Peacemaking II: Obama, McCarrick & Dolan

"Blessed are the peacemakers," we Christians are told in our marching orders. Too many times, we don't recognize individuals as peacemakers until after they have died, and we fail to recognize peacemaking efforts from individuals we are accustomed to reading about every day. About a week ago I wrote about the work of building peace that is being done by an African Archbishop. Today I see evidence of peacemaking both from our President and two Church leaders. I think the efforts toward good will and peacemaking of President Barack Obama, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City are worthy of praise today. I am particularly proud that Cardinal McCarrick and Archbishop Dolan are taking the risk of being visible and accountable as leaders in these crises; it is time that the sexual abuse incidents not be linked with the good that can be done by church leaders.

Sometimes the ideas of scholars who study peacemaking remain disconnected from public events occurring at the time of their research; the gap between the Academy and Political life can be vast, leaving important solutions neglected. During the past several days, two chronic, traumatic, and debilitating situations--withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq, and
sometimes venemous talks between various constituencies regarding the building of a Mosque/Prayer Center in Lower Manhattan, where proper zoning for such a structure exists--capture our attention but cloud our vision of positive actions that may be occurring. There is a link between academic research recently discussed in AMERICA, discussions on our blogs (in which
the level of intensity parallels what is occurring across the country), and positive and hopefully effective peacemaking by Obama, McCarrick, and Dolan.

On August 3, 2010 Fr. Drew Christiansen wrote about a new book on peacemaking written by scholars at the Kroc International Institute at the University of Nortre Dame. One of the themes in this book is the need for peacemakers to balance righteousness with acts of reconciliation--on both or all sides of a conflict. The description of the tension between human-rights and war tribunals versus those working for amnesty and reconciliation seemed pivotal and worthy of much, much more study and discussion, and the blog noted:

Perhaps the work of George Marshall in rebuilding Europe after World War II could offer suggestions on how to involve the armed services in the constructive rebuilding and restoration of countries decimated by war. Marshall was rewarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953--the only Army General in U.S. History to attain this honor--and his work after WW II bridged the huge disconnect traditionally seen between the military and rebuilding/reconciling forces.

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On August 13th, 2010, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington also recommended some kind of variation of the Marshall Plan to allow United States forces to peacefully withdraw from Iraq. Accompanying this would be a rebuilding of the country's infrastructure to allow that nation to rebuild and become one of the world's leaders, similar to the manner in which Germany and Japan were rebuilt by United States actions after World War II. In response to McCarrick's proposal, questions concerning the economic feasibility of this possible solution remain to be addressed.

In a drama unfolding before our eyes today August 19, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City offered to serve as a mediator between various constituencies in the verbal hostilities in New York City surrounding the building of a Mosque/Islamic Center in the vicinity of Ground Zero. Yesterday various points of view were discussed in the blogs and one recommendation was that the Church support some kind of reconciliation due to the discussions becoming increasingly heated and stuck in high levels of mutual hostility. We hope that this step presages Dolan's potential role as a mediator, peacemaker, and national church spokesman in criticsl public affairs--a traditional function of the New York Archbishop.

Our President deserves support, too. Last night President Obama, in what is a compassionate gesture, offered his support for an aid package to emergency first responders at Ground Zero. This has been stalled in legislation, and if enacted is bound to decrease resentment and grudges that lie unresolved. A yield from this hopefully could be greater openness to building a Mosque/Islamic Center in view of the reciprocal attention being given to the different constituencies. (Of course, there will be a political payoff for Obama, but it is the mark of a true statesman to combine helpful and human programs with helpfulness for one's political party.)

I believe the efforts of President OBama, Cardinal McCarrick, and Archbishop Dolan represent highly promising approaches to de-escalate and encourage healing in two de-humanizing situations. I hope you will follow these efforts as to me they are very encouraging, and the unfolding process allows people of good will on all sides to try to implement approaches that balance righteousness with reconciliation, perhaps the hardest task of all for peacemakers.

William Van Ornum

 

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Molly Roach
7 years 5 months ago
With all due respect, you are not the one to make the call about when the damage done by sexual assault of children and others and cover-up by bishops can be put behind us.  Very faulty logic to conflate the issues related to the mosque controversy with this calamity in our church that is far from resolved.
7 years 5 months ago
"Our President deserves support, too. Last night President Obama, in what is a compassionate gesture, offered his support for an aid package to emergency first responders at Ground Zero. This has been stalled in legislation, and if enacted is bound to decrease resentment and grudges that lie unresolved. A yield from this hopefully could be greater openness to building a Mosque/Islamic Center in view of the reciprocal attention being given to the different constituencies. (Of course, there will be a political payoff for Obama, but it is the mark of a true statesman to combine helpful and human programs with helpfulness for one's political party.)"

