Friday, November 30, 2007

Rep. Henry Hyde, Pro-Life Champion - May he rest in Eternal Peace!

Yesterday, Rep. Henry Hyde passed away.

Best known for the "Hyde Amendment" which he offered as a Freshmen Member of Congress in 1976. The amendment has successfully kept our federal government out of the abortion business, protecting unborn children and pro-life taxpayers alike.

May his soul and the souls of all the faithfully departed rest in peace.

My perpetual light shine upon him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is it inappropriate to recommend a politician for office?

According to a recent survey*, 70% of those polled said that it was inappropriate for their local religious leader to "suggest" who you should vote for.

What does this mean?

I don't know the correct answer (I assume it is bullet #1) but I believe that it should be followed up by a more important question: Do documents such as the one issued by the USCCB make a difference in how you vote?

Now, I am not saying that the USCCB should not issue such documents. I believe they have a responsibility to do so. However, I just wonder how much influence do they really have on the person who sits in the pew every Sunday?

What do you think? Let me know.

*Fox 5-The Washington Times-Rasmussen Reports Survey taken from Nov. 14-15 of 1000 adults nationwide. Margin of error is 3% points.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Can Catholic Education Survive in the Archdiocese (continued)...

A couple of days ago, I posted on the City Center Consortium -- the amount of money spent, the merging of some schools, closing of others and the conversion of some into "values based" Charter schools. I would like to take this opportunity to follow-up on this.

First, I think that Archbishop Wuerl did the right thing and needs to be given credit for facing this issue head on. I do not believe that this is something he wanted to do and it was a difficult choice but I do believe that he did the right thing.

I think one of the most important issues discussed was the fact that he realizes that Catholic education, especially at the elementary school level, is hurting across the entire archdiocese. Costs have gone up and enrollment is down. This is due to a number of factors, not just any one particular one.

Second, the use of the school facilities for charter schools will bring some much needed revenue into parishes that may have seen their donations drop over the years. The drop in donations is usually due to a change in demographics. Since charter schools pay rent, it will be a boon to these parishes. Many inner city parishes (and that even includes the one that I grew up in) are facing the same problems -- delayed maintenance, increased costs and a decrease in donations.

Finally, I do think that we should be pushing more for "vouchers" or some sort of tax relief for parents who send their children to Catholic school. To that end, a future posting will be on my proposal for "vouchers."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Congratulations Maryland Catholic Conference for helping to give us over $1,000,000,000 in new taxes!

Well, it looks like the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) under Richard Dowling, Julie Varner et al. has succeeded in giving all of us higher taxes. Now, they cannot raise taxes but they have been one of the groups that have helped to push for new taxes in front of the Maryland legislature.

Let's just take a look at what they have helped to accomplish:
  • 120% increase in motor vehicle title registration fee
  • 100% increase in cigarette tax
  • 20% increase in sales tax (5 cents to 6 cents)
  • Expansion of sales tax to computer services (estimated to raise $200 million per year)
  • 20% increase in car titling tax (limited relief granted by trade-in allowance)
  • 20% tax on net proceeds for electronic bingo and tip jar amusements (an entirely new tax)
  • 18% increase in corporate income tax rate
  • Increases in personal income tax rates for wage earners under graduated tax brackets (highest wage earners face 16% increase)
  • New transfer tax on real estate transfers of “controlling interests”

What does this mean to me? It will mean:

(1) I will do more of my shopping in Delaware -- which has no taxes -- and will help to generate less money into Maryland's coffers; and,

(2) it will make me think long and hard about an increase in my giving to the parish and the Archdiocese this year. You see, each year I try to increase my giving in relation to inflation. I believe that if I give one dollar a week this year, that I should increase it next year by X amount.

What does this mean to you? You get to keep less of your money. Not only do you have to pay more in taxes, businesses will simply pass along the cost of these increases to you. As my dad says: "You pay, no matter which way you turn."

Think of it as an early Christmas gift from the MCC and Gov. O'Malley.

Nice job Mr. Dowling, nice job.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanks to the Maryknights of the Fr. Rosensteel Council (K of C #2169)

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend a fundraiser for the St. Joseph House sponsored by the Maryknights of the Fr. Rosensteel Council (Knights of Columbus). Not only was a good time had by all but it raised some much needed funds for their work.

