Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obama's Appeal to Catholics

Catholics and Obama
April 22, 2008
Cathleen Kaveny in Dot.Commonweal

Pope Benedict XVI has gone home after a spectacularly successful visit to the United States, but we American Catholics are still making news. Today is the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, and the “Catholic vote” is widely perceived to be important in determining this outcome. The numbers suggest that Senator Clinton is doing well in this demographic block in Pennsylvania. But this doesn’t begin to answer the question who will best be able to appeal to Catholics in the general election in November.

I am a member of Senator Obama’s National Catholic Advisory Council. And as I watch tonight’s returns, I will keep three things in mind:

1. The Catholic vote is not monolithic As EJ Dionne has noted, “Despite a certain convergence of views among Catholics‹a concern for social justice, a collective dedication to the value of the family. Catholics haven’t voted as a bloc since the early 1960s, when they solidly backed America’s one and only Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. Catholics’ loyalties are unpredictable and in flux.”

2. Getting to know Senator Obama. Senator Clinton is already well-known to voters. But as voters have come to know Senator Obama, he has been slowly but steadily gaining ground among Catholics, as they come to see who he is and what he stands for. Many Catholics are responding to his vision of the common good and his values on issues such as ending the unjust war in Iraq, providing decent jobs, ensuring affordable healthcare for all, and working for comprehensive immigration reform. Many have also been inspired by his life choices, especially his decision early on to work as a community organizer with parishes in the South Side of Chicago.

3. Hope is Contagious. For Pope Benedict, hope is quintessentially a theological virtue, along with faith and charity. But hope also has a place in the worldly realm, where it is quintessentially the virtue of the young, who communicate it to their elders almost as a gift. What impresses me is the commitment of younger Catholics to Senator Obama’s candidacy. The younger members of Catholics for Obama United have recently launched a Facebook site, which has already surpassed in two weeks the number of members Senator McCain was able to sign up in two months.

He is clearly giving them hope. He is giving me hope too.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jesuit Says Obama Touches the Catholic Soul


Raymond A. Schroth, SJ
April 25, 2008

During the last two weeks three significant political events took place, two of which gobbled up our eyes.

The Pope came to Washington and New York, Hillary Clinton won the Pennsylvania primary; and the committee of Catholics for Obama took shape.
Of course they overlapped: Somehow "white working class Catholics" went for Hillary in Pa.

The Pope, in his address to the bishops, did criticize those Catholics who give scandal when they promote "an alleged right to abortion." But his was far from a one-note Catholcism. He spoke with equal fervor against the violations of human rights, the gap betweeen the rich and poor. He also demanded respect for the UN Charter and called for international protection of the environment -- positions which the current administration does not embrace.

Meanwhile a number of Democraic political leaders who have voted for legalized abortion received communion at the Pope's Mass[at the Vatican's invitation]. And meanwhile, a very diverse group of 50 Catholic politicians and intellectuals formed a national advisory Council to back Obama.

They include governors, senators, and congressmen, religious women, and professors from Harvard, Boston College, Holy Cross, and Notre Dame. Though not on the committee, the most remarkable Catholic "convert" to Obama is the well-known conservative Doug Kmiec, former dean of both Notre Dame and Catholic University Law Schools, and counselor to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

Leading the charge in Pennsylvania was Senator Bob Casey, who, though he knew Obama was not destined to win the primary, decided that, in spite of his "pro-abortion" voting record, his long range policies were more in tune with the Catholic Church's position on a vast array of social justice issues than either Clinton's or McCain's.
Indeed, the Democratic social agenda, which deals with the social and economic context which seems to make abortion necessary, in the long run will do more to reduce abortions than legislation to ban it by constitutional amendment or throwing abortionists in jail -- laws which would never gain public support.

The Kmiec decision rocked the conservative Catholic establishment. One of his Notre Dame colleagues says in the extreme right wing (but always intresting) Catholic weekly newspaper, The Wanderer (April 3), his decision "confounds, puzzles, baffles, bewilders, dazes, and stuns me." Kmiec answers by explaining that he became convinced that Obama was a man of faith.

"In his speeches, it's not surprising to see references to Lincoln and Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass, but Senator Obama regularly touches the Catholic soul as well by showing a genuine knowledge of the work of Dorothy Day. In this the Senator tells his audiences that it is an 'absurdity' to insist that morality be kept separate from public policy." Kmiec also hopes that Obama would come out strongly for policies that would reduce the number of abortions -- support for adoption, pregnant women, abstinence education, and the responsible promotion of birth control.

As a friend wrote to me: the Republicans and Democrats have taken different positions on abortion. The Democrats support spending money to encourage childirth and support women. Republicans "have focused rhetorically and legislatively on punitive measures." Which works? He says the abortion rate fell more during the Clinton than during the Bush administration.

Now, if only the Democratic candidates and spokespersons would make these arguments publicly, rather than simply fall back on the so-called "right to choose."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quote of the Day

"I go to church to worship God, not to worship the pastor."

