Institutional and Personal Failure

Catholicism today is out of the orphanage business. Catholic Answers does a horrendous job of defining the holy calling of caring for orphans without detailing the horrific failures to protect those in their charge from abuse and unnecessarily death:

https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/Orphans-and-Orphanages

St. Josephs

St. Joseph’s pictured above is renowned for abuse and unnecessary death. It is “estimated more than 5 million Americans passed through orphanages in the 20th century alone. At its peak in the 1930s, the American orphanage system included more than 1,600 institutions, partly supported with public funding but usually run by religious orders, including the Catholic Church.” A recent news story in Canada just unearthed mass graves: https://mol.im/a/9630875. Still, a Times article https://time.com/3194832/orphanage-study/ even makes the case Orphanages maybe better. America’s foster care system is ripe with problems.

We are an amoral world guilty of massive indifference to human life and human dignity: https://insamer.com/en/2020-orphan-report_2928.html. The 2020 Orphan report eviscerates the American Pro-Lifer narrow focus on abortion while ignoring world poverty – the typical Anti-Abortion falls into the trap of being hypocritical by failing to support human dignity after birth as evidenced by their silence on the orphan issue. The extent of their advocacy is the march with the sign, the expression of villainizing the other, seeking legalism for enforcing a religious view, and going home feeling morally superior without personal sacrifice to address the systemic societal issues pre and post birth. Who can blame them – shhhh, don’t answer that…

It is an easy reach to criminalize an impoverished women or adolescent teen then to take on world poverty, excessive capitalism, abusive dictatorships, and other systems of government and economic policy that and fail people everyday. We are willing to scapegoat the lowest denominator and stop there. Going any further requires sacrifice that as a society we are not willing to take collectively. The pro-choice movement falls short of the bar as well by ignoring the cost of abortion – physically, morally, and spiritually on women. If we could harness the energy of Pro Choice and Pro Life into fighting the social determinate issues that create the conditions that promote poverty or unwanted pregnancies – we would have sustainable change.

When the demonstration ends or the law is amended – pregnant women living in terrible circumstances are in the same position the day after the protest as they were the day before the protest. Any changed law may increase their immediate legal or medical risk – but will not improve their pre-birth, post-birth, or post-abortion life at all. As a global society we will not own world poverty and collective systems failure. We will blame the victims of indiscriminate economic violence and limit its impact on our collective consciousness by passing persecutory laws or ignoring the issues. The two issues are intrinsically linked as in both – we do not want to look at the larger picture of what our collective and personal responsibility is for the atrocities committed in our names by fiat (law), by our silence, or by our lack of action and sacrifice. Unwanted pregnancies going full-term adds another level of poverty onto the previous levels – not that this is an acceptable answer for the morality question of abortion.

This post started with the plight of orphans and the failure of Catholic orphanages in particular. The larger issue is institutions carved out of society and hidden away behind walls are bound to fail – whether run by Catholics or other well-meaning entities. They by in large are taking in victims of a larger societal issue, put on a poorly managed time out, and returned to the same communities they were in before, more often then not, more damaged then when they went into the institution.

The Catholic Faith has not walked away from its calling to be advocates for Orphans worldwide: https://crosscatholic.org/project-catalog/children/. A better focus noted in this mission is “Building homes for the poor is one of our primary missions at Cross Catholic Outreach, especially in rural areas with limited resources and following devastating natural disasters. Our housing for the poor projects build sturdy and sustainable homes in impoverished communities to help families thrive while supporting spiritual development and offering the love of Jesus Christ.” This is an idealism view built on scripture – but it is a band aid for social ills – much the way the police and the lower-level criminal pay the price for intersection violence that comes from the “haves” and the “have nots” or on a larger scale military soldiers and innocent civilians when societies clash over resources.

Before we blame the victim or the criminal, before we blame the historical institutions or current ones – it is relevant to fully understand what our role is and how we benefit or not from any recommended solutions. In the west, we are hard-wired into a scarcity model where competition and individualism reign to our detriment to live a spiritual life.

The idea of higher taxes is anathema for many Americans. The risk of a lower socio-economic state by the imposition of fair wages here in the west and globally is not discussed. Nor is the dynamic tension of poorer nations need to rise. An economic shift is needed for a “no-growth or slow growth” economy – as world population growth in Richer countries is declining and resources are being challenged. These macro forces create winners and losers – and the losers are the orphans of tomorrow. Band-Aids will be applied to the degree possible by public charity, religious missions, and governmental interventions – often weeks, months or even years to late.

When we farm out personal responsibility to political parties, religious institutions, or other governmental institutions without investment and sacrifice ourselves – we are the problem.

I personally do not have wealth to make a significant difference. I do not have the charisma to ignite or change world sentiment. I do not have the “ear” of God to talk to and demand intervention. It is seemingly a choice of hopelessness or rage.

It is not a binary choice

What to do – to quell our powerlessness or handle our rage? Harness the emotions into action. Quiet the irrational and listen to the calm. Yes, for me, the first tool is prayer its many forms – despite a disquiet understanding that my desires and intentional prayer may not impact the situations for which I pray in the way I want. This step helps sort out the gap between what I can do and what is beyond my influence. After that letting go – other actions and things fall into place. What is my calling? What can I do better today? What can I do additionally after that perhaps outside my calling?

