Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Plan A - Come to Catholic Concerns Day, March 22

I plan on attending this year's Catholic Concerns Day on March 22 with my family. We have attended in the past and it is a family-friendly and effective way to show our strength on many issues important to Catholics in Connecticut. High on the Connecticut Catholic Conference's list of agenda items this year is opposition to the so-called "Plan B" (rather Orwellian, don't you think) or Emergency Contraception proposal. Plainly referred to as an anti-catholic ruse on their website, The Connecticut Catholic Conference, under the leadership of Deacon David Reynolds and our Connecticut Bishops, has taken a strong stance against this legislation. Don't think it has been easy either. Other states, like New York and New Jersey, don't seem to have the same policy as our Archdiocese - and they are highlighted at the legislature as good citizens.

I'm sorry though, that we have to squeeze the arguments against "Plan B" into the "religious freedom box". To me, that should be our "Plan B". Plan A should be for us to boldly share with the rest of Connecticut that this is abortion, and abortion is wrong because it kills someone. I even wondered, for a moment, if the Catholic hospitals should be offering any pre-conception "contraceptive" (their own words) to fertile women (which they do if the woman has not ovulated). Isn't that in God's hands? But, the Catholic Church does not insist that women get pregnant. Just that they be open to new life. And, for the poor woman who has been sexually abused, we can all understand that she may not be open to conceiving a new life - even if thoughtfully considered - under those horrible circumstances.

Anyway, back to the "religious freedom box". I am sad that we have to retreat each session to making arguments to only protect our right to privately practice our religion. I wish we could use our leverage to actually educate the public about the church and its positions. I.E., instead of asserting our right not to use contraception because our pope said so, how about asserting our right not to kill a person, because killing people is wrong.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Radio News

It's Sunday morning (the 18th) and I'm listening to Fr. Gatzak of the Archdiocese's Office of Radio and Television on their official station (88.9 FM, WJMJ). "This Thursday is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter," he says, " where we have narrowed the call to authority."


The following Saturday I'm listening to Brad Davis' radio program when a member of a local Baptist church calls in to invite listeners to that Sunday's service. The theme, he says, is listed on a sign on the church's front lawn: "Beware of roaming Catholics."


The latter was in reference, I think, to an appearance at that church by former Gov. John Rowland, who's had a jailhouse conversion from nominal Catholic to scripture quoting-evangelical. I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of his conversion or that his present spiritual state is an improvement over his previous one. But no one ever thought of Rowland as any kind of a serious Catholic prior to his "falling into grace" (the title of a biography he is said to be working on). So using his former affiliation to market his appearances at local Protestant churches seems, at best, gratuitous.

As to the former: I'm told that Hartford is one of the very few dioceses to have its own radio station. As our Protestant brethren know, it can be an outstanding tool for evangelization. And as Hartford's ranking in the Crisis survey showed, such a tool is desperately needed.

So why are we not doing more with it? Right now WJMJ runs a lot of sermons and Sunday services from local mainline Protestant churches. Why not fill that airtime with programs from EWTN's radio apostolate? Yes, I know JMJ sees its ministry as ecumenical. I refer you again to Hartford's ranking in the Crisis survey. Shouldn't we use the tools at our disposal to revitalize our own Archdiocese before giving free air time to the mainline churches--many of whom are manning the opposing side on abortion, gay "marriage" and other issues on which the most passionate Catholics are passionately engaged?

In fact, why not allow those Catholics to have their own shows on WJMJ to tell the faithful what they are doing (which won't be covered by mainstream media), to strengthen their brethren, grow their numbers and help bring about victory in these battles? The Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in Meriden run the Archdiocese's pro-life ministry and they do outstanding work. They are one of the best things happening in the Archdiocese, but how many people really know about them? Give them their own show on WJMJ--and those groups doing similar work--and the Church in Hartford could only benefit.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rally for Marriage at the Capitol

Just back from the rally at the Capitol to protect the meaning of marriage in Connecticut. It will be the biggest rally at the Capitol this year. Good weather and good speakers. The mood was one of "hunkering down" and settling in for the long road of trying to change the Connecticut constitution to protect marriage as one woman and one man. I will be curious to see tomorrow's and tonight's coverage in the various media outlets. They usually single out the most curious among each side to highlight. I love Our Lady of Guadalupe, but I don't know how many votes she swings at the legislature - at least directly. In fact, bringing those signs may help the media to marginalize our cause. You can never go wrong though - at the gates of heaven - to tell St. Peter that you brought along the Virgin Mary to the Rally for Marriage.