-- Senator Barack Obama

Friday, April 25, 2008

Catholics Expected to Vote Democratic in Fall

Catholics Will Vote Democrat, Catholic Congressman Says
Josiah Ryan

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Dale E. Kildee (D-Mich.), a Catholic congressman who endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for president, told Cybercast News Service Wednesday that despite Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) failure to capture Catholic voters in the Pennsylvania primary, the majority of Catholics will vote for the Democratic candidate in the general election whether it's Obama or Clinton.According to the exit poll of the Pennsylvania primary, church-going Democrats picked Clinton over Obama on Tuesday, with Catholic voters especially lining up behind Clinton. Among all Democratic primary voters who said they attend church weekly, Clinton beat Obama 61 percent to 39 percent. Among Catholics who attend church weekly, she beat him 74 percent to 26 percent.This represents a dramatic shift from the Feb. 19 Democratic primary in Wisconsin, where Obama defeated Clinton 58 percent to 41 percent. In that state, Obama defeated Clinton 55 percent to 44 percent among Democratic voters who attend church weekly. Clinton did win in Wisconsin among Catholic voters who attend church weekly, but by a much smaller margin (53 percent) than the 74 percent she took in Pennsylvania. The shift is significant because Catholic Democrats in northern states have been a key swing vote in recent presidential elections. In 2004, President Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) 52 percent to 47 percent among Catholic voters nationwide even though Kerry is a Catholic. In Ohio, widely viewed as the state that tipped the Electoral College to the Republicans, Bush beat Kerry 65 percent to 35 percent among Catholics who attend church weekly."I will vote, come November, for the Democratic candidate, whoever that may be," Kildee told Cybercast News Service. "I predict the majority of Catholics will choose the Democratic ticket come November."The Catholic vote is split," he said. "There is no question about it. There are various issues that split the Catholic vote, but the one thing that does pull it together is what I call the social gospel: treatment of the working people, and treatment of the poor. That tends to pull the Catholic vote together. "Whichever candidate can show they care about these things will garner the Catholic vote," Kildee added.Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has also endorsed Clinton, expressed a similar sentiment. "I didn't see any of the numbers," he told Cybercast News Service. "But that shift seems to show the great ability Hillary Clinton has to talk to average folks about their concerns. They came out and voted for her last night."Kildee said he could not speculate on why church-going voters may have shifted their support from Obama to Clinton. "Pennsylvania is an older state. Its political involvement is different than Wisconsin," he said. "When you get to the Midwest, there are probably other issues. It could be an interesting analysis, but it might also take a PhD. It's more analysis then I can give right now." Kildee said he stayed up until midnight Tuesday watching the results come in.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hearts and Minds

"God of power and light open our hearts and minds to the needs of people all over the world,"

Fr. Clement Davis, giving the invocation at a rally for Senator Obama in Columbus, Indiana.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pro-Life Activist Frank Schaeffer Endorses Obama

Why I'm Pro-life and Pro-Obama

I am an Obama supporter. I am also pro-life. In fact, without my family's involvement in the pro-life movement it would not exist as we know it. Evangelicals weren't politicized until after my late father and evangelical leader Francis Schaeffer, Dr. Koop (Reagan's soon-to-be Surgeon General) and I stirred them up over the issue of abortion in the mid-1970s. [Read more here] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/why-im-prolife-and-pro_b_85636.html

Thursday, April 17, 2008


We have received the following message from our brother Peter James Kralovec, the administrator of the Facebook groups 'Catholics for Obama United.'

Dear Friends,

I wanted to bring attention to what local groups of Catholics and other faith communities in four cities have been doing to honor Pope Benedict XVI's historic visit to the United States. These groups, brought together by their support of Barack, have organized a series of community service projects under the theme, "Days of Hope Abounding: Feeding the Hungry, Caring for the Forgotten, Visiting the Elderly."

The days of service, which are occurring in New York, D.C., Philadelphia, and South Bend, Indiana this Thursday and Friday, are intended to honor the Pope's visit and his message of hope. The Day of Service is not a political event and the local groups are encouraging others to join in the shared effort. I have attached a flyer that provides details about all of the activities organized in each city. Contact information is provided should you want to get involved.

The groups are reaching out to those so often forgotten in our society - the hungry, the poor, and the elderly. During the day of service, volunteers will visit soup kitchens in New York City, a nursing home in South Bend, Indiana, a food distribution center in Washington, D.C., and a homelessness prevention center in Philadelphia.

Please join in these service efforts or start one in your community.

In hope,

Peter James Kralovec


Join us for a Day of Service In Honor of
Pope Benedict XVI’s Visit:

Days of Hope Abounding: Feeding the
Hungry, Caring for the Forgotten,
Visiting the Elderly

On this Thursday and Friday, local groups of Catholics and other people of faith, brought together by their support of Barack, will perform acts of mercy in honor of the Holy Father’s historic visit to the United States. This is not a political event and all are welcome to join in – Catholics, members of all faith communities, and those who simply wish to honor the Pope’s visit and his message of peace. Consider supporting these initiatives in order to reach out to communities often forgotten in our society—the hungry, the poor, and the elderly. You can either connect with an ongoing service effort near you or start one in your community.

Thursday, April 17, 2008
Washington D.C.
5:00-8:00 PM – D.C. Central Kitchen
Volunteers will help prepare fresh, locally grown produce that is used for job training
programs and served at soup kitchens and shelters around the city.
Contact: Webb Lyons, ewlyons@gmail.com, 256-490-9821

Friday, April 18, 2008
New York City, NY

9:45-12:30 PM – Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen
Volunteers will help serve food and scrub tables at one of the largest, longest-running
soup kitchens in the city.
Contact: Cassie Herman, cassie.herman@gmail.com, 516-459-6391

7:00-9:30 PM – Grand Central Food Program
Volunteers will work with a mobile soup kitchen that serves meals every night.
Contact: Cassie Herman, cassie.herman@gmail.com, 516-459-6391

Philadelphia, PA
10:15 - 1:15 PM - Project H.O.M.E.
(Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, Education)
Volunteers and Former Congressman Tim Roemer will tour a neighborhood and serve
the community.
Contact: Dave Ederer, david.ederer@villanova.edu, 716-348-9944

South Bend, IN 1:45 ‐ 3:30 PM ‐ Cardinal Nursing Home Volunteers will attend Mass and visit with elderly residents. Contact: Justin Tresnowski, jtresnow@nd.edu, 847-989-8472

To get more information: Contact Jamie Kralovec, pjkralovec@gmail.com, 773‐732‐8376.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

PA Voters Talk About What's on Their Mind

Obama - Clinton : Pennsylvania changes from Swing to Democratic

By Edward Luce in Doylestown , Pennsylvania

“Ronald Reagan once said: ‘I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic party left me’,” says Mr Samuels, who is deputy chair of his county’s Democratic party. “Well I didn’t leave the Republican party. The Republican party left me.”

The sharp trend away from the Republican party is not confined to Bucks County . Fuelled by disaffection with the Iraq war, the Bush administration’s alleged mismanagement of the US economy and its departure from fiscal conservatism, Pennsylvania as a whole has shifted from being a swing state into a Democratic state over the past few years.

