Bulletin (July 13, 2003)

Our prayers are very much with Father Ramon and his family. On Sunday evening (July 6) their father passed away. As you know, their mom died in November so this has been a very difficult year for them. Fr. Ramon (and his sister Rosa) should be returning to Holy Family on July 24.

We had a good meeting this week with Ed Williams to review our income and expenses for the past fiscal year (July 1, 2002 – June 30, 2003). Our situation is more complicated than I originally imagined. I hope to give a more detailed report later this month. I have invited Scott Bader, archdiocesan Director of Parish Stewardship, to meet with our Parish Council, Finance Council and School Commission. In the meantime, I greatly appreciate your support, financial and spiritual, for our parish.

Sharon Carriere’s death has left a great gap in our parish. Our present financial situation does not enable us to replace her (it would be impossible to do so even if we did have the money). Other staff members (Deacon Ted, Father Ramon, Tom Weber, Cynthia, Monica and myself) are trying to pick up the many things she did. Also some volunteers are helping. If you can give some time to help out in the office, please call Monica or Tom, 767-6220. I ask your prayers and patience during this time.

In recent weeks I have been thinking about “anti-Catholicism.” On one level it is easy to dismiss the concept. As individual Catholics we do not experience discrimination such as others do on account of race. When we go about our daily activities, people do not immediately identify us a Catholic unless we wear a medal or some other symbol.

Also since we Catholics often criticize our own Church, you cannot say that such criticism is automatically anti-Catholic. It is true that in the past we tended to keep our complaints within the family and not air our dirty laundry in public. That has changed, but still it does not necessarily mean a person is anti-Catholic if he publicly criticizes the Church.

Philip Jenkins (history professor at Pennsylvania State University) has written a book called The New Anti-Catholicism which helped me understand the issue. The problem lies not so much in accusing the Church of doing bad things, but saying that certain things are bad simply because Catholics do them. In other words, they use a different standard in criticizing the Church. Let me give a couple of examples.

Once a guy came to me very upset because the Council of Trent pronounced “anathemas.” For him this indicated how malicious and dogmatic the Catholic Church is. I admitted that I was not comfortable with that kind of formula, but pointed out to him that in the Bible; Moses also pronounced “anathemas.” Instead of saying “never mind,” he said, “that is quite different; you cannot compare Moses to Catholic bishops.”

So it goes. For some people, it is OK to refer to ones male parent as “father” but to give that title to a priest is a violation of Jesus’ saying, “call no man ‘father.’” People are certainly free to interpret (or misinterpret) any given verse of Scripture, but if they apply it unevenly against the Catholic Church, then they have fallen into anti-Catholicism.

You could multiply examples of uneven applications of Scripture. (It was OK for Moses and Solomon to make carved statues of angels, but wrong for Catholics to do the same.) However, these forms of anti-Catholicism are somewhat mild in comparison to what we find in the mass media (newspapers, television, movies, etc.).

For me one of the most blatant examples of anti-Catholicism is the double standard applied to Pope Pius XII. As Jenkins brings out in The New Anti-Catholicism, it has become common to refer to the pope’s “silence” in the face of Hitler’s atrocities. There are two problems with that assertion. First, did the pope really remain “silent”? A great body of evidence indicates that he did not. Second, is the same standard applied to the pope as other world leaders? President Roosevelt knew about the atrocities against the Jewish people, but for whatever reasons did not speak out publicly. No one talks about the “silence” of Roosevelt. Or, for that matter, of the American Jewish Congress who knew a lot about what the Nazi’s were doing, but for prudential reasons did not make great public protests.

The question of the pope’s “silence” would be only of historical interest except for the fact that the media keep bringing it up to criticize current Church teaching. Fortunately, some people within the media recognize this bias. P-I columnist Joel Connolly wrote a perceptive essay on anti-Catholic stereotyping. Here is part of what he had to say:

On issues from AIDS to stem cell research, Catholic teaching and "the Vatican" get described as medieval obstacles to 21st century progress. Archbishop Alex Brunett is wondering whose agenda and what purpose is being served. “What is it about Catholicism that makes people comfortable calling us names and stereotyping us?” he asked. “Why do people want to stereotype Catholics? Is the Catholic Church the last object of socially acceptable bigotry?” Brunett is disturbed at the excesses of two recent editorial page columns that condemned the church for opposing use of condoms as a way of dealing with HIV/AIDS in southern Africa.

A P-I piece asserted that “the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church declined to challenge Adolf Hitler as he ran amok through Europe.” It likened HIV/AIDS to “a viral version of Hitler,” warning of “similar ignominy” if Catholicism fails to give its blessing to condoms.

A Seattle Times columnist argued that this country should “stick to the secular and practical values of human progress.” She speared Catholicism repeatedly, blaming the church for the spread of AIDS and giving emphasis to priests dying from the sexually transmitted disease. She claimed that Pope John Paul II is applying 12th century religious doctrine to the life of today. During the recent House debate on cloning, Seattle's Congressman-for-life Jim McDermott pegged the church in the Middle Ages as he upbraided its opposition to certain forms of stem cell research. McDermott brought up the trial of Galileo, and the 16th century Spanish king who asked the pope if it was all right for humans to drink coffee.

Disagreeing with the pontiff or bishops is one thing. Mockery, and comparisons chosen for purposes of insult, are quite another. Agree with him or differ, John Paul II is a 20th century man whose view of human dignity and the value of life was shaped by two seminal events, brutal Nazi occupation of his native Poland -- he lived perilously as an underground seminarian -- followed by Soviet-dictated totalitarianism.

*****

Nuestras oraciones están con el Padre Ramón y su familia. El día domingo (6 de julio) su papá falleció. Como saben, su mamá murió en noviembre. Ha sido un año difícil para ellos. El Padre Ramón regresara el 24 de julio.

Tuvimos una buena reunión con Ed Williams para revisar los ingresos y gastos del año fiscal (1ero de julio, 2002 al 30 de junio de 2003). Nuestra situación está un poca mas complicada que anticipábamos. Espero darles un reporte más detallado para el fin del mes. He invitado a Scott Bader, director arquidiocesano de mayordomía, para reunirse con el Consejo Parroquial, Consejo de Finanzas y la Comisión de la Escuela. Mientras tanto, agradezco su apoyo económico y espiritual.

El fallecimiento de Sharon Carriere ha dejado un vació en la parroquia. Nuestra situación económica no nos permite remplazarla, pero miembro del equipo (el diacono Ted, P. Ramón, Tom, Cintia y Mónica) y voluntarios están ayudando. Necesitamos voluntarios para ayudar en la oficina. Favor de llamar a Mónica, 206-767-6220, si Ud. puede ayudar.