live.
What we are called to believe is actually a mystery, God´s own giving self. Rahner uses the image of the horizon: You see it, but you never get there. You can´t control it or comprehend it, because then it wouldn´t be God.
How can different images of God all work together and still be Catholic?
There can be many theologies among people who still believe in one Creed.
Theology is simply an articulation of what faith means in this time and place for this people, so that will change over time. The Creed is a point of unity. We come together over the heart of the confession of faith and the reception of the Eucharist that unites the community.
Isn´t there the potential for so many different theologies to get out of control?
Yes, but whose control, exactly? Certain theologians who wrote in every one of these theologies have been criticized by Rome. This approach can be threatening to a hierarchical power structure, because it says that truth also resides among the baptized, that those who are filled with the Spirit have a wisdom.
I don´t mean to knock the institutional church. Rahner wrote that the church has its charisms and its offices, and that often there´s tension between the two. Theology is a charism, and the office is often in tension with that. The good function of the church office is unity; it keeps everybody from losing the heart and soul of what we believe, from falling into fads and trends and that sort of thing. I would never not want to have a central authority that functions as a uniting factor. Let´s talk about “God acting womanish,” as you call it.
Where does this theology stand today?
There are major images of God in a female form in scripture and in our mystical tradition especially. Maternity is the main one, but the wisdom texts about Sophia are another. Some theologians make the case, too, that the Spirit has a female name in Hebrew and acts in feminine ways.
Then come the questions of why aren´t we using those images of God in our liturgies, why aren´t we teaching young people that this is an approach to God that can be used as well? The three major words for God are still Father, King, and Lord in Christian hymns, prayer, and liturgy. What that sets up unconsciously, whether you want it to or not, is the assumption that men have more in common with divinity than women do. Those three particular images also are very patriarchal because they refer not just to a male but to a ruling male, somebody who is dominating or being father in a patriarchal sense. Now that isn´t, of course, what scripture means or what Jesus meant when he called God Abba.
If you combine Father, Lord, and King with the God of theism, then you´ve got a problem. That´s one of those static ideas that does not feed the souls of a lot of people, men as well as women.
It´s very simple. Women are no longer relating to men in their lives as lord and king, and father no longer has that sense of control and domination that it had in a previous era. Women are no longer relating to their own fathers that way, let alone marrying men who act as fathers that way. Look at the partnership concept in marriage. Fathering is much more nurturing than it used to be.
There´s little that women then can bring into a relationship with God who is going to be their lord and king or their father. It goes blank, and not only that, but women are very uncomfortable with it. It´s not just neutral, it´s negative. Women think, “I don´t want a dominating man: Go away until you grow up and learn how to treat me like a human being.” When that comes into the religious life of women, it becomes the heart of this crisis. You can have all the dictums in the world, but the old images just don´t work anymore.
What does it mean that we call God by male terms?
I have this sentence that I quote over and over again: The symbol of God functions. The male symbol of God functions to privilege a certain way of male rule in the world and to undercut women´s spiritual power, women´s own sense of themselves as made in the image of God.
We women have to abstract ourselves from our bodies to see ourselves in the image of God if God is always depicted as male. It has serious ramifications for spirituality and for the identity of believers and for the community.
Why is there so much resistance to using feminine images of God?
I think the rejection of the inclusive language lectionary, which the U.S. bishops applied for in 1992 and which was rejected by the Vatican, was a clear recognition that once you start making room for even nonsexist language about humanity, let alone feminine images of God, there´s a fear that women will want to move in socially and politically, and then you´ve got a challenge to church structure as we know it. I think there´s a great deal of fear of women´s power.
Can you imagine a church that took female images of God to heart?
Let me say, I think women and men are equal in sin and grace. I don´t think women are going to be the salvation of the church or of this country. I think we can all get on power trips. I´m convinced of it, maybe because I´ve been in a women´s religious community, and I have six sisters. I am disabused of this romantic notion of women´s greatness as compared to men.
At this moment in history, women have figured out what´s wrong with the current pattern and how their experiences have led to different ways of relating, organizing, and running things. Given the chance, they would bring that pattern into the church and let it play off and see what develops.
How do you imagine God when you pray?
Writing She Who Is was a deeply spiritual experience for me. By the time I had finished, I had migrated out of the patriarchal church and the patriarchal notion of God. I have never been able to pray that way again. The notion of God as the one who embraces us, in whom we live and move and have our being, is so much more my sense of God than the grand old man in the sky. Even when I´m at liturgy and I hear male language in prayers, I experience it differently.
You don´t revert back?
I had a very good friend who died five years ago of a brain hemorrhage, and I was the health care proxy for him. During the days in the hospital when he was unconscious and we faced a decision about removing the breathing tube, I was absolutely conscious of Sophia embracing him and me in this crisis. He was moving toward death, and I was guarding his death like a lion against the doctors who wanted to do a million procedures.
That to me was the moment I realized I could never go back. In a moment of crisis, you often revert to your childhood image of God. What I reverted to was this cosmic sense of the Spirit of God in even our dying, summoning us, walking with us.
The God who walks with us
What does God look like in the U.S. Hispanic community?
Is it different from God as envisioned by the people of Latin America?
The difference is in the local setting. In this country we don´t have civil wars, we don´t have the extreme difference between the wealthy and the poor that gave rise to liberation theology (although we´re getting there). We also have democratic processes, and Hispanic people have made it into the upper echelons of government.
The history of the Hispanic people in the U.S. is that they encountered and then became swallowed up in a Protestant, European culture, where even their language was under pressure.
Hispanic theologians in this country will say: We´re not doing liberation theology. They think liberation theology did not give enough credence to popular religion, that it neglected daily life in the family that shows itself in fiesta, and in what Hispanics call flor y canto, flower and song, a metaphor for beauty.
At a fiesta, the clergy and nuns are welcome, but they are not necessary. The people will have the fiesta anyway, which has a deep religious component. God accompanies the people, sustaining and strengthening them. Their love for Our Lady of Guadalupe, Good Friday processions, Posadas before Christmas, all speak of a God who understands the struggles and joys of human existence.
The sense of God´s closeness can be such a benefit to non-Hispanics like myself who don´t have that religious ambiance around us in our daily lives. All these new theologies can teach us something, but especially this one.”
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Blessed John XXIII Daily Plan for Life
How Much More Will the Father Give
Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes. Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life. — BLESSED JOHN XXIII Blessed John XXIII (t 1963) was beatified on September 3, 2000. As seen in the October 2007 Magnificat, Pp. 154-155
Immigration, the American Economy and the Constitution
“We accept their labor, their separation from family, their taxes…, yet we do not offer the undocumented population the protection of our laws.” “”Our laws should be configured to ensure that even the low-skilled laborer, who sits at the bottom of the economic ladder, reaps the fruit of their labor in dignity and with full rights in the society,” said Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony May 8 at the Fifth Annual John M. Templeton Jr. Lecture on Economic Liberties and the Constitution at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. The John Templeton Foundation is a “philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life´s biggest questions,” according to its mission statement. Cardinal Mahony called current immigration laws unjust and said that “from the Catholic perspective, the ultimate question in the immigration debate is whether we want to live in a society that accepts the toil of undocumented workers with one hand and then treats them like criminals with the other.” The cardinal pointed out that there are many jobs to be filled in the U.S. economy, but immigration laws do not mirror this need. He stated that 90 percent of the nearly 500,000 unauthorized immigrants who enter the U.S. each year find jobs within six months, but only 5,000 immigrant visas are available each year. Cardinal Mahony restated the U.S. church´s call for comprehensive immigration reform, one that grants legal status and a chance at permanent residency for undocumented people currently in the U.S. as well as the opportunity for future migrant workers to “enter, depart and re-enter the country safely and legally.””
See the text of Cardinal Mahony´s address in Origins, for May 31, 2007, Volume 37, Number 3.
Note: “Light rather than the smoke of ‘flint ‘n steel.”
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LifeLine, Spring 2007,
Newsletter of the National Pro-Life Alliance
New Legislation Would Limit Court Jurisdiction Over Abortion
NPLA Members Target Pro-Abortion Judicial Tyranny
New Legislation Would Limit Court Jurisdiction Over Abortion
Constitution Authorizes Congress to Limit Court Jurisdiction
“National Pro-Lite Alliance members have long led in the fight to legislatively overturn Roe v. Wade and end abortion-on-demand by passing a Life at Conception Act.
Now, to strengthen those efforts National Pro-Life Alliance Legislative Director Mike Muench has announced the opening up of a new front in the attack on Roe v. Wade that would remove jurisdiction over abortion-related cases from the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts.
The bill – The Sanctity of Life Act (H.R. 1094) – was introduced by Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) on February 15 of this year.
Sanctity of Life Act Asserts States’ Right to Ban All Abortion The bill establishes that “each state has the authority to protect lives of unborn children residing in the jurisdiction of that State.”
Further. H.R. 1094 would remove ail authority from the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts to review any cases involving the regulation or prohibition of abortion, the regulation of abortion providers or the “provision of public expense of funds, facilities, personnel, or other assistance for the performance of abortions.”
The Sanctity of Life Act would remove the judicial roadblock that currently halts all meaningful pro-life legislation.
“For years pro-lifers have been frustrated by the courts striking down even the most modest measures to protect the unborn, but most Americans don’t realize that Congress has the Constitutional authority to bring an end to this pro-abortion judicial tyranny,” explained National Pro-Life Alliance Legislative Director Mike Muench.
H.R. 1094: Congress’ Answer to Pro-Abortion Judicial Activism Article III. Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states: “The Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact. with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.” (Emphasis added)
So Congress clearly has the Constitutional authority to limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as it sees fit. And where the lower federal courts are concerned, the Constitution explicitly grants Congress full authority over them.
Article 1. Section 8 states that “The Congress shall have power … to constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.” In other words, the lower federal courts owe their very existence to Congress. Thus any authority that the lower federal courts may have first had to be given to them by Congress.
Article III, Section I further slates “The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.”
Losing in Legislatures, Abortionists Rely on Judicial Edicts to Maintain Abortion- on-Demand. “Looking at the current state of affairs in the United States, with the judicial branch routinely legislating from the bench and striking down legitimate laws passed by the legislative branch that they disagree with. it’s easy to forget that the founding fathers intended for the judicial branch to be the weakest branch of the United States government,” said Muench.
Yet activist judges have used the court-created precedent of Roe v. Wade to block enforcement of scores of pro-life protections passed by popularly elected legislators.
Even the so-called “National Abortion Rights Action League” had to admit that after their lobbying and campaign efforts . had failed, they had to rely on judicial edicts to block at least nine state parental notification laws, twenty-six late term abortion restrictions, seven women’s right to know laws and fifteen other abortion bans.
“The fact is the abortion lobby never made its case to the American people and succeeded in passing legislation to legalize abortion.”
“Instead, they relied on a handful of activist pro-abortion Supreme Court Justices to dictate abortion policy to the entire nation by inventing a ‘right to privacy’ from thin air.” continued Muench.
“The abortion lobby’s reliance on the courts continues to this day, some 34 years after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, with courts striking down nearly every attempt to protect the unborn.”
Maximum Pro-Life Pressure Needed to Defeat Judicial Activism “Pro-lifers have even seen the courts strike down laws banning partial-birth abortion – a procedure in which late-term, viable babies are partially delivered and then killed by an abortionist who removes their brains with a suction device stabbed into the base of their skull.”
“If pro-lifers want to make any meaningful progress in the fight to defend the unborn, then we must force Congress to finally stand up to judicial tyranny and act on its Constitutional authority,” continued Muench.
Precedent Exists for Congress Limiting Court Jurisdiction If the Sanctity of Life Act passes Congress, it would not be the first time that Congress has exercised its authority to limit the jurisdiction of the courts over an issue.
In fact. Congress has repeatedly withdrawn jurisdiction from federal courts when it became dissatisfied with their performance and the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld Congress’ power to do so.
In 2002. former pro-abortion Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) successfully passed an amendment prohibiting all federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from hearing cases relating to brush clearing in his home state.
“A showdown between the courts and Congress has been brewing for a long time and it’s high time that Congress asserted itself. That’s why, in conjunction with our continued efforts to pass a Life at Conception Act to legislatively overturn Roe v. Wade, the National Pro-Life Alliance is launching a grass-roots effort to strip the courts of jurisdiction over abortion by passing a Sanctity of Life Act.” declared Muench.
“We’re rallying pro-lifers from coast to coast who are fed up with activist pro-abortion judges dictating the country’s abortion policy to bring maximum pressure to bear on Congress to assert its Constitutional authority to reign in the courts once and for all.”
Members are encouraged to call their leaders in Congress at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 1094. Representative Ron Paul’s Sanctity of Life Act.”
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New Legislation Would Limit Court Jurisdiction Over Abortion
NPLA Members Rally Behind Renewed Effort to Overturn Roe Life at Conception Act Reintroduced with All-Time Record Support
Life at Conception Act Continues to Gain Momentum in Congress
“January 22, 2007 marked the 34th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which struck down laws in every state protecting the unborn and legalized abortion in the United States for virtually any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
In the 34 years that have followed, more than 45 million innocent unborn babies have been slaughtered at the hands of abortionists – which is why it was so fitting that Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) chose this dark anniversary to reintroduce legislation that would legislatively overturn Roe v. Wade and end abortion-on-demand.
The bill would end the judicially-invented holocaust by defining constitutionally-protected “personhood” as beginning at the moment of conception.
This is something the Supreme Court itself admitted in Roe v. Wade that Congress had the power to do.
Life at Conception Act Shatters All-Time Record for Original Cosponsors An all-time record of 64 current members of the House of Representatives have signed on as original cosponsors of Duncan Hunter’s Life at Conception Act (Right to Life Act), H.R. 618.
This is nearly double the number from the last Congress, which bears testimony to the increasing momentum to legislatively end abortion-on-demand.
The legislation has been rapidly gaining steam over the last several Congresses, thanks principally to the activism of National Pro-Life Alliance members across the country.
National Pro-Life Alliance members have been at the forefront of the fight to legislatively overturn Roe v. Wade for each of the past three Congresses.
Their grass-roots lobbying efforts have produced undeniable momentum for passing a Life at Conception Act and helped produce a record 101 total cosponsors in the last Congress – double the amount of Congressional support from the prior Congress and three and a half times the level of support from the Congress prior to that.
Before National Pro-Life Alliance members grabbed the attention of Congress by mobilizing a massive grass-roots movement behind a Life at Conception Act, politicians claimed the “pro-life” label while failing to promote any measures that would significantly impact abortion-on-demand.
But with the increased pressure for real pro-life action in the form of a Life at Conception Act, politicians on both sides of the aisle can no longer get away with claiming to be pro-life without supporting this measure aimed at ending abortion-on-demand once and for all.
National Pro-Life Alliance President Martin Fox is pleased with the progress being made towards passing a Life at Conception Act and credits the dedication of NPLA members with the increased Congressional support.
“Abortion apologists in Congress can no longer afford to ignore the call to end abortion-on-demand. Members have sent a clear message to self-proclaimed ‘pro-life’ politicians that we will not be pacified by limited measures to regulate abortion in certain limited circumstances. Now more than ever, these politicians are forced to listen,” proclaimed Fox.
National Pro-Life Alliance members have generated more than 1.5 million petitions and post cards to Congress in support of a Life at Conception Act. which remains the top priority of the Alliance and its 650.000 members.
Grass-Roots Lobbying and Political Accountability Produce Undeniable Progress In the recently concluded elections, the National Pro-Life Alliance’s Federal Candidate Survey Program separated true pro-life champions from the pretenders in every Congressional District in the nation by putting politicians on the record on key pro-life legislative initiatives, especially the Life at Conception Act.
NPLA mailed literally tens of thousands of letters into targeted stale and Congressional districts urging identified pro-lifers to insist their candidates pledge 100% support for the unborn.
The Pro-Life Alliance then followed up with additional letters containing the candidates responses and voting records so that pro-lifers could take action right before the election.
As pro-life heroes were identified, the National Pro-Life Alliance’s affiliated political action committee (NPLA-PAC) –the largest pro-life political action committee in the nation in direct contributions to pro-life candidates – provided crucial direct financial support to pro-life candidates in tight races against pro-abortion opponents.
This multi-faceted approach of grass-roots lobbying and political accountability has produced undeniable results in the fight to end abortion-on-demand.
Rather Than Merely Regulate Abortion in Extreme Cases, NPLA Members Demand an End to Roe If the dramatic increase in Congressional support for a Life at Conception Act over the last several Congresses is any indication, the grass-roots pressure to legislatively end Roe v. Wide is truly a force to be reckoned with and one that will not long be denied.
“With 64 original cosponsors on Duncan Hunter’s Life at Conception Act right out of the gate, we’re on a pace to gain over 100 cosponsors in the current session – a number even the staunchly pro-abortion leadership will ignore at their own peril,” warned Fox.
With the drastic increase in support for legislatively overturning Roe v. Wade in Congress and with numerous states attempting to fill the void in Congress by passing bans on abortion, it is becoming clear that relying exclusively on the “incremental” approach to “chip away” at legalized abortion has lost favor among many pro-life activists after years of immeasurable results.
As Martin Fox pointed out, “since in politics you always get less than what you ask for. NPLA members are doing exactly the right tiling in demanding an end to Roe v. Wide.”
“It is the only way to ultimately end abortion-on-demand. And by demanding more, we will make all other pro-life initiatives more effective.”
Life at Conception Act Attacks Foundation of Roe v. Wade The bold approach latched onto by an increasing number of pro-life activists aims squarely at the very foundation of Roe v. Wade rather than tiptoeing around the Supreme Court’s make-believe “right to privacy” that has absolutely no basis in the Constitution.
Most pro-lifers are aware that the Roe court invented from thin air a previously undefined “right to privacy” to justify its legalization of abortion.
However, what the abortion lobby and its cheerleaders in the national media don’t want Americans to know is that in rendering its decision in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court never once declared abortion to be an absolute constitutional right.
Life at Conception Act Would Define Unborn as “Persons,” Collapsing Roe v. Wade Nor did the Court even attempt to address the question of when life or “personhood” actually begins. In fact, the Supreme Court itself admitted in the Roe decision that “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellants case [i.e. “Roe” who sought the abortion], of course, collapses, for the fetus ‘right to life is then guaranteed by the [14th] Amendment.”
If Congress passes a Life at Conception Act declaring the now scientifically indisputable fact that life begins at conception, by the Roe Court’s own admission. Roe v. Wade “collapses.” and so does abortion-on-demand.
Even the Roe Court recognized and reaffirmed the 14th Amendment’s right to life, which reads: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property . . .”
Not only does the 14th Amendment guarantee the right to life it also grants Congress the exclusive authority to implement that right: “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation the provisions of this article.”
By passing a Life at Conception Act such as Duncan Hunter’s H.R. 618 Congress would not only establish personhood for the unborn, it would assert it Constitutional authority to protect the right to life of every unborn child.
And since a Life at Conception Act enforces the right to life already in the Constitution, a simple majority vote in Congress — rather than the supermajority and state ratification required to amend the Constitution – is all that would be needed to pass the measure and send it to President Bush’s desk.
According to Martin Fox. “The impressive number of original cosponsors of H.R. 618 heading into the new Democrat controlled Congress is crucial. With pro-abortion zealots in control of leadership positions in both houses of Congress, we´ll need all the support we can get to grab the attention of Nancy Pelosi and company.”
That means the importance of grass-roots pressure cannot be overstated. “With many new Democrat members of Congress claiming to be ‘pro-life,’ we must hold their feet to the fire and demand true pro-life action,” said Fox.
Fox said the National Pro-Life Alliance and its members will bring maximum pressure to bear on Democrats like Heath Shuler (NC-11). Charlie Wilson (OH-6), Joe Donnelly (IN-2). Jason Altmire (PA-4) and Chris Carney (PA-10) — all of whom were elected on pro-life platforms in the November 2006 elections. Yet none of these politicians have cosponsored the Life at Conception Act at this stage.
“Clearly these Democrats understood the political liability that their party’s pro-abortion-on-demand platform is to candidates. So they positioned themselves as ‘pro-life’ candidates in their campaigns.”
“Pro-lifers must now firmly remind them what so many abortion apologists have learned the hard way in past elections – that support for abortion-on-demand or failure to defend human life will not be tolerated,” stated Fox.
Fox is urging members everywhere to flood Congress with petitions, post cards, letters and phone calls demanding support for H.R. 618. Members may reach their members of Congress by calling the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.”
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Cardinal Warns Against Secularism’s Dangers
WASHINGTON (CNS) – “Freedom of religion, and all freedom, can be placed at risk by an “aggressive secularism” that asserts its dominance in society, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago warned in a talk at the Library of Congress.
In his talk titled “What Kind of Democracy Leads to Secularization?” Cardinal George weighed in against both legal and cultural expressions of secularism that marginalize the importance of religion in society.
It is, the cardinal said, “an issue of great importance for our life together in a democratic republic.” Religion “can remain a necessary and legitimate actor in our affairs,” he added.
“The secular must provide legitimate ground for religion” in society, Cardinal George said. “When the secular is legitimized without freedom of religion, persecution of religion becomes inevitable.”
He noted his own remarks could be minimized. “If I were to present an argument on its own philosophical, rational terms, it would be seen as religious, because of the speaker,” he said.
Cardinal George took aim at the Supreme Court. “Their jurisprudence is admittedly incoherent,” going back 50 years to when Justice Felix Frankfurter was on the bench, he said.
The cardinal cited as one example the 1971 ruling in Lemon v. Kurtzman, which dealt with Pennsylvania and Rhode Island laws on government aid to religious schools. Eight-member majorities of the high court, in each of the two questions before it in the case, ruled against government aid, calling it “an excessive government entanglement with religion.” “Incoherent and unpredictable law has resulted in self-censorship,” Cardinal George added, noting on the day before Valentine´s Day that some have even banned Valentine´s Day cards to avoid any possible entanglement between government and religion.
“In the United States, the primary danger to democracy comes not from religion, but from philosophical secularism,” Cardinal George said, adding that some of the wounds have been self-inflicted. Jews embraced secularism, he said, to show that one “did not have to be Christian to be American,” and, likewise, Catholics embraced secularism to prove one “did not have to be Protestant to be American.”
But matters have been carried too far, the cardinal said, “when a preacher can be tried in Scandinavia…, and even in Chicago, for saying that the Bible says homosexual activity is immoral.”
Cardinal George said another danger can manifest itself when “democracy doesn´t remove religion, but democracy replaces religion: ‘The homeland deserves our love.’ ” At times, he said, “it can be replaced by asserting that the mission takes on a religion dimension.”
Alexis de Tocqueville, whose travels in the United States in 1831 resulted in the widely quoted book “Democracy in America,” “loved this country but was afraid for its future,” Cardinal George said. The French writer wondered whether democratic ideals would “be undermined by the same forces that give democracy its rise.”
“What kind of democracy promotes freedom? Ours, if it becomes totally free,” Cardinal George said. “What kind of democracy destroys freedom? Ours, if it becomes totally secularized.””
Mark Pattison of Catholic News Service
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MAGNIFICAT MEDITATION OF THE DAY on Wednesday of Holy Week 2007
“Distance. At a certain distance I follow behind you, ashamed to come closer.
Though you have chosen me as a worker in your vineyard and I pressed the grapes of your wrath.
To every one according to his nature: what is crippled should not always be healed.
I do not even know whether one can be free, for I have toiled against my will.
Taken by the neck like a boy who kicks and bites Till they sit him at the desk and order him to make letters,
I wanted to be like others but was given the bitterness of separation,
Believed I would be an equal among equals but woke up a stranger.
Looking at manners as if I arrived from a different time.
Guilty of apostasy from the communal rite.
There are so many who are good and just, those were rightly chosen And wherever you walk the earth, they accompany you.
Perhaps it is true that I loved you secretly But without strong hope to be close to you as they are.”
CZESLAW MILOSZ (+ 2004) won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980, and was a professor of Slavic languages and literature at the University of California.
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Magnificat Meditation, 03(11)2007
“Suffering fastens upon our real being firmly and tenaciously; it cuts through all the appearances behind which we hide, until it reaches the depths where the living self dwells, into the darkness of which the latter retreats, trying to make good its escape…
But just because suffering can only touch our finite being, it comes as a revelation to us of the reality of our individual and separate existence. We discover what we are the moment the world fails us, and what remains of ourselves when everything else is taken away. When the world is against us, we see, starkly, the tragic quality of our personal destiny… The ultimate distress is spiritual; it is born of the spectacle of the will to evil which runs riot through the world, even though we are not always its target, and which lurks no less at the bottom of our own hearts, forcing all creatures to feed their sense of power on the suf- fering of others, and realizing thus a sort of hateful solidarity between them…
In suffering we ding to being more tightly than ever, since every nerve that has not been broken is sensitized to the maximum… It is certainly wrong to consider suffering as the worst of all evils, and to make its eradication our supreme goal. It makes us aware of evil; it is not an evil in itself…
We may be sure that the value of every individual is in proportion to the extent, the subtlety, and the depth of the sufferings of which he is capable, for it is suffering which gives him the most intimate communication with the world, and with himself. The extent the subtlety, and the depth of all the joys he can ever know are in proportion to them. Who would renounce the joy in order to escape the suffering and desire insensibility in their place?.
It is suffering that deepens our consciousness plowing it up, making it understanding and loving scooping out a refuge in our souls into which the world may be welcomed. It refines to an extreme delicacy our every contact with the world…
Since suffering penetrates to the secret of his most intimate life in the soul of a man, it awakens all the forces of self-love within him… The real problem is not to find a way to anaesthetize suffering, since that could only be done at the expense of the total sensibility, in other words, of consciousness itself. The problem is how to transfigure it. And if all the suffering in the world offered us no better alternative than revolt or resignation, one might well despair of the value of the world. For suffering acquires meaning only when it nourishes the flame of our spiritual life.
My suffering is mine; it is not me. If the self gives way before it and becomes one with it, it succumbs. But there is another possibility – to remain detached from it without ceasing to feel it, and in so doing, to possess it In this tension, the individual within us is at once present and transcended. Suffering becomes a sort of cauterization, which burns up the individual part of my nature, and forces me to consent to its annihilation.”
LOUIS LAVELLE (d 1951) was a professor at the Sorbonne, Paris, France, and was a prominent Christian philosopher.
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Magnificat Meditation, 03(12)2007
– The Presence They Rejected
“An individual is reawakened within his being by the presence, the attraction, the awe. It is this encounter with the real, this “clash” with the real that arouses us. If the link with the real is in crisis, then the “I” is not awakened, and so you find yourself saying, “And what if there is no desire? What if I don’t have this desire?” Don’t complain that the desire is not there; what is in crisis is the relationship with the real, and if you can’t find the way to rebuild the relationship with the real, there will be no more desire. When an individual is reawakened within his being by the presence, the attraction, the awe, then he is grateful and joyful, because this presence can be beneficial and provi-dential. The human being becomes aware of himself as “I.” He recovers this original awe with a depth that establishes the measure, the stature of his identity.
The stature of my identity, of my awareness, depends on the knowledge of this astonishment before reality. The proof that I have not done away with reality, that ideology has not conquered in me one instant later, is that my “I” has woken up, is thankful and glad.
“At this moment, if I am attentive, that is, if I am mature, then I cannot deny that the greatest and most profound evidence I perceive is that I do not make myself, I am not making myself. I do not give myself being, or the reality which I am. I am ‘given.’ This is the moment of maturity when I discover myself to be dependent upon something else.” Here is the “Something within something…”
If we don’t reach the point of saying “You” in this way, of feeling ourselves loved like this from the start, there is no hope in life. Hope does not come from what I do, but from the awareness that there is Someone who loves me with this everlasting love, who calls me into being every instant, having pity on my nothingness.”
FATHER JULIAN CARRON, is a Spanish priest and professor of theology at the University of Milan.
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Magnificat Meditation, 03(13)2007
– Loaning God Our Own Pity
“Some men exhaust their coffers, others their bodies for the Spirit and are mortified in Christ and withdraw completely from the world; others consecrate what they hold most dear to God. Indeed, you have no doubt heard of the sacrifice of Abraham, who, more eagerly than when he first received the child from God, gave God his only son, the one who had been promised to him and who bore in himself the promise. None of these things do we ask of you. In their stead offer compassion alone. God takes more pleasure in this than in all the other things put togeth-er, a special gift, a faultless gift, a gift that invites God to lavish his favor upon us. Mingle severity with clemency; temper threat with promise. I know that kindness accomplishes a great deal by winning us over into responding in kind; when we reject coercion in favor of forgiveness, our good will wins over the beneficiary of our mercy… Loan God your pity…
A little while longer and the world is a thing of the past and the stage dismantled. Let us take advantage of the time we have. Let us buy what abides with what does not. Each of us is subject to judgment; we creatures of clay carry many obligations. Let us par-don that we may be pardoned; forgive, that we may seek forgiveness. In the Gospel, you recall, a certain debtor is prosecuted for owing many talents and is forgiven the debt because he is brought before a kind master. And, although he receives pardon, he does not give it for he is a slave in character as well. The lenient treatment he receives in a transaction involving a large sum he fails to show towards a fel- low slave in a smaller one: he is not even affected by the example of generosity that touches him person- ally, not to speak of any other; and his master is much displeased. Well, I shall not give you the rest of the story except to say that it is better in every respect to advance a kindness on this earth as a credit against the account you will give in the other.”
SAINT GREGORY NAZIANZEN, (d. 390) was a monk, a bishop, and a writer of letters, prayers, and poems.
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Thoughts Gleaned at St. Peter Parish Mission
For parents who have a disabled child: “Grieve for the child we were not given, so, we can love the child we have been given.”
Remember: God’s power is healing love; the power of God’s love is moving in the world in accepting our humanity as it is. Jesus did not come to change the world but to save it according to the ‘terms of life’ and to accept the power of his Father’s love.
Enjoy life for what it is – celebrate the goodness of life – my brother, my savior, my Lord… “God with some skin on.”
Every weekend, we, the people of God, gather to listen to God’s Word and share the eucharist. We welcome the Word of God, especially the Gospel, when we sing out “Alleluia” or another appropriate phrase. As a sign that we believe that God is present in the Scriptures and that God speaks to us through these sacred writings, that we welcome God’s message, and commit ourselves to its direction for our lives.
“Not all opposition to faithful Christian belief and life comes from the violent. Many voices, loud and subtle, argue against the idealism of the Gospel. Resisting the familiar, popular values and viewpoints which would undermine our discipleship can cause as much pain as enduring the more dramatic forms of persecution.”
Wednesday Vespers, 03(07)2007, Magnificat.
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Blessed Charles De Foucauld, Magificat 12(02)2006
“God is my salvation. BLESSED CHARLES DE FOUCAULD Priest (1858-1916) As a young soldier who had lost his faith, Charles de Foucauld, of Strasbourg, France, led a reckless life of immorality. But while in Paris, he increasingly came under the chaste and pious influence of his virtuous cousin, Marie de Bondy, whose devout example led him to question his scorn of religion. Then one day, Charles asked Father Henri Huvelin to answer his questions about the Catholic faith. The priest replied that Charles would be freed of his doubts if he purified his heart by confessing his sins. This confession wrought a total conversion, of which Charles commented afterwards, “As soon as I came to believe there was a God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than live only for him.”
Undertaking a new life of penitence, he at first entered a Trappist monastery. Thereafter, he received permission to live as a hermit. After being ordained a priest, he settled in Algeria, where years earlier he had fought as a soldier. Over the years. Father De Foucauld centered his spirituality upon eucharistic adoration. On December 1,1916, about an hour after praying before the Blessed Sacrament, he was ambushed and murdered by Senoussi rebels.”
“We must desire passionately to save souls.”
