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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Them’s Fightin’ Words

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What's the Catholic answer to Catholic bashing?  Our job as Catholics is not to remind people that we can’t be criticized, or to find ways to get our secular government to ‘protect’ us from nasty and unkind critiques, or to get the secular state to allow us the ‘freedom’ to practice our quirky beliefs inside their secular public order; it is instead to show secular critics that our own views on freedom, sex, and much else besides, are correct and should be adopted by the public at large.

A recent issue of U.S. News and World Report published an editorial that upset some Catholics. The essay in question was written by a writer who was rather annoyed that Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s majority-tipping decision allowed some nuns in Denver to opt out of the federal decree that requires businesses of a certain size to offer carcinogens birth control pills as part of their health insurance coverage. The editorialist in question, Jamie Stiehm, saw the Catholic Church as a domineering and meddlesome institution, and one that was usurping the hard won rights of non-Catholic and ‘good’ Catholic-Americans. According to Stiehm, Sotomayor was a ‘bad’ Catholic, in that she was unduly influenced by the authoritarian religious group to which she belonged; it seemed as if her Catholic beliefs had made her blind to the sacred, secular ideals of her own country, including those that boldly speak to the separation of church and state.

The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter has a thriving apostolate in the province of Cundinamarca in the country of Colombia. It is situated in the Municipality of Anolaima which is about a 2 ½ hour bus ride west of the capital, Bogota. There are currently three priests assigned there.

Father Angel Alfaro is a Spaniard who started the apostolate a few years ago. He bought land covered in jungle on the side of a mountain and literally built a farm on the site with his own hands. He was joined by a French priest, Father Louis Baudon de Mony. Together they established a fine rectory in the village of La Florida which is about a 30 minute drive (or 3-hour hike) up the mountain from the Anolaima.   By much hard work the old rectory building has been made into a comfortable and spacious home with a private chapel located on the village plaza. Because the rectory is located in a separate village this affords the priests much needed privacy for their prayer life.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Why They Hate Us

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I’m going to take a wild shot in the dark and say that most pro-life people, even the converts to the position, came from a home environment that included more than one other person. Most people, I have learned, come from this thing called a “family,” that involves a variety of other people, male and female, young and old, to whom one remains ontologically connected for the rest of one’s life. I have also learned, though this took somewhat longer, that most people regard these “families” as a good and useful thing, of positive benefit in their lives.

These ideas have taken some effort to get used to.

This presumption of familial security, common to most people operating in the pro-life world, is perhaps something of a handicap. It tends to make pro-lifers appear smug and self-satisfied and unable to understand the connotations of their message for those on the other side. And it quite possibly makes it impossible for them to understand the hatred and rage they, in all innocence, can engender when they suggest that abortion must be outlawed. I remember when I was younger seeing pro-life people holding signs of babies and advocating motherhood and thinking they were the worst people in the world. What kind of awful people would try to force a woman to destroy herself over a blob of cells?

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