The horse has now left the gate: scientists have successfully cloned a human embryo for the first time ever. This is very big news but you probably didn't hear about it. Scientists down played it, I assume out of fear of someone putting the brakes on it and the media obediently obliged them. Human cloning has been the holy grail of genetic medicine and it appears it has finally been found (my respects to Monty Python). Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon National Primate Research Center report that they have successfully cloned a human embryo up to the blastocyst stage (5-10 days old). The type of human cloning used in this case is Human Somatic Cell nuclear transfer (hSCNT) which created a human embryo asexually. This research has not yet been confirmed by peer-reviewed studies but it seems to be the real thing and not a hoax like the one we saw a few years back with a South Korean researcher.READ MORE
This week the Daughters of St. Paul will invade our Parish! The sisters are bringing their love, talent, knowledge and expertise to school us in the New Evangelization. One of their great charisms is using the media and modern means of social communication to proclaim the Gospel. The week will culminate on Sunday, June 30 at the 5pm Mass when Sr. Maria Kim will make her Perpetual Profession before her Superior and Bishop Olmsted. I HIGHLY encourage you to attend. This is a very unique and blessed opportunity that rarely occurs in a Parish Church. It will also be a profound experience to witness a young woman consecrating her entire life and self to Christ through the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Sr. Maria Kim, who grew up in our Parish very much wanted this to take place at Mt. Carmel since it is the place that helped bring her vocation to fruition and many of you had a part in that. So please come and share her joy and offer your prayers for her. Simply put this is not to be missed!READ MORE
So it seems that my true greatness has finally been noticed! That is with all humility of course. Or at least God must be tired of hearing my rants about the dangers of medicalizing every emotional and behavioral issue a child faces and the lack of imagination in finding solutions other than medications to those problems. This past week at the Vatican, the Pontifical Council for Health Care (which oversees the Church's healthcare institutions and practices) held a conference entitled: The Child as Person and as Patient: Therapeutic Approaches Compared.
In my amazement the issues that I have been telling you about for many years have finally caught the attention of the Vatican! They have assembled a very impressive group of international cutting edge researchers and clinicians to discuss the problem with current clinical approaches to helping young people deal with their unique emotional and personality issues. Specifically many of the speakers, like me have tried to raise the red flag about the dangers of the pharmaceutical approach.READ MORE
One of the selling points of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was that anyone with a preexisting condition could no longer be discriminated against by Health Insurance Plans. Now that nameless, faceless, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats are writing the regulations we find out that that selling point is a blatant falsehood. Insurers can in fact charge more, 30-50% more to anyone with the preexisting condition of obesity or is a smoker (I am assuming only tobacco smokers and that marijuana smokers are off the hook). The reason that insurers can charge more to smokers and the obese is that it is claimed that they utilize more health care than other people and thus cost more to insurers.READ MORE
It seems we can mostly credit the Mormons for the change to the Boy Scouts Policy since they charter the most troops and have the most members on the Advisory Board that voted on this policy change. I'm sure they were helped by some liberal Protestant groups and middle-class suburban Catholics who also charter troops and for some reason like many in middle class white America have some sort of burning need to let everyone know how "gay-friendly" they are. The policy change throws a bomb into the middle of the Boy Scout Organization. Which shows that those who voted to change the policy did so not in the best interests of Scouting nor of the scouts themselves but to let the rest of us know how 'tolerant' they are.
As a result of this policy change many parents will withdraw their sons from scouting or not have them join at all and many troops will collapse. This will in turn greatly affect the boys who love being a part of scouting. Which will just reinforce teenager's suspicion that adults who claim, "it's all about the kids" are a bunch of liars who can't be trusted and only act in their own self-interest.READ MORE
Well it seems help comes from unexpected places. In this case: France. Quoi! For years I've tried to alert you to the unnecessary and often dangerous drugging of our children with psychotropic drugs such as methylphenidate. Well it seems that one way to avoid this is to raise your children in France. The rate of children being diagnosed and treated for ADD/ADHD is 9% in the US but only 0.5% in France. An article in Psychology Today "Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD (psychologytoday.com/blog/suffer-the-children/201203/why-french-kids-dont-have-adhd) describes the situation as such:
"In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?READ MORE
Well it seems the Affordable Care Act has solved one of the great dilemmas of our age: what to get mom for Mothers Day. Who knew it was this easy to make mom happy? Just give her free birth control and a mushy Mothers Day card and you're the favorite child. Maybe then a gift certificate for an abortion for her birthday?
Somehow, at least to me Mothers Day and birth control don't seem to go hand in hand. Is the White House twitter suggesting we should actually be celebrating Non-Mothers Day?
