Bulletin (August 27, 2006)

Last weekend, Deacon Ted gave a beautiful testimony about his dad, who served for decades as a pharmacist. His dad always practiced according to his conscience, and people respected him for that. It seems like we are losing that appreciation of the importance of conscience. In spite of much talk about “tolerance”, we are becoming more intolerant. A Catholic lawyer told me about her husband, who for years has been part of group medical practice. From the beginning he told his colleagues that in conscience he could not perform vasectomies. His fellow doctors and patients respected his conscience and made a place for him. The Washington State Pharmacy Board is in the process of deciding whether pharmacists in our state will have a similar right to practice according to their consciences. Over the past two weekends, many of you (well over three hundred) signed letters supporting the conscience rights of pharmacists.

The current issue, of course, is a drug called Emergency Contraception or Plan B. The media have framed this debate as a contest between religion and science. That is not the case. We are talking about two different philosophies regarding the meaning and worth of human life. It would be good for both sides to review a bit of basic biology: Conception can take place within minutes after intercourse. Some medical websites say it can happen in five minutes. The beautiful PBS documentary on “Life’s Greatest Miracle” stated that in about thirty minutes the sperm can arrive at the ovum, thus beginning a distinct human life. Proponents of Plan B boast that the drug can be “effective” if taken within three days (72 hours) of sexual union. The question is: Effective for what? Obviously, not just to prevent ovulation or sperm transport, but to destroy a newly conceived human.

This summer, I have spent time reading, praying and thinking about this debate; not because it is the only issue before us, but because it is so fundamental to the direction our society will take - and our relation, as Christians, to society. I should point out that, in this debate, the Catholic Church has no intention of imposing its teaching on anyone else. If the rest of society does not accept our understanding of the dignity of human life, we have no means of coercion - nor do we want any. As Pope John Paul II said, “The Church proposes, she imposes nothing.” We do not wish to impose anything, but I hope you will join with me in defending our rights to speak and practice according to our conscience. This is important, especially since the current administration has ruled that Emergency Contraception be sold as an over the counter drug. A brave group of pro-life pharmacists are making a conscience stand in the face of powerful forces. They deserve our support and prayers.

Speaking of prayers, I appreciate your ongoing prayer for my sister Melanie. Below is a picture my brother Louis took of her and our brother Greg. With a great effort, Melanie can lift her arm, but she still cannot use it for any practical purposes such as holding a book or working around the house. Please continue to pray for her and her husband Alex.

This weekend, I turn sixty. I have a lot of company since over three million Americans were born in that first year after World War II.. It was the beginning of the Baby Boom - a group that frightens demographers as we draw close to retirement. I am hoping, with God’s help, to continue working until the Good Lord calls me to the only retirement that matters. I appreciate your prayers and good wishes, but as far as presents, I have accumulated everything I need and then some. I would, of course, appreciate any help you can give for children in Peru, through the Mary Bloom Center. Here at Holy Family, I have received a wonderful present this summer: not a personal gift, but what your support of the Capital Campaign has made possible - the renovation of our buildings, grounds and parking lots. It seems like a little miracle - and it marks the beginning of new chapter for our school and overall parish. What matters now is that this renovation of our physical plant inspire us to allow God to renew our lives and our parish community.

En la parte en inglés he escrito algo sobre lo que llaman “Contracepción de Emergencia” o “Plan B.” Los medios de comunicación lo han presentado como un debate entre ciencia y religión, pero realmente es sobre dos visiones del valor del ser humano. Es importante que los dos lados revisen un poco de biología básica: La concepción de un ser humano puede suceder minutos después de relaciones intimas. Los promotores de Plan B nos dice que la droga puede ser “eficaz” si se la toma hasta tres días (72 horas) después de unión sexual. La pregunta es: ¿Eficaz para que? Obviamente no solamente para prevenir la ovulación o transporte del espermatozoide, sino para destruir un ser humano recién concebido.

Como muchos de ustedes saben, este fin de semana, cumplo sesenta años. Tengo mucha compañía porque más de tres millones de estadounidenses nacieron en el primer año después de la Segunda Guerra mundial - incluyendo a los presidentes Bush y Clinton. A estas alturas no necesito regalos, pero por supuesto estaría agradecido por cualquier donación para ayudar a los niños del Perú por medio del Centro Mary Bloom. Aquí en Holy Family, he recibido un lindo presente, no como regalo personal, sino lo que su apoyo de la Campaña Capital ha hecho posible - la renovación de nuestros edificios y parking. (Abajo hay una foto de unos de los muchachos que ofrecieron su trabajo para reparar el salón al lado de la escuela.) Es como un pequeño milagro - y marca el comienzo de un nuevo capítulo para nuestra escuela y parroquia. Lo que importa ahora es que con la renovación física, pedimos a Dios que renueva nuestra vidas y comunidad parroquial.

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