This paragraph is such a mishmash of soft-headed "thinking" and overy partisanship that it is quite shocking even for this blog!  As if "support" (what exactly does that mean? He "supports" lots of things.  Is he actively twisting arms?  Is he merely "supporting" in the sense that he "supports" the religious liberty of all, except, of course, if they;re opposed to legalized same sex marriage or abortion or any number of policies he opposes, then they should be barred from the public square) for a bill meant to compensate an already compensated group of people (both via public funds as well as private insurance) is the sort of "peacemaking" in the biblical sense of the word!  And of course pitting those who do not "support" the bill as anti-peacemakers (warmongers?).  The last sentence of this paragraph reveals the ture intent of the post: raising partisanship to the level of biblical virtue.  This takes the partisanship of this blog to new heights.

I wish the writers on this blog at least made an appearance of objectivity when it came to Obama and politics.  Now excuse me, I'm going throw up.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Gosh, Molly, I tried extra hard not to push any buttons. Can't a guy praise the President of his country and some of his Church leaders?

Please, if you want to vent you can write to [email protected]; try not to here, okay.

I'm hoping some of the historians and economists among us can suggest pros and cons of a Marshall-like plan approach. 

"All I am saying, is give peace a chance." (jl)

Yours in Christ,

Bill

 
7 years 5 months ago
Mr. Van Ornum,

I'm a bit confused by your stance given this sentence:

"but it is the mark of a true statesman to combine helpful and human programs with helpfulness for one's political party.)" (emphasis mine).

Here, to my reading, you're overtly conflating peace-making with a partisan position.  Now, perhaps in some decisions that's the case, but in this case it seems a massive over-statement.  For one thing, it seems more heroic to go AGAINST one's own party.  Furthermore, as I understand this bill, it hardly is the sort of thing of which "statesmanship" is madel it is a relatively routine spending bill meant to induce greater dependency on the federal teat in an age of great financial uncertainty and for a group already compensated.  Finally, my question still stands re: his "support".  What, pray tell, does this mean, exactly? Is speaking in favor of a bill really the kind of action that merits the label "peace-making".  Yes, I "support" First Responders, too.  I also "support" the sort of policies that I believe will prevent or lessen the likelihood of events like 9/11, such as removing threats before they materialize.  I doubt you find that sort of position qualifies as "peace-making".  So my specific question is is whatever Pres Obama is doing to "support" the bill worhty of the label you give it?

You can support the President all you want, but this sort of hagiography for the President is the sort of thing that induces cringes and eye-rolling.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Jeff,

From what I heard, he is encouraging the bill to get through the legislature and says he is looking forward to signing it.

g'night

bill 
7 years 5 months ago
Dr. Van Ornum,

I appreciate your attempt at being a peacemaker.  I am not sure how it will turn out with the Archbishop and Cardinal.  As you know, many of those of us, or at least me, who are against the current mosque so close to Ground Zero, believe there is a simple solution.  Namely, move it a reasonable distance away from the currently planned site and change its name.  Anywhere between a half mile or more would suffice to quell most objections and something like the New York Islamic Center would be appropriate.


It is hard to see how the organizers would be against such a compromise.  We will see what happens.
Tom Maher
7 years 5 months ago
The peacemakers bless them just do not get the overwhelming nationwide public sentiment that the public opposses building a mosque so close to hollowed ground of the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center and the horrilbe terror and deathof thousdands of poeple.  This is called intellectualizing where they are unable to grasp the national trauma on all Americans.  Instead by intellectualizing they redefine the problem to one of unreasoned intollerance which they hope to provide intellectulal arguments to correct ignoring the feeling and sensibilities of most AMericans. 

It is now being recongnize the widespread "tone deafness" of many public officals and clergy to the very strong personal meaning 9/11 has to most Americans.  Nancy Pelosi a few days ago actually wanted to have a Congresional investigation of the people who oppose the "ground zero mosque".  (She since has dropped that really bad idea.  But her first impulses were very bad.)

Sadly the peacemakers seem to lack the wisdom to understand of this strong public sentiment.   The public reaction nneds to be understood by them.  And then they need to have the wisdom to let things alone.  9/11 is what it is.  The peacemakers need to understand that they have no ability to change what has happened.   Building a mosque near ground zero is an inherently bad idea.  The peacemakers need to appreciate their own limitations given the profound sense of national loss of 9/11 massacure of innocent human life in an carefully planned massive act of destruction.  

The peacemakers need to listen to the public rather than morialize, judge or condemn the public.  Trying to force a peaceful resolution is very ill advised and will have a great chance of worsening a bad siduation. 

The resolution needed here is for the mosque promoters to realize they have hugh putlic backlash that is not going away.  The forced this problem will greatly intensify and become a non-ending insult to the victims of 9/11 which more than anyone realize is still way fresher in the nations midn than anyone realized. 
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
JR Cosgrove,

If those doing the building do not respond to some sort of compromise gesture, that will tell everyone alot about what is going on. A little more due diligence would be a good thing, too, and you are watching carefully and may see things that occur that the rest of us won't notice.

If you peek at my other posts, I think I've mentioned the word "reciprocation" a number of times. Yes, we'll see what's going to happen.

It's a bad situation when one side is demanding its rights, and 70% of the other side is demanding something else and many are VERY angry. 

