Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Public Officials Under God

EJ Dionne reports on a forthcoming statement by 55 Catholic members of the House of Representatives. In the quatations that he includes here, I think there is much hope for a more comprehensive relationship between Catholic faith and the political arena. I am especially encouraged that the Representatives will claim the public role of their religious faith and insist that it does inhabit their political philosophy. On the issues of the poor and marginalized, this is clear. A stronger staement about war and armaments would be an approvement. On the seemingly intractable divide on abortion, I would like to see more recognition of the evil and harm of abortion, even for those who are willing to tolerate its legality. But the very fact that 55 members are willing to talk about their faith and its influence is a remarkable advance over the recent deadlock.

Public Officials Under God

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Cold City

Today and recent days have sent a fierce and windy freeze over this city. In the winter sun, there is some comfort. As we get older, the cold becomes ever more painful and far less charming. Nonetheless it really doesn't keep us from life's appointments. Amazing. Today I ventured out for a nice lunch with some friends in Little Italy and soon again tonight for a classmate's birthday dinner. Tomorrow morning will have me plunging down 9th Avenue to St Malachy's for 8 am mass. I am always stirred at how this island with no food, no fresh water, no real resources continues to thrive and be home and workplace to millions. In the fierce heat, in the sub-zero winter, people come and go as they do on the mild days of Spring and Fall. Must be something in the concrete.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Failure of the NeoCon Ideology

Two important intellectual figures have declared in recent days that the US policy in Iraq has been a failure: William F. Buckley and Francis Fukuyama. Along with others, they were among those who had argued that, in a post-communist world, the American Superpower was obliged to make democracy universal. Hence the rhetoric of creating a truly democratic Iraq and of exporting such to other parts of the Middle East and beyond. However, when democracy in the Palestinian territories brought forth an undesired victor with the ascendancy of Hamas, the tune, and the dollars, changed drastically. A very righteous double standard emerged as the US stance and it was bloated with a rank hypocrisy that was impossible not to see and smell. More than a few NeoCons have cut and run with a belated honesty and realism. A whole American Empire is beginning to follow the laws of inevitable decline that were observed about earlier Empires thousands of years ago.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bombing of Samarra's Al-Askariya Shiite Mosque

Already a civil war seems inevitable. I ask again why the US would not support, from the beginning of the occupation, a 3 state federation for Iraq. Why all this blood now being shed for a unified Iraq that seems to be unwanted and is only the relic of some lines drawn on the map by British colonial administrators. Even my own very unscientific sampling of Arab Blogs and news outlets indicate that ordinary Arabs think the Mosque was destroyed by the US and Israel in their continued assault on Islam. Such an accusation would need much greater evidence but there is no doubt that we are so mistrusted and resented that millions of ordinary people have no problem accepting it as fact. And when it comes to Iraq and the Middle East, who is telling the truth?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Catholic and Orthodox Churches

It is becoming obvious that there is strong movement toward re-union now on both sides of the East-West schism that tragicaly separates the authentically apostolic Catholic and Orthodox churches. A visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the see of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Turkey is definite for November. High Russian Orthodox sources are talking about a meeting between the Russian Patriarch and the Pope, a much desired but unattainable goal of John Paul II. The healing of the rupture, along with recognition and respect among these different Christian traditions would be a powerful witness and grace in this world which is so torn apart by religious, sectarian and ethnic hatreds. We appear to be entering a time of grace in these relationships and pray that God's will may become more discernible and obeyed in the year ahead.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Healing of Jesus

The New Testament readings at Sunday Mass have been about the healing events during the ministry of Jesus. They are never offered as magic tricks to wow the crowds and in fact, they are often cloaked in the Messianic Secret which Jesus invokes when he tells the rescued to tell no one, but of course they tell everyone. Each story reveals another dimension of the trust we are invited to place in Jesus and his healing. The shrewd gang today gets their paralyzed friend to the front of the line by opening the roof of the house where such a crowd has gathered so they can lower their friend right down in front of Jesus. Surely they gained no popularity by jumping to the head of the line. Yet their strategy speaks strongly to us about the determination and practical genius that accompanies our cry for healing. Today some of those practical smarts involve getting the right doctors and treatments, as well as learning everything we can about our conditions. With some experience in this search for healing, I can gladly testify to the blessings that come with these efforts, along with sharing one's needs with others and putting all trust in the Divine Healer who is with us whatever the outcome.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

US Lags in Propaganda War: Rumsfeld - New York Times

What an admission! Of course Rummy does blame the media but is he really acknowledging that wanted men on the run in the most remote mountains on the planet are beating the US in the propaganda war? Is the most advanced, techno, linked society on earth being bested at its own game by a bunch of medieval people in caves and who are probably burning twigs to keep warm? Rummy is too modest and he fails to credit himself with the monumental gifts he just gave to Al-Queda (the last in a huge, long series of gifts). He just completely dismissed the UN call for the closing of Gitmo, oblivious to all the well known atrocities there and in other detention centers but which are well known to most of the world. There is no weapon more potent in the arsenal of Al-Queda than US contempt for world opinion. Of course they are winning, and have only the American administration to thank. Our guys are so good at what they do.