In 2002 Pennsylvania had 3.8m registered Republicans and 3.2m Democrats. Today it has 4.2m Democrats and 3.2m Republicans. The picture is similar at the national level. According to Rasmussen Reports, 41 per cent of Americans are affiliated to the Democrats compared with 32 per cent to the Republicans – a near reversal of the picture during the first George W. Bush administration.

But the switch has caused a particular ripple in Bucks County , which is a critical battleground between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary, which takes place 10 days from now.

This week was the first moment in more than a generation when the number of registered Democrats surpassed Republicans in Bucks county. “This has been a Republican stronghold for as long as I can remember,” says Marilyn Larsen, a former Republican member of the local school board in Newtown , Bucks Country, who recently registered as a Democrat. Mrs Larsen, a retired teacher, says that it was the Bush administration’s “hostility to science” and the spread of evangelical politics that helped push her across.

There are large numbers of Catholics living in Philadelphia ’s suburbs, many of whom were originally blue collar workers who fled the inner city in the 1960s and 1970s. They were part of the “Reagan Democrat” swing that helped deliver a generation of conservative domination in America . Nowadays large numbers are drifting back to the Democrats.

In November 2006 the area elected its first Democratic congressman in many years – Patrick Murphy, a 34-year-old Irish-American Iraq war veteran. Mr Murphy defeated an evangelical Republican opponent whose Bible-thumping rhetoric found little echo among the district’s Catholic voters. In November he is expected to return with a larger majority.

Mrs Larsen says many of her neighbours may vote for Mr Obama – an unthinkable prospect among people who fled the African-American “machine politics” that took hold of Philadelphia a generation ago.

“Let’s be honest about it, Barack Obama is culturally white – that’s why a lot of people round here are prepared to vote for him,” says Mrs Larsen, who has yet to make up her mind whether to vote for Mr Obama or Hillary Clinton, who retains a lead in the opinion polls. “But when they hear Michelle Obama speak they start wavering. She seems more African-American. People haven’t changed as much as they like to think.”

However, Mr Obama is attracting support in unlikely places. At an Obama rally in Levittown , Pennsylvania – one of the first planned US suburban townships, founded in 1951 – tickets at the mostly white event ran out within hours.

Many older residents remember Daisy Myers, the town’s first black resident, who moved out in 1962 after intolerable prejudice.

Mrs Clinton is still expected to win Levittown ’s vote. But Mr Obama is competitive. “The more I watched Obama on TV, the more convinced I became by his integrity and leadership qualities,” says Christine Harrison, a graphic artist and a former Republican who has persuaded both her parents and all four siblings to switch to the Democrats.

Some Democrats in Washington fear that the increasingly tetchy contest between Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton could start to corrode the party’s national advantage and jeopardise prospects of taking the White House in November.

But Mr Samuels, who has helped to spearhead the Bucks County drive to register new Democrats, dismisses such speculation. “I think that the surge in registration in Pennsylvania and the high turnouts we have seen in other Democratic primaries is a testimony to a much more enduring switch,” he said.

“It would take much more than a competitive primary between two very compelling candidates to reverse that trend.” Mrs Larsen agrees: “Don’t underestimate how turned off people are by the Republicans,” she said. “They want a chance to express that.”

N.B. 'Catholics for Obama' has been invited to the Pope's Mass tomorrow in Washington, DC. I'm not sure if there will be a post.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Obama Welcomes Pope Benedict


"As committed Christians, we join millions of Americans – Catholics and members of all faith communities – in offering our prayers for the success of the Holy Father’s visit. At a time when American families face rising costs at home and a range of worries abroad, the theme of Pope Benedict’s journey, 'Christ Our Hope,' offers comfort and grace as well as a challenge to all faith communities to put our faith into action for the common good. It will not only be Catholics who are listening to the Holy Father’s message of hope and peace; all Americans will be listening with open hearts and minds."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Conservative Catholic Leader Testifies to Obama's Faith

Doug Kmiec: Barack Obama - Man of Faith
By Doug Kmiec
Catholic Online

One of the roles I promised to play in endorsing Senator Obama was to be a faithful witness to life. I am resolute in this.

MALIBU, CA (Catholic Online) - More and more, Barack Obama is demonstrating that he is a man of faith.

The nation will have another special opportunity to see this on Sunday in an important forum at Messiah College.

It was also evident today in the Senator's announcement that he had formed a Catholic Advisory Council from among his Democratic supporters to assist him especially in addressing sensitive religious issues as they arise and the remaining months of the Democratic primary.

Of course, I am especially pleased to see two prominent pro-life Democrats, Bob Casey and Tim Roemer in the leadership of this council.

Since endorsing Senator Obama it has been my pleasure to deal with the young men and women who on a day-to-day basis are considering the implications of various public policies upon the people of many faith beliefs in America.

One thing that is abundantly clear is that faith is not a side issue for the Senator either in his personal life or in his campaign.

In the forum this Sunday to be broadcast on CNN, religious leaders from across the ideological spectrum will participate. Both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton will be there. Unfortunately, Senator McCain has thus far declined the invitation, which is still open.

What the public will see on Sunday is a sincere religious commitment that Senator Obama did not invent for success in the Pennsylvania primary. Indeed, it was Senator Obama's thoughtful public remarks about faith during his U.S. Senate campaign that first attracted me to him.

Just the other day the Senator was in my old hometown of South Bend Indiana, where indeed, I first got to know the friendly and astute Tim Roemer when he was but a student at Notre Dame.With a PhD, distinguished Congressional career, and service on the 9/11 commission, Tim is a genuine voice of Catholic reason and compassion.

Not surprisingly, Senator Obama teasingly played with the audience’s “go Irish” sensibilities, but there was no mistaking how much Senator Obama respected this flagship Catholic University that has contributed so much to the American Catholic Church.

Of course, in speaking near the golden dome, the Senator was only a short distance away from where the light of faith first opened in his heart when he recognized that while he could engage in community organizing for the poor, without faith he would always remain “apart and alone.”

The Holy Father will be arriving next week in America and while he appropriately will not be meeting with any of the presidential candidates, there is little question in my mind but that he would affirm Senator Obama’s thoughtful challenges to secularism and those who would urge that religion be banished from the public square.

