Monday, September 4, 2017

ENDING DACA PROGRAM A SERIOUS LOSS FOR ALL

Statement of His Eminence Roger Cardinal Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles, CA
On

The Elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) Program

The announcement on September 5, 2017 by President Donald Trump that he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is deeply troubling.  Not only has the president revoked a promise to 800,000 young persons who wish to live the American dream, he has also harmed our nation.

These young persons are hard-working and talented, who through no fault of their own were brought to our nation at a young age.  For many, this is the only country they have ever known.  They are industrious, intelligent, and highly-skilled and want nothing more than to contribute 
their immense energy and ideas to our great nation. 

Instead, the Trump administration has placed them in jeopardy, betraying their promise as human beings and our values as Americans.  The president has rejected our future leaders, to our nation’s detriment.

Now they will be faced with possible deportation to nations they do not know and possible statelessness.  Many have brothers and sisters who were born here, and those bonds will now be broken with their separation.  Their vast potential and their hard work and sacrifice in our country will be wasted.

This issue is not about economics, the rule of law, the separation of powers, or fairness to US citizens.  It is a moral issue, and the ending of this program is an incredible blow to the ethical underpinnings of our country, a blow to our values given us by Jesus Christ, and a blow to basic human sensibilities.   

I urge Congress to swiftly pass the bi-partisan DREAM Act, recently introduced in the US Senate and the US House of Representatives, which would give Dreamers permanent residency and a path to citizenship.   For the sake of our nation, which was founded and built by immigrants, and for these amazing young persons, we cannot let this decision stand.

This is a special moment for Democrats and Republicans to demonstrate that they can be our country’s leaders.  Come together, hammer out an agreement favorable for our Dreamer young people!


Monday, August 28, 2017

DISGUSTING: PARDON of FORMER SHERIFF ARPAIO

STATEMENT by CARDINAL ROGER MAHONY
PARDON OF FORMER SHERIFF ARPAIO


I am deeply troubled and disgusted by President Trump's pardon of Joe Arapaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona.  The former sheriff's tenure was marked by racial profiling, harassment of our Latino brothers and sisters, and the disruption of immigrant communities.  He created fear and terror among so many immigrants, and not just in Arizona.  Children here in California were afraid to go to school because of what they heard from Phoenix.  He defied a court order to discontinue to round up immigrants and to detain them in inhumane conditions. 

 Rather than upholding it, President Trump's pardon flouts and undermines the rule of law. It also sends a dangerous signal to law enforcement throughout the country that they, too, can ignore due process and profile and harass persons of color, especially Latinos.  This pardon rekindles the fear and terror so rampant among our immigrant peoples.  The police need good relationships with immigrants, and our immigrants need an understanding and helpful police force to protect them.

It is clear that the President and his administration is intent on deporting as many immigrants as possible, regardless of their due process rights and the equities they have built in our country.  In line with this goal, I am also troubled that the president may remove protections from young immigrants who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  I urge him to find the moral courage to preserve the DACA program and to defend it rigorously in federal court.

May all Catholics and people of good will raise their voices and stand up for our immigrant brothers and sisters during this difficult period in their lives and in the life of our country.

[August 28, 2017]


[This Statement reflects only the personal views of Cardinal Mahony as Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles]

Sunday, August 27, 2017

REFLECTIONS ON CHARLOTTESVILLE, RACISM, ANTI-SEMITISM & VIOLENCE


            The reports and images of what is now known simply as “Charlottesville” cast a whiplash on our emotions: suddenly we felt a sense of horror, seeing innocence and beauty being violated by malice and ugliness ; anger, too, that the life that God gives so freely and joyously was attacked by human beings spewing hatred and bigotry. We feel also a weariness that we continue to live with the fruit of what many have called the original sin of our great country: slavery.  We reel at the hate speech so inappropriate for citizens of a land whose pledge of allegiance mandates and calls for liberty and justice for all !
          
            Our hearts go out to Heather Heyer and to the state troopers, Jay Cullen and Burke Bates, who were killed as a result of these sickening events, as well as to their families. We hold them and the residents of Charlottesville—and even the perpetrators—in our prayers for peace, justice, healing and understanding, and more. But prayers will not be enough.

            Racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism and discrimination are morally evil. They are the very anti-thesis of the Judeo-Christian tradition which is grounded in love of God and of neighbor. They undermine the very foundation of our country and erode relationships among citizens. They generate hate and vengeance and rupture community. They are, therefore sinful.

            As a faith community inspired by the Gospel of Jesus, we Catholics must condemn in the strongest terms the actions and ideologies of the alt-right, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan. We need to recommit ourselves to stand up against racism and offer support for its victims. As we face this evil as a Christian community, I invite all Catholics to join together to examine how we can live out our Christian call.  As we do so, we must remember the promise of the Resurrection, life’s victory over sin and death, a promise that does not come easily or immediately but does come with a commitment to every kind of justice.

            I am reminded of the words of Pope Francis to the United States Congress two years ago when he said: “I ask everyone with political responsibility to remember two things: human dignity and the common good.”  Human dignity stems from our belief that God made every man and woman, no matter their race, country of origin or religion, in his own image ( Genesis 1:26-31) and that God especially loves and cares for the orphan, the widow and the stranger in  the land (Deuteronomy 10:17-19). Francis said in that speech: “Each human life is sacred. This theme is about our radical equality before God that leads us to think no less of somebody because they are from a different place or culture…or because of their work or employment situation.”

            Francis told our American lawgivers: “You are asked to protect by means of the law, the image and likeness of God on every face.”  Again he said to them: “ You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics”—adding the need to care especially for those in situations of greater vulnerability and risk.  To be sure, he saw the reality of hatred and violence in our world.

“All of us are quite aware of and deeply worried by the disturbing social and political situation in the world today.” Francis noted that our world is increasingly a place of conflict, violence, hatred and atrocities, “committed even in the name of God and religion”. To our lawmakers, he stated that “We the people of this continent are not fearful of foreigners.  I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.”


            If the hatred we saw in Charlottesville, and perhaps will see again in other rallies in San Francisco and elsewhere, is a serious sin, we as Catholics and Americans need to do contrition for it, to act boldly against such violence, racism and anti-Semitism, to right the wrongs from its presence in our land by truly embracing, as Pope Francis called us to do two years ago, respect and reverence for human dignity and the pursuit of what is truly a common good for all.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Statement on the death of Archbishop George Niederauer

It was with deep sadness that I learned of the death of a long-time friend and Ordination classmate, Archbishop George H. Niederauer. May God’s warm embrace encircle him unto eternal life.

Archbishop George H. Niederauer in 2005
AArchbishop Niederauer, and his close friend from St. Anthony High School in Long Beach, William J. Levada [later Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Archbishop of Portland, Archbishop of San Francisco, and Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith], joined our class in 1954 to begin the study of philosophy at Queen of the Angels Seminary in San Fernando. After two years, we moved to St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo.

His engaging wit and humor became hallmarks of his open and loving personality, and he always had just the right words and the turn of a phrase to help defuse tensions and to uplift people—no matter what cloud was overhead. His studies of English literature gave him a unique repertoire of quotes to embellish his conversation.

Ordained a priest of Los Angeles April 30, 1962, then Father Niederauer spent a single year in a parish assignment before beginning doctoral studies at USC where he majored in English literature. Upon his graduation in 1965, he began teaching at St. John’s Seminary College for the next seven years. In 1972 he was named Spiritual Director of the Seminary College where he served for five years.

After a special study year, he was assigned as the Spiritual Director of St. John’s Seminary theologate, where he carried out this ministry for nine years. In 1987 it was my privilege to appoint him as Rector of St. John’s Seminary, which role he performed for five years. He spent a total of 27 years serving our two Archdiocesan Seminaries.

After a sabbatical year, in 1993 he became the Co-Director of the Cardinal Timothy Manning House of Prayer for Priests, a role he carried out until November of 1994 when he was appointed as the next Bishop of Salt Lake City. Ordained in January of 1995, he served there until appointed Archbishop of San Francisco, where he served until retirement in 2012.

Archbishop Niederauer was one of the most intelligent people I have ever known. His command of English literature, his love for reading—he devoured books and articles weekly, and his abilities as a spiritual leader and director equipped him well for the many ministries into which God would lead him over the years. We served together with various projects in the Seminary, and remained good friends after our ordinations.

