Friday, March 31, 2006

Warsaw, LA, and History

Senator McCain says that the huge demonstrations and support for immigrants that have graced this country recently become a defining moment in American history. By chance, this morning I was reading an excerpt from a new biography of Pope John Paul II which described the enormous outpouring of Poles in Warsaw's victory Square during his first papal visit to his homeland and the historic consequences of that visit. (In a nice point, the author describes the then Communist leader, Edward Gierek, watching the spectacle in secret from a hotel room overlooking the Square and the workers in the offices of the Party leaning out their windows to see history being made.) Now again a seismic event has changed the political and moral atmosphere in the US about immigrants. Like its unworthy predecessors in Eastern Europe, the practioners of the politics of repression and greed have had to watch from the sidelines as something swept by on the streets, revealing them to be so solidly on the wrong side of history and morality.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Immigration Marches

The complacency of the our national denial is being shattered by the widespread marches all around the country in opposition to the Immigration bill now heading toward the US Senate. The proposed law is nothing less than the scapegoating of immigrants by people who are so deeply frustrated by the dangerous policies of our government in the world. Immigrants and those who help them become a very easy target. Hence this vicious bill. One of the most astounding sights in these marches is the large turnout of high school and college students who are up in arms about this injustice so close to their own homes. We must truly persist in whatever voice we can raise to prevent the US Senate acting in such a un-American way.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Keeping Up With The Jones (if they're friends)

In the last week I received two messages from old friends who want to get together for lunch here in New York this week. They are from completely separate parts of my life. One is a former Paulist Priest who has been in Relief work all over the world. The other is a woman, Roman trained theologian whom I came to know through her brother who was a student at Tufts when I was chaplain there. Ironically, they both come from Washington but are in different fields and certainly are of different generations. It makes me also reflect in the good friends that I have either lost contact with, or have just a very slight contact with. I suppose that, with friendship, everything is as circumstantial and fleeting as most things are, but I also feel a kind of neglect that really gets my attention when a friendship is somehow renewed after many years and I wonder how I could ever have so careless. Of course, perhaps I should also ask that question of the new-found old friend.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Patrick the Immigrant

In my homily today I pointed to 2 sons of Ireland, Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, and Cardinal Roger Mahoney of LA. Both have just called out Christian attention to the immigrants that are coming to both countries. Brady is the first successor of Patrick in the see of Armagh to ever have to urge the Irish to welcome immigrants to their island. Until recently immigrants left Ireland, now they are streaming in because of the prosperity and opportunities. Mahoney is defiant of a proposed new US anti-immigrant law that would penalize even those church workers who help immigrants. This vicious law derives from the ugly hysteria that is being fanned by people like Lou Dobbs on CNN who are merely a media savvy nativist movmement. Mahoney says he and his diocese will not obey such an unjust law if it comes to pass. It is Patrick, the two-time immigrant to Ireland, whose legacy we must invoke right now.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I Set Before You...Life or Death

This morning began with reading about two medical pioneers who have died and who separately did so much for cancer research. One was a leader in the early application of chemicals to cancer cell growth, the other outstanding in pain relief. I had never heard their names before but I read their obituaries with the special interest of someone who has benefited greatly from their research and applications. But then, a few hours later, news started coming of the major assault of the US and Iraq military in that sad country. The nature of this assault, nevermind all the talk about terrorists and foreign fighters, will by necessity include the deaths and injuries of large numbers of innocents who are so obscenely called "collateral damage". Once again, we see the two paths: life and death. It is especially horrible to realize that the two icons of life saving research belong to the past, while the death dealing assault is now, just beginning.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


I came across someone's Blog which described a lunch the writer had with a fellow Paulist here in NY. Needless to say, he is a bit astounded that I even know what they ate at the lunch. We laughed at the amazing capacity of modern technology to monitor and access almost everything. I happen to be someone who loves the wizardry of it all, but I also know many people who find it very upsetting, even frightening. I find it difficult now to really remember what it was all like before (which is most of my years). I was using the term, "pre-email," one night in describing some of those bad old days to a younger colleague. It is true that a red line does separate this age from the "pre-email" and all that symbolizes. There may be costs in terms of privacy and community but I am so grateful to have lived long enough to have all these experiences which hold out only one promise - lots more where that came from.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Different Scopes for Different Nations

I hope that the current US anger about Iranian nuclear weaponry is clear to you now. For myself, I am just in favor of the destruction of all these weapons, including our own. But in the meantime, here's the US strategy. Its ok (for years now) for Israel and apartheid South Africa to have nuclear weapons on the secret. The other day, it became ok publicly for India, but not yet for Pakistan. Its always fine for the US, China, Russian, the UK and France to be armed with these weapons. But never for Iran. However, if Iran came to its sense and had a government that we liked, then it could probably have some nuclear capability. As the US says, it policy is clear and consistent, even handed and designed to make us all safe.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Lent in The Midst of It all