Speaking of attendance at the Rally for Marriage, the merging of technology and faith by a friar wearing a video camera with stabilizing arm-type mechanism, was surreal. It shows how our faith is very much "in the world", how Jesus is transcendent through time, and, well, is just REALLY COOL.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Memo to Fr. Melnick

The Crisis magazine study naming the Archdiocese of Hartford dead last in overall rating (#176 out of 176 Latin Rite dioceses in the U.S.) has been noticed by the New Haven Register:

The state’s three Roman Catholic dioceses rank in the bottom third nationally in spiritual vitality, with the Archdiocese of Hartford placing last, according to this month’s Crisis magazine.

"The State of the Catholic Church in America, Diocese by Diocese" measured the 176 U.S. dioceses according to three criteria: the change in the number of priests, including those that move into the diocese (an indicator of morale); the number of ordinations; and the number of adults joining the church...

When the three scores were totaled, Hartford came in 176th, with the Diocese of Bridgeport at 132 and the Diocese of Norwich at 117... None of Connecticut’s bishops has been at the helm for even half the 1995-2005 decade studied. Bishop William E. Lori has led the Bridgeport Diocese since 2001, Norwich Bishop Michael R. Cote was installed in 2003, and Hartford Archbishop Henry J. Mansell began at the end of that year... Spokesmen for the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Diocese of Norwich could
not be reached or declined comment.

The Register is right not to place the blame at the feet of Connecticut's current bishops and to reference the question of Catholic complacency in already-heavily Catholic New England.

But my missus blogged the other day on what that complacency may cost us and on the duty of our shepherds to teach. And to teach not just in traditional venues but through those modern means of communication that are the only way to reach the legion of lapsed Catholics in Connecticut. Lapsed Catholics are probably a bigger proportion of the state's population than practicing Catholics. They may, perhaps, even be the biggest "religious" group in the state. Evangelizing them is the key to the spiritual revitalization of Hartford...and to stopping "Plan B", gay "marriage" and the rest of the carnival of horrors the state's secularists have cooked up.

But it can't be accomplished by only visiting the churches they're not attending. Memo to Archbishop Mansell's secretary: book your boss on Colin McEnroe, Brad Davis, On the Record, Beyond the Headlines and the op-ed page of the Hartford Courant asap!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I'm for marriage INequality

I hope people will show up (early please for the headcount) on February 21 to show legislators their support for marriage inequality in CT. YES, marriage inequality. I don't think marriage equals any two people who love each other, and neither should our legislators. The state's interest in marriage should be in promoting stable environments for the raising of children. Not giving a seal of approval on emotional connections. And children do better with both genders represented as parents. They need the balance of both, in ways that are obvious and ways that we don't even understand.

Why should Catholics care about gay marriage? First, because we care about gay people. We should oppose state endorsement of any behavior that jeopardizes the soul. Second, because we care about single mothers and their children. Gay marriage discourages responsible fatherhood by informing the citizenry that dads don't matter, thus further discouraging men from fathering responsibly in Ct. Third, because we care about parental rights. As has already been demonstrated in other jurisdictions, gay "marriage" is only one step in a plan to re-orient how society views homosexuality. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Junior-home-with-a-coloring-book-depicting-two-gay-lovers-holding-hands-at-the-mega-mart. Phew. Also, fourth, because we care about religious rights. Can anyone say Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities vs. Knights of Columbus?

Maybe you don't believe in the soul (or think my political opinion cannot be informed by my religious faith), maybe you think a few more single mothers who chose to copulate with Joe Sixpack are worth well-heeled, non-civil-unionized persons flocking to the state, or that the State should, no, MUST, re-educate the offspring of the simple-minded to accept homosexuality, and that gay people have just as much a right to a tacky wedding reception as anybody else. Then - go for it. But, I say, and seriously, I can't sit by and let the State of Connecticut further abuse the institution of marriage. Up to my late 20s, I would have told you that gender didn't matter a stitch in the raising of children. And if a woman was lucky enough to dump the good-for-nothing father of her children, and have enough pluck to get by, well then good for her. Untill I had my own children, I had NO IDEA how incredibly difficult it was to raise children WITH a husband, never mind without one. I wouldn't wish that for anyone and God Bless those women who manage to do it. The state of Connecticut must not further abuse the institution of marriage and should be encouraging fatherhood for the benefit of all women, children and society.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

CT Catholics are dense

Densely populated, that is. Referred to as 43% of the population, this density, in part, creates an apathy about their faith, their Archdiocese, local parish, religious education, etc. That is why teaching moments in CT should be taken when they present themselves, through whatever mediums are available.

