Our Bishops Need to Preach Faith and Morals

In order to advance the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church;


and the Laity need to be Holy.

          On April 13, 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops [hereinafter “USCCB” or “Bishops”] forwarded to members of Congress a letter [See here] noting that writing a federal budget demands “wise bipartisan leadership, clear priorities, and moral clarity.”   America’s financial house needs to be put in order, the USCCB noted, by “fulfilling the demands of justice and moral obligations to future generations; controlling future debt and deficits, and protecting the lives and dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable.”  

 The Bishops note three “moral criteria” regarding difficult budgetary decisions:  (a) that “every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity; (2) that “the central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects ‘the least of these’”  (Matthew 25), including the those who hunger and are homeless, or who are without work or are in poverty; and, (3) that “government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.” 

 Calling life-affirming health care an “urgent national priority,” the Bishops throw great doubt on current proposals to convert entitlement programs such as Medicare or Medicaid to block grant programs or subsidies; and the Bishops called foreign aid an “essential tool to promote human life and dignity” and to enhance global security. 

 Pleading that the budget must reduce deficits and protect the poor, jobless, and vulnerable, the U.S. bishops call for “shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirements programs fairly.”   The Bishops declare themselves pastors and teachers, “not experts or partisans.”  Experts they are not.

 While the Bishops call for “priorities” in the national budget; their focus is wrong-headed.   It is agreed that the budget must be life-affirming, it must contain and reduce worldwide military adventures and commitments, it must provide a social safety net for the poor and vulnerable, it must tackle the monumental debt as an overarching generational moral issue; and it must control spending and entitlement programs.  However—for the USCCB—there is more to consider.

 In 2007, David Walker, Comptroller of the United States at the time, recalled that nearly 2000 years ago, the Roman Empire fell for three main reasons: [1] declining moral values and political civility at home, [2] an overconfident military in foreign lands, and [3] government fiscal irresponsibility.  

 As the old saying goes, nothing changes under the Sun.  Our modern American Republic is plagued by the same issues.   Whether Congress should expand or contract national spending, on what programs it should focus, and the degree of international spending is a prudent question to be answered within the constraints of the constitutional system of limited government framed by the American founding fathers.  That question is for the politicians.

 The real Gospel focus of the American bishops is not a call for governmental action, but the moral make-up of our country.   Every resource of the bishops should be focused on improving the mediocre catechetical teaching and preaching that occurs around the country, from the pulpits and in the classrooms, and call American Catholics to personal responsibility and to live a moral life. 

 While not universally true, many pastors fail to teach or preach, but often cite platitudes and generalities during the Homily at Holy Mass.   

 What is needed?  True preaching.  If the Bishops want to change the culture and touch the hearts of the American people that will ultimately guide the Congress, then preach

 In other words, the Bishop’s beseeching Congress regarding spending rings empty.  Why?  As teachers, the primary office of bishop is to teach the Faithful through effective formation of his priests and congregation.  The Bishops need to preach charity and morality from the pulpit with particularity.  In order to realize social change, the Bishops must engage the hearts and minds where it counts: at Church.  

 A converted heart motivated by love of God and the Gospel, will seek the necessary right action and moral change in their own lives and in their own families and communities.   It is the believers who are “doers” of the Word that change the World.

 Many of the social problems our Nation faces are a direct result of immoral conduct.   For example, the rising poverty rate among women and children is due to sexual conduct outside of marriage.    The federal Medicaid and supplementary security income budgets have exploded over the last decade.   Far too many unwed mothers find themselves with few choices and cornered in poverty.  Government rightly comes to the rescue to aid these mothers and children to uphold the human dignity of these vulnerable persons; but let’s not deny the immorality at play.  

 When unwed men and women act immorally and sleep with one another with utter disregard for other human lives, the children are born in poverty, the mothers are desperate, and too often the fathers abandon the family.  In the end, the taxpayer is called to fill the remaining monetary void.  It is a desperate problem that finds no immediately political solution; yet the focus of the Bishops should be on the right moral sexual conduct of the American people—especially Catholics.

 The Bishops need to preach.  Their priests need to be pastors.  The priests need to preach from the pulpit.   Part of the solution is concrete preaching calling people to improve their personal lives by ordered thinking, right action, personal responsibility, and moral conduct. 

