2009 North American Dominican Peace & Justice Promoters Meeting

The letter to the North American Dominican Promoters of Peace and Justice and Care of Creation meeting is at the bottom of this page.  It was submitted on June 17th, 2009.  The meeting was held June 18 through the 21st, 2009 in Adrian Michigan.  Immedately below are the comments received from various Lay Dominicans in the Western United States. 

Every three years, the Friars, Sisters, and lay people of the Order of Preachers in North American gather to review peace and justice issues.   They last gathered in 2006.    You can see their work here:

http://domlife.org/DLC/Justice/JusticePage.htm

The Lay Dominicans are a part of that group and have submitted a document in support of positions taken.    Comments from the Lay members of the Dominican Order in the Western United States were solicited earlier this year.

Below are comments and input received from chapters, councils, and members of the Lay Dominicans in the Western United States.   The comments below are in response to my letter of April 16, 2009, asking for input from Dominicans.   These entries are anonymous and every effort has been made to remove  identifying data.  If  you wish to make contact with any commentator, please notify me via john [at] keenan.org.   I will forward your name to the commentator and you can communicate with that person directly.   Please let me know if you wish to have your name or chapter name listed on the comment.

As you read the comments, please note the great care and deliberation given to the issues  by the various Dominicans including chapter, councils, and individuals. 

If you wish to have your comment posted here, please forward to my address at john[at]keenan.org and it will be posted.

If you do not see your comment previously forwarded to me, please advise, and I will post it here.

Thank you kindly for all the time, effort, and fore thought given to this project.  Please forgive me for any failings in putting this matter together.   This promoter is deeply thankful for all those who have participated and taken the time to give commentary and input.  It was invaluable.

In our father St. Dominic,

John Keenan, O.P.L., J.D.,  Lay Promoter, Western Dominican Province

___________________

 April 13, 2009

John, 
 
Love the letter, just love it.  Short, Christian sweet, and to the point. 

We pray that they will wake up before it’s too late.  Just read about Christina Gallagher from [   ].  OK,  we asked for it.  Before it’s too late, however,  let’s all say the rosary with greater ferver (esp. myself), maybe 2-3 times a day. 

Love in Christ,

________________

 April 15, 2009

I strongly object to this letter.  Where do you derive your authority to take a position for all Dominicans of the Western Region when there has been no input from our chapter members in the Western Region.  I personally do not concur with several of the positions that you seek to promote.

 ________________

April 16, 2009

Thank you, John,

For going through that trouble.  …  I like the spirit of your proposals, and especially the last item about requesting a more formal structure of communication.

Yours in St. Dominic,

________________________

April 17, 2009

John, where may I sign up!?!?   I LOVE your letter!  I totally agree, and you are right on the spot for accurately representing the Church’s teachings and her priorities.  You think with the mind of the Church, and I am right there with you, happy to do anything I can to help you.

In St. Dominic,

_______________________

April 17, 2009

Hello John,

I’m sure that [our prior] will have us discuss this issue at our meeting Sunday.   I personally am very concerned about our country moving away from Christian roots and becoming a Nation without God. You have already talked about my hot button issues [regarding] abortion, embroyonic stem cell research and gay and lesbian marriage.  I’m very concerned about the corruption in our government, the destruction of our dollar, illegals draining the economy, OUT OF CONTROL spending by the government for things we should not pay for with tax dollars.  Those are political problems but concern the morality of our leaders.

God Bless you, John, you seem to have an endless amount of energy to put all of this together.

_____________________ 

April 17, 2009

Hello, John

Do you have information supporting the idea of less government intrusion into the health care system?

____________________ 

April 28, 2009

Dear John,

The [   ]  Chapter has met and discussed your letter of April 16 to Frs. Farnan and Dahm. We would like you to know and go on record that it does not represent the views of our members.

[The] Chapter is not inclined to go along with your resolution because it represents only a slice of the vast spectrum of vital issues on which Catholic moral positions can be defined.  To narrow the Catholic Social Justice teaching to only a list of a few issues sells the Catholic Church short.  There is a moral dimension to every political issue and a political dimension to every moral issue.  The Catholic Church has a position on every moral issue.

Sincerely, in St. Dominic,
[   ], Moderator

  ______________________

April 28, 2009

Hello, John. 

My name is [   ], the new LPC delegate from [   ]I see from the masthead of the Lay Dominicans Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus that you are both a fellow delegate and “Lay Promoter, Peace & Justice, Western Dominican Province.”

I have met with my Chapter Council and also representatives of the Peace & Justice Committee.  We have a reply to your letter of April 16 to “Chapter Promoters, Peace & Justice Care of Creation, Lay Provincial Representatives, Western Dominican Province.” 

