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opinion/commentary View Comments

Open Letter to Congress
By The Editor
Source: Our Sunday Visitor
Published: Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Click here to email! Email | Click here to print! Print | Size: A A |  
 
Whatever party or candidate one supported during the recent midterm elections, what is consistently more amazing than any specific outcome is that we continue to transfer power in our democracy without resorting to guns or coups or rigged elections. This is something quite remarkable in the course of human history, and we should not lose our appreciation for it.

At the same time, the actual practice of democracy sometimes takes a tough stomach to watch. The grotesque exaggerations, the scaremongering, the ridiculous promises and the pandering are all part of the process these days, along with lots and lots and lots of cash to spread these messages around.

For some years now, Americans have been oscillating between ideological extremes. The electorate increasingly tilts independent, and independents appear to be a fickle lot. This has given more than a few politicians heartburn as they try to read the will of voters who vacillate between "Yes we can" and "heck no."

Now that the election is over, and there is a new, and newly chastened, Congress, we'd like to issue our own exhortation to our elected leaders.

First, may our elected leaders keep foremost in their minds and hearts the common good. While it is a ritual of politics to reward friends and punish enemies, always mindful of what satisfies the voters back home, we are living in an age that cries for a strong sense of the nation as a whole. This means above all a concern for the weakest and most defenseless among us: the unborn, the aged and the elderly, the handicapped, ethnic and racial minorities, and the immigrant, the poor. As Catholics, we believe that the concern for the common good is a hallmark of an ethical government. Catholics have a strong sense of community, and while we do not expect the government to replace the necessary roles of church and neighborhood, we also recognize that some of the challenges we face are beyond the capacities of local or voluntary organizations to address effectively.

Any laws which make abortion more available should be resisted. Federal tax dollars should not pay for abortion. At the same time, America has built up a social safety net through Social Security and Medicare that lifted the elderly and the chronically infirm out of the ranks of dire poverty. As a nation we made a commitment that should not be reversed.

Pope Benedict XVI recently addressed from the perspective of Catholic principles the issue of immigration, which has challenged Europe as well as the United States. "The challenge," he said, "is to combine the welcome due to every human being, especially when in need, with a reckoning of what is necessary for both the local inhabitants and the new arrivals to live a dignified and peaceful life."

Two key issues of the last election were jobs and the growing national debt. Perhaps nothing is so important for the stability of families and the strengthening of the local community as good jobs that pay a living wage. The current high unemployment has had a devastating impact on families and communities and is a top social priority.

At the same time, as a society we have grown accustomed on both a personal and a national level to living beyond our means. Experts will argue about the impact of addressing the national debt in a recessionary environment, but the moral challenge is to recognize that it is unacceptable neither to impose huge burdens on succeeding generations nor balance our budgets by restricting aid to the most needy.

The election is over. May God grant us the strength, sober spirit and grave resolve to accept our responsibilities while always thinking first of those less fortunate than us.

From Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newsweekly based in Huntington, Ind. Provided by Catholic News Service


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Anthony Claret: The "spiritual father of Cuba" was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council. 
<p>In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers. </p><p>He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians. </p><p>He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: <i>Reflections on Agriculture</i> and <i>Country Delights</i>. </p><p>He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony. </p><p>All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets. </p><p>At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, "There goes a true saint." At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.</p> American Catholic Blog The greatest tragedy of our world is that men do not know, really know, that God loves them. Some believe it in a shadowy sort of way. If they were to really think about it they would soon realize that their belief in God’s love for them is very remote and abstract. Because of this lack of realization of God’s love for them, men do not know how to love God back. —Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 
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