Monday, November 30, 2009


Hi everybody. I got this touching story below in an email from a good friend. I thought I would pass it on to you.

I know many progressives are sour on the Catholic Church due to its often very conservative stand on social issues (especially concerning a woman's reproductive rights), the fact that a number of its clergy have openly advocated voting Republican at times, and last week a bishop even went so far as to publicly single out Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D, RI) and ask him to refrain from taking communion due to his support for women's right to choose (even though they made no such request of the Republicans who voted as a bloc against the current health reform bill containing the Stupak amendment). Those are indeed very controversial acts the Catholic Church has taken. But that Church has also many times manifested a more liberal bent in other areas (which I encourage), and has played an activist role in helping the poor, both domestically and internationally. Yes, they may be sitting on a fortune in medieval art treasures, but they also have a large number of nuns, priests, and ordinary people working out in the field among and providing aid to the underprivileged in poor areas throughout the world. In that endeavor, I support them unhesitatingly and wholeheartedly.

Bear in mind that in presenting this email bwlow to you today, I am not acting as a sales agent of, or advocate for, the Catholic Church. I simply DO like to give credit where credit is due, and I support rather than discourage THIS type of church activism. It is true Christianity in action!

So DO keep this in mind, and, rather than merely castigating that Church this Christmas season, let's give this aspect of it our moral, if not financial, support. For this time of year is when we are supposed to be giving to the less fortunate and building up good efforts rather than tearing them down. I will not tear anyone down as they are reaching out to the poor. We need far more of this sentiment and action in our world today, even as many of us ourselves are suffering and struggling with unemployment, underemployment, ever-rising costs, and flat wages. Oh, and those of you who may have been recipients of gigantic Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in recent years: remember this. Thank you for your understanding.

To learn more about relief efforts of the Catholic Church, or to help their charitable cause by purchasing gifts for your friends or family from their gift catalog, go to (MY APOLOGIES FOR NOT PROPERLY HYPERLINKING THE WEBSITE ADDRESSES IN THIS POST. THEY ARE ACCURATE, THOUGH).

November 30, 2009 Forward to a Friend
Dear Friend,

The season of Advent is upon us, and as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, I ask you to read two incredible stories relayed by Catholic Relief Services staff that I must share with you.
First is from Father David Garcia, who often travels around the United States talking to Catholic grade-school children about our responsibility to those in need overseas. He told us of one fifth-grader who asked his parents not to give him any gifts last Christmas and donate that money to combat malaria instead. This boy had learned how malaria, which can easily be prevented, kills thousands of children each year in developing countries. His simple sacrifice helped save lives.
Father Garcia says, "That fifth-grader is smarter than most of us. He certainly is more compassionate and puts his faith into action more than most people. He is one bright sign of hope in an often darkened world. He lives out a spirit of thanks."
Read about one of CRS' malaria programs in Angola, where the disease is the country's number one killer, and how the distribution of nets and medicines is making a difference. The account can be found at
The second story comes from John Rivera of our communications department, who just returned from Haiti—one of the poorest nations on earth. There he met a little girl who proudly carried a High School Musical backpack, and John mentioned that his own daughter was a huge fan. The next thing John knew, the girl had emptied out her books and came rushing back to give the backpack to him to take home to his daughter.
Imagine, this little girl was willing to part with what was surely one of her few worldly possessions to give it to someone she would never meet. I am reminded of our generous donors, who reach out to help families overseas whom they will never know.
And the backpack? John, thinking quickly, gently declined the gift, explaining that his daughter already had a bookbag. Could he photograph the girl holding it to show his daughter instead? The girl agreed.
Children's hearts and instincts are so pure, and they often remind us that the act of giving can help us feel God's love working through us. As you embark on your holiday shopping, I hope you will be inspired by these children to give meaningful gifts from our Gift Catalog for those you love, and help bring joy to the world.
Wishing you a peaceful Advent,
Ken Hackett

Catholic Relief Services

CRS is the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community. You have received this e-mail because you've indicated to us that you are interested in receiving messages of this type.
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And, I might add, even if you do not purchase from their catalogue or donate in support of their relief, please do encourage their efforts and those of similar agencies this season. Joyeaux Noel!


Beach Bum said...

I don't care where the good deeds and works come from, the world is so royally screwed up I'll support anyone trying to make a difference.

Great post Jack.

TRUTH 101 said...

You might find this difficult to believe but despite my tauntings of religious views and reasons for behaviors I find offensive, I am a practicing Roman Catholic and my brother is a priest. Fortunately the Bishop doesn't read my blog so I can still receive Communion.

mud_rake said...

My wife and I contribute to CRS on occasion because they are one of the assistance groups that use most of the donations for their work and not for self-promotion.

Good heads-up, Jack. Thanks.

Jack Jodell said...

Beach Bum,
Thank you for that. I think your head and heart are in the right place!
We are similar in many ways. I, too, am a Catholic (with a cousin currently a monk studying for the priesthood). The Pope may claim infallibility, but you, I, and many others know his administration is not. And I say, when a religious organization crosses the line to indulge itself in intolerance, hypocrisy, or greed, it deserves criticism of the type you, and sometimes I, heap on it.