Blessed Charles de Foucauld
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Magnificat Meditation of 10(30)2006, Freed From Our Infirmity
“We must not complain or run away in time of darkness, because out of the darkness is born the light. Oh, God, tender love, what sweet teaching you give us that virtue is learned through what is contrary to it! Because of impatience, patience is acquired, for people who are conscious of their own impatience become patient because of what they suffer. They are impatient with their impatience, more sad that they are sad at all than for anything else. And so out of opposites we come to learn perfection without even noticing it. We discover that we have become perfect in the midst of storms and temptations. And there is no other way one can ever arrive at the port of perfection. So reflect on this: we cannot receive or even desire virtue unless we have desires and harassment and temptation to suffer with true holy patience for love of Christ crucified. We must, then, be happy and glad in time of struggle, temptation, and darkness, since they are the source of so much virtue and joy…
I want you to gain knowledge of yourself, without confusion, from the darkness. And from your qood will I want you to gain knowledge of God´s infinite goodness and boundless charity. In such knowledge may your soul live and grow fat. Realize that in his love God preserves your good will and doesn´t let it run with consent and pleasure after the devil´s suggestions. So it is in love that he has permitted you and me and his other servants all these temptations and illusions from the devil, from other people and from our own flesh, simply to rouse us from our indifference and bring us to a real sense of responsibility true humility, and blazing charity. This humility comes from self-knowledge, and this charity from knowledge of God´s goodness. And there the soul becomes drunk and consumed with love.”
SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA (+1380),
Doctor of the Church was a Dominican, stigmatist, and papal counselor.
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Magnificat Meditation of 08/18/2006, Marriage and the Sacraments
“The worship of the Church is not merely a filial remembrance of Christ, but a continual participation by visible mysterious signs in Jesus and his redemptive might, a refreshing touching of the hem of his garment, a liberating handling of his sacred wounds.
That is the deepest purpose of the liturgy, namely, to make the redeeming grace of Christ present, visible, and fruitful as a sacred and potent reality that fills the whole life of the Christian. In the sacrament of baptism – so the believer holds – the sacrificial blood of Christ flows into the soul, purifies it from all the infirmity of original sin and permeates it with its own sacred strength, in order that a new man may be born thereof, the reborn man, the man who is an adopted son of God. In the sacrament of confirmation, Jesus sends his “Comforter,” the Spirit of constancy and divine faith, to the awakening religious consciousness, in order to form the child of God into a soldier of God. In the sacrament of penance, Jesus as the merciful Savior consoles the afflicted soul with the word of peace: Go your way, your sins are forgiven you. In the sacrament of the last anointing, the compassionate Samaritan approaches the sick-bed and pours new courage and resignation into the sore heart. In the sacrament of marriage he engrafts the love of man and wife on his own profound love for his people, for the community, for the Church, on his own faithfulness unto death. And in the priestly consecration by the imposition of hands, he transmits his messianic might, the power of his mission, to the disciples whom he calls, in order that he may by their means pursue without interruption his work of raising the new men, the children of God, out of the kingdom of death.
The sacraments are nought else than a visible guarantee, authenticated by the word of Jesus and the usage of the apostles, that Jesus is working in the midst of us. At all the important stages of our little life, in its heights and in its depths, at the marriage-altar and the cradle, at the sick–bed, in all the crises and shocks that may befall us, Jesus stands by us under the veils of the grace–giving sacrament as our Fnend and Consoler, as the Physician of soul and body, as our Savior. FATHER KARL ADAM (+1966) was a German Priest and theologian.”
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Magnificat Meditation of 08/13/2006, What Makes Us Want To Forgive Presuppose that we are going to commit many faults: if a child does not want to begin to walk for fear of falling, he will never learn to walk.
Be persuaded that we will have to feel the painfulness and the distastefulness of our faults; therefore these effects should never take us by surprise, but we should learn to bear them as penance for our faults and it will not be without great merit.
Pride too has its own manner of repenting, but such repentance consists in a useless sadness, which does not come from God and is not for God, but springs rather from not knowing our weakness and misery. Be aware that in such a case we waste our time, and sometimes we commit venial sins on account of imperfections.
Be aware that after a fall the evil spirit makes it seem difficult to return to ask God for forgiveness, and almost impossible to correct the fault. On the contrary the good spirit reduces the difficulty, makes it easy to obtain forgiveness, gives us energy, and encourages us, persuading us at the same time that we cannot be without faults, but that by means of these we must humble ourselves the more, and seek pardon from God.
Separate the two parts in man; let the interior part examine, without having any regard for the animal part of man, the sourness and sensible disgust caused by our faults, and it will see that the sense of such great difficulty in asking forgiveness of God arises because we do not want to humble ourselves before his divine majesty, nor recognize our own miseries, nor give God the glory of being good and mercifully forgiving with us, as one who never wearies of granting pardon, and thus we will bear these disturbances with patience.
Hold as most certain that he gives great delight and honor to God who goes to him asking forgiveness.”
VENERABLE PIO BRUNO LANTERI (+ 1830) was an Italian priest who founded the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.
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Magnificat Meditation of 08(10)2006 Applies to Stem Cell Research “Sacrifice is the characteristic note of humanity in the religious sphere, as the tool is in the secular sphere. By the one humans affirm that they are masters of the world, by the other that God is the master of mankind… Job rose early and offered a burnt sacrifice for his children. Finally Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High, brings bread and wine. By showing us sacrifice in its primary essential, as the spontaneous act of humankind, as the very expression of its creaturely nature, they remind us that humans are not made merely to have mastery over the world by means of the tool, but that they may refer the world back to God by means of sacrifice.
That is perhaps a message that the world today has need of. Being entirely engrossed in their effort to control the universe by technical science, modern men and women have lost the other half of them-selves which expresses itself in sacrifice. For them the world has lost its sacred character; they see it only as the field for their experiments. They no longer grasp its symbolic aspect, its mystic side. They no longer see anything in it but the reflection of themselves which it offers them; they fail to see the imprints of God whose likeness they mirror.
How could a more lofty revelation take hold of a person or a world of this sort, so wholly unspiritual, when the very sense of the mystical, the very sense of the sacred is dead in them? How can one talk about a new creation to people who no longer recognize that they are creatures, or of the incarnation to those who no longer see the action of God in the world, or of contemplation to those whose knowledge of things is limited to their practical utility. What has to be restored to the world is the primary, original, universal basis of religion in the soul. . . Sanctity consists in a heroic love of God.”
Cardinal Jean Daniêlou (+1974) was a French Jesui at, a theologian, and a peritust Vatican II.
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Ten Commandments For Welcoming People With Disabilities
Ten Commandments for Welcoming People with Disabilities to St. Peter Church…
“According to the Archdiocesan Office of Disabilities St. Peter Church is probably one of the most accommodating spaces for folks with: disabilities. With the recent renovations to our church/school now completed much care was taken to assure accessibility to our worship; space and school facilities for all God’s people. Many who have disabilities now feel comfortable with the physical arrangement of St. Peter Church but do they feel welcome to our parish and our church on a typical Sunday morning? Have you ever felt nervous about speaking to someone in a wheelchair? Have you avoided communicating with a person who cannot hear I because you thought you wouldn’t know how? Is there an awkwardness when a person with disabilities approaches us? It’s not unusual to have questions or doubts about interacting with people who have disabilities or different degrees of ability. But it’s important that we overcome this uneasiness in order to practice the kind of hospitality that our sharing in the Eucharist requires. Here are ten tips for welcoming and interacting with folks with disabilities, culled from their own experiences. These are from National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities. I thought it might be helpful.. they were for me when I read them and I pass them on to you. Christ called all people to follow the gospel and welcomed all to gather around the table. As Christ’s Church, we promise to practice here these simple ways of welcome and inclusion. We realize that all baptized people belong here equally, so by taking these steps we do not seek i to patronize persons with disabilities. Instead, we wish to practice gospel hospitality with each other, and especially with visitors from other communities and those who may be inquiring into joining our church.
Treat the person with a disability as you would anyone else. Relax when communicating. Rely on natural courtesy, consideration, and common sense. Avoid getting flustered or irritated if misunderstandings arise. Repeat yourself if you sense misunderstanding, or ask a person to repeat himself or herself if you do not comprehend. Address the individual, not an assistant, interpreter, or family member. Treat adults with disabilities as adults, rather than as children, regardless of the disability. Speak at a normal rate, without exaggeration or overemphasis. Do not be afraid to ask questions about the person’s disability. To facilitate communication, have pads of paper and pencils available in all meeting rooms and other gathering places on parish property. Use them when helpful. Allow people to do things for themselves when they want to, even if it takes longer or results in mistakes. Do not always “do for” the person. Offer assistance, but do not impose if help is not desired. During all gatherings or meetings, allow time to attend to personal needs and rest. Please be patient. Respect the individual’s personal space and auxiliary aids. Do not: lean against or push a wheelchair; pet a service animal in harness; grab an arm or hand when attempting to guide; move wheelchairs, crutches, white canes, or other assistive devices out of reach of the person who uses them.
Parish Bulletin – July 9, 2006
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors How Can I Make a Difference?
Part II On Welcoming Folks with Disabilities…..
“People with disabilities creatively address their needs and serve society in many ways, and they often desire a greater opportunity to be involved in religious activities. There are many things that you, as an individual, can do to help people with disabilities participate fully in the liturgy, devotions and prayers of our parish.”
I will speak directly to the person with a disability or difference, not only to the nearby companion, family member, interpreter, or canine companion. I will offer to shake hands when introduced to a person with a disability (persons with limited hand use or who wear an artificial limb usually can shake hands. Shaking the left hand is acceptable, too). I will place myself in a chair at eye level for easy conversation with a person using a wheelchair or walker. I will offer assistance and wait until the offer is accepted. I will wait for instructions but not insist. I will give my whole, unhurried attention to a person who has difficulty speaking rather than speaking for the person. I may help by asking short questions that require short answers, a nod or a shake of the head, or a written answer. I will encourage a person with a disability to serve, to distribute Communion, to greet people at the door, take up the collection, to bear the gifts, to proclaim the scriptures, to sing in the choir or lead the singing – according to the individual’s gifts and talents. I will treat adults with developmental disabilities as adults, not as children. I will use first names only when using the same familiarity for all persons. I will get the attention of someone who is hearing-impaired by lightly tapping their elbow or shoulder, or by waving my hand. I will look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly and expressively to establish if the person can read my lips. I will offer to read the weekly bulletin to a person who is blind. I will guide a person with visual impairments by giving visual clues to steep steps, curbs, doors and escalators. I will first identify myself. From the National Council on Disability, “One out of five Americans has a disability – physical, mental, or sensory.” Father Jack as seen in the St. Peter Parish Bulletin – July 16, 2006
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How To Give To Caesar What Is Caesars,
Magnificat Meditation, June 6, 2006
“It is commendable that in today’s democratic societies, in a climate of true freedom, everyone is made a participant in directing the body politic. Such societies call for new and fuller forms of participation in public life by Christian and non-Christian citizens alike…
By fulfilling their civic duties, guided by a Christian conscience, in conformity with its values, the lay faithful exercise their proper task of infusing the temporal order with Christian values, all the while respecting the nature and rightful autonomy of that order, and cooperating with other citizens according to their particular competence and responsibility. The lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in “public life,” that is, in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative, and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good. This would include the promotion and defense of goods such as public order and peace, freedom, and equality, respect for human life and for the environment, justice and solidarity…
A kind of cultural relativism exists today, evident in the conceptualization and defense of an ethical pluralism, which sanctions the decadence and disintegration of reason and the principles of the natural moral law. Furthermore, it is not unusual to hear the opinion expressed in the public sphere that such ethical pluralism is the very condition for democracy. As a result, citizens claim complete autonomy with regard to their moral choices, and lawmakers maintain that they are respecting this freedom of choice by enacting laws which ignore the principles of natural ethics and yield to ephemeral cultural and moral trends, as if every possible outlook on life were of equal value…
The history of the twentieth century demonstrates that those citizens were right who recognized the falsehood of relativism, and with it, the notion that there is no moral law rooted in the nature of the human person, which must govern our understanding of man, the common good and the state…
It is the Church’s right and duty to provide a moral judgment on temporal matters when this is required by faith or the moral law. If Christians must recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs, they are also called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism. Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society. ”
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
an excerpt from Doctrinal Note,
the Participation of Catholics in Political Life.
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Father Don Wilger Gifts Carmen Pampa 2005 MULTIPLICATION: One Donor’s Inspiring Influence on The Future
‘Anything that is of value in life
only multiplies when it is given’ – Deepak Chopra “Beckoning warmer climes situated Father Don Wilger in a fortuitous position-a move towards better weather and the opportunity to donate the proceeds from the sale of his lake home to a worthy organization. Over the years, Fr. Don has generously shared his beautiful lakeside retreat with guests and has also enjoyed it for precious solitude. With his recent retirement and decision to sell the cabin and move south, Fr. Don was able to make a substantial contribution to the Carmen Pampa Fund.
Well before he made the decision to sell his lake home, Fr. Don was very familiar with the Carmen Pampa Fund and its mission to raise funds for the Unidad Académica Campesina (UAC) in Bolivia. Long-time friends Dick Leahy and Ed Flahavan are among the original founders of the Carmen Pampa Fund, and their commitment to the organization was the subject of many conversations between the three friends. Fr. Don knew of the extreme sacrifices made by many UAC students and their families to achieve an education. When the cabin was sold in early 2005, he could think of no better way to impact lives than to make a donation to the Carmen Pampa Fund.
In September 2005 Fr. Don traveled to the UAC for the first time. What he saw there impressed him very much and left a significant impression. Students with virtually nothing spent the little they had to get a quality education. Many assisted with the construction of the buildings on campus in order to attend classes in those buildings. He saw a well-run college where people working together, responsive to the needs of each other and enjoying the work they were doing. He marveled at the sounds of laughter that spread throught the campus. Most importantly, he saw people who could do very much with very little. Fr. Don noted, “My trip to Bolivia showed me first hand how much more good could be done with a contribution to the Carmen Pampa Fund than to many other organizations. I’m a results-oriented person and was thoroughly impressed with how much the students accomplished both in the classroom and on the campus.”
Especially impressive was the coffee project, funded by the Sieben Foundation, where agronomy students grow and harvest coffee beans to he sold in other parts of the community. This project not only provides a source of revenue for the students, but it also provides an incredible feeling of pride to all involved. Sensing this pride-and wanting to build on it-Fr. Don supplemented his initial “cabin contribution'” with additional monies targeted for a coffee bean dryer. All people, regardless of their economic status, should have the opportunity for an education. Through his generous contributions to the Carmen Pampa Fund, Fr. Don Wilger is helping many people to realize that opportunity. The joy his lake shore retreat provided over the years has been multiplied many times to provide educational opportunities for students at the College.”
THE MISSION OF UNIDAD ACADÉMICA CAMPESINA AT CARMEN PAMPA
To make higher education available to young people of rural areas and those who, for whatever reason are marginalized from the possibility to pursue such studies; To prepare men and women who, inspired by principles of a Christian vocation, are called to the service of others, equipped with high quality professional training and a commitment to Christian principles to guide their decisions; To be in constant search for truth and goodness by means of learning, research, and community extension; To develop extension programs through specific programs, that meet the felt needs in communities; To integrate the work of the University Community into the countryside, developing and strengthening progress and socio-economic liberation through academic, research and extension activities.
For Our Friend, Magnificat Meditation, May 19, 2006> “The most elusive center of our vocation does not lie in the choice of a task for which we seem specially made, for this will merely determine the influence we may have on things. It lies in the choice of our friends, those whose company gives savor to life, those who understand us and help us, with whom we can live in uninterrupted familiarity, those who never cramp our genius by suspicion or hostility, but support it and enable it to unfold…
A friend is he/she in whose presence we hold nothing back; we show ourselves as we are; there is no difference between what we are and the impression we wish to create. And in him/her also there is abolished the difference, characteristic of our relations with all other men/women, between the within, which is only real for us, and the without, which is the appearance we offer to the world. But a friend is also he/she in whose presence we cease to be anything at all, and we can, without fear of humiliation, leave the question both of what we want, and what we are worth, in total indetermination. A friend is he in whose presence we can try out unashamed all the potentialities of our inner life.
There is a moment when a spiritual communion begins with another person, which changes all the feelings we have had for him/her till then; then we forget that they could ever have existed without him/her. This spiritual communion only comes into being with the discovery of a world in which each shows the other what he/she was already on the point of seeing unaided; here every truth is bathed in an inner light which converts it into beauty; here every thing that is seems to melt into a desire which is no sooner born than fulfilled.”
Louis Lavelle (+1951) was a professor at the Sorbonne, Paris, France, and was a prominent Christian philosopher.
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The Da Vinci Code: Fact & Fiction shows need for education. “Many people respond to Dan Brown’s bestselling book “The Da Vinci Code” and the forthcoming film version with this mantra: “It’s only fiction.” “It’s only fiction.” “It’s only fiction.”
True, it is only fiction, both in its story line and in the so-called factual history woven in — a history that is more than simply romanticized, and often wrong. It’s a mostly bogus history purportedly revealing Christianity’s original understanding of Christ as simply a moral prophet who cured, taught and died. End of story. No incarnation. No Eucharist. No resurrection. No eternal life for anyone.
This aspect of the book — as well as the movie — is not clear for all to see, especially the unchurched, ex-churched and underchurched. And, I might add, the under aged.
I believe such blindness is not a matter of intelligence, for bright people have certainly enjoyed Dan Brown’s fiction and are associated with the soon-to-debut movie. Bright people have also been responsible for masterpieces of harmful fiction, such as D.W. Griffith’s bigoted epic, “The Birth of a Nation,” which portrays “uppity” former slaves’ supposed degeneracy and their alleged destruction of post-Civil War Southern culture and polity.
Rather, I believe commonplace prejudice is at the root of this blindness. If you need to see Christ’s resurrection as staged, and Christianity as an evil and conniving force in the world, then you will certainly find solace in Brown’s fictional history.
The “documents” that Brown cites to support his story? He’s on record as saying he used “history” from a book titled “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” containing so-called illuminating esoteric information. (Its authors — woefully undercredentialed themselves — were, alas, unsuccessful in suing Brown for plagiarism.)
I read this paperback 15 years ago and wondered when some publisher was going to bring it to the supermarket checkout lane rack. This book was written by a psychologist, a television producer and a novelist — not exactly scholars of scripture, history or theology. The history in this paperback is not completely bogus, just often bogus — and therefore dangerous.
It cites documents in the Bibliotheque Nationale, for example, that support the existence of a secret illuminati brotherhood, the Priory of Sion, with Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton as members. Alas, these documents have long been understood to be forgeries, placed in the archives by an anti-Semite, Pierre Plantard. Yes, the priory existed, but there’s no evidence it was illuminati and that Da Vinci and Newton were members. Check out www.cbsnews.com for the “60 Minutes” investigation of the Priory of Sion fantasy.
Other documents that Brown relied upon — which the supposedly evil Constantinian church suppressed — are certain Gnostic writings. Brown contends that these writings, second–through fourth– century documents, are more accurate portrayals of Jesus’ life and ministry than are the four first-century canonical Gospels.
Paradoxically, Gnosticism generally disdained the material world as evil; only the spiritual was good. For Gnostics, the divine Jesus was not — could not — be human. Jesus was a ghost only appearing to be human — very strange textual support for Brown’s contention that the church down played Jesus’ humanity.
“The Da Vinci Code” film will be coming Friday to a theater near you, and Christians want to do something. Anything! Some Christians are talking about picketing. My sense is that this is a Hollywood PR agent’s dream come true, creating even more public interest in the fiction’s misleading history — fiction that may not cause violence to people, but would misinform minds and souls.
Here’s what does need to be done. “The Da Vinci Code” readers’ credulity is an indictment of how ill-informed Catholics and other Christians can be about the faith, history, tradition and scripture. What’s needed is a more educated Christian community. In my own back yard — the Catholic Church — what’s needed are Catholicism 101, 201 and 301 classes for adults in every parish or cluster of parishes — during and long after the movie’s debut.
We should also ask why it’s still perfectly acceptable for Hollywood to stereotypically cartoonize a Catholic churchman as either a scheming, power-hungry prelate or a psychopathic, self-loathing monk. (In fact, there are no Opus Dei monks.)
If “The DaVinci Code” is the fantasy, where’s the truth? Here it is, as expressed by St. Athanasius: God became a human being so that human beings could become of God. This is what we celebrate as Christians. This is the good news of the Gospel. And it’s coming every week to a church near you.”
“Faith + Values Forum: ‘Da Vinci Code’ shows need for education” by Rev. Paul Jarvis, an associate pastor at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Edina, Minnesota. This article from StarTribune.com has been sent to you by Jim O’Leary. The full article, with any associated images and links can be viewed at http://www.startribune.com/614/story/429142.html
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Subversive Virginity, An Anidote By Sarah Hinlicky
—The length of the following article may tempt you to pass on it. However, if you will take just five minutes to read it, the wisdom and the common sense it contains will astonish you. Virginity will seem so logical and worthwhile you will wonder why anyone would choose any other lifestyle.
“Okay, I’ll admit it: I am twenty-two years old and still a virgin. Not for lack of opportunity, my vanity hastens to add. Had I ever felt unduly burdened by my unfashionable innocence, I could have found someone to attend to the problem. But I never did. Our mainstream culture tells me that some oppressive force must be the cause of my late-in-life virginity, maybe an inordinate fear of men or God or getting caught. Perhaps it’s right, since I can pinpoint a number of influences that have persuaded me to remain a virgin. My mother taught me that self-respect requires self-control, and my father taught me to demand the same from men. I’m enough of a country bumpkin to suspect that contraceptives might not be enough to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or disease, and I think that abortion is killing a baby. I buy into all that Christian doctrine of law and promise, which means that the stuffy old commandments are still binding on my conscience. And I’m even naive enough to believe in permanent, exclusive, divinely ordained love between a man and a woman, a love so valuable that it motivates me to keep my legs tightly crossed in the most tempting of situations.
In spite of all this, I still think of myself as something of a feminist, since virginity has the result of creating respect for and upholding the value of the woman so inclined. But I have discovered that the reigning feminism of today has little use for it. There was a time when I was foolish enough to look for literature among women’s publications that might offer support in my very personal decision. (It’s all about choice, after all, isn’t it?) The dearth of information on virginity might lead one to believe that it’s a taboo subject. However, I was fortunate enough to discover a short article on it in that revered tome of feminism. Our Bodies, Ourselves. The most recent edition of the book has a more positive attitude than the edition before it, in that it acknowledges virginity as a legitimate choice and not just a by-product of patriarchy. Still, in less than a page, it presumes to cover the whole range of emotion and experience involved in virginity, which, it seems, consists simply in the notion that a woman should wait until she’s really ready to express her sexuality. That’s all there is to say about it. Apparently, sexual expression takes place only in and after the act of genital intercourse. Anything subtler-like a feminine love of cooking or tendency to cry at the movies or insuppressible maternal instinct or cultivation of a wardrobe that will turn heads or even a passionate goodnight kiss is deemed an inadequate demonstration of sexual identity. The unspoken message of Our Bodies, Ourselves is clear enough: as long as a woman is a virgin, she remains completely asexual.
Surprisingly, this attitude has infiltrated the thinking of many women my age, who should still be new enough in the web of lies called adulthood to know better. One of my most vivid college memories is of a conversation with a good friend about my (to her) bizarre aberration of virginity. She and another pal had been delving into the gruesome specifics of their past sexual encounters. Finally, after some time, my friend suddenly exclaimed to me, “How do you do it?”
A little taken aback, I said, “Do what?”
“You know,” she answered, a little reluctant, perhaps, to use the big bad V-word. “You still haven’t… slept with anybody. How do you do it? Don’t you want to?”
The question intrigued me, because it was so utterly beside the point. Of course I want to – what a strange question – but merely wanting to is hardly a proper guide for moral conduct. I assured my concerned friend that my libido was still in proper working order, but then I had to come up with a good reason why I had been paying attention to my inhibitions for all these years. I offered the usual reasons-emotional and physical health, religious convictions, “saving myself till marriage – but nothing convinced her” until I said, “I guess I don’t know what I’m missing.” She was satisfied with that and ended the conversation.
In one sense, sure, I don’t know what I’m missing. And it is common enough among those who do know what they’re missing to go to great lengths to insure that they don’t miss it for very long. In another sense, though, I could list a lot of things that I do know I’m missing: hurt, betrayal, anxiety, self-deception, fear, suspicion, anger, confusion, and the horror of having been used. And those are only the emotional aspects; there is also disease, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. As if to prove my case from the other side, my friend suffered a traumatic betrayal within a month or two of our conversation. It turned out that the man involved would gladly sleep with her, but refused to have a “real relationship” – a sad reality she discovered only after the fact.
According to received feminist wisdom, sexuality is to be understood through the twin concepts of power and choice. It’s not a matter of anything so banally biological as producing children, or even the more elevated notion of creating intimacy and trust. Sometimes it seems like sex isn’t even supposed to be fun. The purpose of female sexuality is to assert power over hapless men, for control, revenge, self-centered pleasure, or forcing a commitment. A woman who declines to express herself in sexual activity, then, has fallen prey to a male-dominated society that wishes to prevent women from becoming powerful. By contrast, it is said, a woman who does become sexually active discovers her power over men and exercises it, supposedly to her personal enhancement.
This is an absurd lie. That kind of gender-war sexuality results only in pyrrhic victories. It’s a set-up for disaster, especially for women. Men aren’t the ones who get pregnant. And who ever heard of a man purchasing a glossy magazine to learn the secret of snagging a wife? Sacrifice and the relinquishing of power are natural to women – ask any mom – and they are also the secret of feminine appeal. The pretense that aggression and power-mongering are the only options for female sexual success has opened the door to predatory men. The imbalance of power becomes greater than ever in a culture of easy access.
Against this system of mutual exploitation stands the more compelling alternative of virginity. It escapes the ruthless cycle of winning and losing because it refuses to play the game. The promiscuous of both sexes will take their cheap shots at one another, disguising infidelity and selfishness as freedom and independence, and blaming the aftermath on one another. But no one can claim control over a virgin. Virginity is not a matter of asserting power in order to manipulate. It is a refusal to exploit or be exploited. That is real, and responsible, power.
But there is more to it than mere escape. There is an undeniable appeal in virginity, something that eludes the resentful feminist’s contemptuous label of “prude.” A virgin woman is an unattainable object of desire, and it is precisely her unattainability that increases her desirability. Feminism has told a lie in defense of its own promiscuity, namely that there is no sexual power to be found in virginity. On the contrary, virgin sexuality has extraordinary and unusual power. There’s no second-guessing a virgin’s motives: her strength comes from a source beyond her transitory whims. It is sexuality dedicated to hope, to the future, to marital love, to children, and to God. Her virginity is, at the same time, a statement of her mature independence from men. It allows a woman to become a whole person in her own right, without needing a man either to revolt against or to complete what she lacks. It is very simple, really: no matter how wonderful, charming, handsome, intelligent, thoughtful, rich, or persuasive he is, he simply cannot have her. A virgin is perfectly unpossessable. Of course, there have been some women who have attempted to claim this independence from men by turning in on themselves and opting for lesbian sexuality instead. But this is just another, perhaps deeper, rejection of their femaleness. The sexes rightly define themselves in their otherness. Lesbianism squelches the design of otherness by drowning womanhood in a sea of sameness, and in the process loses any concept of what makes the female feminine. Virginity upholds simply and honestly that which is valuable in and unique to women.
The corollary of power is choice. Again, the feminist assumes that sexually powerful women will be able to choose their own fates. And again, it is a lie. No one can engage in extramarital sex and then control it. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the moral nightmare of our society’s breakdown since the sexual revolution. Some time ago I saw on TV the introduction of the groundbreaking new “female condom.” A spokeswoman at the press conference celebrating its grand opening declared joyously the new freedom that it gave to women. “Now women have more bargaining power,” she said. “If a man says that he refuses to wear a condom, the woman can counter, fine, I will!” I was dumbstruck by her enthusiasm for the dynamics of the new situation. Why on earth would two people harboring so much animosity towards each other contemplate a sexual encounter? What an appealing choice they have been given the freedom to make?
The dark reality, of course, is that it is not free choice at all when women must convince men to love them and must convince themselves that they’re more than just “used goods.” There are so many young women I have known for whom freely chosen sexual activity means a brief moment of pleasure – if that – followed by the unchosen side effects of paralyzing uncertainty, anger at the man involved, and finally a deep self-hatred that is impenetrable by feminist analysis. So-called sexual freedom is really just proclaiming oneself to be available for free, and therefore without value. To “choose” such freedom is tantamount to saying that one is worth nothing.
Admittedly, there are some who say that sex isn’t nearly so serious or important, but just another recreational activity not substantially different from ping-pong. I don’t believe it for a second. I learned most meaningfully from another woman the destructive force of sexuality out of control when I myself was under considerable pressure to cave in to a man’s sexual demands. I discussed the prospect with this friend, and after some time she finally said to me, “Don’t do it. So far in life you’ve made all the right choices and I’ve made all the wrong ones. I care enough about you that I don’t want to see you end up like me.” Naturally, that made up my mind. Sex does matter, it matters a lot; and I can only hope that those who deny it will wake up to their error before they damage themselves even more.
It is appalling that feminism has propagated lies so destructive to women. It has created the illusion that there is no room for self-discovery outside of sexual behavior. Not only is this a grotesque lie, but it is also an utterly boring one. Aside from its implied dismissal of all the world’s many riches outside the sexual domain, this false concept has placed stultifying limitations on the range of human relationships. We’re told that friendships between men and women are just a cover until they leap into the sack together. While romance is a natural and commendable expression of love between women and men, it is simply not the only option. And in our sexually competitive climate, even romantic love barely deserves the title. Virginity among those seeking marital love would go far to improve the latter’s solidity and permanence, creating an atmosphere of honesty and discovery before the equally necessary and longed-for consummation. Where feminism sees freedom from men by placing body parts at their disposal in a bizarre game of self-deception, virginity recognizes the equally vulnerable though often overlooked state of men’s own hearts and seeks a way to love them for real.
It is puzzling and disturbing to me that regnant feminism has never acknowledged the empowering value of virginity. I tend to think that much of the feminist agenda is more invested in the culture of groundless autonomy and sexual Darwinism than it is in genuinely uplifting women. Of course, virginity is a battle against sexual temptation, and popular culture always opts for the easy way out instead of the character-building struggle. The result is superficial women formed by meaningless choices, worthy of stereotype, rather than laudable women of character, worthy of respect Perhaps virginity seems a bit cold, even haughty and heartless. But virginity hardly has a claim on those defects, if it has any claim at all. Promiscuity offers a significantly worse fate. I have a very dear friend who, sadly, is more worldly-wise than I am. By libertine feminist standards she ought to be proud of her conquests and ready for more, but frequently she isn’t. The most telling insight about the shambles of her heart came to me once in a phone conversation when we were speculating about our futures. Generally they are filled with exotic travel and adventure and PhDs. This time, however, they were not. She admitted to me that what she really wanted was to be living on a farm in rural Connecticut, raising a horde of children and embroidering tea towels. It is a lovely dream, defiantly unambitious and domestic. But her short, failed sexual relationships haven’t taken her any closer to her dream and have left her little hope that she’ll ever attain it. I must be honest here: virginity hasn’t landed me on a farm in rural Connecticut either. Sexual innocence is not a guarantee against heartbreak. But there is a crucial difference: I haven’t lost a part of myself to someone who has subsequently spurned it, rejected it, and perhaps never cared for it at all.
I sincerely hope that virginity will not be a lifetime project for me. Quite the contrary, my subversive commitment to virginity serves as preparation for another commitment, for loving one man completely and exclusively. Admittedly, there is a minor frustration in my love: I haven’t met the man yet (at least, not to my knowledge). But hope, which does not disappoint, sustains me.”
—This article originally appeared in the October 1998 issue of First Things, a journal published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life. It is reprinted with the permission of the publisher.
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Right S.T.A.R.T. And Pornography
This past school year the Right S.T.A.R.T. teachers found a very disturbing trend among the students that we taught. To be blunt, pornography is becoming an increasing problem due to our changing world of internet, cable, videos* and mass media. With the summer, (and unmonitored free time) quickly approaching we want to share some information on this subject for you to share with your sons and, in some cases, daughters. First, make sure you know how to check the history of what websites your children are using. The history icon is usually in the top row, although sometimes it is hidden and you need to press on an arrow to get to it. It looks like: [History Icon].
Below is a compilation of thoughts from experts. All of the complete articles were given to the principals and the resources are given in the text.
