Archive | July, 2013

I wish you peace

26 Jul

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There are a lot of angry people today. People are angry with Congress and with the White House, with their state legislators and with their governors. They are angry with big business and with unions, with their neighbor and family members.

Angst and anxiety replace peace – because people feel insecure, threatened and, too often, helpless. They find it hard to find someone in whom they can place their hope and trust.

Trust is rooted in faith and confidence in someone. With the growing disapproval of government leaders and the feeling they can’t or won’t correct what’s wrong in our nation, trust takes a nose dive.

I wonder what would happen if we would start wishing “peace” to all those leaders in whom we have lost confidence.

For example, imagine that you could go up to the White House and say to President Obama and the people in his administration, “I wish you peace.”

Then go into the offices of Congress, to your senators, representatives and say, “I wish you peace.”

And walk in to see you governor and state legislators and say, “I wish you peace.”

Perhaps go to your employer, to the union leaders, to big business leaders and to family members and say, “I wish you peace.”

I wonder what would happen.

I wonder if the gift of peace would give them pause, provide a moment of interior reflection.

Well, I don’t think we can go into those offices and do that – a least most of us can’t. But, we can still say to each and every one of our leaders, neighbors and relatives:

“I wish you peace.”

And to you, my friends, I wish you peace.

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Racism

20 Jul

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As the old Cursillo song goes, “All in color and so must all love be,

in every bright color, to make our hearts shine.”

At the outset, let me state clearly that I refuse to use the terms Polish-American, French-American, African-American, German-American or any other hyphenated-American.  We are American or we are not. It’s time to come together in peace and harmony.

A bit of persona history

Back in the 1950s and into the Searing Sixties, I was up to my ears in the fight for civil rights for all U.S. citizens.

That was back in the Lafayette, La. diocese – and the Catholic paper was The Southwest Louisiana Register.

I wrote passionately about the injustices to black Americans. One of my efforts was a 32-week series called “Register Social Studies” in which I outlined the disparity in income, education and general well-being of whites compared with those who, regrettably, are now called African-Americans. The series was used by the Office of Economic Opportunity to help organize the War on Poverty in Louisiana. The Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada gave the series the coveted award for “Best Campaign in the Public Interest.”

In a court case in Lafayette, I testified against the district attorney and for the Southern Consumer’s Cooperative – a movement among black farmers to use “strength in numbers” to achieve fair prices for their produce.

However, not everyone was impressed.

  • Some of our states’ rights and segregationist friends dubbed our Catholic paper The Congo Chronicle.
  • A number of Old Timers in the priesthood did their best to ostracize the paper and anyone connected with it.
  • I received a death threat for my troubles – but, as you can see, I’m still here. (By the way, when I came to The Florida Catholic in 1969, the paper strongly supported farm workers – and, here in Florida I received more threats.)
  • I think some of my relatives were about to have me committed.

We’re not brothers

After the Civil Rights bill became law, two or three of us white lay people met with a black priest who was strongly supportive of our efforts on behalf of black Americans. In that session, I mentioned something like, “Well, Father, you and I are brothers.”

He drew back, looked me right in the eye and said evenly and emphatically, “We are not brothers. You’re white and I’m black.”

I was stunned and deeply hurt.

I would again go to bat for the civil rights of black Americans – if it were necessary.

Discrimination has diminished

However, contrary to the strident voices of such “leaders” as Al Sharpton and the somewhat color-blind NAACP, ACLU, and the Congressional Black Caucus, white discrimination against black people has diminished markedly.

  • White people helped put Barrack Obama in the White House – twice.
  • White people have voted for black governors, state legislators and U.S. congressmen and senators.
  • In the Catholic Church, we have black priests, some as pastors, in predominately white parishes.
  • Our schools are integrated – and much is left to be done in equality of education across the board.
  • I perceive that a growing number of professionals are persons of color.

