Now that the US Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) it is urgent that Gov. Nixon protect the religious liberties of Missouri citizens by signing into law SB 749. The Court’s ruling in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius did not consider the constitutionality of the HHS mandate, which requires health plans to cover abortion drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations. For now that mandate remains law even though it likely runs afoul of the religious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
In response to the HHS mandate, the Missouri General Assembly this year overwhelmingly passed SB 749. This bill declares that people cannot be compelled to buy insurance policies that include coverage for abortion, contraceptives or sterilizations when this violates their moral or religious beliefs. SB 749 will allow the state of Missouri to defend its citizens in federal court from government infringements on religious liberty. As Gov. Nixon ponders the ACA ruling and whether to sign SB 749, the Missouri Catholic Conference offers the following for prayerful consideration:
Reasons Why Governor Nixon Should Sign SB 749:
–The HHS mandate is still in place after the Supreme Court decision.
–Now more than ever religious liberty is in jeopardy. Citizens have a First Amendment right to religious liberty. SB 749 helps Missourians exercise that right.
–The HHS mandate goes into effect on August 1, 2012. SB 749 goes into effect immediately once Gov. Nixon signs it. He must sign the bill now!
–People of faith and all taxpayers can have their day in court and be represented by the Missouri attorney general, once SB 749 becomes the law.
–The federal government has just gone too far. SB 749 will help citizens be protected from future government overreach.
–SB 749 makes sure insurance companies can no longer discriminate against churches and families who want to buy insurance policies that are consistent with their religious beliefs.
–Under SB 749, Missouri workers covered under group health plans can remove abortion from their insurance–even if their bosses purchased such coverage without their knowledge, forcing them to pay for it.
–By signing SB 749, Gov. Nixon can be consistent with his declared position opposing the individual mandate, which forces people to buy health insurance against their will; in this case the governor can ensure that people are not forced to pay for abortion drugs in their health plans when this violates their religious beliefs.
–Other states will look to Missouri and SB 749 as a model of how to protect religious liberty.
If you know your RBIs from your ERAs, then “MLB 12: The Show” (Sony Computer Entertainment) might just be in your wheelhouse. Newcomers or casual gamers, however, may find the title a little dry. And, while parents can rest easy about this offering’s content, youngsters may be overwhelmed by its complexity.
The focus here is on simulation. The developers have done everything in their power to replicate the experience of a real Major League Baseball matchup, and in this they’ve succeeded.
The substance of the game–played for review on the PlayStation Vita–is situated within three main modes. The first is the “Normal Season” option in which the user takes on the role of a coach and attempts to guide a team to the World Series, while also participating as a batter, fielder and pitcher.
For those who yearn to join the ranks of such legendary team owners as the New York Yankees’ George Steinbrenner and the Chicago White Sox’s Charles Comiskey, there’s the “Franchise” mode. Via this option, gamers not only control play, but provide behind-the-scenes supervision of everything from the quality of the turf to the food available for purchase by the masses.
“Road to the Show” is the most inventive of the modes. It enables players to create a rookie and guide him through his career, from the minor leagues to (hopefully) major-league success. To achieve this ambitious goal, however, hours upon hours of play will be required.
Although modes like this open “MLB 12” up to a slightly wider range of enthusiasts, the majority of the game is unmistakably designed for purists.
Fans who own the PlayStation 3 version, for example, can transfer a saved game from their home console to their handheld Vita. The fact that such a feature–which, of course, requires owning two copies of the same game–is prominently showcased in the advertising for “MLB 12” demonstrates just what sort of audience the developers are targeting.
Such hardcore devotees of the national pastime will find the handheld port of the PS3 game clean, with fun gameplay, great presentation, and plenty of hours of depth at their fingertips. Trading systems have been tightened and the Vita’s touch controls have been well implemented to add a new curveball to the formula.
The good news continues on the moral plane, since nothing remotely objectionable presents itself to gamers of any age.
Those already in possession of “MLB 11,” though, may find that–for all their variety–the new features amount, in the end, to little more than a slight update. Still, even incremental improvements can be appreciated in a game of inches.
Also available on PlayStation 3.
