Friday, April 12, 2013

2nd Week, 13th Day of the Resurrection Season

Troubled Times

"For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
it will destroy itself.
But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;
you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

These words from the Acts of the Apostles seem fitting and applicable for us who profess our faith in the Roman Catholic Religion. What is "this activity" for us today?  Surely for anyone who strives to live the message of Jesus Christ that is found in the gospels every day has to be a challenge.

Immigration Reform is a signal to us of another long, hot, political summer.  For the first time decades our political leaders are addressing this issue as well as the issue of Same Sex Marriage.  Likewise there is another political issue, the mandate from Human Health Services related to abortion and birth control.  It is a time of mixed emotions for and signals to Catholics in this country.  Likewise Roman Catholics around the world are carefully watching with political and religious binoculars to see what happens in the USA regarding these issues.  

Of course each of these issues is a hot button for the President (Cardinal Timothy Dolan) of the American Bishops Conference as well as the locals who are in the trenches every day - the local bishops, the priests, the deacons as well as the experts the local authorities have employed to assist them in their efforts to make certain that they follow the directives of the current and recent Bishops of Rome.  Likewise the laity are caught in this conundrum for indeed the faithful are earnest in trying to understand all these issues which seem to be like a puzzle.  How do I work with the various pieces of this modern-day puzzle?  Who truly understands what is happening and who has the correct answer.

Two days ago many caring and loving people came to Washington, DC to make their presence speak to government leaders as well as our Catholic leadership, all the American Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops.  Huge crowds filled DC's famous Mall.  They were present to speak to the nation.  Their presence was their voice and the voices of many who were unable to leave their jobs.

A young priest friend sent me a text at the end of a very long day.  From a Latin American country himself, this man worked many hours trying to bring as many "immigrants" to the Mall for the event. Had I been in Washington that day, I would have joined those marchers.  I do not recall the pastor of the parish where I am currently assisting as a retired priest telling me and others that the Cardinal-Archbishop of Washington, DC or the chief staff person in charge of social issues, encouraging as many as possible to be present on the Mall.

I suspect that there was no directive encouraging participation because the American Bishops have found difficulties with one of the Immigration issues, namely the effort many have demanded to incorporate gay couples (partners, I suppose) into the struggle for equal justice as their program states.  The Bishops are caught on those proverbial "horns of a dilemma."  Will they feel an obligation not to support the Immigration reform bill that would give citizenship to millions of the faithful who populate our churches as the new immigration wave?  Will our Church (continue to) lose more and more of the Hispanic-Latino population that is struggling with so many aspects of human life to the Evangelical churches?  Makes one wonder why anyone would want to be a Bishop today!

Our challenge is these times is to listen, to reflect and to pray that we may understand, that our Bishops may give serious prayer time to these issues so that they can give the Church the leadership that we so desperately need in this country.  These are the issues that bring many of the laity to see little leadership in our country from our Bishops.  So, it is truly "troubled times" in which we life.  Prayer is desperately needed from everyone.  But thankfully there are priests like this one mentioned above who spend so many hours every week helping the homeless, the poor and the immigrants who truly want this to be their home.