Do we still have racial discrimination and hatred in our nation? Of course – and not all whites who discriminate against or hate blacks are members of the Klan. And not all blacks who hate or distrust whites are members of quasi-military groups preaching discord and violence.

I grieve over the death of young Trayvon Martin. However, I find it unconscionable that his death has become a springboard for condemnation of our justice system and what appears to be a general distrust of all whites.

I find utterly regrettable and harmful the national angry reaction over the Zimmerman-Martin verdict in Sanford, Fla. and the silence or reaction of so-called black leaders when blacks rape and/or kill white people.

Racism has two colors

Racism? Yes. And many white people are guilty. But if you listen to their rhetoric and study the sometimes subtle bias, the charge falls also to Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the NAACP, ACLU, and several high level black politicians in Washington, D.C.

The real enemy is hopelessness – a hopelessness born of ignorance and an engrained sense of being victims, the latter promoted by some leaders whose income may well depend on continued strife between cultural and racial differences. The battle has to be fought in the “hood” and the “slums” and the “backwoods” as well as on Main Street U.S.A.

In the troubled areas of our cities, a major problem is lack of personal responsibility. Men get women pregnant and go away. This is totally irresponsible as well as unconscionable. This breakdown of personal, moral discipline is at the core of most of America’s problems.

This is where a lot of our corrective efforts should be targeted. If we do not build up the moral character of people and strengthen family life we are lost.

Conditions are not what they were back in the 1950s and 1960s. We’ve made progress.

Let’s build on that progress – and not tear it down.

Our Church, Our Nation

7 Jul

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It isn’t your imagination. Your freedom to follow your conscience and to speak openly about your faith values are being threatened. Only courage and commitment will overcome the evil that is taking hold of our society.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law” – so said Mr. Obama during his 2013 inaugural address.

So reported the editors of National Catholic Register in an editorial, “Catholic and American,” posted last week on July 4.

For Obama, this was a convenient change of mind from former lame claims that he was in favor of the traditional view of marriage – one man and one woman.

And now the Justices on the Supreme Court have struck down as unconstitutional that provision in the Defense of Marriage Act.

Maybe it’s time to start over – all the way back to the American Revolution which was fought for religious freedom, freedom of conscience and the right to govern ourselves.

Maybe form a new Department of Justice and a new Supreme Court.

Or maybe, just get back to our democratic values and elect new folks to serve us and our country.

            The voice of Faith is ignored and ridiculed in our country today. It seems that only the atheists, agnostics and other minorities have the right to speak and be heard, the right to form public opinion.

The Register editors ask, “So are U.S. Catholics who cling to Church teaching on marriage un-American?” Or, for that matter, are we un-American because we believe that God’s plan for humanity is the foundation of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

Our government has gone wild. Our government is leaning toward atheism and socialism – and the two go hand-in-hand.

The Register’s editors quote George Weigel, an American author and political activist. Weigel speaks of strengthening our democratic legacy here in America:

This vital work “will be advanced by an emerging generation of Catholic leaders capable of reframing the public debate on the role and limits of the state and the duties and rights of citizens. More importantly, they will be leaders who know that effective evangelization requires nothing less than ‘radical discipleship.’ The Church must offer a compelling alternative to ‘the loneliness of so much of the post modern world.’”

 Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, in a Register interview, called on Catholic laity to step into their rightful place of leadership in our nation:

The secular world is the place where laypeople exercise their leadership most naturally. It’s the environment of their everyday lives and their primary mission field. Bishops can counsel and teach, but their role in practical political affairs like the fight for religious liberty can only be indirect and secondary.

 If lay people don’t love their Catholic faith to struggle for in the public square, nothing the bishops do will finally matter.           

A pity, is it not, that living the faith unashamedly is what some would call “radical discipleship.”

            Shame on us.          

How about re-catechizing all Catholics in our nation?

Well, given the secularization of far too many Catholics, that might be like putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

Maybe we’d better start with energizing the preachers and teachers in the Church – urging them to surrender to what Pope Paul VI called “the hidden power of the Gospel.”