Input Please: National Promoters Meeting; October 20th, 2011; Adrian Sisters at Adrian Michigan


The periodic meeting of the peace and justice promoters for North America is being held this coming October 20th through the 23rd, 2011 at the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Adrian, Michigan.

Two years ago, on behalf of the Lay Fraternity of St. Dominic in the Western Province, a statement regarding key issues was forwarded.   This is the prior statement:

1.            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.

2.            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.

The North American promoters are having a  meeting again this year, from Friday, October 19th, 2011 through Sunday, October 21, 2011 at the Adrian Dominican Sisters in Adrian, Michigan.   As the lay promoter for the Western Province, I am asking all lay members, councils, and chapters to gather and consider what issues you wish to have pressented to the national meeting this coming October.  

Please consider any key issues involving key religious issues that impact society and forward them if possible, by October 7th.   I will gather any comments from chapters, members, and councilors regarding any issue, summarize them, and it is my goal to personally deliver the summary to Adrian on October 20th as a member of the gathering.

Among the issues to be discussed at the promoters meeting according to their agenda are: “Climate Change, Education/Action for Nonviolence, Death Penalty, Disarmament, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Trafficking, Immigration, and MDGs and the UN Agenda other issues that have emerged.”

In addition to the issues listed above, it would be good if the promoters considered additional issues more related to core religious principles of our Catholic Faith. Therefore, please pass along your chapter’s ideas etc. by Friday, October 7th, 2011, directly to the Lay promoter.  My email address is john((@))keenan.org.

Also, chapters should forward to me the name(s) of any person who serves as each individual chapter’s social justice contact person.  

Also, related to the subject of social justice, please take note that the Blessed Margaret Castello Chapter in Boise, Idaho is hosting a COLLOQUIUM on SOCIAL JUSTICE on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 5, 6, and 7, 2012 (yes, 2012). More information on the colloquium will be posted at a later date; but note your calendar for October, 2012.

Thank you.  Your friend in St. Dominic,

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

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As Peace Promoters, let’s not be Partisans.


The following was my response to the immediate preceding post, about the Palestinian Authority.   The North American promoters held a telephone conference and shortly thereafter I published the following response in an effort to avoid being partisan between the people of Israel and Palestine.  The point is made here:

22 June 2010

Memorial of St. Thomas More

Thank you, Sr. Farnan, for the opportunity to participate in the telephone conference on June 16th on behalf of many of the lay people in the Western Dominican Province.  It is important that we engage issues as men and women of good will in the hope of improving our dialog.  Due to the fact that there may be a lack of clarity on my part on that date, it is proper to carefully articulate my position on the Israel-Palestine matter.  It is helpful to those interested in that perspective and in an effort to further any reasonable debate.  I am hopeful this will help us foster community by welcoming the diversity of viewpoints held by the promoters.

Both sides of this conflict can legitimately claim atrocities, terrorist acts, breaches of law, etc., inflicted upon them by the other party.   Any such claim depends upon the precise time over the last 60+ years that is being studied and focused on.  Nevertheless, the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership’s refusal (and in turn the leadership’s propaganda) to accept Israel as a nation leads to violence, not peace.  Further, Israel must live up to its promise as a modern constitutional republic to uphold and bear the responsibility under law for the right to life, liberty, and property of its citizens and neighbors.  Both parties to this conflict need to face problems constructively and with eager hearts.  Neither party is innocent.  The leadership of both Israel and Palestine—as well as other nations that surround that area—must uphold and recognize the dignity of each person that arises from nature and ultimately from God.   Violent action and like reaction over time has spilled too much blood!  This is not a test of balance to determine which party or nation has committed the greatest number or kind of atrocities, as in missile lobbing, terrorist attacks, bus bombs, violence, helicopter attacks, raids, and the like; but this effort must be based on what can be done to establish peace and justice in truth. 

It starts with all parties and states to recognize the dignity of each human person and to establish respective governments that recognize and uphold human rights insofar as possible in this world.  The continued history of endless war and reprisal is intolerable.   The governments and leadership of these peoples should not carry on the most recent ethnic or political propaganda, but must “guarantee the right of each person to a human and civic culture ‘in harmony with the dignity of the human person, without distinction of race, sex, nation, religion, or social circumstances.’”  [Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, ¶ 557].  Toward that end, if peace is to thrive, any government must embrace right reason and good order.

In other words, as promoters of peace and justice, it is my hope we can carry the Gospel to all sides—not pick sides.  It is enough that we preach in whatever way possible, in whatever forum possible, by speaking to all concerned, with Gospel conviction yet in charity, that there are certain principles at law and at reason that will lead to peace, grounded on justice and firmly in truth. 

If the promoters pick one side or the other—depending upon the issue of the day—then we become unwitting activists providing cover for propaganda.   In effect, the promoters become little more than a political party.   Of course, that is not what the promoters are about!

Whenever the promoters speak with universal truth, it will touch the hearts and minds of people of good will on all sides; and the promoters should not trumpet any position but the truth.  Why should this be done?  Ideas matter, especially ideas that are grounded on truth.  Ideas can change the world.   After all, we need to look no further than our Master because His ideas, dedicated in love, changed the world.

As far as the respective governments of Israel or Palestine are concerned, the rule of law must be respected, a rule of law that recognizes and upholds every person regardless of status, that respects international borders, and that maintains right order among nations.  Such governance must recognize the rights of life, of liberty, and of property; protected and reinforced by a vigorous and free judiciary founded on a constitutional system.   Necessarily connected to such governance, is a free people, who are politically and economically free to pursue their own lives and cultures, and to reap the benefits of personal hard work and industry.   This expression of confidence in the Israeli and Palestinian people testifies to the universal truth that each man and woman is free; and should not be the subject to the whims of governmental and group ideas and forces; but on the universal truth that every person is created equal in dignity by God in nature.  These ideas will impress the minds and hearts of a free people of good will. 