Our questions:

1. Do we send our reply to you, cc:  President of the Lay Dominicans?  Should anyone else get a copy of our reply?

2. Our reply contains (among other things) an Agenda item for the San Francisco conclave.  Since you are already on the Agenda, do we go through you to request that our item be included?

3. Would you kindly email your address to me (to facilitate the Reply)?  And would you add my email to your electronic address book so that no phone call will be needed?  (I am involved in some pressing family matters that prevent me from giving you a good time for a phone conversation.)

Thank you.

Fellow [   ] delegate,

______________________

April 28, 2009

Dear John Keenan,

The [   ] Chapter OPL reviewed your Email regarding the Peace & Justice Meeting on 6/16/09 in mid-April and you’ve probably had a report from them by this time.  Because we will not be meeting again until mid-May, I thought I should bring to your attention a matter I saw last Sunday afternoon on [television], moderated by newsman Glenn Beck, regarding Planned Parenthood and an illegal activity that seems to be nationwide, which invites action.

A UCLA student, whose name I cannot remember, was interviewed.  She reported that she had gone to Planned Parenthood and pretended to be a 14 year old girl who was pregnant by her 31 year old boyfriend.   Unknown to them, she was recording the interview she had with their counselor, who told her she’d have to go to court and LIE about her age and not say anything about her 31 year old boyfriend so the Judge would grant her an abortion without informing her parents.

It is my understanding that currently there are 2 cases in the courts as a result of such situations.  Evidently Planned Parenthood is talking young girls into these abortions, then sending them back into the arms of men who are having sex with minors. This is clearly against the law and, according to the UCLA student, who says she has gone to other Planned Parenthood offices with this same story, it appears it’s going on nationwide.  Planned Parenthood says “it will investigate” but it has not dismissed the counselor.

Unfortunately, pro life marches don’t seem to be accomplishing very much.  And I’m not sure what your meeting can accomplish.  But I’m wondering  if there is any action we, as a group,  can do anything to get the word out to the unsuspecting public  … especially parents … so that we might begin to discredit Planned Parenthood and their activities.  It might even be a first step in getting rid of this organization.

Thank you for all the time and energy you put into this.

____________________ 

April 29, 2009

John Thomas Keenan, O.P.L., J.D.

Dear John:

Thank you for your initial letter and thank you for your response to my email.  We appreciate the time you have taken to bring these social justice issues to our attention.

Our Council looked at the 2006 Dominican Call to Justice document that you referenced in your letter of April 16.  We found each of the issues as outlined in that document as exciting and worthy of consideration, discussion, and study.

In particular, our Council has considered the importance of Migration/Immigration.  Our Bishop, Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas, D.D., poses a question, to-wit:  What, then, is the responsibility of religious leaders on the subject of illegal entrants crossing the border from Mexico?

It is to educate their people through detailed information, which helps people see the human face of immigration.  I am convinced that this simple fact will make the difference.  The immigrants are human beings, many of them with an unshakeable faith, desperate to be able to support themselves and their families.

Our thoughts on the subject have led the San Martin de Porres Chapter, Tucson, Arizona, to conclude that critical study of Migration and Immigration Issues will guide OPLs in developing an informed position.

[   ]  OPL, delegate

cc:  Tony Galati, OPL, President

 ____________________

April 29, 2009

Dear John,

Not being sure whether our LPC rep or our Peace and Justice promoter had seen your e-mail from last week, I took the liberty to pass out copies of your letter at our meeting this past Sunday to all who were interested. Let me first say thank you for taking this bull by the horns and challenging the other JP promoters’ agenda. When I saw what they had listed as priorities I was astounded (and I’d ALREADY expected it to be bad!). Israel/Palestine?!? Columbia??!?

I also applaud your putting of the right to life at center-stage for your proposed addition/change to the agenda, since this is the meeting of the promoters for Peace and JUSTICE! So I am strongly in favor of proposing that as our “issues.” I have my doubts, however, about whether it’s advisable to get as particular and peripheral as you do when you mention items 5 and 6, on government regulation and the tax burden. My main reason is that if you’re expecting to have something of a fight on getting these other items included on the list of issues, then it would be advisable to concentrate your efforts on the explicitly and centrally Catholic matters issues rather than on less obvious ones. I’m afraid items 5 and 6 might endanger the reception of items 1 and 2. Let’s be as wise as serpents here and start with a something it’d be harder for us to lose with. At any rate, I expect it will be a long, uphill fight to reclaim the 3rd order from our [   ] brethren, and I don’t think it’s wise to take the nuclear option of hitting them hard when smaller salvos might bring significant gains at the beginning.

