"Who Cares?" - Thoughts on Christians in the Middle East

Written by Judy Barrett on . Blog

perscpective-150“It has always seemed to me possible, and even probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent.” Hilaire Belloc, The Great Heresies, 1938

In mid-August all of the European bishops’ conferences (Council of European Bishops, CCEE) issued a joint open letter calling on the United Nations to make urgent “decisions to put an end to the atrocious actions against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.” Their letter was sent to all European governments and to the U.N. in response to the rapid expansion of territory held by ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) and its attempt to wipe out Christianity in the region.


Pope Francis: Why are we surprised people flee violence and poverty?

Written by Steve Pehanich on . Blog

statueoflibertycoin150“This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcome and protected,” said Pope Francis in a message about the large number of unaccompanied children seeking safety from the violence of their Central American homes.[i]

The concept that people seek safety and security did not start when the media noticed the children crossing the border or when one government or another failed to solve a problem.

Survival is as basic a human instinct as it gets.

Migration to find protection from danger is a fundamental concept. Globalization, says the Pope, has accelerated the process but it certainly didn’t create it.

So why are so many voices demanding a solution to some portion of the migration crisis before we help the children?

One of the most common openings in the debate about helping unaccompanied minors goes something like this: “Yes, we need to help the children, but first we must...” There follows various political posturing. We have heard it all before.


A (Very) Brief Look at Catholics in the American Revolution

Written by Steve Pehanich on . Blog

Independence-Hall “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” - Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

It’s Independence Day – time for picnics, fireworks and summer vacation. The 3rd Annual Fortnight for Freedom ends today, mid-term elections are still a few months off and the California Legislature begins its summer recess.

In keeping with our annual celebration of democracy and this week’s victory for religious freedom (see Supreme Court Decision on Hobby Lobby: A Great Day for the Religious Freedom of Family Businesses), it seems an opportune time to remember some of the Catholics involved in the American Revolution.

You don’t read much about them during the colonial period. That’s because there weren’t many around – probably about 40,000 or slightly less and 2 percent of the 2.5 million residents of the 13 colonies.

There were more Catholics in the Southwest regions of the continent where the Spanish crown ruled. Same goes for French Louisiana and, once President Jefferson purchased the territory from Napoleon in 1804, the Catholic population jumped significantly.


Fortnight for Freedom, June 21 – July 4: “Freedom to Serve”

Written by Judy Barrett on . Blog

Fortnight picFor several days I’ve sat at my desk, attempting to write about the third Fortnight for Freedom beginning on June 21. This year’s theme is “Freedom to Serve”. Where do I start? I want to convey my deep concerns about the chipping away of our personal freedom to practice and publicly witness our faith. I want to raise a sense of urgency about the marginalization of the Church in the public square. I want to talk about how restrictions on religious freedom are impeding the ability of Church-related organizations to provide social services such as adoption. I want to applaud Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for his steadfast witness to the truth about marriage even as he is subjected to daily excoriation in the press and from some local, state and national politicians and special interest groups.

Any day now the U.S. Supreme Court will announce its decision regarding the HHS contraceptive mandate in cases affecting private individuals who run for-profit businesses. The decision will undoubtedly have an immense impact on the ability of individuals to follow their religious convictions in their professional lives (that includes you and me!). Will that decision uphold individual rights of conscience, or will it lead to further eroding of religious liberty?

But while I contemplate these very real and serious issues in our country, I realize that we still live in the land of the free. Last September anti-Christian suicide bombers killed 81 parishioners and injured 130 more, including many women and children, at All Saints Catholic Church in Peshawar, Pakistan.   My heart breaks for those fellow Catholics who risk their lives to receive the Eucharist; for our Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria who live in fear of Boko Haram; for Meriam Ibrahim, the woman imprisoned in Khartoum, Somalia with her two infant children, sentenced to death by hanging because she is a Christian; for the ancient, historic Syrian Christian communities that face persecution and annihilation; for Catholic priests and bishops still imprisoned in China…the list goes on.


Equal Opportunity Sainthood

Written by Judy Barrett on . Blog

st teresaIs the Church’s canonization process a “good ol’ boy network”? That was the opinion expressed by someone in a letter to a Bay Area newspaper a few days after the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II. The letter writer, who also groused that the Church has seemingly forgotten about Mother Teresa of Calcutta, is apparently uninformed: Mother Teresa has been Blessed Buy generic cialis online Cheap-viagra 50mg Cialis soft gel Teresa of Calcutta since 2003. A second miracle is required for her canonization.

It was a glorious celebration for the whole Church when two beloved popes were canonized by Pope Francis, with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in attendance—truly an historic event! But lest anyone harbor the notion that women are overlooked in the Church, perhaps this is also a good time to shine the spotlight on just a few of the many, many women the Church has elevated to sainthood in its long history.

The first Native American to be canonized, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, was orphaned in childhood and baptized as a young woman. Her baptism was a heroic act of courage on her part because she risked estrangement from her own people. Kateri found a welcoming home in a Christian village of Native Americans in what is now upstate New York, where she tended the sick and elderly until her death at the tender age of 24 in 1680.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, an Episcopalian and the mother of five children, was introduced to the Catholic faith by a devout family in Italy. Inspired by their example, she joined the Church after returning to the U.S. when her husband died. Elizabeth was instrumental in founding the first congregation for women religious in the U.S. She embraced the rule of the Daughters of Charity and took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in 1809.  Mother Seton was a wife, mother, widow, convert, educator, founder, and religious.  


A Rare Opportunity: Measures Recognizes Humanity of the Unborn, Dignity of Mother

Written by Carol Hogan on . Blog

pregnant happy woman 150x190This year, the California Legislature has presented us with a rare opportunity—two bills we can support based on the whole of Catholic social teaching. They are SB 899 and AB 1579. But first, some background.

As Catholics, our Church teaches us to respect the sanctity of human life, to uphold the imperative of family, to honor the dignity of work, to understand God’s special love for the poor and to seek justice in our dealings with each other. Those “ideas” are found in Catholic social teaching—the distillation of divine revelation, age-old human wisdom and common sense—and if understood and followed, a framework for human thriving.

However, too often, we Catholics tend to focus on one aspect of the teaching over and against another aspect. Catholic social teaching is of a piece and can only be a reliable guide if taken as seamless. Respecting human life ought to occur throughout the trajectory of that life—from conception to natural death. Families must be seedbeds tended to nourish and guide the new generation. We need to remember the dignity of work and that those who are poor must be loved and brought along if able or carried if not. And overlaying it all, our human interactions must reflect justice—which can bring about peace.