Faith & Reason: October 2011 Archives

José H. Gomez.jpg

On 25 October 2011, Los Angelus Archbishop José H. Gomez, STD,  60, spoke on the slow loss of America's first freedom. On March 1, 2011, Archbishop Gomez became the Archbishop of Los Angelus, after being the Archbishop of San Antonio; he's been a bishop for nearly 11 years.  A stellar article follows:

There is much evidence to suggest that our society no longer values the public role of religion or recognizes the importance of religious freedom as a basic right. As scholars like Harvard's Mary Ann Glendon and Michael Sandel have observed, our courts and government agencies increasingly treat the right to hold and express religious beliefs as only one of many private lifestyle options. And, they observe, this right is often "trumped" in the face of challenges from competing rights or interests deemed to be more important.

These are among the reasons the U.S. Catholic bishops recently established a new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. My brother bishops and I are deeply concerned that believers' liberties--and the Church's freedom to carry out her mission--are threatened today, as they never have been before in our country's history.

Catholics have always believed that we serve our country best as citizens when we are trying to be totally faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church. And since before the founding of the American Republic, Catholics--individually and institutionally--have worked with government agencies at all levels to provide vital social services, education, and health care.

How often do you think mainline Christians take the personal piety of others? How frequently do we take someone who says "I am spiritual but not religious"? "Not very often" is the best answer to offer. Saying that one is spiritual and not religious lacks a certain seriousness of belief and unbelief. Catholics in the USA number circa 65-70 million and in the world Catholics number just over a billion this notion of being spiritual and not religious gaining currency. Why? Because a personal relationship with Jesus is lacking. There is no encounter with the living Messiah, Jesus is an abstraction.

Last week someone asked me what I thought of being spiritual but not religious. I simply said, to hold that belief is to lack a certain convergence of faith and reality; while understandable from the point of view that many professed Christians lack a true conviction of faith in Jesus Christ both from the point of doctrine but also in practice.

David Briggs has an article that is to be read: "Religious but not spiritual: The high costs of ignoring personal piety."

Instead of jumping to a negative conclusion, why not ask the question of what you are doing to work on your own education in the Faith and its practice? Adherence to Christ is a life of love, but it is also an ongoing work.

A timely piece to think seriously about daily is the notion of religious freedom not only around the globe, but also and significantly here in the USA. Today, the Most Reverend William E. Lori addressed the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee on the Constitution. Here are a few paragraphs (the link to the full text is noted below):

Religious liberty is not merely one right among others, but enjoys a certain primacy. As the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI recently explained: "It is indeed the first of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be recognized but also because it touches the constitutive dimension of man, his relation with his Creator." (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Diplomatic Corps, 10 Jan. 2011.) The late Pope John Paul II taught that "the most fundamental human freedom [is] that of practicing one's faith openly, which for human beings is their reason for living." (Pope John Paul II, Address to Diplomatic Corps, 13 Jan. 1996, No. 9.) Not coincidentally, religious liberty is first on the list in the Bill of Rights, the charter of our Nation's most cherished and fundamental freedoms. The First Amendment begins: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." It is commonly, and with justice, called our "First Freedom."

US Congressman Frank R. Wolf, 72, (Virginia 10th District) proposed the bill in 1998 which created The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is a bi-partisan US Federal commission, appointed by the US President to advise him and Congress on matters pertaining to the freedom of religion. The CIRF reports to Congress and the State Department, is now in jeopardy.

It's work is research and advocacy for freedom and human rights. It looks at the practice of religion and it's freedom to exist.

HOWEVER, there is one senator who is blocking funding, anonymously. We need to write to our senators. We need to speak out!!!

After November 18 the Commission may go out of business.

Congressman Wolf thinks that if the bill is passed, Obama will sign the bill. But truth be told, the President is not really in favor the Commission's work.
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This coming year Pope Benedict is going to spend time teaching matters of Justice. In fact, he's called for a new emphasis on Justice several times in the past year. St John's University is a college operated by the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians), the religious order founded by the great Saint Vincent de Paul who had a special love for the poor and marginalized but also taught that one can't effectively serve the poor without an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. For Saint Vincent de Paul, in order to walk with the poor one had to first first walk with the Lord. To that end, the Vincentian Fathers, Brothers and laity organized the Vincentian Center for Church and Society.

Next week, there is the 7th Biennial Vincentian Chair of Social Justice at St. John's University (Queens, NY Campus) on "Poverty Eradication and Intergenerational Justice: Stewardship, Solidarity and Subsidiarity" to take place on October 22, 2011. 

More information can be found here: Poverty Eradication and Intergenerational Justice.pdf

The annual report on religious freedom lists 14 countries which deny religious freedom to their citizens. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom ( is a bi-partisan US Federal commission, appointed by the US President to advise him and Congress on matters pertaining to the freedom of religion.

Visit the above link for the report and other interesting information.

Of particular concern are: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.

Rome Reports gives the story.
Amy Sullivan of Time magazine wrote a piece today, "Why Catholic Bishops are Targeting Obama on Religious Freedom." I don't particularly think Sullivan's article is not all that informative, in fact, I think she needs to review it again and republish it. She does, however, indirectly say that Catholics --indeed all people of faith-- better wake up today and get with the program: the current presidential administration of the US government is narrowing an understanding and practice of religious freedom. Catholics, unlike the Jews or the Muslims are too often slow to know the horizons of the debate. Catholics don't often go up to Mount Nebo to survey the geography or their own history. Whether recent events are the most egregious in 30 years is a matter of opinion, but the trampling (or reduction) of religious freedom harms everybody, atheist and the Legion of Mary member alike.

It's time to get fluent in the terms of religious freedom, pun intended.

This is not a Catholic issue. This is an issue for all people who live a life of faith.
john_paul_2_0921.jpgWell, that's a question. Provocative or not, I am quiet sure that it is germane 6 years later with little evidence. But Time magazine's Jeff Israel brings to our attention the hypothesis of Dr Lina Pavanelli who, in an article, "The Sweet Death of Karol Wojtyla" (Micromega), claims Blessed John Paul II was euthanized. The first thing I think of is: someone is trying to make a book deal with conspiracy theory accusing the Vatican of hiding something. But I am wondering, as Israel pointed out, that if the issue is actually the doctor's reception of Church teaching on life --or not--, especially on issues like euthanasia. Many in the medical community want to dismiss the Church's teaching on life in order to liberalize medicine enough to reduce the dignity of the human person to absurdity. There's a vibrancy in questioning Magisterial teaching on life in Europe because of proposed legislation.

Remember all the questions about the death of Pope John Paul I?

Yousef Nadarkhani.jpgYousef Nadarkhani, 33, is a Christian; he's never practiced Islam, the faith of his family. He converted Christianity at the age of 19. A court ruled that he's guilty of apostasy but he's also being accused of security charges, running a brothel, being a rapist and being a Zionist. And now he faces death. 

BUT it seems that the charge of apostasy is being minimized or completely discounted now; information conflict. Nadarkhani was arrested October 13, 2009.

"I am resolute in my faith and Christianity and have no wish to recant," Yousef Nadarkhani said.

Benjamin Weinthal's article in The Jerusalem Post gives some more detail.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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