First, Dr. Robert Furey in the March 5 St. Louis Review wrote: “Pornography is out of control in the United States… .The damage done to teens and pre-teens by exposing them to pornography can be severe and lasting.” Healthy sexual development occurs over time …Gradual exposure allows him to digest and process what he is learning. When a young person is flooded with sexual material, however, this balance can be lost….The symptoms that emerge after a young person is exposed to pornography are in some ways, similar to those that surface after sexual abuse….Among the other possible consequences of early exposure to pornography are feelings of fear and/or disgust toward sexuality. In this case, a young person may come to feel ashamed of his own emerging sexuality. Nothing good comes from exposing young people to pornography.”
Second, in A Case for Chastity Peter Vlahutin gives five succinct reasons why pornography is harmful to our sons, as well as to our daughters, and ultimately to all of us:
“Pornography substitutes fantasy for reality….There is no relationship, the person displayed becomes an object, a thing, used to satisfy the viewer’s desires… She is not a real woman with desires, wishes, preferences, opinions, ideas, thoughts, feelings-she is always just an object….Any sexual arousal that results is outside the context of a committed relationship.” “Pornography affects how we view our sexuality. What enters our minds affects the way we think. Men, if we spend hours looking at naked women/it is difficult to look at real women and not wonder what they look like without clothes… .Instead of seeing sex as the intimate union of husband and wife-a physical sign of the self-giving love they share-pornography presents sex as arousal and self-gratification. Pornography always switches the sexual focus from the other to oneself.” (A “me” activity instead of a “we” commitment) “Pornography is addictive. Pornography and its accompanying arousal are like eating hot sauce. If we use a mild hot sauce regularly, we will eventually get so used to it that it no longer has the same ability to flavor our food as before. So we will use a hotter sauce until we become used to it. Then we will move on to an even hotter one. Pornography has the same effect, What was arousing yesterday is not today, and the viewer needs more of it or something different… Viewing does not satisfy the appetite, but increases it.” “Pornography exploits sexuality for the purpose of profit. It especially exploits the women who are photographed; their bodies and sexual vulnerability are turned from a gift for their spouse into a commercial product. Exploitation exists even if someone agrees to pose. All women are exploited by it because it presents an image of physical-sexual-beauty and perfection. Women do not need another reason to focus on their bodies and worry about their appearance.” “The use of pornography is often coupled with the practice of masturbation, which also leads to a devaluing of our sexuality. Instead of a self-giving love as the foundation for sexual activity, self-seeking arousal and pleasure become the drives. As such, pornography destroys our ability to have intense, passionate sex.”
Jason Evert in If You Really Loved Me has some worthwhile thoughts that show the danger of pornography to the individuals and to all of society. “The problem …is that it 1) emasculates men, 2) degrades women, 3) destroys marriages, and 4) offends the Lord.”
“The essence of manhood consists in readiness to deny oneself for the good of a beloved.” “It denies the woman her dignity in order to satisfy his lust…Wouldn’t it infuriate you if a guy looked at your daughter in the same way he looked at pornography?” “For the person who indulges in porn, the purpose of sex becomes the satisfaction of the erotic ‘needs,’ not the communication of life and love. Porn drives a man to value a woman only for what she gives him rather than for the person she is…. (Also) his fantasies will have robbed him of the ability to be truly intimate with his wife.” “We owe it to God to honor the Lord in all our actions and thoughts. To lust after his daughter is a grave sin.” Jason also adds some interesting statistics to show that “When men learn their ‘love’ from videos and magazines, they accept the idea that a woman’s ‘no’ is actually a ‘yes’ and that she enjoys being used.”
In Oklahoma City, “When 150 sexually oriented businesses were closed, the rate of rape decreased 27% in five years, while the rate in the rest of the country increased 19%. In Phoenix, Arizona, neighborhoods with porn outlets had 500% more sex offenses than neighborhoods without them.”
Therefore parents, we have a moral obligation to our sons and daughters to monitor where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Summer is a wonderful time to relax, play, and become rejuvenated, but we also need to be mindful of too much “free time” for all of our youth.
May God Bless each of you and your families!
Resources to address the addiction of pornography which afflicts
one of every three men and one of every six women:
My House – http://myhouse.archkck.org
– Resource List and Family Video available My House Women’s Group – email@example.com National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families & Marriage
Scott Hahn & Jerry Kirk
– http://www.nationalcoalition.org/kansascity.asp As For Me and My House – Recapturing homes for God – See prayer below Speaker: Chris West, November 8th, Rolla, MO “”As For Me and My House” God of glory and majesty, you have clothed your creation with the raiment of beauty and the mantle of dignity, and have created man and woman in your own divine image and likeness.
Forgive those who have distorted the gift of human love, and offer them the grace to turn away from their sins, and embrace the gospel of life.
Liberate those imprisoned by addiction, and provide them the wisdom to seek help and break the chains of despair and shame.
Soothe the suffering of those who have been exploited by pornography, and enable all families and individuals to live in a peaceful and just society.
May we embrace your gift of chastity as a means of giving you glory, and of sharing in your loving plan of salvation. Amen.
Choose this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15”
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Daily Lenten Meditations by Father Rolheiser
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BERNADETTE J. BROOTEN
A church confused over sexual issues
By Bernadette J. Brooten | November 30, 2005
“IF THE VATICAN aims to prevent clergy sexual abuse by barring gay men from the priesthood, it is profoundly misguided. Most strikingly, the latest Vatican statement doesn’t ever name clergy sexual abuse as a problem. Instead, the Vatican refers ever so obliquely to the “contemporary world,” which must mean “a world in which even priests have sex with boys.”
The Vatican needs to address head-on the dual problem of priests abusing their power and their bishops protecting them. Otherwise, Catholics and non-Catholics will live with shaken confidence in the Roman Catholic Church, an important social institution by any measure. This document diverts attention away from Catholic bishops who have worked mightily to avoid just settlements with sexual abuse survivors, to open their financial records, or to include clergy as mandated reporters of child sexual abuse.
By defining homosexuality as the problem, the Vatican also masks the fact that numerous priests have had, and are having, sexual relations with adult women. Unlike therapists or physicians, priests are not usually legally prohibited from having sexual relations with the women whom they counsel. Women whose trust priests have betrayed have rarely been able to sue for damages, and the media have therefore seldom reported their stories.
Instead of facing up to these urgent problems in the church, the statement bars all men ”who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support so-called gay culture” from seminary and the priesthood. As theological justification, the Vatican explains that a priest must ”represent Christ, head, shepherd, and bridegroom of the church.” Christ’s maleness is the same reason the Vatican excludes women from the priesthood, although in church history, canon lawyers more candidly explained that women are simply inferior.
Now we see that being a man alone isn’t enough. The priest also has to be a real man. He has to be heterosexual in order to function as a head of the congregation and as a bridegroom of the church. Yes, heterosexual and male, but also celibate, while living with other male priests — a tall order. In a new theological twist, Jesus was not only celibate but also heterosexual. Even as the Vatican is puzzling out the finer details of theological symbolism, US Catholics face new disappointments each year. The head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., a diocese that had sought bankruptcy protection, is appealing the judge’s ruling that church property “can be sold to pay claims filed by victims.” Skylstad argues that the bishop doesn’t own these church properties, the parishes do. Meanwhile, in Boston, Catholics have held vigils to prevent the archbishop from selling off their churches. Archbishop O’Malley argues that the archbishop owns these churches, not the parishes.
The most heartening sign on the horizon is that US Catholics increasingly see sexual abuse as the problem, not sexual orientation. Both in the courts and in the court of public opinion, Catholics are calling their church to accountability. More and more Catholics support the abuse survivors, want a say in whether their parishes and schools will stay open, and want sexual ethics based on meaningful consent and mutuality.”
Bernadette J. Brooten is professor of Christian studies at Brandeis University and the director of the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project.
Anti-gay edict stirs priest to step aside
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Anti-gay edict stirs priest to step aside
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 29, 2005 12:00 AM
A Catholic priest in Mesa has resigned as a pastor because of “aggressive anti-gay positions” coming from the pope in Rome and bishop in Phoenix.
The Rev. Leonard Walker, 58, who as pastor was chief executive of Queen of Peace church, is the first priest in the Phoenix Diocese to resign over church treatment of gay men, specifically a new Vatican document aimed at keeping gay men out of the priesthood.
Walker declined to disclose his sexual orientation, but he said he was no longer comfortable “wearing the uniform” of the priesthood.
“It’s like a Jew wearing a Nazi uniform,” Walker said. “I could no longer stay in that institution with any amount of integrity.”
His decision comes on the eve of the release of an instruction from the Vatican that limits entrance into seminaries primarily to heterosexual men.
Many Catholics believe the document addresses concerns that the clergy abuse scandal was caused by gay priests because so many of the victims were young men. They also believe it will lead to a much-needed reform of seminaries, where a gay subculture has thrived, according to some reports.
The Vatican document, leaked to the Italian media last week, says candidates for the priesthood who are “actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture” cannot be ordained. It added that their sexual orientation “seriously obstructs them from properly relating to men and women.”
The Rev. Chris Carpenter, pastor of Christ the King Catholic church in Mesa, said although the document speaks only about seminarians, “clearly it is sending a message that gay priests are unacceptable, not for what they are doing but for who they are.”
The Rev. Fred Adamson, vicar general of the diocese and Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s second in command, said no decision has been made about how they will implement the Vatican document. The diocese does not ask directly about candidates’ sexuality.
Olmsted was not available for comment.
The new Vatican document reinforces long-standing policy for a church that teaches that homosexuality is immoral.
Walker said Monday that he had planned to resign quietly, telling his parishioners only that his decision was unrelated to any “accusation, suspicion or request by church authorities.” But, he said, he changed his mind after what he called “mistreatment” by Adamson, who told him that he could not celebrate Mass for the final time at Queen of Peace and that his health insurance would be cut off immediately.
Adamson declined to disclose details of the discussion.
“I can tell you we were not aware of the reason for his resignation,” he said.
Walker, a member of the Salvatorian religious order, said he also took a leave of absence from the order.
In the Catholic Church, a priest is ordained for life unless he resigns or is defrocked, a lengthy legal process. Priests serve in a variety of roles. Walker said he will continue to work as a hospice chaplain until he decides whether to leave the priesthood.
He said that Olmsted has been “aggressively anti-gay,” unlike previous bishops, and that the Vatican also has taken anti-gay positions.
In 2000, the Vatican suspended the Rev. Robert Nugent, Walker’s colleague in the Salvatorian order, from continuing a ministry to gays and lesbians in Washington, D.C.
The Vatican is visiting American Catholic seminaries to assess their treatment of gay candidates, directly as a result of the clergy abuse scandal.
Olmsted rejected the pro-gay Phoenix Declaration, signed by nine Catholic priests, after his two predecessors made no such move. He required the signers to revoke their support or risk their jobs. Walker did not sign.
Finally, according to Walker, a Phoenix-area priest, whom he declined to identify, lost his job as pastor recently because of his homosexuality, a reason not disclosed by the diocese. Adamson said he knew nothing about that.
Carpenter, who is a diocesan priest, said Walker could be the first of many to step aside. He added that any priest who discloses that he is gay “risks immediate reprisals.”
Walker was well-liked at Queen of Peace, which is in downtown Mesa.
“He will definitely be missed,” said Loralynn Quintero, 33, of Mesa, who had worked with Walker on a counseling program.
“Everyone has an opinion” about homosexuality, she said. “(It’s) a matter between him and God.”
Maria Delgadillo, 29, of Mesa, said she was surprised and sad to hear Walker had resigned.
“I don’t think he should be leaving,” she said. “I don’t think it is a good reason.”
“We are sorry to see him go,” said Sandra Lopez, a church member for a couple of years. “I’m going to stay neutral (on why he is leaving).”
Reporter Senta Scarborough contributed to this article.
TO READ MORE ABOUT THE REACTION TO THE VATICAN DOCUMENT ON HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE PRIESTHOOD, GO TO http://www.corpus.org/forums/
Priest hangs up collar for change
Article Last Updated: 11/28/2005 07:15 AM
Priest hangs up collar for change
Questioning traditions has led to the Rev. Stier’s exile from Fremont church
By Jonathan Jones, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area
The Rev. Tim Stier, former pastor of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Fremont, spent more than 25 years ministering local parishioners as a priest with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland.
Now, Stier is in exile.
He is still a priest, and he insists he is not leaving the church. But now he is living with his parents in Oakland; no longer is active in the diocese; and is openly challenging the church on celibacy, the ordination of women and the lack of responsibility of bishops for their roles during the sex abuse scandal.
Stier said he hopes to send a signal of public solidarity with “those who have no voice in the church,” including victims of clergy abuse, gays and lesbians, and divorced Catholics.
The decision to no longer represent the Diocese of Oakland was precipitated by diocese officials’ failure to address ? or discuss ? the underlying causes of the priest shortage, including the celibacy issue and the ordination of female priests, he said.
Despite reconciliation and apology services, as well as millions of dollars in financial settlements with victims, Stier said the diocese has yet to hold its leaders accountable for their actions of hiding or ignoring the child sex abuse scandal that occurred in Alameda and Contra Costa counties under their watch.
“I’ve given my whole life to the Catholic Church,” he said. “It’s not as if I’m a perfect person and I don’t have weaknesses and sin. But there is a level of dishonesty and arrogance in this that just tells me we need systemic, radical change.”
The Rev. Mark Wiesner, director of communications for the Oakland Diocese, described Stier as a “very good priest” and a man of integrity. He said the diocese respected Stier’s decision to leave active ministry.
“Tim is a very good man, and we will miss him in the diocese,” Wiesner said. “I’m hopeful his issues will be resolved and he can again serve in the diocese as he has done so well for so many years.”
Although Wiesner did not dispute Stier’s allegations, he emphasized that decisions on celibacy and the ordination of women are made in the Vatican, not in Oakland.
Failure to act
Born in Berkeley, Stier became an ordained priest in 1978. After two years at Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City, he was assigned to St. Bede Parish in Hayward, where he served as associate pastor under the late Monsignor George Francis. Francis, who died in 1998, was accused of sexually abusing at least six minors in a span of 30 years as the church’s founding pastor. In 2004, the diocese paid $3 million to Jennifer Chapin, one of Francis’ victims who now works as a psychiatric nurse living in Oakdale.
Stier said he knew her father.
“When I think about that now, and what that did to her life, and that was going on while I was there, it helps you understand the degree of alienation I feel,” Stier said. “(Our leaders) failed to act.”
While at St. Bede’s, Stier conducted hundreds of baptisms, weddings and funerals, along with Masses in Spanish and English, that he said eventually left him feeling overworked and lonely.
“It was very exhausting,” he said. “At night, I’d sit down to dinner with (Francis), a pastor from another era. I didn’t know at the time that he was also a child molester.”
After stints as an associate pastor at St. John Vianney Parish in Walnut Creek and St. Raymond Parish in Dublin, Stier was assigned as pastor of Corpus Christi Church in 1992.
Overseeing a church of some 800 families in Fremont, Stier, then 42, had a proven track record of working with a bilingual congregation. As the sole pastor of the church, Stier conducted four weekend Masses and 27 funerals a year.
Stier said his relations with the diocese began to sour in the mid-1990s when he was elected to the personnel board. He said he became more concerned that the church was lowering the standards for priests ? by requiring less experience, inadequately investigating their backgrounds and failing to address complaints ? in order to fill vacancies.
“We have a lot more guys living alone and a lot more guys overworked,” he said. “The demands on a pastor were greater at the same time we were assigning guys with less experience or guys who just weren’t qualified.”
Stier said his attempts to discuss celibacy, the ordination of women and other solutions to the priest shortage at official church meetings were rebuked.
“We’re a burned-out, disillusioned, low-morale group of people,” said Stier about the priesthood. “As a group, some of us are working too hard, and some of us aren’t working at all.”
Locally, as the scope of sex abuse in Alameda and Contra Costa counties expanded to more than 70 victims involving 24 priests in the Oakland Diocese, Stier said he was saddened but not surprised.
“I’d say these problems are systemic. It’s not just about weak human beings. We all have our struggles,” he recalled. “But when you have a system like the Catholic Church has had for thousands of years of mandatory celibacy, you’re going to have problems.”
Tom Wohlmut, a member of the Pastoral Council at Corpus Christi, said he was impressed with Stier’s willingness to address the child abuse directly despite reservations by some congregation members who felt the scandal was not a subject to be brought up during Mass.
“He wasn’t afraid of the issue,” Wohlmut said, adding that Stier took down the name of the late Rev. James Clark, who has been accused of abuse, from the parish hall. “He has all the qualities of a great pastor.”
In 2004, after 12 years at Corpus Christi and years of mounting frustration with the Catholic Church, Stier went on sabbatical at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass. It was there, he said, that he realized he could not go back to working for the diocese.
“When I listened to my head, I had so many reasons I loved being a priest,” he said. “But when I listened to my heart, all I heard was anger and frustration.”
“My spiritual director, a Jesuit, said to me: ‘If you go back and be a pastor again, can you live at that level? Are you going to be effective?'”
Ultimately, Stier decided he could not.
“Since 1997, I have felt alienated from the institutional church,” Stier wrote in a March letter to Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron.
“After having served on the priest assignments board for four years in the mid-’90s, I realized how my diocese was lowering its standards for pastors in order to fill vacancies in parishes without pastors.”
Unlikely to return
Now 56, Stier said he hasn’t ruled out returning to active priesthood. But after much prayer and discernment, it’s becoming less likely he’ll return, he said.
Although many priest-sociologists such as Andrew Greeley argue there is no connection between celibacy and the sexual abuse scandal, Stier disagreed.
“I know there’s a connection,” Stier said. “It’s a setup for trouble when you try to mandate something that can only be a gift from God.”
Stier confessed he has struggled with living a celibate life and questions whether his responsibilities as a priest would be compromised if he had a spouse or children.
“I’m just not sure I want to live the rest of my life alone,” he said.
Until he makes a final decision, Stier said he intends to challenge the church to elevate the role of unordained Catholics to give lay people more authority within the church.
He has joined Voice of Faithful, an independent reform group with 30,000 lay members who have criticized the church for the lack of accountability of its leaders.
And he protested the appointment of San Francisco Archbishop William Levada to be the head of the church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, joining victims’ groups in charging that Levada failed to rigorously pursue allegations of clergy molestation of children.
“I’ve always believed that a church is like a family, and I’ve tried to do that,” he said. “If we don’t understand these problems and change, the problems will only continue.”
Slow to change
Wiesner said the diocese continues to work on addressing important issues facing the church, including increasing the number of lay people involved in advisory roles and enacting a probationary period for new pastors at parishes.
Some changes do appear to be taking place. Earlier this month in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Roman Catholic Bishops approved pay guidelines for the 30,000 paid lay men and women, who are now doing much of the work once done by priests.
But the president of America’s Roman Catholic Bishops, Bishop William Skylad of Spokane, Wash., also said that a handful of priests who had sexually abused minors have forced the clergy “to endure an avalanche of negative public attention.”
Wiesner said that some officials within the church remain unwilling to discuss such controversial issues. But he said discussions of celibacy and the ordination of women occur informally at all levels of the diocese.
“The church has experienced more change in the last 40 years than it did in the previous 40 years,” Wiesner said. “So while Tim may not be wrong about the church, I don’t think the situation is as hopeless or static as Father Tim thinks it is. … The church moves very, very slowly. It’s a 2,000-year-old institution”
Stier said a turning point for him came in the spring 2004 after meeting Dan McNevin, a former altar boy who alleged he had been sexually abused in the 1970s by Clark, the former pastor of Corpus Christi Church.
They talked for two hours, first about the sexual molestation, then about the church and current issues faced by Catholics.
“He treated me as fairly as I could have asked,” said McNevin, now a 46-year-old Emeryville resident and a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “He took me at face value and listened. For me, it was a very validating experience. He was just the type of person you would want as a pastor.”
Stier said abuse survivors such as McNevin, who has since become a close friend, have taught him a lot about speaking out about policies and procedures that continue to hurt the church.
“The only thing I can do is lament and continue to tell the truth about the people that are being stepped on ? women, gays, divorced people, abuse survivors ? identify with them, and throw in my solidarity with them,” he said.
“Dan McNevin ? the guy’s a hero to me. He’s taught me so much about not backing down from the truth. I want to see people like Dan McNevin be able to believe in Jesus again.”
McNevin, who was awarded an undisclosed financial settlement as part of a $56.4 million payout to 56 childhood sexual abuse survivors in August, said he has mixed feelings about Stier’s decision.
“On the one hand, we need strong people in a position to influence the system and make an impact from within,” McNevin said. “On the other hand, he’s showing tremendous courage by what he’s doing. It takes a lot of guts, and it means a lot to victims of abuse to see he’s standing side by side in solidarity with us.””
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Staff writer Jonathan Jones can be reached at (510) 353-7005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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October 24, 2005, Magnificat Meditation
“If then a man without religion (supposing it possible) were admitted into heaven, doubtless he would sustain a great disappointment. Before, indeed he fancied that he could be happy there; but when he arrived there, he would find no discourse but that which he had shunned on earth, no pursuits but those he had disliked or despised, nothing which bound him to aught else in the universe, and made him feel at home, nothing which he could enter into and rest upon. He would perceive himself to be an isolated being, cut away by Supreme Power from those objects which were still entwined around his heart. Nay, he would be in the presence of that Supreme Power, whom he never on earth could bring himself steadily to think upon, and whom now he regarded only as the destroyer of all that was precious and dear to him. Ah! He could not bear the face of the Living God; the Holy God would be no object of joy to him. “Let us alone! What have we to do with you? – is the sole thought and desire of unclean souls even while they acknowledge his majesty. None but the holy can look upon the Holy One; without holiness no man can endure to see the Lord…”
A careless, a sensual, an unbelieving mind, a mind destitute of the love and fear of God, with narrow views and earthly aims, a low standard of duty and a benighted conscience, a mind contented with itself and unresigned to God’s will, would feel as little pleasure, at the last day, at the words, “Enter into the joy of your Lord,” as it does now at the words, “Let us pray.” Nay, much less, because, while we are in a church, we may turn our thoughts to other subjects and contrive to forget that God is looking on us, but that will not be possible in heaven.”
–Venerable John Henry Newman. Cardinal Newman (+1890) established the Oratory in Birmingham, England, and was a preacher of great eloquence.
October 27, 2005, Magnificat Meditation
“Whatever difficulty we may encounter on our path, only one thing is necessary: a posture of coherence – as acceptance… When our difficulties, of whatever kind, are capable of stopping us, of casting doubt upon our path, it means that it is not the Lord we seek, but what we love. And what we love and seek above all is not the Lord…
In God’s law – his plan of communion, of alliance and familiarity with us – lies the consistency of the human person…
What greatness has been assigned to every moment of our life! “I am his for eternity, which for me is lived out in the instant.” Living eternity in the instant is what gives our days strength, purpose, greatness, and fascination.
The beginning of eternal happiness is exactly at this point, at the point when we ask the Lord to reveal himself and not cast us off forever, to show his face to us. We ask God not to forget the affliction and oppression that we are always enduring, by the very nature of faith in the world; not to forget that we are bowed down in the dust, that our body cleaves to the ground. Only God can make us get up and walk again in the darkness of the world, where all around is death.”
Monsignor Giussani (d 2005) was a priest from Milan, Italy, who was the founder of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation.
The Self-Satisfaction of the Pharisees,
October 11, 2005, Magnificat Meditation
“We are saved from the worst of all diseases – being satisfied. (To be at peace is a very different thing.) The man who is satisfied with himself and with things as they are today really admits despair.
Nothing can any longer be ugly to us in the sense of being repellent, for in this search we realize that God is everywhere, and everything reminds us of him.
Before this longing, this desire, took hold of us, life was rather like a popular song, a little vulgar, a little absurd. But when we are in love, a popular song is informed with a totally different meaning. We associate it with the one we love, and its melody becomes “enchanting.”
It is impossible to know God, even through the sense of absence, without falling in love with him, and when one is in love with God, life does become like a popular song which haunts us. Life as we have made it is indeed as cheap and tawdry as any popu- lar song, but just because we now must be reminded of the beloved by every line of it and every note of it, it has become pure music and exquisite poetry for us.
By a curious paradox, our loss reveals the Divine Presence to us: Love is infinite desire.
On all the works of man we find the touch of Christ, provided that we are looking for some sign that God has been there… Only complacency can take away the sharp edge of love; boredom cannot do it and neither can aridity, for love is known as desire, which is stronger than we are and drives us as the wind drives a sail.
It is expedient that Christ should go, because we shall then seek, and seeking, touch the edge of the truths we cannot yet bear; because in the search we become aware of the wonder and mystery that contentment blinds us to.”
Caryll Houselander (+ 1954) was a British mystic, poet, wood carver, and spiritual teacher.
The Essence of Reform, 10(10)2005, Magnificat Meditation
“The reason why we are not self-sufficient is not owing, as is sometimes believed, to that awareness of our limitation which causes us to strive constantly to transcend our limits, as though we wished to grow indefinitely and succeed finally in becoming equal to the Whole in which we are called to live. It is not in swallowing up the Whole in its proper nature that creatures will succeed in breaking out of their solitude. And God himself, outside of whom no creature can subsist, and who gives to each of us the force that animates us, cannot be regarded as the only being who is self-sufficient merely because he continually calls into existence an infinity of other beings to whom he gives and shares the totality of his essence with whom he forms a real society in which there is no longer any difference between disposing of a power and putting it into practice, between receiving a gift and giving one.
There is therefore an evident prejudice in those movements of greed and ambition by means of which we seek continually to increase our dominion over things or to expand indefinitely the richness of our separated beings. Solitude is more difficult to bear when the creature commands more resources that belong to him alone and lacks no objects to captivate his desire. When the mind no longer desires anything, it experiences satiety and has nothing but contempt for the objects it possesses; consciousness feels more separated from objects when it disposes of them than when it was deprived of them. The more it has, the more isolated it is. This is because no creature can realize its destiny by selfishly hoarding all the riches of the world; each must go out of himself to produce there an action that delivers him and enables him to find other creatures with whom he can communicate.”
Louis Lavelle (d 1951) was a professor at the Sorbonne, Paris France, and was a prominent Christian philosopher.
Who’s The Greatest, 09(26)2005, Magnificat Meditation
Truly, the soul thus transformed loves, with the love of God, every creature as is fitting, because in every creature it perceives, understands, and recognizes god’s presence. Hence the soul finds joy and delight in the good fortune of a neighbor and grieves and is saddened at anyone’s misfortune. This is so because of the kindness of its disposition.
Seeing the spiritual or corporeal misfortunes of a neighbor, those who lead the spiritual life do not become puffed up by their own well-being and presume to judge or despise that person. For enlightened by the light of humility the soul sees itself perfectly, and seeing itself, it becomes aware and even knows that it has fallen in the same plight as its neighbor; or, if it has not fallen, it knows and understands it was not able by itself alone to resist falling, but by the help of God’s grace and grace holding the soul in its hand making it strong in the face of evil. For such a soul, judgment of one’s neighbor is not a source of pride but rather a reason for becoming more humble. Perceiving the defects of its neighbor makes it look at itself and makes it see very clearly its own evil and defects in which it has fallen or would have fallen had it not been for the supporting hand of God. When it sees the bodily ills of its neighbor, the transforming love of God makes it consider them as its own. It grieves and feels the compassion of the Apostle, who said: “Who is weak that I am not affected by it?” and so forth. Thus, just as I said that the virtue of love takes its origin from the root of humility, so the same can be said for faith, hope, and all the other virtues. For all of them, according to the particular nature of each, are initiated by and spring from humility as their foundation.
SAINT ANGELA OF FOLIGNO
Saint Angela (d. 1309) was a wife and mother who later became a Franciscan tertiary and an esteemed mystical writer.
Freedom From Religion VS. Freedom of Religion
A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance No Longer Tolerates Religion.
The Faith That Gave Birth to Tolerance is No Longer Tolerated!
Intolerance of traditional Judeo-Christian values is asing, as seen by a sampling of news headlines:
How did America go from Pilgrims seeking freedom to express their Judeo-Christian beliefs to today’s discrimination against those very beliefs in the name of tolerance? Ten Commandments taken down, “Under God” removed from Pledge, Prayer prohibited, Nativity Scenes banned, Boy Scouts sued, Religious Art & Music censored, Salvation Army defunded, Christmas Carols stopped, Bible called “hate speech,” Religious symbols erased off City Seals New Orleans, LA- ACLU sued to stop student led prayer. (12/11/01 AP) Virginia- ACLU sued to stop student moment-of-silence. (10/29/01 FoxNews) Santa Fe, NM- ACLU sued to stop student-led prayer before a football game and, in Adler case, sued to stop a student-led message. (12/13/01 Liberty Counsel, lc.org) Virginia Military Institute- ACLU suit ended the 50-plus year tradition of meal prayer. (01/02 WND.com) New York- Kindergartner told she could not pray out loud before snack time. (4/12/02 CNSNews.com) Balch Springs, TX- Seniors told they could not pray over their meals at senior center. (9/03 libertylegal.org) Seward, NE- Superintendent threatened to fire teacher who asked for prayer at a private meeting because school was anticipating lay-offs. (7/02 Liberty Counsel lc.org) USA- The IRS said churches can’t pray for Bush victory. (10/04 WorldNetDaily.com) Cf., BACKFIRED, by author William J. Federer, p. 187ff Discover How Tolerance Evolved:
From Puritans to Protestants to Catholics to Liberal Christians to Jews to Monotheists to Polytheists to all Religions to Atheists to only Politically correct.
Reference: Backfired, by William J. Federer.
“From its beginning, the new continent seemed destined to be the home of religious tolerance. Those who claimed the right of individual choice for themselves finally had to grant it to others.” –Calvin Coolidge, May 3, 1925.
“The frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance.
Question: Isn’t the real truth that they are intolerant of religion? –Ronald Reagan, August 23, 1984.
On Labor Day, Justice for Church Employees
by Rev.Richard P. McBrien, Theologian
“Labor Day is celebrated in all of North America on the first Monday of September. The holiday was established in the 1880s to provide a day of rest for those who work for a living – a category that, in principle, includes everyone who is gainfully employed, whether full-time or part-time. Many regard the day as the formal end of the summer vacation – a chance to enjoy one last picnic or cookout before the children return to school.
This column has frequently marked the annual Labor Day observance by reminding readers, and especially those who exercise pastoral authority in the Church, of the richness and abiding relevance of Catholic social teaching and of the ongoing challenge to apply that teaching to the Church itself.
The Third World Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome in 1971 declared that “While the Church is bound to give witness to justice, it recognizes that anyone who ventures to speak to people about justice must first be just in their eyes” (“Justice in the World,” III, 2).
The U.S. Catholic bishops cited that document in their own pastoral letter, “Economic Justice for All,” in 1986: “All the moral principles that govern the just operation of any economic endeavor apply to the Church and its agencies and institutions; indeed the Church should be exemplary” (n. 347; italics in original).
Because the Church should set an example of justice for all other institutions, I wrote in 1997, it is never permissible to say that working for the Church requires people to accept less than what is just. Nor can the Church excuse itself by claiming that it is no worse than some other employers in the area.”
“The Church is always called to a higher standard, which is the Gospel itself.
“To be sure,” my 1999 Labor Day column concluded, “these pointed words of both the Synod of Bishops and the U.S. Catholic bishops are utterly meaningless if they are not honored in practice in every diocese, parish, school, and hospital operating under Catholic auspices.”
“Labor Day 1999 offers the Church a renewed challenge to practice what it preaches.
The next year’s column ended on the same note: “Until the Church makes the matter ofjustice-in-the-Church one of its highest priorities, it cannot credibly refer to itself as the sacrament of Christ. The principle of sacramentality requires the Church to practice what it preaches about social justice and human rights.
“Labor Day is a good time to remember that.
In 2001 this column quoted from another important document, the apostolic exhortation of Pope Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi (“On Evangelization in the Modern World”), in which he insisted that the “first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life.” “People, he said, listen “more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if (they) do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses….”
“It is therefore primarily by its conduct and by its life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by its living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus…” (n.41).