The CNS classification is A-I–general patronage. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board rating is E–Everyone.
Shaw reviews video games for Catholic News Service.
Ellis Island stands as a symbol of the waves of immigrants who have come to the US, but there also were other ports of entry for new arrivals, according to a panel of speakers in Washington.
As part of a National Archives exhibit about immigration, experts came together June 20 to talk about Ellis Island and the immigrant experience.
The panel explored the myths surrounding Ellis Island and the real experiences of the people who passed–or were thought to have passed–through the iconic immigrant facility in New York Harbor.
“About 700,000 immigrants who arrived in New York were not processed in Ellis Island,” said genealogist John Philip Colletta.
Colletta pointed out several instances when Ellis Island was not used, citing the fire that burned down the original Ellis Island building, exceptions made for first-class passengers and automatic citizenship for family members of naturalized immigrants.
“If your relatives arrived (in New York) between June 1897 and 1900, they did not go through Ellis Island,” he said.
During that period, the Barge Office in Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan processed new immigrants.
Before Ellis Island, those coming to New York entered through Castle Gardens in lower Manhattan. Other US ports of entry included Buffalo, NY, Baltimore, and Philadelphia on the East Coast and Angel Island on the West Coast.
Addressing the popular idea that some immigrants’ names were changed upon arrival, Colletta said that “the names were already in the passenger list.”
“Ellis Island is a popular symbol with specific meaning in conversation in our popular culture,” said Marian Smith, a historian at US Citizenship and Immigration Services. “But if you get an image fixed in your mind, it may stop you from exploring other possibilities.”
Panelist Megan Smolenyak, a genealogy expert and author of “Hey America, Your Roots Are Showing,” talked about the mystery surrounding Annie Moore, an Irish teenager who was the first immigrant to go through Ellis Island.
Moore arrived Jan 1, 1892, with her two brothers after a voyage in a ship filled with Russians and other East Europeans.
“She is an accidental symbol of immigrant America,” Smolenyak said. “Because Ellis Island is so synonymous in our minds of immigration and because we are a nation of immigrants, she is also representative of the American dream.”
While doing research for a PBS documentary on immigration almost 10 years ago, Smolenyak discovered Moore’s real descendants. She said that, unlike past accounts, the real Annie did not emigrate westward; in fact, she did not make it outside of New York.
“She had a tough life,” Smolenyak said. “But one that was much more representative of the immigrant experience.”
“What is America to me? A name, a map, a flag I see; a certain word, democracy. What is America to me? The town I live in, the street, the house, the room, the pavement of the city and the garden all in bloom, the church, the school, the clubhouse, the million lights I see, but especially the people, that’s America to me.”
On July 4, Americans will proudly display the flag outside their homes to celebrate the optimism and the indomitable sense of freedom of our Founding Fathers. This is America’s national birthday–our 236th.
America resembles an eagle that soars higher than all birds, and from its heights: “Living above the lofty mountains and amid the solitary grandeur of nature, the eagle is a symbol of freedom, whether with strong pinions that sweep into the valleys below and upward into the boundless spaces beyond.” (Eagle Symbol Meaning) The eagle is mentioned in sacred Scripture: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Is 40:31).
Celebrating Independence Day
Americans celebrate Independence Day with rousing music–high-spirited, and energetic–from the music composed by “The March King,” John Philip Sousa, to George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin to our beloved patriotic hymns. One of these is “America, the Beautiful,” permeated as it is with idealism. Catherine Lee Bates wrote the lyrics in 1893 on the pinnacle of Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs. The majestic music, composed by Samuel Ward, was composed on a ferryboat in the harbor of New York City. America is “a thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness.” The hymn prays that “God mend [our] ev’ry flaw,” that “God shed [his] grace on [us],” and that we be confirmed “in self-control.”
In 1945, Frank Sinatra made famous the song, “The House I Live In.” Intended to oppose anti-Semitism and racial prejudice at the end of World War II, it pays tribute to the American experiment, so dearly fought for and expressed in the opening words of our Declaration of Independence. The lyrics, now almost 70 years old, are of course products of the World War II generation. Nevertheless, they are refreshingly homespun and evoke a feeling of gratitude for our “God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Earl Robinson, its composer of the words and music, compares America to a house:
“The house that I live in: a plot of earth, a street, the grocer and the butcher, or the people that I meet, the children in the playground, the air of breathing free, all races and religions, that’s America to me.”
