Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day

From America Public Radio’s Speaking of Faith program:

Chaplain Major John Morris offers his rare and challenging insights into the spiritual aspect of our current conflicts, and the spiritual imprint that war always leaves on soldiers, citizens, and a nation.
Let's talk about love your enemies. That's sorely tested in combat. I think, in a very chilling way, I came to the abyss of hate in Fallujah. The body parts of four Americans charred and hanging off a bridge over the Euphrates brought me to a point where I could truly sense myself going down a vortex of hate, that in a city, people were harbored who were that debased. And so at that point, I felt that I was crossing a line to say, "Yes, these people's time on the planet is over, they need to leave. There's no second chance, there's no other form of justice. They have forfeited all rights to humanness." That was a chilling, chilling moment for me because I knew I was entering a new territory. And once you cross this line, there's no coming back.

When do I become like them? I found myself fueled with a sense of hatred that I could easily have said, you know, "Hey, I'm God's wrath. We are God's wrath. This needs to be taken care of." The only thing that pulled me back from that was the power of the Holy Spirit, all the Christian disciplines, and my sense of understanding that, wait a minute, as much as I abhor everything that's done, and as much as I believe what was done was evil, and that if these people don't come out and surrender, there's only one alternative, that is to go in and kill them or apprehend them. I knew I could not cross that line and say, "OK, God's on my side, and here we go." No, this is chaos, this is human fallenness to the max, and we're using the most brutal tool of human society, the military, to solve a very, very terrible problem. And this isn't God here, this is fallen human beings. So God help me and have mercy on me. I'm a part of something like this, and I prayed that it wouldn't be, but here we are. Save me from becoming a debased, immoral human being. And save my soldiers as well.

Albany Catholic hopes you have a Memorial Day to remember, and we believe that Major Morris' words will help you do that, here.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Commentary

The ever-perceptive Keith Olbermann offered a special comment about the Democrats’ deal with President Bush to continue financing this unspeakable war in Iraq—and to do so on his terms:
This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.

Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:

Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:

The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;

The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;

The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.

The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

The entire commentary is available here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Please pray for all those who died in Iraq from May 13 to 19:

Sgt Anthony Schober 23 Reno NV
Spc Rhys Klasno 20 Riverside CA
Ltn Andrew Bacevich 27 Walpole MA
Sgt Christopher Gonzalez 25 Winslow AZ
Sgt Allen Dunckley 25 Yardley PA
Cpl Henrik Nobbe 20 Denmark
Sgt John Self 29 Pontotoe MS
Pvt Nicholas Hartge 20 Rome City IN
Sgt Thomas Wright 38 Holly MI
Cpl Jeffrey Walker 21 Macon GA
Spc Coty Phelps 22 Kingman AZ
Pvt Victor Fontanilla 23 Stockton CA
Sgt Jesse Albrecht 31 Hager City WI
Sgt Steven Packer 23 Clovis CA
Pvt Aaron Gautier 19 Hampton VA
Pvt Jonathan Hamm 20 Baltimore MD
Sgt Anselmo Martinez III 26 Robstown TX
Spc Joshua Romero 19 Crowley TX
Spc Casey Nash 22 Baltimore MD
Sgt Scott Brown 33 Windsor CO
Spc Marquis McCants 23 Texas
Sgt Ryan Baum 27 Aurora CO
Cpl Ryan Collins 20 Vernon TX
Sgt Jason Schumann 23 Hawley MN
Pvt Travis Haslip 20 Ooltewah TN
Pvt Alexander Varela 19 Fernley NV
Spc Joseph Gilmore 26 Webster FL
Spc David Behrle 20 Tipton IA
Sgt Jean Medlin 27 Pelham AL
Sgt Christopher Moore 28 Alpaugh CA
Sgt Justin Wisniewski 22 Standish MI

447+ Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.



Monday, May 21, 2007

Death penalty talk on Tuesday

Family and Friends of Homicide Victims (FFHV), will present a panel talk on the death penalty at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 35 Adams Place, Delmar on Tuesday, May 22 at 7 p.m.

Marie Verzulli, coordinator of FFHV, said, “The murderer leaves many victims, not just the person who is killed, but that person’s friends and family, as well as the friends and family of the murderer.”

Speakers at the presentation include Ms. Verzulli, whose sister was murdered by a serial killer; Anthony Aversano, whose father was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11; Walter Ayres, whose cousin’s granddaughter was abducted and murdered by a college classmate; John Cutro, the friend of a murder victim and an investigator in death penalty cases; Sharon Whitbeck, whose nephew was murdered, and David Kaczynski, the brother of the Unabomber and head of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty.