I have just sent in a few dollars to “Save the Children” via the charity navigator tool below. They do the work of rating charities so you don’t have to do it.

https://www.charitynavigator.org/

Or perhaps this resource – the Lazy Mans guide to saving the world is for you:

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/takeaction/

You can improve a kids life from anywhere in the world!

Lazy people illustration Free Vector

If you spent the time to read this blog – please spend an extra fifteen seconds and click on one of the two charity links above and give something extra today – no matter your view on the politics of poverty and the dignity of life issues. Be a part of the solutions.

Givelight Foundation Is Partnering With TCF To Give 200 Orphans A Brighter  Future | TCF - USA | The Citizens Foundation

Eucharistic Coherence

Catholic forums and the USBC are ablaze with the meaning of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  The term of the day is “Eucharistic Coherence.” George Weigel does a pretty good job summarizing in one article called “The Challenge of Eucharistic Coherence” on February 3, 2021.[i]   Why the uproar now? 

We have a Catholic President who does not politically support “Right to Life” issues regarding the unborn sufficiently to align with Catholic values on this serious issue[ii] despite the rest of his life and his values being consistent with the overall dignity of life values that the Catholic Church teaches (care for the poor, access to healthcare, housing, education, equality, dignity, capital punishment, immigration, etc.).    He is perhaps the anti-trump where the flip is historically accurate where his actions, at least legally on the right to life front, were aggressive but poorly lacking everyplace else. 

The Catholic Church is unsure of itself and rightly so about President Biden and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  The act of committing abortion meets three elements required that would easily preclude receiving the Eucharistic Sacrament:

  1. Abortion fits the Catholic Church definition of a “Grave matter” or a “Mortal Sin” as Catholicism considers the unborn child fully human from conception.  Abortion is murder.
  2. Full-knowledge of the sin being committed is also a factor.  No doubt President Biden is fully aware of his commitments to Catholicism versus his oath as president.  The latter is a civil authority not aligned with Catholicism in all areas of law. 
  3. The person must freely choose to commit or act or plan to do it.

To my knowledge, President Biden has not met any of these conditions.  However, the Catholic Church would say he is complicit, as is our nation that ignores this issue, and many others, the dignity of life whether or not we commit an act or do not actively criminalize and incarcerate non-Catholics and Catholics who do not follow our moral definition of when life begins.    

At issue is what to do about Catholics who willfully receive communion while not in a state of grace suitable for receiving the body and blood of Christ.

I have myself, on occasion, felt unworthy of communion and willfully opted out until, with the assistance of a confessor, I sorted somethings out to bring myself somewhat closer to an acceptable state of grace to participate in Holy Communion. Was that necessary? I can make the theological case that if I approached communion with genuine intention and placed my faults, the sacrament could absorb my sinful state without blemish.  Was I guilty of grave sin?  I have been guilty of grave sins or sins that are of grave matter as any premeditated “sin of a serious nature deliberately committed is a rejection of God’s law and love.”

Have you been historically or recently guilty of grave sin?  Before you answer this question, read “What is a Mortal Sin?” [iii]. I myself am a fan of Dante’s work detailing sins:

Who among you are free of capital sins such as pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth?  All of these are an affront to God by Catholic definition (Capital sins).  Or how about St. Pauls list: 

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Catholic Church has rules for the faithful (doctrine, traditions, etc.), and many of these rules are not suggestions! Immersing oneself in the Catechism of the Catholic Church Article Three[iv] is only a starting point for conducting a spiritual examination before receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist each Sunday.  Aside from the prohibitions that are brief, this article contains 21 pages on the Eucharistic Sacrament’s beauty and meaning. 

Think of it as an elaborate invitation to the most prestigious human gale, ball, event, or wedding.  You are invited with the expectation that you will come prepared.  There is no expectation that somebody else has to check you at the door for proper attire, etc.!  They were some serious robes to the Last Supper.

What to do when these rules are not followed gets religiously complicated quickly. The Church has rarely managed well its power dynamic with kings, autocrats, dictators, or presidents. Ex-communication is the method used and authorized by Canon law:

“In Roman Catholic canon law, ex-communication is a censure and thus a “medicinal penalty” intended to invite the person to change behavior or attitude that incurred the penalty, repent, and return to full communion.[3] Ex-communication severs one from communion with the Church; excommunicated Catholics are forbidden from receiving any sacrament and refused a Catholic burial but are still bound by canonical obligations such as attending Mass or fasting seasonally. Excommunicated Catholics, however, are barred from receiving the Eucharist or from taking an active part in the liturgy (reading, bringing the offerings, etc.).[4] They are still Catholics per se, but are separated from the Church” Wikipedia has a list of excommunicated people from the first century to the current![v].

How many Catholics on Sunday morning conduct a sincere spiritual examination of their state of grace before receiving communion? If equipped to perform such an examination, what percentage would be short of the required grace defined by the Catholic Catechism?

I am less worried about President Biden’s state of grace than my own. I also have a hard time believing that one sinner or a thousand receiving the Eucharist with meaningful intention while not in a state of grace can in any way diminish God or the body of the church. I hold the sacrament as so powerful that it can heal any who come to the table willing to be healed.

