The Abortion Double Standard

01-25-2015Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

"Rep. Joe Crowley, a New York Democrat, is asking his fellow lawmakers to help defend a member of the House who has endured online attacks because of his religion. Rep. André Carson of Indiana, who took office in 2008, was recently appointed to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The appointment has fueled online commenters to levy personal attacks at the 40-year-old Democrat, reports Politico."

"Crowley wrote to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Thursday about the issue.

"It has … come to my attention that there have been a shocking amount of comments made in conservative publications and on social media to the effect that Rep. Carson's integrity is somehow in question as a result of his religion," Crowley wrote."

"One of the great strengths of our nation, and indeed the Congress as well, is the diversity of experiences and beliefs that we are able to draw from to inform our policy goals," Crowley wrote. "It is a true tragedy if members are targeted for their religious beliefs as somehow weakening their ability to serve, as opposed to strengthening it."

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Je Suis Charlie

01-18-2015Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, a fierce defender of the Church and an expert at sniffing out anti-Catholicism got himself into a bit of a rabbit hole over comments he made about the recent terrorist attacks at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The magazine is an equal opportunity offender, printing vile and the worst kinds of stereotypes of Jews and Catholics as well as Muslims. The editors I'm sure knew that Jews and Catholics would react to their publications by writing letters to the editor, organizing protests and boycotts or filing defamation lawsuits. But they also knew that printing the same kinds of satires on Islam and Muslims could bring extreme reactions. Much to their credit they understood this and accepted it because they felt standing up for the principle of freedom of speech was worth it. In that way they chose not to be victims. That does not in anyway justify what happened or imply that they deserved what they got, which is what Bill Donohue was accused of implying.

I share Bill's outrage at the vulgar way in which religious figures of all stripes have been depicted by the French magazine. Still it is important to note that satire is a necessary and important tool for a healthy and free society. Unfortunately a publication like Charlie Hebdo used poorly those tools often passing off adolescent bathroom humor or borderline pornography as serious satire. Satire can often effectively speak truth to power and is especially important in a society where political speech is policed. At the same time poorly done satire can be harmful by dehumanizing and demonizing others and help create cynicism in a society where people do hateful and harmful things based on untrue stereotypes. While there are dangers in satire there are worse dangers in regulating it.

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Doulas or Ghoulas?

01-11-2015Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Over the past several years Switzerland has become famous not for its cheese, chocolates or Alps but for suicide, specifically assisted suicide. The Swiss have permitted "suicide clinics" to open where you can go and do yourself in. (Though I do applaud the Swiss for forbidding medical professionals from participating as the clinics are lay run. Physicians and nurses should not be in the business of killing their patients.)

Those who come to the Clinics, especially from outside of Switzerland are referred to as "suicide tourists". Suicide tourism is becoming its own industry in Switzerland. One elderly couple from the United Kingdom, Sir Edward Downes (85yrs old) and his wife Joan (74 yrs. old) decided to go to Switzerland since Sir Edward lost most of his eyesight and decided assisted suicide was the bon vage for him. His wife, Joan who was healthy, decided she did not want to live without her husband of 54yrs and decided that she would also participate. So husband and wife with the help of others took their lives.

The couple had many supporters and many who cheered on their "right" to die in the manner they choose without interference.

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Let's Come FULLCIRCLE

01-04-2015Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

These exotic figures we call the Magi, traveled a long distance to bring their gifts to the child born in Bethlehem. They represent the first people who were willing to put their gifts at the service of Jesus Christ. Since that time disciples of Jesus have been doing the same. And what is so wondrous about it is that no matter how small the gift or seemingly insignificant, like the widow’s mite or the seven loaves and two fish, Jesus uses it in a big way.

Next weekend we will be blessed once again to have with us Eddie James and many of his “kids”. I say “kids” because Eddie travels long distances, like the Magi, to bring the gift of faith to young people who are abandoned, hopeless, family-less, abused, drug addicted or suicidal, and they in turn consider him their spiritual father. The last time Eddie and his Gospel Singers were with us was an Easter Sunday. After that Mass we had to put a new roof on the Church because they ripped it right off! I am sure this visit will be no less an energetic worship experience.

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