The St. Joseph House is a non-profit daycare and respite home serving children with multiple disabilities. It is run by Cubby and
Dan LaHood and their family (and they have really wonderful kids). In addition, Cubby and Dan are Lay Missionaries of Charity. They receive no financial assistance from any government entity or from the Catholic Church. So, the funds to run the House come from fundraisers such as the one at the Knights and donations from average people like you and me.

As we give thanks for the many blessings God has given us (and He has given us oh so many), I would like to give thanks to the Maryknights and all of the Knights of the Fr. Rosensteel Council (Knights of Columbus #2169) for hosting this wonderful event and giving the St. Joseph House not only a much needed financial boost but a chance to make their mission a bit better known.

NB: I will be taking some time off to spend with the family at Thanksgiving and will post again in a few days.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Good Samaritan

This past Saturday night, I attended a fundraiser at the Fr. Rosensteel Council of the Knights of Columbus (more about that tomorrow).

During the event, one of the elderly participants was crossing the street outside of the Council building and fell face down into the street. I am not certain if he lost his balance, tripped, etc.

Someone saw what happened and immediately rushed inside to get help. The first person to respond was Michael Collins. Mike, who works at Holy Cross Hospital in the Physical Therapy section (I think I got that right), immediately began to administer first aid to the elderly man to not only stop the bleeding but also to prevent shock.

During the entire time, Mike not only remained calm while administering first aid, but also kept the person calm until the EMTs arrived.

In addition, Laura Collins (Mike's wife) attempted to keep the elderly gentleman's wife calm by letting her know that her husband would be fine and asking her questions about the medications he might be on.

I know that they probably would be upset and a little embarrassed my writing this but they deserve to be recognized.

Kudos go out to Mike and Laura!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

And now, a little humor...

A couple of weeks ago, I received the same email from a couple of friends entitled: Catholic Trivia. It is one of those humorous ones that you get for a few days from various people, as it "flies" around the world. I will share of part of now and some later.

Remember, it is important to laugh, especially at ourselves sometimes.



This information is for Catholics only. It must not be divulged to non-Catholics. The less they know about our rituals and code words, the better off they are.

AMEN: The only part of a prayer that everyone knows.

BULLETIN: Your receipt for attending Mass.

CHOIR: A group of people whose singing allows the rest of the Parish to lip-sync.

HOLY WATER: A liquid whose chemical formula is H2OLY.

HYMN : A song of praise usually sung in a key three octaves higher than that of the congregation's range.

RECESSIONAL HYMN: The last song at Mass often sung a little more quietly, since most of the people have already left.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Time to Fight the Montgomery County Transgender Bill

The American Family Association, in conjunction with other groups, is attempting to fight the Montgomery Council Transgender Bill by placing it on the ballot.

According to the email I received:

A referendum which will give the people of the County the chance to vote on the issue next November. We would have to collect over 20,000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot. Please forward the on-line petition link and tell your friends about this issue. If everyone on our current email subscription list signs the petitions and get 20 friends to also sign, we have enough. Make sure you tell folks to check “make email address available to author” so that we can contact them with the official referendum signature information.

Please take a moment and share this with your family and friends. It can be stopped but only if you do not remain silent.

Again, the Catholic Standard makes no mention of the Transgender Bill by the Montgomery County Council in the Nov. 15, 2007 issue. Since they go to press early in the week, they would not have had time to publish an article on the passing of the bill but for crying out loud, they could have put something in the paper.

All I can say is "SHAME" on the Catholic Standard and on the editor, Mark Zimmerman.

I wonder how much longer they will remain silent on the issue.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Can Catholic Education Survive in the Archdiocese?

Over the last two to three weeks, the Catholic Standard (the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington DC) has run a number of articles on the City Center Consortium and the closing of a number of Catholic Schools.

Let’s take a moment to recap.

Approximately ten years ago, the Archdiocese (under his Eminence Cardinal Hickey) set up the City Center Consortium to provide the needed resources to ensure that Catholic schools remain a viable alternative to the public school system in Washington, DC. The Consortium stared with eight schools and later added another six. During that time, over $60 million were pumped into the Consortium.