His 27 years at the Seminaries endeared him to generations of seminarians and priests, and his engaging style of teaching and leading made him one of the most popular Seminary professors and Rectors ever.

After his Ordination as Bishop of Salt Lake City, he early on established special relationships with the leadership of the Mormon Church, a role which he carried out during his years in Utah. With the increase of Spanish-speaking parishioners across the state, he added more Spanish Masses to accommodate this population.

In San Francisco he was well known for his outgoing and engaging pastoral style, and he worked well with the priests and lay leaders to continue the outstanding pastoral renewal of his predecessors.

During his years as Bishop and Archbishop, and after retirement, he continued to give retreats for priests all across the country. His spiritual presentations for priests were eagerly and well received by priests, and this special ministry was one of his greatest loves as a priest and Bishop.

A special and unique Church leader has returned home to God, and his 55 years of priestly and episcopal ministry have enriched the Church and its members across the western states and beyond.

May he continue to intercede for us as he resides in the presence of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 6, 2017

GREECE: A REFUGEE SUCCESS STORY

Samer,  Rasha and Family
Please meet Samer, his wife Rasha, and their four children--two sons and two daughters.  They are now in a transition apartment in Athens operated by CRS and Caritas Greece, and hopefully, by the end of March, they will be going to their permanent home:  Switzerland.  The Swiss Embassy has confirmed with them their final destination, and they are in the process of that last leg of a long and harrowing journey.




Although they are very pleased to be in Athens on their way to Switzerland and a new life, the journey has been long, painful, and harrowing.  They are from Aleppo in Syria and left when confronted by an armed militia in their part of the city: three choices--join their militia as a fighter, remain and have all utilities, job, and food removed, or finally, be shot.  Samer gathered up his family and they fled in the night from Aleppo, working their way into Turkey.  From there they got a boat from Turkey over the sea into Greece.  They were actually saved by the Greek navy when their small boat began sinking.

They were then in many temporary camps attempting to reach the border with Serbia or Bulgaria in an effort to reach Germany or Sweden--two countries open to taking refugees.  On various trips to the border they found it closed, and had to retreat.

On one dreadful attempt they had gone a month and a half without a bath.  Finally, two Greek women came to their camp and offered to have them come to their house where they could all bathe and feel human once again.  They said they would never in their lifetime forget this gesture of kindness and goodness.

Samer's Family in their Apartment
Once approved for relocation out of Greece, they were given a temporary apartment in a building leased by CRS and Caritas Greece.  The building can accommodate 11 families and up to 63 total persons.  Compared to all the places they have lived over the years, the apartment seems like a "palace" to them.  They are so grateful to everyone who has helped bring their journey to a conclusion in such a positive and meaningful way.

Back in Syria Samer was a tailor and is hoping to resume his profession in Switzerland--most likely working for a clothing store there.  He knows some Syrian refugees from Aleppo now in Switzerland, and he looks forward to connecting with them soon.


Please continue your support of CRS, especially with the Lent Rice Bowl program, so that many more refugee families can reach a final destination where they are no longer in danger of being killed, persecuted, or threatened.

The journey is long and arduous for so many refugee families and families of displaced peoples in their own countries.  We are their life-line for the future.


{To support the wonderful work of CRS, please go to:   www.crs.org ]











Sunday, March 5, 2017

GREECE: AFGHAN REFUGEES

Preparing for Sunday Mass



We began Sunday with Mass celebrated in Greek with the Latin Archbishop of Athens, Archbishop Sevastianos Rossolotos.  After Mass, we met with two other Greek Bishops to discuss the Church's response to the huge influx of refugees.



After Mass we had a good discussion about Caritas Greece and the Diocesan Caritas organization.  They are working closely with CRS and other Church partners to deal with the large number of refugees.  The flow of refugees into Greece has been virtually stopped with the E.U. accord whereby Turkey will handle the influx and flow of refugees.

Former Airport now rows of tents
Today we visit a camp housing refugees from Afghanistan.  It is actually the former airport buildings which have been empty for over 15 years.  The airport has been divided up into three camps, and we visited one of those.  Greek government authorities are in charge of the camps, but CRS has a good presence there offering cash assistance to the people to purchase food nearby and to sustain their families.

