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Showing posts from 2019

The Bishops and Abortion

The Bishops and Abortion            Gerry OShea Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the outgoing president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops(USCCB) opined recently that the climate change crisis is “not urgent,” directly contradicting Pope Francis who in his encyclical Laudato Si pleaded that saving “the common home” must be a top priority for the church and indeed for all humanity.     DiNardo and a majority of his episcopal colleagues in the USCCB continue to identify abortion as the “preeminent” – their language - issue of our time, meaning that it supersedes all other concerns. These church leaders have mainly pursued a legal remedy to the widespread termination of pregnancy in the United States. Reverse the Roe v Wade decision and they claim we are more than half way to solving the problem.   Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon, supporting this perspective, expounded last month about our times being particularly propitious to achieve their goal because “of a uniqu

In Praise of Moderation

In Praise of Moderation           Gerry OShea To convey their distaste for extremist views scholastic philosophers in the Middle Ages used a pithy Latin dictum, in medio stat virtus. They hailed the middle or moderate position on various controversial issues as most likely to represent the best and truest option. In today’s parlance, it suggests that virtuous and prudent behavior does not reside at the far edges of the left or the right but somewhere in the middle. Some readers will remember Senator George McGovern, the Democratic nominee who faced Richard Nixon in 1972. He was a highly-principled and capable leader, but in those tempestuous days when the war in Vietnam dominated political discourse, Senator McGovern was successfully labelled as an extremist by his Republican opponents.   They claimed repeatedly that the senator was outside the mainstream, that he would concede everything to the communists in Hanoi to end the war. The scare tactic worked and he lost to N

Advantage Biden

Advantage Biden            Gerry OShea It is early times for making predictions, but still a review of all the polling data, nationwide as well as in various key states, and an assessment of the other candidates’ progress point to Joe Biden as the one with the best chance of getting the Democratic nomination.   I suggest that there are four good reasons why he is favorite and likely to be successful. First, the Democrats are looking, above all, for a winner; they really want the current president out, and the polls show that when faced with a direct run-off against President Trump, Biden consistently fares better than any of his Democratic opponents, winning by as much as ten points nationally and also edging out or matching the president in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michican, North Carolina and Florida. The blue-collar voters who abandoned Hillary Clinton seem ready to leave Trump for the man who is known as “middle-class Joe.” Democrats are fired

It's the Economy Stupid!

It's the Economy Stupid                      Gerry OShea "It's the economy stupid" is remembered as the succinct message James Carville   conveyed to   the Democratic Party workers during Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency in 1992. He felt that the campaign was wasting too much time focusing on esoteric issues of foreign and domestic policy. Instead, he wanted those knocking on doors and indeed the wider national campaign to engage people on kitchen- table issues - jobs, salaries, taxes, education and healthcare. He stressed that these are the real challenges that impact people every day. Carville was certainly not the first to appreciate this approach to a political campaign. When Jimmy Carter ran against the incumbent president, Gerald Ford, in 1976, he highlighted what he called the misery index which he claimed reflected poorly on his opponent. He explained that this measure of progress is derived by adding the unemployment rate to t

Catholic Women Today

Catholic Women Today                          Gerry OShea About 700,00 people leave the Catholic Church in America every year. These are not lapsed Catholics who drift away from their religious roots, but members of the church who choose to leave the belief system they were raised with. There are multiple reasons for these unprecedented numbers, but the most important consideration centers on the dismal failure of the church in dealing with women's issues. Talking recently at a symposium titled   "The Women the Vatican Couldn't   Silence" in Trinity College, Dublin,   former Irish president Mary McAleese, who spent six years in Rome earning a doctorate in theology, bemoaned   how "women were deliberately made invisible and programmed to stay invisible" because of church structures that are "designed to create and maintain the invisibility and powerlessness of women." Speaking to the same packed auditorium, Joan Chittister, a Benedic

Capitalism or Socialism

Socialism or Capitalism                           Gerry OShea When John Healy, the great journalist of a past era from County Mayo, was   faced with a conundrum that wasn't open to any easy explanation he would challenge his readers by asking "Riddle me that!" I thought of Mr. Healy recently as I tried to understand the policy differences   between two of the prominent candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Senator Warren defines herself as a capitalist "to my bones."   She says that her goal is to radically reform the economic system and make it work for ordinary people. However, Senator Sanders always presents himself as a socialist and points to his commitment to that philosophy as setting him apart from his opponent on the left from Massachusetts. A perusal of the positions of both candidates on the major issues is revealing. Healthcare     Both Sanders and Warren strong

Gays in the Catholic Church

Gays in the Catholic Church        Gerry OShea The often-acrimonious debate about the morality of the gay lifestyle continues in the Catholic Church. In most parishes members of the LGBT community feel more comfortable keeping a low profile, not making demands, while the majority of pastors avoid preaching about the knotty and complex issues of same-sex relationships. While Judaism, as represented in the Old Testament, strongly condemned homosexual activity, you will search in vain in the four gospels, which tell of Christ's sermons and lifestyle, for any criticism of same-sex relationships. His main message focuses on the primary importance of love and compassion among his followers, calling for special care for the poor and oppressed. How then did these matters become so important in the teachings of the Catholic Church and indeed in most Christian denominations? The answer lies in what the theologians call natural law. Proponents of this approach to morality assert

Unionist Intransigence in Northern Ireland

ionism in Northern Ireland     Gerry OShe Not-an-Inch Un a   Intransigence   is the guiding principle and predictable tactic of Unionist politicians in Northern Ireland. Their many victories over the years have convinced the leadership in that community that their "not an inch" political philosophy can transfer successfully to the current major Brexit crisis. More than a hundred years ago when a Home Rule Bill was finally passed in Westminster, Loyalists in Belfast rejected the decision of parliament, armed a hundred thousand in their community and successfully defied the British government. Next, seeing as they wouldn't accept a parliament in Dublin, they decided to partition the country and set up a government of their own in Belfast. They wanted control over the province of Ulster but they feared that nationalist majorities in counties Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan would make their plan impractical, so they settled for a six-county statelet. They set up

Global Warming

Global Warming          Gerry O'Shea   A basic axiom in the ancient wisdom of the native American community states that any laws or ordinances passed by their governing councils must meet what they call the Seventh Generation Test, meaning that the impact of any new regulation   should not harm people who will live   long   years in the future - a deeply enlightened and spiritual insight that provides a valuable perspective on the global warming crisis. In his encyclical Laudato Si,   Pope Francis makes the same argument: "We are not God. The earth was here before us and it is our common home which has been given to us". He reminds us that we are just custodians, morally obliged to pass on a functioning planet.   From this perspective the treatment of the environment in particular by the huge oil and fuel industries, especially in the last half-century, has been ruinous for the world's oceans and rivers and thus profoundly at variance with any positive et

Clericalism in the Catholic Church

Clericalism             Gerry OShea During the early centuries of Christianity, Christ's followers met - often secretly - to honor his memory by community prayer including the sharing of bread in remembrance of   the importance of togetherness in the Passover meal at the Last Supper. They met in each others' homes for their prayer services just as Amish worshippers do in their communities today. They had no priests, again replicated in Amish services in our time where leaders are chosen by the community and given no perks.   In fact most historians contend that Christ had no plans to start a new religion. He was critical of the legalistic formalism that dominated the Jewish rabbinical establishment of his day, but he is best understood as a charismatic Jewish rabbi with an inspiring message. The records show that these early Christian groups were egalitarian, with men and women chosen by their peers for leadership positions not only for their prayer and communio