In his speeches, it's not surprising to see references to the Lincoln and Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass, but Senator Obama regularly touches the Catholic soul as well by showing a genuine knowledge of the work of Dorothy Day. In this, Senator tells his audiences that it is an “absurdity” to insist that morality be kept separate from public policy.

Don't misunderstand me. Senator Obama is not the equivalent of a televangelist, nor should he be. Having urged his liberal colleagues to see how much of American life is grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Senator Obama makes a request of conservatives like myself — namely, that we try to fully understand the liberal perspective on the separation of church and state.

Not the infamous “wall of separation” that bizarrely mandates affirmative secularity disguised as neutrality, but the perspective, according to Obama, that separation more readily protects church from state than the opposite.

This sentiment, unlike the exclusionary view invented by the late Justice Hugo Black in the late 1940s, is as old and wise as Alexis de Tocqueville, who cautioned churches against aligning too closely with the state for fear of sacrificing “the future for the present.” “By gaining a power to which it has no claim,” Tocqueville observed, “[the church] risks its legitimate authority.”

There is nothing in that assessment of church-state separation objectionable to conservatives. Indeed, as I've written before, Obama’s thoughts could have been seamlessly added to Romney’s “Faith in America” speech without changing its meaning. And Senator, if you're reading this, don't be afraid to say so in your forum on Sunday, even as that name Romney might be jarring to some of the older partisans in the crowd.

Senator Obama's approach to faith is strong, but it is not exclusionary. He genuinely seeks to have his efforts bridge the religious and ideological divides on issues ranging from abortion to the importance of the American family to health care that respects the objections of conscientious religious believers to AIDS, climate change, and human rights.

The Compassion Forum will provide the opportunity for him to discuss how his faith and moral convictions bear on their positions on these important issues.

This is especially important for me on matters of life, which is one of the reasons why you will not see my name on his Catholic Council just yet. In the last few weeks, even the unflappable Obama in discussing abortion made a misstep -- seemingly referring to an unwanted pregnancy is a situation in which a young woman would be “punished by a baby.”

I've taken issue with this with his advisers. One of the roles I promised to play in endorsing Senator Obama was to be a faithful witness to life. I am resolute in this.

While I'm very encouraged by the presence of Tim Roemer and Bob Casey on his primary election team of Democratic Catholic advisors, as we move toward the general election I would hope that Senator Obama would take the wise counsel of evangelical Democrats such as Amy Sullivan and come out strongly for policies that would reduce the number of abortions -- support for adoption, pregnant women, abstinence education, and the responsible promotion of birth control.

An organization called Democrats for Life has proposed the creation of a "95-10 Initiative" in which states and the federal government would work toward the reduction of abortion rates by 95 percent within 10 years. That would be a unifying national goal, and one worthy of Senator Obama.

I may be wrong, but I sense the Senator is quite open to the possibility, and since I've been asked many times by my fellow Catholics to explain what I believe the essence of Senator Obama's position on life to be, let me summarize it in the following points:

1. First, I am confident that he understands this about human life: it is a gift of unparalleled significance, for which we can never fully thank our parents and our God.

2. Second, he acknowledges that all of us should want young people to approach sexual intimacy with responsibility and with reverence. As a father of two daughters, he says he views this as his responsibility to convey to his daughters and for his daughters to observe.

3. Third, he candidly admits what we all know, parenting is a blessing, but no easy task. Nevertheless, Senator Obama believes that we need in our homes, our schools, and our churches to convey that children raising children is a recipe for cultural disaster.

4. Fourth, I'm convinced the Senator Obama sees the most important witnesses for life as those witnesses who speak from the heart and speak honestly -- that is, fully and responsibly -- about abstinence, and in an age-appropriate way, about all responsible forms of contraception.

5. Fifth, and he and I are in disagreement about this, but he makes a plausible case that there's been too much focus on the law. People always want to talk about Roe v. Wade. Doesn’t this take our eye off the ball? Maybe, if the ball or objective is a happy, healthy, loving family. Supreme Court rulings whether you agree with them or not are not really what determines that outcome.

6. Sixth, the way Senator Obama sees it the Supreme Court has said it’s not the law's place to get between a woman and her doctor. In his public discussion he has also added importantly -- her clergyman. And in this, I believe he recognizes that the Supreme Court doesn't say abortion is moral or good or the prescription for happiness.

7. Seventh, more than many of us, Senator Obama has a capacity for empathy. He deeply feels that how one views abortion is a judgment that needs to be informed by faith and by love and by the economic and social reality facing the woman.

8. Eighth, I get the sense that he knows his words fell well short of the mark when in the midst of a much longer and thoughtful answer, he said he wouldn't want a daughter "punished with a baby."

What was he trying to convey?

Most certainly, not that human life or an innocent was a punishment. Rather, that it punishes a young woman not to give her good counsel about the significance of sexual intimacy, including contraceptive information.

As a Catholic, I see artificial contraception as the destroyer of the unitive and procreative nature of the human person. I cannot claim to have had the opportunity to conduct a long seminar on Humane Vitae with the Obama campaign.

If I were part of the forum on Sunday I might bring it up. But implicit in the word “punishment” was indeed Senator Obama’s grasp that welcoming a baby into one’s home when one is mature enough to be a parent is one of the most precious memories in life, and we should ensure that no child of ours by lack of information about responsible sexual behavior – be it anchored in abstinence or prevention – ends up being deprived of that moment, or, if you will, punished by ignorance.

9. Ninth, I believe Senator Obama as President will support every effort to make sure that these life-changing decisions are made not by politicians or judges, but by the prospective mother in the context of those who know her and care about her.

10. Tenth- and I am very confident of this: Senator Obama believes that the best way to honor life is not by endlessly playing the politics of division over the Supreme Court, but by honoring life in what we teach and what we do in our own families. I have shared with him the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, that we should be careful never wish to "portray the greatest of gifts – a child – as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience."

I would be surprised if those words do not resonate with him and inspire him to reaffirm his intent as President to work toward a socially just economy so that no mother in America would ever feel forced to view a child in that way.