It is these principles that we as promoters can demand: (1) that Israel not treat the Palestinians as objects of war, of violence, and as pawns, and (2) that the Palestinian leadership abandon its claim that Israel does not have the right to exist and the violence that accompanies that claim.   Once these peoples grasp the idea that the equality of each person is based on a law that is above every human law; then their leaders will end this long and tedious levy of war and cultural strife.

 It is toward this end that I write and petition that we not take the path of partisanship that abets the status quo of strife and the partisan organizations and committees with their hollow slogans and catchphrases; but that we demand of all parties that they act with right reason, good order, and prudence, with the object of peace.

Thanks kindly. 

In St. Dominic,

John Keenan, OPL, Lay Promoter of Peace, Justice & Care of Creation, Western Dominican Province

The Propaganda of the Palestinian Authority.


Received from a member of the North American Dominican Promoters of Peace & Justice on June 6, 2010 regarding the Palestinian Authority.  Note the use of terms of advocacy and propaganda.  The abiding concern here is that there are two sides to this story, as both the peoples of Palestine and Israel have suffered greatly.  I, for one, support taking the sides of the oppressed and downtrodden but in doing so, we must not inadvertently take sides in partisanship [Note the entry that follows]:

Besieged Gaza, Palestine

5.6.2010

One-and-a-half years after Israeli army perpetrated a massacre upon the population of Gaza, Apartheid Israel commits another crime against partisans of Palestine in international waters.  The world is moved at the plight of Palestinians and their supporters.  All of the seven crossings between Gaza and Israel, including the Rafah Crossing—the only access Gaza has to the external world—remain hermetically sealed.

We request that the citizens of the world oppose this deadly, medieval blockade. We no longer rely on governments. The failure of the United Nations and its numerous organizations to condemn such crimes proves their complicity.   Only civil society is able to mobilize to demand the application of international law and put an end to Israel’s impunity. The intervention of civil society was effective in the late 1980s against the apartheid regime of South Africa. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have not only described Israel’s oppressive and violent control of Palestinians as Apartheid, they have also joined this call for the world’s civil society to intervene again.

We, therefore, ask people of conscience and civil society organizations to put pressure on their governments until Israel is forced to abide by international law and international humanitarian law.  Without the intervention of the international community which was effective against apartheid in South Africa, Israel will continue its war crimes and crimes against humanity, as articulated by the Goldstione report.

We call on civil society organizations worldwide to intensify the anti-Israel sanctions campaign to compel Israel to end to its aggression.

Besieged Gaza,

5.6.2010

Signatory Organizations: 

The One Democratic State Group

University Teachers’ Association

Arab Cultural Forum

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Info

Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements

International Solidarity Movement

Palestine Sailing Federation

Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime

Palestinian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations

Palestinian Women Committees

Progressive Students Union

Medical Relief Society

The General Society for Rehabilitation

Gaza Community Mental Health Program

General Union of Palestinian Women

Afaq Jadeeda Cultural Centre for Women and Children

Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children

Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children

Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth

Ghassan Kanfani Kindergartens

Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah

Rafah Olympia City Sisters

Al Awda Centre, Rafah

Al Awda Hospital, Jabaliya Camp

Ajyal Association, Gaza

General Union of Palestinian Syndicates

Al Karmel Centre, Nuseirat

Local Initiative, Beit Hanoun

Union of Health Work Committees

Red Crescent Society Gaza Strip

Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre

Al Awda Centre, Rafah

Public Policy, Advocacy, and Life Issues.


The Unborn, First in Public Policy

The Scriptures say, that when we obey Christ and transform our minds to conform to His, that “there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”  Colossians 3:11.  Over history, by development of ideas, and by transformation of minds and hearts by the grace of Him, mankind and the law have also accepted this elevated thinking. 

Before God, as is the goal of modern human law, there is no distinction between groups of people.  In principle, it is “justice for all.”   This is well established in the founding principles and laws of the United States, where it was written:

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. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,  (Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776).[i]  

This elemental legal cornerstone of the United States of America proves we are a Godly nation at our founding, and are based upon two principles: (1) that no man is above the law, and (2) that there are fundamental laws grounded in the natural law, or that law which is derived by nature.  For instance, any human legislative body cannot repeal the law against murder, assault, battery, robbery, stealing, and lying, among others.  These laws are written into our very beings, and if the state were to allow such infringements, the state’s laws are void because they violate the natural law that is written on our minds and upon our hearts. (Hebrews 10:16)  St. Thomas Aquinas says such governmental enactments are not law, but are a type of violence.  Without just men and women serving in governmental posts and without just laws, tyranny will soon follow.  

Public policy and public laws must be rooted in and guided by the natural law and the concept that no man or woman is above the law.   God has called many people to advocate for good public policy.  These are advocates, jurists, and activists who work in the political arena for the common good, seeking to perfect society through the cooperation of public and private officials and entities.  There is many a laudable goal, when these activists advocate for the homeless, the disenfranchised, the naked, the voiceless, and the poor, among others. 