This was a great idea – to continue to provide the needed resources to Catholic schools in the inner city, which were trying to stay afloat. Part of the thinking at the time (and I remember this) was to show that Catholic schools could produce a quality-learning environment to those who had the least choices. In addition, if these schools became a model, then others who may have hesitated sending their children, would do so. A sort of “build it and they will come.”

Unfortunately, a number of things changed over those ten years (according to the Catholic Standard) to put us in the situation we are today:

- 10% decline in the population of the District of Columbia;
- 11% decline in school-aged children;
- 19% decline in enrollment; and,
- An increase in the number of tuition-free public charter schools.

Because of all of these things, the Archdiocese via the Consortium was simply hemorrhaging money. This year alone, they will be in the red apx. $7million and over $56 million over the next 5 years (at the current rate).

To be continued…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Transgender Bill Passes, Catholic Church Silent

The Montgomery County (MD) Council passed a Transgender non-discrimination bill (Bill 23-07) today. One of the most frightening aspects is that there is no exemption for religious organizations.

So, we have a bill that could force Catholic schools to hire a transgender or transsexual teacher or even a principal. Wouldn’t that be an interesting sight in a second or third grade class.

However, what I find very interesting is that over the last few weeks, I saw no notice in the parish bulletin asking us to write to the Council, no word from the pastor (and I consider him to be a good priest), no mention of it neither in the Catholic Standard nor from the Maryland Catholic Conference. (I did receive emails from the American Family Association (AFA) asking me to contact the Council requesting them to vote against it. I did.)

I wonder how many of my fellow parishioners voted for these council members in the last election? I wonder how many will vote again for them again because they are “open-minded” and for “social justice?” I wonder when our Catholic leaders will stand up to these politicians or is it simply too late?

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Pope to Celebrate his 81st Birthday in Washington DC!

The Catholic News Service has reported that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will visit Washington DC and New York in April 2008.

According to the article, the Pope will arrive on April 15th and receive an official welcome at the White House on the 16th. (He will celebrate his 81st birthday on that day. Imagine everyone singing "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" to him.) The next day, he will celebrate Mass at the new National's ballpark.

On April 18th, he will arrive in NYC to speak at the UN. The next day, he will celebrate Mass at St. Patrick's and on the 20th, visit Ground Zero and say Mass at Yankee Stadium.

I remember when Pope John Paul II came to NYC on his first trip to the US as Pope. It was an exciting time -- Mass at Yankee Stadium, the drive down Broadway in the "Popemobile", and prayers at St. Patrick's in the morning. Everyone, with the exception of the separation of church-state movement and the athiests, were so excited.

But, I wonder how many pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-family politicians will attempt to show how "Catholic" they are, such as Sen. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Barbara Mikulski. I wonder how many will attempt to receive Holy Communion and how many priests will refuse them. (You know the answer to that one.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My father, who served with the Army Air Force during WW2, wears his Honorable Service Label Pin on his jacket. (Commonly called the "Ruptured Duck.")

On this Veteran's Day, please take a few minutes to pray for:

  • him and the millions who have served this nation honorably
  • all those who serve in our Armed Forces, especially those in Afghanistan and Iraq. May God, through his Son, keep them safe till they return to their families and loved ones.
  • the families of those who serve, especially in combat areas. May God, thru His Son, give them the strength to make it through each day, until their loved one returns.
  • the Catholic Chaplains who serve in the military. May God, through His Son, give them the wisdom and strength to help those who protect us all.

Our parish prays for all men and women in the Armed Forces each week. Does yours? If not, ask the pastor to it each and every week during the Prayers of the Faithful.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Soak the Rich but let's not worry about the MoCo Transgender Bill

The Catholic Standard (Nov. 8, 2007 Page 31) ran an article entitled: Taxes, health care and slots top MCC's concerns to state lawmakers. According to the article, Richard Dowling (MCC Exec. Director) said that the tax system should be guided by three principles: raising "adequate revenues to pay for the public needs of society, especially the basic needs of the poor, structured according to the principle of progressivity, so that those with relatively greater financial resources pay a higher rate of taxation," and families below the poverty line should not have to pay income taxes."

