Social Justice Corner ~ by Erin Lynch

December 10th ~ In a World of Celebrities, Superheroes and Multimillionaire Athletes, Do We Recognize the Real Heroes Among Us?

Wealth and power- we could all name a long list of people in the world we are exposed to every day whom these words describe. They hold sway over our lives through social media, the way we dress and act in an attempt to emulate them, and in our spending. I wonder this- if we were reflect on those  to whom we owe all the best that we are or hope to be as a human, would any of these names appear?

So many of us attended Catholic school where we were taught and guided by the firm hand of one or more nuns; those intriguing, smart, sometimes funny, sometimes intimidating sisters, the rock solid presence of our faith day in and day out. These dedicated and hard-working women were omnipresent in our formative years, ever-faithful to their mission.

Who among us has not been guided, whether in school or in church throughout our lives, by a priest who had just the right words to offer? Haven’t we all contemplated the immensity of dedicating one’s life as a priest, with the obligation to obey and the responsibility to steer souls toward God?

This weekend when the special collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious is scheduled, perhaps we should all   reflect for a moment on what we wish for ourselves in our older years. At a minimum I imagine we would all like an average day to include some nice meals in a nice home with the care that we require to make us comfortable. Human dignity begins with these basics- shelter, food and loving attention and care. I hope the moral imperative for us, the        faithful, to support these men and women who have dedicated their entire lives to the Church, is the obvious path. The least we can do is let them know through our financial support of them as they age of their great importance to us.

Please give generously to the collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious, either at church, through the SMT Parish office, or at retiredreligious.org!        

November 26th ~  Some Positive Steps For Which To Give Thanks This Month

Nov 1, 2017: The Ohio House of Representatives passes bill to ban abortion after Down syndrome diagnosis. The identical bill in the Senate is expected to pass. Gov. Kasich would likely sign the bill once approved by both Houses. North Dakota is the only state currently with a law banning abortions after genetic abnormalities diagnoses.

Nov 13, 2017: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case against the California law (AB 775- CA Reproductive FACT Act; Jan 2016) that requires free, pro-life pregnancy centers and ultrasound facilities to advertise and distribute information about abortion services and county phone numbers for referrals to Planned Parenthood within their centers.

Nov 14, 2017: The FBI requests thousands of pages of testimony and findings from the ongoing Senate investigation of Planned Parenthood’s alleged trafficking in unborn baby body parts. Attorney Jeff Sessions confirms that verifying these findings could provide a basis for bringing charges.

Nov 16, 2017: The U.S. House of Representatives passes GOP tax plan that allows expectant parents to contribute to their unborn baby’s 529 college savings account during the year of gestation. (No comment on why parents should have to start saving so early!) The bill also restores the long-existing adoption tax credit.

These only represent a fraction of the efforts, bills and cases that work toward the goal of fostering life from conception to natural death. Be informed, vote in elections from local to national, read the current science on life and palliative care, and remember, love of neighbor is “doing what is best for the other.”

November 5th ~ The Tangled Web and Siren Song of Euthanasia  

When physician assisted suicide is debated (PAS became law in California in June 2016), the most common focus is on the horrendous suffering and impending death of a young adult who has received a terminal diagnosis. It can be challenging with that given paradigm to express one’s disagreement with PAS, based in science and/or faith, since such opposition leaves one labeled as uncompassionate, naïve, religiously dogmatic and any number of other misnomers. The reality could not be any further from the truth. 

Do you know that many countries, including Canada, have already proceeded to full blown euthanasia? This is a HUGE shift from the original guise of PAS, which always required a competent adult to make an informed decision under the supervision of at least two doctors. The current trend is toward euthanizing mentally ill patients, allowing minors to choose suicide, and most recently, having parents and pediatricians consider euthanizing toddlers and babies with a “poor expectancy of quality of life.” (Canadian Pediatric Society report, Oct. 2017). There are multiple reports of hospital doctors pressuring families and hospital patients themselves to disconnect support or actually euthanize the very ill and disabled. 

Dignity is NOT an argument for hastening death in these various circumstances, but the antithesis of it. To lovingly care for the gravely ill, the mentally incapacitated and the genetically impaired is the only course of action that confers dignity upon the human; both caregiver and recipient. All forms of PAS and euthanasia are inherently opposed to God’s will and creation. “One’s fundamental human rights and intrinsic human dignity do not wane with the onset of illness or incapacity, and so all must be protected.” (USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, Sept. 2017)  

October 22nd ~ How Do We Respect Life?

Is there anyone among us who now has not heard the name Harvey Weinstein? What despicable behavior from a man, one day powerful, wealthy and influential, the next a pariah among all. The sensational side of this unfolding story does nothing to inform us or change us, and transformation is where our focus should lie.  