Actually this is a good opportunity to say a few things about the requirement that employers provide cost-free birth control, sterilization, and the "morning after" pill to their women employees, including employers who conscientiously object to this policy. The Church's opposition to this policy is no secret. Yet it makes a lot of Catholics very uncomfortable to have the Church wade so deeply into a political issue. But what we need to remember is that this is not a fight we picked. We are simply asking that our government respect the long held position to respect the conscience of every American. Conscientious objection is a long respected precedent in our jurisprudence and one that government can easily accommodate. What we are asking for is a return to the policy of just a few years ago that was considered unremarkable and no one was demanding employers give their employees free birth control.READ MORE
This is not a Mothers Day tale that is uplifting but it is a strong reminder that our efforts to respect life in the womb and to assist those women who continue to be deceived that abortion is in anyway a woman's friend still have great urgency.
The trial of Kermit Gosnell, MD has concluded in Philadelphia and as of this writing still awaiting the jury's verdict. He is charged with among other things multiple counts of first degree murder in the death of babies born alive during an abortion procedure in which he slit the back of their necks and then cut their spinal cords. He is also charged with third degree murder in the death of one woman who was killed by an overdose of anesthesia that was administered by a medically unlicensed employee. These charges are only a minor fraction of the babies that Gosnell killed and the patients that he harmed physically some of whom died under his care.READ MORE
As a pastor how do I make decisions? Is it:
A. Off the top of my head
B. After belting down a few scotches
C. Whatever makes me look good
D. After consultation with others
If you answered anything other than D: after consultation with others, then we need to talk! Or you can just read the rest of this letter. Church law and Diocesan statutes establish various councils that are charged with providing pastors recommendations on the organizing and operating of parishes. Two councils in particular are mandated: the Parish Pastoral Council and the Parish Finance Council. In addition to these since we are a parish with a school, a School Advisory Board is also required. Other councils or committees may be established to better serve the needs of the parish. In our case we also have a Parish Stewardship Committee.READ MORE
Every then and now someone will ask me a question such as, "Father do you ever give the Last Rites?" What I sense is behind that question is that many of you don't know what my life is like or what a priest's daily life looks like. The reason for this is that you have had no reason to see anything more than a priest offering Mass or hearing confessions. Simply put because your lives are well ordered you really haven't had a situation where you needed the ministry of a priest other than on Sundays. What that means is that by and large you live good lives, have successful marriages and children who are more or less well adjusted.READ MORE
Time for another Vocation Round-Up. Many of you have been faithful in praying for and promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life. Just like the seed that is planted in the ground a lot of the foundational work of a vocation takes place under the soil, hidden from view. And just as when a planted seed begins to sprout we rejoice so too with a vocation. Having waited patiently for that process to happen, we can now rejoice in seeing not only the seed sprout out of the soil but also the plant in full bloom bearing fruit!
Let's start with the tree with the most rings around its trunk. That would be me, celebrating 25 yrs of Priestly Ordination. I know you say but 'you look so young', got an early start… To celebrate I invite you to the Pera Club in Tempe for a Parish Picnic on Saturday, May 11: food, friends, fun and lots of things for the children to do. You would honor me greatly by your presence. Then on Sunday, May 12 at the 11am Mass I will celebrate the Jubilee with the community gathered in prayer. Those prayers I truly need from you all.READ MORE
The modern Hospice movement was conceived of by Dame Cicely Saunders who as a young nursing student in England during WWII witnessed a great deal suffering and pain. She came to realize that three things were of utmost importance in providing assistance to the dying: the alleviation of physical pain and other symptoms, the need to preserve their dignity and to offer guidance with the psychological and spiritual pain of death. In a nutshell her vision was to enable the dying to live life fully until their final breath.
In the 1970's the Hospice movement took off in the United States and has become one of the main choices for end of life care. But unfortunately as it has grown it has also become big business that too often puts profits at the center (don't be fooled by the not-for-profit label as they can also make lots of money). We are also witnessing a shift from traditional or virtue ethics to utilitarian ethics. The latter more and more puts a stress on "quality of life" which is a euphemism for speeding up the death of those who are judged to have lives not worth living. Following from this is the ever-increasing push for euthanasia and assisted suicide.READ MORE
One of the things we cherish is our freedom, particularly as it is expressed in the Bill of Rights. Among those freedoms is Religious Liberty, which prevents the state from interfering in the business of religious. The down side of this, if you could call it a down side, is that religious organizations in the US, unlike many other countries, receive no financial aid to run our schools and places of worship. That means we have to be FULLY SELF-SUPPORTING through our own contributions. I'm OK with that because it disentangles us from government (mostly) and more importantly it puts the onus on each parishioner to be a stakeholder in the Church. Simply put we sink or swim based on our level of participation.
Some of my priest friends work in other countries where the Church and church-run schools do receive funding from the state. I can tell you (they may not agree) but we in the US have to work lots harder to keep this thing going. As I tell them, priests in the US have to earn it! Which in my mind prevents lots of slothfulness in the clergy!READ MORE