The lyrics continue:
“The place I work in, the worker at my side, the little house or city where my people lived and died, the howdy and the hand-shake, the air and feeling free, and the right to speak my mind out, that’s America to me. The things I see about me, the big things and the small, the little corner newsstand and the house a mile tall. The wedding and the churchyard, the laughter and the tears, and the dream that’s been a-growing for a 150 years.”
The final stanza recalls our famous presidents, our fight for freedom, the torch of liberty, and our home to welcome all God’s children; it celebrates the goodness of our people who praise God for a land of worth and beauty. This is a house we call freedom. This is the house we live in. President Lincoln once said that “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedom, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Colonial costumes, parades and picnics, hot dogs and hamburgers, barbecues and fireworks–these make up the fun of Independence Day. And in our churches, there are special prayers and patriotic hymns for religious freedom.
Our American enterprise
The story of American independence began early in the 17th century with the quest for political and religious freedom. Our founding documents are rooted in these two freedoms. The First Amendment to the Constitution states that the government has certain limited powers to preserve the good order of the people, but “government is not juridically omnipotent.” One of its limitations has to do with the distinction between state and church, in their purposes, methods, and manner of organization.
“The freedom of the Church is a pregnant phrase,” writes Fr. John Courtney Murray, SJ. His thoughts as articulated in “We Hold These Truths” mean, in the first place, the freedom of the Church as a spiritual authority to carry out her divine commission. But, secondly, it means the freedom of the Church as the Christian people to live within her fold an integral supernatural life, a life with inherent super-political dignity that transcends the goals and power of the state. The Church then lays claim to immunity from subordination to the state and its temporal ends. The chief example of this is matters dealing with the dignity of the whole person, marriage, and the family.
Religious freedom is freedom from coercion; it is the absence of constraints and restraints on individuals in their efforts to pursue freely the positive values of religion. In this sense, the first colonists were united in their determination to worship freely and without constraints or restraints from government and society.
Religious freedom is the recognition of the inviolability of the human person, individually and in association with others in what concerns religious belief and action. In other words, the people are united in their religious freedom to believe and practice without any governmental coercion, restraints, or constraints. The political or civil freedoms of the First Amendment, unlike later freedoms or rights, were assurance against coercive action by government and society. (Francis Canavan, SJ, “Religious Freedom: John Courtney Murray, SJ and Vatican II”)
In an address given on April 4th 1943, the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen observed what was both startling and obvious. “A proof that we are in danger of losing our freedom,” he said, “is that everyone is talking about it. Picture a group of men on a roof-top proclaiming in song and story the glories of architecture, while below saboteurs have already knocked out half the foundations of the house–and you have the picture of modern freedom.”
Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom (1965)
The conciliar fathers spoke to the issue of religious freedom, though they could not have imagined the urgency their words would take on in 2012. Religious communities, they wrote, “have the right not to be hindered in their public teaching and witness to their faith, whether by the spoken or by the written word.” In addition, religious communities “should not be prohibited from freely undertaking to show the special value of their doctrine in what concerns the organization of society and the inspiration of the whole of human activity.”
The Religion clause of the First Amendment
We celebrate our liberty in law, and the establishment clause has two parts: the government (a) shall make no law establishing a religion, and the government (b) shall not prohibit the free exercise thereof. This clause is a good law but not a religious law; it is not an article of faith but an article of peace in a pluralistic society. What can be further stated about the First Amendment?
1. America has proved by experience that political unity and stability are possible without uniformity of religious belief and practice, without the necessity of any governmental restriction on any religion.
2. In areas allotted to the government, it is easier to differ without civil strife when religious differences are excluded.
3. The Catholic Church, for example, is better off when left alone to carry out its identity and its mission. Why? Because religious freedom is guaranteed not only to the individual Catholics but to the Church as an organized society with its own law and jurisdiction. In other words, “this independent authority has been the essential element of freedom in the political tradition of the Christian West.” (Canavan)
Anti-Catholicism in the US
Anti-Catholicism, the last acceptable prejudice in the US, has a long history, but a new anti-Catholicism has taken on a subtle coloration–coercion by the government in the name of freedom. It appears as the virtuous counterpart of hatred; it is alive and well.
