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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

By: Thérèse Bermpohl

Bring up immigration in a room full of people and it’s like tossing a match onto a stack of dry hay. Emotions flare and opinions collide. As I write this, I know that there are many sides to each story, huge obstacles to bring about solutions and many political and economic realities at stake. But I cannot see past the immediate need of innocent children whose very lives are threatened as they fall victim to the harrowing experience of being brought into our country.

The situation in the United States is dire and there is certainly enough blame to go around, from the president to Congress. Yet while the powers that be haggle over ways to tackle this enormous problem, the reality looms. There are some 10 to 13 million undocumented immigrants already living among us. According to the Migration and Refugee Services of the USCCB, in 2014 the U.S. will experience up to 90,000 unaccompanied children fleeing to her from all parts of Central America.1

lampedusa-pope_2611669kI cannot help but ask what hellish scenario would have to exist for someone to send his or her child, alone, on a dangerous journey to a foreign country? War? Famine? Fear of torture? Most of the children at the border are coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.  Those countries have the first, fourth and fifth highest murder rates (respectively) in the world. Coupled with poverty, corrupt governments and drug cartels, we are no longer talking about a better quality of life. We are talking about survival.

Every day, I pass by a day-laborer site in Arlington. I can feel the discomfort in the pit of my stomach as I stare at the hundreds of Hispanic men begging for work. Not a handout, but work! In his encyclical “On Human Work” Pope John Paul II wrote: “Man must work, both because the Creator has commanded it and because of his own humanity, which requires work in order to be maintained and developed. Man must work out of regard for others, especially his own family” (Laborem Exercens, 16).  I try to imagine a situation where sin, division, and hatred would have forced my own father to stand on a street corner imploring foreigners to hire him so that he could put food on the table for his family.

There is no escaping the fact that we have an immigration system in urgent need of an overhaul. We also have urgent and very legitimate border security needs. But in the meantime, what are we to do with the millions of human beings in our midst?

Arguably, the best response can be found in Matthew 25: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink,  a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me…”


[1] USCCB, Unaccompanied Migrant Children Resource Kithttp://www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/unaccompanied-migrant-children-resource-kit.cfm.

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

It is a strange and scary thing when civil authorities write to a bishop and tell him how to live his faith and mission. Do not let the issue of homosexuality or the politically charged same-sex marriage agenda blind you to what is really going on here. The letter written to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone by California government leaders and various gay activists and religious groups, as well as a letter from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, telling him not to attend the second annual March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 2014, was about a group telling a man how he should act as a Catholic Archbishop.

So how should we feel about government officials deciding what acceptable Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone Nancy Pelosi-x400Catholic behavior should be? In fact, some of the signers of the letter portray themselves as faithful, devout Catholics, yet they do not agree with Catholic Church teachings. Predictably, they use Pope Francis, wrenching his words “Who am I to judge?” to mean “Anything goes!”  Ironically, this does not seem to apply to Archbishop Cordileone attending the March for Marriage. Who are they to judge his attendance? The very Pope they attempt to use as a rhetorical weapon, only four years ago fought against politicians in Argentina just like them!

Let’s be honest: We all try to separate our actions from our person.  We are all pretty convinced that just because we “haven’t killed anybody,” our lies, infidelities, selfishness, and inactive faith life aren’t so bad. We are “good people,” even spiritual. But following the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Ten Commandments seem, quite frankly, just too hard, rather optional really. Sometimes being Catholic can be downright embarrassing, especially when you do not agree with the truths of God’s law, or you don’t even know what they are. Without sound catechesis and an active prayer and sacramental life, attempting to live as a Catholic in the public square can be difficult. Pretty quickly, truth becomes relative. At times even hostile. We want our faith, without the truth it teaches. It is the American “right” that comes with the privatization of religion. Catholics have bought into the rhetoric: I’m Catholic, but my faith isn’t part of my public life. Wasn’t that the great demand made of President John Kennedy? And certainly many, if not most, of our Catholic politicians now live by this construct.