The foremost principle in our modern social culture is that all such advocates and activists should first advocate justice for unborn persons.  The unborn share in the characteristics of all other disenfranchised groups.  In other words, the unborn persons are naked, voiceless, innocent, unseen, disenfranchised, blind, choice-less, and marginalized.    Based upon present U.S. law as stated by the Nation’s highest Court, the unborn have no rights or guarantees to pursue happiness, to own property, to make love, to have children, or to simply live and breathe.    The unborn children who are aborted will never see the sunset, or be guided by the Scriptures, or see, or feel, or touch those about them.    Innocent of personal sin, the unborn child has made no choices, has not failed or succeeded, or responded to God’s grace or sinned. 

Advocacy for good public policy is not grounded in a proverbial woven cloth, but a priority rooted in justice first for the most innocent and voiceless in our society.   Effective advocacy starts with the rights of the innocent unborn, which fruitfully legitimizes and encourages advocacy for the homeless, the disenfranchised, the disabled, the marginalized, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. 

Under the present law in the United States, the pure power of choice trumps the rights of persons (unborn) granted under the natural law—in other words, God-given rights—and life becomes cheap in all its forms; whether unborn, old, sick, homeless, hungry, blind, poor, voiceless, powerless, or disabled.   When men and women of good will seek legal justice and public policy based upon fundamental rights and not for political purposes, it will result in clarity and priority of purpose for all other advocacy. 

Therefore, as a matter of justice, as a matter of true concern and Godly charity, it is essential that Christian advocates and activists, whether for political, religious, or social purposes, and Christian public officials, concern themselves by prioritizing their effort for life; firstly the unborn, and secondly other persons.  To bring justice to all the disadvantaged, we must first bring it to the most humble and poor first.  In modern America, that is the unborn.

 

[i]  I believe St. Robert Bellarmine would have echoed this key element of the Declaration of Independence, with one exception that is set out in the Holy Scriptures, that there is no authority except that which is established by God.  [Romans 13:1].  In as much that all power derives from God, those people who control the government do so by the consent of the governed.   This is one of the key safeguards against tyranny. 


Letter to LPC on Social Justice: “New Cosmology” and “The Earth Charter.”


Thursday, July 03, 2008

 Dear Members of the Lay Provincial Council:

           Greetings from the members of the Blessed Margaret of Castello Lay Chapter here in Idaho.  Please visit our beautiful state and our local Chapter.

          As you may recall, at the LPC meeting in 2007, the Blessed Margaret of Castello Chapter in Boise forwarded to the Lay Provincial Council [LPC] a document titled, “On Social Justice Issues.”  That document was authored by the undersigned after much discussion among chapter members, which was unanimously endorsed by the Boise Chapter. 

That document can be found at the following link.[i]  Its purpose was to express concern about some of the social justice issues and causes that the Order of Preachers in general, and the laity in particular, are involved and to call upon the,

lay members of [the Order of Preachers] to responsibly review each social and political issue very carefully so that it reflects the moral order, conscience, issues and efforts so dear and close to the Church–not the whim of ideology and political ideas that benefit from currency or fancy. 

On Social Justice Issues.  This letter is only a primer and will explore and discuss with renewed vigor the goal of a proper and moral approach to key social justice issues the Lay members of the Order of Preachers must face as an ecclesial institute.

          In good faith and with prayers, the undersigned truly and humbly hopes that this letter helps in some small way—with God’s help and your prayers—regarding the defects in the social justice efforts now manifest.

          The Boise Chapter has prayed for and continues to pray for and honors each and every lay promoter and officer of the Lay Provincial Council in thankfulness for services rendered to the lay members of the Western Province of the Order of Preachers. 

          First, this letter will discuss the nature of some of the issues, concerns, and efforts being made by members of the Order of Preachers.  Often the most resourceful place to view these issues is to review the various websites that inhabit the internet. 

          The second aspiration this letter is to review our role, as laity, in our own personal and chapter apostolates—as well as members of a Catholic lay ecclesial institute—in the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic.

          Finally, this letter will review possible alternatives and approaches to this current problem. 

          There are issues we must face as lay members of the Order.

First, let’s take a look at “Dominican Life USA” a resourceful website that rightly dubs itself as “A web crossroads for the Order of Preachers.”  See, www.domlife.org.

That website provides a virtual storehouse of current information regarding the Order.  Also, at the “domlife.org” website is a link to “Peace, Justice, and Creation,”[ii] where a number of links are available to key issues, including:

Global Warming, Africa, Columbia, Death Penalty, Disarmament, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Human Trafficking, Migration, United Nations, and Earth Charter.   

In addition, there is also a link to a Dominican Call to Justice 2007 document.[iii]  That document contains the same issues as noted above. 

At the top of the domlife.org website, it provides a link to the Dominican Leadership Conference [DLC].[iv]  In its own words, the website notes the purpose of,

The Dominican Leadership Conference is the networking organization for elected leaders of Dominican congregations and provinces in the United States. It serves 29 congregations of sisters and four provinces of men. This represents about 6,000 Dominican men and women in the US.

[See, at this DLC link[v]].  On the DLC website titled “Peace,”[vi] it identifies Dominicans doing Justice.  Prominently on that website, it identifies a number of issues and concerns.  These include the Dominican Call to Action, Iraq,[vii] death penalty,[viii] human trafficking,[ix] School of the Americas,[x] global warming,[xi] and our Dominican Family in Iraq. 

          On the page entitled “Dominicans Doing Justice” at domlife.org, it states,

Dominicans see the significance of the New Cosmology as the critical lens from which all preaching needs to flow and all justice action should emerge. It is for this reason that our work for justice and peace is situated within the context of care of creation.

Dominican Life Justice Website[xii] (emphasis on website). The website is void of any explanation of the term “New Cosmology” and how that term became the “critical lens from which all preaching needs to flow.”   