In 1642, the Virginia colony, and later the Massachusetts Bay colony, passed laws prohibiting Catholics from settling there, but the law was repealed within 10 years. In 1719, Rhode Island imposed civil restrictions on Catholics, but in Pennsylvania, and then in Maryland, toleration of Catholics was permitted.
In the entertainment industry, Catholics are prime targets for writers, for film and television producers who hold contempt for the Church and do so with stunning ridicule. This is because the Church is still viewed as profoundly set apart in the modern culture by reason of her high standards and teachings. The Church is a thorn in the side of a visual culture that is secularized and sexualized.
Coercive Power, St. Thomas More, and St. John Fisher
“These are the times that try men’s souls.” It was true for Thomas Paine, and it remains true today. It was true in 1534, when Henry VIII declared himself the supreme head of the Roman Catholic Church in England. He demanded an oath of fealty from his subjects when his request to Rome for an annulment from his wife Catherine was refused–an annulment that would annul the first annulment to marry her. Sir Thomas More and Bp. John Fisher would not bend to a divorce that would free him to marry Anne Boleyn. For this reason, he made a spectacle of them and had them beheaded. They were neither the first Englishmen nor the last to suffer torture and death for the sake of their faith.
In Robert Bolt’s play, “Man for All Seasons,” there is an early and tense encounter between Card. Wolsey and Sir Thomas. The cardinal asks the King’s future short-lived chancellor to come along with all the rest. More replies with prescience: “Well, I believe, when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.” At his mock trial, the future saint declared, “I am the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”
‘When You Walk Through a Storm, Hold Your Head up High’
These days, cynicism in the country runs high while economic and moral un-freedoms bring us low. But on July 4th, American logic bids our dark sentiments be put aside to rise above life’s oppressive demands and to renew our belief in the American dream. America is a mosaic of distinct cultures formed into one beautiful stained glass window. We are still the greatest country on earth so long as we keep a close eye on St. Thomas and St. John Fisher in the rear-view mirror.
Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY, holds degrees in philosophy (PhL), musicology (PhD), theology (MA), and liturgical studies (PhD). She has taught at all levels of Catholic education and writes with a particular focus on a theology of beauty and the sacred arts. Her Email address is email@example.com.
Pope Benedict XVI has approved the heroic virtues of US Abp. Fulton J. Sheen, the Vatican announced June 28, clearing the way for the advancement of his sainthood cause.
Among the others honored in decrees announced the same day were first prelate of Opus Dei, the Canadian and Irish-American founders of two orders of religious women, a priest murdered by the Sicilian Mafia, and 154 martyrs killed during the Spanish Civil War.
Abp. Sheen heroically lived Christian virtues and should be considered “venerable,” said a decree issued by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes and signed by Pope Benedict. Before the archbishop can be beatified, the Vatican must recognize that a miracle has occurred through his intercession.
The decree came just more than 13 months after Bp. Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, IL, presented Pope Benedict with two thick volumes about the life of Abp. Sheen, whose home diocese was Peoria.
Abp. Sheen, who was born in Illinois in 1895 and died in New York in 1979, was an Emmy-winning televangelist. His program, “Life is Worth Living,” aired in the US from 1951 to 1957.
Last September, a tribunal of inquiry was sworn in to investigate the allegedly miraculous healing of a newborn whose parents had prayed to the archbishop’s intercession.
The Vatican also announced papal decrees approving the beatification of 158 men and women, including 156 martyrs, all but two of them Spaniards, killed during their country’s 1936-39 Civil War.
Fr. Giuseppe Puglisi, a Sicilian priest and activist against organized crime who was killed by the Mafia in 1993, was another of the martyrs recognized.
Martyrs do not need a miracle attributed to their intercession in order to be beatified. However, miracles must be recognized by the Vatican in order for martyrs to be canonized.
Other decrees recognized the heroic virtues of eight men and women, including:
–Bp. Alvaro del Portillo, the first prelate of Opus Dei.