US Lags in Propaganda War: Rumsfeld - New York Times

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Deo Gratias

Please join me in offering thanks to God and good medicine for the test results that a very dear friend received this afternoon. The news was all very good. No recurrence of her cancer, only a benign fibroid. It is not often that such blessings are so clear and so clearly documented. Her family and I have been worried for the past week and now the sun is shining once again. Let us pray for all our loved ones who suffer from cancer whether they are very sick or in remission. And we pray for all the great men and women who do research to alleviate and cure our cancers. Gratitude all around.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney and the De-Stabilization of Palestine

The wild, wonderful fun about the gun incident is now a bit mooted by the news of the poor guy's heart attack, but isn't it wonderful? The second time a US VP took a gun to solve a problem. The news that Bush and Israelis are already planning to starve the Palestinians when Hamas assumes power is absolute madness. We have done just that in other places (remember Chile)before with always disastrous consequences for the people and for us. The arrogance of our joint behavior will earn us enemies for many generations to come.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

New York in the Snow

The city was blanketed with one of the biggest snowfall in years and for a few hours it was magnificent. I did not have to venture out until about 5 when I headed out to St Malachy's to celebrate the 6 pm Mass (which was sparsely attended). Still while all that was happening, I visited someone at Sloan Kettering who had very extensive surgery on Thursday and was sitting and looking pretty well on Saturday afternoon. Tomorrow I am back to the same place to visit with some friends while one of them is having some follow up tests. So say a prayer for these friends and for all of us.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Evangelical Climate Initiative

With a full page ad in today's TIMES, the Climate Initiative is very powerful. I especially cherish its clear adherence to Christian faith and its bold affirmation of the sacredness of all human life, born and unborn. Those who try to stereotype Evangelicals and their attitudes toward science will be halted by this very forthright assertion of the fact of global warming and the moral obligation to halt its death dealing power. Very well done.

Evangelical Climate Initiative

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

How Double Can The Standard Get?

A number of the most important US media outlets, with some very few paper outlets as the exceptions, have decided not to publish the offensive Danish cartoons. Today's New Times discusses the whole issue raised by the cartoons but does not show any of the offensive cartoons. Yet somehow it finds a way to publish (once again) a photo of the dung decorated Virgin Mary that caused controversy at the Brooklyn Museum some years ago. This painting and the Piss Christ are frequently depicted in newspapers and other media, always citing freedom of speech and press to any who object. Now some Moslems around the world, who have great insight into Western deceits, are publishing cartoons that offend Western Secularists, eg. Anne Frank in bed with Hitler, a contest for the best Holocaust cartoon, etc. With more than a touch of genius, they say they just want to test the much vaunted freedom of speech and press. The early returns on these experiments are already coming in (as if the outcome were ever in doubt). Its ok to mock and pillory Jesus, Mohammed, the Catholic church, evangelical Christians. It is not permitted to mock or pillory Jews, or racial minorities (unless Arab), Holocaust claims or numbers and feminism. I think the rules are pretty clear.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Danish Cartoons

We don't have to argue about any violence that is now being used as a response to the Danish cartoons. But we should also not have to argue that the original Danish cartoons were provocative and blatantly adolescent, as are all popular assaults on deeply held religious beliefs. Secularists love to shout freedom of speech and the press now, but they are very selective in their frequent shutting down of what they judge offensive to their politically correct and favored minorities. In most secular democracies, racist and anti-Semitic and anti-feminist sentiments are as rigidly suppressed as any Moslem society would suppress a mockery of the Prophet. The fact of the matter is that huge numbers in the Moslem world are furious at us and at the West for the war and occupation of Iraq, for the horrendous treatment of Moslem immigrants and workers in Western societies, and for the utterly one-sided, uncritical US support for Israel, no matter what atrocities are committed under the spurious claims of Israeli security. All this illustrates how deep the alienation has now become. We reap what we sow.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Relief Aid

A very good friend of mine just emailed me upon his arrival in the Holy Land to help organize the work of Catholic Relief Services in the new political realities of the West Bank and Gaza. Naturally his family and children worry about his safety but, for him, this is the time to be there. I will be eager to hear his account of what he experiences there on the ground. How will the Hamas victory impact relief work? I suspect that groups like CRS have full credibility among all factions and will continue their necessary work. Join in our prayer for his safety and safety with good health for all the aid workers in the Middle East.