Last year’s Labor Day column ended with an examination of conscience:
As we approach this Labor Day weekend, the Church has another opportunity to reflect on its own record in these matters.
“Does it provide a just wage, adequate health-care benefits, and true job security for all of its school teachers, parish ministers, secretarial staff, hospital personnel, newspaper editors and reporters, maintenance workers, and the like?
“Does it honor its written contracts, especially after a new bishop, pastor, principal, or hospital administrator is appointed and begins to clean house?
“Does the Church recognize that these contracts are enforceable in a civil court, and, if not, are the employees advised of this fact at the time they sign the contracts?
“When church.employees who believe that they were unjustly dismissed from their jobs seek relief in the civil courts, does the Church routinely appeal to the First Amendment (as it has so often in sexual-abuse cases), arguing that the principle of separation of Church and state immunizes the Church from the scrutiny of the courts, effectively placing the Church above the law?”
As the 1971 World Synod declared, “(anyone who ventures to speak to people about justice must first be just in their eyes.)
“Nothing teaches like example.” The U.S. Catholic bishops issue an annual statement just prior to the Labor Day holiday. Last year this column asked if the bishops will ever explicitly repeat and reaffirm a key point in their 1986 pastoral letter, namely, that Catholic social teachings apply to the Church itself.
We continue to wait — with hope.
The Church and Change
by Rev.Richard P. McBrien, Theologian; 9/05/05
A few months ago, The New York Times Magazine published a cover-story on Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. The article focused on various aspects of his life and political career, including his religious affiliation and convictions.
Senator Santorum is a Catholic, albeit of a particular kind. He attends Sunday Mass along with Justice Antonin Scalia and other prominent Catholics of similar orientation at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, Virginia, where the liturgy is in Latin and the priest prays with his back to the congregation, just like it was in the days before the Second Vatican Council. However, at 47 years of age today, Senator Santorum was only 4 years old when the Second Vatican Council opened in October, 1962, and only 7 when it adjourned in December, 1965.
He never attended a Catholic college or university, having received a B.A. in Political Science from Penn State in 1980, an M.B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
One of his fellow Catholic senators, Susan Collins of Maine, has referred to him as a Catholic missionary in the Senate. She occasionally attends the study group he organized to promote more knowledge of the Catholic faith. Only Republicans are invited.
One is tempted to ask if this is one of those cases of the blind leading the blind (with apologies to anyone offended by the politically incorrect usage). Indeed, there is a book, Catholicism for Dummies, co-authored by two priests who also lack theological credentials. But they are “safe” enough to have a regular program on Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).
In the Times Magazine article, Senator Santorum is portrayed as exuberant over the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new pope.
“What you saw,” he claimed, “is an affirmation by the cardinals that the church is not going to change, even though maybe Europe and North America want it to. It is going to stay the way it has been for 2,000 years.” A remarkable statement indeed from someone who has never had a graduate-level course in church history.
Blessed John XXIII reminded us in his opening address to the Second Vatican Council that history is “the teacher of life.” Without a sense of history, one is always vulnerable to the temptation of accepting and repeating generalities that are without factual basis or, more specifically, are contradicted by the facts of history.
Many Catholics believe, for example, that only the pope can appoint bishops. But the pope has only exercised that prerogative for the universal Church since the 19th century. Before that, bishops were selected by various processes, the most common of which during the First Christian Millennium was election by the clergy and laity of the diocese in which they would serve.
Catholics today take for granted that bishops can be transferred from smaller dioceses to larger dioceses when they are deemed suitable for greater pastoral responsibilities. But in the early Church that was not only uncommon; it was absolutely prohibited – and by no less than the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the same council that defined the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ.
Indeed, the body of a deceased pope, Formosus (891-896), was dug up and placed on trial because he had accepted election as Bishop of Rome when he was already the bishop of another diocese in Italy (Porto).
A few months ago many people both inside and outside the Catholic Church speculated about whether the new pope would come from Latin America or perhaps from Africa. Throughout the First Millennium, this would have been unthinkable. Bishops were elected from the local diocesan clergy, and once in office they remained in the same diocese until death.
But these are only a few examples of changes that have occurred in the Catholic Church. There are countless others in the realm of doctrine (the Church once approved of slavery, while condemning the taking of interest on loans), liturgy (the Mass was originally in Greek, then Latin, and then in many other languages), and even the making of saints (it was not until the year 993 that a saint was canonized by a pope; before then it was a matter of acclamation by the people).
Senator Santorum is surely not the only Catholic who is unaware of the lessons of church history. Nor is he alone in mistakenly believing that the church is not going to change, that it is going to stay the way it has been for 2,000 years.
But if history is “the teacher of life,” we need to learn from it.
The above two essays were published 8/26/2005 and 9/05/2005 and are provided by the Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity. Please share them. Your comments and contributions are welcome. To be added to their mailing list write to: Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity; P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL 62222.
The New Pope as Theologian by Richard P. McBrien
“The New Pope As Theologian – I” “In a recent article in Commonweal magazine (“The Church in Crisis: Pope Benedict’s Theological Vision,” 6/3/05), Father Joseph Komonchak of The Catholic University of America insists that there is a “deeper continuity in the new pope’s basic theological approach and vision” than some commentators have recognized.
Father Komonchak argues that Joseph Ratzinger’s theological stance before and during the Second Vatican Council did not subsequently change from progressive to conservative mainly because of student unrest at the University of Tubingen in 1968.
Biographies of the new pope do point out that the future pope left Tubingen for the more sedate atmosphere of Regensberg, where his priest-brother Georg was the cathedral choirmaster. Undoubtedly, Father Ratzinger’s decision to resign from his more prestigious professorship in Tubingen had something to do with the harassment he increasingly experienced from students there.
Komonchak situates the new pope’s theological vision in the context of the frequently-cited division between theologians who interpreted the conciliar renewal as primarily one of returning to the sources of Scripture, early Christian writings, and the dogmatic decrees of the first few ecumenical councils (an overall approach known in French as ressourcement), and other theologians who saw Vatican II and the theological and pastoral developments it inspired primarily in terms of church reform. In Father Komonchak^s reading of the matter, Pope Benedict XVI did not later switch sides, as it were, abandoning his previous support of the council, where he had been a theological adviser to the late Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne, Germany, and before that a close collaborator of the influential Jesuit theologian, Karl Rahner.
The former Cardinal Ratzinger had been consistent in his view that the council was essentially a work of resourcement, of overcoming the limitations of the then-dominant neo-Scholastic theology by returning to the biblical, patristic, and doctrinal sources of the earliest Christian centuries.
What had upset him, Komonchak insists, was not the council as such but some of the developments that occurred after the council and in its name, particularly those affecting the Churchs’ liturgy.
Anyone familiar with my own writings (whether in this weekly column or in other venues) will not be surprised that, while I find Father Komonchak’s analysis very helpful indeed, I would not situate the matter in an either/or framework.
Authentic reform presupposes a return to the sources. True reformers, as the great Dominican theologian, Cardinal Yves Cougar, once reminded us, are those who call the Church not to a complete break with the past, but to a building upon the past in response to new theological and pastoral challenges.
Accordingly, it is not a matter of resourcement or reform, but of a resourcement that provides the foundation for ongoing reform, and of reform grounded in the authentic tradition of the Church rather than in one of the Church’s historical periods, as if frozen in time.
Impatience with neo-Scholasticism, Father Komonchak suggests, led the young theologian, Joseph Ratzinger, to “resist the nearly exclusive emphasis placed on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas,” which he found “too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made.” He “far preferred” the personalism of St. Augustine (d. 430) and the more ascetical approach of St. Bonaventure (d. 1274), himself a neo-Augustinian.
But what young Joseph Ratzinger seems to have opposed was not so much Aquinas’s “closed-in,” “mpersonal” theology as his readiness to seek common ground and enter into dialogue with the newly translated works of Aristotle and his Arabian commentators.
In his second dissertation, qualifying him to lecture as a theologian,the future pope showed how St. Bonaventure, a contemporary of Aquinas, set himself against this development. He continued to insist on the unity of Christian wisdom for which Christ was the center of all knowledge.
Father Komonchak acknowledges that “Bonaventure ended in an anti-Aristotelianism that came close to anti-intellectualism, and he was among those who urged ecclesiastical authorities to intervene and censure the Thomist position.”
This seemingly theoretical dispute came to a practical head at the Second Vatican Council, in the historic debate over the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes, “Joy and hope.”)
The division between the return-to-the-sources side and the reform side at Vatican II and beyond, Father Komonchak suggests, is really a division between those who regard the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium, “Light of nations”) as the key conciliar document and those who favor Gaudium et spes.
Again, however, it is not a matter of either/or, but of both/and. Either/or represents a sectarian vision; both/and, a Catholic one.
One assumes that the new pope’s theological vision is Catholic in the fullest sense of the word.
“The New Pope As Theologian – II” By the time this week’s column appears, more of the dust may have settled on the enforced editorial change at America magazine and additional information may have become available.
As of this moment, however, it seems clear that there had been pressure on the Jesuits, applied from both sides of the Atlantic – in the Vatican and among a handful of U.S. bishops – to correct perceived imbalances in the editorials and articles that have been published in the Jesuits’ highly respected weekly magazine over the past few years.
When the news first broke via an e-mailed press release from the America offices, those who had been completely out of the loop, including this writer, did not even suspect that Father Thomas Reese’s departure as editor-in-chief was other than voluntary.
But the word quickly spread as phone calls and e-mails from various media outlets began coming in. ] expressed surprise and astonishment when informed of the reports that Father Reese had indeed been sacked, as the British are fond of putting it. I can think of no Catholic in the public sphere who is more moderate, more responsible, or more restrained in his judgments and statements than Father Thomas Reese. Indeed, he often bent over backwards, as it were, to avoid even the appearance of opposing official church teachings and policies.
But as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. For all of his care and judiciousness in educating the public about the Catholic Church, Father Reese reaped not a vote of thanks from church officials, but a pink slip.
Some years ago, one of the best-read columnists in the Catholic press, a prominent priest-sociologist, used to complain about clerical envy. If memory serves, the columnist was referring to the sentiments that many parish priests might have felt toward highly visible priests like himself – author of many books, popular on the lecture circuit, frequent guest on television, and oft-quoted in the press. There may well have been priests who would have liked to see him taken down a peg or two.
One suspects that there is at least some measure of clerical envy involved here. Father Reese has been one of the most public faces on the U.S. Catholic scene, not only as editor-in-chief of America magazine but also as an author of several books, a much sought-after source for major newspapers and magazines, and a frequent contributor to network and cable television programs. He was all over television during the month of April, from the time of Pope John Paul II’s final illness through the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
By any reasonable standard, Father Reese’s public comments have always been fair, informed, balanced, and consistently respectful of the Catholic tradition. The last adjective that few people would have attached to him was “controversial.” But perhaps it wasn’t the “controversial” part that was most bothersome, but the “public” part. Why is it that, when the major media outlets need some objective and straightforward illumination of breaking developments in the Catholic Church, they seek out people like Father Reese rather than bishops?
There are two reasons. First, many bishops are uncomfortable with the media and limit their availability to carefully crafted press releases. Second, when bishops do speak to the media, they tend to be guarded to a fault. They engage in what media people call “spin.” One rarely if ever hears a fresh, personal opinion, much less a respectful question raised about a particular Vatican initiative or pronouncement.
A major exception was the response of some high-ranking members of the hierarchy – but not in the U.S. – to the document, Dominus Jesus, issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in September, 2000.
Many people mistakenly charged that this document repudiated Vatican II’s teaching on salvation outside the Catholic Church. In that instance, however, there were bishops who, while defending the basic teaching of the document, openly criticized it for its tone and for its failure to incorporate important post-conciliar developments regarding ecumenism and relations with non-Christian religions.
Will any U.S. bishops or Father Reese’s brother Jesuits express their own concern about the meaning and impact of this latest action, which not only reflects upon the integrity of an individual Jesuit but also the Society of Jesus in the United States and one of its flagship publications?
Among the possible fallouts from this action are these two: first, the U.S. Catholic Church may lose one of its most credible and effective spokespersons with the capacity to explain and interpret developments in the Church to a wider public; and second, others like him may be less inclined to step into the breach.”
This essay, Part I and Part II, is provided by the Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity. Please share it. Your comments and contributions are welcome. To be added to their mailing list write to: Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity; P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL 62222.
Bioethicist Shatters Stem Cell Myths
Bioethicist shatters stem cell myths Proponents spin, hype and oversell embryonic stem cell facts and myths “True or False? The Catholic Church opposes stem cell research. In the high stakes debate over this emerging therapy the answer to that question, says Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, is not necessarily obvious.
“We must discriminate true claims from all the that’s out there,” said I Pacholczyk, a bioethicist who earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Yale University and currently serves as director of education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center Philadelphia.
Invited to address Washington Catholic Medical Association’s annual spring meeting in Seattle last week, Father Pacholczyk said it not always easy to cut through spin and overselling associated with the stem cell claims.
The Catholic Church opposes the destruction of human embryos for stem cell research. Father Pacholczyk points out, however, embryos are only one source of stem cells.
The reason stem research is so important – and subject to so much hype – is that stem cells can replace or heal damaged tissue and cells in the body to cure a variety of diseases. Father Pacholczyk said the Church does not oppose research using stem cells provided they come from sources that do not require the destruction of human embryos.
Options, disadvantages downplayed Stem cells can be taken from Umbilical cords, the placenta, amniotic fluid, adult tissues and organs such as bone marrow, fat from liposuction, regions of the nose and even cadavers up to 20 hours after death, he said.
The reason embryonic stems cells are so attractive to researchers is that they can be used to create an endless source of “blank” cells that appear to have the potential for making any other cell. Taken from vitro fertilization clinics, embryonic stem cells, can be kept alive forever under the right conditions. Father Pacholczyk said.
What is not commonly known is how difficult it is to achieve the desired results and the likelihood that stem cells from a random embryo “donor” will be rejected after transplantation. These disadvantages and the moral objections raised by the Church do not apply to adult-type stem cell lines.
While acknowledging that adult stem cells lack the ready availability, immortality and flexibility of their embryonic counterparts, Father Pacholczyk said more than 90 diseases may be treated or even cured using adult stem cells. No disease, on the other hand, has ever been successfully treated using embryonic stem cells, he said.
Public funding debate In Seattle this week, a group of University of Washington scientists proposed lifting a federal funding moratorium for embryonic stem cell research. While many Americans believe that federal law prohibits destruction of human embryos for research, the fact is that embryonic stem cell research is legal “as long as you use your own money,” said Father Pacholczyk.
Federal funding for human research that would destroy human embryos been prohibited since 1996 when Congress passed the Dickey Amendment during the Clinton Administration. President Bush relaxed this restriction by permitting research on embryonic stem cell lines that had been created prior to August 9,2001.
“It is not necessary to invest hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in a highly speculative and morally problematic project when we have remarkable breakthroughs occurring through the use of adult stem cells,” Father Pacholczyk said. “We stand on the cusp of a new era of regenerative medicine thanks not to embryonic stem cell research but to research using adult stem cells.”
Father Pacholczyk said claims by the University of Washington researchers that a significant part of the state economy or biotech industry depends on the destruction of human embryos were similar to claims by other proponents of embryonic stem cell research. “That’s simply not accurate from a fiscal point of view,” he said. “The first question is the moral one. If this is immoral research, it shouldn’t be happening within the confines of Washington State.
Study shows more than half of Americans oppose federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. The USCCB cited the national survey conducted by the International Communications Research, which polled over 1,000 American adults.
Survey Questions asked:
Do you support or oppose using federal tax dollars for experiments involving the destruction of human embryos?
Oppose: 52%; Support 36%; Don’t know or refused 12%.
Should scientists be allowed to clone human embryos to be destroyed in medical research?
No 77%; Yes 15%; Don’t know or refused 8%.
Catholic Northwest Progress Staff
BIOETHICIST SHATTERS STEM CELL MYTHS
by Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk
www.seattlearch.org/progress, May 26, 2005
Catholic Northwest Progress, SEATTLE
KNOM, Nome, Alaska, Oldest Catholic Radio Stations in the U.S.
Inspirational Spots to November 2005
Timeless Inspirational Spots:
How far you go in life depends on how tender you are with the young, how compassionate you are with the aged, how sympathetic you are with those who are striving, and how tolerant you are of both the weak and the strong. Because someday in life, you will have been all of them. On this day: mend a quarrel. Dismiss a suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter to someone who misses you. Encourage someone. Keep a promise. Examine your demands on others. Express your gratitude. Overcome a fear. Show someone you love them and do it again…and again…and again…. Be what you’re supposed to be, do what you’re supposed to do, and leave the rest to God. Modern society tells us that pleasure is the proof of love, that if someone makes us happy, then it must be love. If this is true, once we are no longer happy, we must not be in love. Jesus teaches us another way. It is a mutual willingness to sacrifice that is the proof of Christian love. When our sacrifices are offered freely, our love is proven and God is pleased. When that day finally comes when we make the big move from this world to the next, the only riches that we will he allowed to take with us are all that we have given away to those in need. Blessed is the home where God is present and the spirit of Christ rules.
Blessed is the home made holy by devotion, where parents and children pray together.
Blessed is the home where children grow up and parents do not act like children.
Blessed is the home where all show their love in ways that mean the most to those they love. The world wants your best. God wants your all. Hell must be something like and eternity of “if onlys.” If only I’d listened. If only I’d spent more time in preayer. If only I’d quit drinking sooner. If only I’d been a better parent.
Heaven, on the other hand, is all love, a gift freely given by God. We need to accept that Love and put it to work in our lives here on earth. Doors is cyberspace. Chat rooms. Virtual reality. Computers can now mimic real life so closely, we might have a tough time figuring out what is real and what is not.
God knows that we humans need to learn with our senses.
That’s why the Sacrament of the Eucharist is so important.
It is not an abstract presence of God. We hold Jesus in our hands. Many people find it easier to weep with those who weep than it is to rejoice with those who rejoice. It’s easier to focus on the negative.
Yet, a sure way to greater and growing happiness is to celebrate the good things that come into the lives of others, allow their delight to become your delight.
Your life will be enriched when you share in the happiness and good fortune of others. Come work for the Lord. The work is hard, the hours are long and the pay is low. But the retirement benefits are out of this world. Show your love of Christ to someone today, and Christ will show His love for you forever. A group of nuns in a foreign country wanted to join in a demonstration against a corrupt government. They believed it was their moral obligation to speak out. Others from the convent disagreed. They said “it’s too dangerous, its improper for us to politically demonstrate.” The community agreed that those who wanted to demonstrate could do so. Those who wanted to express their disagreement with the government but were unable to do so could support the demonstration with food and medical assistance. Those who disapproved would pray. God calls some to action, others to support, and others to prayer. All do as they believe is right. All follow Christ. Today’s society tells us we should be tolerant and open-minded regarding new ideas, especially when they are in conflict with the truth. But there’s a big difference between new ways of seeing the truth and changing the truth. Lord, teach me to know that difference so that my open mind will be closed for repairs when the wrong ideas come knocking. Lord, let my actions be prayer in motion: silent, effective and born of love. Forgiveness is not being a door mat. It’s opening the door. As we all came into this world with nothing, everything we have is a gift. On October 22, 2004, KNOM received for the 12th time, The Gabriel Radio Station of the Year Award, given for positive programming that addresses human needs. Saint Augustine once said: “Find out how much God has given you and from it, take what you need. The remainder which you do not require is needed by others.” “The superfluities of the rich are the necessities of the poor. Those who retain what is superfluous possess the goods of others.” Taking up our cross means the acceptance of what is – often quite against our wills – inflicted upon us. But we take it with an openness to the possibility that out of that affliction, a blessing can be extracted with a little imagination and with God’s grace. Lord, guide my steps in ways of grace – that they may ever be in harmony with the music to which You have set this world. A day hemmed in prayer seldom unravels. Your life may be the only gospel some people will ever read. You can’t trust the Good Shepherd until you first become one of his sheep. Forgiveness is the perfume that the trampled flower casts back to the foot that crushed it. Hallowed be Thy Name, not mine. Thy kingdom come, not mine. Thy will be done, not mine. Can you feel God’s encouragement? Can you sense in creation or in the presence of loved ones, or just in your heart, that your Creator knows you and approves of you? The right amount of light we receive doesn’t depend on the voltage in the lines. Usually, it’s the size of the bulb we use that makes the difference. God has given us unlimited power through His Son. But we cannot give His Light to the world through small bulbs. Without charity, without adequate time for worship, without a dedication to service, we have no right to expect great results. We are the light of the world! Do we expect God to give us the light to illuminate the earth, but we’ve only plugged a 15-watt bulb into His power line? A voyage of discovery involves not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes. Because God loves you, you never stand alone. You can go beyond yourself. You can ask forgiveness of those you’ve hurt. You can care for the weak. You have the power to touch hearts with compassion. The power of God’s Love lies within you. Love sees through a telescope, not a microscope. There is nothing as strong as gentleness, or as gentle as true strength. The Creator of Mount Everest also made the comparatively miniscule people who climb it. We mustn’t be so awestruck by God’s power that we forget He’s also concerned about each and every one of us. If loving every one of your neighbors was easy – it wouldn’t be a commandment. People see God every day. They just don’t recognize Him. – Pearl Bailey If prayer is only a last resort, then we are thinking of God as a repairman. This day is a gift from God. Will I keep it just for myself, or share it with others? Love is silence when words would hurt. You know the story of Saint George the Dragon Slayer. He’s the knight in shining armor who rides into a North African town and hears about afire-breathing dragon that demands the locals regularly send him a human sacrifice. As it turns out, the victim of the day is a beautiful princess. George subdues the dragon, brings it back to town and says “be baptized in Christ and I will kill the dragon.” They are. He does. There’s a big celebration. George and the princess live happily ever after. It’s a great story – but it’s not true. That version of the tale was written a thousand years after the real Saint George died a martyr to the Roman persecutions in Palestine around the year 300. Nothing else is known of George’s life. Nevertheless, George is patron saint of the Boy Scouts, Germany, Portugal and England, and his symbol of a red cross on a white background even became part of England’s flag. His feast day is April 23rd. (The story of Saint George is one of 39 spots on the saints which former KNOM’er Timothy Cochran recorded between ten and fifteen years ago. They continue to rotate on the air, and they sound as fresh as ever!) The way we treat others, perhaps more than anything else, is the measure of our union with God and our continuous practice of living prayer. In times of struggle and sorrow, remember that God knows best. He always has His reasons. American humorist Hosea Ballou once wrote: “Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.” The most important things in life are not things. God expects us to be construction workers, not part of the wrecking crew! As Christians, we have the light of Christ within us. But Jesus reminds us that it is not enough to have this light. We must shine it. KNOM is the oldest Catholic radio station in the United States. 97% of this award-winning radio station’s income is gifts from people like you.
Inspirational Spots, . . . . Timeless
Hallowed be Thy Name, not mine. Thy kingdom come, not mine. Thy will be done, not mine. Can you feel God’s encouragement? Can you sense in creation or in the presence of loved ones, or just in your heart, that your Creator knows you and approves of you? The right amount of light we receive doesn’t depend on the voltage in the lines. Usually, it’s the size of the bulb we use that makes the difference. God has given us unlimited power through His Son. But we cannot give His Light to the world through small bulbs. Without charity, without adequate time for worship, without a dedication to service, we have no right to expect great results. We are the light of the world! Do we expect God to give us the light to illuminate the earth, but we’ve only plugged a 15-watt bulb into His power line? A voyage of discovery involves not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes. Because God loves you, you never stand alone. You can go beyond yourself. You can ask forgiveness of those you’ve hurt. You can care for the weak. You have the power to touch hearts with compassion. The power of God’s Love lies within you. Love sees through a telescope, not a microscope. There is nothing as strong as gentleness, or as gentle as true strength.
Hope is putting Faith to work when doubting would be easier. Does someone in your life aggravate you? Does one of their habits frequently irritate you? Has a friend recently put you down? Does someone you know wish you harm? Jesus said an amazing thing: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Great and wonderful things happen when you do. It’s impossible to feel anger toward someone you’re praying for. God will improve your attitude and intensify your forgiveness. We go through life collecting bricks and steel bars of sin, hurt and doubt. This world tells us that we’re free to collect these thing, so long as we’re not hurting anyone. But the reality is that these bricks and bars add up. They build a priso cell arond our soul, keeping us from others, keeping us from God. We can see great beauty beyond those walls with a surrender to the Peace of Christ.
Keep this thought handy to help brighten your day: God is absolutely, without a doubt, head-over-heels in love with you. He sends you flowers every spring, and a sunrise every morning. He could live anywhere in the universe. But he chose your heart. Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If we add more worry, it can cut a deep channel through which all our other thoughts drain. Let your stream of worry trickle out of your mind — to God. Time on your knees will improve your standing. Remember the three R’s: Respect for yourself, regard for others and responsibility for all of your actions. Nothing to be thankful for? Check your pulse! Inspirational Spots – Christmas 2005 and
The conclusion of 2005
God of Love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of Your Word made flesh.
Make us a people of this light. Make us faithful to Your Word, that we may help bring Your Light into the darkness of waiting world. There must be some one to whom I could reach out, someone whose life I can bring a little Christmas joy. Not just family or friends – someone else will be remembering. It would be a nice Christmas gift for Our Lord on His birthday. Suggestions for a happy Christmas celebration:
Keep Christ in Christmas; Pause to consider the immensity of God’s gift of Christ to humankind; Be generous in giving to the needy; Plans for the happiness of those who are outside of your family and friends; Give gifts for the simple joy of sharing; Be patient and understanding with those who bear a burden at Christmas; Remember that just as Jesus the Christ is God’s Gift to us, we can make our celebration of His birth a gift to God. Born in a stable. A choice He made. Simplicity and poverty. A choice no temporal power or influence would have ever suggested. A choice – God became man in a way no one would have ever guessed. Do you suppose He was trying to tell us something? Dear God, help me see that this is not just another day. Open my eyes so I can clearly see the unique promise that this day holds. Open my mind so I can clearly understand the message and messengers You send my way. Open my heart so I may lovingly accept the challenges, blessings and surprises that You so lovingly will provide me today. Taken from Station KNOM’s 4-page newsletter published each month
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NRLC Will To Live Project
THE WILL TO LIVE Protects your own life and the lives of your family members when you cannot speak for yourselves
Names someone you trust to safeguard your life when you cannot speak for yourself as your “health care agent” Names backup agents if your first choice can’t serve Describes the treatment you do and do not want to guide your health care agent and physicians Protects your family and health care agent from pressure from health care providers and others by allowing them to prove what you really did want Relieves the agony of decision making for them by making your wishes clear What is the Will to Live? The Will to Live is a legal document that you can sign which: names someone to make health care decisions for you (your “heath care agent”) if you develop a condition that makes it impossible for you to speak for yourself (become “incompetent”), and makes clear (in the form of written instructions to your health care agent) what medical treatment you would want if you can no longer speak for yourself. SUGGESTIONS FOR PREPARING WILL TO LIVE
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
(Please read the document itself before reading this. It will help you better understand the suggestions.)
You are not required to fill out any part of this “Will to Live” or any other document such as a living will or durable power of attorney for health care. No one may force you to sign this document or any other of its kind.
The Will to Live form starts from the principle that the presumption should be for life. If you sign it without writing any “SPECIAL CONDITIONS,” you are giving directions to your health care provider(s) and health care agent1 to do their best to preserve your life.
Some people may wish to continue certain types of medical treatment when they are terminally ill and in the final stages of life. Others may not.
If you wish to refuse some specific medical treatment, the Will to Live form provides space to do so (“SPECIAL CONDITIONS”). You may make special conditions for your treatment when your death is imminent, meaning you will live no more than a week even if given all available medical treatment; or when you are incurably terminally ill, meaning you will live no more than three months even if given all available medical treatment. There is also space for you to write down special conditions for circumstances you describe yourself. The important thing for you to remember if you choose to fill out any part of the “SPECIAL CONDITIONS” sections of the Will to Live is that you must be very specific in listing what treatments you do not want. Some examples of how to be specific will be given shortly, or you may ask your physician what types of treatment might be expected in your specific case.
Why is it important to be specific? Because, given the pro-euthanasia views widespread in society and particularly among many (not all) health care providers, there is great danger that a vague description of what you do not want will be misunderstood or distorted so as to deny you treatment that you do want.
Many in the medical profession as well as in the courts are now so committed to the quality of life ethic that they take as a given that patients with severe disabilities are better off dead and would prefer not to receive either life-saving measures or nutrition and hydration. So pervasive is this “consensus” that it is accurate to say that in practice it is no longer true that the “presumption is for life” but rather for death. In other words, instead of assuming that a now incompetent patient would want to receive treatment and care in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, the assumption has virtually become that since any “reasonable” person would want to exercise a “right to die,” treatment and care should be withheld or withdrawn unless there is evidence to the contrary. The Will to Live is intended to maximize the chance of providing that evidence.
** Some states use the terms “attorney in fact,” “surrogate,” “designee,” and “representative” instead of “agent.” They are synonymous in for purposes of these suggestions.
It is important to remember that you are writing a legal document, not holding a conversation, and not writing a moral textbook. The language you or a religious or moral leader might use in discussing what is and is not moral to refuse is, from a legal standpoint, often much too vague. Therefore, it is subject to misunderstanding or deliberate abuse.
The person you appoint as your health care agent may understand general terms in the same way you do. But remember that the person you appoint may die, or become incapacitated, or simply be unavailable when decisions must be made about your health care. If any of these happens, a court might appoint someone else you don’t know in that person’s place. Also remember that since the agent has to follow the instructions you write in this form, a health care provider could try to persuade a court that the agent isn’t really following your wishes. A court could overrule your agent’s insistence on treatment in cases in which the court interprets any vague language you put in your “Will to Live” less protectively than you mean.
So, for example, do not simply say you don’t want “extraordinary treatment.” Whatever the value of that language in moral discussions, there is so much debate over what it means legally that it could be interpreted very broadly by a doctor or a court. For instance, it might be interpreted to require starving you to death when you have a disability, even if you are in no danger of death if you are fed.
For the same reason, do not use language rejecting treatment which has a phrase like “excessive pain, expense or other excessive burden.” Doctors and courts may have a very different definition of what is “excessive” or a “burden” than you do. Do not use language that rejects treatment that “does not offer a reasonable hope of benefit.” “Benefit” is a legally vague term. If you had a significant disability, a health care provider or court might think you would want no medical treatment at all, since many doctors and judges unfortunately believe there is no “benefit” to life with a severe disability.
What sort of language is specific enough if you wish to write exclusions? Here are some examples of things you might–or might not–want to list under one or more of the “Special Conditions” described on the form. Remember that any of these will prevent treatment under the circumstances–such as when death is imminent–described in the “Special Condition” you list it under. (The examples are not meant to be all inclusive– just samples of the type of thing you might want to write.)
“Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).” (If you would like CPR in some but not all circumstances when you are terminally ill, you should try to be still more specific: for example, you might write “CPR if cardiopulmonary arrest has been caused by my terminal illness or a complication of it.” This would mean that you would still get CPR if, for example, you were the victim of smoke inhalation in a fire.) “Organ transplants.” (Again, you could be still more specific, rejecting, for example, just a “heart transplant.”) “Surgery that would not cure me, would not improve either my mental or my physical condition, would not make me more comfortable, and would not help me to have less pain, but would only keep me alive longer.” “A treatment that will itself cause me severe, intractable, and long-lasting pain but will not cure me.”
Pain Relief Under the “General Presumption for Life,” of your Will to Live, you will be given medication necessary to control any pain you may have “as long as the medication is not used in order to cause my death.” This means that you may be given pain medication that has the secondary, but unintended, effect of shortening your life. If this is not your wish, you may want to write something like one of the following under the third set of “Special Conditions” (the section for conditions you describe yourself):
“I would like medication to relieve my pain but only to the extent the medication would not seriously threaten to shorten my life.” OR “I would like medication to relieve my pain but only to the extent it is known, to a reasonable medical certainty, that it will not shorten my life.” Think carefully about any special conditions you decide to write in your “Will to Live.” You may want to show them to your intended agent and a couple of other people to see if they find them clear and if they mean the same thing to them as they mean to you. Remember that how carefully you write may literally be a matter of life or death–your own. After writing down your special conditions, if any, you should mark out the rest of the blank lines left on the form for them (just as you do after writing out the amount on a check) to prevent any danger that somebody other than you could write in something else. It is wise to review your Will to Live periodically to ensure that it still gives the directions you want followed.
