My autistic son. I love America.


Today, as I sat in my office, my youngest and autistic son called me on the phone from summer school.  He said, “Hey Dad, I need some money to go to Dairy Queen across from the school.”    He is in summer school and attends with a number of other children who either have some mental or physical (or both) limitation.   His teachers intended to take him and the entire class of students to Dairy Queen.   Like so often what happens, I had given him about $5 earlier in the morning, but he had lost the money!  Nevertheless, I took off from work for a few moments and joined my son at the local Dairy Queen with about 25 other students.   I am always excited to see my son.  He is autistic but he is a joy to be around.   His simplicity of heart and good will is a genuine resting place for me because of my crowded and busy life.

In addition, I rejoiced in seeing how the teachers treated the other students as they lined up to purchase items at the Dairy Queen counter.   With a beautiful face and a wide smile, the counterperson smiled as she attended the obviously handicapped kids.   The children comprehended the universal language of ice cream, milkshakes, soda, and corn dogs.  The teachers treated each student under his or her charge with patience and attention; tending each as if the student was a son or daughter. 

The experience reminded me of the grace with which Our Lord treats each of us, despite our weaknesses, sins, and faults,  or our tendencies or fallibilities; He attends us with grace.  All He asks is our love and obedience in return and adherence to the truth.  His truth.  The good, really good, thing about all of this is that in life, we must seek the truth in charity.  If we ignore the truth, we do so at our own peril.   

On the eve of our national 4th of July weekend and celebration, I am very thankful that I live in America, that my family lives here, and that this land still loves and lives freedom.   I am thankful despite all that has occured and the injustices of people who commit and endorse the killing of kids in the womb, or the elderly or infirm, or the “inconvenience” of those who are weak and need our attention, I still love this country.  I am thankful despite the politics of reprisal and the agenda of politicians driven by ideology and agendas rather than truth and right order.   I still love this country.  I will be singing this weekend.  Somewhere, probably at Church or thereafter, “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner” will be sung and with a heart full, I am thankful for the men and women over the last two centuries who have given their lives, their time,  their energy, and efforts to defend this Nation.   May God grant repose of the faithfully departed veterans, fathers and mothers, and friends that have gone before us.  May God heal our land and bring it to the Truth with charity in peace. 

Advertisements

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

A Pretzel and The Absolute Right to Abortion.


The blog at First Things gets it right.  In modern America, abortion matters.  Often, it surpasses other rights.  After all, the act of an abortion grants an ugly spiritual power to certain groups in our society and  in the end, it “matters more than anything else.”     Our society is disordered and the logic is twisted into nonsense, when it permits the killing of kids in the womb and justifies it through politics.  In fact, lesser crimes like lying and cheating, and denying the rights of a parent become easy. 

For instance, as First Things reports in its blog about a 15 year-old pregnant girl that attends a public school and goes to the local school medical clinic.  In the case reported, the local school district cooperated with the minor’s abortion without a parent’s consent.  

Ironically, what if the pregnant youth, while being transported to the abortion office, had a headache and requests the school nurse for a pain reliever?    Imagine it for a moment, during transport, while attending the pregnant child, the school nurse calls the mother and asks permission to administer aspirin to the minor child?   That is required by law.  Yet, with great irony, the school nurse is not obligated to inform the mother or obtain the mother’s permission for the girl to commit an abortion.

This is absolute objective nonsense.   Yet, that is the state of the law in some states in America!   When human law abandons the concept that each and every human person has human dignity with the right to make choices and live in dignity, this is the kind of twisted mess that results. 

With further irony, what happens if the provider botches the abortion that requires immediate hospital treatment? The girl will be transported to the local hospital via ambulance and, guess what, absent an emergency the hospital would have to call a parent for permission to medically treat the child!  Also, regardless of what happens at the hospital, who is responsible for the hospital bills and ambulance?  The parents.

Only a pretzel could do better.

