July 23, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 19
Bp. DiLorenzo thanked for his stand on religious liberty
We are very pleased with the thrust and coverage provided in the lead page “Religious liberty at stake, Bishop says” (July 9 issue).
Convey our sincere appreciation to Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo for taking a clear public position on the threat the mandate places on America”s heritage of religious liberty. The founding fathers are proud of him.
Tony Magliano’s facts are refuted by reader
We are reminded each Independence Day by those of a certain bent how terrible our Nation is. Purportedly, we Americans have wreaked evil on mankind, thus bringing about much of the misery of the world.
Of course, those who write such sanctimonious commentary often proclaim their own patriotism, but then quickly admonish us to take “an honest look” at our Nation’s sins.
Sometimes the best response to such commentary is no response at all (see Proverbs 26:4). But the article by Tony Magliano (“Mature Patriotism on the Fourth of July,” The Catholic Virginian, July 9) is such a particularly egregious example of the genre that it demands a reply.
A few examples:
- Magliano claims the U.S. has “at least 700 military bases throughout the world.” The actual number of what most people would consider “military bases” overseas, outside active war zones, is somewhere around 30 to 35 — not all that bad for a nation with global security interests and responsibilities.
- Magliano: “[America] has a military budget larger than the military budgets of the next 14 nations combined.” Well, which of the “next 14” would he entrust with keeping the Strait of Hormuz open; protecting the world’s shipping lanes; countering the growth of al Qaeda in Yemen, Africa and elsewhere; or preventing Chinese hegemony in the eastern Pacific? China? Russia? Saudi Arabia? India? Italy? — all are in the top ten behind the U.S. in defense expenditures.
- While disdainful of all things military, Magliano fails to mention that it has been the American soldier who has fought and died to secure our freedoms for 236 years.
More troubling than his specific errors of fact and lack of balance is Magliano’s choosing America’s birthday celebration to trot out his strident criticisms.
It’s somewhat analogous to using Pentecost Sunday to focus on the failings of the Church, rather than to celebrate its foundational goodness, its noble goals, and its many blessings to mankind. America is a creedal nation which, like the Church, has certainly suffered because of the sinfulness of the humans entrusted to pursue its noble aspirations.
Magliano writes that “over 10 million undocumented workers... are forced to live an underground existence unjustly fearing deportation.”
More importantly though, Magliano fails to welcome or celebrate the many legal immigrants who chose to become naturalized citizens on July Fourth, including the 26 members of the military whose naturalization oath was administered by President Obama, and the 81 persons from 40 countries naturalized at Monticello.
They’ve become Americans by choice.
Nation’s birthday said not time for rebuke
On the Fourth of July we celebrate our country’s birthday. We have parties, fireworks and celebrate as we would celebrate the birthday of a family member.
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We would not use a family birthday celebration as a platform to rebuke or lecture our family.
While much of what Mr. Magliano said is food for serious thought, the birthday party is not the proper venue for this discussion. He should save it for another day.
I would rather see acknowledgement of the fact that our country provides more support to people devastated by disasters than any other country in the world. We have championed and guarded freedom and human rights around the world more than any nation in history.
Many of our young men and women have given their lives to protect and defend not only this nation but others.
Our nation faces serious challenges, and we have not always been the best stewards of our resources. However, we will meet our challenges as we have over the past 200 years.
The strength to deal with these challenges comes from faith in our God, our freedom to openly discuss issues and confidence in our abilities.
On the Fourth of July, our nation’s birthday, we pause to celebrate our heritage and our freedoms. With renewed faith and confidence we will deal with our challenges.
Magliano ignores America’s good deeds
After reading the rant of Mr. Magliano (July 9 issue), I couldn’t help but wonder, was this actually written by a responsible, patriotic citizen?
If I knew nothing about the United States, none of our history and Magliano’s column was the only information I had available to me, I would think America was no better than Nazi Germany.
Magliano doesn’t recite the millions of people who we’ve freed or rescued from the abysmal conditions of the tyranny forced on them through communism, totalitarianism, fascism and dictatorships. He doesn’t remark about America being the beacon of peace and prosperity to the world.
He doesn’t say anything as to why 10 million people came here illegally, only that they are here illegally and we should say, never mind. He never thanks America for the assistance we provided and still do to the people of Haiti following the devastating earthquake that destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure.
He never thanks or even gives an honorable mention to the immediate aid provided by the United States following the Christmas Eve Tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
He doesn’t even acknowledge that the war in Afghanistan was in direct response to an attack on the United States where some 3,000 innocent humans were murdered by Muslims that embrace an ideology that foments hate, death and destruction around the world.
Mr. Magliano is another example of a fair weather patriot.
He doesn’t talk about the millions of pounds in food stuffs donated by the American people to less fortunate countries and doesn’t recite the good works of Americans in building and/or rehabilitating thousands of schools, orphanages, hospitals and medical clinics worldwide by our visiting military personnel who VOLUNTEER their time with AMERICAN DONATED supplies.
He doesn’t know about the young Army nurse stationed in Kosovo who wrote home about the deplorable conditions of a local orphanage and quietly, an entire community took up a donation drive to send hundreds of pounds of clothing, diapers, blankets, baby formula, bottles, toys, etc. to help ease a hard winter these children faced.
These aren’t exceptional stories, but normal activities by Americans Magliano and his lot never open their eyes to see.
‘Fortnight for Freedom’ gets no sympathy
I have zero sympathy for the “Fortnight for Freedom” recently observed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Religious liberty at stake, Bishop says, CV July 9, 2012.)
In my view, the Church is reaping what was sown when over 54 percent of those who identified themselves as Catholic voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 elections.