Let me add that I talked this over with several members of my chapter and they had basically the same view.

Hope this helps.

___________________ 

May 4, 2009

Dear John,

On behalf of the [   ] Chapter of Lay Dominicans in [   ], I want to thank you for taking the lead in developing a statement on Peace and Justice issues.  Unfortunately, the short timeline does not permit full consideration of the issues outlined in your letter.  Consequently, we feel strongly that this letter not go forward to the North American Dominican Promoters for Justice and Peace (NADPJP) meeting scheduled for June 18-21, 2009 in Adrian, Michigan. 

Let me explain the process as it played out in our chapter.  On such short notice (May 10 deadline) we had to schedule a separate meeting outside of our monthly chapter meetings to discuss the letter’s content.  Only six out of 28 members were able to attend this additional meeting due to prior commitments.  This is not sufficient representation of our Chapter to take a position on anything, nor sufficient time for proper review.  (The meeting only lasted only 10 minutes because of the insufficient quorum).

Members who were present at the brief meeting were in accord in their assessment that the letter is laden with statements that they can’t agree with, in language that is convoluted and complex, and in fact, cannot be said to represent us. 

In conclusion, the six members who were present at the impromptu meeting recommended that, 1.  Lay Provincial Council draft a new letter outlining how lay Dominicans may take action in the areas of Peace and Justice,  [and] 2.  Offer letter to the individual chapters for comment and adoption.                 

Incidentally, may I suggest that the use of the J. D. behind your name is inappropriate for these deliberations?  In this matter you are not acting as an attorney but as a lay Dominican.  For this reason neither my Ph. D. in Psychology and Higher Education Administration is relevant to the discussion at hand, so I do not use those initials in my signature.  I am of the opinion that, in these matters, our best credential is our membership in the Order.

Respectfully yours,

______________________ 

May 8, 1009

I am the moderator of the [chapter] in [   ], CA.  Unfortunately, you sent your email to an old email address of mine.  I have updated the email address online, but you still must have my old address, which explains my late response to your letter.

I have not discussed your letter with your council, but after reading it, I believe that our Chapter would completely support all of your proposals enthusiastically.  I don’t believe we would add or change any of your proposals/recommendations.

Thank you on behalf of our Chapter for all your hard work and dedication to the work of the Lord and the Dominican way.  May God bless you and your family.

In St. Dominic,

 ________________________

[[Following letter endorsed by Prioriess:]

May 12, 2009

Dear Members of the Lay Provincial Council:

Greetings and blessings to you, my new brothers and sisters in St. Dominic.  [   ].  God truly blessed me with membership in the Order of Preachers. [   ].   [  ].

After thoroughly falling in love with the Dominican charism of preaching and its Four Pillars, my heart broke upon encountering the October 2008 agenda of the [Western] Dominican Promoters of Justice and Peace [WDPJP].  The WDPJP agenda does not represent the clearly-articulated social justice priorities of Holy Mother Church.  (View the agenda:  https://nuncprotunc.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/western-dominican-promoters-meeting-october-23-25-2008/)  Instead, this agenda reads like a covert political endorsement of the Democratic National Committee or possibly a secular Leftist organization of environmental extremism, anti-Americanism, and pacifism contrary to the Catholic Faith and its emphasis on the inherent sanctity of innocent human life. 

[   ].  While every serious Catholic supports truly Catholic priorities of justice and peace, the WDPJP supports what clearly amounts to an indirect endorsement of Leftist global socialism and environmental extremism, despite the utterly reprehensible anti-life positions of the Democratic National Committee. [   ].  

That October 2008 agenda from the WDPJP, based upon the 2006 Dominican Call to Justice purposely omitted those “Tier A” issues central to orthodox guidelines for Catholic voting, and this was during an election year, a year in which the principles of Catholic orthodoxy and authentic expressions of Catholic social teaching couldn’t be more vital.  Quite literally, lives and families were at stake in our nation, as they are daily, due to the proliferation of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and “gay marriage!”  Proposition 8 loomed large on the ballot in California, a state likely to create a national legal precedent for a new and unacceptable definition of marriage in America, while similar initiatives threatened marriages in Arizona and in Florida; the WDPJP seemed utterly disinterested!  Instead, its agenda included only certain “Tier B” issues, including taking definitive positions on multiple social issues for which orthodox Catholics may legitimately disagree.  This agenda even went so far as to call for Catholic and Dominican pacificism, which is contrary to The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2263-2265)[:]  

2263:  The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not” (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 64, 7, corp. art. as quoted in CCC 2263).

2264:  Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:  “If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s” (Ibid).

2265:  Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility [emphasis added].