The charge being levied at President Biden is Eucharistic Incoherence. I levy the same charge at myself and those throwing the stones first at Catholicism’s broad incoherence historically and current. As an institution we are far from without blemish and “more is being revealed” to us individually and collectively everyday as our humanity strives towards spiritual coherence.

We do strive to be and behave the opposite virtues of the “seven deadly sins.” What are they anyway?

Most of us are there trying our best to live a holy life, falling short individually and collectively. Celebrate and strengthen each other as these virtues are all around us everyday – people doing the right thing in the face of adversity. Let us not rush to judge or condemn with superficial knowledge and righteousness so quickly and may we receive equal consideration when our time for judgement comes today or at the end of days.

The Eucharistic Celebration, at its most basic level as originally intended, is miraculous and uniquely Catholic. Many words and paintings try to capture its essence, but only a personal journey and faith can truly reveal its meaning. Coherent or incoherent post I cannot decipher. I have not answered the President Biden dilemma that is apt to be misused by dividers and antagonist rather than by sincere soul-searching believers seeking coherence within and outside the faith.


[i]https://www.thebostonpilot.com/opinion/article.asp?ID=189316

[ii] https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a34205908/joe-biden-stance-on-abortion/

[iii] http://www.saintaquinas.com/mortal_sin.html

[iv] https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P3W.HTM

[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_excommunicated_by_the_Catholic_Church

The Heretical Voter

Objectively my political views lean left in American politics. I have plenty of company among Catholic voters. However, a solid group of the Catholics vote staunchly republican based on two issues: abortion and taxation. Abortion is the high moral ground vote. Taxation tends to be the selfishly motivated vote. Less taxes paid by the upper middle class and wealthy, less services for the lower and middle class.

The abortion issue provides moral cover for the taxation issue while ignoring other Catholic values and beliefs for some. This block of voters is solidly republican.

For other Catholics they do a deep dive into all aspects of how a candidate locally or nationally promotes Christian values. Sometimes they vote right, sometimes left. These issues, in addition to defending human life and the dignity of human life, include healthcare, economy, immigration, human rights nationally and internationally, environment, religious freedom, racism, and personal integrity.

This latter group, combined with prayer and personal struggle, are practicing voting a “discerning vote.” A discerning vote in Catholic ideology is an educated vote that is tested against all tenets of the faith, prayed on, and acted on. The action part is not just pushing a lever on November 2.

Whatever side a Catholic votes on, policies or projected values by that candidate or party will contradict Christian values. As Christians, when we vote for a party that goes against a Christian value (presumably because the vote supports many other Christian values), we should be taking other actions to address Christian Social issues that our vote abandoned.

If my candidate was a perfect candidate for Christian values except immigration. Perhaps in addition to my vote I am writing him/get a letter, doing an op ed, donating or volunteering to help immigrants. Our vote is an opportunity to do a litmus test on our full Christian life and where we fall short. It is not just a reflection of the candidate. It is a call to action. What will your vote be and how will your vote fall short of Catholic values? What will you do about that conflict and appearance of hypocrisy? Other than not voting, you have no choice but to pick a party or candidate that is imperfect.

The video below captures my voting process and thoughts accurately. The speaker is a well known Catholic lay person with impressive credentials. One line in this video is he believes our church is better served by seeking converts than by seeking heretics!

This is so powerful. Often during political elections we can descend into attacking secular society, non-believers, people we perceive as being sinners, other faiths not aligned with Catholicism, the political candidate or their party themselves. We can descend into party ideology, personal bias, nationalism, and herd mentality sacrificing our independent responsibility in the process.

This is a sure path to heretical voting! Rather than capturing heretics we become heretics. The exact opposite of our intentions as discerning Catholic voters. It is a good thing that Catholics do not vote as “1” voting block. To do so would remove the individual responsibility to own each issue in its own context today and then vote and act accordingly.

I know my vote today but will not share it here even though it is no secret. It will fall short of what many in the faith say is required of a Catholic voter. As an independent voter, I have consistently disagreed with their assessment in favor of a different approach (sometimes referred to as choose life democrats). This is my discerning mind. What about action other than my vote?

My vote falls shy of Pro-life calls for criminalizing and prosecuting women and doctors for abortion procedures. My faith tells me we should be doing everything we can as a faith to support pregnant Women with every option to have the opportunity to be mothers (without shaming or threatening freedom) in a manner that supports human dignity, by example, by attraction, and by sacrifice through our faith, not by secular law. If we do this well we will be supporting a pro-life culture, not just reducing abortions (legal or illegal), but promoting the dignity of life across the board.

Whether you vote right or left this November, please join me in contributing to this cause below. It is an example of supporting what I believe society and Catholics can do more of to support the dignity of all human life: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/every-mother-counts/birth-justice-in-2020.

At the end of the day we are all accountable, even charities. Here is this charities transparency and results page: https://everymothercounts.org/our-story/transparency/.

I hope you have gained some self-questioning and increased awareness by reading this blog. No matter how aware and informed we are, the depth of the spirit is always greater than our knowledge. This piece includes just a droplet of sincere contemplation, education, self-reflection, and action driven by discernment and prayer. It is by far not perfect and very fallible – but it is independent of heretical crowd sourcing and very much owned by me.