If the “New Cosmology” is the ‘critical lens’ through which the key charism of the Order of Preachers should flow, then a logical question arises, what does the term “New Cosmology” signify? 

As the term appears on a key Dominican website, I examined internet sources regarding the term.   

A university in Oakland, California sponsors the Sophia Center located at the Holy Names University, two Dominicans are listed as “Outstanding Scholars and Teachers of New Cosmology.”[xiii]   The first is Sr. Miriam MacGillis, OP, MA, of Caldwell, New Jersey congregation, who is identified as an “earth activist and artist … [co-founder of] Genesis Farm.”[xiv]  She is also a Dominican Sister. 

          The other Dominican listed on that website is Albert Nolan, OP, a founding member of the Institute for Contextual Theology in Johannesburg, South Africa.

That term “New Cosmology” is also referenced at www.earthlight.org, where it records a 2001 conference at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, entitled “Earth Spirit Rising” attended by “author and University of Creation Spirituality president” Mr. Matthew Fox, a past Dominican friar and now Episcopalian priest, and Dominican sister, Miriam MacGillis, OP, mentioned above.   See, here.[xv]

At that website, Mr. Fox related his “’Ten Blessings’ we receive from being awakened by the New Cosmology.”  These new cosmology blessings include “rediscovery of the Cosmic Christ as wisdom,” “redeeming the word ‘flesh,’ as holy and imbued with spirit,” “redeeming of darkness, facing nothingness & emptying,” and “reinventing education to integrate all chakras.” 

          Dominican sister, Miriam MacGillis, OP, whose presentation included her recent trip to Ireland, where she says her, “ancestors communicated both cosmology and faith” to her, and that Ireland, was originally the body of, “the [s]un [g]oddess. … I learned that the early [g]oddess was benevolent. She was about abundance and fertility, and [h]er gift was fire and the renewing cycle of the seasons.” [See, here].[xvi] 

          Sr. Miriam MacGillis, O.P., helped start Genesis Farm near Blairstown, New Jersey.  Genesis Farm’s vision “is rooted in a belief that the Universe, Earth, and all reality are permeated by the presence and power of that ultimate Holy Mystery that has been so deeply and richly expressed in the world’s spiritual traditions. We try to ground our ecological and agricultural work in this deep belief. This Sacred Mystery, known by so many religious names, is the common thread in our efforts.” [See, here].[xvii]

Sr. MacGillis’ “mystical” reference is not to the worship of the Triune God but to a type of scientific and evolutionary mysticism that starts with the beginning of the Universe, 14 billion years ago to the evolution of life on earth, and to human life today. 

The evolutionary “new cosmology” supplants the reality that humankind was created in the image of God, and in denying order puts humans on evolutionary par with all creatures and all of creation, ignoring the centrality of the Gospel, the place of humankind in creation as described in the Holy Scriptures, and the social justice message.  For instance, as it says in Genesis,

Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”  God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26, 27.  See, also, Wisdom 9, Psalm 104.  As stated by a Catholic ecologist, Bill Jacobs, about the “New Cosmology” that

[a]t times, Creation theology involves the worship of Creation more than, or in place of, the worship of the Triune God.  The Most Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is often ignored or denied by the proponents of the “new story.”  This contributes to a grave (and old) anthropological error that is widespread today:  Instead of carrying out humankind’s role as cooperator and co-creator with the Triune God in the work of Creation and Redemption, people set themselves up in place of God, thereby provoking a kind of rebellion on the part of Nature.  In some expressions of Creation theology today, Creation and/or humankind become gods.[xviii]

[Emphasis here]. This “new cosmology” blends a form of neo-paganism with a variety of nature worshipping, Earth-based secular environmentalism, new age, goddess-based, Gnosticism in contrast to the Judeo-Christian religion and the change that Christ wrought to the universe in His Passion and death on the Cross.

          It is true that it is a priority that we must care for people first, and in the order of the world, we must care for creation, recognizing that God created the world and by His Word created it into existence. 

As John Paul II said that as Christians we believe, “that the death and resurrection of Christ accomplished the work of reconciling humanity to the Father, who ‘was pleased … through (Christ) to reconcile to himself ALL THINGS, whether on Earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross’.  Creation was thus made new.” 

The highest point of the work of creation ends in the greatest work of Redemption.  For an excellent discussion on conservation of creation grounded in Catholic thought and culture, see, “’Peace with God—Peace with all of Creation’: A Reflection on the Holy Father’s 1990 World Day of Peace Message,” or “The Ecological Problem Today: the Relation Between the Human Person and the World,” both by Sr. Marjorie Keenan, RSHM, Member, Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice. [See, here].[xix]

 

Plainly stated, the “old cosmology” is the story of creation as set out in the Scriptures.  The “new cosmology” is mulled-over man-centered Gnosticism. 

          The Dominican Life USA and the Dominican Leadership Conference websites identified above, also have links to “The Earth Charter.”  The charter can be found at http://www.earthcharter.org/.   

          The Earth Charter has published a book that explains the Charter purposes and goals.  It is called “Toward a Sustainable World: The Earth Charter in Action” published by the Royal Tropical Institute (2005 The Netherlands).[xx]

          The Earth Charter presents a great concern.  At first impression, the Charter and its goals looks quite impressive.  It’s preamble notes that humanity stands at a critical moment in Earth’s history and that “[w]e must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.”  Toward a Sustainable World, The Earth Charter in Action, Preamble. 

          However, the authors of The Earth Charter admit that the challenge of the Charter is to make it “an effective instrument of global governance, and international law …”  Toward a Sustainable World, The Earth Charter in Action, History and Provenance of the Earth Charter. 

