Sunday, October 21, 2012

Marriage Matters

Same-sex marriage is in the thoughts of the voters in Washington State, who will soon cast their ballots to approve or reject Referendum 74. Proponents insist this law is needed to ensure equality for same-sex couples, however, civil unions already provide homosexual couples all the rights of married couples under Washington law – without redefining marriage. R-74 further claims that religious freedoms will be preserved, yet in every state where marriage has been redefined, the result has been increasing intrusion on parental authority, religious liberty, and freedom of speech and conscience.
 
Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima has written a thoughtful and eloquent letter about this issue, stating, “R-74… jeopardizes our religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Once marriage is redefined as a genderless contract… No institution or individual could propose that married mothers and fathers provide a singular benefit to children without being accused of discrimination.”
Bishop Tyson also points out that:
 
 “R-74’s perception of marriage is wrong from the start, since it presumes that marriage is simply a matter of what any two consenting adults desire. But this has never been the meaning of marriage, nor has it been the reason why marriage is recognized as essential to the common good. R-74 redefines marriage and therefore pays no heed to the fundamental facts of human life… It ignores the significance of the human body as well as sexual difference and complementarity, understood in their fullness – spiritual, biological, psychological and emotional. R-74 overlooks the basic rights and equality of children, and it dispenses with an appreciation for the unique place of motherhood and fatherhood. As a law, R-74 therefore conditions our society to forget or ignore basic realities of human existence… This is the tragic irony; a law touted as a victory for human rights and equality is actually a loss of civil rights and equality for the most vulnerable among us, children.”
 
(For the full text of Bishop Tyson's letter, visit the website of the Yakima Diocese)
Marriage is by nature the union of one man and one woman, forever, for children, for family, and for our future. Refuse to redefine it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally, June 8, 2012, Richland, Washington

Mary Jane & Msgr. Dillon, our two elder freedom fighters at
the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally, Richland, Washington June 8, 2012
A partial view of the 200 people attending
The Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally at the Federal Building in Richland, WA
Some of our wonderful youth leaders - our hope for the future!
Judy Schultz, the leader of our local
Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Wake-Up Call for America: Defend Religious Liberty Before It Is Too Late

Catholics, Christians, all religions and those of no religion must unite to issue a clear, strong call for the defense and protection of our Constitutional religious liberty: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  America has always been a nation in which all are guaranteed the protection of their God-given rights to religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Yet in these times, we are facing unprecedented challenges to our treasured right to religious freedom from our own government and from rising and aggressive atheism. This is a call to all Americans to stand together to defend religious freedom.

In a healthy culture, science and sociology cooperate with faith and religion to bring order and protect human rights. Government guards the natural rights granted by God: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our government has historically worked alongside religious organizations to serve the needs of the citizen, independently of one another but in harmony, in a unique system of cooperation and freedom that has served our country well since its founding. 


In stark contrast, China represents a chilling example of a repressive government that stifles religious freedom. The Chinese government believes that freedom is from the State, not from God. Religion, considered useful as “the opiate of the people,” is allowed to function only under governmental control, permitting limited freedom of worship while excluding religion and morals from the public square. The Chinese government does not permit the constraints of moral or natural law to interfere with national goals of accumulation of wealth and power, instead utilizing any means necessary to achieve these goals. Disregard for the environment, manipulation of the global economy, and exploitation of the worker: all are permissible under the banner of State Capitalism. Natural law is ignored as the government seeks to manipulate its own human population by means of their coercive and draconian one-child policy. In a country where the State reigns supreme, the government dictates every aspect of life and death.
 

In the United States, such human rights abuses have never been tolerated under our Constitution. American’s unique policy of freedom of religion and the free marketplace has positioned our country as a world leader.  Our prosperous economy, our military and moral strength, our leadership in innovation and ingenuity, all reflect the wisdom of our Founding Fathers in creating a government that respects and guards religious freedom and human rights.


Yet in recent years, there has been an alarming and parallel erosion of both our freedoms and our strengths. Changes which erode religious freedom have been introduced quietly, often without notice.  The most egregious example is the recent Mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services requiring all insurance plans to include free contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs without a religious exemption for Catholic or Christian charitable agencies, hospitals, social service agencies, or individual employers or employees. This represents an unprecedented attack on religious liberty and freedom of conscience. In its attempt to reduce religious liberty to Sunday worship and remove rights of conscience from the Christian institutions, which have historically lived out their faith as active providers of valuable public services, the government is taking a step that will have serious repercussions for all of us, regardless of our religious views.


