George A. Sprecace M.D., J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London, P.C.
www.asthma-drsprecace.com

WHAT'S RIGHT WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH #54



Here, quoted from Zenit, are three lucid articles from three different leaders of the Catholic Church on important subjects. Father Lombardi, the Vatican Public Affairs spokesman, can learn a lot from this approach as contrasted with frequent bloviating.

GS

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Immigration and the Next America

Our Father in Heaven Does Not Make Some Nationalities or Racial Groups to Be 'Inferior'

ROME, SEPT. 17, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is an adapted version of an address given by Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles on July 28 at the Napa Institute. L'Osservatore Romano published this version Aug. 11.


* * *


Our political debate about immigration in America frustrates me. Often I think we are just talking around the edges of the real issues. Both sides of this argument are inspired by a beautiful, patriotic idea of America's history and values. But lately I've been starting to wonder: What America are we really talking about?


America is changing and it has been changing for a long time. The forces of globalization are changing our economy and forcing us to rethink the scope and purpose of our government. Threats from outside enemies are changing our sense of national sovereignty. America is changing on the inside, too.


Our culture is changing. We have a legal structure that allows, and even pays for, the killing of babies in the womb. Our courts and legislatures are redefining the natural institutions of marriage and the family. We have an elite culture -- in government, the media and academia -- that is openly hostile to religious faith.


America is becoming a fundamentally different country. It is time for all of us to recognize this -- no matter what our position is on the political issue of immigration. We need to recognize that immigration is part of a larger set of questions about our national identity and destiny. What is America? What does it mean to be an American? Who are we as a people, and where are we heading as a country? What will the next America look like?


As Catholics who are faithful citizens in America we have to answer these questions within a larger frame of reference. As Catholics, we have to always remember that there is more to the life of any nation than the demands of the moment in politics, economics and culture. We have to consider all of those demands and the debates about them in light of God's plan for the nations.


This is a big challenge for us in this culture. Our culture pushes us to privatize our faith, to separate our faith from our life in society. We always have to resist that temptation. We are called to live our faith in our businesses, homes and communities, and in our participation in public life. That means we have to bring a Catholic faith perspective to this debate about immigration. We cannot just think about this issue as Democrats or Republicans or as liberals or conservatives.


I think we all know the teachings of our Church on immigration. What we need to understand better is how to see immigration in light of America's history and purposes, as seen through the perspective of our Catholic faith. When we understand immigration from this perspective we can see that immigration is not a problem for America. It's an opportunity. Immigration is a key to our American renewal.


One of the problems we have today is that we have lost the sense of America's national story. If our people know our history at all, what they know is incomplete. And when we don't know the whole story, we end up with the wrong assumptions about American identity and culture.


The American story that most of us know is set in New England. It is the story of the pilgrims and the Mayflower, the first Thanksgiving, and John Winthrop's sermon about a city upon a hill.


It is the story of great men like Washington, Jefferson and Madison. It's the story of great documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It is a beautiful story. It is also true. Every American should know these characters and the ideals and principles they fought for. From this story we learn that our American identity and culture are rooted in essentially Christian beliefs about the dignity of the human person.


But the story of the founding fathers and the truths they held to be self-evident is not the whole story about America. The rest of the story starts more than a century before the pilgrims. It starts in the 1520s in Florida and in the 1540s here in California.


It is the story not of colonial settlement and political and economic opportunity. It is the story of exploration and evangelization. This story is not Anglo-Protestant but Hispanic-Catholic. It is centered, not in New England but in Nueva España -- New Spain -- at opposite corners of the continent.


From this story we learn that before this land had a name its inhabitants were being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. The people of this land were called Christians before they were called Americans. And they were called this name in the Spanish, French and English tongues.


From this history, we learn that long before the Boston Tea Party, Catholic missionaries were celebrating the holy Mass on the soil of this continent. Catholics founded America's oldest settlement, in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565. Immigrant missionaries were naming this continent's rivers and mountains and territories for saints, sacraments and articles of the faith.


We take these names for granted now. But our American geography testifies that our nation was born from the encounter with Jesus Christ. Sacramento (Holy Sacrament). Las Cruces (the Cross). Corpus Christi (Body of Christ). Even the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, named for the precious blood of Christ.