–Mother Marie-Josephte Fitzbach, founder of the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec.
–Mother Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory, the Irish-born founder of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, who died in New York state in 1984.
Repeating over and over that “it’s the right thing to do,” Pres. Barack Obama announced June 15 that effective immediately, the US will stop deporting certain young people who are in the country illegally because they were brought to the US as minors.
The action–taken under existing law that allows for prosecutorial discretion–effectively creates an administrative version of the DREAM Act, legislation that enjoys popular, bipartisan support but has long languished in Congress.
“It makes no sense to expel talented young people who for all intents and purposes are American,” said Obama at a news conference from the White House Rose Garden. The new policy will make the system “more fair, more efficient and more just,” he said.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a memo announcing the change that immigration laws “are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case.
“Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Indeed, many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways. Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”
But Congress still needs to act, Obama said, and the sooner the better, because the changes are only a temporary fix.
As Obama described the order, eligible applicants between the ages of 15 and 30, who arrived in the US by the age of 16 and have been here at least five years, will be able to request “temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.”
“Let’s be clear,” Obama said. “This is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship, this is not a permanent fix. It is a temporary stopgap measure that allows us to focus our resources.”
The new approach will apply to people who complete high school or get a GED, or serve in the military. It will require background checks, no criminal history and other criteria. Deportation will be deferred for two-year renewable periods, during which time the applicants could obtain work permits.
Implementation may take up to 60 days, Napolitano’s memo said. Eligible immigrants who already are in deportation proceedings but do not have a final order to leave may immediately qualify for deferral of deportation, it said.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates as many as 1.4 million people might qualify. Other sources estimated the possible pool at 800,000.
Bills known as the DREAM Act–the acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors–have been proposed regularly for years, aimed at addressing the problem of young people who were brought to the US as children and lack legal immigration status. Such immigrants may have few, if any, ties to their homeland but also have no way of getting legal status in the US without returning to countries that they don’t know and going through a years-long–or decades-long–wait to return legally.
They also are unable to work legally, to qualify for in-state college tuition or get driver’s licenses in most states, and to participate in many kinds of opportunities such as government-funded scholarships. Currently, they risk deportation if they come to the attention of immigration authorities.
While many supporters of the DREAM Act were jubilant, legal analysts were more cautious, noting that the new policy is possible because of prosecutorial discretion that has been available to immigration authorities for years.
Among those hailing the announcement was Abp. Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the US bishops’ Migration Committee.
The young people to whom the action would apply “are bright, energetic, and eager to pursue their education and reach their full potential,” said Abp. Gomez’s statement.
He echoed Obama’s point about needing more permanent action by Congress.
“The action by the president today is no substitute for enactment of the DREAM Act in Congress,” he said. Abp. Gomez encouraged elected officials to make a bipartisan effort to “give these youth a path to citizenship and a chance to become Americans,” and to enact a comprehensive immigration reform law.
One law professor, Michael A. Olivas of the University of Houston, observed in an analysis that the action “shows new political will but does not change existing law or available discretion.”
Olivas noted that there’s little data about how similar discretion has been used under a review process begun last year for the entire category of undocumented immigrants who have no criminal records but are facing deportation. That program, known as the Morton Memo, encourages authorities to exercise their discretion to not deport such immigrants who have been in the US for many years and who have strong family ties here.
Among advocates for the DREAM Act, the announcement was lauded.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., one of the most ardent supporters of the DREAM Act in Congress, said the administration’s action “sets the ball in motion to break the gridlock and fix our laws so that people who live here can do so legally and on the books and people can come with visas instead of smugglers in the first place.”
“Today, the students are being protected,” Gutierrez said. “But we have to fix the system for their families and for the country once and for all.”
“This is huge,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund. “As a result of today’s decision, hundreds of thousands of young people who are American in all but paperwork will have the opportunity to live freely, work legally, and contribute to the country they love.” He added that “this expansion of existing policy is the only viable path to meaningful relief for Dreamers this year.”
The change will mean eligible students can apply for a Social Security number and seek work legally, Martha Arevalo, executive director of the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles, said in a statement released by the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities.