It is a great gift to be brought up short by the season of Lent. Its been a time of massive dislocation in the world and in our nation. From the ludicrous behavior of Dick Cheney and his gun to the outbreak of a civil war in Iraq (which Cheney also messed up on). There is great confusion about Medicare and its new drug coverage and widespread nevousness about the economy, especially among those who are always hammered first - the poor and the middle class. But still lent arrives, as it has for centuries, to pull us more deeply into the gift of life, to seek a deeper life of prayer and holiness and to ready ourselves once again for redemption and resurrection. We look at the Lenten colors and rituals and we know that these 40 days are decisive. And we pray.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Cardinal Martino on US camp at Gitmo

Vatican raps Guantanamo prison

Top cardinal says U.S. fails to fully respect human dignity (ANSA) - Rome, March 3 - The Vatican on Friday criticised the United States for not respecting the dignity of some 500 inmates at its Guantanamo Bay naval base prison ."It seems clear that human dignity is not being fully respected in that prison," Cardinal Renato Martino told ANSA on his return from a visit to Cuba ."Is not the trampling of man's dignity a violation of human rights? Everyone has a right to a fair trial. Wherever in the world inmates are being held in such conditions, without even knowing the charges they face, we will not fail to defend them," said the cardinal, who heads the Vatican's Justice and Peace department ."I would like to stress that even those who have committed crimes are still human beings and as such their dignity must be respected," said the cardinal .Martino visited the Caribbean island to attend celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the first bishops conference allowed following the Cuban revolution. He also held talks with Cuban leader Fidel Castro .Pressed by ANSA to say if the Vatican has ever received requests by the families of Guantanamo inmates or by humanitarian organisations to intercede with the US, Martino said he "would prefer not to reply." Pope Benedict XVI referred to Guantanamo in a recent message to youths on world peace. Although he did not directly refer to alleged violations at the prison, the German pope called for the respect of international human rights accords, saying this was a fundamental "duty for everyone." There have been several reports of abuse and torture of detainees at the US naval base, where many prisoners have been held for four years without trial .The camp was set up in 2002 to hold foreign terror suspects, many of them captured in Afghanistan .Last month, a report by five United Nations special envoys called for the prison to be closed, accusing the US of serious mistreatment of prisoners and of denying them the right to a trial .Only ten prisoners being held at the prison have been formally charged with a crime. Washington has so far flatly refused to shut down the facility, denying accusations of torture and saying the prison is needed to confine what it calls "dangerous terrorists" .Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi told Arab television station Al Jazeera recently that the prison should be closed as soon as possible .Berlusconi's call was in line with a European parliament resolution two weeks ago which also called for the closure of the detention centre and fair trials for the prisoners .In February, a US federal court judge ordered the Pentagon to publish a list of the roughly 490 Guantanamo inmates. Their names have been kept secret till now .

© Copyright ANSA. All rights reserved
2006-03-03 15:56

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Gospel vs. H.R. 4437 - New York Times

Cardinal Roger Mahoney has achieved the near impossible for his ecclesiastic cohort. He receives approval today in the lead editorial of The New York Times. The Times really likes the courage he has manifested in applying his Christian faith to the civil order by asking priests and others in his archdiocese to refuse obedience to a new highly punitive law on immigrants and those who help them. I am very proud to share in the faith and witness of Cardinal Mahoney. His is a very powerful Christian witness in a time when a frustrated American middle and lower class are targeting immigrants and not the government-corporation entities as the cause of their economic problems. Mahoney's witness on this and on other social issues is a model of how faith should motivate us in the civil world. Good to see the NYT on board with this. Now will they welcome his (or any bishop's) public statements on other issues, like say, abortion? Perhaps in their wisdom the editorial writers will then detect an "imposition of one's values on other." But then that would a shallow and obvious double standard and the NYT would never do that, would they?

The Gospel vs. H.R. 4437 - New York Times

Thursday, March 02, 2006

War Debate, War Divide

Some very significant supporters of the President are speaking out now about the futility of the US occupation in Iraq. All the parties in Iraq seem united on the need for the US to set at least a date for withdrawal. Only some die-hards continue to find the war wise. The camps have turned any world opinion that remained with us to turn against us. We need to leave, and we need to make the announcement now.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday and Death

Just as this solemn day was ending, I received word of the death of a very old friend in California. She was no longer young and had just recently been diagnosed with acute leukemia. Her grand daughter described the death in beautiful, comforting words. And so my prayer is one of deep gratitude for her kindness and goodness over so many years. But mixed in those prayers are also strong pointers to the passage of time and the realization of how short all our human lives really are. And so we live on, but never so much as when we live for the day in front of us.