 Preaching should encourage the Faithful to follow the Ten Commandments; to go to Mass; to engage only in marital sex; to uphold marriage as between a man and a woman; to encourage choices of life and family; to stay faithful to their spouses; to raise their children rightly; to not worry so much about activism but more about putting their own lives and families in order; to act charitably with family, neighbors, and other parishioners; to work hard, to pay their bills; to pay their taxes; to stay faithful to home and country; to give a day’s work for a day’s pay; to be honest and not to commit fraud or lying; to be good and effective students and teachers; to be fair and just business owners, bosses and managers, and on and on.   

 Admittedly, the USCCB has a role in national politics, but its call over the years for expanded government belies the reality that the quality and nature of preaching over the last generation has achieved a level of sustained mediocrity.  On many moral issues, until recently the Bishops have remained silent.  In order to pursue a more perfect society, they must engage moral Preaching.

 Calling the Faithful Catholics to live faithful, moral, responsible and good lives is the first step to changing society to live like Christ and focusing His people to act justly with charity.  Such a message will change the world.

 By Mr. John Keenan, O.P., J.D., promoter of peace & justice, Western Dominican Province; Blessed Margaret of Costello Chapter, Boise, Idaho.



Pope2You: the Vatican in the social network

A Note from Fr. Paolo Padrini:

Benedict XVI Speaks to the Net Generation through the World of Social Networks.

The new media of Facebook, the iPhone, YouTube and Wikipedia are increasingly becoming the new forum where the Catholic Church dialogues with the world. As Pope Benedict XVI noted in his message for the 43rd annual World Communications Day, the Internet is a place where young people need to develop true friendships which spring from an encounter with the Risen Christ. With this awareness and the courage to enter into the world of social networks, the project Pope2You was started with the idea of helping these networks become authentic places of friendship and true dialogue.

Pope2You ( HYPERLINK “http://www.pope2you.net/) was created in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications as an experiment in providing a new forum and channel of communication using the latest platforms. The Pope2You website provides a new way for Pope Benedict XVI to reach out to young people around the world. The site can be viewed in five languages and allows young people to learn more about the Church and Benedict XVI through his own writings, starting with the message for the 43rd World Communications Day. While the site aims to generate the interest of young people, it is also meant for people of all ages. It features news on the Catholic Church and details on the pastoral activities of Benedict XVI incorporating content from the Vatican’s YouTube channel. At the same time, a new application for the iPhone and iPod Touch has been created by the Catholic news agency H2Onews, with plans to add other mobile platforms later.

Pope2You also provides a gateway to a parallel world in Facebook with an application where you can create and send to your friends virtual postcards with the Pope’s own words, greetings and excerpts of his writings staring with this year’s World Communications Day message. Also, with the help of the Media Office of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, a special area has been created along the lines of a WIKI with suggestions on how to put into pastoral practice the Pope’s 2009 Message.

These new applications highlight the latest example of the Church reaching out in new ways in the world of social networks – a forum where the Church can meet new people, make new friends, dialogue and offer solidarity.


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:




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.



Justice & Peace eLetter, No. 2, November 2008

Justice & Peace eLetter

Western Dominican Province

Peace & Justice

Vol. I, No. 2, November, 2008




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,[1] 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.”[2]   The Ten Commandments “describe universal human rights.”[3]  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[4]

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,”[5]  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. 

Thanks kindly,

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

Lay Members

Western Dominican Province.




[1] © 2004, Liberia Editrice Vaticana, USCCB Publishing, Washington, D.C. [hereinafter Compendium] [also internet link, www.vatican.va].

[2] Compendium, p. 12. (Quoting, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2070). 

[3] Compendium, p. 12.

[4] Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength. 

[5] Compendium, p. 12.


Paul III’s Sublimus Dei reaches across 500 years.

There has been much interest of late expressed in popular media and educational circles regarding the native peoples of America when the Spanish first arrived in the New World, as well as the English and French at later dates. Five years ago, I visited Mexico along with a number of other people from Nampa, Idaho, and spent 10 days there, staying in a village called Tizapan el Alto on the largest lake in Mexico called Laguna Chapala [40 to 50 miles south of the city of Guadalajara, State of Jalisco(central Mexico)].