How to Use the Missouri Will to Live Form
–Suggestions and Requirements: This document allows you to designate an “attorney in fact” — someone, who does not have to be a lawyer, who will make health care decisions for you whenever you are unable to make them for yourself. It also allows you to give instructions concerning medical treatment decisions that your “attorney in fact” must follow. You must bring this document, unsigned and undated but otherwise completed, to a notary public, who will direct you to sign and date it and then will notarize it. Generally, your “attorney in fact” for health care must not be your attending doctor or an employee of your doctor, nor can your attorney in fact be an employee, owner, or operator of your hospital, nursing home, or other health care facility where you are a resident. However, you may select one of these IF: your “attorney in fact” for health care is your relative, + or you and your “attorney in fact” are members of the same religious community, bound by vows to a religious life, who conduct or assist in religious services, and regularly perform religious, charitable, or educational ministry, or health care services. It is helpful to designate successor attorney(s) in fact for health care, to take over if your first choice is unable to serve. There is space on the form for you to designate two successor attorneys in fact. You should tell your doctor about this document. You should also ask your doctor to keep a copy of this document as a part of your medical health record. Your attorney in fact’s authority takes effect only when you no longer have the capacity to make and communicate your own health care decisions. It ends upon certification that you are no longer incapacitated. The document will remain in effect until you revoke (cancel) it. You may revoke this document at any time and in any manner in which you communicate your intent to revoke the document to your attorney in fact or to your doctor. If you sign a new, valid durable power of attorney for health care document designating an attorney in fact for health care, you will revoke this document unless the new document specifically says otherwise. If you choose your spouse as your health care agent and either of you file for divorce or dissolution of your marriage, this document will be automatically revoked unless the document specifically says otherwise. This type of document has been authorized by the Missouri Durable Power of Attorney For Health Care Act, Mo. Ann. Stat. §§ 404.800 to -.865. You should periodically review your document to be sure it complies with your wishes. Before making any changes, be aware that it is possible that the statutes controlling this document have changed since this form was prepared. Contact the Will to Live Project by visiting www.nrlc.org (click on “Will to Live”) or an attorney to determine if this form can still be used. If you have any questions about this document or want assistance filling it out, please consult an attorney. These materials are provided as general information prepared by professionals on the subject matter covered. They are provided with the under standing that National Right to Life Committee is not engaged in rendering legal services. Although prepared by attorneys, these materials should not be utilized as a substitute for professional services in specific situations. If advice on the use of these materials is desired, the services of an attorney should be sought. + This must be a relative within the “second degree,” which means that you count the number of steps, counting one for each generation, from you up to the nearest common ancestor of yourself and this relative and add to it the number of steps from that common ancestor down to your relative.
The above chart illustrates a possible set of
relatives within the second degree. You can count
two or fewer lines to each of them
____________________________________________________________ For additional copies of the Will to Live, please visit:
Click on “Will to Live” National Right To Life Committee
Form prepared 2001
Missouri Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
Will to Live Form
I, __________________________________________________________, of
(name of principal)
Home Telephone:_______________Work Telephone: _______________
hereby designate ____________________________________________
(name of attorney in fact)
Home Telephone: _______________ Work Telephone: ______________
as my attorney in fact to make any health care decisions for me as authorized in this declaration consistent with the instructions below.
In the event the person I designate above is unable, unwilling or unavailable to act as my attorney in fact, I hereby appoint the following persons (each to act alone and successively, in the order named):
(name of successor attorney in fact)
Home Telephone:_______________ Work Telephone: ________________
(name of second successor attorney in fact)
Home Telephone:_______________ Work Telephone: ________________
as my successor attorney(s) in fact to make any health care decisions for me as authorized in this document consistent with the instructions below.
GENERAL PRESUMPTION FOR LIFE
I direct my health care provider(s) and attorney in fact to make health care decisions consistent with my general desire for the use of medical treatment that would preserve my life, as well as for the use of medical treatment that can cure, improve, or reduce or prevent deterioration in, any physical or mental condition. Food and water are not medical treatment, but basic necessities. I direct my health care provider(s) and attorney in fact to provide me with food and fluids orally, intravenously, by tube, or by other means to the full extent necessary both to preserve my life and to assure me the optimal health possible.
I direct that medication to alleviate my pain be provided, as long as the medication is not used in order to cause my death.
I direct that the following be provided: the administration of medication; cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); and the performance of all other medical procedures, techniques, and technologies, including surgery, — all to the full extent necessary to correct, reverse, or alleviate life-threatening or health-impairing conditions, or complications arising from those conditions. I also direct that I be provided basic nursing care and procedures to provide comfort care. I reject, however, any treatments that use an unborn or newborn child, or any tissue or organ of an unborn or newborn child, who has been subject to an induced abortion. This rejection does not apply to the use of tissues or organs obtained in the course of the removal of an ectopic pregnancy. I also reject any treatments that use an organ or tissue of another person obtained in a manner that causes, contributes to, or hastens that person’s death. The instructions in this document are intended to be followed even if suicide is alleged to be attempted at some point after it is signed. I request and direct that medical treatment and care be provided to me to preserve my life without discrimination based on my age or physical or mental disability or the “quality” of my life. I reject any action or omission that is intended to cause or hasten my death. I direct my health care provider(s) and attorney in fact to follow the above policy, even if I am judged to be incompetent. During the time I am incompetent, my attorney in fact, as named above, is authorized to make medical decisions on my behalf, consistent with the above policy, after consultation with my health care provider(s), utilizing the most current diagnoses and/or prognosis of my medical condition, in the following situations with the written special conditions. WHEN MY DEATH IS IMMINENT
A. If I have an incurable terminal illness or injury, and I will die imminently–meaning that a reasonably prudent physician, knowledgeable about the case and the treatment possibilities with respect to the medical conditions involved, would judge that I will live only a week or less even if lifesaving treatment or care is provided to me–the following may be withheld or withdrawn:
(Be as specific as possible; SEE SUGGESTIONS.):
(Cross off any remaining blank lines.)
WHEN I AM TERMINALLY ILL
B. Final Stage of Terminal Condition. If I have an incurable terminal illness or injury and even though death is not imminent I am in the final stage of that terminal condition–meaning that a reasonably prudent physician, knowledgeable about the case and the treatment possibilities with respect to the medical conditions involved, would judge that I will live only three months or less, even if lifesaving treatment or care is provided to me–the following may be withheld or withdrawn:
(Be as specific as possible; SEE SUGGESTIONS.):
(Cross off any remaining blank lines.)
C. OTHER SPECIAL CONDITIONS:
(Be as specific as possible; SEE SUGGESTIONS.):
(Cross off any remaining blank lines.)
IF I AM PREGNANT
D. Special Instructions for Pregnancy. If I am pregnant, I direct my health care provider(s) and health care representative(s) to use all lifesaving procedures for myself with none of the above special conditions applying if there is a chance that prolonging my life might allow my child to be born alive. I also direct that lifesaving procedures be used even if I am legally determined to be brain dead if there is a chance that doing so might allow my child to be born alive. Except as I specify by writing my signature in the box below, no one is authorized to consent to any procedure for me that would result in the death of my unborn child.
If I am pregnant, and I am not in the final stage of a terminal condition as defined above, medical procedures required to prevent my death are authorized even if they may result in the death of my unborn child provided every possible effort is made to preserve both my life and the life of my unborn child. ___________________________________________________________
THIS IS A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY AND THE AUTHORITY OF MY ATTORNEY IN FACT SHALL NOT TERMINATE IF I BECOME DISABLED OR INCAPACITATED OR IN THE EVENT OF LATER UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHETHER I AM DEAD OR ALIVE.
This power of attorney becomes effective upon certification by two licensed physicians that I am incapacitated and can no longer make my own medical decisions. The powers and duties of my attorney in fact shall cease upon certification that I am no longer incapacitated. This determination of incapacity shall be periodically reviewed by my attending physician and my attorney in fact.
I, ________________________________________________________, the principal,
sign my name to this instrument this day of _______________ 2________,
and being first duly sworn, do hereby declare to the undersigned authority that I sign it willingly, that I execute it as my free and voluntary act for the purposes therein expressed, and that I am eighteen years of age or older, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence.
Date: ________________ __________________________________
State of Missouri )
County of )
On this __________ day of ________________, 2________, before me personally appeared , to me known to be the person described in and who executed the foregoing instrument, and acknowledged that he or she executed the same as his/her free act and deed.
Notary Public ______________________________________________
My commission expires: ___________________________
Form Prepared 2001
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National ProLife Alliance Effort
“Because of literally hundreds of thousands of petitions, post cards, letters and telephone calls from National Pro-Life Alliance members like you to your Congressman and Senators last year, pro-life forces:
passed the ban on partial-birth abortion; stopped every effort by the abortion industry to secure taxpayer funding; built record support for the Life at Conception Act that when passed will overturn Roe v. Wade; helped recruit nearly 100,000 new members and supporters to the National Pro-Life Alliance cause. But as I write you today the reality is that over 1.5 million innocent babies will still be murdered by abortionists this year.
We must not pull back now.
The fact is that for 32 years nine unelected men and women on the Supreme Court have played God with innocent human life. Radical Supreme Court justices have invented laws that condemned to painful deaths without trial more than 45 million babies for the crime of being “inconvenient.”
That’s why it’s so important you and I move forward on every front to end abortion in America once and for all.
The fact is never once did the Supreme Court declare abortion itself to be a Constitutional right.
Instead, the Supreme Court said: “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins . . . the judiciary at this point in the development of man’s knowledge is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”
Then the High Court made a key admission: “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case [i.e.. ‘Roe’ who sought an abortion], of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”
Furthermore, the 14th Amendment says: “Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” That’s why it’s so important you continue to support the National Pro-Life Alliance’s efforts to end abortion by passing a Life at Conception Act.
By turning up the heat through a massive, national, grass-roots campaign to secure a vote in this session of Congress, one of two things will happen:
If you and I and other pro-life activists pour on enough pressure, pro-lifers can win passage of this bill and send it to President Bush’s desk.
But even if a Life at Conception Act doesn’t pass immediately, the public attention will send another crew of radical abortionists down to defeat in the next election.
Either way, the unborn win…unless you and I do nothing.”
…Martin Fox, President, National Pro-Life Alliance.
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Never Too Late For A Legal Abortion Susan E. Wills, Esq.
Associate Director for education
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
There’s an expression that sums up my frustration each January: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Every January 22, when the mainstream media pays fleeting attention to the abortion “issue,” they do not report that the landscape of abortion has changed for the better: statistically, culturally, and even legally. And every January, some trot out the same tiresome myth that Roe v. Wade “made abortion legal in the first trimester.” This implies, of course, that abortions are illegal after the first trimester.
In a recent debate at Georgetown Law School, a National Abortion Federation spokeswoman fibbed: “Most states have laws prohibiting late-term abortions.” Luckily, the bishops’ spokes- woman was there to correct the record: 19 of these laws prohibit nothing because they contain the infamous “health exception” which allows abortions for such “health” reasons as “can’t afford a baby” and “not ready for the responsibility” (the main reason women cite for having an abortion); the rest of them state prohibitions are unenforceable because they lack the broad “health” definition required by Doe v. Bolton: “all factors: physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age, relevant to the well-being of the patient.”
This January the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities tried to place ads in DC Metro trains. The ads simply and tastefully point out that abortion is legal throughout pregnancy.
Lawyers for DC Metro were incredulous: It can’t be! Send us proof! They poured over our documents, parsed the relevant Court opinions, and concluded that, gosh, abortion actually is legal after the first trimester. As a 1983 Senate Judiciary Committee report puts it: “no significant legal barriers of any kind whatsoever exist today in the United States for a woman to obtain an abortion for any reason during any stage of pregnancy.”
Why do some opinion polls on abortion (like a widely cited November 2004 Associated Press poll) show strong support for Roe v. Wade? Because when you ask a twisted question, you get a twisted answer: “… The 1973 Supreme Court ruling called Roe v. Wade made abortion in the first three months of pregnancy legal. Do you think President Bush should nominate Supreme Court justices who would uphold the Roe v. Wade decision, or nominate justices who would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision?” Fifty-nine percent were sufficiently deceived by this question, and opted to support Roe.
What is the true gauge of public opinion on Roe? A substantial majority of Americans are opposed to almost all abortions. Polls conducted in 2004 by Wirthlin Worldwide and Zogby found that 55% and 56% of respondents, respectively, would ban or narrowly restrict, abortion to circumstances of life endangerment, rape or incest (prohibiting the 98% of abortions done for other reasons). Another 25% said abortion should be legal for any reason, but only in the first trimester. In a May 2003 Gallup poll, 19% would ban all abortions and 42% would permit them in only a few circumstances. Result: 61% “pro-life” vs. 23% favoring current law.
We’re winning the battle for hearts and minds, but don’t count on the mainstream media to get the story straight. That’s your job and mine.”
As seen in the Diocese of Sioux Falls ‘Bishop’s Bulletin’.
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Corpus Christmas Letter 2004
For thirty years, CORPUS has been an unwavering voice for reform and renewal of Catholic priesthood. Eager to offer our Church the continued service of men who had experienced a call to both priesthood and marriage, a small group of married priests and their wives met at Christmastime to provide each other support and mutual encouragement.
Since that moment in 1974, nearly 20% of Catholic parish faith communities in the United States alone have either been closed or merged into large sacramental distribution centers without a resident priest. Today, 75% less priests minister to our Catholic women, men, and families who serve our country at home and abroad. It is often impossible to have a priest to visit a loved one in a hospital or nursing facility. Tens of thousands of women and men lacking spiritual nourishment have joined other faith communities or stop going to church altogether. Instead of reactivating the ministry of over 20,000 transitioned priests, ordaining married men, or opening priesthood to women, our bishops tell us to pray for vocations.
Today’s CORPUS members are people like you…
Lay people vitally concerned about the growing priest shortage and the decreasing seminary candidate pool; Women and men who have both the credentials and desire for ordination but are excluded by gender or marital status; Transitioned priests and their spouses / partners willing to be more active in ministry support of our Church. Transitioned priests and their spouses / partners willing to be more active in ministry support of our Church. Your membership and your additional financial support helps CORPUS encourage the development of collaborative faith communities; mentor women and men pursuing alternative ways to sacramental ministry; provide sacramental support; develop alternative visions of priesthood and ministry; and, engage our hierarchy in dialogue about issues facing our Church.
So many of you have mentioned that your CORPUS connections strengthen your faith and give you hope for the future of our church. Your heartfelt generosity this Christmas Season will go a long way to keeping our voice heard.
May you and your family be filled with joy and peace.
C. Russell Ditzel
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St. Louis Catholic Radio, WRYT Do you know St. Louis has:
listener-supported Lutheran Radio?
commercial anti-Catholic Fundamentalist Radio?
and… listener-supported Catholic Radio?
Many Cahtolics don’t know that we have a great and growing Catholic Radio station in town, WRYT 1080 am, featuring programs from Catholic networks and locally-produced programs such as Kenrick Seminary Fr. Michael Witte’s popular “History of the Church” and now, live airing of 10:00 a.m. Sunday Mass from the Cathedral Bascilica. The station is at 3515 Hampton, slightly north of St. Joan of Arc Parish on the west side of Hampton in the “Radio Shack” and “Catholic Knights” building.
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Reflections on the Rapidly Changing Catholic Priesthood
From: email@example.com; www.corpus.org
Date: November 28, 2004 12:32:58 PM EST
America (americamagazine.org), Vol. 191 No. 17, November 29, 2004
Toward Higher Ground
View From the Altar
By Howard P. Bleichner
Crossroad Publishers, 208p $19.95
“View From the Altar is a must-read for all who are interested in understanding the causes of the scandal of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy. Howard Bleichner, a Sulpician priest who has served for 40 years in seminary formation, 20 of them as rector of two major seminaries, deserves to be heard. His conclusion: the scandals coming to light in the 1970´s and 1980´s were a consequence of the inadequate seminary formation during the years 1967 to 1980.
Part One presents Bleichner´s thesis. Seminary formation from Trent to 1967 was stable and unchanging, much like the church itself. “The seminary deliberately cultivated the quality of an igloo, a place frozen in time. If the church was a timeless, unchanging institution in a changing world, its best and most vivid exemplar was the seminary and its devotion to a rule of life that remained unchanged from one generation to the next. The outside world had little impact on and no point of entry to this self-enclosed world.”
This system remained intact and was successful in providing structure for priests until the Second Vatican Council (196–265), and then it collapsed: “The Tridentine seminary´s only response to the tremors of the Council was to totter briefly on its foundation and collapse. And the collapse was total.”
Emerging in its wake was a very different system. The primary operative assumptions of seminaries and seminarians were not the traditional Catholic doctrinal and moral certainties of the Tridentine seminary but the insights of self-actualization psychology found in authors like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. This approach, though offering valuable guidelines for human growth, has latent within it two fateful side effects. Bleichner notes that these side effects are the key to understanding the mentality of seminarians and hence the subsequent sexual experimentation by priests emerging in the 1970´s and 1980´s, including same-sex scandals with minors. “First, when the self-actualization model is used, it often empties sinful actions of their objective content. Self-actualizers are set on an expanding continuum of personal growth, and ‘sins‘ are regarded as setbacks on the road to ever greater progress. Second, by definition, self-actualization places a low estimate on the value of rules. Rule-bound behavior is other-directed, external compliance to an outside agent. By contrast, the fully actualized person acts from internal motivation. Such persons are a rule unto themselves.”
To illustrate his thesis Bleichner traces by decades the results of a New York Times survey of reported sexual abuse by priests from 1950 to 2002. The numbers highlight the problem: the reported cases grew from 256 in the 1960´s to 537 in the 1970´s and 510 in the 1980–s and then decreased significantly in the 1990´s to 210. Bleichner sees a direct connection between the graduates of the self-actualization seminaries (1967 to 1980) and subsequent clerical sexual scandals.
The remainder of the book spells out how in the 1980´s the seminary system renewed itself, responding to the Second Vatican Council and to the rapidly changing American culture. Since the external supports of the pre-Vatican II Catholic subculture no longer existed, the seminaries focused explicitly on providing an interior spiritual formation, an “interior compass,” for the seminarian, who now needed a more internalized vision of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. “The compass should help him discern where real and ideal meet. It should tell him when he is on track. It should also let him know when he fails and how badly he fails.”
Parts Two and Three describe this interior compass. Part Two focuses on the personal spiritual life of the seminarian and includes chapters on personal and liturgical prayer as well as on the evangelical counsels; Part Three surveys the renewed theology of church and holy orders and includes chapters on the priest as minister of word, as minister of sacraments and as shepherd.
And there is good news. The system is working–witness the dwindling number of sexual clerical abuse cases in the 1990´s. Bleichner´s comment about his final year as a seminary rector is heartening: “The students at Theological College in my final year, 2002, were by far the best and healthiest group of seminarians I had encountered in a long career.”
One personal note. As one of those “self-actualization seminarians,” who even did a dissertation on Abraham Maslow, I am grateful to Bleichner for this book. I had never understood fully the transitions that my fellow seminarians and I suffered through in the 60´s. I find his thesis insightful in explaining our attitudes and behavior.
I am also grateful to the author for handling this sensitive topic with both raw honesty and brotherly compassion. “I wrote this book because I care deeply about the Roman Catholic priesthood. Like other Catholics, I was horrified at and scandalized by the steady stream of stories of the sexual abuse of children and young people by priests that began rolling out in January, 2002. I was revolted by attempts to hide these incidents, ignore victims and evade responsibility. For me as a priest, horror mixed with shame because I could not separate myself from the perpetrators of such unspeakable deeds. I was joined to them in the priesthood of Jesus Christ.”
View From the Altar reminds us that spirituality must be at the core of seminary formation. The church can ignore this message only at great peril to its existence.”
Richard J. Hauser
–Richard J. Hauser, S.J., is director of the graduate program in Christian spirituality and rector of the Jesuit community at Creighton University, Omaha, Neb.
–Copyright © 2004 by America Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved. For information about America, go to www.americamagazine.org. To subscribe to America, call 1-800-627-9533, or subscribe online at www.kable.com/pub/amer/subDom.asp –
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Articles presented for your review do not necessarily represent the “official” position of CORPUS.
Please feel free to forward this email to those you think would appreciate the information, specifically including original source citations. Should you, at any time, wish to be removed from our mailings, please advise by return email.
CORPUS, the national association for an inclusive priesthood
Rooted in a strong Eucharistic commitment, CORPUS promotes an expanded and renewed priesthood of married and single women and men in the Catholic Church.
VISIT CORPUS PRAYER SPACE AT www.corpus.org
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Catholics in Political Life
“We speak as bishops, as teachers of the Catholic faith and of the moral law. We have the duty to teach about human life and dignity, marriage and family, war and peace, the needs of the poor and the demands of justice. Today we continue our efforts to teach on a uniquely important matter that has recently been a source of concern for Catholics and others.
It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning, founded on her understanding of her Lord’s own witness to the sacredness of human life, that the killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified. If those who perform an abortion and those who cooperate willingly in the action are fully aware of the objective evil of what they do, they are guilty of grave sin and thereby separate themselves from God’s grace. This is the constant and received teaching of the Church. It is, as well, the conviction of many other people of good will.
To make such intrinsically evil actions legal is itself wrong. This is the point most recently highlighted in official Catholic teaching. The legal system as such can be said to cooperate in evil when it fails to protect the lives of those who have no protection except the law. In the United States of America, abortion on demand has been made a constitutional right by a decision of the Supreme Court. Failing to protect the lives of innocent and defenseless members of the human race is to sin against justice. Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.
As our conference has insisted in Faithful Citizenship, Catholics who bring their moral convictions into public life do not threaten democracy or pluralism but enrich them and the nation. The separation of church and state does not require division between belief and public action, between moral principles and political choices, but protects the right of believers and religious groups to practice their faith and act on their values in public life.
Our obligation as bishops at this time is to teach clearly. It is with pastoral solicitude for everyone involved in the political process that we will also counsel Catholic public officials that their acting consistently to support abortion on demand risks making them cooperators in evil in a public manner. We will persist in this duty to counsel, in the hope that the scandal of their cooperating in evil can be resolved by the proper formation of their consciences.
Having received an extensive interim report from the Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, and looking forward to the full report, we highlight several points from the interim report that suggest some directions for our efforts:
We need to continue to teach clearly and help other Catholic leaders to teach clearly on our unequivocal commitment to the legal protection of human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Our teaching on human life and dignity should be reflected in our parishes and our educational, health care and human service ministries. We need to do more to persuade all people that human life is precious and human dignity must be defended. This requires more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials, especially Catholic public officials. We welcome conversation initiated by political leaders themselves. Catholics need to act in support of these principles and policies in public life. It is the particular vocation of the laity to transform the world. We have to encourage this vocation and do more to bring all believers to this mission. As bishops, we do not endorse or oppose candidates. Rather, we seek to form the consciences of our people so that they can examine the positions of candidates and make choices based on Catholic moral and social teaching. The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions. We commit ourselves to maintain communication with public officials who make decisions every day that touch issues of human life and dignity. The Eucharist is the source and summit of Catholic life. Therefore, like every Catholic generation before us, we must be guided by the words of St. Paul, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27). This means that all must examine their consciences as to their worthiness to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord. This examination includes fidelity to the moral teaching of the Church in personal and public life.
The question has been raised as to whether the denial of Holy Communion to some Catholics in political life is necessary because of their public support for abortion on demand. Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times.
The polarizing tendencies of election-year politics can lead to circumstances in which Catholic teaching and sacramental practice can be misused for political ends. Respect for the Holy Eucharist, in particular, demands that it be received worthily and that it be seen as the source for our common mission in the world.
Catholics in Political Life was developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians in collaboration with Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFMCap, and Bishop Donald W. Wuerl. It was approved for publication by the full body of bishops at their June 2004 General Meeting and has been authorized for publication by the undersigned. ”
–Msgr. William P. Fay, General Secretary, USCCB; This is a short form of the Bishop’s 2004 Statement. See: – The Challenge of Faithful Citizenship
for the complete statement and much more.–
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Being Catholic when being so isn’t ‘cool’
By Dick Schenk –
St. Louis Archdiocesan Review, 09(19)2004
“I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, when weekly confession was more ritual than aberration, when Tuesday night meant Perpetual Help devotions, when most Catholic families attended Sunday Mass and when we followed the teaching of the Church almost without question.
Catholicism was often tough; but it felt bedrock strong to its members and was respected by those outside the Church. One might say Catholicism was cool.
Not so today. So many pick and choose, thus the term “cafeteria Catholic.”
My definition of Catholic is quite simple: one who follows the doctrine, theology and religious traditions as authenticated and interpreted by the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. For a Catholic to do otherwise is to become a Protestant of some formal, informal or just personal denomination.
Unfortunately, my definition doesn’t work for most Americans or for many who continue to call themselves Catholic. They are flush with their own accomplishments, affluence, and technology – the seeming ability to control lives and destiny.
Religion has become an accessory, a convenience and, at best, a solace in times of temporary personal crisis. Seemingly laudatory traits such as inclusiveness and tolerance have so replaced doctrine and conviction on America’s center stage that Catholicism appears as mean-spirited, inflexible and uninspired. Compounding this problem is a total lack of knowledge on the part of most Catholics of what their faith really means.
In casual conversation with fellow parishioners, 1 am far more likely to hear the New York Times or some “Catholic” senator, rather than the Vatican, quoted as an authoritative source for the proper practice of religion in America.
As never before, traditional Catholicism in America is perceived as out of step, not only with nonbelievers but also with a growing body of Catholics who have replaced Church authority with self interpretation of both the Bible and what the Church should be.
An erroneous consensus is developing in America that the Catholic Church is, after 2,000 years, showing its mortality.
But true Catholic’s cannot be a silent majority. Rather, we must intensify our study of the catechism, profess our faith more loudly and never compromise our belief Its doctrines relied the age of its leaders and not the realities of stem cell research, abortion and homosexuality.
For all of us who are true Catholics, I would say that we have been spoiled. In the United States, we have enjoyed a heady period of Church growth aided by the impact of the Depression, world wars and other military conflicts that demonstrated our mortality.
We were helped in the well-publicized miracles of Lourdes and Fatima. Catholicism became compatible with American beliefs.
In the wider lens of history, however, such periods are not many and arc fleeting. Why should we be surprised. The world is natural, religion is supernatural. When one discovers that these worlds are compatible, it is mostly by serendipity.
True Catholics stress fidelity to the Church’s magisterium and communion with the Pope rather than independent thinking and the freedom of self-expression. There is no way this perspective is consistent with today’s American culture.
None of this should surprise us. St. Paul in his epistles never implied a “big tent” or “feel good” type of faith. He talked using the analogy of battle: “truth buckled around your waist, integrity for your breastplate, always carrying the shield of faith.”
Our strength should be in the knowledge that we are in good company. Most saints gained their sanctity by practicing their faith in overt opposition to the decrees of governments and the beliefs of multitudes.
Yes, today being a Catholic in America isn’t cool and it will likely get worse. But true Catholic’s cannot be a silent majority.
Rather, we must intensify our study of the catechism, profess our faith more loudly and never compromise our beliefs in the interest of simply increasing Catholicism’s appeal to others.”
–Schenk is a member of St. Clement of Rome Parish in Des Peres. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.–
St. Louis Cleric Softens Stand on Voting by Catholics
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 5, 2004
“ST. LOUIS, Sept. 4 (AP) – The archbishop of St. Louis, who has said he would deny the sacrament of Communion to Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, because he supports abortion rights, now says Roman Catholics may vote for such candidates under certain circumstances.
Archbishop Raymond Burke said Catholic voters must believe that the candidate’s position on other moral issues outweighs the abortion-rights stance, but said it would be a grave sin to vote for an abortion-rights candidate because of that position. “That is what’s called formal cooperation in an intrinsically evil act,” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch quoted him as saying on Friday.
In July, he said Catholics could not vote for candidates or policies in support of abortion and be worthy to receive communion. On Friday, he told the newspaper he wanted to clarify his position “in order to make the discussion full, to articulate the matter as fully as possible.””
“We always have to remember that it’s objectively wrong to vote for a pro-choice politician,” Archbishop Burke told KMOX Radio. “People could be in ignorance of how serious this is.””
The Humble Exalted, Sunday, 08/29/2004, Magnificat “The Humble Exalted”
“Those who have lost a true sense of humility – that constant realization of the relationship between each individual and God – have also lost thereby the ability to look upon their burdens in this way…
How can all of this happen so suddenly, seemingly in so short a period of time? The answer lies in a loss of the virtue of humility, a loss of the vision of life as significant in God’s sight, a loss of the vision that sees all things as coming from the hand of God. Once this vision is lost, then the self very subtly begins to assume greater importance and God’s will begins to grow less and less important. It’s not our failings or faults or sins of themselves that bring this about; it is a lack of humility No matter how badly the humble man fails, he will reckon his accounts with God and start over again, for his humility tells him of his total dependence on God.
In this lies the difference between the truly humble person and one who lacks humility. The former sees the blame in himself for the disorders of his life, for his failures and his faults, and he strives to recapture again a sense of dedication to God’s will. The latter, far from blaming himself for any faults or failings, tries to justify his actions in some way or other and persists in doing exactly those things that are slowly alienating him from God and his vocation. Even the feelings of remorse that afflict him are not seen as a grace from God to lead him back, but are interpreted instead as signs that his original decision to follow this or that vocation must somehow have been a mistake.
–FATHER WALTER J. CISZEK, SJ. Father Ciszek (d. 1984) was convicted of being a “Vatican Spy” in World War II and spent twenty-three years in Soviet prisons.–
How to Appreciate Christ’s Authority, Monday, 08/30/2004, Magnificat “How to Appreciate Christ’s Authority”
The more noble and powerful a creature is, the more willingly it submits to the truth. Indeed it is powerful and noble precisely because of its submission…
No angry person is happy, or vice versa…
You must always reflect on what takes place within your own mind: not what others may do, whether they are good or bad, but what you can make of their deeds – in other words, how you can use their deeds, both good and bad, and how much you can profit from them, whether by favoring and helping them, or by having compassion and correcting them. For you draw what is good from all human actions when you are neither lured into favoring them by any of their good deeds, nor deterred from loving them by any of their wicked ones. When that happens, your love is disinterested. To be at peace with people is of no merit unless it be with those not at peace with us.
–GUIGO I: Guigo I (d. 1136) was the Fifth prior of the Grand Chartreuse monastery in France.–
Marriage and our Fundamental Need, Friday, 08/13/2004, Magnificat “Marriage and our Fundamental Need”
Each one of us has a desire in his heart to be realized, to be lived in the family, because only within the family can our greatest needs be expressed: a dialogue not only in words but in our feelings, our affections, our gaze, in a reciprocal gift of self, and in concrete gestures of love. The family flows from a Trinitarian reality: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is an essential and fundamental need, natural to us, which each one of us has inside, to see myself in the gaze, in the smile, in the welcome of another person. It begins with a true friendship, rooted in purity, without hidden intentions. Slowly, it is transformed into attraction and dialogue, developing into a selfless, gratuitous love, and then it becomes a spousal love. A true vocation to matrimony is formed by the truth of a serene and loving dialogue with God, which is prolonged and developed in the couple.
We need to be aware that matrimony is not a “finish line,” but a beginning, which is full of surprises with lights and shadows. For this a self-knowledge through a living faith, which is dynamic and full of good works, allows you to journey with your partner in your heart, discovering the other person, respecting his or her past, history, and fragility. This can come about only if both of them look towards God the Creator who is Father and Savior.
In this case, what seems to be contradiction, imposition, repetition, or irreconcilability, is transformed into joy, newness and the beauty of experiencing a love that gives life. These spouses have to give life one to another, sacrificing many little or big acts of selfishness, and only then can they conceive a child or ten children in joy, in hope, and in true love.