We still really don't know alot of things, and you are right to have some suspicions. I know you read things carefully, but go over what I wrote one more time. Our view may be closer than you think. Right now I mention "greater openness". If that occurs, and is rejected by the other side, this will tell everyone alot about what i going on. I am afraid that historically we are at the beginning of a long struggle, and I'm not referring to the mosque/center. So as a practical technique, showing some flexibility toward the other side and waiting for a response will give everyone a better idea of the lay of the land. 

BTW, what do you think about the Marshall Plan-esque idea? Also, have you heard if Colin Powell has offered us any thoughts?

I await to hear further thoughts from you.  
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Tom, I wrote this on another blog:

"A large group of people in the US (5000?) were traumatized by the actions of priests. The Church-only after much pressure from others-began to acknowledge this and make some kind of reparations for these actions. Many in the Church who had nothing to do with this find themselves apologizing for the actions of others. 

Many persons abused by priests become upset, even tremulous, when reminded of the trauma. Seeing even another priest can invoke this. So many avoid symbols that remind them of what they went through. We understand this; we give them space.

It would be a sign of extreme cruelty to demand that someone face a tangible reminder of the abuse they suffered.

Now on 9/11, another large group of people were traumatized by the actions of a small group of people. The number of persons traumatized on 9/11 is certainly greater than the number of persons abused by priests, when we take into account all the families who lost a family member, kids growing up without parents, tens of thousands of people seeing the planes hit.

When we acknowledge the trauma that happened to the victims of the priests, 
we don't expect that it will be over in five years, ten years, or whatever."


If you read this very carefully, I hope I've demonstrated that I have an awareness of what's going on. Please read the middle paragraph a couple of times.

I share your observations of Nancy Pelosi's intervention. One would have expected more from her, given her position of authority as someone who needs to work out conflicts between various constituencies every day.

Tom, perhaps Peacemakers differ? Theodore Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize around 1903; his approach to peacemaking was different than that of the last two presidents who won it. Have you read up of George Marshall, only U.S. General to win the Nobel Peace prize? 

Consider going to the "Library blog". There I mention that in 1910 there was national debate over whether or not Robert E. Lee's statue should be in the Capital. This was 45 years after the end of that war. What would you have said about that situation if you were there? I'd be interested in your response to this.

Have a good day. bill
 
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
David,

I see you were writing early in the morning. Perhaps take a look at what you wrote. Would you consider re-writing it differently and asking Tim to post a revised version instead of the current one?

It's certainly an open topic here to discuss the pros and cons of the Archbishop's approach. Since you are mostly "negative", now in the light of day can you perhaps list what you don't like about the Archbishop's approach more calmly?

We are all capable of saying things we don't mean when we are angry. One reason, I think, to de-escalate this situation for awhile. Words can hurt others. 

I look forward to your revised posting. bill 
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Are any of you Civil War scholars or at least know more than me?

What can we learn from the long years of Reconstruction after our own Civil War? Perhaps looking at some of this history could help us?

Before the Civil War...flashpoints...have to be wary of these? 


bill 
7 years 5 months ago
Dr. Van Ornum,

A lot of the budget each year for Iraq was a Marshall Plan.  I do not know the percentage but since a few weeks after we captured Baghdad, there has been massive amounts of money poured into infrastructure like projects such as the electric grid, schools, community centers, hospitals and ports.  My guess is that several hundred billion dollars has been spent on that.  We tend to think that all the military budget in Iraq was for guns and bombs and a good bit was obviously spent on that but a large amount was to rebuild the country.


Here is an  excellent interview by Charlie Rose with Carl Schramm who discusses what is necessary to build Iraq into a stable society.

http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11026

Stability within a country will always come from the private sector and that is what is necessary in Iraq and just as necessary here in the US.
7 years 5 months ago
Dr. Van Ornum,


Here is an off topic comment for this post but close to your heart.  There is a Teaching Company course on ''Free Will.''  I have it and listened to some of the lectures but not all of them.  


http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=4235 


I may not have the time to participate fully in your discussion because I have a lot of work coming up and have to travel in the next 6 weeks. 
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Dear JR Cosrove:

Thank you for pointing out this important fact. I'm not a big television watcher so I don't know how much this has been publicized. The Marshall Plan after WW II is definitely a source of pride for the United States; I'm not aware of any other such effort by any other nation at any point in history. Considering that it was Germany and Japan that we rebuilt, I would place this in the category of magnanimous.

Maybe you have said this directly, but a theme in your posts appears to be a pride in the United States. I know that you have been affiliated with Fordham, and the first time I visited the beautiful chapel I was stunned-speechless-by the small memorials with the names of all of the Fordham students who had gone into the Armed Services and been killed in WWII. (WW I also?)

Criticism of the country by citizens is an established right; but people should also be free to express support of things that their country has done. 

Thanks for the links. Safe travels. amdg bill
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Jeff,

Again, I did not mean to push any buttons.

I'm trying to step back a little and figure out what's going on in the blogs. Seems we and lots of others in the country are getting too worked up; time to chill a little?

I do admit to "soft-headed" thinking on many human service issues, especially providing funding for children's programs, developmental disabilities, children of immigrants, and lots of other things.