The 19th-century historian John Gilmary Shea said it beautifully. Before there were houses in this land, there were altars: Mass was said to hallow the land and draw down the blessing of heaven before the first step was taken to rear a human habitation. The altar was older than the hearth.


This is the missing piece of American history. And today more than ever, we need to know this heritage of holiness and service -- especially as American Catholics. Along with Washington and Jefferson, we need to know the stories of these great apostles of America. We need to know the French missionaries like Mother Joseph and the Jesuits St. Isaac Jogues and Father Jacques Marquette, who came down from Canada to bring the faith to the northern half of our country. We need to know the Hispanic missionaries like the Franciscan Magin Catalá and the Jesuit Father Eusebio Kino, who came up from Mexico to evangelize the Southwest and the Northwest territories.


We should know the stories of people like Venerable Antonio Margil. He was a Franciscan priest and is one of my favorite figures from the first evangelization of America. Venerable Antonio left his homeland in Spain to come to the New World in 1683. He told his mother he was coming here -- because millions of souls [were] lost for want of priests to dispel the darkness of unbelief.


People used to call him the Flying Padre. He traveled 40 or 50 miles every day, walking barefoot. Fray Antonio had a truly continental sense of mission. He established churches in Texas and Louisiana, and also in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.


He was a priest of great courage and love. He escaped death many times at the hands of the native peoples he came to evangelize. Once he faced a firing squad of a dozen Indians armed with bows and arrows. Another time he was almost burned alive at the stake.


I came to know about Fray Antonio when I was the Archbishop of San Antonio. He preached there in 1719-1720 and founded the San José Mission there. He used to talk about San Antonio as the center of the evangelization of America. He said: San Antonio … will be the headquarters of all the missions which God our Lord will establish … that in his good time all of this New World may be converted to his holy Catholic faith.


This is the real reason for America, when we consider our history in light of God's plan for the nations. America is intended to be a place of encounter with the living Jesus Christ. This was the motivation of the missionaries who came here first. America's national character and spirit are deeply marked by the Gospel values they brought to this land. These values are what make the founding documents of our government so special.


Although founded by Christians, America has become home to an amazing diversity of cultures, religions and ways of life. This diversity flourishes precisely because our nation's founders had a Christian vision of the human person, freedom, and truth.


G. K. Chesterton said famously that America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. And that creed, as he recognized, is fundamentally Christian. It is the basic American belief that all men and women are created equal -- with God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


Every other nation in history has been established on the basis of common territory and ethnicity -- the ties of land and kinship. America instead is based on this Christian ideal, on this creed that reflects the amazing universalism of the Gospel. As a result, we have always been a nation of nationalities. E pluribus unum. One people made from peoples of many nations, races, and creeds.


Throughout our history, problems have always arisen when we have taken this American creed for granted. Or when we have tried to limit it in some way. That's why it is essential that today we remember the missionary history of America -- and rededicate ourselves to the vision of America's founding creed.


When we forget our country's roots in the Hispanic-Catholic mission to the new world, we end up with distorted ideas about our national identity. We end up with an idea that Americans are descended from only white Europeans and that our culture is based only on the individualism, work ethic and rule of law that we inherited from our Anglo-Protestant forebears.


When that has happened in the past it has led to those episodes in our history that we are least proud of -- the mistreatment of Native Americans; slavery; the recurring outbreaks of nativism and anti-Catholicism; the internment of Japanese Americans during World War ii; the misadventures of manifest destiny.


There are, of course, far more complicated causes behind these moments in our history. But at the root, I think we can see a common factor -- a wrong-headed notion that real Americans are of some particular race, class, religion or ethnic background.


I worry that in today's political debates over immigration we are entering into a new period of nativism. The intellectual justification for this new nativism was set out a few years ago in an influential book by the late Samuel Huntington of Harvard, called Who Are We?. He made a lot of sophisticated-sounding arguments, but his basic argument was that American identity and culture are threatened by Mexican immigration.


