Everyday Stewardship

11-22-2020Stewardship Reflection

Today we come to the end of the liturgical year, celebrating the magnificent feast of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Our readings provide contrasting images of this King of ours — He has authority over all, and yet, He is humble and tender in His care for us, especially the most vulnerable.

How can we properly honor and love such a King? By offering Him our very lives through the stewardship way of life.

The Gospel passage from Matthew shows us how. The passage begins with Christ’s own description of His Second Coming, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.” Then the moment of judgment will come. Some will be invited into the Kingdom of Heaven — the others to eternal punishment.

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COVID-19 Gratitude

11-22-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

As we approach Thanksgiving our 2020 Gratitude list certainly has some new listings and a lot of remembrance of things past. Coronavirus and the Election have certainly given us a new perspective, unsolicited as it was. So, in light of that here are a few items that come to mind:

For nurses and medical personnel who give new meaning to self-sacrifice
For school nurses who give out confidence and calm in the midst of chaos
For ingenious physicians who figured out how to use old therapies for a new disease
For researchers and laboratory technicians who refused to be defeated by a virus

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Pastors, Politics and Political parties

11-15-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Prior to the Election, many of you sent me homilies by various priests on this election. Some of them are well done. And as I said recently, that while I agree for the most part with Fr. Altman’s homily, I disagree with his statement that you can not be Catholic and Democratic. And for this reason, in our system party affiliation matters little in that you can vote for whoever you choose or not vote at all and there are good reasons some Catholics remain active in the Democratic Party: namely that they are trying to be the voice of dissent and move the party away from many of its extreme positions particularly on marriage and the family and on human life. That’s a legitimate way to engage the political process and try to change a Party’s platform that is increasing morally repugnant. (Unfortunately, the last prolife Democrat US Congressman Dan Lipinski (Illinois) was voted out this year.) The focus should be on a Party’s platform or principles rather than personalities. Another homily that some of you sent me was the one by Fr. Meeks. And while I agree with the substance of his words, I disagree that the Sunday homily is the place to give such a talk. Why?

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Everyday Stewardship

11-15-2020Stewardship Reflection

We are reminded today that we will each be called to give an account for the gifts God has given us — our physical, intellectual and material gifts — as well as the gift of time itself.

Jesus illustrates this truth in our Gospel passage from Matthew. He tells the story — commonly known as the Parable of the Talents — of a wealthy man who is about to go on a journey. Before he leaves, the man calls his three servants to “entrust his possessions to them.”

The master in our parable gives to the care of each servant a portion of his money (“talent”) commensurate with that servant’s abilities. The first two prove to be good and faithful servants — they “immediately” put the talents to use, doubling what had been entrusted to them. The third servant reacted to this responsibility with fear — in fact, he did the opposite. He hid master’s talent, burying it in the ground. He took the safe way, the easy way out.

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Speaking Out of Turn

11-08-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The Vatican issued clarification on the Documentary Francesco in which Pope Francis’ apparent comments seemed at odds with what he previously had said.

“More than a year ago, during an interview, Pope Francis answered two different questions at two different times that, in the aforementioned documentary, were edited and published as a single answer without the proper contextualization, which has led to confusion," the Vatican statement says.

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The Elephant in the Voting Booth

11-01-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I grew up thinking that if you were a Catholic you were also a Democrat. My father was a Committeeman for the local Democratic Party and he was the guy people in the neighborhood would ask, “who do you want us to vote for?” Interesting way to ask that question. So, elections were a big deal in my house. My father was no fan of Nixon or Ford and was happy to support the candidacy of Jimmy Carter. We voted Democratic and so did just about everybody in our Catholic neighborhood. That’s just the way it was. Until…

With the 1980 Presidential election a new twist had started to take shape in election politics: Abortion. Though the Supreme Court had issued Roe in 1973, the issue didn't have much focus in the next Presidential election which elected President Carter. But going forward it did. In the run up to the ’80 election Carter decided he would not campaign against Roe and stated he supported the decision despite the fact that the Democratic Party Platform was against abortion. Reagan on the other hand, formerly as was the Republican Party, had been firmly prochoice, stated that he was now prolife and campaigned in opposition to Roe. From that point on the two parties basically traded positions on abortion.