May my God find my vote, my opinions, and my actions in accordance with his will.

Calling all Catholic Republicans

epAn appeal to Catholic Right to Life Republicans to join the Democrat Party

How is that for a non-starter lead-in statement.   Right off the bat 70% or more Catholic Right to Life Republican readers have turned to stone, their ears have been covered, and eyes closed.  I understand.  The issue of abortion is too painful, and the position staked out too entrenched.  I am not, however, asking any Catholic Right to Life advocate to give up the issue of Human Dignity, including Abortion.  I am asking you to fight harder for human dignity for all people.

Victor Hugo’s Prisoner 24601 in the infamous Les Misérables stole a loaf of bread to feed images (4)his nephew[i].  Theft seen as a singular act with or without context is wrong.  Amplify the sin a thousand-fold, abortion with or without context is wrong.  The challenge, however, is do we judge and apply justice blindly without context solely informed by the moment the crime was committed or do we own our social responsibility and address the entirety of the issue that led to an individual being in a position to feel the need to steal that loaf of bread or obtain that abortion (legally or illegally).

It is cheap grace to stop at labeling the offender a criminal or murderer and not addressing the issues that put millions like them in the position to consider committing a crime that we may see as unfathomably.  We cannot throw the first stone until we have done our due diligence to eradicate the conditions that shape our inhumanity to each other.

Ignatius_Loyola_by_Francisco_ZurbaranCatholic Social Thought requires seeing, judging, and action.  These are ideas are core Catholic ideas that the Jesuits practice today.  Pope, after Pope, has turned to the Jesuits for fighting the intellectual and theological battles of Christian thought since the inception of the order and during the counter-revolution (fighting for the Catholic Faith’s authenticity with the rise of Protestant ideas, Martin Luther, and the enlightenment secularization of society).   Catholic Social Thought is broken up into four distinct areas of study and action and supported by 40 concept papers here on every aspect of modern-day life today:

  • The Principle of Human Dignitycst_1
  • The Principle of the Common Good
  • The Principle of Subsidiarity
  • The Principle of Solidarity.

Pick any hot button topic of American politics and culture and go to this Jesuit site:

http://www.loyno.edu/jsri/catholic-social-thought

My fellow Republican Catholics, consider the concept paper on Catholic Social Thought and Human Dignity.  It addresses not only Human Life, but Human Rights, Human Development, and Empowerment.  Without the latter three, we will not eradicate the lack of respect for the value of every Human Life, with or without laws supporting our beliefs.  Alienated, impoverished, and oppressed people who are treated with a lack of dignity and lack of access to societal resources are apt to value life in the same way society values them.  I do understand that even if we correct our systemic and cultural mores that devalue life that there will still be those that will choose to devalue life despite being given every respect and access to Human Dignity that our society has to offer.  They would be the exception, not the norm.    Let us have strong laws commensurate with one’s ability to follow those laws.

My fellow Republican Catholics, consider the concept papers on Hunger, Health Care, Global Financial Systems, Distributive and Restorative Justice, and others.  The Democratic Party needs your strength and faith to bring these social teachings to life in addition to the teachings on Human Dignity.  These teachings are not the teachings of the Democratic Party, Socialism, or Bernie Sanders.  These teachings are “Rooted in the Scriptures and the teaching of the Catholic Church.  Catholic Social Teaching represents a developing tradition which includes organic and systematic reflection on social realities, ethical principles, and application of those principles to current circumstances.” 1

The truth is the Democratic party is paralyzed with the abortion issue.  They cannot address with any substance improving Human Dignity issues as they recognize social realities prevent them from simply criminalizing actions that are often acts of human desperation and misery.  They seek a remedy put forward to address the causal agents of societal indecency and inhumanity.  Without the strength of Republican minded individuals who possess both a strong Catholic ethic and business ability to transform systems, the Democratic party may continue to pursue unobtainable social change.   They need you.  We need you.  The Republican party will not support the bulk of Catholic Social teachings.  Read the papers and you will agree.

At the end of the day, after you have read, you may still be immobilized or unconvinced to switch your vote or your party.  I understand that sometimes our identity can chain us past what is good for us even if we recognize our party has lost its way.  If you can’t join the Democratic party, maybe you can transform the Republican Party to its former integrity and make the party the pallbearer for all Catholic Social Teaching.

If that is too much to ask, as I have been amongst strong republican supporters where dialogue is unwelcome, perhaps quietly pushing a different lever or not voting at all will send a temporal message that you do not support a presidency or a party that does not support Catholic Social teachings in action or policy.

We still have had only one Catholic president.  No worry – these Social Teachings to Christian theology as well!

linMake the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush (the father) come alive again and bring ethics back to the White House.  Bring 6800056A_1Christian and Catholic decency and ethics to public discourse and policy.  Bring back the scientist and the informed vote.  Bring back America fighting for global issues and global humanity.  You can do it, my fellow republicans – within your party or in mine.