Authentic American identity was the product of the distinct Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers of America in the 17th and 18th centuries, according to Huntington. By contrast, Mexicans' values are rooted in a fundamentally incompatible culture of Catholicism which, Huntington argued, does not value self-initiative or the work ethic, and instead encourages passivity and an acceptance of poverty.


These are old and familiar nativist claims, and they are easy to discredit. One could point to the glorious legacy of Hispanic literature and art, or to Mexican-Americans' and Hispanic-Americans' accomplishments in business, government, medicine and other areas. Unfortunately, today we hear ideas like Huntington's being repeated on cable TV and talk radio -- and sometimes even by some of our political leaders.


There is no denying significant differences between Hispanic-Catholic and Anglo-Protestant cultural assumptions. This kind of bigoted thinking stems from an incomplete understanding of American history. Historically, both cultures have a rightful claim to a place in our national story -- and in the formation of an authentic American identity and national character.


I believe American Catholics have a special duty today to be the guardians of the truth about the American spirit and our national identity. I believe it falls to us to be witnesses to a new kind of American patriotism.


We are called to bring out all that is noble in the American spirit. We are also called to challenge those who would diminish or downsize America's true identity. Since I came to California, I have been thinking a lot about Blessed Junípero Serra, the Franciscan immigrant who came from Spain via Mexico to evangelize this great state.


Blessed Junípero loved the native peoples of this continent. He learned their local languages, customs and beliefs. He translated the Gospel and the prayers and teachings of the faith so that everyone could hear the mighty works of God in their own native tongue! He used to trace the sign of the cross on people's foreheads and say to them, Amar a Dios! Love God!


This is a good way to understand our duty as Catholics in our culture today. We need to find a way to translate the Gospel of love for the people of our times. We need to remind our brothers and sisters of the truths taught by Blessed Junípero and his brother missionaries. That we are all children of the same Father in heaven. That our Father in heaven does not make some nationalities or racial groups to be inferior or less worthy of his blessings.


Catholics need to lead our country to a new spirit of empathy. We need to help our brothers and sisters to start seeing the strangers among us for who they truly are -- and not according to political or ideological categories or definitions rooted in our own fears.


This is difficult, I know. I know it is a particular challenge to see the humanity of those immigrants who are here illegally. But the truth is that very few people choose to leave their homelands. Emigration is almost always forced upon people by the dire conditions they face in their lives.


Most of the men and women who are living in America without proper documentation have traveled hundreds, even thousands of miles. They have left everything behind, risked their safety and their lives. They have done this, not for their own comfort or selfish interests. They have done this to feed their loved ones. To be good mothers and fathers. To be loving sons and daughters.


These immigrants -- no matter how they came here -- are people of energy and aspiration. They are people who are not afraid of hard work or sacrifice. They are nothing like the people Prof. Huntington and others are describing! These men and women have courage and the other virtues. The vast majority of them believe in Jesus Christ and love our Catholic Church. They share traditional American values of faith, family and community.


This is why I believe our immigrant brothers and sisters are the key to American renewal. And we all know that America is in need of renewal -- economic and political, but also spiritual, moral and cultural renewal. I believe these men and women who are coming to this country will bring a new, youthful entrepreneurial spirit of hard work to our economy. I also believe they will help renew the soul of America.


In his last book, Memory and Identity, written the year he died, Blessed John Paul II said: The history of all nations is called to take its place in the history of salvation. We must look at immigration in the context of America's need for renewal. And we need to consider both immigration and American renewal in light of God's plan for salvation and the history of the nations.


The promise of America is that we can be one nation where men and women from every race, creed and national background may live as brothers and sisters. Each one of us is a child of that promise. If we trace the genealogies of almost everyone in America, the lines of descent will lead us out beyond our borders to some foreign land where each of our ancestors originally came from.


This inheritance comes to American Catholics now as a gift and as a duty. We are called to make our own contributions to this nation -- through the way we live our faith in Jesus Christ as citizens. Our history shows us that America was born from the Church's mission to the nations. The next America will be determined by the choices we make as Christian disciples and as American citizens. By our attitudes and actions, by the decisions we make, we are writing the next chapters of our American story.


May Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of the Americas, obtain for us the courage we need to do what our good Lord requires.