Socialism and the Catholic Church


 [From Deacon Bill Booth, Diocese of Boise:]

Lord John E.E.D. Acton (1834-1902) was quoted saying” … power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. “I Another of his sayings is “Socialism means slavery.” Lord Acton was unusual person in Victorian England. For one, he was a Roman Catholic in Anglican country. He spoke up often about issues of his day.  Recently, I learned of a discussion between two people concerning socialism. One claimed to be an avid socialist and the other contended that socialism was opposed to the teachings of the Church. My curiosity was aroused to determine the truth of the matter.  First, what is the definition of Socialism? 

 1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods[;]

 2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state 3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

 Pope Leo XIII published an Encyclical Letter on May 15, 1891, Rerum Novarum stating:

23. From all these conversations, it is perceived that the fundamental principle of Socialism which would make all possessions public property is to be utterly rejected because it injures the very ones whom it seeks to help, contravenes the natural rights of individual persons, and throws the functions of the State and public peace into confusion. Let it be regarded, therefore, as established that in seeking help for the masses this principle before all is to be considered as basic, namely, that private ownership must be preserved inviolate. With this understood, we shall explain whence the desired remedy is to be sought.

 Therefore the Catholic Church does not support Socialism. This issue is way too involved to cover in a short article. The United States has been a bastion of free enterprise for the rest of the world. Like every country in world history that has fallen, it is from within, not from with out. We are assailed within by those who would, as Lord Acton says, enslave us with socialism. The important to us as caring Catholic Christians, to be wary of outlawing of religion which is often the end result of socialism.

 Pope John Paul II, uses the phrase “to speak out”, against socialism when referring to Pope Leo’s Rerum Novarum. Can we do less?  If you are interested in this issue, the following reading list is a good place to start:

1. Rerum Novarum (On the condition of the working classes), Pope Leo XIII, May 15,1891.  The first statement of a Pope against socialism.

2. Quadragesimo Anno (On social Reconstruction), Pope Pius XI, May 15, 1931. Forty years after Rerum Novrum, a reaffirmation of Pope Leo’s statements and expansion covering Communism.

3. Centesimus Annus (On the Hundredth Anniversary), Pope John Pau II, May 1,1991.  Expansion on Rerum Novarum including the responsibility of the capitalistic system and profits to the good of all.

4. Economic Justice for All, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 18, 1986. Pastoral letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U. S. economy.

 Deacon Bill Booth, Spiritual Director, Southern Idaho Cursillo

  1.  Letter to Anglican Bishop Mandell Creighton.

“To ‘Do’ Works of Peace We Need to ‘Be’ Men of Peace”


From Zenit, Monday September 21, 2009, the Holy Father’s words on seeking Wisdom:

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered at Castel Gandolfo.

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, for the customary Sunday reflection, I will take as my point of departure the passage from the Letter of James that is proposed to us by today’s liturgy (3:16-4:3), and I will pause, in particular, on an expression that is striking for its beauty and contemporary relevance. It has to do with the description of true wisdom that the Apostle contrasts with false wisdom. While the latter is “worldly, material and diabolical, and is recognized by the fact that it provokes jealousies, arguments, disorder and every kind of evil deed” (cf. 3:16), on the contrary “[true] wisdom, which comes from above is first of all pure, then peaceful, meek, docile, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (3:17). A list of seven qualities, according to the biblical custom, from which perfection of authentic wisdom comes along with the positive effects that it produces. As first and principal quality, almost the premise for the others, St. James sets down “purity,” that is, sanctity, the transparent reflection — so to say — of God in the human soul. And, like God, from whom it comes, wisdom does not need to impose itself by force, because it has the invincible vigor of truth and love, that affirms itself. That is why it is peaceful, meek and docile; it does not need to be partial, nor does it need to lie; it is indulgent and generous, it is recognized by the good fruits that it bears in abundance.