The old airport has been divided up with make-shift dividers affording some privacy.  Entire families live in a small enclosure, and get their government issued food from a central location.  The airport restrooms serve the people, and special shower areas have been installed.

Visiting a Family in their small space
These Afghan refugees fled their homes and towns because of the violence and persecution by the Taliban members and ISIS members.  These refugees were primarily members of smaller groups or sects--a few Christians, but most Shiites living in the midst of the Sunni Taliban and ISIS.  Taliban and ISIS fighters have no qualms about walking up to a Shiite on the street and shooting him or her.  Fear of this type of life forced them to leave, traveling first into Iran, then into Turkey, and finally into Greece.


CRS is working throughout Greece to obtain empty apartment buildings which they then fix up, and move families out of the camps into.  The families we met were mainly middle class Afghans with professions such as shoe maker, baker, and store owner.  They are all anxious to work again, and to contribute for the upkeep of their families.  This approach is similar to using the unfinished houses spread across Iraq.

One of the most urgent needs is for the children to get their education.  One Afghan young lady took it upon herself to begin informal classes for the children, and now has two Greek teachers assisting.  But life in this makeshift facility is simply inadequate for any type of normal life.

The goal of the Afghans we met was to reach Germany.  Many have a few relatives living there, and they would have a place to go if their asylum petitions are accepted.  The process is long and arduous, and months go by between various interviews and bureaucratic steps.

The universal plea and cry of all the refugee families we met across the Middle East is loud and clear:
we want a better life for our children than what we have had to endure, and we will make all the sacrifices needed to get them onto a sound path forward.



[To assist the wonderful work of CRS, visit:   www.crs.org ]


















Friday, March 3, 2017

ERBIL DISPLACED PERSONS

Five Brave Dominican Sisters
Today we met with five Iraqi Dominican Sisters who had been living and ministering to the peoples up in the northwest area of Iraq, the ancient Nineveh Plain area.  It would be roughly Mosul north.  Some 72 Dominican Sisters had been working in that area until ISIS swept down from Syria and began attacking people, especially Christians, and destroying their homes.  All had to flee quickly.

These Sisters had served both Christians and Muslims for many years, especially with education programs of all kinds.  Yet, when ISIS arrived, many of their Muslim friends and neighbors turn on them and all Christians living in the region.  The Sisters helped arrange rapidly escape caravans so that they could head south and out of the danger of being killed by ISIS.

These brave Sisters accompanied the people in the midst of their fright and panic, and served as guides and beacons of hope for them.  None of the Sisters are presently in the Mosul and northern regions, although the northern area have been liberated.  The Sisters are willing to return north as soon as the security is guaranteed for them and the residents to return safely.  No one wants to return prematurely and then have to leave in haste again.

Play-Acting for Reconciliation
The Sisters now have a convent south of Erbil and are working with Jesuit Refugee Services [JRS] priests and lay staff to assist the displaced persons from the north.  Pictured to the left is a role-playing theater class whereby they learn the skills to reconcile Muslims and Christians.  These young women are acting out a scene of healing and reconciliation.




Practicing Mass Prayers



The Sisters area also teaching the children their Catholic Faith, and preparing them for First Communion.  We attended one of their sessions as the children are practicing the prayers of their Chaldean Catholic Liturgy.










Training in marketable skills is another priority for JRS and CRS agencies.  Women are taught how to become beauty salon operators, and once they have completed their training, they are given a start-up kit with all the items necessary to begin hair styling.  They can then begin earning money for their families.

Similar courses are given for cooking and baking, and once they finish the course, they receive a mixer and tools needed to begin a career in cooking--eventually working for a restaurant or bakery, and then possibly opening their own shop.

Another course is in creative sewing, and when they finish, they receive a sewing machine so that they can begin at once to hone their skills at making clothes and other items for sale.

These projects are very similar to the livelihood projects we saw earlier in Jordan.

It continues to be encouraging to witness the hands-on programs of CRS and JRS, especially as they collaborate together to avoid overlap and duplication.



[For further information on the wonderful work of CRS and JRS, visit:   www.crs.org  and  http://en.jrs.net/about ]