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Getting dressed in the morning can provide enough material for a rich meditation. It is really a splendid opportunity for seeing the metaphorical significance of an otherwise humdrum activity. "A wise man," according to a Jewish proverb, "hears one word and understands two." I suppose a meditative man can look at one thing and see another.
It must have been Providence or the Divine Sense of Humor that brought me to Washington, D.C., the same weekend as the atheists’ convention, dubbed "The Reason Rally," sort of a Super Bowl of nonbelievers, who are committed to setting the rest of us straight, proving that religion is the cause of all the world’s ills and just generally blowing a lot of hot air.
Q. Please explain precisely what the Catholic Church holds regarding capital punishment. Is it possible that the Church has changed its position? And how do Catholics reply to the charge that capital punishment is so wrong that it can be compared to abortion?
History being linear, "What if….?" is an unanswerable question—but always a fascinating one. What if George Washington had failed in New York in the early days of the American revolution and the rebellion had been crushed? What if Lee had heeded Longstreet, won Gettysburg, and then taken Washington, thus ending the Civil War and achieving Confederate independence? What if Charles Lindbergh had been the Republican candidate in 1940 and had defeated FDR? What if Bush vs. Gore had been decided differently in 2000?
As one of the last men from Fairfield County to be ordained to the priesthood in the original St. Joseph Cathedral (the year was 1953; before the year was over, Bridgeport would become a new diocese; and Hartford, an archdiocese), I hardly knew the old Cathedral of St. Joseph except for Church ceremonies. As college seminarians, we were on hand during Holy Week, including Tenebrae services (which ended after Vatican Council II in the early 1960’s).
A Washington Post reporter recently visited the hinterlands in search of those peculiar people you find outside the Beltway, New York, Los Angeles and all the other alleged centers of power that drive America.
The reporter wrote a front-page story describing life in an Oklahoma town where people believed "their cherished values are under assault." It was a place that had a large sign proclaiming, "Only God Can Save America."
It was born of desperation. My husband and I had two children under the age of 2, and I was so exhausted, I couldn’t see straight. As a mother at home, it was not uncommon for me to work 100 hours in a week. Peter often joked that he went to work to get some rest.
One day, I reached my limit. "Peter," I pleaded during a rare moment of quiet, "I need one night a week when I don’t have to cook dinner. I don’t care if we have Wheaties for dinner; I just need a night off."
In a Feb. 14 note to his people, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., the archbishop of Chicago, commented on the question of "who speaks for the Catholic Church," which had become a subject of public controversy thanks to the Obama administration’s "contraceptive mandate" – which is, of course, an abortifacient and sterilization mandate, as well. The cardinal noted the administration’s crude attempt to play divide-and-conquer with the Catholic Church in the United States, a ploy to which some nominally Catholic groups quickly acquiesced.
Yet something important in all of this was being missed, the cardinal suggested: "[T]he bishops of the Church make no attempt to speak for all Catholics; they never have. The bishops speak for the Catholic and apostolic faith, and those that hold that faith gather around them. Others disperse."
Q. How is it that suddenly a series of topics that rightly belongs to Catholic moral doctrine are being labeled "social issues" and are being discussed as political topics? What competency do politicians have regarding, for example, tubal ligations, or embryonic transfers, or contraception, or, most important, abortion? I am also angry with comedians who suggest that Catholic moral teachings ignore what is reasonable. What is going on with all these absurd claims?
The Little Sisters of the Poor in the United States released the following statement on March 2 calling for the reversal of the Department of Health and Human Services’s mandate threatening religious freedom:
The Little Sisters of the Poor is an international congregation of Catholic women religious serving 13,000 needy elderly persons of all faiths in 31 countries around the world. Thirty of our homes for the aged, accommodating over 2,500 low-income seniors, are located in the United States. In these homes we quietly spend our lives in the humble service of the elderly, accompanying them with love and respect until God calls them to himself.