         

          In 1987, the U.N. Commission on Environment and Development called for a document that would set forth fundamental principles for “sustainable development.” 

 

In 1994 and thereafter, Maurice Strong, Steven Rockefeller, and Mikhail Gorbachev worked together to draft The Earth Charter.  It was released in A.D. 2000 and is hailed as a “declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st Century.” 

 

As noted by Mikhail Gorbachev at his founding speech of “Green Cross International” at Kyoto, Japan on April 20, 1993, “The emerging ‘environmentalization’ of our civilization and the need for vigorous action in the interest of the entire global community will inevitably have multiple political consequences.  Perhaps the most important of them will be a gradual change in the status of the United Nations.  Inevitably, it must assume some aspects of a world government.”  (Emphasis added). 

 

The authors of the Earth Charter also note that in order to obtain their goals, that “multiple ways of looking at global governance are necessary and imminent.” 

 

This is not a faint claim.

 

          The Earth Charter document does not acknowledge God as the author of life and of creation.  It seeks a type of evolutionary state that will seek the redemption of the environment by all peoples yielding to global government and the necessity of saving creation through tough environmental regulation and a type of forced sustainable development.

 

In reality, the earth cannot be healed—redeemed—without God.  There is no number of men and women, commissions, committees, corporations or global government that is able to change the nature of humankind without the Redeemer. 

 

In addition, the Earth Charter provides no protection for unborn children.  In fact, the population is seen as a burden upon society and the environment.  Toward a Sustainable World, The Earth Charter in Action, Preamble. 

 

If the Earth Charter makes a plea for justice, what justice can there exist if the most innocent people among us, who are surely blind, have no choices, and have neither experienced love nor life in full, are not protected by operation of law?

 

          Unlike the Declaration of Independence of the United States, the Charter does not recognize that God is the author of life and liberty.

 

          Lastly, the Earth Charter should not be used to supplant Catholic Social Teaching, which is based upon objective truth, inalienable rights derived from our Creator, and in His Word as revealed in Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition. 

 

           As the foregoing demonstrates, the ideas of a “new cosmology” and the “Earth Charter” have woven their way into the Dominican Order.  In addition to examples above, you may see, as an example, Preacher Exchange.[xxi]  These concepts present serious questions.

 

It requires prayer, discernment, and care, but also love for the charism of St. Dominic in the work of the Order, his friars, religious, and laity, and the love of our Father in Heaven, to work through this serious matter with clarity and with profound charity. 

 

For example, there is irony in these issues of the “new cosmology” and the “Earth Charter,” as it reveals a profound naiveté, if not foolishness, with regard to the truth of Original sin.  The goals of the “new cosmology” and the “Earth Charter” with regard to peace and security, while commendable, are not obtainable without the Redemption of humankind through Jesus Christ

 

This is not a new problem.  It is as old as human history where humankind seeks to displace God with its own knowledge, its own idols and its own objects of worship.  It’s been tried repeatedly with great failure.  Collaboration with this ancient rebellion has occurred. 

 

As St. Catherine of Siena succinctly states in The Dialogue, “You cannot imagine how great is people’s foolishness.  They have no sense or discernment, having lost it by hoping in themselves and putting their trust in their own knowledge.” 

The Dominican Laity plays a role in restoring right order, reasonableness, and priority to the justice and peace agenda.  First, please pray. 

Please pray for the Order, that St. Dominic’s charism and traditions set down before us be renewed and held in honor.  The Adaptation and Renewal of Christian Life (Perfectae Caritatas), para. 2(b) (October 28, 1965).

The laity must live in holiness.  This will help tend the seed bed of the Word of God.   We must seek to organize temporal affairs in accord with Christ’s mind, to bring praise and glory to the Father and His Son.  [Lumen Gentium 31]. 

          Further, as John Paul II said in Christifideles Laici,

Charity toward one’s neighbor, through contemporary forms of the traditional spiritual and corporal works of mercy, represent the most immediate, ordinary and habitual ways that lead to the Christian animation of the temporal order, the specific duty of the lay faithful. (No. 41).

The exercise of these virtues are a sure way to help reform the temporal order, by exercising virtue, prayer and fasting, and working consistently for right order in our own lives. 

The Laity can be real witnesses to Christian religious principles in society, where religion is a private practice but also where religious principles of truth, humility, character, and integrity are a public practice.

The exercise of the spiritual works of mercy are especially connected to St. Dominic, as preaching is the key charism of the Order of Preachers as Dominicans can help to convert, to instruct, to counsel, and to comfort others. 

This call to evangelization is for the Laity, especially in our own lives, whether in our home, business, government, or elsewhere.  

Thank you for the opportunity to present this to you.  I hope that it aids in the effort by the LPC to focus on true justice and peace issues that plague our world including the aid and help of the poor and for protecting and preserving life from conception to natural death. 

Please pray for me as I pray for all the members of the Lay Provincial Council.

                                                Peace & faith,

 

 

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

                                                LPC Representative

                                                Blessed Margaret of Castello Chapter

 

 


[ii]               http://www.domlife.org/Justice/index.html

[iv]              http://www.domlife.org/DLC/default.htm

[xiv]             http://www.genesisfarm.org/

[xix]              http://conservation.catholic.org/index.htm       

 

 

 

 

On True Social Justice.


In Vol. 18, No. 5 [4], p. 6 of the March-April (2007) issue of Christ In the World edition, the article on Peace and Justice was interesting.  The article had a timely and well-formed comment on Lenten fasting, forgiveness, and almsgiving.  At the forefront of the article, a Dominican student friar’s reflection was quoted stating that the “North American Dominican Justice Promoters are too political.”   The source of that statement is unknown, but it is a general concern that should be addressed.   That observation should be of concern.

