Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bishop Jenky and Worker Rights

     Before considering and advocating for the “Simple Life” let me comment on the suppression of workers’ rights by the Roman Catholic Church.
     The Roman Catholic Church is not a democracy despite the reforms of Vatican II. Rome dictates rules and policy. It shored up power since Vatican II by elevating extremely conservative leaders to bishops and cardinals. The result is a prioritization of Papal political power over the “sense of the Church.” Rome negated the Vatican II document on freedom of conscience — Dignitatis Humanae — by denouncing women’s right to choose and the use of contraception. To say that the Papal position is the position of the Church, or that it is The Truth, is simplistic and incorrect. Claiming the right to impose the Papal position of health care on Roman Catholic institutions violates freedom of conscience for workers of these institutions and their families — non-Catholics and Catholics alike.
     The latest tirade from an extreme right wing Roman Catholic Bishop is embarrassing but difficult to ignore for one steeped in, and proud of, Roman Catholic Social Teaching. Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, compared President Obama to Hitler and Stalin in a recent homily. There are a few Roman Catholic lay people with limited theological background who support Bishop Jenky in an attempt to shore up their right wing political agenda of social Darwinism.
     Jenky's comments move him and his right wing political supporters par excellence closer to the scrap heap of theological and political irrelevance. (The full text of Jenky's remarks –
     The Church does have many rational leaders. Please read “Jesuits letter rebukes Ryan” (New York Times, April 25th 2012)

Saturday, April 14, 2012


The Torah – A guide for distributive justice from a Faith perspective (Chula Vista)
“In Israel’s Torah, God says, ‘The land is mine; with me you are aliens and tenants ‘ (Lev. 25:23). We are all tenant farmers and resident aliens in a land and on an earth not our own.” John Dominic Crossan, The Greatest Prayer, p. 13, HarperOne, 2010.

The book of Deuteronomy requires an annual Freedom Festival to remember Israel’s liberation from the slavery of Egypt. “… so you will remember, all the days of your life, the day you came out of Egypt.” (Deut. 16) This is the core story of Holy Week.

“Miklat,” the Milwaukee Jewish part of the New Sanctuary Movement, arranged a collaborative Sanctuary – Miklat Seder meal celebration with Congregation Sinai of Fox Point. “Miklat,” refuge in Hebrew, and the Sanctuary Movement assist families who have a member on the cusp of deportation or have already been split apart by deportation. The meal celebration was held at Congregation Sinai on Sunday, April first. Over one hundred of the faithful were in attendance including members of the Sinai Congregation and the “strangers.”

The Seder food, drink and prayers are to remind the gathering of their faith and the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. KIDDUSH – THE BLESSING OF WINE – “Blessed are you, eternal God, ruler of the universe, Creator of the vine.” YAHATZ – POOR BREAD – “We break the middle piece of matzah to remind us that when we are poor – a whole loaf of bread is an unheard of luxury.” MAGID – “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt and God brought us out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm.” “… you are to feast on all good things … you the Levite and the stranger that lives with you.” (Duet. 26) “You must love the stranger as yourself, for you were once strangers yourselves in Egypt.” (Lev. 19)

According to the great Jewish biblical scholar Moses Maimonides, the teaching from the Torah to respect the “stranger,” was a moral principle that: “strengthened the bond of love and brotherhood among the children of men.” Maimonides was born in ll35 in Cordoba, Spain and wrote in Arabic. (Moses Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed, Translated from the original Arabic by M, Friedlander , Ph.D. Dover Publications, 1956.)
The Seder is not only a reminder of tradition, but also recognition of the convergence of the faith story and our current situation of injustice. During the event Jennifer Martinez told of her husband being deported to Mexico leaving her without a husband and her four children without a father.

Rabbi Cohen of Congregation Sinai noted: “In his book Exodus and Revolution, Professor Michael Walzer proposes a remarkable thesis – since the time of Exodus, every western social revolution has consciously modeled itself after a pattern set down during the Israelites’ liberation. Walzers’ argument establishes the Exodus text as a paradigmatic influence on the way we see ourselves and particularly the ways in which we engage in social change.”
The Seder gave us hope and inspiration to continue the struggle for justice, for the - “strangers”- the immigrant families.