The 2006 Dominican Call Justice promoted by the WDPJP agenda teaches that Catholics, particularly Dominicans, should not exercise our Constitutional right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms as a means to protect ourselves and other innocent persons.  This is entirely contrary to the Catholic Faith and its central focus on the sanctity of innocent human life.  As parents are responsible for the lives of their children, preparing to defend themselves and their innocent children from attackers is a “grave duty” under CCC 2265.  Furthermore, CCC 2263 and 2264 include quotes from our great Dominican theologian and Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, and he clearly rejected the pacificism taught by the NADPJP based upon the 2006 Dominican Call to Action.  Its call to ban small arms represents the personal politics of the members of the NADPJP and not the official teaching of Holy Mother Church.  Furthermore, there is no Catholic teaching against the use of small arms for sport.

Please consider the unacceptable position of the [Western Dominican Promoters of Peace & Justice (WDPPJ)] regarding life issues:  

“Following discussion, we agreed with Fr. John Morris, that abortion is not the central issue of social justice (although it is an important issue). In the past the overemphasis by some groups on the issue of abortion to the exclusion of other life issues, has been discussed. The group assembled decided we would recommend that abortion not be included in the new North American Dominican Call to Action.” (See “Care of Creation/Water:  https://nuncprotunc.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/western-dominican-promoters-meeting-october-23-25-2008/). 

[   ].  

This agenda flies directly in the face of the priorities of the papacy, the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the primacy assigned to the “Big Five” life issues within overall Catholic social teaching.  The agenda of the NADPJP is simply out-of-line with the authentic Catholic Faith, which assigns the greatest moral weight to the life issues of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and “gay marriage” above all others.  Instead of the all-important and mandatory centrality of these “Big Five” life issues in any truly Catholic agenda of justice and peace, the NADPJP seeks to promote a one world government, a new world order under The Earth Charter (http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/pages/Read-the-Charter.html), and it claims supposedly man-made “global warming” as its primary justification for projecting this agenda upon Dominicans everywhere.  The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church (157) clearly supports national sovereignty, making The Earth Charter untenable to Catholics, beyond its obviously unsound foundation of highly questionable science and despite ever-growing evidence showing man-made “global warming” to be a hoax.  Global government movements such as The Earth Charter do not respect the infallibly defined Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity.

“Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.” (CCC 1883).

While those promoting The Earth Charter likely believe themselves promoters of earthly stewardship and some level of solidarity, this charter has no place in the Catholic Church and therefore no place within the Order of Preachers, those dedicated to preaching the Sacred Truth of the authentic Catholic Faith.  Catholics must conduct themselves at all times in obedience to every doctrine and dogma of the Church, not just some teachings while dispensing with others.  Worst of all, The Earth Charter includes an agenda of population control, which is entirely contrary to the Gospel of Life.  

“Today an important part of policies which favor life is the issue of population growth. Certainly public authorities have a responsibility to “intervene to orient the demography of the population”.  But such interventions must always take into account and respect the primary and inalienable responsibility of married couples and families, and cannot employ methods which fail to respect the person and fundamental human rights, beginning with the right to life of every innocent human being. It is therefore morally unacceptable to encourage, let alone impose, the use of methods such as contraception, sterilization, and abortion in order to regulate births.”  (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, #91, 1995).

“In defense of the human person, the Church stands opposed to the imposition of limits on family size, and to the promotion of methods of limiting births which separate the unitive and procreative dimensions of marital intercourse, which are contrary to the moral law inscribed on the human heart, or which constitute an assault on the sacredness of life. Thus, sterilization, which is more and more promoted as a method of family planning, because of its finality and its potential for the violation of human rights, especially of women, is clearly unacceptable; it poses a most grave threat to human dignity and liberty when promoted as part of a population policy. Abortion, which destroys existing human life, is a heinous evil, and it is never an acceptable method of family planning.”    (Pope John Paul II, Letter to the International Conference on Population and Development, 1994).

“Poverty is often considered a consequence of demographic change.  For this reason, there are international campaigns afoot to reduce birth rates, sometimes using methods that respect neither the dignity of the woman, nor the right of parents to choose responsibly how many children to have; graver still, these methods often fail to respect even the right to life…  The extermination of millions of unborn children, in the name of the fight against poverty, actually constitutes the destruction of the poorest of all human beings. ”   (Pope Benedict XVI, 2008 World Day of Peace).