            In the article, the authoritative “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life,” dated November 22, 2002, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time Pope Benedict XVI was prefect of that congregation, was quoted, which follows:

By fulfilling their civic duties, guided by a Christian conscience, in conformity with its values, the lay faithful exercise their proper task of infusing the temporal order with Christian values.

Article I. 1, Para. 3.  This document encourages participation in the political order, but sheds further light on the nature and priority of certain issues—and the centrality of the human person in the discussion involving key issues, where the document further explains,

The consequence of this fundamental teaching of the Second Vatican Council is that the lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in ‘public life’, that is, in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good».  This would include the promotion and defence [sic] of goods such as public order and peace, freedom and equality, respect for human life and for the environment, justice and solidarity.

Article I, 1, Para. 3 (footnotes omitted).  Guadiam et Spes was also quoted where the Council stated, “Since [the laity] have an active role to play in the whole life of the Church, laymen are not only bound to penetrate the world with a Christian spirit, but are also called to be witnesses to Christ in all things in the midst of human society.”  Guadiam et Spes, No. 43 (emphasis added).  This is true.

            Of course, lay people involved in the formal institutes of the Order are not simply lay folk acting alone or with civil private associations, political parties, or societies.  Lay people are encouraged, if not admonished, to be involved in culture, society, and politics individually and in free association with other individuals; however, the Order’s organized committees—as well as all lay members—in the lay Order of Preachers, face an entirely different issue.  When speaking on behalf of lay Dominicans, we belong to a province and an institute, a lay religious institute of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic, that bears the mantle and authority of the Order itself, as well as the Church and her Magisterium—not the endeavors of private persons or private associations. 

            It seems reasonable that this fact alone would lead us, as lay members of a lay ecclesial institute to responsibly review each social and political issue very carefully so that it reflects the moral order, conscience, issues and efforts so dear and close to the Church–not the whim of ideology and political ideas that benefit from currency or fancy. 

            This is a heavy responsibility.

            When certain worldly issues are confronted by members of the lay Fraternities of the Order of Preachers, certain guideposts exist outside of political agendas or social causes celebre.  These guideposts include with certainty the Holy Scriptures and Tradition.  Also, encyclicals and other documents are authoritative.  John Paul II said, “It is the special function of the laity to seek the kingdom of God in dealing with temporal affairs and ordering them as God wishes.”  John Paul II, Religious and Human Promotion, April 1978, no. 28 (emphasis here).

            To amplify this point further, as taught by the Vatican Council II, “Laymen should also know that it is generally the function of their well-formed Christian conscience to see that the divine law is inscribed in the life of the earthly city….”  ”  Guadiam et Spes, No. 43 (emphasis here).   

            It is appropriate here to expound on the main point with clarity.  Upon review of the materials from the lay, religious, and general Dominican websites, Dominican links, including other Orders, and religious and other links, as well as national websites concerning peace and justice, it cannot be ignored the prominent peace and social justice issues at both at the national and at the international level, are largely liberal in nature and often are not based upon natural law or supernatural principles. 

            It cannot be denied that there are legitimate issues that the promoters, religious, and others are thankfully pursuing at national and international levels.  However, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the social justice movement has been deeply impacted by a liberal agenda.  As Dominicans we must be truthful in our review of this material. 

            This conclusion may shock or cause reactions of guffaws.  As Dominicans who seek the Truth, it cannot be ignored.  The social justice movement cannot move in a new direction whether to the right, middle, left, or with a new ideology.  The real move must not be grounded in a political or social ideology.  Any social justice action must be based on natural and supernatural principles, Godly in its origin and in its faith and practice and on “divine law [that] is inscribed in the life of the earthly city.” Guadiam et Spes, No. 43.  As Dominicans, especially as members of the Lay Dominican Family of the Order of Preachers, we need to preach the Gospel.  At home. At school. At work. In the town square.  At all levels of government.  At the courtrooms, the hallways of Congress, the halls of academia, at businesses, corporations, and the like, we need to preach the Gospel.   It is the Church that teaches, that preaches, that is the source and fountain of eternal life through its Head, Jesus Christ.

            Before detailing any examples, among the examples below, there are legitimate issues that should be dealt with by honest men and women of good will who seek the truth who may necessarily come from opposing political views.  However, one point is simple:  these views often represent a political point of view, not necessarily a religious viewpoint. 

            Below are words and phrases gleaned from various religious and laity Dominican internet websites.  These websites mention these terms.  These terms were “lifted” from the websites and inserted below between quotation marks.  The phrases listed here are in no particular order:

The “environmental and ecology,” “environmental sustainability,” “HIV-AIDs in Africa,” “eco-feminism,” “feminism,” “greenhouse gases,” “militarism,” “sexism,” “globalism,” “anti-racism,” “global warming,” “death penalty,” “universal health care,” “public dissent in the civic and ecclesial arenas,” “School of the Americas,” “disarmament,” “Earth Charter,” “Columbia,” “partnering with planet earth,” “reverencing the earth,” “collaborating for systemic change,” “disarmament,” “the war in Iraq,” “earth is sacred and interconnected,” “human dignity,” “the conflict in Israel and Palestine,” “human trafficking,” “heresies of local and global domination,” “ravage earth,” “ecological crisis,” “ecologically sustainable design models,” “multicultural and biological diversity,” “non-violent peacemaking,” “right relationships with Earth community,” “social service agencies,” “helping the poor,” “people of Columbia,” “Iraq,” “genetically engineered food,” “land ethic,” “heresy of dualism,” “commit to actions that safeguard Earth,”  “unjust structures,” “world water day,” “UN Millennium Declaration,” “Dominican Ecology Project,” “economic globalization,” “Dominicans at the United Nations,” “pledge of non-violence,” “wrap the world in prayer for peace,” “alternative investments,” “immigration and migration,” “labor,” “fair trade,” “United Nations,” “human trafficking,” “Darfur,” “Zimbabwe,” “biodiversity,” “globalization,” “reality of limit,” “new cosmology,” “listen to Earth, and to rethink cosmology,” “human rights,” “homosexual rights,” “nuclear weapons,” “nuclear power,” “nuclear disarmament,” and on and on.[1]

[Bibliography].