In the Oct 1 bulletin, Fr. Ben wrote about the unspoken epidemic of pornography among us, the scourge that works insidiously to tear apart relationships and souls. I submit that almost all of us are touched, knowingly or not, by issues illustrated by the Weinstein story and pornography. These degrading yet commonplace behaviors, as well as sex trafficking, link directly to our pervasive societal values of money, success and instant gratification and are perpetuated because of myth, ignorance and denial. Integrally linked is our “throw away” culture which leads directly to a twisted logic that somehow defends as humane abortion and euthanasia. What are commonalities between all of these awful practices?  A LACK OF DIGNITY FOR LIFE: sexual harassment, sexual assault, using influence/authority for sexual favors, adult pornography, child pornography, deviant pornography, prostitution, homelessness, hooking up, abortion as birth control, physician assisted suicide, euthanasia.

 The doctrine of the Catholic unequivocally repudiates each and every one of these anti-life practices as being antithetical to the teaching of Jesus Christ. Each of them aids and abets the other. You cannot pick and choose which are ok and which are not. Anytime you are tempted to argue in favor of any of them as ok, substitute your mother, daughter, husband, wife, or son as the victim and see if you can still justify your arguments.  Transformation begins within each of us when we challenge ourselves to choose truth over the convenient path- all life is equal in the eyes of God.

October 15th ~ Respect Life Month Activities & Awareness

October is designated as Respect Life Month, which includes many aspects of respecting the dignity of all human life from “womb to tomb.” Our Archdiocesan Office of Life, Justice and Peace has designated themes for each of the four weeks of October: Week 1- Pregnancy & Parenting; Week 2- Foster Care & Adoption; Week 3- End of Life; Week 4- Healing After Abortion. A variety of saints and servants of God have been assigned to each of the weeks. Please see all of this information and more posted on the Church bulletin board between the side door and the Rectory patio! Many of your fellow parishioners are currently participating in a specific Respect Life event, 40 Days for Life (search Biblical references to 40 for the significance). 40 Days for Life is a campaign of peaceful prayer vigils coordinated at abortion sites worldwide. Our site is at 12304 Santa Monica Blvd, where people gather six days a week for seven weeks (40 days!) to pray peacefully and provide community outreach to those in need of information, support and healing. Our prayer vigil is officially supported by Archbishop Gomez. Our prayer usually focuses on the Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, various Litanies and other Marian focused approaches. Let’s just say, hardly any of us could even remotely say the Rosary when we began the campaign last year, but now we are called Prayer Warriors! Please see all the information about the 40 Days campaign in the bulletin. Consider driving by and seeing what we are doing, maybe you will be inspired to park and say hello! We have many, many stories of interacting with people on the sidewalk that point directly to God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, as well as protection, for all of us. 12304 Santa Monica Blvd (2 blocks west of Bundy, by Smart and Final)

October 1st ~ The Legislative Battle over Internet Decency Act and Sex Trafficking

Have you heard of the 1996 Communications Decency Act? Few of us probably have, and without knowing what it is, would likely surmise that it places restrictions on what can legally be transmitted electronically. Actually, the act provides the immunity that forced a Sacramento judge to throw out sex trafficking charges against Backpage.com this past August. Backpage.com has long provided an adult page that had become a well-known sex trafficking hub. Despite the page being shut down earlier this year, the sex traffic has continued on the site. The crux of the issue is Internet freedom and legal immunity for sites that condone or promote trafficking. A bipartisan groundswell in Congress to remove immunity from prosecution, that the act provides, is building simultaneously to the efforts among almost all the Attorneys General across the country to have the act changed so companies like Backpage.com are no longer outside the reach of state and local law enforcement. Unfortunately, it is our own California senators, Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, who are some of the few but noteworthy legislators missing from this movement. Silicon valley tech companies and lobbyists are a powerful force in the political arena and our senators are not immune to their reach. The ACLU has also found itself siding with support of free speech over the lives of sex trafficking victims. (LATimes.com/business, Sept 6, 2017) Exemplifying Christ, the Church supports the lives and well being of people above all other considerations. Sex trafficking is horrific in all forms and cannot be excused away as an unfortunate by-product of our Internet culture. Please pray for these victims in the knowledge that the selling of sex is never a victimless crime. Call: 1-888-373-7888 help@humantraffickinghotline.org www.humantraffickinghotline.org https://polarisproject.org/national-human-trafficking-hotline.