The first word that two Christian spouses need to say while looking one another in the eyes is, “I need you. You are important to me!” Even if the journey is an uphill climb at the beginning, we know that it can be done if you know how to stay on your knees while facing the One who speaks to us, who comforts us, who reproaches us, who welcomes us, who lifts us up, and who is in the voice of our conscience. If we let Christ dwell in us, he can heal our wounds, transform our fragility, and illumine our hearts and minds with the light of his truth. He will melt our deepest “me” to recreate our new “us,” original, unique, and unrepeatable, which is the Christian family. Then we will find that inner balance and harmony, which will help to draw out the paternity and maternity in each one of us.
–Sister Elvira Petrozzi is foundress of Comunita Cenacolo, a “School of Life” begun in Italy, welcoming the lost and desperate in forty fraternities in thirteen different countries. The American fraternity, Our Lady of Hope, is in Saint Augustine, Florida.–
The Grace of Correction, Wednesday, 08/11)2004, Magnificat “The Grace of Correction” “I certainly want you to have inner peace. But I think you know that this peace does not exist, except for the humble. And there is no real humility unless it is produced by God in every situation. This is especially true in those situations when we are blamed for something by someone who disapproves of us, and when we realize our inner weaknesses. But we might as well get used to both of these trials, for they are tests which we will face again and again.
It is a good sign of real, God-produced humility when we are no longer shocked by the corrections of others, nor by the resistance within. Like little children, we know very well that those correcting us are right, but we also humbly acknowledge the fact that we cannot, by ourselves, make the necessary corrections. We know what we are, and we have no hope of becoming any better except through the mercy of God. The reproofs of others, harsh and unfeeling as they may be, seem to be less than we really deserve.
If we find ourselves rebelling and getting irritable, we should understand that this irritability under correction is worse than all our other faults put together. And we know that correction is not going to make us any more humble than it finds us. If we have inner resentment at being corrected that just shows how deeply correction is needed. In fact, the sting of correction wouldn’t be felt at all if the old self were dead. So the more correction hurts, the more we see how necessary it is.
–Archbishop François Fénelon (+ 1715) was a French archbishop, theologian, and author.–
The Vatican Or The Gospel “Most of us Catholics find ourselves terribly confused these days about the enigmatic and conflicting signals that we are getting from our bishops. We are convinced that our bishops are basically good, intelligent men, who sincerely want to promote the values of the Gospel. They surely don’t approve of serious faults in their priests, nor do they defend the scandalous abuse of children. Yet, over the years, so many of them have fostered policies of secrecy that have allowed their young people to be sexually abused by priests without taking definite, effective steps to stop the abuse. They knew that such abuse was not only very sinful, but also a serious criminal offense. And yet they paid millions of dollars – not to get at the root of the problem – but to cover up the problem. They transferred the abusers to other parishes, thereby allowing such unconscionable conduct to continue! It is hard to fathom such an evident contradiction!
Equally disturbing is the contrasting manner in which the bishops treated their healthy, mature priests. While they went to great lengths to get psychological and financial help for their emotionally disturbed priest abusers – protecting them from civil punishment and making little or no attempt to have them dismissed from the priesthood – they acted in exactly the opposite way with their good priests.
To those priests who fell in love and wanted to marry, who were healthy and psycho-sexually mature, the bishops were absolutely cruel. Those men were immediately dismissed from the priesthood. They were forbidden to say Mass or wear their clerical garb. They were barred from any position in Catholic institutions! All their years of training and pastoral experience, all the good that they had done and the esteem in which their people held them – all that counted for nothing! They were immediately removed from the active priesthood and, in most cases, given little or no financial help in order to make the difficult transition to lay life.
It is such an unfathomable contradiction! Why were our bishops, who are basically sincere men, so manifestly unkind? Why such cruel treatment to men who were open and honest, men who had the integrity to admit that they could no longer be celibate? By what logic did the bishops deprive their Catholic people of the care and services of pastoral, zealous priests while, at the same time, inflicting on the parishioners those sick men who were likely to keep abusing their children? Catholics cannot help but wonder; “What possible excuse could Christian leaders give for such unchristian behavior?”
The destructive silence and secrecy, which forbids any open discussion of celibacy, would be shattered. Both the Vatican and the bishops would be forced by the widespread publicity to initiate a healthy dialogue about celibacy and the other problems facing the Church in our world. The Church would finally be the Church of Vatican II, the open, sensitive, compassionate Church of Jesus!
The tragic answer, of course, is that our bishops were deferring to the Vatican’s adamant stand on mandatory celibacy. Both the Vatican and our bishops, at a time when there is a frightful shortage of priests, are willing to support a human, arbitrary discipline, a law that has driven away untold thousands of our best priests and severely inhibited healthy young men from entering the priesthood. The bishops constantly urge prayers for more vocations but they never challenged the Vatican on this outmoded law that is driving away vocations.
Those good priests who continue the struggle to be celibate find themselves in a frightful bind. They live and work in a culture that is saturated with sexual temptations and have absolutely no healthy outlet for the pressures of their own sexual feelings. The Church had warned them, from their earliest years of training, that any release of that pressure was, not only a serious sin but, for them, it was also a violation of their vow of celibacy, – a sacrilege! They were to be closely involved in the lives and struggles of their parishioners but there was to be no physical or emotional intimacy with any of them.
Most dedicated priests experience an aching loneliness in their lives. The old camaraderie with fellow priests used to offer some emotional support, but even that has all but vanished. Clerical get-togethers after Confirmation ceremonies or Forty Hours Devotions are now few and far between. And, when they do occur, most priests have to rush away early for other duties. Due in great part to the terrible shortage of priests, (a forty percent decrease since the 1950s); conscientious priests are severely overworked, often to the point of exhaustion. They find it difficult even to find time for a day off with a friend. National polls reveal that loneliness is the primary reason why men leave the priesthood. Good, compass-ionate men, they are available all day long to share the struggles and heartaches of their people but very often there is no one to listen to them.
Bishops, I’m sure, are not unaware of these great pressures that their priests are enduring, nor are the majority of them unsympathetic to their priests’ suffering. And yet, they continue their exasperating silence. They continue to dismiss good men from the priesthood when there are parishes in their dioceses without a single resident priest. Father John O’Malley, SJ, hinted at the answer to this enigma in “America” magazine (5/27/2002): “The problem is not that bishops… were not doing their jobs as they understood them … according to the best lights of their consciences; but there was something amiss in the way they understood their jobs, something amiss in their consciences – collectively.”
THE GREATER OBEDIENCE
Our bishops, regrettably, have forgotten a fundamental principle of moral theology – the principle that, when two duties conflict, persons must follow what they see in their conscience to be the higher duty. At that moment of conflict, the lesser duty is no longer binding on them! So, for example, soldiers have a duty to obey their officers but, when a sergeant commands a soldier to shoot his unarmed prisoner, and then the soldier must not listen to the officer. He must follow the higher obligation not to kill. At that moment, he is not so much disobeying his sergeant as he is obeying a higher authority. He is obeying God.
The same is true of other moral conflicts. A police officer must not obey his captain when his captain orders him to withhold evidence in a criminal investigation. A congressman must not vote against his conscience even though the president himself pressures him to do so. A priest must never reveal confessional secrets even if his life is threatened. True obedience, in other words, is obedience to the higher duty! I don’t know any theologian who would disagree with this principle. Being an honorable person means making noble choices even when such choices are painful.
SALVATION OF SOULS – THE SUPREME LAW
Bishops obviously are no exceptions to this universal moral law. Even though the Vatican makes bishops-elect swear an oath of loyalty to the Pope before they can be consecrated, an oath to uphold all the decisions of the Vatican under pain of serious sin,
Most dedicated priests experience an aching loneliness in their lives. The old camaraderie with fellow priests used to offer some emotional support, but even that has all but vanished. Clerical get-togethers after Confirmation ceremonies or Forty Hours Devotions are now to few and far between. And, when they do occur, most priests have to rush away early for other duties. Due in great part to the terrible shortage of priests, (a forty percent decrease since the 1950s), conscientious priests are severely overworked, often to the point of exhaustion. They find it difficult even to find time for a day off with a friend. they are not exempt from the supreme law, the salvation of souls. So, whenever any policy of the Vatican becomes a hindrance to the spread of the Gospel or to file spiritual welfare of their people, the bishops are bound in conscience to follow the higher duty. And, like everyone else, they must do this even though they suffer the displeasure and censure of the Vatican!
This certainly seems obvious to any right thinking person. Obedience to God and to the Gospel is the supreme duty, the true and ultimate obedience! No person with a rightly formed conscience would ever question that. And yet, our bishops have either forgotten this higher duty or they have ignored it! They have accounted the Vatican’s antiquated law of celibacy as more important than the desperate need, in hundreds of dioceses, for priests to celebrate the Eucharist. They have allowed children to be continuously molested rather than to face the displeasure of the Vatican by forcing such offenders to be dismissed from the priesthood. And they have followed “lock-step” the Vatican’s truly unchristian policies of secrecy and deception.
It’s hard to believe that our bishops would choose to ignore this basic moral principle. The sad truth is that they have. They live in fear! Fear of displeasing the Vatican, a fear so debilitating that they would rather ignore their loyalty to Jesus and the Gospel than to face the displeasure of the Pope or, more ignoble still, to risk their chance of climbing higher on the episcopal ladder! And they excuse this moral cowardice in the same way that the Nazi commandants excused their murder of millions of innocent people: they are “just obeying orders.” It is no wonder that they have suffered such a loss of credibility even among the most devout Catholics.
THE NEED FOR COURAGE
How I wish that just one of our diocesan bishops would have the courage to be true to the Gospel! For just one to take as his ideal the motto of the great Cardinal Merry del Val: “Da mihi animas; cetera tolle – Give me souls; take everything else!” Just one bishop to say with all his heart: “Take your honors and Vatican approval: take your larger dioceses and Cardinal’s hat; just give me souls and whatever is good for their welfare!”
It would not involve a schism as some might fear. It would not be a denial of faith nor a repudiation of the authority of the Pope. It would simply be a matter of putting first things first, of making a necessary adjustment in the local Church for the salvation of souls, the supreme law. Such an adjustment would eventually give other bishops the courage to do the same, until the law of the Church would change in order to follow the practice in the Church, as has happened in the past. The bishop could write a very respectful explanation to the Pope. He could say: “Your Holiness. I am writing this open letter so that you and the people of my diocese will understand what I am about to do. I am about to ordain ten exemplary married men to the priesthood, [or to call back ten married priests, who are just longing to serve). I’m doing this in order to staff the ten parishes in my diocese that no longer have a resident priest.
I am sure you will understand. Your Holiness, because you yourself have not interfered with those bishops in Africa and South America who have priests serving in their dioceses who are living in a common law marriage. It is clear that you understand that the salvation of souls is the supreme law, much higher than any Church discipline of mandatory celibacy. May God continue to bless you in your difficult tasks!”
How I wish that just one of our diocesan bishops would have the courage to he true to the Gospel! For just one to take as his ideal the motto of the great Cardinal Merry del Val: “Da mihi animas; cetera tolle! Give me souls; take every-thing else!” Just one bishop to say with all his heart: “Take your honors and Vatican approval; take your larger dioceses and Cardinal’s hat; just give me souls and whatever is good for their welfare!” –Father Sullivan was ordained in 1946. He served for twenty years in large city parishes and then for twenty-six years as the Director of Religious Consultation Center of the Diocese of Brooklyn. He is the author of five books on scripture and psychology. He can be reached at:
email@example.com; or 14511 143rd Street,
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Cardinal George Interviewed by NCR National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly NCRONLINE.ORG
Posted Wednesday, May 26, 2004 at 1:35 p.m. CDT
Interview with Cardinal Francis George
By John L. Allen, Jr., Rome
NCR: How did you find the Holy Father?
George: It’s always a pleasure to talk to the Holy Father. He is of course a victim, a captive, of his illness, but he listened carefully when I spoke. He was attentive. When the auxiliaries came in, he really perked up. He asked a number of questions about Chicago. He talked about my predecessors, [Joseph] Bernardin and [John] Cody, whom he had known in different capacities. He kind of reminisced, then he asked questions about the state of the church. Obviously, he’s not a well man.
When’s the last time you saw him?
The last time I saw him was January, the last time I talked to him was October.
In comparison, how do you find him?
In October, as everyone said, he wasn’t doing well. Whether he changed medicines or whether it’s just that the medicines are more effective, he’s more limber now.
Part of it too is that they’ve pared his schedule back to the bare minimum. It used to be 20 minutes or more for the ad limina visit, now it’s 15, 10 sometimes, depending on circumstances.
I know you’ve threatened to deny communion to reporters who ask you John Kerry questions, and I don’t want to risk interdict. Only in Chicago! You’re waiting for the McCarrick Commission to report.
Something as important as this, yes. The big complaint about the bishops around the sexual abuse scandal was, “You guys don’t have your act together. Act as one.” This is something where we should try to act as one. As a practical matter, however, we have a campaign. Have you given your pastors any guidance as to how to respond if pro-choice candidates come up the communion line? I have talked to all the priests in the vicariate meetings and also in the presbyteral council about that, to get their feedback on it, to see where they are. There’s been no instruction from me to them on that, and it would be premature. We should try to stay together on this as bishops.
So the issues are sufficiently complex that it’s not immediately obvious what the right course of action is?
No, there are a lot of variables that have to be considered. The doctrinal issue is clear, there’s no question about abortion being an “abominable crime” as the Second Vatican Council describes it, and there are no exceptions. It’s unlike other pro-life issues. There can be a just war. It is still morally possibly for a state to execute someone. But in this case, the teaching is absolute, it’s in the tradition from the first century and even before it comes from the Jewish understanding of life. It’s a paramount issue, but how to translate it into pastoral policy … You have to take account of the context, of what will happen if. The teaching is clear, but so far we have not been clear about sanctions. All of a sudden, for the first time we have this question. The documents don’t talk about sanctions. Even the Roman document about the role of Catholics in public life doesn’t mention sanctions. Therefore, if we have to apply sanctions, we ought to be clear about what we’re doing. That’s not to say we shouldn’t, but it means that all the variables have to be considered. It’s also somewhat ironic that the conversation is complicated politically in the United States because it’s been defined as a constitutional right. Unlike elsewhere where legislators decided, it was the judges who decided for us. It’s somewhat strange that we’re talking about candidates for political office, when we should be talking about judges, it seems to me. There are just all kinds of variables that still have to be thought through before we come to what I hope will be a common policy.
Do you regret that some of your brother bishops didn’t wait for a common policy?
That has the advantage of advancing the conversation. Bishops have to take account of their own pastoral responsibilities, diocese by diocese. Perhaps the conversation wouldn’t be where it is if they hadn’t done that.
I understand your reluctance to answer this question, but I feel obligated to ask it: Would you give communion to John Kerry?
I’m not going to answer that, because I haven’t thought it through thoroughly with the help of my brother bishops. You’re asking me to impose a sanction, and I just got done saying that we should be careful about imposing sanctions and try to do so together.
Let’s move away from John Kerry, and let me put a hypothetical situation to you. Suppose there’s a Catholic politician who clearly upholds the teaching of the church on the immorality of abortion. He or she may give money to help pregnant women, may be involved personally in counseling women on alternatives. Yet, on the basis of a prudential political judgment, this politician believes that in the present historical moment, a law abolishing abortion would not reduce the incidence of abortion, but would drive it underground and produce negative consequences. Hence, the politician concludes that the cultural ground must first be prepared, and in the meantime he or she will vote against measures to outlaw or restrict abortion – not out of any sympathy for abortion, but out of a prudential judgment that such measures will only make the situation worse. Is that a coherent Catholic position?
Well, it’s not an American position. The only people who can change the legislation on abortion to abolish it are the justices on the Supreme Court. This is now a constitutional right, it’s not something enacted by law, which makes the rhetoric strange. The language of rights means that normally you try to advance rights, rather than to diminish them. That’s a situation that can’t arise in the United States because we can’t abolish this by legislative action. Even the attempts by legislators to limit it run into the constitutional provisions that the courts have given us. I really don’t feel that’s a real situation for us pastorally.
What I’m trying to get at is the distinction between moral analysis and legislative strategy.
Evangelium Vitae speaks about that situation. It says that people who are elected are expected to observe the law, but if the law is unjust as the abortion situation is — it’s against the common good, not just against Catholic doctrine — they are expected to work to try to limit those laws in the context in which we live. The profession that they are personally opposed to abortion takes care of the fact that someone’s personal faith is intact, so we’re not talking about that, which is what much of the Code [of Canon Law] is talking about. Are their public actions designed to limit abortion as much as possible within the context of the constitutional structure that they can’t change? Yes, I think you could look at that, and then you would draw your conclusions. Again, the peculiar situation of abortion and its place in the American legal system derives from the fact that it’s not the action of the legislature that has given us this, it’s the action of the courts.
But is there room for a diversity of opinion on political strategy — whether it’s legislative, judicial or cultural — as long as the moral point is clear that no just society can tolerate the practice of abortion?
That’s right. The question is, how do we limit it most effectively? Those are questions of prudential judgment around which there can be many discussions. The church has not taken a position on which of those strategies is to be preferred, and I don’t think we should.
So it is not as simple as saying, this politician voted against a particular piece of legislation, therefore he has broken communion with the church?
I don’t think anybody’s saying that. They’re saying, you’ve got politicians whose whole record is defensive of the constitutional right to abortion.
But there is a danger of conflating moral witness with political strategy?
The fact is, you can’t separate them, but they’re not the same. In that sense, your point is accurate. What that leads you to as a conclusion for pastoral practice is another matter. You’re not able to talk about that, I don’t believe, without talking about particular situations.
Let me bring some international perspective to this. It is striking that in Italy, in France, in Austria, in Holland, and many other parts of the world, there are Catholic politicians who attend Mass and who take positions on various issues that are not consistent with church teaching. I’m not aware of any other country in which bishops are talking about imposing sanctions on these people. Why do you think this question is coming up in the United States and not anywhere else?
That’s a very good question, and we’ve raised it ourselves, even with the Roman Curia. They of course are not willing to talk for any particular conference, even if they come from that country. Some of it is, I think, our particular political situation. First of all, we’re the only country that has said there is a constitutional right. Other countries have passed it as a matter of legislative procedure, and therefore they can work with it more easily. Thus the political rhetoric is at a certain level. … [Attempts to limit abortion are seen as] against the freedom of women, and freedom is our most important value. We’ll kill for freedom, we do it all the time. That’s a peculiar cultural situation in our country. We also have a political situation that changes culture and laws by crusades. So, I think you have ideological movements that are much more single-minded in some ways in our country than perhaps you would have in the political process in other countries. Given that situation, you also have groups eager to capture whatever authority they can from the church, and so you have a politicization of the internal conversation in the church herself that you wouldn’t have elsewhere. Not about doctrine, but about pastoral practice. For all those reasons, I think we have a unique situation in America, for good or for ill, and you can’t easily make the comparison to other places. But your comparison is fair in the sense of, where is the discussion in these other places?
I wonder if there’s a European dimension that helps explain this too, which is the experience of anti-clericalism, fueled in part by a sense that the church for too long exercised political and secular power. Hence perhaps there’s an extra sensitivity about anything that appears to hearken back to that, which is not part of our cultural experience in the United States.
Well, that’s an interesting idea. I’d have to think about that, but it makes sense listening to you say it. Of course, the analogue to anti-clericalism in Catholic Europe is anti-Catholicism in secularized America. So I’m not sure the pastoral dynamics for making a decision are totally different, even if what you say is correct. I’m somewhat aware of the history of anti-clericalism in France, in Italy, and in Spain, and while I’m not sure what you say is true, it might well be.
You said you discussed this with officials in the Holy See … what did you hear?
They’re not going to comment on other conferences before our conference. We just brought it forward to ask, if we’re having this conversation, and it’s an important one, why don’t we hear echoes of it elsewhere where the situation is similar? Not totally similar, because the three points I mentioned are special to us. Of course they’re not going to talk about another conference, that’s not their job, anymore than they would talk about our conference to the Belgians or the Spaniards. But they listened, and they noted the fact.
What vibe do you get about what they see happening the United States?
Their concern is always the clarity of teaching of the faith, and the moral discipline that flows from it. They don’t get into pastoral practice. That’s really not their responsibility.
You’re not picking up a sense that Vatican officials are encouraged by what’s happening, or alarmed by it?
They listened to the conversation. Where there is something they have competence to speak to, which isn’t pastoral practice but rather what does canon law enjoin, what does the faith teach, there they’ll speak. They’re very concerned about that, and rightly so. This is the see that gives witness from the time of Peter to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and everything else flows from that. They’re very aware of that. They’re also aware of their own limitations. They’re not going to come in and define pastoral practice in any country of the world.
But you’re not going back with the sense that they want you to go forward, or go in any particular direction.
They won’t tell us that. They shouldn’t do that, it’s not their competence.
In general, what concerns are you picking up in the dicasteries about the United States?
Each one asks about its own concerns. With the Congregation for Consecrated Life, they asked about the health of monasteries and communities of women, contemplative vocations, the alienation of property on the past of religious institutes that are no longer able to sustain a ministry. The Congregation for Bishops is very concerned about the morale of priests and the unity between bishops and priests, as you would expect them to be, particularly in light of the scandal. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is in charge of cases, so they talk about how they’re handling cases, what is our experience, things they don’t like about what we’re doing in light of the reports they get from unhappy priests or an unhappy victims’ group.
These are procedural questions?
Yes, around that issue it’s procedural. We have the particular law, the law is settled, for the moment.
Speaking of the particular law, the American norms expire in March 2005. Is it your expectation that the bishops will ask for an extension of the recognitio?
We haven’t discussed that. I really couldn’t talk for others. I think that it’s important to keep these structures in place, which have enabled us to respond, as long as they’re needed. The structures for protecting children are in place, particularly with the VIRTUS program that’s now in almost every diocese that I’m aware of. The structures for reaching out to victims will be with us permanently. We have victims’ assistance ministries in every diocese, and we should have. The treatment of priests who have been accused of this can be revised, to be sure that everyone’s rights are amply protected, and also to keep the promise of Dallas that those who would be a danger to children, and that’s defined as anyone who has this in his background, would be permanently out of public ministry. That is going to have to be discussed again and again, because people in the United States and here are raising the question, is that true? But the victims’ groups are very forceful in their statements on this, and that has great credibility. Every single victim that you talk to, no matter what else they might say or what they’re really about, always says, “Be sure that no one goes through what I went though.” That has to be taken extraordinarily seriously. With a recidivism rate of 15 to 20 percent, you can’t chance it. The way in which you keep people away from public ministry might vary a bit as we go forward. Almost everybody we know of who has this in his background is now out of ministry, at least when you talk to the bishops, [they say] we took them all out. That’s one of the reasons there’s such a delay in adjudicating these cases here, because they’ve been simply swamped. We have kept the promise of Dallas. We will continue with the second audit, we all know that. The only question was, what kind of audit are we talking about? When the compliance audit is finished, now you want to do a progress audit … what is a progress audit? Now they finally have the instrument for the audit together, and that will go on. The annual reports will go on. Whether or not an audit has to be the basis of those reports is an open question, that’s not promised.
I can’t because we haven’t discussed it. I think there’s a good case for saying that, until we’re sure that the structures in place that have enabled us to address it are not going to be in jeopardy.
You’re not taking for granted that the bishops will ask the Holy See to extend the norms?
Just to clarify: You are in favor of maintaining the zero tolerance stance?
I am in favor of protecting children at all costs, and that means that people who have this in their past – even one act, though it’s not clear how many cases there are of that – are not to be in public ministry for the sake of the protection of children. That’s our policy, and at this point I would argue for it. But you have to treat every priest fairly, and you have to ask, are there ways for a man to somehow remain in priesthood without public ministry where there would be no children involved? On that, there may be more latitude than we have now. But basically, the bottom line is the protection of children and ensuring that there are no more victims to the best that we can assure that.
What would it mean to remain in priesthood without public ministry?
Clerical work, canonical work. Perhaps in a chancery, though even there it depends upon where in the chancery.
Do you believe the National Review Board has lost the confidence of the bishops?
No, I don’t at all. I’m not speaking for all bishops, but I think the vast majority are grateful. The report they did is, I think, very helpful, not that I would have to agree with every sentence in it. We owe a debt of gratitude to them. At the same time as that moves forward its nature will change, because the problems that are to be addressed are going to keep evolving. I understand, for example, that [former Oklahoma] Governor [Frank] Keating was not operating within the Review Board in a way that they themselves felt to be adequate. His departure, while it was publicized as because of his opposition to Cardinal Mahony, in fact, was decided long before that happened. Likewise the departure of people now was planned months ago. They themselves have said it’s time to go, we can’t continue with the kind of intensive work we’ve done and still keep our jobs. So, the Review Board itself will evolve with new membership, but I don’t think it’s lost the confidence of the bishops. I think there was some misunderstanding. When we left the administrative board, I left with the clear understanding that we would discuss this in June and make a decision in June, because we have to have a second audit and we couldn’t wait until November to do that. I went with that clear understanding that this was going to happen. We wanted to make that decision formally with all the bishops present, because people had asked for that, and because it will be a contested decision. But we will do it, we promised to do it and we’ll do it. It’s important to keep together on this. We’ve said that from the beginning, act together, so we should try to stay together. That we would discuss it in June, I understood from the very beginning was the case.
So why does Justice Burke say the board was manipulated?
We promised there would be a second audit, we promised it in Dallas in June 2002. That commitment is made. I haven’t spoken to her about this, and I don’t want to speak for Justice Burke. When she found opposition, which perhaps surprised her, she got concerned that maybe the promise wouldn’t be kept. Opposition by a group doesn’t mean that the whole group won’t keep its promise. I presume it was a misunderstanding, and now from what I understand everything seems to be patched up and going along OK. I don’t think it’s my place to sit down and question her as to where her understanding came from. They have an independence, and rightly so. On the other hand, the bishops have an independence. Independence works both ways.
Appropos of that, there are circles in which this independence you speak of the review board enjoying is troubling.
I haven’t heard that. I don’t think it takes bishops off the hook. There are two different sets of responsibilities. The bishops have a responsibility to act, the board has an obligation to oversee, and at the bishops’ own request, to examine them on what they’re doing. The board doesn’t act except to mandate a report and to analyze it. It doesn’t act in regard to priests or in regard to governing the church. It asks if the bishops have acted. I don’t think the existence of the board takes away our responsibilities. It reminds us that we have a responsibility to Christ and to his people, and that’s healthy. What its long-term institutionalization will look like is a question that I think is open, that I don’t have a clear idea on yet. We have to talk about, and I think we should talk to the members of the Review Board themselves. I think they comported themselves extremely well. … I think most bishops are grateful to the Review Board.
You’re not threatened by their autonomy?
No. We asked them to do something, and they did it well. Now, what’s their role? We have to move along and discuss the progress. A certain step has been passed. Now we have to go back and take the John Jay report and do the analysis of causes. It would be wrong to allow all that data to sit there without this further study. But I think that’s understood by everybody too. I don’t think it’s the work of the Review Board that’s threatening. Part of the problem is that every time they go public with a report, all the scabs are ripped off, and our whole life and our church is held up for derision in some circles. That, I think, is not pastorally helpful, and we should try to figure out how that might be avoided, even as we go forward responsibly with over sight from others who can see whether or not we’re keeping our promises. I think that’s a healthy dynamic. On some of these things I don’t have an idea yet, and I don’t want to have an idea until I’ve talked to other bishops.
To shift gears, in the last several months there have been statements by Vatican officials on American foreign policy that have not gone down well in some sectors of American Catholic opinion. Is there a problem with anti-Americanism in the Vatican?
I think if you go back and look at the comments, the comments before we went to war were, you’re taking the just war theory and you’re moving it towards a preemptive strike. Given the need for humanitarian intervention that was missing in Rwanda and elsewhere, I think the Holy See is open to that extension of just war theory.
In fact, they called for it in Kosovo.
That’s right. But if you are going to do it, it must be done through the United Nations. Flawed though it is, it’s the only forum for humanity as a whole to act. If you’re going to act in the name of humanity or freedom or anything else, you should go through the United Nations. That was their call. Of course, they always called for peace, up to the last minute. The pope must ask for peace. It’s always a failure of some sort when we have to settle disputes through violence. But once we went in, the pope simply said what just war theory says he should say. The responsibility is on those legitimate officials who have called the war, and it’s a legitimate government still in the United States, and they’re answerable before God for what they done. Since then, he’s prayed for peace. He hasn’t said we shouldn’t be there. He hasn’t said we should pull out. In fact, they’ve said it would be irresponsible to pull out right now. Obviously, he would have preferred we not go in the way we did. He has not said the war was immoral. Some people think the pope said the war is immoral, therefore he’s anti-American. What I’m saying is, see what he said. Now, even within a just war – and it’s arguable one way or the other – you can do unjust things. The Second World War was certainly a just war, but the dropping of A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unjust. In the context of a just war, you can do unjust acts. In this case, much to our shame and embarrassment, have been shown to be sexually mistreating, abusing and torturing prisoners of war against the Geneva Convention. Even if our presence there is justified, that certainly is unjustified, as most Americans will say. The fact they would criticize that would not seem to me to be evidence of anti-Americanism. Most Americans are saying the same thing. Then there’s the third consideration, which is that Americans are just suspicious of people who disagree with them.
Exactly. We’ve got that in our own culture, but we have to keep asking ourselves as we move through history, why is it that so many people distrust us? It didn’t just come with this war. Whatever you might think about this war, the distrust of the United States and fear and disdain were there for decades. It’s much more open because of this.
So you’re not concerned about anti-Americanism in the Vatican?
Not in the Vatican as such. I’m concerned about anti-Americanism in the world. I’m concerned about our own ignorance of the world, our own lack of comprehension of how other people think, how they make judgments, and how we figure in the world. We give the impression of being totally self-absorbed. Our own problems set the agenda for the world. From that arise many resentments. That’s what struck me as I went around the world for 12 years [as superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate]. Everywhere, even in Marxist countries, they knew who I was as a Catholic priest and I was welcome, they knew what to expect. I was suspect as an American. That was from 1974 to 1986, it had nothing to do with Iraq or anything else. That has certainly impacted me.
Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo told me some months ago that the Holy See wants the American project to succeed, because for all the issues they care about – human dignity, religious freedom, the rule of law – it’s the only game in town. They’re worried, however, that American’s current direction is producing such a backlash that success will be impossible.
I think that Cardinal Ruini’s funeral homily when the 19 Italian [soldiers who died in Iraq] were buried, when he said they were on a noble mission and that we should stay there to try to stabilize the country … I don’t believe that Ruini as the pope’s vicar would have preached that homily if the pope didn’t know about it. In Latin America too, all the time you went to Latin America throughout the 1970s and 1980s, you were faced with the Rockefeller Report, such as it was, with the suspicion of the Catholic church supposedly and the need to suppress liberation movements. That anti-Americanism was in Latin America, especially among the poor, long before we were ever in Iraq. It’s that lack of comprehension, of understanding what others have been saying about us for decades, that frightens me. We don’t know who we are in the world, and we don’t seem particularly concerned about it.
Last question. A number of times around town I’ve had conversations about you in which people will construct sentences that begin peccato che lui è un’americano(“too bad that he’s an American”). Do you know how they finish it?
Perche sarebbe un’bel papa (“because otherwise he’d be a great pope”).
I don’t think we’re at that point, thank God.
Sure, I’m flattered by it. I’m also frightened, because I know myself, and if this is the best the Holy Spirit can do in this generation, we are in real deep trouble!
National Catholic Reporter, May 26, 2004
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Meditation of the Day, Monday, May 24, 2004, Magnificat The Grace of Suffering
“If one accepts that our troubles fall within the providence of God, one is more likely to see them as potentially beneficial, and not necessarily destructive. In the case of others, it is easier to see that hard times have frequently been turned to good account in the long run – not that we ever callously close our hearts to those in difficulty and say, “It is all for the best.” But because suffering is part of human experience, we need to think more about rendering it creative than about avoiding it. Pain can be reduced and should be. But it cannot be totally eliminated. Whether we suffer much or little the philosophic questions remain. Why suffering? Why me? These become especially acute when we have been instrumental in laying the foundations for our own distress.