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Risky Business

10-25-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It’s Election time again and that means for us in AZ: Ballot Propositions. Arizona law makes it rather easy to get a Proposition on the Ballot for Voter approval/disapproval but at the same time makes it very difficult to change, refine or tweak Voter Approved Ballot Propositions. If there are unintended consequences or problems with a Voter Approved Proposition it is a real heavy lift for the legislature to make any changes, requiring a 75% majority in both Houses.

Case in point Proposition 207, not the current Proposition on the Ballot but Prop 207 that was Voter approved in 2006. That Proposition greatly restricted municipalities ability to change zoning requirements to prevent or restrict private development. For us in Tempe, this is now becoming a challenge.

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Tied Up in Moral Knots

10-18-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

G.K Chesterton once famously advised against removing what may look like a needless fence until you know why it was put there in the first place. Case in point is the argument over conscience rights or conscientious objection. This long held moral principle states that a person has a right to refuse, based on their sincerely held beliefs to perform or participate in certain actions that they deem morally repugnant, harmful or a violation of their conscience. The classic example is fighting in a war.

More recently the issue of conscience rights has surfaced in regards to medical providers who refuse to participate in certain non-therapeutic medical procedures that they deem immoral or harmful actions such as abortion or sex reassignment surgery. On the other side the argument is that there is no individual right to refuse to provide a procedure when requested by a patient. Seems like they are willing to remove a fence without considering the implications.

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NO on Prop 207

10-11-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The Catholic Bishops of Arizona have taken a position against Prop 207 (The legalization of recreational use marijuana and hashish in AZ). They ask us as Catholics and faithful citizens to consider the harmful effects that passage of Prop 207 would bring to our young people and our communities in general. The harm is not theoretical or hypothetical but is based on the experience of US states that have legalized recreational marijuana as well as the increased use of marijuana in AZ since the legalization of medical marijuana.

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Same Church? Different Pew?

10-04-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

ACB had been nominated to fill the seat occupied by the late RBG. There are two things I find curious about this nomination. If Judge Barrett is seated on the Court, then six of the nine Justices will be Catholic (Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh, Sotomayor). Considering that Catholics make up about a little less than a quarter of the population of the US that would mean that Catholics are way overrepresented on the High Court. How did that happen? Luck of the draw? Were they all just in the right place at the right time? Social Darwinism? Catholic Karma? Is the Pope giving orders to the various Presidents? Or do non-Catholic Presidents have a thing for Catholic justices? Are Catholics just better at jurisprudence than everyone else?

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Risky Business

10-25-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It’s Election time again and that means for us in AZ: Ballot Propositions. Arizona law makes it rather easy to get a Proposition on the Ballot for Voter approval/disapproval but at the same time makes it very difficult to change, refine or tweak Voter Approved Ballot Propositions. If there are unintended consequences or problems with a Voter Approved Proposition it is a real heavy lift for the legislature to make any changes, requiring a 75% majority in both Houses.

Case in point Proposition 207, not the current Proposition on the Ballot but Prop 207 that was Voter approved in 2006. That Proposition greatly restricted municipalities ability to change zoning requirements to prevent or restrict private development. For us in Tempe, this is now becoming a challenge.

READ MORE

Tied Up in Moral Knots

10-18-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

G.K Chesterton once famously advised against removing what may look like a needless fence until you know why it was put there in the first place. Case in point is the argument over conscience rights or conscientious objection. This long held moral principle states that a person has a right to refuse, based on their sincerely held beliefs to perform or participate in certain actions that they deem morally repugnant, harmful or a violation of their conscience. The classic example is fighting in a war.