September 10th ~ The Real Victims of the Current Immigration Debate

Wall or no wall… Path to citizenship or mandatory deportation…. Law breakers or contributors to society? The issue of immigration and its focus on those who entered the United States illegally is both broad and deep. Opinions are as strong as they are varied. There is no doubt that millions of adults have made a conscious choice to cross over our border outside of legal channels, and they did leave family and culture that they knew to do so.

However, this is not the case for the infants and toddlers that parents have brought here illegally. All the current young adults who have known no other country than ours, may not even speak the language of their parents, have never met anyone in their family from their country of origin and have been formally educated in our local schools are the absolutely defenseless victims of this complex issue.

As Catholics we hear Jesus rebuke the disciples in with the words,  Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.(Mark 9:37) These young adults should not be made pawns in the politics of immigration reform in the currently contentious, no-holds-barred political climate in which we are submersed. The DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program has created a suspension of deportation proceedings and temporary employment authorization to work for these undocumented young persons, currently encompassing an estimated 800,000 people (over 200,000 in California).

The current Administration announced this week that DACA is to be  terminated within six months. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with the California Catholic Conference (CCC) and Archbishop Gomez (USCCG Vice President) of our Los Angeles  archdiocese have all taken a strong stance against this action, issuing statements of strong support for all immigrants. In Angelus News Archbishop Gomez calls the ending of DACA “a tragedy,” while the USCCB statement says the “cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible….shows the absence of mercy and good will.” And  further, “As people of faith, we say to DACA youth- regardless of  your immigration status, you are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.”

Regardless of your personal immigration stance, please pray for these young people as they face the fear and uncertainty of being sent away from the only home they have ever known. And if you are moved by the Holy Spirit to do so, contact your representatives and senators to find and implement a real solution that offers hope. 

      

August 27rd ~ What are you waiting for???

What are you waiting for? Have you found yourself wondering- What can I do? Have you had the feeling that you could or should be more active in living out your Catholic faith? It can be so daunting to find the time, motivation or group that fits our schedule, or to discern the ministry to which we are being called.

Fear not- it is easy here at SMT! Besides the many options for ministry that directly involve Church, Mass and faith formation (EM, lector, hospitality, catechist, etc.) we have two very active, wonderful committees that I encourage all to consider joining:  Committee for the Poor and Respect Life Committee

Each of us should be reading the bulletin regularly to stay informed about opportunities in which to engage.  For more info on Respect Life Committee, please send an email to respectlife@saintmartinoftours.com or contact the parish office for more information.   You can sign up to volunteer with the parish community HERE.  

Christ admonished us that, "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do unto me," so get involved! 

August 13th ~  Natural Family Planning ~ Fact vs. Myth

A large majority of women, including practicing Catholics, utilize artificial  contraception to plan the spacing of their children or to avoid pregnancy altogether. Does that mean that artificial contraception is more effective, without health risks and a life-affirming choice? In the recent issue of Angelus, Dr. Barbara Golder, MD, JD,  elucidates direct answers to these questions and more. It will probably surprise many to learn that interest in NFP has been steadily on the rise and is increasingly found as  a topic in mainstream medical journals. Dr. Golder’s response as published in The American Family Physician affirms this growing NFP trend.  

Some things you might not know that Dr. Golder highlights:

  • Studies show NFP to be as effective as other methods of family planning, and without adverse medical side effects (like stroke, breast cancer, depression and lower overall vitality)

  • While difficult for some couples, there are many resources and support groups, including the Catholic church, to aid couples (like A Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning)

  • Physicians can write a prescription for NFP, increasing the chance that an insurer will cover the associated costs of NFP (like coaching, ovulation indicators, etc)

  • NFP is the only green method of family planning, unlike ingesting artificial hormones on a regular basis

  • Regardless of anyone’s claims, NFP is the ultimate form of respect for a woman’s body, in that she and her partner are working with her natural cycle instead of trying to change it (the ultimate in empowerment and dignity)

  • Women are more in control of their overall health when they learn to understand the cycles and rhythms of their bodies better, and often detect problems earlier

  • Poor women around the world have been shown in studies to use NFP just as successfully as the pill, without the cost or potential medical issues, and find it often more accepted culturally

Church Teaching: The Catholic Church views contraception as immoral in that procreation is intrinsically tied to sex according to doctrine. However, since NFP methods engage couples in monitoring a woman’s natural cycle and then choosing whether or not to engage in sexual activity, the Church approves of NFP. In fact, the use of artificial contraception is simply one end of the   spectrum encompassing abortion at the other end. Catholic belief demands an openness to life through sex, as  determined by God.

 Full text of this topic can be found at http:// angelusnews.com/articles/nfp-it-s-not-just-a-catholic-thinganymore and http://angelusnews.com/articles/nfp-it-s-notjust-a-catholic-thing-anymore

 

Rhiannon Jensen