Justice & Peace eLetter
Western Dominican Province
Peace & Justice
Vol. I, No. 2, November, 2008
TO SEE ATTACHMENT, SEE POST BELOW THIS POST.
Dear Lay Dominicans & Friends:
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is named well, as it seeks to set out a complete text about the issues of social justice and peace in the modern world. One method of tackling such a large subject is to take “small bites” with one subject, chapter, or page at a time.
In this edition of Justice & Peace eLetter, the first attempt at writing about topics addressed in the Compendium, the article below addresses the subject of the Trinity, our relationship with God and with each other. God willing, the Compendium will be examined in this forum, Justice & Peace eLetter, one subject at a time over the next three years.
The second article in this eLetter, along with one attachment, is a brief review of a Saturday October, 23, 2008 justice and peace promoters meeting held in California. My attendance was not possible. Regardless, I asked the promoters to include the issue as one of their “call to action” issues. That request was rejected as explained below. Please review and write if you have any comments or questions. John[at sign]Keenan.org.
In peace & faith,
John Keenan, JD, OPL
On the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church :
The Love Shared among The Trinity, is the Charity that Christians should Share,
in the Social Action and Goal of Perfecting Society.
Whatever you wish men should do to you, do so to them. Matthew 7:12. After our love and duty to God, the social doctrine of the Catholic Church begins here, the GOLDEN RULE. The Golden Rule applies from the dark cavernous caves beneath the earth to the heights of lofty buildings and magnificent mountains and everything in between. It can be carried about like a well-remembered proverb that has penetrated the heart and soul, when considering the dignity and hope that each human person brings to you and the realization that each human encounter is no coincidence.
The purpose here is to commence a series of thought-provoking articles and dialog about the Church’s social doctrine among members of the lay chapters of the Order of Preachers that may impact their lives, families, and communities. It is also an effort to develop and form consciences in a distinctly Catholic worldview about peace and justice, based on the Holy Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, among other core sources.
It commences with the Ten Commandments, or Decalogue as otherwise known, that forms a bond and fidelity to the One True God. The Ten Commandments teaches “us the true humanity of man. They bring to light the essential duties, and therefore, indirectly, the fundamental rights inherent in the nature of the human person.” The Ten Commandments “describe universal human rights.” It deals with the reality that the members of humankind not only have a relationship with the Lord, our God, but with each other. As Our Lord said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39. See, also, Deuteronomy 6:5
The expression of this love for God and other persons was initially expressed in the Old Testament, where it states “you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need,” Deuteronomy 15:7-8. See, also, Leviticus 19:33-34. As the Compendium articulates well, the regular jubilee year (every 50 years) was established for the “social and economic life of the people of Israel.” Compendium p. 12. Fields lied fallow, debts were cancelled, and there was a general release of persons and goods. Compendium, p. 12. The purpose of these laws was not only the founding cornerstone of Israel but its social and economic life as well, and it dealt with economic poverty and social injustices of the Nation of Israel. Compendium, p. 13. The early Prophets of God articulated and preached a type of justice and solidarity, qualities “which reside in the Lord’s heart” which we should nourish in ourselves, “[t]hen God’s will articulated in the Decalogue given on Sinai, will be able to take root creatively in man’s innermost being.” Compendium, p. 13.
As so well stated, “[t]he process of internalization gives rise to greater depth and realism in social action, making possible the progressive universalization of attitudes of justice and solidarity, which the people of the Covenant are called to have towards all men and women of every people and nation.” Compendium, p. 13 (emphasis original). It is an irrational error to view this statement from a political worldview, because the concept quoted above is voicing a religious perspective that is ageless and Godly.
This is social action grounded in the love of God, i.e. charity, which can be and should be fulfilled in this world. It is not political in action, seeking to satisfy the shifting sands of power, worldly desire, and personal fulfillment, but true love of God in action for the care of one’s person, his or her family, neighbor, and for all of humankind, and thereafter to steward and conserve all of creation.
Jesus Christ is the par exemple of and the fulfillment of the Father’s plan of love. Compendium, p. 14. That which opens the heart of all persons and gives inspiration from the Holy Spirit, is that love which “inspires Jesus’ ministry among men is the love that [Christ] has experienced in his intimate union with the Father.” Compendium, p. 14 (emphasis original).
This love between the Divine Persons of the Trinity should be shared by us all, in that “there is a certain parallel between the union existing among the divine Persons and the union of the children of God in truth and love.” Compendium, p. 16.
In the present order of the world, there are those who facially seek social change through various means but for wrong reasons. Often motivated politically, or for gain whether monetary or prestige, or for the sheer activity involved, these people seek political ends by religious means, thus injecting their own will (as opposed to God’s) and worldly dogma of political correctness. Our Lord rejected these politically-motivated purposes, for after He fed the five thousand, “Jesus, knowing that [the crowd] intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” John 6:15. Consider also the motivations of Judas Iscariot.