Why not stop every once in a while to contemplate the beauty of this wisdom? Why not draw from this unpolluted source of God’s love the wisdom of the heart, which cleanses us from the filth of lies and egoism? This holds true for everyone, but, in the first place, for those who are called to be promoters and “weavers” of peace in religious and civil communities, in social and political relations and in international relations. In our day — perhaps also because of certain dynamics proper to mass society — one often sees a lack of respect for truth and the word together with a widespread tendency to aggressiveness, hatred and vendettas. “The fruit of justice is sown in peace by those who make peace,” St. James writes (3:18). But to “do” works of peace we need to “be” men of peace, entering the school of “the wisdom that comes from above,” to assimilate its qualities and produce its effects. If everyone, in his own circle, succeeds in rejecting the lie and violence in intentions, in words and in actions, carefully cultivating sentiments of respect, understanding and esteem for others, perhaps it would not resolve every daily problem, but we could face them more serenely and effectively.

Dear friends, once more Sacred Scripture leads us to reflect on moral aspects of human existence, but starting from a reality that precedes the same morality, that is, from true wisdom. Let us ask God with confidence for wisdom of heart, through the intercession of her who welcomed Wisdom Incarnate, Jesus Christ, into her womb and gave him birth. Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!

Editor-in-Chief, Gian Maria Vian, L’Osservatore Romano, The Vatican: “Obama is not a pro-abortion president.”


Dear Sir:

Your comments that appear in the American news service, Catholic News Agency, were sorrowful.  Unlike Europe’s gradual decline over the last several decades, America still believes in Christ and the Faith.  The culture war is upon us but the war for America’s soul is far from lost.  Your comments that confuse the Faithful is not helpful.  And the Faithful tire of this confusion from the Church.  As the editor in Chief of a grand newspaper,  you could have said something less than “Obama is not a pro-abortion president.”  You pointed out rightly that Mr. Obama approached the issue with some class, but Mr. Obama’s manner and demeanor does not diminish or eliminate his pro-abortion record as a prior state senator or U.S. senator.  Further his record since ascending the U.S. presidency is clearly pro-abortion.  He may want to dialog with respect, but the reality is that his positions are pro-abortion and his position leads to the death of the innocent. 

Your expression otherwise is a deep insult to any person who can simply observe the actions of others.  I am sorry to say, but in my opinion your absolute statement that Mr. Obama is not a pro-abortion president is good old-fashioned scandal and in some ways, treacherous.  The clerics and laity who have stepped up and tried to forge an articulate and respectable pro-life vanguard in America have been betrayed.  Your position on Mr. Obama is profoundly grieving to many Christians. 

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=16034

Report on Notre Dame Rally


ND Response Holds Rally for Thousands on Notre Dame Campus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2009 Media Contact: John Daly, ND Response, jdaly1@nd.edu, 502.693.5112

ND Response Holds Rally for Thousands on Notre Dame Campus Bishop D’Arcy Calls Seniors “Heroes” For Affirming University’s Catholic Identity and Pro-Life Mission. 

Notre Dame, IN – Approximately 3000 people gathered on the South Quad of the University of Notre Dame’s campus this past Sunday for a Mass, rally, and prayer vigil hosted by the student coalition ND Response. These events, which were planned in reaction to Notre Dame’s conferring of an honorary law degree to President Barack Obama at its Commencement Exercises, were intended to witness to the Catholic identity of the University and its foundationally pro-life mission.

With pro-life supporters and Notre Dame faithful traveling in from places as far away as Mexico, New York, California, and Florida to stand alongside the ND Response students on their graduation day, Sunday’s events not only provided powerful witness to the sanctity of human life but also expressed constructive disappointment at the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Barack Obama, who has publicly supported abortion and embryo-destructive stem cell research during his tenure in office.

Bishop John M. D’Arcy, who skipped the University’s official graduation ceremony but attended the rally hosted by ND Response students, publicly thanked the coalition’s students for their constructive and respectful witness and called them “heroes.” Bishop D’Arcy’s words at the rally were bolstered by speeches given by a number of Notre Dame alumni, faculty, and students who challenged Notre Dame to both maintain its Catholic character and live up to the pro-life teachings of the Church.