In response to these attacks on religious liberty, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued a statement entitled, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the reasons for their concern: * 


“We are Catholics. We are Americans…To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other… That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together….


“Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday.... It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith?”


 “This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue… That is our American heritage, our most cherished freedom… If our obligations and duties to God are impeded, or even worse, contradicted by the government, then we can no longer claim to be a land of the free, and a beacon of hope for the world.”


What can you do as a Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jew or Muslim at this critical time? Let us not allow theological or philosophical differences to divide us. Join with us in the “Fortnight 4 Freedom” prayer campaign, beginning on June 19th and culminating on the 4th of July, and stand with us in defense of our most cherished freedoms.


Rev. Dr. Mac Culver                                   Msgr. D.P. Dillon, Chairman
Rev. Art Moore                                           Nancy M. Murray


*For the full statement “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty”
 & for more information about the prayer campaign, visit the USCCB website:


Monday, June 4, 2012

STAND UP FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM!

AMERICA STANDS AT A CROSSROADS:
WILL WE STAND UP FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM?

Our nation’s founding principles of liberty, justice, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience are facing an unprecedented attack from the very government that is charged with the responsibility of protecting these freedoms. Which path will we choose – will we stand up for religious freedom or allow it to be redefined out of existence – and what might it mean to every one of us, regardless of our religious views?

St. Thomas Aquinas defines freedom as the ability to choose the good. How do we determine what is good and what is evil? The lines seem blurred in these times, but there is a clear path, well known to people of faith. We must form our consciences with guidance from God, the Ten Commandments, and the natural order of creation. Natural law and the tenets of the Judeo-Christian faith provide sure guideposts to help us to choose that which leads to life – and reject what leads to death.

Consider the issue of abortion, often defended as a “choice” - a “compassionate” solution to an unplanned pregnancy. But reference to God’s commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” and to natural law provides the truth. Nature reveals that the unborn child is a human being with a unique pattern of DNA from the moment of conception, a person that must be protected. When we reject God’s law and natural law, our freedom to choose life becomes license to choose death. Abortion is redefined as a “reproductive right”, leading to the destruction of millions of unborn children and the devastating toll of grief and regret experienced by millions of women and men.

The effort to legalize same-sex marriage is also presented in terms we associate with goodness: equality, civil rights, and compassion. But God’s commandment clearly shows that a man and a woman are to join as one flesh in a fruitful, lifelong, marital union. Nature also reveals that men and women are made to complete one another and to bring forth children. Marriage between two people of the same sex is not possible according to nature and God’s law, but the attempt to reframe the issue as one of equality has been quite successful. Already those who defend traditional marriage are being accused of discrimination or worse. The impact on religious freedom and freedom of speech is just beginning to be evident.

Now, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), government is attempting to redefine good medical care. The Department of Health and Human Services Mandate requiring all insurance plans to provide free contraception, sterilization, morning after pills, and even the abortion drug Ella, changes the meaning of preventative care. These drugs and procedures do nothing to prevent disease. Pregnancy is not a malignancy; it is a natural and healthy state that brings forth new life. In addition, contraception is already widely available and affordable and often subsidized by tax dollars. This mandate, not necessary for “access” to contraception, represents a deliberate and unprecedented attack on religious freedom and conscience protections. The use of these abortifacient drugs is morally repugnant to many employers and employees, yet the religious and conscience exemption for these laws is so narrowly drawn that most religiously affiliated organizations will not qualify. Catholic charities, hospitals, universities, schools, private Catholic employers and employees – none are exempt. The focus on contraception is aimed at isolating Catholic agencies from the mainstream, since contraception is so widely accepted as a “good”, while the inclusion of the abortion drug Ella is calculated to definitively strip our freedom of conscience. If the government can force a Catholic agency to pay for abortion, there are no more limits. This is an attempt to redefine freedom of religion as “freedom of worship”. If we are not free to live our faith in the public square, we no longer have freedom of religion.

If we do not stand together, our religious freedom and freedom of conscience will be a thing of the past. The great American experiment will have failed. Do not sleep while your rights are stripped. Stand with us now or you may stand alone later. Stand for truth, for freedom, for good.

TAKE ACTION!

