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May 14, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 14

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THE CATHOLIC  DIOCESE OF  RICHMOND

– Necrology

LETTERS

Government support needed to help feed the hungry

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Bishops for opposing the cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP formerly known as food stamps) in the budget recently passed by the House of Representatives.

While poverty and unemployment have increased in the last three years, the number of families struggling to put food on the table has not increased. We know that this program has proven effective in fighting hunger.

In spite of this, the House of Representatives has proposed in its budget, to cut $169 billion from SNAP.

Some Representatives feel that feeding hungry people should be the work of the Churches.

However, in order to do this, each church in the United States — big, small and tiny — would have to come up with an extra $50,000 dedicated to feeding people per year for the next 10 years to make up for these cuts.

Churches in our diocese are already responding to this need, but can any of our churches really afford to do this?

Congress needs to do better than this. Congress needs to protect the poor and vulnerable in our nation.

The budget needs to be balanced, but not on the backs of the poor.

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Mary Hart column called misguided

I read the article in the April 30 Catholic Virginian by Mary Hood Hart with concern as to the author’s agenda. I feel that publishing this article may have been well intended, but it is simply a one-sided, misguided discussion of an isolated, unfortunate event in a small town in Florida.

Dragging politics into her article only muddied her discussion and raises questions of perhaps a latent political agenda.

While neither Ms. Hart nor I know what happened the night a Hispanic man in a small town felt he needed to defend himself from violence, and Trayvon Martin was shot, it is always sad when someone dies.

The result has been a media circus; a rush to judgment, and creation of a lynch mob mentality over this single, isolated event. Ms. Hart’s article unfortunately perpetuates the current “guilty until proven innocent” attitude and pushes her personal anti-gun opinions.

graphic: rules for sending letter to editorPeople forget too fast past incidents inflamed by the media with demands for arrests and punishment based on what turn out to be false charges. The Lacrosse team at Duke accusations is an example (all those charges were dismissed.)

However, the result was the same. The people were tarred and feathered in the press, kicked out of school, the team season was cancelled. Those boys’ parents had more money to defend them than George Zimmerman has. Where is the concern for social justice as the mobs pursue Zimmerman?

While attacks on innocent people (white, black, Asian or Hispanic) should not be ignored, inflaming a single event with alleged racist implications is racist in itself. I also agree that vigilante justice (whether on the street, in the media or social networks) should never be encouraged.

Fair and balanced reporting should be the objective of your newspaper, not rehashing events in one-sided politically tainted articles.

read the column »

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Women religious aid social justice

In reference to the Catholic News Service article “Vatican announces reform of U.S. nuns’ group” in the April 30 issue of The Catholic Virginian, I followed up by speaking to two sisters from different orders in different states.

Their perspectives were similar. “This is the history of the church.” “We will wait and see and pray.”

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is comprised of 80 percent of the Catholic sisters in this country. The LCWR are being faulted for their priorities of social justice and work with the poor and not addressing contraception and gay rights. What would Jesus say?

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle has been designated to oversee this review and proposed reforms by the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

There are prayer vigils planned in major cities to support the nuns before a May 29 meeting of the LCWR.

Globally sisters are closest to the people in need. They are their spokespersons. They know the needs of the church and attempt to put them together.

Supporters of the nuns have come out in great numbers to praise the sisters (women religious) for their work, their mission and their common sense.

Those who would like to learn more about options available to support the sisters can go the website Change.org and scroll down to “Support the Sisters” to read comments and sign a petition.

Our women religious are living in an unfriendly climate but they have us, the Catholic laity. We should not be bystanders.

Although the sisters are on the front line, we are not far behind.

Catholic News Service articles do not appear in the web edition of The Catholic Virginian.

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Reader thanks God for the nuns

In the April 30, 2012 issue of The Catholic Virginian there was an article entitled “Vatican announces reforms of U.S. nun’s group.”

Several secular newspapers entitled the same story a little differently with the headline “Vatican orders crackdown on U.S. nuns.”

In either case, it pains me to see our nuns, who contribute so much to humanity, being rebuked by the church hierarchy.

I take my hat off to our nuns for the service and devotion they give to all our brothers and sisters. I hope the next time you meet a nun you will do the same.