Following Sunday’s rally, nearly 40 graduates who had decided to skip their commencement ceremony gathered in the University’s Grotto for a prayer vigil and to listen to a meditation given by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. These students were joined at this vigil by over 800 people, including their parents, siblings, and families.

The text and video of the speeches and meditations given at Sunday’s rally and prayer vigil are available on the ND Response website, www.NDResponse.com. DVDs of the event and ND Response t-shirts will be made available shortly.

Mary Ann Glendon is Not silent.


America’s former Ambassador  Mary Ann Glendon to the Vatican has turned down an invitation to the Commencement at Notre Dame.    In her letter to Notre Dame, she included these words:

“A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.”

See, http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/2009/04/wow-mary-ann-glendon-declines-nd-invite.html for the comment.  (Underline added here). 

The phrase, “fundamental principles of justice,” is powerful.  There are those who support abortion either vocally or by silent consent.  These include Catholics who claim to support and work for social justice.   If these Catholics deny this fundamental injustice, then they have no credibility.   None.

Letter to Lay Members of the Order of Preachers regarding Peace & Justice Issues


[The actual final recommendations from the lay members of the Western Dominican Province to the North American Dominican Promoters of Peace & Justice are listed at the bottom of this post.]

 

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

Lay Promoter

Peace & Justice, Care of Creation

Western Dominican Province

United States of America

 

April 16, 2009

 

Chapter Promoters, Peace & Justice Care of Creation

Lay Provincial Representatives

Western Dominican Province

 

            Re:       North American Peace & Justice Promoters meeting;

                        June 16-18, 2009

 

Dear Friends:

 

            Happy Easter!

 

            The Lay Provincial Council meeting is set for June 19-21, 2009.  The North American Dominican Promoters for Justice and Peace (NADPJP) meeting is for June 16-18, 2009 at Adrian, Michigan.  

 

            Please carefully review this letter.  Its purpose is to explain steps taken most recently regarding issues for the NADPJP, suggested issues, and asking for your Chapter’s suggestions for issues, comment, and input. 

 

1.      What happened.

 

In Sr. Farnan’s and Fr. Dahm’s letter of March 20, 2009, they said:

 

In April we will send out an official registration form for you and a tentative Agenda.  If you have any suggestions for the Agenda please email Chuck or I  [sic] and we will take this into consideration.  At Present we believe we need to address: Immigration, Nuclear Weapons, Middle East: Iraq and Palestine/Israel, Human Trafficking and Ecological issues.  We will try and use the framework of the Millennium Development Goals.”  (Underline mine).

 

With that request in mind, I drafted a letter and forwarded it to the Lay Provincial Council executive committee for their consideration.  I was given permission to forward the letter to Sr. Farnan and Fr. Dahm for their consideration. 

 

2.       The next step.

 

The earlier letter is not the final submission to Sr. Farnan and Fr. Dahm.  Therefore, please follow this procedure. 

a.       Peace & Justice chapter promoters and LPC representatives should review the issues listed below with your chapter and/or council.  

b.      Forward your comments and suggestions to me by no later than May 10, 2009 to my email address at john[at]keenan.org.  If you wish to discuss via the telephone, email me and give me a good time of day to call and your phone number.  I will call you back.

c.       These will be forwarded to the LPC Executive Committee for their review; after which they will be forwarded to Sr. Farnan and Fr. Dahm.  

d.      That letter will ask that they formally consider the issues of most concern to the lay members of the Western Dominican Province.

 

3.   Current NADPJP issues.  The 2006 Dominican Call to Justice document includes the following issues: (1) death penalty, (2) disarmament, (3) Iraq, (4) Israel/Palestine, (5) Africa, (6) Columbia, (7) Migration/Immigration, (8) Human Trafficking, (9) United Nations, and (10) Global warming.  You can see the details at the following website:

 

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

 

In addition, the referenced justice Dominican Leadership Conference online page lists other related issues, including the “new cosmology,” the “School of the Americas,” and “global warming.”  Many of these political and philosophical issues do not reflect key Church or moral teachings.  Further, these issues may be supported or opposed in good faith by different men and women of good will exercising prudent judgment.