At the end of the day, we are all for Human Dignity.

life

[i] https://www.theodysseyonline.com/11-lessons-from-les-miserables

Profit driven economies

If we were purely driven by animal instinctual needs and life and death were solely driven by survival of the herd decisions this would only be a sad consequence of natural selection and unfortunate gene mutation. It is a significant financial drain on the family and society to provide for a person with Down’s syndrome over a lifespan. It is evident, however, whether you acknowledge a God or not, that we are superior to the animal kingdom and have the capacity to love and nurture beyond the narrow scope of survival instincts.

The story below is evidence of an entire nation deciding to end life before it starts based on avoiding emotional hardship and financial inconvenience. The reality is our society and the global economy has financial markets that are written and codified to serve profits, not people. If our markets were designed to serve people — the poor, the medicallly compromised, the disabled, and other vulnerable groups would not be seen as hardships but as equals among us. It is easy to condem an individual that aborts a life. I believe we all are condemned by failing to have a market driven system that works to serve all humanity rather than the few. It is not a utopian ideal.

It is individual and societal selfishness and conceit that continues to perpetuate the myth that we are better than the “other.” That our status in life is somehow driven by our own individual accomplishments forgetting the graces bestowed on us that may have fostered our success.

If given arbitrary power over who lives and who dies where does the line get drawn? If given arbitrary power to to say who has access to healthcare, food, housing, and clean water – who decides. We have that power today and are failing as individuals and as a society to wield our superior morality and human capacity by drawing the line in favor of our own perceived wealth. You know it in your heart – but are besieged by justifications, beholden to tribal beliefs of your political party and social status, driven by fear of loss, and to cowardly oriented to face the immensity of our collective failures. I have been down the road of self-justification. I have also been down the road of “it is beyond my control.” Both are unacceptable options as human beings with a moral conscience. Especially Christian Republicans and Democrats.

Most do not grasp the arbitrary nature of our market economy despite historical lessons of wealth being wiped out overnight. Without safety nets for built into our markets people’s hearts close up in fear and shun the vulnerable, sometimes in mass. Where do you draw the line?

https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2017/12/04/patricia-heaton-iceland-isnt-eliminating-down-syndrome-they-are-just

Confrontation with thy neighbor?

It has come to an epic confrontation for all American Catholics and Christians. Politicians, families, friends, religious affiliations, and work associations once in comfortable silos have been shattered by a crisis of conscience over immigration.  They have to face each other across the divide of rich and poor, red or blue, pro-Trump or not.

illegal-aliens.jpg

There is real fear out there for the American middle class.  We cannot deny that global poverty is driving a refugee crisis across the globe. Still we need the labor force as well, both skilled and unskilled:

mexico

Unfortunately our nation wants the labor without the responsibility.  These are complicated issues.  The above caption could be mistaken for drugs being sold over the border or for our demand for cheap labor.  America demands both from our southern neighbors.  Right now Delaware is short workers for our Crab industry.

most-common-immigrant-jobs-us

However, for Catholics and Christians it is not complicated.  We do not have that luxury for an excuse to be overwhelmed by complexities.  There is a moral issue here that we are well-versed in defending – Right to Life.

“There are no single-issue saints.”

Charles Camosy, a theology professor at Fordham University, presents the case for Right to Life supporters to stand up against the inhumane treatment of refugees seeking asylum and their children:  “https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2018/06/22/pro-life-groups-have-obligation-call-out-trump-immigration.”  We cannot remain silent on immigration while claiming to be pro-life.  Charles makes a detailed case above on this so let’s focus on immigration.

Prior to Donald Trumps 2000 dollar a day per child tender age shelter system, some of us were comfortable being arm-chair politicians, flag wavers, moral voices, fiscal hawks, healthcare advocates, and various other forms of prognosticators. Yes, Red and Blue clashed and dug in on various issues with vigor and hubris. And yes Red and Blue alike took hypocritical stances on practically every issue.  This issue below has risen above that standard to our government being the actors committing the separation of children and parents and then trying to deny responsibility.

Today we have a President who is blaming the democrats for lack of a comprehensive immigration reform policy when the GOP defeated bi-partisan compromise bills under Bush and Obama Administrations and recently told congress to not bother trying until after November. Wait for the red wave as 1800 of 2300 children remain separated from their parents. His followers and supporters are looking for cover under any rock: blame Obama, blame Clinton, blame Mexico, blame judges, blame democrats, blame South America, blame mothers with children fleeing violence, blame M3, and anything that will divert from a Stephen Miller idea to up the ante on immigration by changing strategy and separate children from their parents.  This cannot go on.

So it is with a heavy heart that I write to democrats, republicans, family, friends, and anyone who reads this article to oppose the current administrations stance towards our southern neighbors.  I do not ask you to oppose Trump, or strong borders, or comprehensive immigration policy.

