One of the most important events in the modern history of the Catholic church will soon reach a historical milestone. On Oct. 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council will be celebrated by the church throughout the world.
Making a Difference
A friend of mine who is a nun and fellow journalist asked me to write a column on civility. But my immediate response was that civility didn't really apply to the social justice and peace theme of my column.
But then the obvious hit me.
It's that special time of the year again -- at least for parents -- when kids start heading back to school. And for those who have discovered the joy of learning, school is an adventure.
From abortion to war, vigilante militias to hate groups, angry language to road rage, computer games to movies, violence holds so much of American society in its deadly grip.
Countless numbers of Americans have either become violent, are insensitive to the grave harm violence brings, or are entertained by it. These easily observable facts point to a society that has significantly lost its respect for the dignity of each human life.
Vast raging forest fires, a gigantic wind and thunderstorm system, and boiling, record-breaking temperatures have helped to further convince millions of us -- including the majority of climatologists -- that the earth's climate is dangerously changing, and human-induced global warming is at the heart of it.
Imagine being very hungry almost all the time. Imagine telling your children to wait until the end of the day to eat a very small meal. Imagine eating every other day. Imagine not eating at all.
Very sadly, more than 18 million people in West Africa's Sahel region -- an area between the Sahara Desert and the African tropics -- do not have to imagine severe hunger. They are either experiencing it or getting very close to it.
The Fourth of July is the most patriotic of U.S. holidays. As the red, white and blue waves from sea to shining sea, parades, fireworks and social celebrations fill the day. It's a special time to cherish what is good about America.
But a mature patriotism also demands that we take an honest look at the dark side of our government and society. After all, how can we genuinely claim to love our nation if we ignore its many illnesses?
It's a good thing the Lord hears the cry of the poor, because Congress is barely listening.
Although the federal deficit of approximately $1 trillion and the national debt of more than $15 trillion are important realities that need to be seriously addressed, cutting and eliminating programs that aid the poor is morally unacceptable.
The richness of the ritual, the lovely music, a challenging homily and the enthusiastic prayerfulness of the assembly was a wonderful experience of Catholic Christian community.
The recent installation of Archbishop William E. Lori, as the chief shepherd of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, was for me a taste of Catholic unity -- but only a fleeting taste.
Most Catholics – clergy and laity – were late to condemn slavery, largely absent in the civil rights movement, slow to denounce the Vietnam War, have long ignored the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in general have remained rather quiet regarding nearly every social injustice facing our world, with the exception of abortion –and even there the vast majority of Catholics are only minimally active at best.