Through our troubles we can enter a level of human truth not accessible by any other means. When we identify with Christ crucified, our spiritual life takes on reality and solidity. Strangely, by facing the worst in ourselves we can begin to perceive the glimmer of a hope that is unshakable. Renouncing the appearance of virtue and the illusion of innocence is a great advance. Confessing our sinfulness, without dissimulation or exaggeration, comes as a great relief.
Somehow it confers an awareness that from the depths of our being we desire God. We begin to experience such love for God that we take no pleasure in our virtue – and are not surprised by our vice.
We seem to move beyond morality into the sphere of a more personal orientation toward God. Through suffering, one comes to depend less on external things for satisfaction, and to confront inward reality more squarely. From here it is a small step toward God.”
–Father Michael Casey, O.C.S.O.–
As seen in the May 2004, Magnificat Father Casey is a
Cistercian monk and prior of Tarrawarra Abbey in Victoria, Australia.
Meditation of the Day, Monday, May 10, 2004, Magnificat Love and Revelation
“My experience has shown that when we welcome people from this world of anguish, brokenness and depression, and when they gradually discover that they are wanted and loved as they are and that they have a place, then we witness a real transformation – I would even say “resurrection.” Their tense, angry, fearful, depressed body gradually becomes relaxed, peaceful, and trusting. This shows through the expression on the face and through all their flesh. As they discover a sense of belonging, that they are part of a “family,” then the will to live begins to emerge. I do not believe it is of any value to push people into doing things unless this desire to live and to grow has begun to emerge.
Living with men and women with mental disabilities has helped me to discover what it means to live in communion with someone. To be in communion means to be with someone and to discover that we actually belong together. Communion means accept- ing people just as they are, with all their limits and inner pain, but also with their gifts and their beauty and their capacity to grow: to see the beauty inside of all the pain. To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and value, to say to them through our attitude: “You are beautiful. You are important. I trust you. You can trust yourself.” We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them.”
–Jean Vanier– As seen in the May 2004Magnificat Jean Vanier is the founder of I’Arche, an international network of communities for the mentally disabled.
Meditation of the Day, Thursday, December 5, 2002, Magnificat PUTTING GOD’S WORD INTO PRACTICE
“If through one man, death entered into the story of humanity, through Christ, there is resurrection and salvation for eternal life. Let’s walk together with Christ! To be able to follow him, it is necessary that the desire to learn to pray grow inside of us. Prayer is an interior light that shines on our wounds and our defects. Every defect that weighs on our conscience is an open wound that bleeds. If we don’t accept the help of others, who see and suffer from our defects every day, we run the risk of accumulating a lot of anger, sadness, and superficiality inside of us.
This is why our Savior is born for us once again; sent by a God rich in mercy and infinite peace; one who loves his creatures. He does not punish and does not cause fear, because he knows very well what we are like. We shouldn’t blame God when all of the idols that we keep for ourselves, making us slaves, bring us to the point of death, be it physical or spiritual. We have received extraordinary gifts from him: freedom, awareness, and our reason… and yet we use these gifts to serve our idols.
In many families, there is little patience, forgiveness, or gratitude, and because of this young people today don’t know how to give thanks, because no one has taught them in a concrete way how to do it. Living in this way, they take everything for granted. We were created, rather, to be good, merciful, patient, and to live a clean and transparent life, in our minds, in our hearts, and in reality. To continue to live in our filth does us harm.
We were created for peace and joy, and if we haven’t yet found them, we have to ask ourselves why, and begin to search for them inside ourselves.’
–SISTER ELVIRA PETROZZI – As seen in the December Magnificat Sister Elvira is founder of the Community of the Cenacle in Saluzzo, Italy – a “School of Life” welcoming people world-wide in its forty fraternities in thirteen different countries.
Hymn: Sing Me To Heaven by Daniel E. Gawthrop
“In my heart’s sequestered chambers lie truths stripped of poet’s gloss. Words alone are vain and vacant and my heart is mute. In response to aching silence memory summons half-heard voices, and my soul finds primal eloquence and wraps me in song.
If you would comfort me, sing me a lullaby.
If you would win my heart, sing me a love song.
If you would mourn me and bring me to God,
sing me a requiem, sing me to heaven.
Touch in me all love and passion, pain and pleasure, grief and comfort.
Sing me a lullaby, a love song, a requiem.
Love me, comfort me, bring me to God;
Sing me a love song, Sing me to heaven.”
–Sung by the St. Louis Archdiocesan Choir at Musician’s Jubilee 11/14/2000
Peach and Chocolate: A Brief History –A brief history of the Justice and Rights Group
in St. Peter Parish, Kirkwood, MO.
Submitted by Mrs. Peg Brady, May 2, 2002.
“(What Forrest calls the colors of race!) What my intention is, as I take pen in hand and lay it to this paper, is to record a little of the events of the past that served to change the past elements of race relations here in Kirkwood and here in this home.
Because the circumstances are different today than they were in my youth and years gone by, I want to look at it in the present moment and trace how it “became”! Tracing the events and the thinking both in society and individual lives is what history is! “How we got this way!” Because we are a country of such diverse races and a collection of such different life experiences, the circumstances in race relations and people’s attitudes and convictions about themselves and each other are at the root of our daily lives. What “is” today is built on the foundation of what “was” in the past. This, I propose, is part of the pathway that I trod to these days and “how we got this way” – a record for our children and our “grands” and “greats” to understand those past days! When I look back to those days when I was their age, the circumstances and behavior between the races (the peaches and chocolates) were very different than we find now. So I want to set it down
Our family lived in Webster Groves in a very middle class house, (still the same today, though rehabbed often during the intervening years since 1920). As kids, we played up and down the traffic-less street, walked to Avery Elementary School (where Patrick and Alina have since gone) and attended Sunday school in the Methodist Church just two blocks away. We never knew any Negro children in our neighborhood, school or church. We were “races apart.” Over the railroad tracks and down the hill, the Negro population lived on Shady Avenue (later renamed Kirkham). Their grade school and churches were located in the middle of their community and were generally unknown to us children. For high school the young students had to ride a bus into the city from Webster Groves and Kirkwood. The only significant contacts I had with black children were the young girls that mother was training to be “maids.” She had the conviction that to support themselves they had to know how to work in the only job situations open to young black girls. Of them all, I remember Mary, who came, I guess, several days a week to “work” at our home. We enjoyed each other playing hide and seek and chasing each other about the backyard until mom called Mary back in the house to do housework or assist with cooking or waiting the table.
I remember once when we had company and were eating in the dining room, mother pressed the bell (under the carpet by her feet) and asked Mary to replenish the bread plate. She came back with the loaf of bread under one arm, and began walking around the table, distributing the slices like playing cards. Mother provided a black dress, ruffled white apron and white lace head band that the girls got to wear when serving the table when we had company.
After several months of training, they went on to household jobs and we were proud to hear about them. But I never had any black friends because I never had any contact enabling me to meet them. It was not until 1940 – after Jim and I were married – that we had the opportunity to form friendships through the Church and St. Peter School.
When Kathy was very small, we got acquainted and volunteered at the St. Martin Mission in Meacham Park, the black community in Kirkwood. We met Jim Brown, a talented musician who was forming a drum and bugle corps with the young black boys who lived around the Catholic center. I remember four or five of us mothers came over to my house to dye the blue jeans in my washing machine, cut out red cummerbunds to go over the white shirts and paint the pith helmets gold. The boys were a grand looking bunch and played and marched at civic events here in Kirkwood and at St. Peter School picnics (although none of the boys went to that school).
About this time we met Bill and Alma Jones, who lived on Big Bend on the edge of Meacham. They were very active in the community and worked tirelessly to improve the basic living conditions over there. There were active and committed citizens who banded together and were very aware of the neighborhood needs. They had just gotten water and sewers in the individual homes (in the 1930’s the families still had outhouses and water in a spigot at the corner). Sidewalks, paved streets and streetlights had just been installed, thanks to their efforts!
Meacham was a proud and close-knit community, focused on the needs of the people living there, in spite of troubled people and the criminal element that invaded the area. Only one police car from the county cruised the streets once a night and fire protection was minimal because the community was not part of an “incorporated area.” It was an area of turmoil and great need intermixed with a criminal element and good and caring people – a vast and varied array!
In the 1950’s the Archbishop desegregated the Catholic schools, a year before the Supreme Court ruling on public education. There was much argument and discussion, resistance and rebellion, welcome and satisfaction, the whole gamut up and down the scale – it depended upon whom you talked to! A few black children came to St. Peter in Kathy’s class. About this time Father Westhoff closed the St. Martin Mission, wanting those families to come to the larger church on Argonne and become a part of the larger Catholic community. There was much dissent and upset about this decision, because the Mission served as a community meeting place.
Then an event happened that galvanized everyone into action! Alice and Thad Wayne moved into a home on Ann Avenue. He was a teacher at Kirkwood High School (teachers were desegregated too). They bought a house in a predominantly white neighborhood. A week or so later a flaming cross was set in their front yard. The neighbors, some including our church members, were vocally and violently against their presence. This brought the problem close to us with heart-breaking reality! Prejudice was no longer a problem in newspaper headlines and other towns in our nation but right here in Kirkwood! Something had to be done!
Father Westhoff called together 20 couples, an even mix of black and white, for a meeting to discuss what could be done! After much discussion, we concluded that the basic problem was we didn’t know each other! So a plan was evolved to have a dinner in each of our homes for eight people. A black and white couple would team up, each with another couple to share the evening meal. Then the next month these new couples would extend the dinner invitations at their own homes. This project would slowly spread, including more and more couples so they could come to know each other. Mary and D. L. Mclntosh were our partners for the first dinner – my valued friends today. Their house was lovely, the first black home I had ever been invited into! The crystal and silver set a beautiful table, far better than anything I had. Why was I so surprised? My concept of their home territory was certainly skewed!
I well remember Mary telling me about her kindergartener coming home from school crying because the other children were teasing her about her brown skin. Mary asked, “What is your favorite candy?” “Chocolate,” was the reply. “What tastes the sweetest and you like the most?” “Chocolate!” “Well, then, you are the best and sweetest girl because you are the same color!” A fore-taste of Forrest’s analysis of “peach and chocolate”! This project went on for about a year, gradually swelling the membership of the Human Justice Council until we changed our “eating and meeting” pattern and gathered in the school cafeteria for potluck suppers.
On the national scene the racial situation was exploding – Selma, Martin Luther King, the March on Washington and unnumbered incidents of violence and a slowly unfolding picture of blatant racial prejudice and tensions. But these are remembrances of the circumstances in Kirkwood and at 211 W. Jewel as seen through these eyes.
This eating together and forming friendships in the Human Justice Council led to long and involved discussions of the varied experiences in each life. The results spread out in all directions – with little money but lots of good intent and yes, shared prayer, we delved into various projects. Bill and Jane Jensen got involved with the Kirkwood Human Rights Commission and Bill was chairman for quite a few years, working on problems with “fair housing” – a law had just been passed that put some legal teeth into fighting housing discrimination. Tutoring help was started with Meacham Park elementary and high school students. Mary and D.L.’s son-in-law got into police training class at Meramec College to join the Kirkwood police force. The city hall was opened to advertising for black office workers – not just sanitation employees. Scout troops at St. Peter were guided into desegregation.
Bill and Alma were assisted in their work in Meacham Park. Joe Cole, during this time period, started an interracial Club 44 for school children with sports events and bus trips, which my children joined. Georgia Harris established a ladies group for Cardinal Glennon Gift Shop sales – we enjoyed the craftwork. Because I served with Jim as a “chairman couple” of the Human Justice Council and later served as head of the Kirkwood Human Rights Commission for 20 years, I had work laid out to do while also having the overview of constant and slow change. Each month reports were given by the members involved in various projects – discussed with shared opinions and offered help. But most important, we got to know each other through those turbulent years! We could greet and work with each other at church, store and school. All our kids shared in the improving picture, which laid down their present attitudes.
The long-time members of the Human Justice Council still meet occasionally to renew contacts and relive the “ol’ days” and the work we were all involved in together. Yes, things have changed in the last fifty years and the “legal” desegregation in schooling, housing and employment has changed here in Kirkwood and Meacham Park, and we were all part of it. When I look around at the present conditions, there is still much to be done – much that can be built on the foundation we all laid. These were exciting times to share and see the gradual changes taking place. Changes that are now taken for granted as daily norms. Praise God for that!
Why write these words? Why determine what to record? This was all due to the realization that the “Younger Brady’s” were unaware of what had evolved in the past and did not comprehend “how we got this way.”
Once, when talking with her mother and my grandchild about her friendship with a black boy, as I left the porch I overheard the remark, “She’s prejudiced, you know.” Then again, several weeks ago, when another granddaughter was defending moving into an all black neighborhood in University City, I realized she too needed to know the history of interracial work here in Kirkwood and at 211 W. Jewel Avenue!
When I look around, I recognize that all the legal battles have been finished but the remaining change against racial discrimination has to take place in people’s hearts! My children, in spite of their conviction, are not involved in any group work to further this goal. Maybe “group work” is not the answer anymore. Maybe it is because some of them have stepped away from our Church and don’t have the contacts for making friends and doing interracial work. Maybe they are not blessed in this way as we were in our generation – our unique opportunity to meet each other.
School, church and employment are areas of mixing races now, but we all experienced a “spiritual tie” as we were called to this work for improving racial conditions.
10 Things to Know in Understanding Islam & Muslims:
Islam is one of the 3 great monotheistic religions (with Judaism & Christianity, believing in One God). The Arabic word ‘Islam* means “submission;” the word ‘Muslim’ means “one who submits.” Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by God; and in the prophets who revealed God’s message, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Moses, & Jesus. They also believe in a Day of Judgment. Muslims though believe that God’s final message to humanity came to Muhammad who was born in Makkah in 570 A.D. (died in 632 A.D.). They do not believe Muhammad was divine, but the Prophet and ultimate Messenger of God. Muslims believe that at the age of 40 Muhammad received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel and these continued for 23 years. Even though Muhammad could not read or write, he memorized and then dictated these revelations to scribes. The Quran is the written record of these revelations. It is a book of 114 chapters, or ‘suras,’ that is the prime source of Muslim faith and practice. Also Muslims have a second authority, the ‘sunna,’ the practice and example of the Prophet. The 5 Pillars of Islam are: -Declaration of Faith, ‘Shahadah,’ expressed as “There is no god except God & Muhammad is his Prophet.”(This simple confession makes one a Muslim). -Prayer, ‘Salat,’ 5 times a day, at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, & nightfall. Prayer can be offered anywhere with the individual facing east (toward Makkah). Friday is the ‘holy day’ for Muslims. Also they have no official clergy, but leaders often called ‘imams.’ -Almsgiving, ‘Zakat,’ a yearly gift of one’s money because in reality all belongs to God. -Fasting, yearly during the month of Ramadan, from first light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, & sexual relations, as a way to achieve self-purification as well as to understand the plight of those who are hungering. -Pilgrimage, ‘Hajj,’ the annual trip to Makkah is an obligation for those who are able and can afford it during the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. Pilgrims wear special white clothes so all are equal before God and circle the ‘Ka’ba,’ (the ancient black stone shrine purified by Muhammad), circling it 7 times. ‘Jihad,’ means “struggle,” or “striving,” and for Muslims this first of all means to work to make their religion real in their lives and societies, by speech, good works, spiritual renewal, and “by the sword,” that is, to defend their faith and family when under attack. They DO NOT apply this term to terrorism or killing of innocents. Muslims revere Jesus as Messiah and await his Second Coming. They also believe in his virgin birth and his mother Mary is considered the purist woman in all of creation, (there is a chapter in the Quran entitled ‘Mary’). Muslims recognize Jesus’ miracles and regard his teaching as prophetic. Nevertheless they deny Jesus was crucified or died, but was taken up to heaven. (Christianity & Judaism are then considered real but corrupted religions). Political divisions after Muhammad’s death resulted in two main groups of Muslims: ‘Sunnites,’ 90% of the population who follow the command of the descendant of the Arab tribe of the Quaraysh; & ‘Shiites,’ 10% of the population who only follow a descendant of the Prophet as supreme command. Still Muslims share the same basic beliefs. There are a billion Muslims in the world & 6 million in the U.S..
– Fr. Vincent A. Heier
Office for Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs
The Tremendous Value of the Holy Mass At the hour of death the Holy Masses you have heard devoutly will be your greatest consolation. God forgives you all the venial sins which you are determined to avoid. He forgives you all your unknown sins which you never confessed. The power of Satan over you is diminished.
Every Mass will go with you to Judgment and will plead for pardon for you.
By every Mass you can diminish the temporal punishment due to your sins, more or less, according to your fervor. By devoutly assisting at Holy Mass you render the greatest homage possible to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord. Through the Holy Sacrifice, Our Lord Jesus Christ supplies for many of your negligence’s and omissions. By piously hearing Holy Mass you afford the Souls in Purgatory the greatest possible relief. One Holy Mass heard during your life will be of more benefit to you than many heard for you after your death.
Through Holy Mass you are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes which would otherwise have befallen you. You shorten your Purgatory by every Mass. During the Holy Mass you kneel amid a multitude of holy Angels, who are present at the Adorable Sacrifice with reverential awe. Through Holy Mass you are blessed in your temporal goods and affairs. When you hear Holy Mass devoutly, offering it to Almighty God in honor of any particular Saint or Angel, thanking God for the favors bestowed on him, etc., you afford the Saint or Angel a new degree of honor, joy and happiness, and draw his special love and protection on yourself. Every time you assist at Holy Mass, besides other intentions, you should offer it in honor of the Saint of the day.
Send stamped envelope for 10 free copies. Additional copies It each. 2000 or more each. These quotes are taken from the book THE HIDDEN TREASURE – HOLY MASS by St. Leonard. Imprimatur * Michael Augustine Archbishop of New York Jan. 2,1890. $5.00 From Catholic Fraternity for Restoration, PO Box 807, Clovis, CA 93613.
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Morality In Media: Combat Pornography “What you can do during WRAP Week and all year long to combat pornography Pornography Awareness Week and the WRAP Campaign are intended to highlight awareness about the pornography problem in your community and what can be done about it. Fighting porn, however, is a year-round challenge.
Here are some activities that you or your group can do during WRAP and throughout the year.
First, make sure you display the White Ribbon during WRAP Week (28 Oct.-4 Nov.) – prominently!
Your lapel, your car, your mailbox, your front door, your flagpole, wherever.
People will see the White Ribbon. They’ll come and ask why you’re wearing it or displaying it.
Go ahead and tell them.
Make more obscenity complaints!
Use the Obscenity Complaints Form all year round!
If your state does not have an effective statewide obscenity law, ask your state legislators to make changes.
The following ten states either do not have a statewide obscenity law or do not have an effective statewide obscenity law: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia. Maine and South Dakota, however, do allow local control of obscenity. New Mexico also allows local control of obscenity, but the New Mexico- Supreme Court weakened those laws. In Colorado, Hawaii, and Oregon, the State Supreme Court either invalidated [Oregon] or greatly weakened the state’s obscenity law. Amendments to the State Constitution are needed in these states.
In all ten of these states, concerned citizens should approach their state legislators and ask them to pass an effective statewide obscenity law or (in Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, or Oregon) to begin the constitutional amendment process.
If your state legislators need help, Morality in Media’s legal department can supply obscenity laws that have been upheld in other states.
If your state does not have an effective statewide obscenity law, the federal laws against obscene materials still apply.
If your state or municipality doesn’t have other needed laws against pornography and “adult businesses,” ask your state or local legislators to enact them.
In addition to obscenity laws, other laws that states and localities can enact to regulate the sale and display of pornography and so-called “adult uses” include:
“Adult use” zoning laws, which restrict the location of so-called “adult bookstores,” topless bars, etc. (These laws normally are enacted by a municipality.) Open booth laws, which require that the interior of “peep show booths” in porn video and bookstores be visible from public areas. Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) laws, which prohibit nude and seminude entertainment in bars and bottle clubs. Nuisance laws, which allow closure of all or part of “adult uses” if prostitution, lewd conduct, or high-risk sexual conduct occur on the premises Obscene device laws, which prohibit the sale of artificial sexual organs. Public indecency laws, which require performers in commercial establishments where no alcohol is served or consumed to wear “pasties” and “G-strings” Harmful-to-minors sales and display laws, which restrict minors’ access to sex materials that are harmful to minors. MIM can supply examples of legislation that have been used in other states and cities.
Ask your town to include a “no obscene programming” clause in its cable franchise contract.
Does your community have cable TV? You should ask the franchise authority to insist on a clause in the contract to prohibit the carriage of obscene programming.
Federal law [47 USC 544] authorizes the local franchising authority and the cable operator to specify in the franchise contract that cable services that are “obscene or otherwise unprotected by the Constitution” shall not be provided. Because the municipality would enforce the provision in a civil rather than a criminal proceeding, it should not be necessary to prove that the material is obscene “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Morality in Media can help.
Show your appreciation to local businesses that refuse to sell porn.
If there are businesses that take a stand by refusing to sell porn videos and magazines, let them know you appreciate the good they are doing for their community. If you are part of a civic group or anti- pornography organization, make this a chance for publicity by presenting one or more businesses with an award. Send press releases on your event to local newspapers, radio stations, and other media outlets.
Make complaints to ‘mainstream’ stores in your area that sell porn.
If businesses in your area sell “adult” magazines, or if neighborhood video stores in your community have a “back ‘ room” where they sell hard core porn videos, tell them-politely but firmly-that you will not patronize their businesses unless they stop selling porn. (You will also want to make obscenity complaints if the material is “hardcore”-see other articles in this issue.)
You should also make complaints to local supermarkets that openly display lewd, vulgar magazine covers at check-out counters.
Write letters to the editor.
Write short, punchy letters-no more than 300 words-to your local newspaper about the porn problem and its solutions. The more closely you can tie your letter to an article or editorial in the paper, or to a problem in your community, the more likely the paper will run the letter.
If your newspaper carries advertising for “adult businesses,” make complaints and, if you can, cancel your subscription.
Unfortunately, many newspapers carry ads from “adult” businesses, such as “adult bookstores” and strip clubs. These ads are often run in the sports section, where they hope to attract a male audience. If your newspaper carries such ads, make complaints and, if you can, cancel the subscription-then write a letter to the editor, telling them why. Conversely, if your newspaper refuses to carry such advertising, send them a thank-you letter.
Organize a committee in your parish or congregation or other civic organization,
Keep the issue of pornography front and center in your faith community or civic work. Work with your pastor and form a committee from your church, synagogue, mosque, or other house of worship. Establish committees in other civic organizations that you belong to. Network with others in your community-and with Morality in Media.
Ask clergy to preach on the subject of pornography.
Pornography, and its effects on individuals of all ages, marriages and communities, ought to concern every priest, minister, rabbi and imam. If your clergy are not addressing this problem from the pulpit, request that they do so.
Hold a public education event.
Many local groups hold “town hall meetings,” motorcades, and rallies during WRAP Week. Education events can also be sponsored throughout the year. If your group plans such an event, make sure local media outlets are informed well in advance.
Send an Obscenity Law Bulletin subscription or other MIM legal publication as a gift to a local public official.
Does your mayor, city council member, city attorney, district attorney, or other official need current information about obscenity and related laws, or about what other communities are doing to fight porn? Why not send that official a gift subscription ($15.00 per year) to the Obscenity Law Bulletin, published by MIM’s National Obscenity Law Center?
You could also give your local prosecutor a copy of MIM’s hard-cover volume Handbook on the Prosecution of Obscenity Cases, written by George M. Weaver, former assistant prosecutor in Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia. Price: $10.00.
Also: Tell them about the resources on the Web site of the National Obscenity Law Center: http://www.moralityinmedia.org/nolc.
Send copies of Dr. Victor Cline’s Pornography’s Effects on Adults and Children.
Does anyone in your community need to know how pornography destroys marriages, corrupts children and contributes to rape and the sexual abuse of children? Then they need a copy of Dr. Victor Cline’s Pornography’s Effects on Adults and Children (updated in 2001).
Using his clinical experience in treating hundreds of pornography addicts, Dr. Cline describes the four steps in the porn addiction syndrome, porn’s impact on psychosexual development, how porn conditions its victims into deviancy, and porn’s effects on sexual satisfaction and family values.
Price (which includes postage and handling):
Up to 10 copies: $4.00 each
Up to 25 copies: $3.50 each
Up to 50 copies: $3.00 each
Up to 100 copies: $2.50 each
More than 100 copies: $2.00 each You can order them from MIM at 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 239, New York, NY 10115. Prepayment required.”
A Pledge for Americans Concerned about Decency in Media
I promise to do all that 1 personally can to stop the promotion and the distribution of pornography I promise to write my U.S. Senators to express my concern about the failure of the Justice Department to vigorously enforce the Federal obscenity laws and in particular the 93 U.S. District Attorneys in their districts. Tell him to contact your U.S. District Attorney and ask for a reply (U.S. Senator…..Washington, D.C. 20510)(See: http://mosl.sos.state.mo.us &/or http://www.vote-smart.org) I promise to speak out to store owners who display pornographic merchandise m view of children, (xxx videos, magazines, etc.) I promise not to watch movies, TV or videos that promote degrading or debasing ideas that corrupt the moral fabric of society. I promise to monitor TV m my home and to hold sponsors of indecent and gratuitous sex and violence accountable, (addresses are available) I promise to monitor and control the use of the internet where pornography is displayed and not let it become a highly profitable and unregulated enterprise. I promise to be a selective consumer at the box office and the check-out counter to send a message to those who profit from the sale and distribution of indecent material. Speak out! I promise to patronize movies reviewed as morally acceptable encouraging the creative community to work to produce decent entertainment I promise to pray for a return to decency in media tear here and save top as a reminder You can count on me to be an active and concerned citizen in the fight to control pornography. ((signature))
To be collected by CAP (Citizens Against Porn),
4661 Markton, St. Louis, MO 63128
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Some Buddhist Terms and Their Definitions
By Virginia Smith.
Influenced by Japan and by Taoism
Safari: Zen “awakening” Koan: Zen nonsense words or statements intended to throw the mind into a new way of thinking Haiku: Zen poetry consisting of exactly 17 syllables Vafrayana: “the diamond vehicle”, seen by some as an arm of Mahayana and by others as a separate entity, Tibetan Buddhism Tantra: a Tibetan concept centered on the interconnectedness of all things Lama: a Vajrayana priest Madras: ritualized Tibetan gestures and dance forms Some religious concepts and their definitions by Virginia Smith:
Monotheism: belief in a single deity Polytheism: belief in many gods Monism: belief in a single reality Creation: seen by monotheists as originating from a deity separate from creation; seen by monists as originating from a reality which envelopes it Time: seen by the religions of the Near East as linear; seen by the religions of the Far East as cyclical Resurrection: seen by the religions of the Near East, especially Christianity as the ultimate experience in an immortal life on a linear time line Reincarnation: seen by many of the religions of the Far East as the logical consequence of cyclical time Dualism: seen by the religions of the of the Near East as conflicting (good versus evil); seen by the religions of the Far East as harmonious Brahman: for Hindus, the ultimate reality; literally, “ever growing” Vedas: earliest Hindu sacred writings Upanishads: later Hindu sacred writings Bhagavad Gita: beloved poem also regarded as holy Proselytize: to seek converts Maya: illusion; if Brahman is the only reality, all else is illusion Atman: the soul. actually a bit of Brahman, which will be reabsorbed into any number of different lives Samsara: the Hindu term for the transmigration of the soul, i.e., reincarnation Caste: the social station into which each person is born and must remain Dharma: the duties of a specific caste Karma: meaning action, which determines the soul’s caste in its next life Moksha: liberation from the karmic cycles of samsara Ahimsa: the Hindu doctrine of non-violence Some Buddhist Terms and Their Definitions by Virginia Smith:
The Four Noble Truths:
All life involves suffering. The primary cause of suffering is desire (greed) Suffenng ends when desire (greed) ends This can be achieved by following the Eightfold Path Definitions:
Buddha: The Enlightened One Siddhartha Gautama: the name of the man known as the Buddha Bo or Bodhi Tree: where Gautama attained enlightenment. Middle Path: the proper balance between asceticism and self-indulgence Eightfold Path: right understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, concentration Nirvana: the end result of following the Middle Path Humanist: a person more concerned with the human condition in the here and now than in the afterlife considerations Noble Silence: Gautama’s stance on the meaning of life An-atman: no soul; if everything is part of the ultimate reality, personal souls cannot really exist Sangha: a community of Buddhist monks or nuns Theravada: the tradition of the elders, the oldest, most conservative form of Buddhism, a branch found largely in southeast Arhat: a Theravada “saint” Tripitaka: The Three Baskets of Pali scriptures used by Theravadas Mahayana: the great vehicle the larger, more liberal form of Buddhism found in northern Asia for the most part Bodhisattva: Mahayana enlightened beings Sutras; Ponderous scriptural writings accepted by Mahayanas Pure Land Buddhism: a sect of Mahayana found primarily in China Zen Buddhism: a sect of Mahayana originating in China, most prevalent in Japan.
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LESSONS FROM NEW YORK, Colleen Carroll Campbell, 07(07)2011 Defenders of a man-woman marriage should ignore the bullies and speak up. In the political battle that ended last week with New York’s legalization of gay marriage, Catholic defenders of man-woman marriage found themselves pitted against an unlikely batch of adversaries: fellow Catholics. Gov. Andrew Cuomo – who, like his father, has spent his career touting his Catholic credentials while ignoring church teachings that clash with his liberal social agenda – jump-started that battle last summer by declaring same – sex marriage a top legislative priority for 2011. His influence propelled the same-sex marriage bill to a vote and it passed with support from numerous Catholic lawmakers. Among them was state senator Mark Grisanti, who infuriated many constituents by reversing his gay-marriage opposition after receiving the full-court press from celebrities and gay rights activists. “I’m not here as a senator who is just Catholic,” Grisanti said, attempting to explain how his well-publicized view of marriage as a man-woman union squared with his support for its redefinition as a gender-neutral institution. “I know that with this decision, many people who voted for me will question my integrity.” It’s not only Grisanti’s integrity that invites questioning. His logic also perplexes. Like many Catholic lawmakers, Grisanti seems unable to distinguish between his private sectarian beliefs and the reason-based arguments for man-woman marriage that faithful Catholics share with millions of other Americans. Those arguments spring from human nature and human history, not simply sacred texts. In nearly every known society throughout history, marriage has existed for the purpose of keeping men and women united for the sake of the children they bring into the world together. The civic institution of marriage exists, in other words, to bridge the divide between the sexes and promote the welfare of the next generation, not to ratify private romantic feelings or eradicate homophobia. The justification for this common-sense, civic definition of marriage does not depend on some obscure religious doctrine, Catholic or otherwise. But you would never know that from listening to many same-sex marriage advocates, who attempt to silence their opponents by deriding them as knuckle-dragging bigots. They get plenty of help from Catholic lawmakers like Grisanti, who shrink from wrestling through the logical implications of their votes and opt instead to use the “personally-opposed-but” excuse for legislating politically correct measures that they claim to disdain. It’s a nonsensical, cowardly move. Yet it provokes praise from media elites who continue to peddle the fiction that the only Americans not yet on the gay-marriage bandwagon are religious fanatics and residents of those “middle places” where one sees “the dance of the low-sloping foreheads,” as New York Times columnist David Carr recently described Missouri, during a discussion of another charged political issue. Like the snobbery of some coastal pundits, the incoherence of cafeteria Catholic politicians makes them an easy target for the ire of their fellow believers. But last week’s razor-thin victory for same sex marriage was facilitated not only by the fuzzy-headed logic and moral malleability of Catholic politicians. It also was enabled by a larger Catholic populace including many Catholic clergy who snoozed through the same-sex marriage fight, unwilling to speak out boldly or organize effectively until it was too late. It’s a problem that afflicts many committed believers of other traditions, as well: diffidence about broaching sensitive social issues for fear of being labeled one of those low-sloping-forehead types. Their timidity masquerades as tolerance and they tell themselves they are biding their time, ready to speak out when it counts. The longer they wait, the more freedom they lose. Canada already has speech codes regulating what citizens can say on these issues. We soon may have the same. And observant Catholics will be prime targets for freedom-stripping measures. Already, we have seen attacks on the conscience rights of Catholic health care workers, government agencies attempting to strip Catholic colleges of their religious exemptions and Catholic adoption agencies forced out of business for refusing to place children with same-sex couples. The struggle to maintain religious liberty is broader than any single issue or religious tradition. But for Catholics who value religious freedom, and all Americans who resent attempts to dismiss man-woman marriage as a mere relic of bigotry, the lesson from New York is clear: Speak now or forever hold your peace. Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com. MORE LETTERS ONLINE “David Brooks still doesn’t get it,” writes Mark Talarico of Wentzville, MO. “He said the Democrats have stopped making concessions and are becoming fanatics. They aren’t, they’re just refusing to deal with fanatics.”