It was a beautiful place–somewhat high desert, not unlike Idaho, mild weather, and a city or municipality [not unlike counties in the U.S.] with approximately 20 to 30,000 people. Approximately one-half the population, I was told, was working in the United States. I met a few people that were an Indian mix, including some that claimed to be the progeny of the Aztecs. (Not a difficult claim based upon the proximity to Mexico City).

Upon my return to the States, I read the “Conquest of Mexico” by the Spanish padre, Juan Diego. That journal of events read like a storybook, commanding my keen interest and attention. The book is to be commended to anyone interested in the earliest involvement of Europeans on the North American continent. Of course, the Catholic Faith flourished after the conquest. Some say that the Spanish treatment of the Indians was terrible. Indeed, many Europeans whether English, Spanish, or otherwise, automatically viewed the Indian peoples summarily as savages, incapable of believing in God and the Catholic Faith, and that as savages, they should be enslaved, their property to escheat to the crown, and freedom denied.

Of course, that is illogical. The Gospel is for all humankind. It knows no bounds. In fact, the Gospel civilized the savages of northern Europe 1200 to 1800 years ago.

To learn history is a life-long task. I am no a history scholar. On the other hand, there is much prejudice regarding the history of the Faith, the Church, and how the Indians were treated. There is no one uniform story, for when people believe in Christ and that His Heart is for all peoples in all times, will largely treat people rightly. Much good was done. However, with human involvement comes evil. No doubt the evil of slavery and ignorance abounded and still does to this day.

Regardless, the Faith was passed on and it is testified that after the Mexican conquest, millions of men, women, and children were baptized into the Catholic Faith.

As an early example of papal admonitions about how to deal with foreign peoples and social justice, the Roman Pontiff, Paul III, issued the following bull “To all faithful Christians” with regard to the treatment of the American Indians demanding that the native folk be respected, that their freedom be honored, and their right to possession of their property. He clearly demanded that the Indians not be enslaved, “should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.”

It still read as a short statement on how to treat people to this day: Respect the person, respect liberty and property, do not enslave.

Here is the bull in its entirety and simplicity, issued on May 29, 1537:


Sublimus Dei

Pope Paul III

 (Topic: the enslavement and evangelization of Indians)

To all faithful Christians to whom this writing may come, health in Christ our Lord and the apostolic benediction.

The sublime God so loved the human race that He created man in such wise that he might participate, not only in the good that other creatures enjoy, but endowed him with capacity to attain to the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good and behold it face to face; and since man, according to the testimony of the sacred scriptures, has been created to enjoy eternal life and happiness, which none may obtain save through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is necessary that he should possess the nature and faculties enabling him to receive that faith; and that whoever is thus endowed should be capable of receiving that same faith. Nor is it credible that any one should possess so little understanding as to desire the faith and yet be destitute of the most necessary faculty to enable him to receive it. Hence Christ, who is the Truth itself, that has never failed and can never fail, said to the preachers of the faith whom He chose for that office ‘Go ye and teach all nations.’ He said all, without exception, for all are capable of receiving the doctrines of the faith.

The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God’s word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.

We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it. Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

By virtue of Our apostolic authority We define and declare by these present letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, which shall thus command the same obedience as the originals, that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living.


Truth in charity.

The lay members of the Order of Preachers in the Western Dominican Province have new officers effective today, Wednesday, August 20, 2008, including Tony Galati, OPL as president of the Lay Provincial Council [I give a ‘virtual’ bow to, and continually pray for, Karen Woods, OPL, outgoing president of the LPC, for her years of hard work and attention to the Idaho Dominican Laity].  I was appointed by the executive committee of the LPC as the new promoter of peace and justice.

My prayer is to serve that purpose nobly with an eye for excellence in effort and charity, but clarity and with truth.   I will not always meet that goal but I ask you assist me in that direction.

I invite you to explore this blog.    I have tried to articulate my concern and many other people’s concerns.   At the same time, it is a personal education for me and I hope for you.    The purpose here is to aid all concerned to seek the Truth in key issues, to allow prudence and discernment be exercised where possible, to point out higher moral situations, and to facilitate the right judgment and good order in developing and working on peace, justice, and stewardship issues–with all of this in charity.