Of course, in matters of faith, we must remember that “a Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position.”

But as the Catholic bishops have instructed us voters should not use a candidate’s opposition to abortion “to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity” — such as, say, the invasion of a foreign nation leading to the sacrifice of the lives of our own troops and of thousands of others.

So how will Senator Obama bridge these gaps that have been called by others a “clash of absolutes”?

The forum on Sunday will give us more of his thinking, but this much is already apparent: Senator Obama is a realist, and he urges us to be as well -- not in the sense of sacrificing principle in the life we lead, but in the sense of understanding that in our common life in community, there is a distinction between the uncompromising commitments that religion calls us to make and the public policy that we can realistically expect.

This is a dose of political pragmatism, and reasonable on virtually any issue not involving a grave moral evil. It’s not an easy answer. But frankly, that’s a problem not just for Obama, but for all of us.

As he writes, “I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.”

To his credit, Obama neither offers up a glib, unsatisfying solution nor reverts to the standard liberal line that objective moral values have no place in the public discussion. Our problems are not mere technical dilemmas. “They are rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness — in the imperfections of man.”

If we can put aside the divisions that old-time partisans have stoked for so long to our disadvantage, more people might see abortion as a product of societal indifference and individual callousness: the former exemplified by economic conditions ranging from inadequate wages to evictions traceable to the subprime fraud; the latter typified by a self-centeredness that sees children as competitors or enemies to personal fulfillment.

A person who understands the significance of faith as well as Senator Obama does is likely to have a better chance of understanding and addressing both causes. Why? Because when the seemingly insoluble intrudes upon life as it inevitably does, the religious person has the humility to pray.

In earlier forums, Obama has concluded his own religious reflections with a prayer for his country. What is this prayer that he says regularly: simply, that despite our profound disagreements, “we can live with one another in a way that reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all.”

Not surprisingly, Senator Obama has been guided by this prayer in structuring the forum on Sunday. Senator Obama's advisers stressed that the forum was a conversation, not a debate.

It is a conversation long overdue and much welcome, and whether Senator Obama succeeds in his quest for the presidency are not -- and I hope he does -- this conversation in itself will be a lasting reminder of how a man of integrity and faith has helped all of us focus on the things that really matter.

Doug Kmiec is the Chair and Professor of constitutional law, Pepperdine University; former Dean and St. Thomas More Professor of law at The Catholic University of America; and former constitutional counsel to Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush


Saturday, April 12, 2008


After a conference call yesterday announcing the launch of its Catholic National Advisory Council, the Obama campaign released the council's roster. It's a long and impressive list of elected officials, scholars, and activists. The Obama campaign is treating Catholics as Hillary Clinton's base--in Pennsylvania, they may be--and knows it has to go all out to maximize the vote (Obama has already won more Catholic votes than McCain). It is expected that many of these Catholics will be out stumping for Obama in Pennsylvania and some of the other remaining primary states.

Former Congressman Tim Roemer said this:

"I am proud to join this impressive group of servant leaders. We look forward to fanning out across the country to share Barack's message and his record with voters in the weeks ahead."

Here's Senator Obama's statement:

"I am deeply honored to have the support and counsel of these committed Catholic leaders, scholars, and advocates. We share many important values, and I have profound respect for how these religious and lay women and men have put their faith into action to promote the common good. They have spent their lives serving others: shaping our public debates, caring for the poor, ministering to those who need our help, and fighting for a more just society. As a committed Christian, I welcome their help as we continue to build the largest grassroots network of people of faith in any campaign in history."
Here's the list:

National Co-Chairs

Senator Bob Casey
Representative Patrick Murphy (PA-08)
Former Congressman Tim Roemer, President of the Center for National Policy
Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas
Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia
Tom Chabolla, Assistant to the President, Service Employees International Union
Victoria Reggie Kennedy, President, Common Sense About Kids and Guns
Sr. Jamie Phelps, O.P., Professor of Theology, Xavier University
Sr. Catherine Pinkerton, Congregation of St. Joseph

National Steering Committee
Mary Jo Bane, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School
Nicholas P. Cafardi, Catholic Author and Scholar, Pittsburgh, PA
Lisa Cahill, Professor of Theology, Boston College
M. Shawn Copeland, Associate Professor of Theology, Boston College
Ron Cruz, Leadership Development Consultant, Burke, VA
Sharon Daly, Social Justice Advocate, Knoxville, MD
Richard Gaillardetz, Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies, University of Toledo
Grant Gallicho, Associate Editor, Commonweal Magazine
Sr. Margaret Gannon, IHM, Scranton, PA
Don Guter, Judge Advocate General of the Navy (2000-2002); Rear Admiral, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Pittsburgh, PA
Cathleen Kaveny, Professor of Law and Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
Jim Kesteloot, President and Executive Director, Chicago Lighthouse
Vincent Miller, Associate Professor of Theology, Georgetown University
David O'Brien, Loyola Professor of Catholic Studies at the College of the Holy Cross
Peter Quaranto, Senior Researcher, Resolve Uganda (Notre Dame Class of 2006)
Dave Robinson, International Peace Advocate, Erie, Pennsylvania
Vincent Rougeau, Associate Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame
Mary Wright, Inter-Faith Liaison, Louisville, KY

Friday, April 11, 2008

Candidates to Discuss Religious Values This Sunday

The Compassion Forum

This Sunday, Messiah College, an evangelical Christian school in Pennsylvania, will be hosting The Compassion Forum, an unprecedented bipartisan presidential candidate forum dedicated to discussing pressing moral issues that bridge ideological divides within our nation. Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama have accepted the invitation to participate in the Forum. Senator John McCain has thus far declined the invitation, which is still open. The Compassion Forum is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Sunday, April 13, in Brubaker Auditorium, and will be covered by mainstream media and religious media outlets alike. CNN is the exclusive broadcaster of The Compassion Forum and will televise and stream the event live from 8-9:30 p.m.

The Church Communication Network (CCN) will broadcast the event to tens of thousands of people of faith in at least 1,000 congregations nationwide on April 20, the Sunday evening before the Pennsylvania primary.