Therefore, Christians should be motivated to social action by the Love of God and of neighbor, not for political, social, or other worldly motivations. This certainly requires a careful examination of conscience after much prayer.
The next time your receive this newsletter, God willing it will address more on God’s plan of love for humanity as expressed in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. [John Keenan, JD, OPL, Promoter of Peace and Justice, Lay Dominicans, Western Dominican Province].
On the Dominican Call to Action [SEE ATTACHMENT IN POST BELOW:
The “Justice Elephant” in the promoter ‘kitchen’: incorporating the issue of “abortion” as part of the Dominican Call to Action.
On October 23, 2008, the peace and justice promoters for the Western Dominican Province, including religious congregations, friars, and the lay folk, met in California to discuss the current North American Dominican Call to Action. [See link, http://domlife.org/DLC/Justice/JusticePage.htm]. Gloria Escalona, OPL attended as the secretary but did not represent the lay people of the Dominican Western Province. I could not attend. Regardless, in an effort to represent the lay people of the Order of Preachers in the Western United States, with the consent of the executive committee of the LPC, I submitted a proposal to the peace and justice promoter meeting, to include the issue of abortion as part of the “Call to Action.”
Prior to that meeting, the following text of the request regarding the issue of abortion, was forwarded to all members of the meeting, but addressed to Sr. Stella Goodpasture, OP:
Dear Sr. Goodpasture:
I have attached a copy of a recent newsletter called Idaho Domincana. I would kindly ask that the promoters at the upcoming meeting would consider the issue of abortion as a vital part of the agenda for promoters. The attached document includes an article explaining our chapter’s position on this issue. This is such an important and fundamental issue facing our society today. The newsletter also explains the pope’s position on preserving and protecting the Native Americans when the European first came to our great land here: to respect their freedom, their right to property, and not to enslave them. He also admonished them to respect these native people because they were fully able to receive the Gospel. I pray that the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, be with you this coming meeting and that He may guide you in all good things.
You have my best wishes and prayers.
John Keenan, JD, OPL, Peace & Justice Promoter, Lay Members, Western Dominican Province.
A copy of the article addressing the issue of abortion and position taken by the Blessed Margaret Chapter in Boise is set forth here:
The 2008 Election:
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).
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.
The ‘petition’ asking that the promoters, among other issues, to include the issue of abortion among the “Call to Action” issue and agenda, was considered by the promoters, In the minutes to the meeting regarding the ‘petition’ the email to Sr. Goodpasture, OP was acknowledged where it states:
“We have all received John Keenan’s email. We all recognize abortion as contrary to support for all life, and we all support the life of the unborn. Following discussion, we agreed with Fr. John Morris, that abortion is not the central issue of social justice (although it is an important issue). In the past the overemphasis by some groups on the issue of abortion to the exclusion of other life issues, has been discussed. The group assembled decided we would recommend that abortion not be included in the new North American Dominican Call to Action.”
A copy of the minutes of the Western Dominican Promoters of Justice, Peace, and Care of Creation is attached to this document for your review and reference [PLEASE SEE POST BELOW ENTITLED “MINUTES’]. The minutes noted of my desire to present the issue next year at the promoters meeting in Adrian, Michigan.
Of course, it is without hesitation that one should take exception to the idea that “abortion is not the central issue of social justice.” Whether that statement is correctly attributable to Fr. Morris, charitably such a statement reflects a profound negligence of the understanding and purpose of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. It cannot stand, “for the absolute inviolability of innocent human life is a moral truth clearly taught by Sacred Scripture… .” Evangelium Vitae, No. 57 (1995).
Factually, the killing of innocent children whether born or unborn, the old and infirm, are the most fundamental monstrosities of modern life. Among the issues that the promoters seek, many seek a political ends by religious means, failing the most fundamental of social justice rigors: charity first, second … and last.
We must acknowledge that laws and decrees that permit the commission of abortions are not the only issues of peace and justice, but the shedding of innocent blood is an abhorrence to God. Psalm 106: 35-40. Further, with the federal elections behinds us, the president-elect has made a clear record that he will sign the Freedom of Choice Act—proposed legislation that would eliminate any and all state and federal restrictions on abortion (parental choice, informed consent) and mandate public funds be expended in the killing of innocent unborn life.
With hope and prayers, let’s continue to work for true charity, and peace and justice in our society as lay members of the Order of Preachers. If you wish to discuss this matter, do not hesitate to contact me via my email address at john[at sign]Keenan.org. I pray all goes well with you.
In peace & faith,
John Keenan, JD, OPL
Promoter, Peace & Justice
Western Dominican Province.