Bulletin (October 31, 2004)

Last Sunday we had a beautiful celebration in honor of Our Lord of the Miracles. This devotion began in 1651 when an Angolan slave named Benito painted an image of Christ Crucified on a wall in Lima. Four years later an earthquake struck the Peruvian coast leveling almost all buildings in the Lima area. However, the wall that had the picture of Christ remained standing. It began a focus of prayer, first for the slaves and freed slaves, then spread to the entire population of the city. Today, the image is carried in procession during the last weeks of October. With millions of participants, it is considered the largest religious procession in the world. Peruvians have brought this devotion to many places throughout the world. Rome, New York, Chicago and many other cities have processions in honor of Our Lord of the Miracles. The first procession in Seattle took place twenty-years ago, so last Sunday the “Hermandad” (brotherhood) of the Lord of the Miracles celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in our city. Although Holy Family is not the only parish in the Archdiocese to host this celebration, I believe that our procession is the largest in the city. It was beautiful to see so many take part in the devotion, not only Peruvians and other Hispanics, but Filipinos, Vietnamese and a good number of “Anglos.” Below is a picture, taken by Hugo Ludena, at the Roxbury entrance of our church. Also, Tom Weber took a picture of the front of the procession as it advanced through the alley next to our parking lot.

This devotion to Christ Crucified reminds us of the gratitude we should have to Jesus for our salvation. We see that gratitude in today’s Gospel as Zacchaeus expresses his astonishment that Jesus would come to his house. As a response, he tells the Lord that he will give half of all his possessions to the poor. The Archdiocese of Seattle has encouraged us to use this Gospel to focus on the deeper meaning of Stewardship – the recognition of God’s blessings and our grateful response.

On a civic level I am grateful to be part of a democratic society, which allows citizens to participate in the selection of its leaders. Like many of you, I spent some time this week filling out my absentee ballot. I greatly prefer the absentee ballot to a polling booth because it gives more flexibility in researching candidates and initiatives. An Internet site that I found helpful in finding out candidates’ positions on key human life and family issues was USVOTE.org at http://www.usvote.org/. While most people know how major candidates stand on these questions, it is more difficult to find out the positions of local and judicial candidates.

This has been an interesting election year. I cannot recall such a use of simplistic slogans to try to prevent the Catholic Church (and other religious bodies) from speaking out on basic moral issues. Slogans are usually intended to stop conversation. A person will say something like, “Well, I believe in the separation of Church and state.” Or, “I am against the Church imposing her beliefs on the rest of society.” Then they will cross their arms, convinced they have brought the discussion to an end.

Instead of accepting slogans as conversation stoppers, it would be better to use them as conversation starters by asking questions such as: “What do you mean by separation of Church and state?” “Why should the beliefs of Christians be ruled out of court from the start?” And, “Isn’t any law ultimately an ‘imposition’ of certain beliefs and values on the whole of society?” (For example, because of shared beliefs and values, we have laws that make some drugs illegal and others available only with a prescription.)

Of course, the problem is that we are far from a consensus on many vital issues that face our society. My hope is that we can have a more respectful dialogue on matters such as taxes, war, educational reform, immigration, school vouchers, gambling, minimum wage, global economy, etc. These are issues on which the Church has proposed certain moral principles to help in guiding lawmakers. At the same time, she recognizes their complexity. The Church’s position on these issues always comes back to a fundamental concern: the family. We believe that the political system exists not as an end in itself, but to promote the well-being and security of families – not autonomous individuals, but families. For that reason, we see the attempt to change the definition of marriage as an assault the very purpose of human of society. Upholding marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a non-negotiable issue for any Christian.

There are other non-negotiable issues. The Church teaches that it is always wrong to take an innocent human life. This principle applies to issues such as abortion, euthanasia (“assisted suicide”), embryonic stem cell research, and the targeting of civilians in war. Also, human cloning falls into this category. As the Instruction on Respect for Human Life stated, "Attempts . . . for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through 'twin fission,' cloning, or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union" (RHL I:6). Human cloning also involves abortion because the "rejected" or "unsuccessful" embryonic clones are destroyed, yet each clone is a human being.