I ask you to not be silent on the practice of separating children from parents and to denounce the politics of hate and deceit by any party or elected politician.  Camosy spoke out, and despite his Catholic “pedigree”, was attacked by fellow Catholics and Evangelical Christians.  He is aware that this is required of him, to stand-fast for the truth.  You too may have to risk leaving the comfortable bubble of Trumpian identity politics just on this one issue.

images (1)

Our first fight is with each other on the sole narrow issue of is it wrong to separate children from their parents in the vast numbers and manner conducted by this administration.

images (2)

Our second fight is with government on passing a comprehensive immigration bill that is based on real numbers, economic needs of our country, safety, and Christian compassion.

main-qimg-1afd9fa1a3b8b1b867c3dbe2769b4075-c

Our third fight extends past our borders into the geopolitical reality of world poverty and violence that is driving the immigration crisis world-wide.  Donald Trump is not our fight, as he has said he inherited this issue.  He does not have the staff around him to develop and create a reasonable and compassionate solution.

temptation-of-christ-1872-219x300

The Tempation of Jesus in the Desert · “The Human Temptations of Our Divine Lord”

Ultimately we all have a confrontation in front of us that looms much larger:  A confrontation with Christ and God the almighty.  As Jesus had to fight off Satan we must fight off evil in our midst as well and confront it when it is uncomfortable to do so.

It is not at our deathbed where we have this confrontation but in the million decisions we make before we get there.  This confrontation supersedes all of the previous confrontations above – though each of those are important.  Without love for our neighbor in the midst of a national crisis we will only perpetuate the culture of hate and division.  I may not reach you in this issue.  Yet I recognize inside you a person to be loved who shares the suffering of every sojourner on this earth with me.  I am not free of error or obstinancy myself.  May the Holy Spirit guide me and our Nation to do the right thing.

We must confront the policy – not the people.  We must not accept distraction and obfuscation.

The refugee crisis is larger than we can fathom in the long run.  Vilifying the desperate will not solve our dilemma.  I could quote bible scripture here – but do not need to present that to this audience.  If you are Christian you know our roots as immigrants and Christ teachings.  If you are not Christian, presumably you have read this far as you have a conscience and are curious how a nation of Christians can support such a stance.   The answer is we cannot without compromising our faith:

“The pope, who has placed the issues facing migrants at the center of his papacy, also stepped into the issue, saying in an interview with the Reuters news agency that he agreed with statements by U.S. Catholic bishops, who called the separations “immoral” and “contrary to our Catholic values.” He added that “populism” and “creating psychosis” are not the way to resolve migration problems.

In this policy we create the action and the separation.  We tore children away from their parents.  Sometimes we try to impose laws for the good of others (i.e. abortion for the unborn and those who perform or choose an abortion) even though (I hope) we are not or have been in the position to consider this action.  In this case we are fighting for a law against what we do as a nation – not what others might do.  We are responsible.

poke

This is our mugshot together.  

We cannot remain divided.  I have heard people ask what would Jesus do?  Or could we in all honesty defend this policy with a “Christ stamp of approval.”  If you are not Christian, can you stamp this policy as being humane?

3

Please write your representatives with prudence and compassion, especially if you are republican.  The party in power needs to hear from there base.  They do not fear democrats – they fear Donald Trump’s core base.  Without them they have seats in jeopardy.  Be there for them in November but be there for the immigrant children today.  Of course Democrats and independents you cannot idly watch and not act as well.  Our hands are as dirty as the rest – if not more so – who am I too judge?

A letter from the heart is best.  However, if you are not the letter writing type here is a sample:  https://ignatiansolidarity.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Sample-Letter-to-Congress-Immigration.pdf.

write

Perhaps e-mailing is more expeditious? Find your representative here:  https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.

Godspeed that this read may move you to advocate for the defenseless children at our southern border (while maintaining your political ideology).  No images of children or mass refuges behind Nazi concentration camp fences in this post – just a direct appeal to your sense of humanity for families fleeing one horror and finding themselves in another at our southern border.

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“We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.  An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.  There are also an estimated 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.”   UNHCR

Think we have our unfairshare?

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Mortal Sin

Catholics have 69.5 million members, are the largest religious body in the United States, and comprise 22% of the population as of 2015.  What this means is 1 in 5 Americans believe abortion is morally wrong and a women who get an abortion are automatically ex-communicated from the church.  Abortion is considered the highest form of sin – called Mortal Sin.  Canon 1398 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law imposes automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication for women getting an abortion.

Make no mistake about it – if you are Catholic you face grave consequences of harming your soul and your relationship to Jesus and the Holy Father.  Below are four links that cover the catholic position.  The last two is priest for life group and EWTN daily mass.  Father Imbarrato explained the dangers of our society’s acceptance of evil and conversation with evil from an Orthodox Catholic position.  Regardless of your personal beliefs, if you are Catholic you should take a look at these four links and his 10/24/2016 homily:

http://www.whateverycatholicshouldknow.com/wecsk/sin_mortal.htm

https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/abortio2.htm

http://www.priestsforlife.org/staff/father-stephen-imbarrato.htm

http://www.ewtn.com/daily-readings/

I have addressed abortion on several posts from a secular position and a theological position that is “of this world.”  I often speak of physiological and psychological harm. I stop short of the language used by Pro-Life groups and Father Stephen Imbarrato due to my fears of pharisaic history  (and the inheritance of poverty and other social ills that our societies face).  However, if you have read through the above links you will understand the believers position – even the fire and brimstone type.

Two of the above were provided to me off-line.  By who does not matter – what matters is the intent was it is wrong Joe, between me, you and the wall that is what I believe.   The intent was I believe not for pride, or winning the argument, to claim higher moral ground, or any of those things, but to live the word of God.  That is the end of our discussion on abortion.  Father Imbarrato’s homily gave me the reasons for the strong conviction.  No reason to restate them and no reason for me to go through all the complexities of our secular world and health related issues.