What is the "public needs of society?" Is it public safety? Is it a free elementary education? Is it a chicken in every pot? The problem with Mr. Dowling and the MCC is that they offer no definition of "basic needs." Is it is one of those open ended statements that can mean almost anything to anyone. To some it means an apartment with hot/cold running water, a fridge and a stove. To others, it means a one family house on an tract of land with two cars. Still to others, a vacation to Disney at least once in every child's lifetime.

There is also this "soak the rich" and the "government knows what to do best with your money" Marxist mentality at the MCC. As I said in my last posting, the more you hit people up with higher taxes, the less they are going to give to charity. When you reduce taxes, you actually increase revenue and when people keep more of their money, they usually donate more of it.

Now, while the MCC was looking to "soak the rich" they seemed to miss the entire effort by the Montgomery County Council to pass Bill 23-07 which was sponsored by Councilmembers Tractenbery, Ervin and Elrich. This bill would allow "Any place of public accommodation...must not...make any distinction based on gender identity." Gender identity is defined as "an individual's actual or perceived gender..." To quote a council member when asked by the mother of a 10 year old girl about this, the reply was: "I cannot absolutely put to rest your concern that girls might find themselves in a locker room or dressing room in the presence of a person who expresses or asserts herself as a woman but who still has male genitals..."

Where the heck was the MCC on this? Nowhere to be found.

I think that Archbishop Wuerl needs to hand out a couple of pink slips at the MCC starting with Mr. Dowling.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Maryland Catholic Conference -- Do they really represent Catholics?

As you may or may not know, the Governor of Maryland recently called Special Session of the Maryland General Assembly. The purpose was to raise taxes without cutting spending.

The Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) issued a statement on taxation. If you like, you may read it here (as published in The Catholic Standard -- the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington DC):

After reading it, to put it mildly, I am disappointed with their stance and philosophy on a number of points:

  • A progressive tax system is actually the most regressive and punitive form of taxation that can be imposed. It says to individuals and families that if you work hard, use your talents and skills to the fullest, you will be punished for it. The government,not the individual who earned it, will decide what is not "your" best interest to do with all of the money you have earned over a certain amount. In addition, it hurts charities because individuals will have less money in their pockets and therefore, less money to donate to worthwhile causes.
  • Paying taxes is incorrectly viewed as the way citizens give back to society. Citizens give back to society by donating their time, talent and money on a voluntary basis. Taxes are not voluntary, they are mandatory. If the MCC philosophy on taxes is valid,then the Church should "tax" all parishioners in order to be full members, because it would their way to giveback to the Church.
  • Tax cuts are the best way to increase revenue for all levels of government. Since JFK was president,all major tax cuts made have shown an increase in the amount of tax revenue collected by the US Federal government. Why? When people have more money in their pockets, the usual inclination is to spend it,which leads to the increased collection of taxes. The problem with tax cuts, is that politicians rarely decrease spending, only increase it.
  • Finally, the philosophy of "distributive justice"or "distribution of wealth" is simply Marxism by another name. Marxism, Socialism and Communism are all"failed -isms." These "-isms" which may be attractive to many because of their "lofty goals" are the most destructive to any economy, state and peoples. One only needs to look at the history of the former Soviet Union and other Marxist-Leninist states. Even China and Vietnam -- both Communist states -- have slowly begun to turn away from this economic philosophy.

I believe it is time really look at the people who are staffing the MCC.

Maybe it is time for some serious house cleaning.

Agree with it? Maybe it is time to let the Archbishop know!

Welcome One and All!

This is my first posting.

The purpose of this blog is to share the thoughts of one Roman Catholic in the Archdiocese of Washington DC with not only the leadership of the Archdiocese but with other Roman Catholics.

As boring and as dull as this may seem, it is my hope that the leaders of this Archdiocese will stand up and take note that there are a great many Roman Catholics who are disappointed with their lack of leadership in standing up for matters of faith and morals and are more interested in moving towards accommodation with many of the liberal politicians in this area.

I look forward to hearing from you. Who knows, maybe the Archbishop will even post here?