"The answer is yes." 2 Cor 1:18
The closest I have ever gotten to the Throne of Grace in this world was my father's mohair chair, where he held court in the evenings after supper. He sat reading the evening paper, his head tilted back to see through the bottom half of his bifocals and, inexplicably, often wore his hat, a carryover from the Depression years in Minnesota when houses were cool and drafty.
He could field any homework question, especially math, and he was open to requests for permission for this or that. A quick no was final, but hesitation left room for negotiation. My younger brother discovered that "maybe" meant "yes," but at a later time. My sister, the only girl after six boys, could get anything she asked for.
I try to imagine a day in which the answer is always yes. Think of a drive into work where all the lights turned green as soon as you approached. What if we knew that a prayer would be answered; how carefully we would think through what we were asking for. What if the whole world was granted a yes day. What would be the outcome if every prayer were answered?
"The answer is yes." 2 Cor 1:18
Is there room in the Obama governing coalition for pro-life Democrats? The President personally provided the answer to that question, a resounding yes, in his speech at Notre Dame last month. Others are not so sure.
The issue arises most recently with the appointment of Alexia Kelley as Director of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Kelley is the founder of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a Washington-based group that “promotes increased awareness of Catholic social teaching through the media and provides opportunities for Catholics and citizens of good will to advance the common good in the public square.”
This may be the best Catholic news story on the internet today. It's an old story: Low income housing vs. development with Catholic Charities right in the middle.
Kudos to Yakima (Wash.) Herald-Republic reporter Ross Courtney. His lede (that's journalism-talk for the first paragraph) captures the issues at the heart of this thorny question:
By ROSS COURTNEY
PROSSER, Wash. -- Tourism requires workers; so does farming.
The people of this little city, which relies on both, are wrestling with where those workers will live.
Catholic Charities Housing Services has proposed building a low-income housing complex right next to a crown jewel of Prosser's fast growing wine tourism industry: Vintner's Village, a cluster of about 11 wineries and tasting rooms.
Manya Brachear of the Chicago Tribune writes a story on security at churches in light of the murder of Dr. George Tiller at his Lutheran church.
In the Catholic parish setting there is little culture of security, though there are some places that implement security pretty well. St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City has good security measures, at least from observation. I know of one archdiocese that can whisk away the archbishop from the chancery's rooftop via a helicopter, if necessary. At the parish level, it's a serious matter. More needs to be done.
The health care debate is heating up this week and the church has many issues at stake in the decisions that are being made. Yet, one wonders why the Obama administration would even allow the hierarchy, which spent much of the last three months protesting the president’s appearance at Notre Dame, a seat at the table.
The poison pill for Catholics is, of course, federal funding of abortion. This has been banned by the Hyde Amendment of three decades now but the Obama administration did sign off on the District of Columbia's decision to use its funds for the procedure. That decision, however, did not involve federal funds. The concern is that if there is a government-run health insurance option in the final reform -- which is being fought on the grounds that it will stifle competition -- that option might include insurance for abortion.
If their website is any indication (it doesn’t appear to have been updated in about seven months), the group “Catholic Advocate” needs money. So I wasn’t too surprised when I received a copy of their latest direct mail fundraising appeal, produced in the form of an “Emergency Pro-Life Petition to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.”
Have you noticed the to-ing and fro-ing in the Vatican's newspaper L'Osservatore Romano over President Obama? Every time the paper -- which is not an official organ but is said to reflect the views of the Vatican -- presents something positive about Obama, it seems to balance it with another piece -- usually about a "life" issue -- to qualify the support.
For example, June 5, the L'Osservatore carried a a front-page article giving good marks to Obama's speech to the Arab world in Cairo and on an inside page ran a story that emphasized that when it comes to the Obama administration and pro-life issues, the Vatican and the U.S. bishops are in full agreement and that no compromise is possible on the right to life.
Others already have observed this yes-but support of Obama, but I was struck by the phenomenon again today as I scanned headlines from the NCR News Feed for the last few weeks:
Catholic church assets seem to be under scrutiny these days. In San Francisco, the church is disputing the payment of property transfer taxes possibly due and owing as a result of the transfer of property under the guise of "reorganization."
Now it appears that Israel's Finance Ministry wants taxes owed to it by local Catholic church institutions, as reported by John L. Allen Jr.
A whole neighborhood, or at least our block, took note this weekend as a five-year-old boy named Quinn attempted the first ride on his new two-wheeler. His feet still don't quite touch the ground when he straddles the small green bicycle he will grow into over the next few years. Better to get one too big than too small.
His dad guides him the first few yards until he gets moving fast enough to keep his balance, then he is gone, coasting and pedaling down the long sidewalk. At the end of the block he stops to turn around, falters but stays upright, pushes off and is on his way back, triumphant, his face beaming under his helmet.
"Liberation," his dad says, knowing from memory that his son is now free to go further and further into the big world.
As we enter the season of Pentecost, a guiding hand is withdrawn and gives way to an inner center of balance, self-motivation. Coming of age has its privileges and responsibilities. The world is ours to explore and influence.