At Sundays mass my favorite priest joked a little about Pharisees – but then pulled it back and said remember they were trying to apply what they believed to the code of law and that is what they had at the time.  Sometimes we need to be a little pharisaical – and what better time to be so if you believe a baby’s life is at stake?

This is a good place to end my review of abortion as well.  I have struggled with this issue and found my peace with it – I leave the rest to those who know more and are more directly affected to address the how, when, and why of social policy.  For Catholic policy you know where to look — Prayer.

pfac

 

 

 

Abortion and Politics

The Conservative Christian (Republican) 10 point inquiry:
 
I am interested in “Pro-Life” single ticket voters that are for criminalizing abortion. This single issue item is perhaps the one thread that staunch Evangelical Christians and Catholics raise when other policies or the candidates themselves become untenable or unsupportable. The rationale is “I have to support the lesser of two evils solely on the abortion issue for strategic reasons for pro-life cause.” Assume the pro-life position is without a doubt the correct and moral decision of the land so we do not have to address the debate on when does life start and the value of all human life.
If you are one of these voters please respond to these questions on how a conservative Supreme Court, presidency, and house would address the following issues?
Premise: Abortion is murder. Our laws will prosecute anyone murdering the unborn child directly by performing abortions, anyone indirectly assisting with abortions, and any accomplices involved in the execution of the unborn child. If you had an up and down vote on this law, would you support this premise (assume some exceptions for medical emergencies that threaten women’s life and consensus on time frame from conception)? Yes or No? (If no, do not answer any more questions. You would not qualify as true “Pro-Life” supporter. The difficulty with religion is we deal with absolutes – we are answerable to the ideal. If we apply our religious standards to our law the answer cannot be half-way?)
1) Juries in the United States have given life sentences to 43% of convicted murders and death sentences to 4% of this group. Do you support sentencing the person who performed the murder of the unborn to the death penalty, a life sentence, or a very long sentence? Yes or No?
2) Accessory to murder conviction rates vary depending on if it was pre-murder or after the fact. Given our legal system, any abortion could lead to convicting the principal performer (doctor), the women, and any accomplices (father or person who helped pay/transport). All would face significant jail time. Do you support this law? Yes or No?
3) Do you know that Rose versus Wade was decided by a conservative court and that Harry Blackman, appointed by a republican president is the primary author of this famous court case? Yes or No?
4) Given that, do you have confidence that a republican president will appoint a Supreme Court justice that would support your views and change the law given a conservative court ensured that a woman has the constitutional right over her own body? Yes or No?
5) Before “Roe versus Wade” 17% of all deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth was the result of illegal abortion. Abortion has been happening since and prior to the life of Jesus Christ. Knowing that reversing Roe versus Wade will not stop abortions, will create an industry of illegal abortion, and lead to many deaths of women, and are you prepared to still criminalize abortion? Yes or No?
6) What steps are you willing to take to ensure this law treats all citizens fairly? How will ensure the wealthy (and others) do not subvert their economic privilege to have abortions safely from medical providers outside governments reach? If you cannot do that you have misapplied justice and unfairly criminalized the marginalized in our society. How can you address this issue?
7) Women’s ability to defer pregnancy by use of contraception and abortion has given women the ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation while still being able to have intimate relations the same as men. If women are to lose this right to govern their own bodies what laws are you willing to legislate to ensure they are able to keep equal access to economic and social life of our nation (paid maternity leave, equal pay, stronger non-discrimination laws)?
8) Theologically, can you enlighten our readers on the scriptural basis that promotes criminalizing abortions from the New Testament only and provide us your knowledge on abortions during Christ life time?
9) Since 1980 on abortions have gone down under democratic presidencies and up under republican presidencies as they pursue different social and economic policies that affect people’ access to health care, safety nets, education, and employment. You can research it. Can we not find the political will power to promote education, job creation, access to cultural development, and overall promoting of a humanistic and spiritual society without resorting to criminalization of something Christians and Catholics are not adhering to despite their beliefs?
10) How do we hypocritically promote criminalization, support defunding planned parenthood, when a bulk of our faithful are driven to utilize abortion and medical services – in part due to a deep failure in our social contract to have equal access to what our society has to offer?
There are many more questions than answers. This is not a pro-abortion post. It is a “Choose Life” post. But I do really want to hear from conservative Christians and Catholics how you would address the aftermath of a Roe versus Wade decision?
Many Catholic Democrats have weighed these issues and came out of the tunnel recognizing using the courts to address this issue is the least effective option to addressing all the other issues and winning the day by love, compassion, support, and modeling. The questions above deserve serious answers if we are to imprison people and take away a woman’s rights for an unborn child’s right.
In the end – the answer to reducing abortion or ending abortions is not a single-item or single party issue.

