Saturday, November 28, 2015

Racism and Bigotry Are Alive and Well in America

I pray in front of two abortion clinics (both located in the same building) in downtown Brooklyn every week.  I see the young women entering that building.  I am always amazed that 90% to 95% of those women are African American, despite the fact that these clinics are in a predominantly white upper class neighborhood.  The clinics - by no coincidence - are located within less than a block to numerous train and bus lines, thus making them readily available to other poorer neighborhoods.

Below is a chart from an article in The American Mirror showing the rate of abortions in NYC broken down by race, and which sadly bears out my observations.  In New York City, over 60% of African American pregnancies end in abortion, meaning more African American babies are aborted in this city than are actually born:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pope Francis and Sharing the Eucharist with Non-Catholics: A Lesson in Evangelization

It seems hardly a day goes by that the Catholic blogosphere is not in an uproar over some statement or action by someone whom they feel is threatening to destroy the Church. The offender is more than likely a member of the Church hierarchy - priest, bishop, cardinal. Of course the ranting and raving really starts when the guilty party is Pope Francis. A standard prayer of Catholic bloggers seems to be that Pope Francis be permanently silenced - not that they wish him any harm!

One of the latest items of contention is the Holy Father's answer to a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic. The question, as translated by Edward Pentin from Italian into English, was as follows:
My name is Anke de Bernardinis and, like many people in our community, I'm married to an Italian, who is a Roman Catholic Christian. We’ve lived happily together for many years, sharing joys and sorrows. And so we greatly regret being divided in faith and not being able to participate in the Lord's Supper together. What can we do to achieve, finally, communion on this point?
Before I get to the "offensive" response by Pope Francis, it is important to take a closer look at this question.  Here is a Lutheran woman who has been happily married to a Catholic man for many years.  As she relates, it is a great sadness to her and her husband that they do not share the same faith, and more specifically, that they cannot participate in the "Lord's Supper" together.  She is asking the earthly head of the Catholic Church how they can achieve this unity.

Nearly every Catholic blogger has said the answer is simple: become a Catholic! And certainly that is true. But look again at the question. The woman has been married to a Catholic for many years. We can safely assume that she and her husband have discussed this division between them, and her husband, and many others no doubt, told her that only members in good standing in the Church can participate in the Sacraments. But she has not, as far as we can tell, made any moves to become Catholic. The fact that she is talking with the Pope and asking him questions shows that she has respect for the Catholic Church. But up this point, that has not been enough to give her the courage to walk away from her own faith and become a Catholic. She wants to know how she and her husband get over this seemingly insurmountable barrier between them.

Pope Francis obviously took all of this into account when he answered her. His goal - as should be the goal of all of us - is to bring people into the church, not set up roadblocks that will keep them out. The Holy Father could have taken the easy way out and given the technically correct answer that she had no doubt heard many times before. Pope Francis wanted to do something that would make her take that step she has feared for so many years:  to think outside her own personal box and to approach the problem in a different way, since obviously what she has been doing has not been working.

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