Now more than ever, Americans motivated by faith are bridging ideological divides to address domestic and international poverty, global AIDS, climate change, genocide in Darfur, and human rights and torture. The Compassion Forum will provide the opportunity for candidates to discuss how their faith and moral convictions bear on their positions on these important issues.

The Compassion Forum will be a unique and unprecedented event. Each candidate will participate in a separate substantive conversation. This will not be a debate.

The Compassion Forum is supported by diverse religious leaders and Democrats and Republicans alike.

"The Compassion Forum will give the candidates a chance to talk straight to voters about what they'll do as president to fulfill God's command that we be our brothers' keepers," said Governor Mike Huckabee, a supporter of the event. "I'm proud that the faith community is taking the lead in asking the candidates to confront the most pressing moral challenges of our times."

"Issues of faith, compassion, and the common good are important throughout Pennsylvania," said U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. "We have a moral obligation to provide a stable foundation for our next generation, but it also makes perfect economic sense. This year's candidates will be well served discussing these issues in Pennsylvania and The Compassion Forum."

"The Compassion Forum is a shining example of the faith community's commitment to justice and compassion for all of God's children. It's imperative that the presidential candidates give the compassion issues the attention they deserve," said Dr. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Compassion Forum Board member.

Other nationally prominent members of the Compassion Forum Board include Dr. Paul R. Corts, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; Dr. Joel Hunter, Northland A Church Distributed; Rev. Richard Cizik, National Association of Evangelicals; Dr. Oran P. Smith, Palmetto Family Council; Father Larry Snyder, Catholic Charities USA; Rabbi Steve Gutow, Jewish Council for Public Affairs; David Neff, Christianity Today; Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Rev. David Beckmann, Bread for the World.

Faith in Public Life, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit resource and communication center for faith leaders based in Washington, D.C., is coordinating The Compassion Forum. Other organizational sponsors of the event include the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, the ONE campaign, and Oxfam America.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

No Partisan Politics for Pope in US


NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States next week have taken great pains to keep him out of presidential politics.

But the Roman Catholic teaching he's expected to emphasize — on abortion, human rights and other issues — has policy consequences that partisans will inevitably spin for their own ends.
"The pope will probably speak in broad enough and general enough terms that anybody who is determined to read endorsement of his or her political position will find an endorsement there," said Russell Shaw, a former spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. "But when and if that happens, it is going to be people reading things into the pope's remarks that aren't there."
Catholic leaders don't always avoid politics.

Pope John Paul II's emphasis on human dignity, religious freedom and absolute truth helped bring down communism. During a 1999 visit to St. Louis, John Paul convinced then Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan to spare the life of convicted killer Darrell Mease, who was days away from execution.

However, Catholic beliefs aren't meant to be partisan.

Church teaching doesn't fit neatly into any one political agenda, a hard lesson American presidential candidates have learned as they have courted Catholic voters in recent years. Catholics make up about one-quarter of the electorate nationwide and don't vote as a bloc.

The church opposes abortion and embryonic stem cell research, while supporting immigrant families and aid to the poor. Catholic teaching says marriage should only be the union of one man and one woman. Yet Benedict also supports the U.N. and protecting the environment.

"Catholic teaching, taken in its full integrity, will have something to both please and aggravate Democrats and Republicans," said the Rev. James Heft, professor of religion at the University of Southern California. "Politics is not the first concern of the church. Basic moral issues, issues of justice, are a preoccupation."

Benedict's first trip to the U.S. as pope runs from next Tuesday through April 20 in Washington and New York. His visit ends just two days before the critical state primary in Pennsylvania, where Catholics comprise nearly one-third of voters. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the remaining Democratic contenders, are pressing for the Catholic vote.

It's an inconvenient coincidence for the Vatican, but it could have been worse.

The pope is traveling here partly to address the United Nations on April 18. Heads of state usually speak at the U.N. during its fall General Assembly session, as John Paul did. But that would have put Benedict in the U.S. right before the Nov. 2 general election.

At other events, the pope's public appearances with political figures will be limited.
In Washington, President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush will host the pontiff Wednesday at the White House, as they do for visiting heads of state. Church leaders expect the event to be bipartisan. The pope doesn't meet with candidates for political office, but the three contenders for the U.S. presidency, all senators, could participate in events that include congressmen or are open to the public.

For the Masses at Nationals Park and Yankee Stadium, any invited politicians will sit in special sections away from the altar, partly for security reasons, according to organizers.

When Benedict visits ground zero, the site of the World Trade Center attack, on April 20, the only public figures invited to accompany him are New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine and New York Gov. David Paterson. The site is owned and managed by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Despite the extensive Vatican safeguards against partisanship, political activists are already trying to anticipate what the pope will say and how it will benefit or hurt them.

"The Republicans are just hoping and praying he'll say something strong about abortion and gay marriage and the Democrats are dreading it," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a political scientist and senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. "But when he goes to the U.N., he's going to say things that are going to be to the left of Hillary and Obama."
One place where the papal visit and policy will mix openly is the fifth annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

The April 18 event, which Bush has attended for the last three years, will include a live broadcast of Benedict's U.N. address for the nearly 2,000 people expected.

All members of Congress have been invited to what founder Joseph Cella insists is a bipartisan prayer meeting. However, many of the most prominent organizers are Republican activists, and a Catholic advocacy group that opposes the Iraq war, Catholics United, plans to protest outside.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Republican Says Iraq Could Win Catholics for Obama

Deal Hudson, the noted conservative Catholic political activist (who served as George W. Bush's top advisor on the Catholic vote until forced to resign in a scandal regarding an underage girl) has noted:
"An editorial in the Jesuit's America magazine recently predicted that Sen. Barack Obama will profit by the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States. The moment the Holy Father denounces the war in Iraq, it will provide a 'big opening for Sen. Obama,' according to Michael Sean Winters. Winters argues that Obama can 'invoke the foresight of John Paul II, a man still revered among American Catholics,' while contrasting himself to Sen. Hillary Clinton, President Bush, and, most importantly, Sen. John McCain. Winters also predicts that "Pope Benedict will put the Iraq War, and the thinking that got us into that war, back at the center of political discussion."