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Cardinal Piacenza on Women Priests, Celibacy and the Power of Rome (Part 1)

Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy Speaks on Service and Unity

By Antonio Gaspari


ROME, SEPT. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, rarely intervenes in public debates. He is known, rather, for his quiet and untiring work and his insightful observations on contemporary culture.


The 67-year-old Italian will next month complete his first year as head of the Vatican's clergy congregation.


He spoke with ZENIT about what power in the Church really is and what women could be doing to offer their feminine genius to Church leadership.


Part 2 of this interview, on celibacy and increasing vocations to the priesthood, will be published Monday. 


ZENIT: Your Eminence, over the past decades, with surprising regularity, the same set of ecclesial questions resurface in public debate like clockwork. How can we explain this?


Cardinal Piacenza: There have always been in the history of the Church centrifugal movements, attempts to normalize the extraordinary Event of Christ and of his Living Body in history, the Church. A normalized Church would lose all of its prophetic force; she would no longer say anything to man and to the world and, in fact, she would betray her Lord. The major difference in the contemporary age is media-related and, at the same time, doctrinal.


Doctrinally, there is an effort to justify sin, not entrusting oneself to mercy, but trusting in a dangerous autonomy that has the odor of practical atheism. With regard to the media, in recent decades, the physiological centrifugal forces receive attention and inappropriate amplification from the media, which in a certain way, lives on conflict.


ZENIT: Is women's ordination to be understood as a doctrinal question?


Cardinal Piacenza: Certainly, and -- as everyone knows -- the question was clearly confronted by both Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II and, the latter, with the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis of 1994 definitively closed the question. Indeed there it is stated: Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful. Some, grasping at straws, have spoken since then of a relative definitiveness of the doctrine, but frankly, the thesis is so odd as to lack any foundation.


ZENIT: So, is there no place for women in the Church?


Cardinal Piacenza: On the contrary, women have a most important place in the ecclesial Body and they could have one that is even more evident. The Church is founded by Christ and we human beings cannot decide on its form; therefore the hierarchical constitution is linked to the ministerial priesthood, which is reserved to men. But there is absolutely nothing to prevent the valuing of the feminine genius is roles that are not linked with the exercise of Holy Orders. Who would stop, for example, a great woman economist from being head of the administration of the Holy See? Who would prevent a competent woman journalist from being the spokesman of the Vatican press office? The examples could be multiplied for all the offices that are not connected with Holy Orders. There are tasks in which the feminine genius could make a specific contribution! 


It is another thing to think of service as power and try, as the world does, to meet the quota for this power. I maintain, furthermore, that the devaluation of the great mystery of maternity, which has been the modus operandi of the dominant culture, has a related role in the general disorientation of women. The ideology of profit has stooped to the instrumentalization of women, not recognizing the greatest contribution that -- incontrovertibly -- they can make to society and to the world. 


Also, the Church is not a political government in which it is right to demand adequate representation. The Church is something quite different; the Church is the Body of Christ and, in her, each one is a part according to what Christ established. Moreover, in the Church it is not a question of masculine and feminine roles but rather of roles that by divine will do or do not entail ordination. Whatever a layman can do, so can a laywoman. What is important is having the specific and proper formation, then being a man or a woman does not matter.


ZENIT: But can someone really participate in the life of the Church without having effective power and responsibility?


Cardinal Piacenza: Who said that participation in the life of the Church is a question of power? If this were the case, we would unmask the real equivocation in conceiving the Church herself not as she is -- human and divine -- but simply as one of the many human associations, maybe the greatest and most noble, given her history; she would then have to be administered by a division of power. Nothing is further from reality! The hierarchy in the Church, besides being of divine institution, is always to be understood as a service to communion. Only an equivocation, historically stemming from the experience of dictatorships, could make one think of the ecclesiastical hierarchy as an exercise in absolute power. This is known to be false by those who, every day, are called to assist the Pope in his personal responsibility for the universal Church! So many and such are the mediations, the consultations, the expressions of real collegiality that practically no act of governance is t
he fruit of an individual will, but always the outcome of a long process, listening to the Holy Spirit and the precious contributions of many people. First of all the bishops and bishops' conferences of the world. Collegiality is not a socio-historical concept, but derives from the common Eucharist, from the affectus that is born from taking the one Bread and from living the one faith; from being united to Christ: Way, Truth and Life; and Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!