“They will also be able to apply for a driver’s license and be able to drive without the fear of being stopped by the police and potentially facing deportation proceedings,” she added. “Young immigrants are fully aware this is only an initial positive step in a long struggle to be recognized as full and productive members of American society.”
Olivas also noted that potential pitfalls remain. As highlighted by Time Magazine’s cover story June 25, many would-be DREAM Act applicants “have outed themselves, hoping to gain status, putting themselves and their undocumented parents and siblings at risk.” The discretionary program may do little to improve their status, he said.
And in states that bar undocumented immigrants from enrolling in public colleges, students may have little to gain from getting the discretionary legal status, he added.
“If the DREAM Act itself were to be enacted tomorrow by Congress, states would still have to pass laws to grant tuition and financial aid to these students,” Olivas said.
Wong Lan Fong brought her wedding picture with her when she came to America in 1927, but the photo of the 27-year-old bride was not a keepsake.
It was a proof to convince California’s immigration authorities that she did not come for “immoral purposes,” but to be reunited with her husband, a Chinese trader.
“They decided that it was important for them to arrive to the United States with a first-class ticket because they thought, rightly so, that the immigration officials would treat them better than if they came in steerage,” said Erika Lee, an immigration historian and Wong’s granddaughter.
Lee’s grandfather saved up for almost two years to buy the ticket, which allowed Wong to enter the country without prejudices faced by other Asian women. Wong’s slim file shows that her interrogation by immigration officials went smoothly.
Wong Lan Fong’s wedding picture is part of a new National Archives exhibit featuring the stories of 31 men, women and children who passed through US entryways between the 1880s and the end of World War II.
The exhibit, called “Attachments: Faces and Stories from America’s Gates,” features mural-size black-and-white photos that were “attached” to immigration files. The original documents, letters and photos tell the stories of those who were entering, leaving or staying in the US.
Exhibit curator Bruce Bustard said the exhibit illustrates the “long and complicated and contested history about immigration in the United States.”
Some of those entering were visitors; others came to America’s gates looking for freedom and prosperity for themselves and their descendants. Some brought a lot of money; others carried little. Some had their papers in order; others forged documents and had fake relatives sponsoring them.
These stories are drawn from millions of immigration cases on file at the National Archives. The exhibit is on display in the National Archives main building in Washington through Sept. 4.
One of the first pictures in the exhibit shows children arriving at Ellis Island in New York Harbor in 1908. The expressions on their faces show uncertainty, with some adults behind them smiling; others just stare at the camera.
Another view greeting visitors to the exhibit is a panoramic photo of Angel Island, the California processing facility that received half a million people, mostly Chinese and Japanese immigrants. It was built to be “the Ellis Island of the West,” but, under race-specific laws enacted in 1882, it also served as a detention facility, Lee said.
Like many other immigrants before and after them, some of the individuals featured in the exhibit could not enter America’s gates or were later sent home.
Among those featured are Rose and Emile Louis, an interracial couple coming from Britain. Emile was illiterate and was barred entry. Rose was denied entry as well, because her husband could not enter the country.
Pictures of six men deported because of “moral turpitude” listed their physical features to prevent them from re-entering. They include Dubas Wasyl, an Austrian farmhand who was caught stealing beans in his homeland and Francesco Zaccaro, who was sent back to Italy for “applying (a) vile name to a woman.”
“America’s gates have always swung in both directions,” said Joel Wurl, a senior program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities, “Emigration also represents a part of the story.”
The exhibit also tells the stories of Mary Louise Pashgian, who came to the US fleeing persecution in Armenia, or Kaoro Shiibashi, a Hawaiian raised in Japan who returned to his native land.
A picture of 13-year old Michael Pupa is attached to a file detailing how he hid for two years in the Polish forest after the Nazis murdered his parents. After living in many refugee camps, he came to the US in 1951 and ended up living with a foster family in Cleveland.
“His story was one of many in the 25, 000 boxes of materials about children refugees after World War II,” Bustard said.