 

The Church encourages us individually to be involved in cultural, social, and political associations with other persons of good will.  However, when we come together as Lay Dominicans, we belong to a province and an ecclesial institute of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic.  We do not belong to a political party.  There is a place for political issues and movements.  The Lay Fraternities is not that place.

 

Indeed, we belong to the Church which is a divine institution.  As Dominicans, we should 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.  The Vatican Council II amplifies this point when it states, “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 mine).  See, On Social Justice Issues

 

Examples.  The Israel/Palestine conflict is a perennial issue, but there are two sides to the question.  Created under international law, Israel has a place in the world and the right to defend itself from aggression and terrorist attacks.  It also has the obligation to act in accord with the moral law and international law. 

 

            The Palestinians’ right to an independent nation-state should also be recognized.  It seems altogether, however, that many of the Dominicans at the national and international level promote only the Palestinian perspective.  This is very political.  Both sides of this issue, if reviewed carefully, articulate well their respective positions.  Probably both are true and both are exaggerated.  Nevertheless, the rights of both parties and people need to be recognized. 

 

Another example is the nation of Columbia. 

 

The United States has interfered with that country and promoted the war against the drug trade.  The Dominican Order has focused on that issue to the exclusion of other important issues that have occurred in Columbia.  While the drug trade and the drug war have harmed many innocent people, two years ago organizations of the United Nations and international pro-abortion groups successfully pressured Columbia and its supreme court to legalize abortion and “reproductive health” rights.  Where were the Dominicans on that issue?  You will not find that discussion on the domlife.org page. See, Dominican Life USA: Columbia

 

In addition, Dominican involvement at the United Nations is very important.  As a moral force, in addition to the issues it engages, you will see little, if any, Dominican involvement in ending abortion or focusing on the rights of the child in the womb as well as outside the womb. See, Dominicans at U.N.  

 

Fundamental to human liberty and to the pursuit of happiness, is the right to life.   As Dominicans, we are part of the moral vanguard, seeking and identifying, as we presently do, the numerous injustices in the world, but we also have the obligation to stand at the U.N.’s gates and remind them that if they cannot stand against the killing of the most innocent among us, then all their pronouncements and declarations are for naught.  This is especially true with the new American administration’s support for abortion ‘rights.’

 

Another example is “global warming.”  While many people state that the issue of man-caused global warming is fully and finally settled, and that we must take every measure necessary to change it, over the last two years, several world-renowned and honored scientists have come out against the concept of global warming, e.g. see these links, Michael Crichton, U.S. Senate Environment Committee: 650 scientists dissent man-made global warming theory, Global Warming Petition Project, 31,000 scientists reject Global Warming, NASA worldbook, and NASA scientist rejects theory.   The economic harm to the poor and underprivileged has not been seriously calculated if governments impose extreme anti-global warming measures, i.e. the cap in trade law.  See, here.

 

Another issue of concern is the Earth Charter.   The Earth Charter may be read at this link, Earth Charter in Action; and analyzed here, Catholic Family organization; and more deeply reviewed here, The Earth Charter.  Note also, the analysis on the Earth Charter was done last summer in prior correspondence to the LPC dated July 3, 2008.  To access, click here.

 

Finally, most importantly, what about protecting innocent human life?  From persons in the womb to disabled and older people, is quality of life the only measure of life?  As Dominicans, we need to stand as Christ did, as a contradiction to the world when protecting human life and in protecting institutions with historical and family significance.   If we want justice, we start with peace.   Abortion makes war on humankind and the world.

 

5.     Proposed changes and issues at the North American Dominican Promoters of Peace and Justice meeting, and why.

 

a.       A key change is simply procedural

 

First, discuss a procedure or organizational structure by which the peace & justice promoters expand representation of the sisters, friars, and lay people, and include a process that encourages a wide-based, grassroots consultation with all members of the Order regarding key issues.

 

b.     The following items are proposed for inclusion in this year’s list of issues according to the following order of priority:

 

1.    A call for a pro-life position consistent with the Church’s teaching relative to innocent human life from conception to natural death.