ZENIT: Doesn't Rome have too much power?


Cardinal Piacenza: To say Rome is simply to say catholicity and collegiality. Rome is the city chosen by providence as the place of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul and communion with this Church has always historically meant communion with the universal Church, unity, mission and doctrinal certainty. Rome is at the service of all the Churches, she loves all the Churches and, not infrequently, she protects the Churches most threatened by the power of the world and of governments who are not completely respectful of that inalienable human and natural right that is freedom of religion. 


The Church must be seen from the perspective of the dogmatic constitution of Vatican Council II Lumen Gentium, obviously including the note attached to the document. There the early Church is described, the Church of the Fathers, the Church of all ages, which is our Church of today, without discontinuity; which is the Church of Christ. Rome is called to preside in Charity and in Truth, the sole sources of authentic Christian peace. The Church's unity is not compromise with the world and its mentality, rather it is the result, given by Christ, of our fidelity to truth and to charity that we will be capable of living. 


I think that it is indicative, in this regard, that today only the Church, as no other, defends man and his reason, his capacity to know the real and to enter into relationship with it, in sum man in his totality. Rome is at the service of the whole Church of God that is in the world and that is an open window on the world. A window that gives a voice to all those who do not have a voice, that calls everyone to a continual conversion and through this contributes -- often in silence and in suffering, paying the price herself, even being unpopular -- to building a better world, the civilization of love.


ZENIT: Doesn't this role that Rome plays hinder unity and ecumenism?


Cardinal Piacenza: On the contrary, it is their necessary presupposition. Ecumenism is a priority for the life of the Church and it is an absolute exigency that flows from the prayer itself of the Lord: Ut unum sint, which becomes for every true Christian the commandment of unity. In sincere prayer and in the spirit of continual interior conversion, in fidelity to one's own identity and in the common striving for the perfect charity bestowed by God, it is necessary to commit oneself with conviction to seeing to it that there are no setbacks on the journey of the ecumenical movement. The world needs our unity; it is therefore urgent that we continue to engage in the dialogue of faith with all our Christian brothers, so that Christ be a leaven in society. It is also urgent that we work together with non-Christians, that is, in intercultural dialogue to contribute together to the building of a better world, collaborating in good works and making a new and more human society poss
ible. Even in that task Rome has a unique role of propulsion. There is no time for division; our time and energies must be spent in seeking unity.


[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]


[Part 2 of this interview will be published Monday]


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Cardinal Piacenza on Women Priests, Celibacy and the Power of Rome (Part 1)

Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy Speaks on What's Behind the Vocations Crisis

By Antonio Gaspari


ROME, SEPT. 19, 2011 (Zenit.org).- It is often proposed that celibacy is to blame for a lack of vocations to the priesthood.


But according to the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, celibacy is not the problem at all.


ZENIT spoke with Cardinal Mauro Piacenza about the lack of priestly vocations and the true remedies for the problem.


Part 1 of this interview, on the role of women in the Church, was published Sunday.


ZENIT: Who are the priests in this Catholic Church and what is their role?


Cardinal Piacenza: They are not social workers and even less are they functionaries of God! The identity crisis is especially acute in the more secularized contexts in which it seems that there is no space for God. But priests are what they have always been; they are always what Christ wanted them to be! The priestly identity is Christocentric and therefore Eucharistic. It is Christocentric because, as the Holy Father has recalled many times, in the ministerial priesthood Christ draws us into himself, involving himself with us and involving us in his own existence. This real attraction happens sacramentally, and so in an objective and unsurpassable manner, in the Eucharist -- of which priests are ministers, that is servants and effective instruments.


ZENIT: But is the law of celibacy so absolute? Can it really not be changed?


Cardinal Piacenza: It is not a mere law! The law is the consequence of a much higher reality that is grasped only in a living relationship with Christ. Jesus says: He who understands, must understand. Holy celibacy is never something to progress beyond, rather it is always new, in the sense that, even through it, the life of the priest is renewed, because it is always given, in a fidelity that has its root in God and its fruition in the blossoming of human freedom.