What does Hudson think of this analysis?

"Winters is undoubtedly right" he says.

Hudson still has the job of delivering Catholic votes for the right wing. But he admits that whatever success he had in winning a near even split of Catholic voters in the 2004 election, the situation in 2008 has an "instability among Catholic voters created by the Iraq War."

Over 20,000 Catholics have signed a petition calling for "an immediate and responsible end to the Iraq War" and the American Catholic bishops have called several times for a withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq.

In 2004 most U.S. bishops sat in quiet resentment as a handful (single digit number) of bishops talked about withholding communion from Senator Kerry (nevermind that the those with an actual pastoral charge for Kerry did not take this stance). Hudson suggests however, that some anti-war bishops are now prepared to "start a similar ball rolling with regard to Senator McCain for his outspoken support for the war."

It certainly is notable that when even the most highly politicized leaders among right wing Catholics admit that McCain will have problems explaining his position on the war to Catholic voters and that Senator Obama has a strong advantage on this issue.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Americans Say Obama Shares Their Values More Than McCain, Clinton

When asked if each candidate shares the values of Americans, a new poll (post-Wright!) indicates that Barack Obama is believed to share America's values by more people (70%) than either McCain or Clinton.


All three candidates are seen as sharing the values that Americans try to live by, and none more so than Obama, who leads all three candidates on this measure. 70% say Obama shares America’s values. Nearly as many, two-thirds, say McCain does too. 60% say this about Hillary Clinton.

(Among registered voters)

Yes /No

Obama 70% 21%
McCain 66% 27 %
Clinton 60% 34 %

(Thanks to Professor Lee for alerting us to this new poll)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Catholic Outreach Coodinator for Obama Campaign

Mark Linton has been named the National Catholic Outreach Coordinator for Senator Obama's campaign. Mark had been an aide to Barack Obama in his Senate office. Prior to that, he worked for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Mark will be part of the Obama Campaign's Faith Outreach Team, headed by National Director for Religious Affairs Joshua DuBois.

Mark has hit the ground running. He helped put together last week a listening session with Catholic laity, religious and clergy in Pennsylvania. Catholic leaders have been included in health care discussions and other campaign activities.

If you would like Mark to keep you informed as to ways you can help in the campaign, please go to:

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Montana Catholic HS Kids Rally for Obama

Crowd's enthusiasm impresses veteran of Adams Center


Tribune Staff Writer
April 6, 2008

MISSOULA — Paul Donaldson is used to seeing the University of Montana's Adams Center packed with people.

Donaldson, who sets up music and sound for entertainment events there, will be working on the Elton John concert next week and has done other music events for University of Montana Productions.

But he said he has never seen a crowd quite like the one that filed the venue Saturday morning for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

"This is different," Donaldson said. "This is history, not culture."

The Adams Center's doors opened at 8 a.m., though the event didn't start until 10 a.m. However, a line began forming at midnight the night before. By the time the doors swung open, it snaked through the parking lot and around nearby campus buildings.

"I've never seen a line like that," Donaldson said. "Not even for a rock concert."
By the time the rally kicked off, the Adams Center was filled to capacity with about 8,000 people. Washington-Grizzly stadium held approximately 400 people who didn't make it into the building.

In the stadium, Obama's speech was shown on the large screen and broadcasted over the sound system.

"He's like a real superstar," Donaldson said.

Garrett Browne, 19, waited patiently in line to take his seat. He got his tickets for the free event at midnight Thursday, when they were first available.

The tickets were gone by 9:30 Thursday morning.

Browne took his place in line around 7 a.m. Saturday.

"From the get-go, I've been a big supporter," the UM marketing student said.

Browne read one of Obama's books during his senior year of high school and was hooked. When he began donating to Obama's presidential bid, it marked the first time he contributed to a political campaign. He estimated that he's donated about $230 so far.

That Obama held a free event showed that he cares more about getting his message out than raising money, Brown said.

As the line of people waiting to see Obama made its way into the Adams Center, people passed through metal detectors, and Secret Service members looked through bags and personal items.
Once inside the field house, the screen that usually displays the game time read "2008." Both teams were listed as "Obama."

While the majority of the crowd sat in the bleachers, a select group — mainly those who got their tickets in person at Obama's Missoula office — filled the gym floor. Among the lucky few on the floor were 15-year-old Jesse Whiddon and 16-year-old Michael Tarbert, both students at Loyola Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Missoula.

Even though the two boys can't vote in the upcoming election, they believed it was important to show their support for their favorite candidate since the choices the next president makes will impact them, Tarbert said.

Whiddon and Tarbert took a school trip to Washington, D.C., shortly after Obama announced his candidacy. That's when they heard about him and chose to support him. On Saturday, they both wore T-shirts they bought on that trip.

"He's not your average political white guy," Whiddon said.

"I think we need a change in Washington, D.C., right now," Tarbert added.

Ester and Michael Bowlin volunteered to work the rally, but were turned down because the campaign had more volunteers than it needed.

Instead, Michael Bowlin, 28, waited outside the campaign office in his slippers and pajamas to get tickets.

"I'm more energetic this time," Michael Bowlin said. "I feel involved. It's more worth it."
"The gravity of this election year is kind of sweeping everybody up," added Ester Bowlin, 22.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Church vs. the GOP

The Republican Party and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul are having a disagreement (the Church won). Now -- hold on to your hats for this one -- 'Catholics for Obama' is sympathetic to the Republicans and in polite disagreement with the Church. However, with the wisdom of Solomon, we do offer a compromise (maybe Chairman Dean will ask us to mediate the Florida/Michigan matter!).

Archbishop John Nienstedt successfully fought against a bill to open downtown St. Paul, Minnesota bars until 4 am during the Republican National Convention, September 1-4. The legislation also would have allowed liquor stores to be open the Sunday of the convention. The Archbishop is against both changes. He said that Minnesota shouldn't have to change its policies just for some guests. The State House of Representatives agreed with the Archbishop and voted down the bill.

