Saturday, January 25, 2014

Little Sisters of the Poors' Victory (Let's Hope It Lasts)

The U. S. Supreme Court stated that the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order of Catholic nuns who run nursing homes,  do not have to comply with President Obama's healthcare law requiring employees to provide insurance that covers contraception. This is considered a partial victory, as litigation continues. There is a requirement in that religious groups will have to send a written notification saying they object to the contraception mandate, in order to receive the exemption.
The Becket Fund for religious liberty made this statement, "We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters. The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people, it doesn't need to force nuns to participate."
This is good news for the Little Sisters of the Poor. I am very familiar with their excellent nursing homes. A priest I knew was living and receiving excellent care, for years,  in Queen of Peace Residence in Queens which is run by the nuns. The atmosphere they provide and the care is amazing to see. A friend of mine who was often at the nursing home calls the nuns, "The angels of the earth." I volunteered for a time at Queen of Peace helping with grant writing. The nuns were so appreciative.
Bishop Ignatius Catanello, who was a Brooklyn auxiliary Bishop was cared for at Queen of Peace residence during a long illness. He died in March of last year.  I know from having observed their good works,  that the nuns are  wonderful religious who care about each patient and show concern for them. It's evident the moment you walk into the nursing home that this is no ordinary facility.
So it couldn't happen to a better group of nuns to have this ruling, at this time. Let's hope it holds. It makes perfect sense.

Making the elderly happy, that is what counts
St. Jeanne Jugan-foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Caroline Kennedy's Brave Tweet To Bring Attention To Massive Dolphin Killing

I thought it was quite brave and noble of Caroline Kennedy, U.S. ambassador to Japan to tweet about her concern about the inhuman and barbaric slaughter of dolphins in Japan. She tweeted on Sunday, "Deeply concerned about the inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing." Her parents would be proud of her, she is certainly a credit to the Kennedy's. I have always admired her, though I don't agree with all her political beliefs. But as a modern day woman,  she has managed to balance raising children, while staying involved with charitable causes, writing books and now in her esteemed role as a U. S. ambassador.  Quite impressive! She feels comfortable enough in her "own skin," and as a woman in a important role, to give her opinion on an crucial conservation topic.
I never saw the documentary, "The Cove," but I was reading up about it and how it exposed the barbaric slaughter of dolphins which happen through drive hunts. Once again hundreds of dolphins were slaughtered in Taiji Cove in Japan by Japanese fishermen, a few days ago.  The U. S. government opposes these fishing techniques.
Drive hunt refers to the practice of herding dolphins into a cove and then killing them. This is legal in Japan but offensive and disturbing to people in many countries who see this as a slaughter of intelligent, beautiful animals that are trapped and destroyed, in large numbers.  I don't see this as a  time-honored tradition, as many in Japan claim, this is an ego-driven, selfish event which harms intelligent animals, that are known to help humans when humans are in danger. They are intelligent, they have a language and its a horrible injustice and cruel to treat these animals so barbarically.
Let's hope in the future, with international pressure and more enlightened thought,  these drive hunts will end. (I'll add my prayers as well that these hunts will end and become illegal in the future.)
Let's hope future generations in Japan and elsewhere learn to appreciate and protect the environment, and all of God's creatures and have more respect for ocean creatures, who are already in distress from environmental pollution in our oceans.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cardinal Dolan Officially Meet

According to an article in today's New York Post, Mayor de Blasio met with Timothy Cardinal Dolan on Monday at the cardinal's residence behind St. Patrick's Cathedral. It was the mayor's first meeting with Cardinal Dolan since becoming mayor of New York City. De Blasio seems to be a fan of Pope Francis calling his voice, "the most powerful voice on this earth on inequality." Apparently both the mayor and Cardinal Dolan are hoping that the popular Pope will visit the "Big Apple," sometime in the future, which both men say would be a big blessing for the city.
I attended Papal Masses when Pope John Paul II visited NYC in 1979 and again in 1995. How fortunate I was to attend two papal masses in NYC, one at Shea Stadium (1979) and the other at Aqueduct Raceway (1995).  When Pope Benedict came to New York in 2008 I attended the Departing Ceremony at Kennedy Airport. All of those religious events were amazing and yes, filled with many blessings.
The mayor was baptized Catholic and raised Catholic by his Italian family but he has fallen away. He now considers himself "spiritual" but he is not practicing any particular religion. So where are the evangelizers in NYC, seems like the mayor could use some evangelization?
Perhaps if Pope Francis comes to New York then Bill de Blasio will be so moved by his presence that he will return to his Catholic roots. Or perhaps Cardinal Dolan can encourage him to return to the faith he was baptized into.
It is good that the new mayor and the Cardinal have met. It seems they have a lot in common when it comes to subjects such as affordable housing, the work of Catholic Charities and fighting inequality. They should keep the conversation going.

And it's my fervent hope that at some point, working closely with the Cardinal, we'll have the opportunity to bring Pope Francis to New York City.  Mayor Bill de Blasio

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio's Challenge of Affordable Housing in NYC

As most people have heard, New York City has a new mayor, Mayor Bill de Blasio. One of the challenges that Mayor de Blasio is facing, is the housing crisis in NYC. Brooklyn as well as the other boroughs (most especially Manhattan) has become unaffordable. New York City is a diverse, exciting, creative place to live, with good restaurants, great cultural events, world class museums, beautiful parks and ethnic diversity which makes it very stimulating. The down side to all this, is that young people (as well as not so young) from around the world want to live here as well as young adults from across the U.S. and that demand for housing has pushed real estate prices through the "roof." In an article in Monday's New York Daily News, writer Beth Stebner starts off by saying in her article, "So much for Bill de Blasio's middle class-it has officially been priced out of his beloved borough. " (Bill de Blasio owns a home with his wife in Park Slope, Brooklyn.) Rents and prices of apartments and homes in neighborhoods such as Park Slope, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and parts of Bushwick and Bed Stuy are now off limits to many in the middle class.
The middle class has helped NYC achieve its greatness. They've worked hard, raised families, built and supported churches and other houses of worship and helped their communities thrive. They are a necessary component of a thriving New York.
So one of the greatest challenges Bill de Blasio will face as mayor will be convincing developers to build more affordable housing for the poor and the middle class, through incentives and tax breaks. Something has to be done and it won't be easy but it's desperately needed.
Pope Francis has preached over and over again about economic justice for all.  His powerful words in seeking justice and economic equality for all God's people, has even made an impression in Washington, as religious leaders of all faiths and lawmakers speak about the importance of opportunities for all people.  They have been quoting Pope Francis, much to the delight of Catholic lawmakers.  This is according to a New York Times article I read titled, "Pope's Voice Is Resonating In The Capitol."  Let's hope and pray the Pope's message is acted upon in Washington, in New York City and throughout the world.  The poor and the middle class must not be forgotten or left out of a prosperous economy, as Pope Francis keeps reminding us.