More recently the issue of conscience rights has surfaced in regards to medical providers who refuse to participate in certain non-therapeutic medical procedures that they deem immoral or harmful actions such as abortion or sex reassignment surgery. On the other side the argument is that there is no individual right to refuse to provide a procedure when requested by a patient. Seems like they are willing to remove a fence without considering the implications.

READ MORE

NO on Prop 207

10-11-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The Catholic Bishops of Arizona have taken a position against Prop 207 (The legalization of recreational use marijuana and hashish in AZ). They ask us as Catholics and faithful citizens to consider the harmful effects that passage of Prop 207 would bring to our young people and our communities in general. The harm is not theoretical or hypothetical but is based on the experience of US states that have legalized recreational marijuana as well as the increased use of marijuana in AZ since the legalization of medical marijuana.

READ MORE

Same Church? Different Pew?

10-04-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

ACB had been nominated to fill the seat occupied by the late RBG. There are two things I find curious about this nomination. If Judge Barrett is seated on the Court, then six of the nine Justices will be Catholic (Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh, Sotomayor). Considering that Catholics make up about a little less than a quarter of the population of the US that would mean that Catholics are way overrepresented on the High Court. How did that happen? Luck of the draw? Were they all just in the right place at the right time? Social Darwinism? Catholic Karma? Is the Pope giving orders to the various Presidents? Or do non-Catholic Presidents have a thing for Catholic justices? Are Catholics just better at jurisprudence than everyone else?

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Abraham, Donald and Ike

09-27-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

We all know about the price of war, the blood spilled and the treasure spent but what about the price of peace? While many would argue that the price of war is way too high, particularly endless wars in the Middle East and elsewhere, others argue the price of peace is just too costly.

Recently the Washington Post reported that much of the $1 Billion CARES ACT funding allotted to the Pentagon to combat COVID-19 was diverted to defense contractors for military supplies and not to bolstering the country’s supplies of medical and PPE equipment. You might argue this is just another example of mismanagement of taxpayer money. But it’s more than that.

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Medical or Recreational?

09-20-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Since the previous ballot proposition for medical marijuana passed several years ago, many of you obviously voted in favor of it. You did so, I imagine since much of the campaigning was designed to pull on your heart strings and elicit your compassion, not that you yourself intended to make use of it. So, you reasoned, “if someone can be helped by using marijuana and receive relief for a medical condition, who am I am to stand in the way?”. At this point some of you still hold to that position, others may have changed your minds seeing that medical marijuana has caused more problems than it solved.

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Fear Factor Revisited

09-06-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

My letter of 05/31/20 was entitled, “Fear Factor” and it was all about some of the fears that were being hawked by the hucksters of fear regarding the coronavirus. So, let’s see how those Fear Factors are holding up.

I listed as Fear Factor #1: asymptomatic people can transmit the virus. Of course, with that assumption we would need to fear just about everyone. Of the six million people in the US who tested positive, how many actually got sick? We’re not given that information. But this past week the CDC announced a change in its testing policy, namely that not everyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 needs to be tested but only those who have symptoms of the virus. Why the change? Large numbers of people who test positive for the virus never develop symptoms and never get sick from the virus. The reason for this is that the PCR test can detect very small levels of the virus, levels that are insufficient to make a person sick or be a transmitter of the virus. In order to transmit the virus a person needs a certain level or viral load. This is similar to the way the TB testing works. If you get the prong test for TB and it shows a positive result, it does not mean that you have TB but rather that you were exposed to TB, further testing is needed to diagnose if a person actually has the disease. For COVID-19, the newer rapid tests require a much higher viral load and will most likely, more accurately diagnose those who have the disease as opposed to those who were merely exposed. Think of it this way, sometimes you feel like you are getting a cold but you never develop symptoms. Most likely you had a low level of the virus and your immune system stopped it in its tracks. The same thing seems to be happening with this version of coronavirus. With this change in testing protocols, the CDC seems to be tacitly admitting that asymptomatic people don't transmit the virus.

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