 

2.   A call to member governments, NGOS, and peoples from the United Nations to end the funding and advocacy of abortion or birth control.

 

3.  A call to the several states to pass and define the historical legal definition of marriage to be between one man and one woman.

 

4. A call to refocus the Order’s efforts toward a Christian-based anthropocentric environmental position.   Conservation programs must be based on good science, reasonable, moderate, and effective action, right and good order, and realistic solutions.

 

5.  A call to decrease excessive governmental intrusion and regulation in the health care marketplace. 

 

6.  A call to ease the tax burden on the American middle class.

 

The first few of these proposals consider the Church’s positions on key religious and social issues, including pro-life efforts, abortion, and marriage.  These concerns deserve a priority.  The “greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion.” [Mother Teresa, February 4, 1994’].  If the Dominican peace and justice movement is about true peace, then it should tackle the pro-life issue with a compelling priority.  Society desperately needs a softened heart.  If society cannot see an unborn person as innocent and defenseless, then are we—as Christians—doing any good elsewhere? 

 

The last two proposed issues are provided for several reasons. 

 

First, it is to propose differing, yet reasonable, points-of-view. There are men and women of good will who—in good faith—believe differently.  Some issues are debatable and should be thoroughly discussed before the Order endorses peace and justice initiatives.

 

Second, the Order of Preachers is not the proper forum for discussing many political issues.  Frankly, the better place for many initiatives is political and social institutions.   While the Church and ecclesial institutes may provide a proper moral guide, they should not engage in and make final decisions with regard to subjects where people of good will and good judgment differ on problems seeking effective solutions. 

 

For instance, some people have cited universal health care as a “right.”  While most people agree with such a sentiment initially, there are realities that need to be considered.

 

The first reality is that government-driven health care leads to long waiting periods and limited services.   Second, people want a choice.  Third, often times, when government intrudes, it creates more problems than solutions.  Is that not why this discussion should be held in a a political forum and not in an ecclesial one? 

 

Many people believe that human freedom is paramount to ending poverty worldwide, that the marketplace is best suited to provide the goods and services needed by people in the world.  Economic freedom enables men and women to protect and provide for themselves and their families.  Government is a partner in this effort, not the universal solution for social, economic, and other problems.  That is another example of why this discussion should deal with key issues involving our Faith. 

 

Conservation and the environment are legitimate issues and need focus.  On the other hand, where radical environmentalism acts with religious fervor, it places humankind below creation in the order of the cosmos.   In my home state, Idaho, this extreme position has closed forests to timber harvesting.   A dozen small Idaho towns have lost timber mills and tens of thousands of sustainable jobs that provide for workers and families.  Without conservation efforts to cull the forest and its undergrowth, the forest becomes fodder for intense and hot summer fires covering thousands of acres.

 

Third, there are solutions to social problems that need little, if any, government funding or action. 

 

As an example, the American middle class is the most charitable class of people the world has ever known.  

 

Following Christ’s admonition to provide charity for the poor and underprivileged, the American people give generously domestically and to foreign peoples when disaster and emergencies strike.   Rather than relying on taxpayer monies, in record amounts the American people readily give their personal time, energy, and intelligence, as well as money, to those in need.  If the American middle class is deprived of its wealth through excessive taxation, then many social justice and peace efforts around the world will be deprived of key capital. .

 

Finally, thank you for taking the time to read and study this letter.  Once I receive your Chapter’s contribution, I will present it to the LPC Executive Committee and forward them to the committee organizing the NADPJP set for June 16-18, 2009. 

  

Happy Easter.   

                                                                        Sincerely in St. Dominic,

 

 

                                                                       

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

 

———————————————————————————————-

 

These are the final and actual recommendations from the lay people of the Western Dominican Province forwarded to Sr. Durstyne Farnan, O.P., of the Adrian Congregation on June 17, 2009, for submission to the North American Dominican Promoters of Peace & Justice meeting:

 

*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.