I had to work September 13, 2001 and walked through New York City. The smell of death was in the air-literally-bits and pieces of what once were human beings, and lots of toxins thrown in that would set off lung problems and cancers.

I'm unabashedly a supporter of First Responders to 9/11. I know that many aren't, and that is okay, too.

Partisanship? I assume your saying I'm doing too much to support the Democratic Party. Actually, I split my ticket most times and even subscribe to the National Review, a great read and a balance to the NYT Times and CNN. 
It's my own "check" on my natural soft-headed thinking.

bill

 
7 years 5 months ago
Dr. Van Ornum,
 
 
Yes I am a proud American but even more I am a proud Catholic.  I cannot tell you how much the Church and Catholic educations has done for me, including my Jesuit years.  I appreciate the freedom the American way of life has given me and all my family.
 
 
I will contribute when I can but do not think I will have the time to delve fully into the Free Will discussion.   However, you should be aware of the following:

Mortimer Adler's book, ''The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes''

is available for $9.99 at Barnes and Noble as an ebook.  You can download it after purchasing and read it on your computer or Nook if you have one.  It took me about 45 seconds to purchase and download it.  The Nook is expensive but the Barnes and Noble reader is free and you can use any computer or ITouch to read the book.  So now I can read it on my laptop and can also search for any term or person and it will go immediately to all the places in the book that this term appears.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Dear JR Cosgrove:

Your first paragraph says it all. I hope that somewhere one of your old teachers is reading this. I think I'll try the 9.99 thing. I discovered I gave the copy of the book away. best, bill
7 years 5 months ago
Yes, indeed, ''Blessed are the Peacemakers' and what a harrowing situation they are in as they try in their various ways to balance righteousness and reconciliation!  Now in our country in an atmosphere of anger that I have not seen the likes of in many years.  How our country resolves this controversy will have lasting consequences.  As you said, Bill,  we are at the beginning of a long struggle.  We are historically such a young country.  We have no precedents to guide us.  The 9-11 attack by radical Muslim terrorists on the continental U, S,  was the first of its kind.  I think studying Reconstruction after the Civil War can be helpful to gain some understanding of consequences of governmental policies and behavior of people (such as the carpet baggers).  This knowledge can come from Academia.  We can look to the experiences of countries in Europe who have a long history with Muslilms/Islam and whose recent experiences are problematic.  I remember while travelling in Eastern Europe before the Iron Curtain came down, people talking about how their towns were destroyed time and again by invaders, the last being the Turks.  I don't think one is an islamaphobe to be cautious, especially if you are Jewish or a woman, of the implementation of Sharia law in Western countries.  Just read ''Infidel'' by Ayan Hirsi Ali or watch a video of a reccent stoning of a woman !

On the other hand, we must engage those moderate Muslims who reject the jihadist terror groups and support them in their opposition.  I am proud of Archbishop Dolan for taking a leadership role and of Pope Benedict for his highly symbolic visit to the mosque in Turkey and subsequent meetings with Muslim scholars.

We Catholics are well aware of the power of symbols.  The World Trade Center itself was a powerful symbol of Western wealth and values.  A nearby mosque is another poowerful symbol.  The current controversy must be extremely painful for the thousands of people who were effected by 9/11,  Families and First Responders are being interviewed  and reinterviewed by the media.  This is awful!!  Is there no awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or does the media even care?  Those of us in the professions of psychology, psychiatry and social work who deal every day with individuals and groups who were traumatized need to educate the public,.  You have articulated this so well, Bill.  Keep writing!
Tom Maher
7 years 5 months ago
Dear Bill Van Orum:
To the task you assign to me: I have no opinion on putting a statue of Robert E. Lee in the Capital in 1910 or 2010.  Tie Civil War is a very distant event unlike the 9/11/2001 attack and destrouction on the World Trade Center.  

My point is becomming apparent that the 9/11 event has deeper nation-wide meaning than anyone would have sucpected.  The more this is an issue the more people inner feelings are surfacing.   Well meaning peacemakers are failing to grasp this growing reaction.

It is accurate to describe the growing intense reaction to building a mosque at ground zero as a "firestorm".   A firestorm is create by the atmoshere becomming so super heated that any ajacent  object comming in contact with it is immeadiately consummed by the firestorm. Firestorm spread at speed of hundred of yards per second setting everything in its path ablaze in an instance.  Firemen anywhere near the firestorm are ineffective and subject to immeadiate  incineration.  Firefighting is ineffective in dealing with firestorm..  The firestorm stops only when it burns everything out.

Peacemakers like firemen are ill advised to confront a firestorm.  It will only consume them.   Peacemakers are limited to mortal powers.  Political firestorms overwhelms all morals. 

What appears to be happening is a rapid mobilization against the msoque.  Support for the mosgue are people who are far removed emotionally and intellectually from 9/11.  Groups like the '"truthers" who belive George Bush and not moslem jihadist  casued 9/11 and therefore do not see the msolem connection at all.  It is very surprising the large number of people many with advanced degrees belive that George Bush and not Moslem jihadist are responsible for 9/11.  Some estimate that upward of 20% of the population are "truthers".  It is quite amazing.