Awh, C'mon now! Those Conventions go late into the night. And then there are the after-parties and the after-after parties. Even Republicans are allowed to have a good time.

Here is the compromise. Let's make sure the people taking advantage of the late closing time are Republicans and not local Twin Cities Democrats. We say limit the drinks served after normal closing hours to Martinis, Scotch (preferably Chivas) and imported wines. No beer or boilermakers allowed. That way the Republicans can drink but not the Democrats!

Friday, April 4, 2008


Former Senator John Melcher (D-MT), a pro-life Catholic superdelegate from Montana has thrown his support to Senator Barack Obama. Melcher is also a strong supporter of the Catholic Church's stance against the war in Iraq.

Senator Melcher is a superdelegate because he represents Montana on the Democratic National Committee. He also declared that he thought Montana could be competitive in the general election this fall. Montanans tend to be opposed to the Bush-McCain policies on Iraq.

Please review the link below for more information about Senator Melcher's outstanding record:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

ETHEL KENNEDY: "Barack is so like Bobby"

Ethel Kennedy to stump for Obama in South Bend

Tribune Staff Report
By Beth Boehne
Apr 2, 2008

SOUTH BEND — Ethel Kennedy, whose husband Robert campaigned for president here 40 years ago before his assassination in Los Angeles, will visit South Bend on Saturday.

She’ll be stumping on behalf of Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat seeking his party’s nomination for president.

"Barack is so like Bobby," Kennedy said.

Kennedy, and her son, Max, will be at the West Side Democratic and Civic Club about 1:15 p.m. Saturday, the Obama campaign announced Wednesday.

The club is at 617 S. Warren St. in South Bend. Doors open at noon for the event, which is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Obama Picking Up Steam in Pennsylvania!

Clinton's lead has fallen from 16 points to 6 in Pennsylvania. Things are moving in the right direction. Now is the time to get involved. Remember, for each Roman Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania there is a Catholics for Obama organization. Join today!


Is Clinton doomed by Obama getting Casey nod?

March 31, 2008
by Frank James
Chicago Tribune

Franklin and Marshall professors Terry Madonna and Michael Young have a new Politically Uncorrected" column in which they assert that the endorsement by Sen. Bob Casey of his fellow junior senator, Barack Obama, may spell doom for the presidential hopes of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Cutting to the chase, their premise is that Casey is popular with a lot of blue-collar voters in the state and while his endorsement of the senator from Illinois may not lead to Obama winning Pennsylvania, it could cut significantly into Clinton's lead, giving her a less-than-huge win and causing enough super delegates to declare for Obama.

Here's their piece's money quote:

The take away point here is that the Casey endorsement may be a game-ender, a final speed bump for Clinton that blocks any remaining viable path to the nomination. She needs to win Pennsylvania big, and Casey’s presence in the race makes it hard for her to do that. Clinton probably still wins the state—but not by enough to allow her to continue the race past Pennsylvania.

Read on for the entire piece:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Buffalo Msgr. Speaks Out

Monsignor David Gallivan of Holy Cross Church in Buffalo, NY, responds to the discussion last week about Senator Obama and Reverend Wright.

March 30, 2007

Tomorrow I will escape to a distant shore, so I can risk sticking my head out on a current matter that is consuming my patience. Barack Obama has been severely criticized for his silence in the face of outlandish statements by his pastor. When we gave away 400 winter coats to poor people 2 years ago, one of the recipients confided that her pastor ordered his people from the pulpit to not enter a Catholic church, even for a child’s coat in winter. Later I asked a fellow pastor from the same denomination if their clergy could wield that much control over people’s behavior and beliefs. I want that power badly! By the way, the coats were all gone within a half hour; most of the blessed recipients were of other faith traditions and had disobeyed their shepherds. They aren’t that different from us after all.

How many of us preachers have given our personal opinions, nonsense and ideologies instead of gospel truth from the pulpit? Haven’t we all, from popes down to lower clergy, at times promoted as truth what was later proven to erroneous non-doctrinal opinions, nonsense or downright lies that tickled the flock’s ears and made us popular? How often have church goers gone home year after year without having heard a challenging message, one that helped them to correct a glaring defect in their Christian behavior and opinions of people and events?

Many of us, in spite of personal feelings, have endured silently and even participated in family conversations at dinners, picnics and birthdays in which people of any race, gender, sexual orientation or color not our own, have been ridiculed, insulted, accused or joked about. We have endured this or participated in it for years and generations among parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbors, work mates, etc. and others whom we love deeply because of the true goodness of the other parts of their lives. I have been a racist all my life with preconceived ideas and prejudices.After more than 45 years of seminary and priestly ministry among people ofmore nationalities that I can count, I still find myself at times reacting with unfair attribution of stereotypes, usually interiorly but not always. Fortunately there have been a few people in my life who have called me on it. Here’s an example. In ministering to the family of the victim of a particularly gruesome murder, it seemed to me that the family should not have carried on so extremely in their grief, given the frequency of such crimes in their racial group and neighborhood. When the same thing happened in my own family, it became clear to me that my racist reaction had been stereotypical and sinful. I shared this with an apology to my widowed parishioner and then I confessed it to a priest. When our parish youth go on retreat or to a convention or play in a basketball league, others notice their appearance and learn where they are from. The young people a repuzzled to be told “how nice” they are. At first they were flattered but now react with these or similar words: “Why are they surprised that we’re such good kids?”

God has blessed me with a ministry among people of most races and nationalities. They have been colleagues, houseguests, hosts, roommates and tablemates. No one who has not shared, at least occasionally, such normal features of human interaction, can know whereof they speak when they pontificate about “how they are.” Wouldn’t you think that after 45 years I would be free of stereotypes about “different” people? I’m not. None can honestly tell me they are. Tomorrow I will travel to Ireland for a cousin’s wedding. It was the deep similarities between his rural family’s deep Irish faith and values and those of my Peruvian parishioners and our Hispanic and African newcomers that have all enlarged my life; I hope they will continue to do so. I can measure the progress of Holy Cross Parish over 34 years. We can be proud of ourselves even as we know how much more all of us - black,brown and white - need to do.

—Monsignor David Gallivan