Saturday, June 30, 2012

Reactions to Supreme Court's Ruling on ACA

On June 28, the Supreme Court upheld as a tax the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires individuals to purchase a health plan.  Several statements regarding this passage are noteworthy:  Click here to read the statement of the USCCB, here to read the statement of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and here to read the statement of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA).  As you read the statement by CHA, note that it is still reviewing and evaluating the decision and that it may have addtional comments after the review is complete.  Perhaps we could take the time to do the same -- review and evaluate what the Act states.  Most importantly, continue to pray for our country, for those who make its laws, for those who are disproportionately affected by these laws and for those for whom appropriate health care is still out of reach.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Countdown to International Day of Peace

The 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace (September 21) began on June 13.  Here's a message from Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary General:

Today [June 13], we start the 100-day countdown to the observance of the International Day of Peace, when we call on combatants around the world to put down their weapons and try to find peaceful solutions to their conflicts.

The International Day of Peace, marked every year on 21 September, gives us all a chance to reflect on the unconscionable toll – moral, physical, material – wrought by war. Those costs are borne not only by us today, but by future generations as well.

That is why this year’s theme is “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future.” It highlights the fact that we cannot possibly think about building a sustainable future if there is no sustainable peace. Armed conflicts attack the very pillars of sustainable development, robbing people of the opportunity to develop, to create jobs, to safeguard the environment, to fight poverty, to reduce the risk from disasters, to advance social equity and to ensure that everyone has enough to eat.

We want a future where natural resources are protected and valued rather than used to finance wars, where children can be educated at school and not recruited into armies, where economic and social inequalities are resolved through dialogue instead of violence.

If we are to build such a future, we must all play our individual part. I urge everyone, between now and 21 September, to think about how they can contribute. Let us work together to ensure that the Road from Rio leads us to sustainable development, sustainable peace… and a secure future for all.

Click here to find out what happened at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development  (also known as "Rio+20) on June 20-22.

Let's continue to ask ourselves:  "What future do we want?"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why are these nuns on the bus?

Interestingly, there seems to be some confusion about the purpose of the "Nuns on the Bus" tour.  Perhaps we can clear that up and continue to serve as advocates for the poor and marginalized in our country.  The "Nuns on the Bus" campaign is, quite simply, a campaign for budget fairness in the United States.  Why should we care about the budget?  Click here to see how the poor will be disproportionately affected and here to see a schedule of the stops.

When this tour is grossly misinterpreted to be a bunch of Sisters railing against church officials, we miss the point that these Sisters agree with the USCCB's assessment of the Federal Budget's impact on the poor and vulnerable.  Click here to read more of the Bishops' thoughts on the moral measure of our nation's budget policy.

Let us continue to pray that those in public office will act morally toward the most vulnerable members of our society.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

At its annual assembly in Philadelphia earlier this month, the Catholic Health Assocation of the United States (CHA) introduced the video,  "Health Reform: We Cannot Go Back," highlighting benefits of the Affordable Care Act.  (E-mail subscribers:  Please click here if you do not see a video embedded below.)   What do you think? 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Louie's Forgiveness

Yesterday, we were introduced to Unbroken, the 2010 biography of Louis Zamperini.  Today, we are invited to watch this segment from "CBS This Morning," May 27, 2012 (Memorial Day weekend), in which 95-year-old Louie tells us:  "Hate is self-destructive.  If you hate a person, you're not hurting the person you hate; you're hurting yourself.  Forgiveness is a real healing."  (E-mail subscribers:  If you do not see the video embedded in this e-mail, click here to watch it.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Read any good books lately? (Part 2)

We didn't set out to have the first two books of our summer recommendations be war stories, but after our first recommendation of a work of fiction about World War II (see post from Friday, June 8 about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet), we are offering a biography centering on this time period.  Today's recommendation is Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit).  Written in 2010, this book chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini, U.S. Olympian (in track) turned second lieutenant turned prisoner of war.  While the book's subtitle accurately reflects that this is a story of survival, resilience and redemption, this is also a story of dignity and forgiveness. 