The event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and the St. Thomas chapter of Pax Christi For more information, call the church at 439-4951. Albany Catholic hears that refreshments will be served afterward.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Partisan politics

In their publications about Faithful Citizenship, the bishops talk about being political without being partisan. Apparently one priest on Long Island did not get the memo.
At the Republican dinner tonight, the invocation just came from Msgr. James Lisante, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle R.C. Church, West Hempstead, whose commentaries have appeared on TV and in newspapers.

He said:

"Bless all our Republican presidential candidates, and help us sort out all this election stuff with grace dignity and goodness and unity. Whatever their weaknesses or mistakes, Mayor Rudy and Senator John are even on a bad day far superior to what's on the other side."

The link is here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Food Stamp Challenge

Some elected legislators at the local and national level are taking the "Food Stamp Challenge" to raise awareness of hunger and what they say are inadequate benefits for food stamp recipients.

In New York City:
The food stamp diet left City Councilman Eric Gioia so hungry he wolfed down his week's rations in only five days - and was forced to go to a Queens food pantry.

The Queens Democrat lined up at the Queensbridge center for emergency supplies yesterday after being left with only a few English muffins.

"The food stamps have run out, the cupboards are bare, but the hunger pangs don't go away," he said outside the Center of Hope International.

"People on food stamps in that position have no other option but to go to the food pantry."
In Washington, D.C.:
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) stood before the refrigerated section of the Safeway on Capitol Hill yesterday and looked longingly at the eggs.

At $1.29 for a half-dozen, he couldn't afford them.

You can read more here and here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kind to the poor

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.
- Proverbs 19:17-17

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

{The First Mother's Day proclaimed in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe was a passionate demand for disarmament and peace.}

Mother's Day Proclamation
by Julia Ward Howe, 1870

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Dueling rallies?

Today’s Times Union blog reports on rallies schedule Monday on opposite sides of the state Capitol in Albany.
While Hillary Clinton basks in the glow of Eliot Spitzer’s endorsement on Monday, she may also get a taste of one of the downsides of the job she wants.

Some peace activists have planned a noon rally on the west side of the Capitol, the same time Clinton and Spitzer will be on the east side, where he plans to endorse her for president.

The organizers of the west side event, called “A Trust Betrayed,” will be calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. They say it’s actually not a bad thing to have the Clinton-Spitzer event going on at the same time.

You can read more here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Democratic and Republican Senators, along with the Bush Administration, are currently negotiating compromise immigration reform legislation which could be considered on the floor of the U.S. Senate beginning the week of May 14. Visit the Justice for Immigrants website here for more information about the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

A new book

Readers of this blog knows that we at Albany Catholic like to refer people to the TV show Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. Now we are pleased to report that there is a book from this fine program. As Religion News Service reports:
A new book based on interviews from the PBS program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly finds a spiritual hunger beneath the secular veneer of modern culture, with many searching for something beyond the material world.

The Life of Meaning (Seven Stories Press) was edited by the show's executive editor and host, Bob Abernethy, and longtime journalist William Bole. Essays in the book were drawn from interviews conducted by Abernethy, who founded the show 10 years ago after four decades as an NBC correspondent, and by other Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly correspondents and producers.

Bole has written for many publications, including the Washington Post, Commonweal magazine and the Century.

The book groups essays into such sections as "The Meaning Makers," "Evil and Suffering," "Prayer and Meditation" and "Paths up the Mountain." Filled with ideas of people from scientists to writers, the book dismantles the myth that postmodern thinking offers little room for faith.

"A lot of people have this feeling that there is something more," said Abernethy.

The rest of the story is here.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

CRS on foreign aid

Ken Hackett, President of Catholic Relief Services, recently gave an on-line presentation to colleges across the country on US foreign aid. You can watch it


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Death penalty talk on Thursday

Stewart F. Hancock, the eminent retired judge of the New York Court of Appeals and a long-time foe of the state's death penalty law, will speak about capital punishment at the annual membership meeting of the Capital Region Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. The meeting will be held in the Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom at the Albany Law School on Thursday, May 3. The membership meeting begins at 5:45 p.m. Judge Hancock is slated to speak at 6:30. The event is open to the public.

In testimony before the state legislature, Hancock has urged his former colleagues on the state's highest court to void New York's death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment and as a violation of equal protection because it has been applied arbitrarily to members of minority groups.

He has argued that the state Constitution should be invoked to strike the death penalty and has filed amicus briefs in cases that have raised Constitutional challenges to the state's death penalty statute.

Hancock, counsel to the Syracuse law firm, Hancock & Estabrook (founded by his grandfather) , served as a judge for 23 years, eight of them as associate judge on the Court of Appeals. He currently specializes in appellate work and in national and international commercial arbitration.

Following Hancock's presentation, a reception will be held at 7:30 p.m.