As always, the Catholic Church universally opposes contraception, sterilization, and abortion.  “The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood.  Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception)” (CCC 2399).  While we must order our societies according to both the Catholic social doctrines of solidarity and subsidiarity, the life issues must remain central to all Catholics and necessarily receive pride of place above all other social issues:

“Adopting a consistent ethic of life, the Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues “seeking to protect human life and promote human dignity from the inception of life to its final moment.”  Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence, and injustice.  Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment.  Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care.  Therefore, Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all these areas.  Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of these issues as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages of life.  But being ‘right’ in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life.  Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community.  If we understand the human person as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” — the living house of God — then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house.  All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation. These directly and immediately violate the human person’s most fundamental right — the right to life.  Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand.  Such attacks cannot help but lull the social conscience in ways ultimately destructive of other human rights.  As Pope John Paul II reminds us, the command never to kill establishes a minimum which we must respect and from which we must start out “in order to say ‘yes’ over and over again, a ‘yes’ which will gradually embrace the entire horizon of the good.”    (Evangelium Vitae, 75).   (from Living the Gospel of Life:  A Challenge to American Catholics, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1998, paragraph 24, bold emphasis added).

Clearly the [WDPPJ]’s agenda of October 2008, its “house,” is “built on sand,” as defined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

[   ].

Please allow me to issue charitable advice as a young Catholic [  ] and as a [   ] Lay Dominican, and please know this comes from a true passion for the Order of Preachers and a desire to see it grow in sanctity under the continued protection of Our Lady and the intercession of St. Dominic.  Vocations come from those Catholics loyal to the Magisterium, the conservative and orthodox wing of the Church.  As the saying goes, “Liberal Catholicism does not produce liberal Catholics; it produces non-Catholics.”  Besides the absolute Catholic requirement to conduct ourselves at all times in accordance with the Magisterium and our wonderful Holy Father, doing so will also bring about the gift of increased vocations throughout the Order of Preachers.  Generations X and Y largely left the Church, either spiritually or physically, which is not a surprise, as our youthful catecheses were usually pathetic and devoid of our beautiful Catholic traditional devotions.  However, those remaining wish to serve Christ and his bride, the Holy Catholic Church, under the leadership of the Magisterium and Pope Benedict XVI, and often have great zeal for the salvation of souls and immense drives to live the vocations God wills for each of them.  Many would make fine Dominicans through God’s grace.  After decades of poor catechesis in watered-down Catholicism, those remaining crave those institutions within the Church seeking to promote and to teach the authentic Faith.  The Lay Provincial Council would only aid the Church’s need for increased vocations by loudly promoting universal loyalty to the Magisterium and to the priorities and mindset of Holy Mother Church in all its endeavors.  I strongly recommend that the Lay Provincial Council reject the October 2008 agenda of the [WDPPJ] based on the 2006 Dominican Call to Justice and The Earth Charter.  For proof of this relationship between orthodoxy and vocations, we need look no further than the explosion of young and holy vocations to our sisters in Christ and in St. Dominic, the ever-radiant Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.  Orthodoxy is directly proportionate to new vocations.

In closing, I wish to express my full endorsement of the efforts of John Keenan, O.P.L., the new Western Dominican Province Peace and Justice Promoter.  Mr. Keenan thinks with the mind of Holy Mother Church and expresses well her priorities based on the primacy of the sanctity of innocent human life and the defense of the traditional nuclear family.  Furthermore, I support his proposed alternative justice and peace agenda, one centered on the life issues, particularly those Catholic “non-negotiables” of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and “gay marriage.”  He outlined this agenda in his letter to you, the members of the Lay Provincial Council, dated April 26, 2009 (https://nuncprotunc.wordpress.com/2009/04/26/letter-to-lay-members-of-the-order-of-preachers-regarding-peace-justice-issues/). 

[   ].

May God continue to bless the Order of Preachers and the Lay Provincial Council.  May Blessed Mother Mary protect each of you, and may Holy Father St. Dominic continue to intercede for Dominicans everywhere. 

Yours in Christ and in St. Dominic,

 ________________ 

May 10, 2009

Dear John,

While I am happy you developed a statement on the Peace and Justice issues, I am angry and disappointed you gave me and my Chapter so little time (letter dated April 16, 2009) to deliberate on these issues and NO notice at all that you were sending your letter to the North American Dominican Justice Promoters (letter dated March 26, 2009).  Since you already sent your letter and proposed agenda to Sr Dusty and Fr Charles, I suspect you were planning to report on these issues without soliciting comments from the Laity of the Western Province whom you are supposed to represent, and that angers me as well.  I consider your complicated and very convoluted 5-page letter heavily laden with questionable statements, political issues that require more than a few minutes thought, political positions that are not in accord with mine, and that the timing of your letter (sent AFTER the fact) was not only poor but rude. 