This biography has much to tell us about the loss of human dignity: "Men subjected to dehumanizing treatment experience profound wretchedness and loneliness and find that hope is almost impossible to retain.  Without dignity, identity is erased.  In its absence, men are defined not by themselves but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live.  One American airman, shot down and relentlessly debased by his captors, described the state of mind that his captivity created: 'I was literally becoming a lesser human being.'  . . . Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food and oxygen.  The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man's soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.  The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty.  In places like Kwajalein, degradation could be as lethal as a bullet" (p. 182-3).

During his years as a prisoner of war, Zamperini endured unspeakable, daily torture at the hand of his captors.  When physically freed from his captors, Louie had a long road until he freed his spirit of them. Thus, the description of the forgiveness he extended to his captors years later provides extraordinary Christian witness. 

This 496-page biography is impossible to condense, but worth every minute it takes to read it.  Hopefully, we will find a little something in Louie's story that makes us better human beings.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What are you doing for the Fortnight?

As we reminded you two weeks ago, the Fortnight for Freedom  -- a national campaign designated by the U.S. Catholic bishops for teaching and witness in support of religious liberty extends from June 21 to July 4.  Daily reflections for this can be found on the USCCB website.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom

Are you familiar with the USCCB's "Fortnight for Freedom" from June 21 to July 4?  Click here to see what your diocese is doing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ties That Matter

Ties That Matter is a non-profit organization that teaches low income women to make and sell products created from recycled and donated neckties. Although the organization began in Atlanta, its primary focus is in Haiti where it helps women form craft co-ops that provide reliable income for themselves and their villages. 

From the Ties That Matter website:  Ties That Matter is made up of a community of people tied together by a common dream of a whole and healthy earth and a shared belief that we are responsible for one another.Ties That Matter has determined to fulfill this mission by using donated and recycled materials to help low income women find self reliance, sustainability and self respect by creating and selling crafts made from free or recycled materials. We primarily use recycled neckties donated by churches in the United States.

What a great way for churches and school groups to make a difference.  Click here to go to the site to find out how your group can assist in this creative endeavor. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Read Any Good Books Lately?

As we did a few summers ago, let's recommend some books for summer reading.  While these books are fiction (since it's summer, after all), they have a way of awakening us to some themes of justice with which we are unfamiliar or which we have forgotten.  Those of you who are Villanova grads might be familiar with "One Book Villanova," in which one book is chosen for the academic year and several events (including visits from the author) are scheduled.  This year's "One Book" was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  Told from the perspective of Henry Lee, a Chinese gentleman who grew up in Seattle, this book tells the story of Japanese internment during World War II.  Because of the rampant anti-Japanese sentiment in the 1940's, Henry's father compels him to wear a button that says, "I am Chinese."  Henry's friendship with the only other Asian student in his elementary school -- who happens to be a Japanese girl -- forms the structure of this novel, as Henry (now living in the 1980's and mourning the loss of his wife) looks back on this turbulent time in history.

Remembering this period of American history seems to be increasingly important today, as we react in fear to those around us -- many of them American citizens -- who might be of the same ethnic ancestry as those our country considers enemies. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beware the "Bogus" Prayer Request

Here's another reminder that things are not always what they seem to be.  Many, many people have perpetuated this prayer request from India.  Before reading, know that IT IS NOT TRUE.  As always, you can check these things out at  Here's a form of the request:  Urgent prayer request!  Please pray for all the churches in India.  Buddhist extremists burned down 20 churches last night.  Tonight they plan to destroy 200 churches and they plan to kill 200 missionaries . . .

The request goes on, asking for prayers to our "Almighty and Victorious Lord." 

When we receive such requests, it is our responsibility to determine their validity before forwarding them.  Further, we need to ask ourselves why we believe such a claim without first verifying it.  Finally, we pray for Buddhists in India (there aren't many of them) who have been defamed and disrespected by our actions when we forward such requests. 

Let's try to use the Internet responsibly.