With this end in mind, a key aid in that endeavor is the following link to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, a key document in the study of social justice issues, issues hierarchy, the moral and practical implications, and other matters.  Look here:

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Over the next few weeks, it is my hope to explore the study of Cosmology, the study of the movement of the heavenly bodies in the universe.  Why Cosmology?  First, many in the Order of Preachers are calling for an integration of a “new” Cosmology into the theology of the Church, ranking creation and the environment on par with humankind.     We are called to be good stewards of creation, but ranking the material world with humankind negates the reality of the metaphysical, the nature of humankind as body and soul, and the doctrine of original sin.    Second, frankly, it is an effort to try and understand the meaning and purpose in this new effort to amend the Church’s teachings.     Finally, this call for a “new” Cosmology is where the spiritual battle is raging.  There is a deep divide among Catholic people over these matters.  It has found a home in the Dominican Order.

The real concern of social justice efforts should be focused on true human concerns, including the poor, the suffering, the enslavement of people, the ravages of war, and most notably, the killing of kids in the womb and of the disabled, the infirm, and the dying. 

If you wish to make comments, please click on the comments button and go for it.  If you wish to contribute a post, send it to me at my chapter’s email address: chapter[“at sign”]dominicanidaho.org.   You are welcome to do so and I will post all reasonable comments.   In our spiritual father, St. Dominic,  Peace & faith, John


The Call for Peace and Justice and Love for Truth.


            By John Keenan, JD, OPL

            The Lay Provincial Council gathered last July 20 to 22 at St. Albert’s Priory in Oakland California.  The 2008 annual congress of lay Dominicans from the Western Dominican Province elected and appointed a number of new officials.  

Among these officials is the new lay provincial promoter for peace and justice, John Keenan, JD, OPL, of Boise, Idaho, USA, the author of this column, whose appointment commences August 20th.  This position is quite humbling yet demanding.  John has a passion for justice issues in the world and he believes that the God-given individual freedom and responsibility, the community and trust of humankind, the dignity of each human, and the law above every other law are the keys to the success of a modern nation and society that truly cares for its poor and disenfranchised first.

            The new justice and peace lay promoter for the West is Catholic, enthused about the faith, his family, and his siblings in the Dominican Family.  John was perpetually professed under the auspices of the Immaculate Conception Chapter in Washington, D.C. on June 14th, twenty years ago.  He also has a special love for the Order’s motto “Veritas” and “contemplata aliis tradere” [respectively “truth” and “handing on to others the fruit of contemplation”]. 

Truth is needed today.  It is needed in society.  It is needed at home, at work, and at recreation.  From the town halls and courtrooms, to Congress, and to the U.N.  It is needed everywhere.  Even as sinners, it is our nature to respect the Truth.  It helps our “yes” be “yes,” and our “no” be “no.”  When exhibited with the virtue of charity, truth is pure and simple and needs no modification or adornment. 

Truth is closely connected to good ideas.  There are many ideas in our world.   Some ideas are good.  Some are not good.  Ideas can change the world.  The greatest truth combined with ideas ever manifested to the world is that God’s redemptive Love is for us, that His grace saves, and that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. 

            Christ Incarnate came to repair the damage done by the Original Sin committed by Adam and Eve that transmitted to all of their progeny the fallen state.  Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 404.  The effect to all humankind includes death and deprivation of sanctifying grace as well as a weakened will and a darkened intelligence. 

            Its effect upon all humankind—and creation itself—was profound, as we “find in our world great confusion and the effects of sinfulness in the unequal distribution of the world’s resources, war, [and] the inability of nations to assist one another instead of bickering with one another.  On a personal level, we see the great difficulty we have as human beings in getting along with other people.”  Put Out into the Deep, Bishop DiMarzio, Diocese of Brooklyn, July 9, 2005. 

The call from the depth of our souls for peace, justice and the care, stewardship, and conservation of the resources and environment of creation, is based upon this fallen nature and sin in our world.  All of humanity, including creation itself, groans and eagerly awaits salvation.  Romans 8:19-23.   As Christians, that is why we cry out for justice and peace in this world, with the hope of salvation in the next. 

With the foregoing in mind, John prays for the humility, knowledge, and wisdom to fulfill the task of promoter, to keep in balance what is needed to bring true justice, peace, freedom and opportunity to all peoples, and to keep St. Dominic’s charism in mind and the Gospel and Church’s teachings on these issues in focus without prejudice or distraction.  Please pray for our new peace and justice promoter.