I feel strongly that your letter does not represent me and should NOT be presented to the North American Dominican Promoters for Justice and Peace (NADPJP) at their meeting scheduled for June 18-21, 2009 in Adrian, Michigan. And, since our Chapter has not had a chance to discuss your letter and present our position on them to you, I object to your presumption that you represent the mind of our Chapter on all these issues. 

Let me explain to you what happened in our Chapter. We received your April 16th letter after our April Chapter meeting. Our Council did not meet until the beginning of May.  When our Chapter met in May, we did not have a quorum for elections let alone enough members present to discuss the numerous issues listed in your letter.  Our June 14th meeting is not a business meeting; it is reserved to celebrate receptions and professions.  So, given the late notification, we will not be in a position to adequately discuss the contents of your letter, if at all, before your deadline of May 30th.  I object to your presumption that our Chapter or any Chapter would be willing and able to drop everything they were doing, and at the very last minute, study your list of issues, discuss our own list of topics for you to present to the NADPJP, develop a consensus on these issues, produce a summary of our study and activities, and then send a report to you.

Finally, I object to your use of the J.D. behind your name.  This is decidedly inappropriate for deliberations among your fellow Dominicans.  In these matters you are not acting as an attorney but as a lay Dominican.  Therefore, educational degrees and professional licensures are irrelevant in your consultations among the Laity as well as among the Dominican Justice Promoters.  I feel that, in these matters, our best credential is our membership in the Order.   

 Respectfully yours,

******

May 10, 2009

Dear [    ]:

Wow.  You make a number of presumptions in your letter that are wrong or based upon bad information.  I would be glad to talk with you charitably to avoid your disparagements here below.  Maybe that is the worthy minimal effort to get to the truth of the matter before broadcasting your presumptions.  My phone number is 208.375.2352.  I will gladly call you back on my dime.

Please in charity, at least show me that courtesy.

Thank you kindly,

John

********

May 12, 2009

Dear [   ]:

After prayer early this morning and consideration I want to apologize to you for the timing of this matter.  Sincerely.  Your message reveals some legitimate frustration, yet some misunderstanding as to the circumstances I have faced.  

Your opinion as to my poor writing does not (or should not) detract from the reality that at a minimum the NADJPCC should include a consistent statement with regard to the taking of innocent human life from conception to natural death which is the bedrock of Catholic social justice teaching that will lead to the conversion of peoples to Christ and make these issues reflect His justice.  It starts there.  As to the peripheral issues, there will be legitimate debate and disagreement.  Many of the issues presently on the NADJPCC are very political and not based upon Catholic teaching.

Please accept my apology.  If you do not wish to speak with me to clarify, I can understand.  It was my legitimate hope to speak with you as to the circumstances I faced surrounding the letter.
Thank you.  John.

 ******

May 12, 2009

You are not listening.  You are still reiterating YOUR opinion as to what the NADPJP needs to do.  Since you have not received from the Laity here in the West, whom you claim to represent, as to what our issues and priorities are, you can NOT presume them and should not be allowed to present them as ours.  If you insist on presenting your list to the NADPJP you need to make it clear you are only presenting your own personal issues and priorities.  However well meaning your intentions may be or your desire to expound Catholic teaching, you are not yet in this matter representing the Laity of the Western Province. 

I realize that in a democracy, which the Lay Branch of the Order is, the process of obtaining the opinion of the Chapters and developing consensus is slow.  President Bush said it would be easier if he was a dictator.  Well he was not a dictator and you are not.  If you want to fully represent us you must find out if your opinions and priorities are in line with those you represent.  If not or if you are unable or unwilling to represent the opinion of the majority then, perhaps you should consider stepping down. 

Consider – why did you take on this responsibility?  Was it to preach to the us and the NADPJP your agenda or your Chapter’s agenda of social justice, to tell the rest of us what we ought to be doing or thinking in the area of social justice, or what …?  Perhaps, you did not solicit our opinion earlier, because you were afraid we might disagree with you?  Was this pride or a lack of fortitude on your part?  Well – I do not agree with you. You do not reflect my opinion on these matters and I know of others in the Western Province who feel as I do. 

I strongly suggest and pray you rescind your letter to the NADPJP until you have received a true consensus from your constituency on the issues and priorities to present at the NADPJP meeting. 

Happy Vigil of Our Lady of Fatima

******

Dear [   ]:

Sorry I am tardy responding to your last email.  I have been away from my email for several days.  After your last message, I would be glad to include your comments from your Chapter if it does not meet until June 14th.  It may be cutting it short, but I can do it.  Please let me know if you wish to do so.

While I heartily disagree with your comments on your last email, did you have to abandon all charity and compare me to Mr. Bush? 

Let me know if you wish that additional time.

