Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.
When William Penn began his "Great Experiment" and founded the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia was to be a place based on the principal of religious freedom. Penn, inspired by his own Quaker practice wanted to establish a city where everyone was free to practice their faith without interference from government or even other faiths. The one fly in Penn's ointment was the Catholics. Catholics were suspect because they had allegiance to a foreign power, namely the Pope. While that was true, the allegiance was more spiritual than political. Still it prevented Catholics from having the same privileges as the other faiths in Penn's new city. As a result, while Penn and the Quakers would not outright ban the practice of Catholicism as the Puritans had, Catholics would have to do what they did quietly and out of sight.READ MORE
This week we welcome Papa Francisco to the USA! I want you to pay close attention to what the Holy Father actually says and not what the media says he said. This will help your blood pressure. You may have seen the Interview that one of the networks carried between Pope Francis and an audience in the USA. In one of the scenes the Pope congratulated a single mother for having courage to bring her child into the world and not kill it before birth. Well in a lot of reporting on other networks and in print that part of the story was left out. It just became "Pope Francis supports single mothers".
For some reason with Pope Francis the media act like he is the first Pope ever to smile, kiss a baby, preach about mercy and forgiveness. He's just the fluffiest Pope ev-her! It seems they really want him to be a progressive democrat. I am just waiting for someone to ask him if he would vote for Hillary. The truth is Pope Francis is very Catholic, one of the people he quotes the most is Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whom the media framed as a neo-Nazi conservative. So brace yourself for lots of distortion in the media.READ MORE
When a revolution starts someone has to fire the first shot. Kim Davis an unknown county clerk from Kentucky fired that shot. Her refusal to affix her name to a marriage license for two men and her willingness to accept the consequences has certainly upset the apple cart, or the "settled" issue of same-sex marriage. While many are arguing whether or not she has a legal leg to stand on they seem to be missing the larger point. And while it is true that many elected officials sworn to uphold the law don't, such as the marijuana laws or the immigration laws and are not threatened with jail time that too misses the point. And yes you can argue that the Supreme Court overstepped it's authority by inventing a right to same sex marriage that is clearly not in the constitution and therefore it is an illegitimate law. You can even hold the Supreme Court in contempt as I do but that is beside the point.READ MORE
One of my New Years resolutions was to laugh more. Yes I realize it is September but this is as soon as I could get to it! Pope Francis often quips that too many Christians drink vinegar for breakfast or as I like to say seem to have been baptized in pickle juice. Our greatest witness at times, despite the challenges of bearing the name Christian in today's world, is the joy we have despite the hostility and opposition we often face. And one of the best ways to keep the joyful spirit active is to laugh at ourselves.
Today, in fact, thanks to the wonders of the Internet we no longer have to wait for those little vignettes in a monthly edition of the Reader's Digest. A website that is entirely dedicated to poking fun at the foibles of Catholics is called The Eye of the Tiber (eyeofthetiber.com). The Tiber being the river that runs through the city of Rome. Most of the posts are little spoofs, lampoons or satire and news parody directed towards the way we Catholics see the world.READ MORE
The young Americans, all right! By that I mean the three young men who stopped a would-be terrorist on a Paris bound train. Made my heart swell. And they were all very humble about it. Which is a good reminder for us Christians of Jesus words when we do any act of service: "don't let your right hand know what your left hand is doing". It's not about being noticed just doing the right thing.
Which is pretty much what happened at last week's protest at Planned Parenthood. Over 1,100 of you showed up, young and old and in-between at the Tempe Clinic. But that was just a small sliver of the tens of thousands that showed up across the country at over 250 abortion clinics. Despite that impressive showing the local and national media didn't seem to notice much.READ MORE
Within a breath of the US Supreme Court's ruling to redefine marriage calls for revocation of the tax-exempt status of Churches were loud and clear. In fact some put it this way, "it's time for the government to stop subsidizing the Churches". Well tax exemption and subsidies are not the same thing by a long shot. And here is why.
For the founders of the US not taxing the property of the Church (remember income tax didn't come along until the 20th century) was something that they brought with them from Great Britain. In many European countries there were official Churches, such as the Church of England, which gave the Church a quasi-governmental status. So why would the government tax itself? But beyond that as the Church and State became more and more disentangled the state saw the social work of the Church as benefiting the common good. So things like education, hospitals, feeding the poor etc., that the Church did, took the burden off the state. So for governments to tax the Church would mean less of those services. So for government this was a win-win situation.READ MORE
In recent years Alcohol producers have tried to market themselves as socially responsible. That's why you frequently will see attached to beer commercials the slogan: "Drink Responsibly" or "Don't Drink and Drive". Does it work? Well yes but not in the way you think. Alcohol producers spend a lot of money on advertising and they don't do it as a shot in the dark or with their fingers crossed hoping it has an effect. They carefully and meticulously measure the impact of their marketing strategies. What they find when they run those "Drink Responsibly" ads is that alcohol sales actually increase. What a fantastic cover: make yourself look socially responsible and increase your sales. Brilliant.