            Among the various Dominican websites, there were links to secular “women’s spiritualism,” “feminist theology,” “political websites,” environmental websites such as Public Citizen on the issue of socialized water, Sierra Club, and the Women’s Environmental Institute, and “peace and justice” sites and linked to a common thread of issues that are included above. 

            The list cited above is not exhaustive.  It is simply a general sampling of what was discovered on the internet involving religious and lay Dominican sites and links listed on those sites.

            It should be clarified that the purpose here is not to accuse but to expand the horizons and open the minds of many of the Dominicans when it comes to these issues.  The issues listed above have a tendency to be from a liberal perspective, and there are legitimate opposing points of view from other men and women that can be expressed from a moral perspective.  It is not all one sided.  There are other voices that are not being expressed.

            This general tendency in our Order of Preachers is alarming—and should be to any Dominican.  As Catholics, we should not be controlled by any political issue from either a liberal or a conservative basis or other single political perspective.  We should be concerned about social justice issues that reflect on the faith and morals of Catholic teaching.

            One may argue that the ‘liberal’ issues are the important issues. Also equally so, another person could argue that the ‘conservative issues are the important issues.  Of course, that cannot be from a Catholic perspective—and that is precisely the problem that is confronting the social justice movement presently.

            This point requires discernment and honesty.  It is for that reason that the Lay Provincial Council and each provincial chapter should seriously consider the direction these issues have taken over time and face the reality that many of the issues and actions taken have missed the true mark of a genuine religious concern.  This problem cannot be ignored without causing great harm not only to the Province but to the whole Order.

            Many of the issues stated above have little to do with primary Catholic moral and social teachings about domestic family life, life issues, just laws, faith and morals, and the like, but have more to do with socialist solutions to social problems as well as a liberal ideology and related political ‘doctrine’.

            As Dominicans, what should we do? 

We gather first as Dominicans.  While many of us may be politically involved, and may respectively be socialists, Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, progressive, capitalists, and on and on, our present business together involves the Order of Preachers and not worldly politics.  If we participate individually in secular social movements, it is responsible that we take good moral positions.  However, as Dominican people, we should focus on vital ecclesial issues which rely upon a crucial moral and theological foundation. 

To do so requires the lay Dominicans to face tough contemporary issues that will form the World in His image.  Anything less, the World will form the Order in the its image

            As an illustration, let’s examine the tragic issue of abortion. 

            This issue is primary.  The social justice issues mentioned at large often reflect on a disenfranchised, a deprived, a weak and a poor constituency.  Yet, nowhere in the world is there a more weak, choice-less, poor, blind, and voiceless constituency than the preborn child.  Outside a brief oblique reference at a few Dominican websites, there was no mention of this modern savagery of killing innocent children.

            On the other hand, an issue widely mentioned at Dominican websites is the death penalty.  Pope John Paul II voiced a growing social opposition to the death penalty.  The reality is that modern social systems have an alternative to the death penalty. [2]  However, the issue is not that the death penalty is always morally wrong, but where society has an alternative to protect the public, the better option is to avoid the death penalty.  See, footnote ii.   Appropriately, John Paul II gave a strong admonition especially in modern societies against imposing the death penalty.  However, when it comes to killing innocent life, the Commandment against murder is invoked. [3]  “In effect, the absolute inviolability of innocent human life is a moral truth clearly taught by Sacred Scripture, constantly upheld in the Church’s Tradition and consistently proposed by her Magisterium.”  Evangelium Vitae, para. 57.  As Pope John Paul II taught in his famous encyclical, “I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral.”

            After reviewing the issue of life, it is clear that the killing of all innocent life—whether a child in the womb or not—is gravely immoral.  However, the Church has long understood that the death penalty is the state’s right to defend society, but when it can provide for a just punishment without further taking of life, then the dignity of the human person requires that the death penalty be avoided. 

            Where Evangelium Vitae and the Catechism do not forbid the death penalty outright, this matter is a relative and secondary obligation, while in contrast defending the life of an innocent person is an absolute and therefore a prior responsibility.  

            There is a dearth of information on the killing of innocent persons on the Dominican websites quoted above, that includes the killing of children in the womb.

            It is difficult to say that men and women of good will are able to debate in truth the moral rightness of abortion. There is no right to commit an abortion. That is a political proposition—not a religious or moral principle.  Many persons believe and are full of hope, that if society can be corrected about abortion, many ills of society will be righted. 

            There are other issues that could be included in this discussion.  These issues include married life, religious freedom, euthanasia, pornography, and moral theology. [4]

As lay members of the Order of Preachers, what great good can be done!   We can teach children about moral conduct, about sex, fulfilling promises, working, family life, and marriage.  We can preach to young and old alike about a Godly life. 