Thanks kindly, J

 ___________________

May 9, 2009

Hello John,

Thank you for the additional time, I was rushing to get ready for my schools annual art fair. That was on May 7th and we returned all the students art work on the 8th. Now  I can concentrate on responding to the task at hand for Peace and Justice.

_________________

May 19, 2009

As members of the Chapter of Lay Dominicans in [CA], in union with the Conference of Catholic Bishops, we agree with the proposals suggested in your recent letter, with the understanding that while many issues are of concern, the most important issues of concern to the church are the issues which should be given highest priority. 

Therefore, we see Proposals 1 (A call for a pro-life position consistent with Church teaching), 2 (A call for the UN to denounce/end funding/advocacy for abortion or birth control), and 5 (A call to decrease excessive governmental intrusion into the health care market) of highest priority since they deal with right-to-life issues.  Proposals 1 and 2 are self-evident, but Proposal 5 is associated since one of the concerns of this proposed “legislation in the health care market” concerns the right of health care providers’ ability to maintain the right to refuse to participate in treatment that is contradictory to their religious and moral principles.

Following these three proposals, we also concur that Proposal 4, (defining the definition of marriage to be between one man and one woman) is valid since it is being challenged daily as more of a social issue threatening to overshadow the religious implications that have been historically maintained.

Sincerely,

_________________

May 9, 2009

Hi John,

Nicely done.

I’d like to key off one of your points. Progress on social issues does not necessarily require government action.

I think the decline of marriage is a huge social issue.  One element of the action list was to support a legal definition of marriage as involving one man and one woman.  This important point will not by itself solve our current crisis.  Nor will tax incentives for staying married solve the crisis.  In fact, government action will have at best a peripheral effect. (That is, it can have serious negative consequences, but it can only have limited positive consequences, if that makes sense.)

So if this is a social problem that will not be solved by governmental action, is it irrelevant to a Dominican pursuit of peace and social justice?  It should be at the heart of this pursuit.  I am reminded of something Father Shiyo told me last year.  He said that it is almost pointless to be concerned in the U.S. with vocations to the priesthood, because until the family is strengthened, we just don’t have an environment in which priestly vocations can blossom.

The homosexual and polygamist challenges to marriage follow decades of easy divorce, glamorization of “common law marriages” and cohabitation, social pressures to delay marriage to later and later ages, pressure to have fewer children, pressure to place career above home and marriage, etc. 

During these decades, the voice of the church in the U.S. had been effectively silenced by a smorgasbord of treacherous arguments:

1. Priests can’t preach effectively about marriage because they are not married. (Perhaps the stated purpose has been to agitate for the lifting of priestly celibacy, but the effect has been to silence preaching about the sanctity of marriage.)

2. Priests are male, and the inevitable male chauvinism makes effective preaching about married life impossible. (Therefore, no preaching.)

3. The faithful can consult their own consciences regarding the use of contraception without deference to the opinions of the hierarchy. (And while you’re consulting your conscience regarding contraception, go ahead and consult it regarding abortion, extra-marital affairs, etc.)

4. Over-population is a terrible thing.  Consider the impact it is having on the environment.

5. The church has forfeited its right to speak out on married life because of the pedophilia scandals.  Don’t preach to me!

6. Even well-intentioned faithful, when discussing “praying for vocations,” interpret that the need is to pray for more priests.  Praying for holy marriages is second fiddle AT BEST.

The result has been somewhat of a lack of engagement on the part of the church in this country while the culture war has been waged against marriage and the family.  This is an intolerable state of affairs.

I would rather have manatees go extinct than have Matrimony go extinct.  Nothing personal against manatees. (I think they’re kind of cute in a blubbery sort of way.)

_________________________

May 24, 2009

John,

            Greetings! I wish to share some comments with you. Overall you and I are on the same wave length. I’m a member of the [   ] Dominican Laity in [   ], Ca. We meet at [   ]’s Parish in [   ]. 

Section 4 – Promote taxing and social policy that eases the burden on the American middle class:

            For some the first thought that may come to their mind is the Church’s option for the poor comes first. Well the middle class needs fairness in order that they can spend time with the poor, with help and financial contributions. Preferably to teach them how to fish and get out their poverty and be on their own as soon as possible with new job skills. 

 Section 5 – Change the word extreme to radical; and good science to reliable and responsible science. With today’s selective Science you can support any environment agenda. Do what is best for all sections that I have commented on.

Section 6 – The national health care  needs to have private enterprise involved. Government involvement in the Post Office, Medicare and Social Security has been a disaster. I would like to see millions spent to clean out the fraud which is rampant. Also an independent commission to study the matter and come up with alternatives.