Other groups are just anti American and are glad that innocent Americans died.  Their nurtured hatred of America is so chic in some circles.  How many years has it been since "THe Ugly American" was written and so fashionable?  many people hate America and hope it is destroyed.

An then there are the jaded who just do not care about innocents people be massively killed in a planned attack/  They are too self involved to care. 

And then there are the intellectuals who think of 9/11 as a big abstraction which is old news and people should "move on".   They are unaware or dismiss any long term meaning to the 9/11.  What happened in 2001 has nothing to do with now or the future.  It is a past abstraction.   A large number of emotionally disconnected intelelctuals have not experienced and do not able to fell any sense of loss or pain.  They are all-brain, no feelings.  It is not that they are calluos or jaded they are just not able to experience human emotions.they are emotionally challenged.   (These are the organizational men and women who just follow orders.. They are the types that matter of factly design and run the extermination camps of WW II as just another as jsut another job.)

So we have a small but well postion part of the populations that are intellectually and emotionally non-reactive.   Poltical leaders, clergy, academics, jounalist who just do not get that people to a surprising degree do still experience a sense of loss from 9/11.   

Peacemaking directed at "educating" the public is a gigantic mistake.. What is lacking here is the appreciation that human beings have feelings and expectations.  People are not inert.  They expect that hallowed ground be respected.. 

Academic such as President Obama just do not have the termperment, experience or wisdom to recognize that the nation will not ever be indifferent to massive loss of life at the hands of moslem jihadist.
7 years 5 months ago
"It is time that the sexual abuse incidents not be linked with the good that can be done by church leaders."

I don't know - can we compartmentalize like that?  Archbishop Dolan does not have a great record in this area ... http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/17/nyregion/17dolan.html?pagewanted=all

I don't have strong feelings one way or the other about the Mosque/Prayer Center except for one point ..... how do the families of the victims of 9/11 feel about it?  That's the same point I'd raise about the sex abuse crisis - it's the victims who should get to decide on how and if forgiveness and reconcilliation can happen, not bystanders who just want  everybody to move on. 
Gabriel McAuliffe
7 years 5 months ago
I disagree with Crystal. As important as those voices are, I am a little wary of decisions made solely on the feelings of anyone, particularly on those of victims.  That is why many human societies have come up with some sort of objective arbitrator to work out a reasonable solution to even the worst of problems.  We benefit from all voices, even the most cacophonous

Now, as far as forgiveness and reconcillation, that may happen with or apart from the law.  It is up to he who wronged to do so.  With the passage of time that often happens, a grace for which I sincerely pray.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Hi Crystal,

I'm trying to bring points into this discussion methodically but in a non-accusatory manner. For example:

Many persons abused by priests become upset, even tremulous, when reminded of the trauma. Seeing even another priest can invoke this. So many avoid symbols that remind them of what they went through. We understand this; we give them space.

It would be a sign of extreme cruelty to demand that someone face a tangible reminder of the abuse they suffered.

Now this last sentence says alot-if after repeated discussions, one side insists upon this, it will certainly say something about true motivations. I think it's too early yet to make a definite conclusion about this. But time will tell. Sometime I think being strategic and thinking ahead can be effective. But who knows? Greater minds are struggling with this.

I knew about Timothy Dolan in 1997 when I read the book "The New Men," about the seminarians in Rome. Dolan was the rector and the book devoted alot of ink to his talks to the seminarians about sexuality and sexual issues and behaviors/issues that would not be tolerated in priests. He made it quite clear seminarians should leave if they had these issues. In the back of my mind I was thinking of him when I wrote "Is Psychological Testing Driving Away Potential Priests?" Dolan got to know the seminarians so well and was so direct with them that I see him as a model of how to deal with this kind of issue in a seminarian.
I suspect he used psychologists sparingly and didn't set them up to take responsibility when the decision was his alone. A good guy.

I have heard the Archbishop at Mass, chatted with him, and seen his interactions with others. He has earned my trust.

My mentioning of 1910: this was 45 years AFTER THE CIVIL WAR and feelings and tensions still ran high. So I'm trying to make the same point you are, but using examples and trying to provide more data. Maybe it's not clear enough. 

Thanks for all you write on the blogs, and I'm impressed by the incredible amount of reading you do. have a good weekend, bill 
7 years 5 months ago
I think I understand what you guys mean, especially in the area of legislation.  But in the instance of actual calculation of the damage done and of the possibility of forgiveness, I don't see how anyone but the people who suffered the damage can make that assessment .... this may sound melodramatic, but I'm using extreme examples to try to make a point (maybe a dopey point :)  ....  think of us telling the Native Americans who lost their lands, the Jews killed in concentration camps, the Japanes after Hiroshima, the civilians killed in the Iraq war, etc.,  that they should suck it up and move on.  Maybe it would be better for everyone, including them, if they did, but that's not the point.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Dear Gabrielle McAuliffe:

You bring out one of the knottiest issues here: how much say (up to 100%, I think some would suggest) victims of 9/11 should have. How are we going to figure out how much say this group has in view of the other constituencies?