Jack Jodell said...

Glad to hear you can and do differentiate between the Church's talk and its charitable actions. Thank you for that!

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

Thanks for the 411 Jack because I havn't been feeling the Catholic Church for a few years(priest sex scandal)Every year I give my spare change and I do mean spare change to the Salvation Army.

Jack Jodell said...

Thank you, BigmacinPittsburgh.
The Salvation Army is a noble cause for sure. And I share your displeasure at all the sex scandals the Catholic Church has been involved with over the years, especially the way their hierarchy ignored the problem by simply shuffling priests around in some cases, and ignoring or trying to hush up an obvious problem in others. But best of all, I applaud your sense of charity, which all too many of our other citizens never seem to consider or even look down upon. Keep up the good work!

L. Durington said...

Hi Jack,

I work at Catholic Relief Services and worked on the e-mail you reference in this post and I wanted to say thanks so much - I really appreciate your kind words. I have to tell you from working here what an inspiring place it is. I am humbled to work alongside people who are on the front lines of helping the neediest people overseas. Your assessment is so right - it is truly Christianity in action.

I hope you don't mind, I just wanted to add the direct link to our catalog:

Thanks again for the wonderful post, and a Merry Christmas to all!

Manifesto Joe said...

I'm ambivalent about the RCC in other areas in addition to the ones you mentioned, Jack. There's an awful lot of finery that goes into those churches, and I'd like to see how much loot the Church has stashed away in Vatican City.

But another way of looking at it was from, of all people, the late Lenny Bruce. Lenny, in a monologue recorded only months before his death, pointed out that if you're a peasant, you're going to respond to all that beauty and finery one finds inside a typical RC church. To the peasant, it's like, I already live in a shithole. Why would I want to go and worship in one? The RCC figured out along the way that the majesty of a church opens up the low-caste mind -- "for instruction," as Lenny put it.

Anyway, I have too many difference with Catholics to ever be one, but there's a certain logic in their approach. And, they've fed a lot of hungry people and preserved a lot of priceless antiquities over the centuries.

Jack Jodell said...

Manifesto Joe,
Thank you for expressing your opinion as you did here. There are many mistakes that Church has made over the years, to be sure, and I understand and agree with some of your criticism. There are many, many other venues of effective and less controversial charities which aid the poor, and I hope (and think) you'll join me in encouraging others to donate this season for the benefit of those in need. Thanks again, my friend! :)

Jack Jodell said...

Ms. Durington,
Thanks for stopping by, for your kind words, and for the wonderful work you do. There are so many needy today, and every little (and big!) bit helps! Keep up the great job, and please stop by again!

MadMike said...

It is true that the church has done many, many good things over its long history and that makes a difference. It is also true that the church has also done many, many bad things. I was born and raised a catholic, and was even an altar boy, much to the astonishment of my friends today. No I was not molested. Regardless, organized religion, in any form and of any denomination is dangerous. Their central concept is as long as you do it in the name of heaven you can justify it in the end. Rationalization and minimization are the watch words of the religious.

Jack Jodell said...

I share many of your misgivings about organized religion. I tend to look at it like this: churches, like governments, celebrities, and sports figures, are all humans, and humans are always prone to make mistakes and even do evil. We always tend to expect and demand that those institutions and persons be perfect, and that is a mistake on our part. This does not excuse grievous acts or excesses they may commit, but rather than outright rejecting any or all of these, we should keep striving to make them better, any way we can (as you and I and so many others do with our politicians in our blogs and letters).

MadMike said...

Good point Jack!

SJ said...

right you are.
Recently a colleague who has become a good friend (a life-long Republican) told me he was going to become an Independent or a Democrat.
As glad as that made me, I thought about it for a moment and then instead said to him: if the last eight years disgusted him (he then corrected me and said the last 25 years disgusted him) he should stay in the party and resolve to change it from within.
The more I think about it, Lincoln Chaffee shouldn't have been scuttled from the GOP. They'll never reflect a real America so long as they pretend their Right wing orthodoxy is all that matters.

So it is with religious institutons...

Christians should insure that Catholic traditions and discourse today address and include their own principles and values as members of its community and not leave the church.
That's the way toward sanity, dignity and progress.

Jack Jodell said...

Lots of wisdom in what you wrote, SJ. People forget what an activist and liberal force the Catholic and many other churches were during the civil rights and war on poverty days. I think churches, like people and governments, have periods of leaning one way and then another, while still holding on to their basic principles. And as I said in the body of this post, I won't criticize anybody as they are doing good works for others. I will save that criticism on an issue by issue and time by time basis for when they seem to step out of line.

TomCat said...

Like the Democratic Party, the Catholic Church is a diverse organization representing many views that often do not concur with those of its hierarchy. It would be unwise to pillory all Catholics, based on the improper actions of some of their Bishops.

Jack Jodell said...

Excellent point, TomCat!