Two perfect storms of media attention and Catholic moral teaching are presenting themselves again this spring. They are "gay marriage" and "abortion/Plan B". Each issue, to the average CT Catholic, brings up feelings of bewilderment and embarrassment. Their heads raised, their eyebrows twisted, their gazes, well . . . . blank. How should they feel about this issue? What do they know? Pressure abounds from local elite to abandon any notion that marriage is more than a number, or that a person's a person no matter how small. In this legislative session where both measures are looking like they may fail, what harm could come to a Bishop's reputation by spending time with local media to explain the church's well informed positions on these issues? I KNOW they are working behind the scenes to ameliorate these bills, crafting compromises, making important phone calls, doing the hard work of actually destroying these bills. But that still leaves the flock to, well . . . flounder when presented with these issues. Forget about changing the minds of Mark Davis, Al Terzi, or the editorial board of The Hartford Courant - reach out to the lapsed among us, and give them the education they never received in 12 years of Catholic schools, or at their confirmation retreat, or Easter Sunday Mass.

Another One Bites the Dust

St. Mary's School in Meriden is closing:

The small classes that built big dreams at St. Mary's School will be a
thing of the past.The Catholic K-8 school on Grove Street will shut its doors
for good in June after 112 years.School Principal Robert J. Biancamano said the
closing is the result of financial pressure caused by declining enrollment. The
school has 83 students, down from more than 100 two years ago."The benchmark to
run a school like this is 200 kids," Biancamano said Tuesday. "It really did get
down to numbers."

There are deep, structural reasons why these tragic school closings keep happening: people migrating out of our cities (and out of Connecticut altogether), the decline of the religious orders that once staffed such schools with very little pay, the tendency of Catholics to put less time and money into our churches than our Protestant brethren put into theirs.

But the biggest reason of all is that our state government is owned lock, stock and barrel by the teachers unions. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that religious school choice programs do not violate the Constitution. And it is simple justice to allow citizens to spend their own tax dollars on the school of their choice. But the teachers unions will never allow it. And our Catholic schools--which do so much more with so much less than the public schools--will continue to close because of the increasing pressures they are under.

Gov. Rell and the legislature seem not to care. But the voters of a state that's 43% Catholic ought to.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In honor of SS. Cyril & Methodius - things I love to hate in CT . . .

State and national politicians that receive communion and vote in favor of abortion.
Pediatricians that like to have "open and frank" discussions with your children about sex.
Open attacks on Catholic Hospitals, ah la - Plan B.
That Colin McEnroe is funny.
Confirmation classes that discuss human sexuality with both genders present (I should just be happy, I suppose, if a confirmation class did factually present the Church's teaching on human sexuality).
Trans-gender associations in high schools.
Gender-equity feminists.
Slurs against social conservatives on The Hartford Courant's editorial . . . I mean, news page.
and, of course, The State of Connecticut Judiciary Committee

Monday, February 12, 2007

Whores for Edwards

No, not the "skirted Klansmen" John Edwards hired to be the blogmasters for his presidential run. Whores for Edwards is Mark Shea's phrase for Catholics in Alliance, the group defending Edwards for not firing the "lying little biggettes" after their hateful anti-Catholic diatribes were exposed.

There are no formally organized Whores for Edwards-type groups in Connecticut, though its spirit lingers here and there. There's also no Mark Shea, but we'll try hard to make up for that.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Crisis in Connecticut

What's life like at the bottom? The Archdiocese of Hartford was rated number, well . . . last, by Crisis Magazine in their latest edition. It seemed like the right impetus to start our own blog. We are a married couple living in the Hartford Archdiocese, faithful to the Magisterium, loyal to our Archbishop. Stay tuned for thoughtful insights.