The problem goes beyond the current kerfuffle over the HHS mandate. For too long, the Church has been taking government money for providing “services” it should have delivered and paid for as “charitable” activities.
It has also been much too closely aligned with Democratic party politics. A former pastor of mine actually wore a Kerry campaign button under his vestments and openly at public gatherings (so much for Bishop DiLorenzo’s comment about, “...nothing to do with political partisanship.”).
The current contretemps also illustrate that the bishops have failed in teaching Catholic doctrine on contraception, abortion, etc.
I do not support government mandated health care, but IF (note emphasis) we are to have it, it must be universal. If must apply to all employers, regardless of religious affiliation, size or any other discriminator. Granting any exceptions undermines the revenue base from which the benefits will be paid and it undermines the care that people receive.
To claim a religious liberty exception from the mandates of a Democrat-controlled administration that many Catholics helped install is irresponsible and hypocritical.
Sexual abuse victim feels need for closure
With the recent public release of the Freeh report concerning the Jerry Sandusky investigation at Penn State I feel the need to break my silence as a victim of sexual abuse while a student at St. John Vianney Seminary (a Richmond diocesan high school seminary which was open from 1960 to 1978 in Goochland County).
The very fact that the Penn State Freeh report was made public gives strength to those victims who had remained silent the ability to come forward knowing that they will be believed.
I was the unnamed victim in the Goochland County Trial in 2002 prosecuting the former principal of St. John Vianney Seminary. In 2001 I was one of several victims that were interviewed by the Diocesan sexual abuse panel concerning this priest. We were believed by that panel only to have their decision overturned by then Bishop Sullivan.
My testimony was then given to the Goochland County Commonwealth Attorney who then contacted me about prosecuting my case. I agreed with the hopes of bringing this nightmare to an end. After a year of waiting I was asked to accept the Alford plea from the accused. Having just dealt with death of my mother after a 6 month battle with cancer I reluctantly agreed.
After the sentencing, where it was clear this priest had a problem as he was given lifetime probation, all we got from Bishop Sullivan was the statement, “At least there was no sexual abuse involved.”
He then reinstated the priest to his parish. Cardinal Keeler stepped in and the rest is history. No apology was ever given to us nor was there any attempt to contact us for additional information.
I silently accepted that fact for quite a few years until the Vatican came out in 2011 offering an apology to all the victims of clergy sexual abuse. At that point I felt a need to contact Bishop DiLorenzo and ask for an official apology from the Richmond Diocese.
Bishop DiLorenzo graciously agreed to meet with me to hear my story. I met with him, Msgr. (Thomas) Shreve and Msgr. (Mark Richard) Lane. During that meeting I felt for the first time that I was believed by the Diocese.
I also felt genuine concern coming from those three individuals. Their apology felt sincere which gave me some peace.
The Bishop also offered to make personal apologies to some of the other victims I was aware of and encouraged me to bring in anyone who had not come forward which I did. I was even given the opportunity to bring a victim in to address the new sexual abuse panel. Those apologies went a long way in helping me and others to heal.
My only concern now is for those victims from St. John Vianney and elsewhere who did not come forward because of the way it was handled back in 2002. There was never a public statement made from the Diocese acknowledging that the abuse did indeed take place. There was never a public statement that the Diocese is actively seeking to have this priest laicized by the Vatican. The silent victims need to know this.
So, therefore I would ask that the Richmond Diocese take the example of the Sandusky Investigation by making their findings public and offering assistance to any other victims out there who had been hesitant to come forward.
The similarities between Big Time College Football Administrators and the Catholic Hierarchy in hiding sexual abuse is frightening. It all boils down to reputation. It is time to do the right thing and bring this to closure.
(Editor: Those who feel they have been victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond are asked to contact Marie Olenych (pronounced O-len-ich), Victim Assistance Coordinator, at 1-877-887-9603.
The Diocese of Richmond has initiated action with the Vatican to remove certain priests from the clerical state and will publish those names when the Vatican makes its rulings.)
Is Church ‘one issue’ faith community?’
I have been bombarded by bulletin notices, prayers of the faithful and articles in The Catholic Virginian about standing up to protect our religious freedom and against the Health and Human Services mandate.
I just wish I had seen this much passion by our religious leaders against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the death penalty to mention just a couple of social justice issues that receive minimal Catholic press.
I do hope that we do not appear to others as a “one issue: faith community” and we truly do practice and preach the “seamless garment” theology preached by Christ.
The July 9 edition of The Catholic Virginian carried commentaries by Tony Magliano (“Mature Patriotism on the Fourth of July”) and by Joshua Bitting (“Threats against religious liberty: a Catholic response”) to which I would like to add balance.
Mr. Magliano puts his focus on America’s “dark side” and suggests that the 4th of July should be a day of “... mourning and repentance.” Yes, despite the ideals written in the Constitution, at first only white male property owners were allowed to vote. But the nation has come a long way since then.
Also, no other nation has been as generous as the USA to the world, especially to the conquered enemies that had sought us harm.
Mr. Magliano ignores the “dark side” of the Catholic Church: the thousands of innocent people killed during the Crusades, the Inquisition, the forced conversion of the Indians and decades of child abuse scandals.
Mr. Bitting waxes on about the attacks by our government on our religious liberty, freedom and democracy.
Yes, he also chooses to ignore that there is no democracy in the Catholic Church.
A pastor can ignore any resolution, budget or unanimous action taken by council if he so desires without any explanation.
In spite of their “dark sides,” there is much in both institutions to be proud of. If the government had a little more empathy and the Church had more democracy, those “dark sides” would become just passing shadows.