Hope you will succeed in your presentation.

God Bless,

___________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Durstyne Farnan, OP

Chuck Dahm, OP

            Re:       North American Justice Promoters; Meeting, June 18-21, 2009; Adrian, Michigan

Dear Sr. Farnan and Fr. Dahm and Promoters in attendance at Adrian:

Greetings to the delegates to the North American Dominican Promoters of Peace & Justice [NADPPJ] from the lay folks in the Western Dominican Province and from the Blessed Margaret of Castello Chapter here in Idaho. 

Your deliberations will be in my prayers and intentions this coming week.  Unfortunately, I cannot be present at that NADJJP this year. 

In Sr. Farnan’s and Fr. Dahm’s letter of March 20, 2009, they invited suggestions for a tentative agenda, which would be sent out to delegates in April.  In response to that call asking for timely input on the tentative agenda and upon approval of the lay provincial council around April 2, 2009, I forwarded to Sr. Farnan and Fr. Dahm a list of issues for consideration at the Adrian meeting.  In late April or early May, Sr. Farnan graciously returned my telephone message and I indicated to her, among other things, that I would be forwarding a modified list for consideration at Adrian.  That modified list is the purpose of this letter.  Last week, Sr. Farnan said that the issues listed here would be laid before the promoters at the Adrian meeting. 

On April 16, 2009, I forwarded a letter to the lay provincial council delegates, chapter peace & justice promoters, and chapter moderators, and priors and prioresses.  I invited and received substantive response from the chapters.   The time for comment from the various lay people in the province was extended to May 30, 2009.  

The issues listed below are based upon the following standards, guidelines and precepts:   

 The Catholic Church holds to certain vital principles that among these include the inviolability of innocent life from conception to natural death, from infancy to old age; and,

  1. Reliant upon and connected to the vital principle of the inviolability of innocent life, is the respect for life in general, a respect due every person in any state of life, whether morally innocent or depraved, or guilty or not of any type of heinous crime.  Therefore, innocent human beings should not be deliberately killed or murdered; and where possible and where the protection of society is secured by the law and institutions guided by the law, those people found guilty of murder, rape or other heinous crime should not suffer the death penalty; and,
  2. With respect to the same vital principle first mentioned above, and with respect to the rule of domestic and international law, where foreign peoples enter in or cross the borders of another Nation, such people—based upon their dignity as human beings—should be respected and treated fairly as human beings under the due process of law, without regard to prejudice, bias, nationality, ethnicity, religion, or sex and other applicable standards; and,
  3. The social and cultural efforts of the Lay Fraternities in conjunction with the promoters from the congregations and friars of the Order of Preachers informed by the signs of the times, must be grounded in Jesus Christ, in the Magisterium of our Catholic Faith, and in our personal prayers and lives that exhibit a Christian faith; without which our actions become a type of meaningless activism seeking to change the world based upon pride, sentiment, whim or political, social, or cultural movements; and,
  4. That as a Lay ecclesial institute, the Dominican provincial lay fraternities come together with the goal of increasing personal holiness in conformance with the Rule.  The fraternities acting in good faith, good will, and charity toward every person, knowing that all of humankind and all of creation are fallen and that perfection cannot be obtained in this world, work toward and seek to perfect society with the common good in mind.   

With the foregoing principles as a guide, and based upon the input and comments from the Chapters and members of the Lay Fraternities in the Holy Name of Jesus Province in the Western United States, I hereby submit and formally request that the North American Promoters representing the various congregations, friars, and lay people regarding peace, justice, and care of creation adopt the following issues or positions as a part of the 2009 Dominican Justice document:

*That all public and private institutions at the state, national, and international levels seek and promote the legal protection of innocent human beings from conception to natural death from loss of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; and,

—relating to the dignity of each human being and based upon the concept that society may be properly protected from harm, that any person found guilty of any heinous crime should not suffer the death penalty.

*That grounded on the rule of law and the sovereignty of nations, persons immigrating to, or emigrating from, a nation should be treated with respect to, and in compliance with, the rights accorded such persons based upon the inherent dignity of each human being, together with rights established under law, including but not limited to natural, individual, family, religious, and civil rights.

Finally, please place on the agenda for discussion a procedure or organizational structure by which the promoters may expand representation, input, and commentary from the sisters, friars and lay people, and to establish a process by which the justice promoters seek a wide-based, grassroots consultation with members of the Order of Preachers as to the Church’s vital principles involving peace and justice.

May the Holy Spirit, the 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity, guide your deliberations and inform you of what is true and good.

Thank you kindly.

With prayers in St. Dominic,

John C. Keenan, O.P.L., J.D.

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