The true problem is in the contemporary inability to make definitive choices, in the dramatic reduction of human freedom that has become so fragile as not to pursue the good, not even when it is recognized and intuited as a possibility for one's own existence. Celibacy is not the problem, nor can the infidelity and weakness of certain priests be the criterion of judgment. Statistics tell us that more than 40% of marriages fail. But 2% of priests fail in celibacy, so the solution would not be in making holy celibacy optional. Should we not instead stop interpreting freedom as the absence of ties and of definitiveness, and begin to discover that the true realization of human felicity consists precisely in the definitiveness of the gift to the other and to God?


ZENIT: What about vocations? Would they not increase if celibacy were abolished?


Cardinal Piacenza: No! The Christian confessions in which, because there is no ordained priesthood, there is no doctrine and discipline of celibacy, find themselves in a state of deep crisis regarding vocations to the leadership of the community. There is also a crisis in the sacrament of marriage as one and indissoluble.


The crisis from which, in reality, we are slowly emerging, is linked, fundamentally, to the crisis of faith in the West. It is in making faith grow that we must be engaged. This is the point. In the same spheres the sanctification of the feast is in crisis, confession is in crisis, marriage is in crisis, etc…


Secularization and the consequent loss of the sense of the sacred, of faith and its practice have brought about and continue to bring about a diminution in the number of candidates to the priesthood. Along with these distinctively theological and ecclesial causes, there are also some of a sociological character: first of all, the evident decline in births, with the consequent diminution in the number of young men and, thus, also of priestly vocations. This too is a factor that cannot be ignored. Everything is connected. Sometimes the premises are laid down and then one does not want to accept the consequences, but these are inevitable.


The first and undeniable remedy for the drop in vocations Jesus himself suggested: Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers into the harvest (Matthew 9:38). This is the realism of pastoral work in vocations. Prayer for vocations, an intense, universal, widespread network of prayer and Eucharistic adoration that envelops the whole world, is the only possible answer to the crisis of the acceptance of vocations. Wherever such a prayerful attitude has a stable existence, one sees that a real turnaround is occurring. It is fundamental to watch over the identity and specificity in ecclesial life of priests, religious (in the uniqueness of the foundational charisms of the order to which they belong) and faithful laity, so that each may truly, in freedom, understand and welcome the vocation that God has in mind for him. But everyone must be himself and must work every day more and more to become what he is.


ZENIT: Your Eminence, in this moment in history how would you sum things up?


Cardinal Piacenza: Our project must not be to stay afloat at all costs, to desire the applause of public opinion: We must only serve our neighbor, whoever he is, out of love and with the love of our God, remembering that only Jesus is the Savior. We must let him pass, speak, act through our poor persons and our daily work. We must not put ourselves forward but him. We must not be frightened in the face of situations, not even the worst. The Lord is also aboard the Barque of Peter even if he seems to be sleeping; he is here! We must act with energy, as if everything depended on us but with the peace of those who know that everything depends on the Lord. Therefore, we must remember that the name of love in time is fidelity!


The believer knows that He is the Way, the Truth, the Life and not just a way, a truth, a life. This is why the key to the mission in our society is in the courage of truth at the cost of insults and scorn; it is this courage that is one with love, with pastoral charity, which must be recovered and that makes the Christian vocation more attractive today than ever. I would like to cite the words in which the Council of the Evangelical Church summed up its program in Stuttgart in 1945: To proclaim with more courage, to pray with more confidence, to believe with more joy, to love with more passion.


[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]


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Prelate Criticizes Obama Insinuation of American Bigotry

Says Voter Defense of Marriage Can't Be Likened to Racism

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 22, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The leader of the U.S. bishops has told Barack Obama that the federal government should not be presuming the majority of its citizens are morally blind.


Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said this in a letter to the president Tuesday regarding the administration's move to attack the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).


DOMA was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and it defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.


Mr. President, I respectfully urge you to push the reset button on your administration's approach to DOMA, the archbishop wrote.