This includes the teaching of children by lay people and religious about moral and right conduct, about sex, fulfilling promises, working, family life, marriage, and about preaching to young and old adults alike about right living and moral conduct—a Godly life. 

 These are not political issues.  These are moral standards that are pillars of right conduct that can change forever the hearts and minds of men and women.

            The irony is that all the political and social activity in the world, if not based on Christ and on right living and morals, is only that: busy activity.   This is precisely where the magnificence of the Order of Preachers steps in and is so desperately needed at the pulpit and on the streets today: we need to preach the Gospel of Truth with the power of God.  The Gospel helps people to live rightly, which promotes a culture of life, and helps people to make right decisions at every level of society including the family, community, and national levels. 

            As lay folk in the Order of Preachers, we have a duty to uphold and preach the natural law in contra to our contemporary society that upholds the “decadence and disintegration of reason and the principles of the natural moral law.”  Often politics and its culture brings with it a legitimacy of pluralistic ethics where tolerance of wrongs and rights becomes a civic virtue, where “citizens claim complete autonomy with regard to their moral choices, and lawmakers maintain that they are respecting this freedom of choice by enacting laws which ignore the principles of natural ethics” and yield to temporal cultural and moral trends as if every outlook was of equal value.  The Participation of Catholics in the Moral Life, para. II.2., Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, (2002)(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

            Where people are taught right from wrong; they will do right at a personal, social, and governmental level.   Critical to this mission are education and preaching that leads to changed hearts. 

            The final point is simply this.  We are lay people in a Catholic religious order.  We are not social or political leaders (unless otherwise in our private lives).  As members of the Lay Fraternities of the Order of Preachers, we are to preach the Gospel in and to our various secular areas but not to proclaim the particular political and temporal ideologies themselves.  To change the world, we need to preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the ‘good’ news of political agendas.

       The Idaho Lay Dominicans kindly ask that the Lay Provincial Council to carefully review the issues raised in this letter.  We believe they are of genuine concern.  Our Dominican lives need a renewal based on the documents of Vatican Council II, where we are urged to return to the original charisms of our founding father, St. Dominic, where preaching, study, and prayer are fundamental to our mission of salvation and the changing of the hearts and minds of people. 

        In this way, we truly speak to God and of God and reflect on Him through our preaching charism.  As you know, Christ focused on humankind, not the social and governmental structures of the world.   When men and women convert and change their personal lives and reform their minds, they will change the world.

John C. Keenan, J.D., O.P.L.; Formation Director, Blessed Margaret of Castello Chapter, Order of Preachers, Boise, Idaho, United States of America.

Saturday, June 09, 2007, The Idaho Lay Dominicans. Presented to the Lay Provincial Council, Western Province; Saturday, June 23, 2007.]

____________________________

[1]  See, attached Bibliography.   The list of websites on the bibliography is not exhaustive. 

[2] Evangelium Vitae, Para. 27.  “If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person”.  Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2267.   

[3] Evangelium Vitae, Para. 57.  “If such great care must be taken to respect every life, even that of criminals and unjust aggressors, the commandment ‘You shall not kill’ has absolute value when it refers to the innocent person.” 

[4]  Other vital issues include not only moral theology but the rights and wrongs involving marriage and domestic life in general; sexual mores; private property and the respect for it at a personal and social level; economic and political freedom; legal plunder; the economic and social mechanisms for helping the poor to be fed, clothed, educated, and raised in dignity, and other issues. 

    Additional issues involve the United Nations.  The “Dominicans at the United Nations” website shows that the Order of Preachers is involved in many vital issues, including the issue of human trafficking, the war in Iraq, the war in Darfur, etc.  However, at that website [www.un.op.org], there was no reference or mention with regard to the international abortion rights movement.  There are valid questions, complaints and observations about the United Nations, its legitimacy and its bureaucracy.  From a review of the documents at that website, it appears that at the United Nations, the Dominicans have failed to challenge the pro-abortion structures at the United Nations as well as the UN’s and NGOs’ (nongovernmental organizations’) complicity with that issue.   Most recently, in the name of women’s rights, it was noted by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) (an NGO at the United Nations) and displayed at their website, that “the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health has made a dedicated effort to show governments that reproductive and sexual rights are fundamental elements of the right to health.”   As you know, “reproductive and sexual rights” are nothing less than a euphemism for abortion rights.  [www.reproductiverights.org/worldwide.htm].   While many Dominicans have focused on the nation of Columbia and the war on drugs, international groups such as the CRR have been promoting abortion rights in the United Nations and internationally, and most recently with legal success in the City of Mexico. 

   In a recent seminal decision, the Columbia Supreme Court quoted resolutions made under cover of the UN in legalizing limited abortions.  Did the Dominicans at the United Nations help pro-life forces to confront this travesty?  This is unknown.  However if the website at www.un.op.org is reviewed, it does not appear as there was any such involvement.   

     Another issue mentioned on the websites list on page 4 above is “universal health care.”  This is socialized medicine whereby the state takes control of health care, including price controls, health care delivery, and the payment of health care through a state-sponsored tax.  There is much honest and legitimate debate over the efficacy of government-sponsored medicine.  Men and women of good will on all sides of this issue should debate this issue in truth and reason.

     The key issue is whether universal health care is the proper vehicle for change in the health care industry and for providing health care.  That is why it is improper for members on behalf of the Order within the context as lay members or religious, to promote or endorse universal health care because there are legitimate and opposing sides to this debate.  For many, universal health care would be disastrous for the poor in particular and society at large.   There is a wealth of economic, political, and social evidence that universal health care is a worldwide and profound failure, and that governments should deregulate the health care marketplace rather than take it over.