Furor versus Fuhrer – Abortion and Politics

In 1973, Justice Harry M. Blackmun (appointed by Republican President Nixon) wrote the following:

“the restrictive criminal abortion laws in effect in a majority of States today are of relatively recent vintage.” Providing a historical analysis on abortion, Justice Harry Blackmun noted that abortion was “resorted to without scruple” in Greek and Roman times.[7] Blackmun also addressed the permissive and restrictive abortion attitudes and laws throughout history, noting the disagreements among leaders (of all different professions) in those eras and the formative laws and cases.[8] In the United States, in 1821, Connecticut passed the first state statute criminalizing abortion. Every state had abortion legislation by 1900.[9] In the United States, abortion was sometimes considered a common law crime,[10] though Justice Blackmun would conclude that the criminalization of abortion did not have “roots in the English common-law tradition.”[11]

The furor (not to be mistaken with fuhrer though it sounds like it listening to some) over Obama picking a justice is outright flawed on the main issue for the religious right.   Justice Blackmun turned out to render many “liberal decisions.”  (Perhaps that is because our constitution is wary of conservative driven law?)   Five of the seven Majority Justices were appointed by Republican presidents (Douglas and Marshall were appointed by Democratic Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, respectively). What’s more, take the two Democratic-appointed judges out of the Majority, and you are still left with all-Republican majority of the Court that legalizes abortion.  The vote on this legislation was 7-2.

I do not want to verge into here the morality issues and rights of the unborn versus the mother.  Let me state what is probably common territory for most:  abortion is harmful psychologically and physically to mothers, it ends a potential or an actual life depending on your stance, and many issues beyond the act of abortion itself contribute to unwanted pregnancies and abortion.  Action on access to education, employment, prevention, cultural, and meaningful life activities do more to prevent abortion than bible thumping and judging others.

The greatest percentage increase of abortion was under republican President Ford as established by the Conservative court ruling of Abortion versus Wade of a 58.38% jump.   President Carter, next up, did not slow the rate jump much but it did increase 31.76% from Ford’s last year.  Abortion growth stabilized under President Reagan.  And then the greatest reduction in abortions happened under President Clinton 11.4% and 3.33% and President Obama (12.69%).   The Guttmacher Institute has the best numbers around that are used by Pro-life advocates.    The CDC numbers are below as well.

What I am saying is fighting poverty fights abortion more so than focusing on criminalization.  That is not even getting into the majority of justification for opposing abortion biblically comes from the Old Testament and not from the life of Jesus Christ who did not address abortion at all.   Let’s agree for argument sake that abortion is wrong, which I believe and Pope Francis and all the great popes believe.  The answer to reducing abortion is in love, compassion, opportunity, prayer and fighting poverty. Democrats understand fighting abortion takes resources and education.  Democrats understand the medical experts are there for a reason.    If you are a Republican how can you defend that a conservative court set this in motion and biggest reductions are under Democratic presidencies?  A big conservative value is on outcomes. There is no funny math on a 7-2 decision and the numbers below.  If you are voting republican tell me what your candidate will do to fight abortion other than criminalization and raising public furor (again to not mistake for Fuhrer). Listen carefully to all the candidates, Dems and Republicans, and see if they are addressing the big picture or are using the rhetoric of a Fuhrer. Hate is not the way to go.  (I am a Choose Life voter and Democrat politically.  I understand no party owns this issue and has the answers.  We do in our homes and in our communities by supporting people that need support).fuhrer

YEAR GI CDC Percentage leaps contrasting last year of previous President abortion using GI numbers.
1973 744,610 615,831 Nixon 0
1974 898,570 763,476 Ford
1975 1,034,170 854,853 Ford
1976 1,179,300 988,267 Ford 58.38%
1977 1,316,700 1,079,430 Carter
1978 1,409,600 1,157,776 Carter
1979 1,497,670 1,251,921 Carter
1980 1,553,890 1,297,606 Carter 31.76%
1981 1,577,340 1,300,760 Reagan
1982 1,573,920 1,303,980 Reagan
1983 1,575,000 1,268,987 Reagan
1984 1,577,180 1,333,521 Reagan 1.50%
1985 1,588,550 1,328,570 Reagan
1986 1,574,000 1,328,112 Reagan
1987 1,559,110 1,353,671 Reagan
1988 1,590,750 1,371,285 Reagan 0.86%
1989 1,566,900 1,396,658 Bush
1990 1,608,600 1,429,247 Bush
1991 1,556,510 1,388,937 Bush
1992 1,528,930 1,359,146 Bush -3.89%
1993 1,495,000 1,330,414 Clinton
1994 1,423,000 1,267,415 Clinton
1995 1,359,400 1,210,883 Clinton
1996 1,360,160 1,225,937 Clinton -11.04%
1997 1,335,000 1,186,039 Clinton
1998 1,319,000 884,273 * Clinton
1999 1,314,800 861,789 * Clinton -3.33%
2000 1,312,990 857,475 * Bush
2001 1,291,000 853,485 * Bush
2002 1,269,000 854,122 * Bush
2003 1,250,000 848,163 * Bush -4.93%
2004 1,222,100 839,226 * Bush
2005 1,206,200 820,151 * Bush
2006 1,242,200 846,181 * Bush
2007 1,209,640 827,609 * Bush
2008 1,212,350 825,564 * Bush -0.80%
2009 1,151,600 789,116 * Obama
2010 1,102,670 765,651 * Obama
2011 1,058,490 730,322 * Obama -12.69%
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