  • Visit www.standupforreligiousfreedom.com for info about the Rally for Religious Freedom. The Richland, WA rally will be held June 8, 12 noon – 1:00 PM at the Federal Building

  • Join the Conference of Catholic Bishops in prayer for the “FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM” June 21st – July 4th www.fortnight4freedom.org

  • Come to the Rally for Religious Freedom at St. Joseph’s Church, Dillon Hall, 520 S. Garfield, Kennewick on Sunday, June 10th, from 3:00-4:00 PM

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Healing Our Hearts of Sin and Sorrow

All of us have a longing for the perfect, infinite, all-loving God. All of us were intended to be in relationsh­ip with Him. Why do we so often experience brokenness instead of wholeness, turmoil instead of peace, sorrow instead of joy, and alienation from God instead of union with Him?

The relationsh­ip of mankind with his Creator, God, has been broken by sin since the beginning, when Adam and Eve refused to follow the commandmen­t of God, preferring the counsel of the tempter. The effect of sin on our world is enormous, yet there is an answer, there is a Redeemer: Jesus Christ.

We are instructed “from the beginning” on what is "good". We, created in God's image, are good, as is the earth and all creation. The only thing that is "not good" in the descriptio­n of creation is that man is alone. He is given a companion, a helper - the woman. This is what is intended for mankind and for our future, for one man and one woman to join in a life-long one-flesh union, to be fruitful and multiply, becoming co-Creator­s with the eternal God.
This, the true marital relationship is one in which the two become one, open to life, both unitive and procreative - can only happen between one man and one woman. Heterosexual relationships that are loving but outside marriage are missing the dimension of a life-long marital commitment. Homosexual relationships cannot fulfill this possibility by nature. So although these relationships may be loving, it is not what God has shown us by imprinting it on the human body, and it does not fulfill His command.
This is apparent in our human physique, and is what John Paul refers to in his “Theology of the Body” as the spousal meaning of the body. Natural, beautiful. Many of us have fallen short of living out its truth, myself among them. That doesn't mean all relationships are the same in God's eyes.  If you look at the “fruits” of our society's approval of the disconnection of sexual relationships from God's directive for the male and female to become one flesh, for a lifetime, open to children, you will find an absolute battlefield filled with the wounded hearts of men and women whose misconceptions lead to so much sorrow, including STDs, abortion, infertility, childlessness, sexually and emotionally abusive relationships, etc.  

What is sin? Is it not our refusal to live our God-given purpose? When sexual relationsh­ips become recreation­al; when we refuse to obey His commandmen­ts, is that not sin? Sin brought death into the world, and we all suffer from it, experienci­ng violence, pain, sickness, and death. It was not meant to be so. Obedience to a loving God is life-givin­g. Turn back to Him in repentence and love.
We are meant for something better. Self-discipline with God's help will lead us to the fullness of His intention for us.

Some believe they were born with the tendency to same-sex attraction, and question why they were made this way if homosexuality is wrong.  But we could just as well ask why are any of us made the way we are: Why are some beautiful, some volatile, some placid, some intelligent, some suffer developmental disability, some have terminal illness, some physically handicapped, some shy, some sociable, and some faced with the challenge of same-sex attraction?  God alone has the answer, but I think what really matters is how we handle the challenges we are given – and how we treat one another. Christians are called to meet a standard set by God. Meeting that standard often means that we must practice self-control and also mercy towards others, With God's grace, both are possible although not always easy.
Since sexual intimacy is a gift given to be shared within the marital union only, that means that single people as well as those who are attracted to same-sex partners would be call to remain celibate, and so would those who are vowed to God, such as priests, nuns, monks, etc. Again, with God's grace, this manner of self-denial is possible, not always easy. We also have His mercy if we fall.
As a Catholic, prayer and the grace of the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist give me strength.  I also want to share with you a beautiful method of healing prayer which could be of great benefit to both Catholics and all Christians. Developed by Dr. Ed Smith, a Protestant counselor who has used this prayer method successfully to help victims of trauma, abuse, etc. to heal and find a path to forgiveness, it is called Theophostic prayer - information can be found at www.theophostic.com. A good place to start is with Dr. Smith's book "Healing Life's Hurts" which is available at his website.  This has become a favorite prayer of mine. The basic idea is to go back in your memory to times when you have suffered hurt and invite Jesus into that memory. Ask Him for a message in prayer about where He was at that time and you will often receive an insight that allows you to let old injuries go. This prayer brings healing, helps us to forgive and gives us a deeper understanding of why we react emotionally to certain “triggers”. This can help us to move beyond those reactions to experience more fully the life God intends for us.
May each person who reads this find hope and comfort in prayer and sacrament, and find God’s peace.  May each find the path back to God, the narrow path: Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.


Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

Photo from theFederalist.com     My response to a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof promoting birth control for teens was ...