Catholic News Service articles do not appear in the web edition of The Catholic Virginian.

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Clergy sex abuse allegations studied

Personally, as a convert to Catholicism, and one who contemplated a vocation in the priesthood during my college years, I am terribly embarrassed by the constant reporting of priests with allegations of sexual abuse.

I am responding to the articles published in the CV April 16 edition referring to the Bishops’ report on child abuse allegations and the April 30 edition referring to the Arlington diocesan priest placed on administrative leave pending investigation of an allegation of sexual misconduct.

I found the Bishops’ report to be very interesting, but question if there is any correlation between the number of accused priests by year vs. the number of abuse related allegations in an effort to determine if percentage wise there is a decline, increase or if the percentage remains constant.

As a result, I reviewed the USCCB and CARA studies. According to the John Jay report for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for April 10, 2012 there were 109,694 active priests reported by diocese eparchies and religious communities between 1950 and 2002.

For the same period there were reported 4,392 allegations of sexual abuse equaling 4 percent of all active priests.

Although the number of active priests has declined over the years, it is fairly evident that the ratio of accused priests vs. victim survivors for the last eight years remains fairly constant.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the USCCB, says the report “supports the conclusion of both studies done by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice” that the majority of allegations are way in the past.

 I am not certain of that. We must keep in mind two facts. First, these numbers come from most of the same bishops who concealed and enabled clergy sex crimes for decades causing some suspicion.

Second, very few child victims are able to disclose the crimes as they happen. Sometimes it takes years for one to come forward while others continue to hide the unfortunate circumstance. There always has been and will be decades between the actual offense and the reporting of it.

Given these facts, we can either assume that clergy sex crimes are somehow magically being reduced, or we can be prudent, assuming that clergy sex crimes are essentially happening at the same rate, or perhaps a higher rate than before.

Catholic News Service articles do not appear in the web edition of The Catholic Virginian.

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Benedictine statement by bishop lauded

Bishop Dilorenzo’s statement in The Catholic Virginian (April 20 issue) was most timely and should aid in dispelling much rumor and misunderstanding.

I must take exception to the statement that Benedictine College Preparatory was founded in 1911. The school was founded as Benedictine College which morphed into Benedictine High school.

Benedictine College Preparatory is a name less than six months old.

For we who remember, there is a difference!

(Editor: It is important to note that all Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Richmond are college preparatory.)

read the article »

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Fr. Quinlan’s funeral had sense of ‘kin-dom’

“In the evening of life we shall be judged on Love.”

This quote of St. John of the Cross sums up the life of Father Tom Quinlan, affectionately known as “T.Q” to all in this diocese, and was reflected at his funeral May 4 at the Church of the Holy Family in Virginia Beach.

For all the audaciousness and the sensationalism that accompanied so much of his life, T.Q’s funeral was a rich mix of sentiments: somber and serious, celebratory and sentimental, sprinkled with anecdotes as only homilist Bishop Walter Sullivan can relate, drawing forth laughter and misty eyes. I felt as though in the midst of a great love fest.

As we mingled with this communion of people enjoying the “Meal of Mercy” following the service, people could be heard relating their personal experiences with T.Q. and were proud to say: “He gave First communion to my children” or “He baptized mine.”

I believe that T.Q. will continue as a legend of mythic proportions as only the great become. He was not just a good priest and an astute theologian; he was a great human being.

My own connection stemmed from his prodigal love of the poor in Haiti, namely in the village of Baptiste where there now exists a school in his name and numerous life-giving projects.

He requested his parish be twinned with one of the poorest places in Haiti and he got his wish. T.Q’s teaching and preaching on justice turned some off. It was so radical and challenging, but for every one who left because as he said: “they could not take it” (much as in Jesus’ day), just as many others flocked to hear him.

(My husband) Bob and I debated about making the five-hour journey. After all, I reasoned, T.Q. didn’t need us there, but we needed to be there, as did the almost 1,000 others who packed the worship area to standing room only capacity and beyond.

I wish to thank all who created the liturgy and his parishioners for the feast that nourished us all, as did T.Q in our lives.

It was a funeral that left us with a taste of the kin-dom here and now as we sang with full hearts the concluding song: “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.”

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