DEGRADING CYCLE TARGETS GIRLS
By Colleen Carroll Campbell Backlash against child victim in Texas highlights sexualization, shaming of girls The crime alone was heinous enough. According to police in Cleveland, Texas, an 11 year old girl there was gang raped six times last fall by a total of at least 19 assailants, some of them boys, some of them ex-cons more than twice her age. Her assailants documented their attacks using phone videos and photos that went viral among the victim’s middle school classmates. Police said the images were shot inside an abandoned trailer where the girl was raped by a string of men, some of them summoned by other assailants who phoned their buddies to invite them to join in the brutality. The final shocker came when police began making arrests. Many Cleveland residents openly blamed the victim. At a community forum earlier this month, attendees complained that the girl dressed older than her age, flirted too much and made suggestive comments on her Facebook page. As one woman told an Associated Press reporter, “she wanted this to happen. I’m not taking nobody’s side, but if she hadn’t put herself in that predicament, this would have never happened.” The monstrous crime and the appalling reaction of some Cleveland citizens has sparked nationwide headlines and an online backlash. Writers from across America have sent angry missives to the local newspaper reminding its readers that no 11-year-old “asks for” gang rape. On Monday, representatives of various advocacy groups held a press conference in the town to urge locals not “victimize the victim.” The collective scorn heaped upon Cleveland’s criminals and their excuse – making enablers is richly deserved. Yet taking aim at that distant target does not excuse the rest of us from considering the possibility that Cleveland is not the only place in America where a girl can be stripped of her innocence while a chorus of onlookers scolds her for it. What happened to that little girl in East Texas is a one-of-a-kind nightmare, far surpassing in its horror the indignities visited on the average middle-schooler. Still, there are shades of her literal striping and shaming that is taking place among a growing number of American girls today. The process begins as early as elementary school, when girls first become aware that they are expected to demonstrate their value by demonstrating their sex appeal. They usually learn this first from television, where Lolita-like characters clutter the airwaves and teenage girls routinely are portrayed as sexually insatiable women hiding in children’s bodies. A 2010 Parents Television Council analysis of prime-time broadcast shows geared to teens found that when underage girls are on screen, more sexual content is shown, girls are shown responding almost uniformly positively to their own sexualization and their sex acts are portrayed mostly as jokes and hook-ups — incidents that happen outside any form of committed relationship. Bombarded by such images, encouraged by clueless or complicit parents and submerged in a society where child porn is an epidemic, many girls come to see themselves as the wider culture does: budding sex objects. At age 8, they buy padded, push-up bikini tops from Abercrombie Kids and sport super-skinny jeans with “Juicy” stamped across their rear ends. A few years later, while still in the pre-teen or “tween” years, they sport T-shirts that scream “Legal-ish,” “Hottie” or “Vixen.” And then they go online, where the toxic stew of Internet pornography, free-for-all social media sites and wall-to-wall coverage of celebrity bad girls confirms their suspicion that the only way to get noticed is to get raunchy. “Sex-ting” the sending or receiving of sexually explicit text messages or photos often follows. A 2009 survey by AK Tweens, a marketing company, found nearly one -third of pre-teen girls engaged in sex-ting. The girls typically received the sexualized messages and images as early as age 10 and begin sending their own by age 12. Their most frequently cited motive: to “get attention.” Of course, the attention they get too often is from adult sexual predators or male classmates who share the girls’ nude photos with everyone they know, leading to school-wide or even city-wide bullying. In several high-profile cases in recent years, teenage girls at the center of such sexting scandals have committed suicide. They were victims of merciless peers and their own bad choices, yes, but also casualties of a culture that long ago forgot how to protest girls’ innocence yet still remember how to shame them when that innocence is lost. The blame for the atrocities that transpired in that trailer in Cleveland lies with those who perpetrated them, not their victim, her fashions or her Facebook posts. But the problem of a culture that goads girls into growing up too fast, then mocks and shames them for the consequences of their own sexual exploitation, extends well beyond the limits of one sleepy Texas town. Coleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com. This POINT OF VIEW COLUMN – St. Louis Post Dispatch Thursday, March 31, 2011
THE PRICE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Rights protected on a case-by-case basis soon are not protected at all. In his engaging new biography, “Johnny Appleseed: the Man, the Myth, the American Story,” journalist Howard Means scrubs away nearly two centuries of rumor and myth to uncover the truth about 19th-century pioneer nurseryman John Chapman, a national folk hero whom most of us know only from Disney cartoons and children’s books, Means’ meticulous research reveals Chapman as an ascetic, conservationist and pacifist well-suited to serve as patron saint of today’s faith-based “creation care” movement, it also exposes Chapman as a bona fide religious eccentric. The itinerant preacher traveled alone and barefoot across the frontier proclaiming a peculiar twist, on Christianity known as swedenborgianism, based on the writings of Swedish scientist and self-proclaimed divine visionary Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborgianism never got much traction as American religious movements go. Its founder’s refutation of Christian orthodoxy and claims to have seen heaven and hell down to the last detail -the angels’ celestial homes have “gardens, flowerbeds, and lawns” just like ours, Swedenborg said – proved too dubious to attract a mainstream following. Yet Chapman remained a devoted disciple to the end, inspired by Swedenborg’s writings to live a life as unconventional as the theology he preached. Chapman was an unusual religious character, to be sure, but as Means notes in his book, unusual religious characters were ubiquitous on the American frontier. Although we tend to view our nation’s early years through the rose-tinted lens of “Little House on the Prairie” reruns, real early American life – and the real religious scene during America’s formative years was anything but orderly and orthodox. As Means notes, “a whole new horizon of possibilities was forming for religious seekers” during Chapman’s day, including mysticism, pantheism and universalism. Utopian movements flourished, Armageddon seemed just around the corner. Religious groups splintered at alarming rates, and zealous preachers armed with little more than a Bible and a tent jostled each other for the title of leading frontier revivalist. Means’ description of this wild-and-woolly 19th-century religious scene makes today’s American religious marketplace sound positively tame. And it offers some historical context for the troubling ease of Terry Jones, the loose-cannon pastor in Gainesville, Fla., whose Quran -burning stunt recently sparked deadly riots overseas and much hand-wringing stateside about the dangers of religious freedom. Commenting recently on Jones’ provocations the pastor’s next plan is to put Mohammed “on trial” and to lead an anti-Islam protest outside America’s largest mosque Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said, “Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II, you had limits on what you could do if it inspired the enemy.” Actually, our freedoms of speech and religion are more than great ideas. They are bedrock principles upon which this nation was founded, the very principles for which we purportedly are fighting overseas. And they apply in times of war as well as times of peace the former of which is looking much more like America’s normative condition these days than the latter. Inflammatory and irresponsible as Jones’ antics are – and embarrassing as they are to mainstream Christians who know that desecrating another religion’s holy book is an exceptionally ineffective means of evangelization, to put it mildly they fall squarely within the realm of constitutionally protected speech. In America, being an outspoken, offensive religious nut is not illegal at least, not yet. Muslims have a right to be angry about Jones’ offensive actions. But no one has the right to murder over such acts. If we affirm that truth in principle, yet call for the muzzling of people such as Jones in practice, we prove that America’s defense of free speech and religious freedom is just a ruse. And we open the door to exactly the sort of religious oppression we condemn in Muslim theocracies, an oppression no less dangerous because it begins with the apparently benign goal of banishing intolerance. The messy, sometimes ugly reality of religious freedom gave us the incendiary Terry Jones. It also gave us the pacifist Johnny Apple-seed, not to mention the heroic Martin Luther King Jr. And it has given millions of Americans, from our nation’s rough-and-rugged frontier days to our own, the liberty to adopt and express religious beliefs that others consider silly, dangerous or downright vile. That’s a freedom not recognized or protected by our enemies. We should not capitulate to them by forfeiting it, even in the hard cases. Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speech writer and television and radio HOST of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com. This POINT OF VIEW COLUMN appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch Thursday, April 7, 2011” Top of Page The Sex Abuse Crisis and the Culture of the Church Archbishop Coleridge in a letter for Pentecost, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia, said that among other factors, the church’s “culture of forgiveness, which tends to view things in terms of sin and forgiveness rather than crime and punishment” played a role in the clerical sex abuse crisis. In the May 23 letter, Archbishop Coleridge said he has come to believe that a complex combination of some aspects of the church’s culture played a role in the crisis. Archbishop Coleridge discussed these factors that “may have combined to make the problem cultural rather than merely personal”: “a poor understanding and communication of the church´s teaching on sexuality, shown particularly in a rigorist attitude to the body and sexuality” celibacy, while not a factor in itself, may have been attractive to men who had pedophile tendencies; seminary training lacking in human formation that led to “institutionalized immaturity”; clericalism understood as a hierarchy of power rather than service; triumphalism in the image of the church; prioritizing discretion; and the underestimation of the power and subtlety of evil. He said some of these factors must be abandoned, including a rigorist notion of the body and sexuality, gaps in seminary training and the types of clericalism they can produce, triumphalism and the underestimation of evil. He said celibacy must be purified and that there must be a greater awareness that the church´s culture of forgiveness and discretion “can turn dark.” The archbishop’s letter follows. It has taken a tragically long time for other Australians to begin to see the faces and hear the voices of indigenous people. For too long indigenous Australians were simply unseen and unheard; and that was the way the rest of us seemed to want it. Their land was terra nullius; they were not citizens. Now that indigenous people are visible and audible, we others are not sure what exactly to do about their suffering, but at least we can see them and hear them – and even say sorry. The same is true, I now think, of the survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and elsewhere. For too long they were unseen and unheard. To see their faces and hear their voices has taken people like me a tragically long time. But at least now we can see their faces and hear their voices, even if we have no quick fix for the devastation we see and hear. The story of sexual abuse of the young within the Catholic Church has been the greatest drama of my 36 years in the priesthood. So let me tell my own story of growing awareness of the reality; the story is mine but I suspect it is not unlike the story of many. I speak in retrospect but with no illusions about the present or the future. I cannot say that abuse of the young is not still happening in the church nor that it will not happen in the future. What I can say is that the bitter lessons of the past have made it more likely that I and the church will deal sensitively with abuse and its aftermath now and in the future. The first case I heard of was in the 1970s when I was a young priest in Melbourne. When the news broke, I thought it was weird and distressing. I had hardly heard the word pedophilia in my early life and seminary training; I knew what it meant, but I would have struggled to spell it. If I thought of pedophilia at all in the church, I would have found it mind-boggling that a priest, to whom the young are entrusted in a special way, could abuse children. But there it was undeniably, and I thought it was a tragic and isolated episode. But then more cases came to light through the 1980s and 1990s. Some of these were all the more troubling because among the abusers were priests who seemed well-functioning human beings and good pastors. By the mid-’90s, I was serving as spokesman for the church in Melbourne, so I had to try to know the facts, understand them and speak about them in public. At that stage I could not accept that this abuse was somehow cultural, by which I mean that it was more than merely personal, that it was the product of a “system.” I insisted that it was a matter of personal, not communal or institutional culpability, that it did not represent something systemic in the culture of the Catholic Church. Individual clergy and religious had not only sinned grievously but had also committed crimes, and they needed to answer for it personally before God and the law. That much seemed clear to me. It was at this time that I had my first meetings with survivors of sexual abuse as individuals and in groups. These meetings showed me the extraordinary damage done to many of them by the abuse they had suffered. This was something that I had not encountered or understood previously, and I was deeply shocked. “We owe the Irish an immense debt of gratitude for what they have given us, but for complex historical reasons the church in Ireland was prey to the rigorist influence that passed from the continent to Ireland… and found fertile soil there. It then passed into the Irish diaspora.” I was taken aback at times by the force of their anger, which was of a kind I had rarely if ever encountered, and it was something in the face of which I felt at times powerless to respond. I could see that these were people in need of all the care and compassion we could offer and that any response that did not have them as its prime concern was bound to fail – at least if the Gospel was the measure of success and failure. I could also see, and have come to see more clearly since, that those abused can be overlooked, even hidden. The challenge for me was to see their faces and to hear their voices, and that was not easy. Through the 1990s, I came to realize that, just as we had failed to understand the effects of the abuse, so too we had not understood the nature of the pathology or the scale of the problem. We have learned a great deal on both counts in recent years, though there is still much to be learned as things continue to unfold; but at least now our learning is set on a firmer base. One thing we have learned is just how compulsive the pathology can be. At first I thought that most incidents of sexual abuse were one-off incidents, and that can be true at times. But I now know that most pedophile abuse is serial. I was aghast to read transcripts of the trials of pedophile clergy; it seemed that their lives revolved around the grooming and abuse of children. It was apparent that this kind of abuse was something other than a moral lapse, a fall into sin, which could be made good by appropriate repentance, penance and a fresh start. During this period, it was becoming clear to me that genuine rehabilitation of the pedophile was a very uncertain prospect, though the clinical experts were not and are not of one mind on this. Whatever about their professional disagreement, the sense that there was no place for the pedophile in the priesthood was growing stronger in me. Another aspect of the pathology that I came to see was its hiddenness. This was abetted by a general ignorance in the community, but pedophile clergy were extraordinarily adept at concealing their abuse of the young. I have known priests who lived with some of the worst offenders, and it has been presumed at times that they must have known what was going on and turned a blind eye. But my sense is that those living with pedophile clergy knew nothing of the abuse that was going on and were horrified when it came to light. So too there were clergy who were known to have around the presbytery children usually boys but nobody I knew imagined that some of them were molesting the children, as it turned out they had been. It is also true that offenders were often incapable of recognizing the grave harm they had done. The wrongdoing, indeed the crime, was hidden even from them. Yet they themselves were highly visible in the life of the church, especially in the life of bishops. The institutional invisibility of the abused was a major reason why, initially at least, there was so much attention given to offending clergy and so little to their victims, who were unseen and unheard by comparison. A further thing I learned was the complexity of the field of criminal sexual offense, which lies at the intersection of medicine, law and social morality not to mention, in the case of Catholic clergy, the church’s moral teaching and the discipline of celibacy. For example, I learned the difference between pedophilia and ephebophilia. The word pedophilia may have been strange to me, but the word ephebophilia was totally unknown. Where pedophilia refers to the sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children, ephebophilia refers to the sexual attraction to post-pubescent adolescents. A good deal of what was coming to light in the years of my growing awareness was not pedophilia but ephebophilia. In general, it seems to me now that the church and society have not understood well enough the implications of complexity in this area: Again, we know more than we did, but there is still a lot of learning to be done. “The authority proper to the ordained could become authoritarian, and the hunger for intimacy proper to human beings could become predatory.” It was only as more and more cases came to light that I began to understand the scale of the problem. It is true that the number of offenders is a small percentage of the Catholic clergy and that the percentage is about the same as in the wider community. But viewed from another angle, where even a single offense is appalling, it was an incomprehensible number, with the figure made worse because of the exceptional trust placed in Catholic clergy. That is a trust which has produced wonderful fruit in both priests and people, but it was the same trust which enabled the abuse to happen and made it all the worse. No one now can deny the scale of the problem, and the urgent task is to go further along the path of understanding and action in a way that is deeply sensitive to the harm done to those who have been abused and determined to do everything possible to root out the evil from the church. One question that came to trouble me more, especially when I was working in the Vatican from 1997 to 2002, was whether or not the problem was cultural in the church. The question was unavoidable as through those years I followed closely the drama of the U.S. church in its attempt to come to grips with the crisis and the way in which the Holy See sought to help, as it did in the unprecedented meeting of the U.S. cardinals with Pope John Paul II early in 2002. I came to think that the problem was in some way cultural, but that prompted the further question of how: what was it that allowed this canker to grow in the body of the Catholic Church, not just here and there but more broadly? I would part company with some answers to this question because they seem to me ill-informed, one-dimensional or ideologically driven. There is no one factor that makes abuse of the young by Catholic clergy in some sense cultural. It seems to me rather a complex combination of factors which I do not claim to understand fully, even if I now understand more than I did. I should also say that the combination is not the same from culture to culture or from one era to another. Pedophilia – or the sexual abuse of children is a universal phenomenon, but it is configured differently from culture to culture and from one historical period to another. So too the factors that have made it cultural within the Catholic Church at this time are configured differently from one place to another, even if there is in some sense a Catholic culture which takes root in different human cultures. But this should not be overstated. Here I mention briefly several factors which in my view may have combined to make the problem cultural rather than merely personal, at least in the Australian situation. My reflection at this point is very much a work in progress, and I make no claim that this list is complete or even correct. One factor was a poor understanding and communication of the church’s teaching on sexuality, shown particularly in a rigorist attitude to the body and sexuality. This was mediated in part through the formative influence of Irish Catholicism in the life of the church in Australia. We owe the Irish an immense debt of gratitude for what they have given us, but for complex historical reasons the church in Ireland was prey to the rigorist influence that passed from the continent to Ireland often under the name of Jansenism and found fertile soil there. It then passed into the Irish diaspora, of which Australia was part. This rigorist influence led to an implicit denial of the Incarnation, which had people thinking they had to deny their humanity to find their way to the divinity. The irony of this is that the Incarnation stands at the very heart of the Catholic sense of a sacramental universe. Jansenism grew from Catholic soil, though it was tinged with Calvinism too. But there was nothing incarnational about Jansenism, and the Catholic Church rejected it, even if its influence has been hard to erase, with traces remaining still. with traces remaining still. Catholic teaching on sexuality offers deep insights and rich resources which we will need to explore in new ways as we seek to deal with the current crisis. Clerical celibacy was not in itself a factor, but like any form of the Christian life lived seriously it has its perils. When clerical celibacy works well, it is a unique source of spiritual and pastoral fruitfulness in the church; when it works badly it can be very damaging all round. It becomes especially risky when sundered from the ascetical and mystical life which it presumes: This is a large challenge, especially perhaps for secular clergy in the bustle of their daily lives. “It is hard to believe that the church´s response would have been so poor had lay people been involved from the start in shaping a response.” The discipline of celibacy may also have been attractive to men in whom there were pedophile tendencies which may not have been explicitly recognized by the men themselves when they entered the seminary. A further factor was certain forms of seminary training which failed to take proper account of human formation and promoted therefore a kind of institutionalized immaturity. Seminaries were not always seen as schools of discipleship, since faith was taken for granted in a way that looks seriously questionable now. Seminary formation was not tied to a vision of lifelong formation, so that a man once ordained was thought to have completed all the formation he would need for his priestly ministry through life. This was fateful, given that pedophile tendencies, usually latent at the time of seminary training, often emerged only after ordination. Clericalism understood as a hierarchy of power, not service, was also a factor. It was a fruit of seminary training that was inadequate at certain points, and it is almost inevitable once the priesthood and preparation for it are not deeply grounded in the life of faith and discipleship. Clergy could be isolated in ways that were bound to turn destructive. The authority proper to the ordained could become authoritarian, and the hunger for intimacy proper to human beings could become predatory. It is hard to believe that the church’s response would have been so poor had lay people been involved from the start in shaping a response. In more recent years, lay men and women – not all of them Catholic have been much involved in shaping the church’s response, and that is one reason why we are now doing better. The task belongs not just to the bishops and priests but to the whole church, with all working together in this fraught situation. A certain triumphalism in the Catholic Church, a kind of institutional pride, was a further factor. There is much in the Catholic Church, her culture and tradition, about which one can be justifiably proud, as one can be of her achievements in this country; and Easter is always a motive for triumph of the right kind. But there can be a dark side to this which leads to a determination to protect the reputation of the church at all costs. Through the radical social and cultural changes of the 20th century, the Catholic Church was seen to have risen above the maelstrom of history and not to be afflicted in the way other churches and Christian communities were. At least in this country, our institutions in areas such as education, health and welfare were mighty contributions to society as a whole; and this gave the impression that we were a church that went from strength to strength. Others may suffer decline, but we did not. What mattered was to present well in public in order to affirm to ourselves and to others that we were “the great church.” Such hubris will always have its consequences. Another factor was the Catholic Church’s culture of forgiveness, which tends to view things in terms of sin and forgiveness rather than crime and punishment. But in the case of clerical abuse of the young, we are dealing with crime, and the church has struggled to find the point of convergence between sin and forgiveness on the one hand and crime and punishment on the other. True, sin must be forgiven, but so too must crime be punished. Both mercy and justice must run their course and do so in a way that converges. This relates to larger questions of how the church sees her relationship with society more generally. We are “in the world but not of it”: But what precisely does that mean in the here and now? There is also the large question of the relationship between divine and human judgment. The church insists that it is to God, not to human beings, that final judgment belongs. Yet how does that fit with the need for human judgment when we move within the logic of crime and punishment? We have been slow and clumsy, even at times culpable, in shaping our answer to such questions. Playing its part too was the culture of the Catholic Church insofar as it favors a certain discretion, which in the case of the sacrament of penance becomes an absolute confidentiality. The church has long spoken of the sins of calumny and detraction. The first refers to the spreading of false allegations against others; the second refers to the spreading of allegations which are true but defamatory. Both are sinful. “I have wondered if the whole of society is somehow mysteriously and unconsciously complicit in the phenomenon of child abuse, but in the end it seems to me that the blame game in any of its forms cannot take us far along the path of healing, reconciliation and reform that lies before us.” There are many things known to us about others certainly known to clergy but which charity forbids us to spread abroad. This is not always a matter of protecting the reputation of the church but of protecting the dignity of others in a way that charity commands. Yet this culture of discretion turned dark when it was used to conceal crime and to protect the reputation of the church or the image of the priesthood in a country that has never known the virulent anti-clericalism of elsewhere. The church may also have underestimated the power and subtlety of evil. This may seem strange to say of the church, which is often regarded as taking evil and sin more seriously than do other churches and Christian communities. But it is evil we are dealing with in the case of sexual abuse of the young; and it is an evil which is not just personal. It is a power which reaches beyond the individual; it seems more metaphysical than moral. A suprapersonal power seems to take hold of human beings who are not in themselves wholly evil. But they are in the grip of a power which they can, it seems, do little to understand or control; and it is a power which is hugely destructive in the lives of those they have abused and in their own lives. None of these factors alone would have made the problem cultural in the church, but the combination may have done so. Clearly, some have to be abandoned rigorist notions of the body and sexuality, gaps in seminary training and the kind of clericalism they can produce, triumphalism, the underestimation of evil. Others like the living of celibacy in the priestly life need to be purified rather than abandoned. Some like the church’s culture of forgiveness and discretion clearly need to be retained, though with a greater awareness of what they can encourage and how they can turn dark. I am perplexed when I hear it said that the church at least in this country has done nothing about the problem. A great deal has been done by many people, but there is still a great deal to be done. I do not believe that the bishops are simply indulging in “damage control” and trying to “manage” the problem. That may have been true in the past, but I do not think it is true now. There has been a growing awareness among them that the church’s approach has to be essentially pastoral, with its prime focus on the needs of those who have been abused. That is the thrust of the structures and protocols which have been put in place and are being continually refined as we learn more. The attached document shows what has been done in this country and what is being done. What is clear is that there will be no quick fix to this problem, the roots of which go deep and wide. We are in for the long haul. On that journey, there is a need for cool heads and compassionate hearts which resist apocalyptic scenarios and keep striving instead to understand the reality calmly and comprehensively, always attending primarily to the victims we have not seen and the voices we have not heard. I have asked myself often enough who has been to blame in all this. Clearly the victims were not, though we have treated them at times as if they were. Just as clearly, the offenders were to blame and must bear the full weight of judgment, both human and divine. The bishops? Yes, insofar as they concealed or denied the abuse. The media? Not too often, although there have been appalling instances of trial-by-media with the presumption of innocence cast aside; some reporting has been jaundiced by sensationalism and anti-Catholicism, while other reporting has actually helped the church to see the faces and hear the voices. The lawyers? Only infrequently, even though there have been lawyers who have behaved in ways that have not only dishonored their profession but also treated victims in ways which themselves have been abusive. At times I have wondered if the whole of society is somehow mysteriously and unconsciously complicit in the phenomenon of child abuse, but in the end it seems to me that the blame game in any of its forms cannot take us far along the path of healing, reconciliation and reform that lies before us. All can see that this is a time of crisis for the Catholic Church, even though the nature of the crisis would be understood differently by different people within the church and outside. The word crisis comes from the Greek word krisis, which means judgment. The church is under judgment. That judgment is in part human, as many point the accusing finger at the Catholic Church and especially at her leaders. But also and more important, the judgment is divine. The God who has called the church “out of darkness into his own wonderful light” (1 Pt 2:9) is acting now as he has done in the past, as the Bible attests: God stands in judgment upon us and calls us into an experience of lamentation that acknowledges sin and looks beyond the disaster that sin has caused to the new future God is preparing for the people he loves. Paradoxically, this lamentation does not preclude the joy of Easter. We normally think that lamentation and joy are mutually exclusive, but now they have to find a home together in the one heart, the heart of the church, just as they dwell together in the heart of Jesus Christ. At the moment, the Catholic Church and the bishops in particular are being pounded mightily and dismissed as lacking all credibility or worse. This is hardly surprising, and it can be humiliating. But it is not the end of the world; nor is it the end of the church. Paradoxically, the Catholic Church has often been at her best when down for the count. History shows that new and unexpected surges of Gospel energy have come not infrequently in the wake of devastation. My hope is that we may now be moving slowly and painfully toward a moment of that kind. That is surely the promise of Easter, which is what sustains me and many others through this troubled time. My deepest and most heartfelt prayer is that the same promise of life out of death will sustain the survivors of sexual abuse whose faces I have seen and will see, whose voices I have heard and will hear. Top of Page “COMMENTARY” “In his letter, Bishop Marie Coleridge mentioned an attached document that detailed what the church in Australia has done and is doing to protect children. Following are excerpts: “Since the late 1980s, when the issues of abuse by church personnel became more widely known in Australia and overseas, the Australian Catholic bishops and the leaders of religious institutes have worked together to put in place procedures to address allegations of abuse….” “Today the church reiterates the apology made when the revised protocol was published in 1996 as Towards Healing: We acknowledge with deep sadness and regret that a number of clergy and religious and other church personnel have abused children, adolescents and adults who have been in their pastoral care. To these victims we again offer our sincere apology… “The Towards Healing principles and procedures have been independently reviewed in 2000 and 2009…. Submissions for the reviews came from a wide range of people…. “Involvement of Police” “The church encourages those with a complaint of criminal abuse to go to the police and will assist them to do so. It realizes that for many reasons some victims choose not to do this. Nevertheless the church will take the complaint seriously and take such other steps as are necessary to ensure no person is at risk. “When the complaint concerns an alleged crime, the contact person or director of professional standards shall explain to the complainant that the church has a strong preference that the allegation be referred to the police so that the case can be dealt with appropriately through the justice system. If desired, the complainant will be assisted to do this. Where it applies, the contact person shall also explain the requirements of the law of mandatory reporting.” (TH, 37.1). “When a complainant does go to police, the church still offers counseling and other assistance and advises the person that they may approach the church again when any criminal process is concluded (cf. TH, 37.2). “Even where a complainant insists that he or she will not go to police, the church believes that it has an obligation to pass intelligence to police (not identifying the complainant) and is currently working on protocols and structures which will enable that to extend to all states and territories (TH, 37.4). “The church complies with all state/territory laws concerning mandatory reporting of abuse and concerning oversight of investigations…” (TH, 34.6, 37.5). “Continuing in Ministry” “If a matter proceeds outside of the church still investigates whether there is any possible risk to children or the vulnerable if the accused were to remain in ministry (TH, 36.6). “The church stands a person aside from any particular ministry or from all ministries, pending investigation, where there is risk of harm to others should the allegations prove to be true (TH, 38.10).” “The church adheres to best practice in deciding the response to those guilty of abuse. In particular, those who have abused children or young people are not given back the power they have abused.” “If guilt has been admitted or proved, the response must be appropriate to the gravity of what has happened, while being consistent with the civil law or canon law which governs that person’s position. Account will be taken of how serious was the violation of the integrity of the pastoral relationship and whether there is a likelihood that such behavior could be repeated. Serious offenders in particular those who have been found responsible for sexually abusing a child or young person, or whose record of abuse of adult pastoral relationships indicates that they could well engage in further sexual exploitation of vulnerable adults, will not be given back the power they have abused. Those who have made the best response to treatment recognize this themselves and realize that they can no longer return to ministry” (TH, 27; cf. 42.3, 42.4, 42.5, 42.6). “Being concerned to protect children and other vulnerable people into the future, the church has not always sought laicization for some older priests and religious but has put in place supervision and support structures while removing them from situations which might entail risk to others. While this may be more onerous than simply releasing such persons into the community, this is seen as contributing more to the safeguarding of the vulnerable. “For claims of abuse which do not go to criminal law or civil law processes, the “Towards Healing” protocols provide a means by which the church can still respond to those who have been harmed by any of its personnel.” “Contact persons help provide details of allegations and the effects on the person making them. Independent assessors investigate the allegations and make findings about them. In facilitated meetings church authorities meet victims and come to an understanding of the impact of abuse on them. Through hearing the experiences of victims, church authorities aim to provide assistance in dealing with victims’ present needs and assist in taking some steps toward healing”. “Experienced facilitators have told professional standards personnel that bishops and leaders who have participated in meeting with victims in this way have themselves grown in understanding of the effects of abuse and in their own spirituality.” “Prevention of Abuse” “The church acts in accordance with good child protection practices in verifying the suitability of persons for employment or as volunteers.” “Church bodies… shall have in place procedures, consistent with good child protection and industrial relations practice, for verifying the suitability of persons for employment or for participation as volunteers. They shall obey all applicable laws concerning employment screening and the prohibition of certain convicted persons from employment involving children” (TH, 45.3). “The church has in place procedures to verify the suitability to minister of its clergy and religious who transfer between jurisdictions” (TH, 45.6,45.7). “The church has in place documents which state the standards of behavior for its clergy, religious and lay personnel and… runs training programs for its personnel….” “The church continues to develop programs within parishes, schools and other church institutions, which assess risk to children and the vulnerable and seeks to put in place structures, procedures and behavior codes which will lead to safe environments.” “The revised “Towards Healing” restates public criteria according to which the community may judge the resolve of church leaders to address issues of abuse within the church. If we do not follow the principles and procedures of this document, we will have failed according to our own criteria. (TH, Introduction).
Humility and the Father’s Love
“Why did my Father give you power over me? Because he wanted me to get very close to you to show you the depths of his love for you; not the distant love of a God who sits on a throne in his heaven and looks down on you on the earth, but the love of a Father who longs to help you to carry your burdens, to comfort and heal you, to give you every good gift. He wants to come into your homes, and to sit with you at your meals as one of the family. He wants to walk with you as a beloved friend. He could not do that himself and so he sent me, his only Son, to make his love known to you. I could take on your weakness and then act out my Father’s name which is Love. Can you truly imagine the love of God? Can you understand the depth of your Father’s love for you? The Father sent me to show you his love, and to act it out among you to give you an example to copy. I am the image of your unseen Father; in my life, and particularly in my passion, I showed you the depths to which love must be prepared to go. There is no room for fear in love, no room for shame, no excuses, no holidays. Love offers everything and expects no return. You cannot bear the unveiled love of God. It falls like a fire upon you and you are consumed and burnt up in its heat. You are not ready yet to be refined and purified by the naked flame of your Father’s love for you, and so it has to be filtered, mediated to you through my flesh.
Richard Hobbs (+ 1993) was a convert to Catholicism and the father of six sons.