I suspect that this may be one of the toughest issues to handle; there are so many other factors involved, not the least of which is that this location is one of the most important areas of the world.

I see this same quandry in situations where someone has been killed by a drunken driver. Sometimes the situation seems so unfair and unjust when a drunken person takes away the life of someone. This is especially heartbreaking in the case of a young person. At a gut level I'm almost ready to think that mothers, fathers, relatives etc. should be able to have almost full say in the sentences, as many seem a slap on the wrists. But we need courts and judges. Otherwise we would regress to the level of the Hatfields and McCoys. 

best, bill 
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Crystal,

No dopey points anywhere. I don't know how to make it all fair. The newspapers a few years ago had stories about how people who suffered other tragedies around the time of 9/11 felt resentful because they received no compensation at all and hardly any attention for family members killed or raped or lifelong crippling injuries caused. I don't think any of those situations you mentioned have been resolved "fairly". (Maybe it's impossible?)

A tragedy occurred in the late 1950s at Our Lady of Angels School in Chicago; over 90 children and a group of nuns died in the blaze. Many of the families moved away, the reminders were impossible to deal with. This is one major similarity this tragedy has with 9/11. Another similarity is the process of deciding upon and taking care of a memorial. The website is olafire.com. Inequities occurred in the years and decades after the fire. Could these have been avoided? I don't know. It's a very sad story with a number of parallels.
7 years 5 months ago
Crystal, 
I see a problem with having these decisions made solely by the victims whether of sexual abuse, 9/11 or any other inflicted trauma.  I think it is a mistake to lump all victims together and expect them to make similar decisions.  In my admitedly limited experience working with victims of child abuse and their abusers who sometimes had also been abused, I found many individual differences, differing attitutudes and differing levels of healing.  Another factor is the pressure put on victims by the outside-the media and attorneys, for example.  They are very vulnerable to being re-victimized.  So, of course their thoughts and feelings should always be taken into consideration in deciding matters of justice, restitution, reconciliation.  But, they should be supplemented by others, courts and judges.  I don't think anyone who believes as I do would ever tell a victim to"suck it up". 

Tom
I still have a naive hope that people can learn and change, painful as that is sometimes!  So, I will continue to advocate that those in positions of knowledge and expertise teach those of us who need to learn!!

Bill,
Your example of the controversy of building a statute of RELee 45 yrs after the war is really a good one.  Sometimes generations have to pass before people are able to feel healed enough to be that magnanimous.  Our country was traumatized by the Civil War, Reconstruction and the tragedy of 9/11.  As you point out, the area of the Twin Towers, themselves a potent symbol, carries great symbolic meaning for Americans.  Sacred ground.  We will see whether the developers of the mosque/center are sensitive enought to acknowledge and respect that .
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Johnson:

Many, many thanks! bill 
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Tom,

Perhaps I have earned the right today to criticize President Obama a bit, in view of the title at the top.

Sometimes I think his "calm temperament," which many have praised as being helpful in a crisis, actually keeps him from recognizing strong feelings or trends. For many of us, we are smarter, quicker, and more effective in real danger when the adrenaline kicks in. So I hope he senses a firestorm is brewing, as you have eloquently (and I believe accurately) have described.

But I second Mr./Ms./Dr./Fr. Johnson's hope that people can change.



 
7 years 5 months ago
Sorry, Bill, I seem to have forgotten my first name.   Janice
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Janice,

I watched the video of the woman being stoned, and it sent chills through me. I had never seen someone "really" killed before. I think there was another possibility of two people being stoned to death recently and I didn't have the stomach or nerves to watch it.

I'm surprised there isn't more outrage to things like this, especially in the Church. I suspect that many don't really want to know how serious the threat to the country is. I'm certainly going to avoid watching any more videos of stonings; I anticipate they will continue.

At least when I checked the news today, things seemed much calmer. Hopefully this will give Moslems, Christians, and all other people of good will some time to calmly reflect and work toward some workable solution.

amdg, bill 
7 years 5 months ago
I had the same reaction, Bill.  Turned my stomach & couldn't watch it all.  While the young woman tried to shield her face, a man kept turning her over. Men were kicking her and some were taking cell phone pictures.  You could hear the clicking.  Pure barbarism!!    As awful as these videos are, I guess it is important for Americans to see them.  On Thurs. I'm taking part in a parade and celebration of the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment.  In my church, I am privileged to bring Christ to the elderly and sick homebound in my parish.  The contrast of civilizations in the 21st century is mind bogling.   Janice
Tom Maher
7 years 5 months ago
You should see the poor women on the cover of this weeks Time magazine.  The Taliban cut off a large part of her nose and cut off her ears.  Her story inside was that she was seeing some men without permission.  This facial mutilation of a young woman is one of the horrible and baarbaric results of following Moslem Sharia law as much of the Moslem world does.  Sharia law prescribles mutilation for many different "crimes".  There is nothing peaceful or worthy about Sharia law.  