He called it particularly upsetting, that the administration attributes to those who support DOMA a motivation rooted in prejudice and bias. It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your administration insists on doing.


Our federal government should not be presuming ill intent or moral blindness on the part of the overwhelming majority of its citizens, millions of whom have gone to the polls to directly support DOMAs in their states and have thereby endorsed marriage as the union of man and woman, Archbishop Dolan insisted. Nor should a policy disagreement over the meaning of marriage be treated by federal officials as a federal offense.


Mom and Dad


The New York prelate pointed out that Obama has shown support for the value of marriage. He referred to the president's messages for Mother's Day and Father's Day, calling them perceptive and heartening statements, in which the president correctly emphasize(s) the critical role played by both a mom and a dad in a child's life.


I believe therefore that you would agree that every child has the right to be loved by both a mother and a father, the prelate continued. The institution of marriage is built on this truth, which goes to the core of what the Catholic bishops of the United States, and the millions of citizens who stand with us on this issue, want for all children and for the common good of society.


Archbishop Dolan reiterated the Church's rejection of all hatred and unjust treatment against any person.


Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it, he said. While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides. The law should reflect this reality.


--- --- ---


On the Net:


Full text: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/dolan-to-obama-doma-letter-sept-20-2011.pdf



"...and then there is this counter-point offered by my son Perrin".

GS

Wow!  Where do I begin?  I promise, I'll keep my response shorter than the original essay.  Jeez Louise, how could it not be?

Much of what is written by Archbishop Gomez is opinion, so I won't bother with that.  My concern is his attempt to label the advocacy of anti-ILlegal immigration as anti-ALL immigration (if not outright racism); and as unpatriotic and/or ignorant of American history.  He tries to support this with the the notion that America's creation has balanced origins in "Hispanic-Catholic and Anglo-Protestant cultural assumptions".  He writes, "Historically, both cultures have a rightful claim to a place in our national story -- and in the formation of an authentic American identity and national character."  He claims that Samuel Huntington favors Anglo-Protestant "self-initiative or the work ethic" as THE catalyst of our original national and governmental identity.

<>Guess what, Huntington is correct.  And, Gomez is incorrect in declaring, "This kind of bigoted thinking stems from an incomplete understanding of American history."  His examples of Hispanic and Mexican contributions to business and culture on this continent regard commercial innovation, civilization, and cultural expansion that specifically served the Catholic Church, the Crown of Spain, or both.  It is true that equivalent endeavors in the English sphere of influence evolved into commercial ventures for their Crown.  But, as opposed to Hispanic commercial exploration/exploitation and religious expansion of the Americas, English settlement originated from religious motivation to divest FROM Europe, NOT to enrich it or its Church.  Within 150 years of first settling here, English colonists had decided that self-determination was what they wanted and deserved.  For approximately 400 years, from 1492 until the mid-to-late 19th Century, those in the (albeit dwindling) Spanish sphere of influence maintained their loyalties to Spain and the Catholic Church, NOT to a unique American national and governmental identity. 

This is a BIG difference that seems to elude Archbishop Gomez.  Although Spain is out of the picture, the Catholic Church's influence is as strong as ever in its former empire.  The same has never been true in the original colonies or the rest of what has become the United States.  I don't know if he is simply incorrect in his historical conclusions, or if he consciously uses the term 'nativist' in a derogatory manner to attempt to guilt Americans into thinking that Mexican/Hispanic culture is as American as apple pie; because it is not.  And, the facts support this claim.  If it is indeed the latter, he is as 'slick as snot', as they say.  Frankly, his use of the word 'bigoted' tips his hand, as far as I'm concerned.  My guess is that he knows that a nationwide effort to welcome with open arms an increasing number of faithful Catholics to America (regardless of their legal status, I imagine) more easily and quickly increases the value of his stock, literally and figuratively.  That is his tribe, on two counts.  It is understandable that he would want what he thinks is best for them, and himself; although, we all know what such advocacy has and is manifesting in this country, politically, culturally, and economically. 

<>I just want to make sure that the truth is clear, backed up with facts. 

I hope I didn't bore any of you.  I'm just a fan of History.

P-



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