Up in Colorado the marijuana producers caught on to that same strategy so they advertise with the slogan: "Use Responsibly" and "You must be over 21". They likewise see their sales increase. Well, Planned Parenthood uses a similar marketing strategy, they claim: "the greater availability of contraception will reduce the need for abortion". Of course this makes them look socially responsible and seemingly wanting to reduce abortion rates. But like the alcohol and pot producers they study the effects of their marketing as well. And when it comes to contraception what the research reveals is that when contraception is widely and easily available at low or no cost abortion rates actually increase. New York City is a prime example of that: abundant availability of contraception and the highest abortion rates in the country. Hence PP's push to provide contraception actually helps their bottom line: increase abortion sales.READ MORE
Almost immediately after the Supreme Court issued its redefinition of marriage a columnist at the NY Times penned a piece calling for the revocation of the tax-exempt status of Churches that were not ecstatically embracing the redefinition. I must say I appreciate the columnist's candor in showing that the redefinition of marriage was not the end game and that punishment should be meted out to all dissenters.
There are two issues here that need to be examined together. The first: does tax-exempt status of Churches make them beholden to government? The second: what are the implications if the Church redefines marriage? The answers to both show that the intersection of Church-State is a rather complicated, often mutually beneficial and sometimes a treacherous affair. But let's look at the second first.READ MORE
Mes chers Amis,
It seems that the latest cultural haute couture is everything or everyone "trans". Somehow, with breathtaking speed that which was rive gauche has become the pinnacle of human advancement. As I listen to how the media report on stories of the trans-lifestyle I get the feeling we are all being warned to treat such persons not just with the utmost awe but actually better than anyone else including married ss couples.
Well in light of that status, I'll throw my lot in with the "trans" people. It's true I am a "trans" person. Not in the La cage aux folles sense. Still I am what I am or maybe better I will be what I am. Or something. So here goes:READ MORE
I always thought that the WWII era German people who participated in the systematic genocide carried out in Concentration Camps and those who looked the other way were an historical anomaly, one-time moral freaks. But now that we live in a country with Murder, Inc. also known as Planned Parenthood I'm beginning to think the people who lived under the National Socialism of the Nazi Party were more the norm than the exception.
The recent undercover investigation into Planned Parenthood's harvesting and selling of human baby organs and tissue (www.centerformedicalprogress.org) seems to make any distinctions between our society with its abortion mills and German society with its concentration camps a distinction without a difference. Yes there were those who resisted and tried their best to undermine the laws of the Third Reich, just witness the 5million non-Jews that died in concentration camps just like there are many of us today who resist and try to undermine the abortion laws of the US. But that fact that there is a law that officially legalizes the homicide of human beings based on status of development is every bit as morally repugnant as any other type of genocidal policy.READ MORE
In my previous letter I outlined ways in which religious freedom and the redefinition of marriage are currently in conflict. Hopefully now you can speak (not argue) in an informed way with those who insist that there is no conflict between the two. When you are having that conversation the first question to ask is "what is your definition of religious freedom"? Is it the robust, ample definition that we have employed for the past 239yrs of our nation's history or is it a very narrow, constricted definition that limits religious freedom to what happens inside the four walls of a church, synagogue or mosque? If it is the latter than there is a conflict.
The narrowing of the meaning of religious freedom from public practice to exclusively private worship will certainly affect how the Church operates in society. But always remember that this is God's Church and He will make us who He needs us to be at this present moment. We are by definition people of hope and so what we shall become is in God's hands. Maybe, as the Gospel points out when Jesus sent the Twelve on mission, he told them to take no walking stick, moneybag or extra tunic, we have become too loaded down, too encumbered to effectively carry the message of the Good News. So yes we might loose the institutions that we built to help Christianize the culture but implicit in that loss is an opportunity as well. We should never lose sight of that.READ MORE
The Supremes have sung and not in harmony and apparently there really ain't no mountain high enough. So what has Obergefell v. Hodges wrought?
We have been lead to believe there is a huge majority ground swell of support for the redefinition of marriage and those who oppose are the lunatic fringe. While polls often show a majority support for redefining marriage, thirty-six states, tens of millions of people voted not to redefine it. One of them, California, by a 60% margin voted to reaffirm the definition of marriage and did it during a Democratic primary election. What does the divide tell us? It tells us that we are less free. People will say one thing to a pollster but another in the voting booth.
So what happens now? When I drive around I frequently see "Coexist" bumper stickers. I support that, totally. "Live and let live, you do your thing and we'll do our thing". I am not being sarcastic or snarky, I really hope for that. It's just that the supporters of the redefinition of marriage don't appear to really want to coexist.READ MORE
"War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength."
"It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words."
― George Orwell, 1984
I feel very simpatico with Justice Scalia. The jurist tries his best to apply rigorous logic and reason to the law all the while the other side starts with a predetermined outcome and then plays judicial jujitsu to supply their reasoning or lack there of. In the recent case King v Burwell, Justice Scalia lamented that "Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is 'established by the State."
I feel his pain. We all should. Our country has clearly rejected reason and logic and opted for emotion. New ideas that the elite wish to use to change our society are speedily whipped around social and other media to get you to believe that there is a ground swell of support for such ideas. Consent to the ideas requires not logic or reason but pure emotion enforced with fear. Making a decision based on emotion is like succumbing to a fast pace sales pitch with out reading the fine print. "Gee, it sounded like a good idea at the time."READ MORE