Bring Sharia law and its barbarity to American society is one of the main "interfaith" goals  of the "Cordoba initative" and mosque..  Thisis not just private religious practice we are talking about this is radical political change to allow Moslems the right to have their as a grouip have their own civil and criminal law.  A law which enslaves epoeple to theocratic rules from the middle ages.  This is not your ordinary "interface" sharing of ideas here.  Our enlightened politicians and clergy need to take a more sceptical and critical look at moslem "religious" practices which heavily regulate all aspects of civil life.   Moslem separitism is being promoted in America by the advocacy of Sharia law for mosl;lems in America.  Advocacy of Sharia law in America is a radical political movement well beyond the boundaries of separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution.

Promoting the practice of Sharia law in America sets up a powerful contitutional confrontation that America does not need or want.   

7 years 5 months ago
I think Janice and Tom bring up something interesting.  Many people say the issue about the building of the Mosque/Prayer Center is one of religious liberty.   I don't think it's about that.  But the issue of religious liberty is really important.  Are people who have concerns about other religions  nationalistic, xenophobic,  mono-cultural jingoists?  :) I don't think so  Religious liberty isn't the freedom to do whatever you want - that kind of freedom only exists in isolation - and we already do limit what we allow  here (Mormons can't practice polygamy, for instance).
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 5 months ago
I find Bill's ideas of peacemaking as a "re-building" intriguing.  After a war, a crime, a trauma-disaster, feelings of hurt, guilt, anger, fear, and blame emerge.  It seems to me that the peacemakers are the ones that can listen to and hold all of this feeling without forcing a solution or resolution.

If people are allowed to express their emotion without feeling that it will be discounted, perhaps a new way of understanding and being together will happen.

In this light, active peacemakers are in fact, passive.  They just create the atmosphere in which a peaceful coming together (re-building) can happen.
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 5 months ago
seems that first names are being dropped off by the comment-monitor ...
beth cioffoletti
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Tom,

I also watched a video of a crane building a huge gallows; the crowd was milling around with anticipation. Is this a small part or a large part of the culture? It would be interesting if someone could go back to 1950 and count and examine all of the stonings and hangings that have occurred, similar to the manner in which this has been done with the priest abuse cases. Might we not ask that other groups be as open about looking into their own workings as we have done?

Since this is capital punishment, would this be an area for pro-life groups in the Church to study?

Perhaps a course in one of our Jesuit Colleges, "Cross Cultural Studies on Capital Punishment" or "Disproportionate Use of Capital Punishment on Women around the World"?

I don't know much about Liberation Theology, but it appears to me that it has been applied to Central America, South America, and Africa. Have those working in Liberation Theology applied this model to Mid Eastern Countries, particularly concerning how women are treated? If not, why? (Do Women's Studies courses in colleges examine these issues?)

Your information leads to, at least for me, many, many legitimate questions to ask. Perhaps I am out of the loop on this, but are these events being studied?

Tom, thanks for bringing in information that may lead to many questions being asked. bill 
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Crystal,

Again, your posting suggests to me that perhaps we need to fully study the other world religions. Maybe this will lead to more acceptance or embracing them in totality? I know many folks who spend hours of due diligence and deliberation when purchasing, say, a new car, fence for the garden, living room furniture, barbecue for the deck, etc. Before you bring something into your house, you really want to know what you are bringing home. These are large purchases and rightly are examined very carefully. Perhaps our examination of other religions and cultures should be as careful? bill
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Beth,

Thanks for the nice way you have re-framed peacemaking along a dimension of action-passivity. Perhaps the active part comprises lots of active listening.

The doctor's oath, "Do No Harm" might apply, too, as well as its more casual reformulation, "Don't be a Do-Gooder, Be Harmless."

hope you have a good weekend.

bill 
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
David,

No big deal. My sons can tell you a few stories about when I had to apologize!
:-(

We'll see what comes of all of this. It is a very tricky situation, the likes of which I have not seen before. A potentially dangerous situation.

Trying to look at this as an outsider might, it is interesting that the effect of the situation has been to cause disunity and anger between Americans, and even those of us in the Church.  (The blog has been a microcosm of this, I think.) Interesting.

Thanks for all your posts. Keep writing and have a good weekend!

bill 
Jim McCrea
7 years 5 months ago
I hope that world Christianity is not judged by the actions and attitudes of Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland for how many years?
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Jim,

I think you have hit on what is one of the most difficult tasks-trying to steer clear of bias and prejudice-but at the same time being cautious and prudent if there is some reason to.

Sadly at this point there is a great divide between people of good will-some of whom opt for an optimistic acceptance of a group and desire to welcome them wholeheartedly into a particular neighborhood.

There is another group of people of good will who desire a bit of caution and would like to know the lay of the land better. 

Perhaps saddest of all is that we Christians, New Yorkers, Americans, and readers of this magazine have become polarized, becoming angry with each other, our judgments clouded by our own anger or feelings of certainty of our own position.