In the letter written to Archbishop Cordileone, the authors quoted Pope Francis, saying: “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” What they failed to include were the strong words of then Cardinal Bergoglio, who adamantly fought against same-sex marriage in Argentina in 2010, stating:

“In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts….let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”[1]

Archbishop Cordileone is, in fact, doing exactly what Pope Francis would ask him to do; what, in fact, he himself did: act like a Catholic Archbishop. In his response to the letter urging that he not attend the March for Marriage, the Archbishop of San Francisco teaches us what that means:

“I appreciate your affirmation of my Church’s teaching—not unique to our religion, but a truth accessible to anyone of good will—on the intrinsic human dignity of all people, irrespective of their stage and condition in life.  That principle requires us to respect and protect each and every member of the human family, from the precious child in the womb to the frail elderly person nearing death.  It also requires me, as a bishop, to proclaim the truth—the whole truth—about the human person and God’s will for our flourishing. I must do that in season and out of season, even when truths that it is my duty to uphold and teach are unpopular, including especially the truth about marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. That is what will be doing on June 19th.”[2]

On Thursday, many Catholics, and those of other faiths, will be joining him in voicing the importance of marriage and family, and the right for a child to have a mother and a father. Incidentally, the Italian name Cordileone means “heart of the lion.”  So how should we feel about government officials attempting to decide what acceptable Catholic behavior should be? Fortunately, the good archbishop answers the question for us. The Archbishop courageously imitates the “Lion of Judah,” Jesus Christ Himself, in presenting timeless essential truth, based in true love and charity.

Please see Bishop Paul Loverde’s statement in support of Archbishop Cordileone here.


[1] National Catholic Register. (2010, July 8). Retrieved from http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/cardinal_bergoglio_hits_out_at_same-sex_marriage#ixzz34v0Jfjn6 

[2] Archdiocese of San Francisco. (2014, June 16). Retrieved from http://www.sfarchdiocese.org/about-us/archbishop-cordileone/homilies-writings-and-statements/?search=march%20for%20marriage&C=940&I=4035

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 By: Caitlin Bootsma

Sometimes it seems like the fight for life, for marriage, for religious liberty and for social justice is just too large of a task. After all, I certainly don’t have the time to beat down legislators’ doors every day, nor do I know if they would listen to me if I did.

shutterstock_1619788And yet, I care very deeply about the laws that are being considered nationally and here in the state of Virginia. It matters to me that adopted children have the benefit of being placed with a married husband and wife and it matters to me that my taxpayer dollars do not go toward funding abortions of any kind.

Enter the Virginia Catholic Conference.

You may or may not be aware of all of the work that the Virginia Catholic Conference does on behalf of the Catholic Church in Virginia. Notably, under the direction of Jeff Caruso, the VCC has, for example, opposed the expansion of who can be sentenced with the death penalty, supported conscience protection for adoption and foster-care providers and supported better pre-natal health care for legal immigrants. A summary of highlights from the Virginia Catholic Conference’s advocacy work can be seen here.

For the next month, the Virginia legislature is in session deliberating a number of important pieces of legislation. One such bill, if passed, would limit state-funded abortions to lives that were conceived through rape or incest (which is federal law). Currently, Virginia also funds abortions of fetuses who have physical deformities or mental deficiencies. A bill being considered right now would limit state-funded abortions solely to those mandated by federal policy.

Crucial to the passing of these often life-saving bills is the participation of people like you and me. And here is the thing – this participation takes literally two minutes of your time. The Virginia Catholic Conference sends out an alert regarding bills like the one above and asks us to send a pre-written email to legislators, expressing our views. You might not think a quick action like this matters, but it does. Jeff Caruso has said time and time again that the tipping point for some legislators on issues has been how many of their constituents they have heard from.

Don’t delay. Lending our voice to these issues can make a huge impact and it is easy.

Sign up for the Virginia Catholic Conference emails. Follow and act on the alerts — especially during this legislative session.  We are called to be faithful citizens not only during election season, but every day throughout the year.

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