Capital punishment relates to these human life issues although it is on a different level because we are not talking about innocent human life. While the Church has always taught that the state does have a right to impose the death penalty, the Holy Father has made a very strong case against its application in modern society. It is interesting that people who oppose the death penalty will often make exceptions, for example, for terrorists or for those who murder children. The Holy Father has provoked the wrath of many people by arguing against even those exceptions. I admit, that his teaching has been challenging to me, but these are crucial questions for all of us to consider in light of our faith. And the issues will be with us for a long time. I hope that after the elections we will continue to reflect on them as citizens and as Christians.

Finally: A big thank you to the members of Holy Family’s Vietnamese Community for their kind donation for the Church roof. Twenty-three families donated a total of $1,140!

La celebración del Señor de los Milagros fue muy bella. He incluido algunas fotos en mi columna en inglés. Quisiera felicitar a todos los miembros de la Hermandad del Señor de los Milagros en su veinticinco aniversario aquí en Seattle y agradecer a todos que participaran en el evento.

Con las elecciones el día martes es una buena oportunidad de reflexionar sobre los valores fundamentales de nuestra sociedad. Como mencioné en la parte en inglés, hay muchos asuntos importantes: impuestos, economía nacional y global, inmigración, educación, etc. Pero tenemos que enfocar especialmente en los que se llaman los asuntos no negociables. Hay cinco que forman parte básica del debate nacional en este momento.

Estos cinco asuntos son llamados no negociables porque conllevan actos que siempre son moralmente malos y nunca pueden ser promovidos por la ley. Es un pecado grave respaldar o promover cualquiera de estos actos, y ningún candidato que verdaderamente desee fomentar el bien común puede apoyar estos cinco asuntos no negociables.

1. El Aborto

Sobre una ley que permita el aborto, la Iglesia enseña que “nunca es lícito someterse a ella, ni participar en una campaña de opinión a favor de una ley semejante, ni darle el sufragio del propio voto” (EV 73). El aborto es el asesinato intencional y directo de un ser humano inocente y, por lo tanto, es una clase de homicidio.

El niño siempre es la parte inocente, y ninguna ley puede permitir que le quiten la vida. Aun cuando un niño es concebido por una violación o incesto, el niño no tiene la culpa y no debe sufrir la muerte por los pecados de otros.

2. La Eutanasia

A menudo disfrazada con el nombre de “muerte misericordiosa”, la eutanasia es una forma de homicidio. Nadie tiene el derecho de quitarse la vida (suicidio), y nadie tiene el derecho de quitarle la vida a una persona inocente.

Con la eutanasia, los enfermos o ancianos son asesinados por un sentido de la compasión mal encauzado, pero la verdadera compasión no puede incluir el cometer actos intrínsicamente malvados hacia otra persona (cf. EV 73).

3. Las Investigaciones con Células Estaminales Fetales

Los embriones humanos son seres humanos. “El respeto por la dignidad del ser humano excluye toda manipulación experimental o explotación del embrión humano” (CDF 4b).

Los recientes avances científicos demuestran que cualquier curación que pueda resultar al experimentar con células estaminales fetales, puede ser desarrollada utilizando células estaminales adultas. Las células estaminales adultas pueden ser obtenidas sin causar daño a los adultos de las cuales provienen. Por lo tanto, ya no existe un argumento médico a favor del uso de las células estaminales fetales.

4. La Clonación Humana

“Los intentos... por obtener un ser humano sin conexión alguna con la sexualidad mediante ‘fisión gemelar’, clonación, partenogénesis, deben ser considerados contrarios a la moral en cuanto que están en contraste con la dignidad tanto de la procreación humana como de la unión conyugal” (RVH 1:6).

La clonación humana también termina siendo una forma de homicidio porque destruye el clon “rechazado” o “malogrado”; sin embargo, cada clon es un ser humano.

5. El “Matrimonio” Homosexual

El verdadero matrimonio es la unión de un hombre y una mujer. El reconocimiento legal de cualquier otra forma de “matrimonio” menosprecia el verdadero matrimonio, y el reconocimiento legal de las uniones homosexuales en realidad hace daño a las personas homosexuales porque les anima a continuar viviendo un acuerdo objetivamente inmoral.

“En el caso de que en una Asamblea legislativa se proponga por primera vez un proyecto de ley a favor de la legalización de las uniones homosexuales, el parlamentario católico tiene el deber moral de expresar clara y públicamente su desacuerdo y votar contra el proyecto de ley. Conceder el sufragio del propio voto a un texto legislativo tan nocivo del bien común de la sociedad es un acto gravemente inmoral” (UPH 10).