Your posts are appreciated, as you always recognize the ideals of our faith; your knowledge about specifics of the Constitution is helpful, and I am touched by your willingness to want to donate to that school in Manhattan recently featured in another blog. Keep writing. bill
Dale Rodrigue
7 years 5 months ago
Hey Bill, how about this idea. 
The Islamic center is 13 stories, includes meeting halls, tribute center to the victims of 9/11, a swimming pool etc.
How about letting them build the center ''secularized'' without the mosque.  They can build the mosque at a different location.  I believe it is the mosque that is so divisive.
7 years 5 months ago
Sorry - I feel like I've gone way off topic, but it's not that I think religions other than Christianity bear scrutiny, but that I think all  institutions  should be judge-able based on their practices, including the Catholic Church.  The idea of religious liberty as being the right of a religion to be beyond judgement simply because it's a religion is I think a misapplication of the concept.  When John Courtney Murray  championed religious freedom, he was not working to protect religion from  persecution, he was opposing the acceptd idea that civil governments had a duty to support and protect and promote a state religion, he was trying to separate church and state.  There's an interesting past article about him at US Catholic ... http://www.uscatholic.org/church/2008/07/catholic-dissent-when-wrong-turns-out-be-right
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Hey Rodrigue,

You've given an idea to put on the table, one that involves compromise. In effect you're saying something like "Please, try to understand the profound emotional impact of what you are proposing on many good citizens of our country" while acknowledging a way for a presence in that neighborhood. This says to the other "group" something like "Right now can't think of a way to give you what you are asking but would something like this make it easier in any way for you?"

Is this enough-most likely, not-but it's a start that I'd prefer not to see lambasted, negated, and excoriated, as this approach acknowledges a "firestorm" that for the good of all needs to be stopped in some way. 

Thanks! bill 
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Crystal,

Not off topic at all. You're doing a kind of "brainstorming" which gives everyone a chance to take a breather. So many activities in life require some kind of "oversight". We've seen in our own Church what can happen if there isn't some kind of transparency in oversight to see what is actually going on-this can be different than what the leaders or "heirarchy" of any group are saying. Wasn't that one of the ideas behind the First Amendment-which, I think, is specifically about freedom of the press. It's rainy like crazy right now where I am. Happy Sunday, bill
7 years 5 months ago
At the tail end of the comments, I'd like to ask one question:  how do I as a Catholic and an American citizen live my life in these kinds of circumstances.  I see myself as a person of good will who  thinks caution is imperative and many questions need to be studied and answered.  I also see a firestorm coming.  A Muslim family moved across the street from my family a year or so ago.  ...mother, father, little daughter and little son.  I'm probably the only person in the condo complex who has been friendly w/ them.  They are a lovely family, providing loving good care to their children.  I can't imagine the parents  advocating Sharia law for their daughter.  Yet, what do I really know about their beliefs?  Last week, during the night somone threw an egg at my front window.  Mine was the only one in the complex to be hit and since we are a very quiet, peaceful family....don't bother anyone, anytime....I wonder if my friendship w/ Muslims during this NY mosque controvery has something to do w/ it.  A few yrs ago I was friendly w/ a black couple and had the windshield of my car shattered a few days after the same thing had happened to the black couple.  No evidence of robbery in either case.  After the first incident I had spent some time w the couple helping them in their report to the police. 

We live in the community in San Diego where some of the 9/11 terrorists lived and worshiped.  They lived in an apt complex across the street from our parish church. The Islamic Center/ Mosque is a short walking distance from where we live.  These facts got a great deal of attention in the media.  People's memories remain a long time.  My family is particularly vulnerable.  Property destruction I can handle, but what about my children?

Wish you could send some of your rain, our way, Bill.  It is tinder dry here and the fire season is coming soon.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Janice,

Sometimes the complexity of all this overwhelms me and I don't feel smart enough, informed enough, or wise enough to know what to do.

Perhaps at the end of each day, it's good to put our own opinion on this in abeyance, and leave it all in God's hands, in God's will. I think this is an important belief in each religion. bill 
7 years 5 months ago
Thank you very much, Bill.  To leave it all in God's hands is the wisest advice, yet.5
I will try to follow to follow it.
God bless you!
Janice
Jim McCrea
7 years 5 months ago
Rodrigue:

Are not the Muslims presently holding prayer services in a space at the current building at that location?  I assume (not being Muslim) that the space has to have a certain configuration that permits the proper focus toward which the prayers are directed.  Does this not, in effect, render this current space a mosque?

Why, all of a sudden, has this become an issue?  I can guess the answer but would like an intelligent opinion nonetheless.
Tom Maher
7 years 5 months ago
Dear Bill Van Ornum.


A study of moslem history from its founding in the 5th century in Saudi Arabia is very informing of the millenia and a half of moslem military campaigns and conquests for the purpose of spreading Islam worldwide.    

This overwhelming record of military actions over mellenia shows Islam to be ever ready to use force to spread Islam.  This tendencies for moslem domination of  nations by force seems to be a characteristic of moslem history worldwide.   In an modern era of weapons of mass destruction this need for religious domination of nations is an extreme hazard to world peace.   Iran's in particular, wilh nuclear weapons available any day now is a major threat to world peace.    
?

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