Pupa, the only person featured in the exhibit who is still living, visited the National Archives for the exhibit’s opening. Seeing his documents compelled him to share those experiences with his family for the first time, Bustard said.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the Archives also featured a series of events where experts discussed immigrant experiences at Angel Island, Ellis Island and other entry points, along with examples of global migration and exclusion.
“I love the original documents and the photographs,” said Quincey Johnson, a Maryland resident who was visiting the exhibit. “It’s a wonderful exhibit. It tells a number of really interesting stories about the difficulties people had.”
“It was interesting to see people from a number of countries, people who lost their families, people who were just trying to bring their families back together,” he said.
The establishment of a new post of senior communications adviser is a step in the right direction to help the Vatican deal with the challenges of a sound-bite culture, said the American journalist appointed to the job.
Greg Burke, 52, was named to the newly-created position in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and will start in July. The announcement was made on Vatican Radio June 24.
Burke, a native of St. Louis, told Catholic News Service June 25 that his job will be to help “shape the message” coming out of the Vatican and make sure everyone there “stays on message.”
It’s a role similar to the White House’s director of communications, who supplements the work of a more visible spokesperson, Burke said, as he described some of the challenges he plans to address: “What’s the message we want to get out? How do we get it out?” And how does the Vatican respond to issues getting traction in the media?
The communications strategy “sounds very simple, but its execution will be very complicated,” he said.
He will also help develop and strengthen lines of communication among the Holy See’s numerous communications outlets, which include TV, radio, a newspaper, a book publishing house and a press office. He will work with Abp. Angelo Becciu, the No. 3 official at the Vatican Secretariat of State, and US Msgr. Peter B. Wells, assessor for general affairs.
Burke, who’s a graduate of Columbia University’s school of journalism, has spent the past 24 years based in Rome as a journalist–with the National Catholic Register, Time magazine and, for the past 10 years, the Fox News network.
While he is not an expert in PR or communications, Burke said his experience covering news events at the Vatican and throughout Europe and the Middle East means “I know what journalists are looking for and what they need, and I know how things will play out in the media.”
A good example of a past media storm that could have been avoided, he said, was during Pope Benedict XVI’s speech on Islam in Regensburg, Germany, in 2006. The pope quoted a medieval Byzantine emperor, who said the prophet Mohammed had brought “things only evil and inhuman.” The pope later acknowledged the quotation was open to misinterpretation, as he had not meant it as an endorsement of the emperor’s words.
If such a speech had been restricted to a small group of scholars, there might have been no problems, Burke said, but as a talk televised to the world, “in a sound-bite, headline culture, it’s a whole different thing,” Burke said.
Burke said he has been covering the Vatican long enough “to know that no one walks in and changes things” overnight. But, he said he hopes “this post is a step in the right direction” and that he will be able to alert the right people in advance of any potential message mix-ups.
A lifelong Catholic and numerary member of Opus Dei, Burke said he wouldn’t have taken the job if he didn’t put all his faith and trust in God. Numeraries are celibate and contribute a large part of their salaries to the prelature.
When he was first approached about the new position, Burke declined, but then over the course of a week, he went with “a gut feeling” to finally accept the job.
“I had a great job at Fox, just the right mix of time in Rome and travel; I was in my comfort zone,” he said.
It took him some time to “get the courage up” and take the chance rather than risk living with the nagging feeling he could have been able to make a difference, he said.
The appointment is likely to provoke comparisons between Burke and Joaquin Navarro-Valls, another Opus Dei member who served as Vatican spokesman during Blessed John Paul II’s pontificate.
Burke said that he didn’t know whether being a numerary of Opus Dei was a factor in his hiring, but he noted, “I wasn’t hired at Fox because of Opus Dei,” but rather for his knowledge and experience.
Being a native speaker of English, which is the working language of much of the global media, was perhaps a more critical factor in his favor, he said.
Despite the Vatican’s communications’ challenges, Burke said the Church “still has got a great message” that needs to get out there.
“It’s a message of spread the love, which often gets lost in a lot of the static,” he said.
While he doesn’t have “a magic wand” or feel he has all the answers, Burke said the Church’s direction should be based on being clear and open with the world.
He said a great model to emulate would be a communications’ structure similar to that of the United Nations (UN), whose Web site lists “a spokesperson on every continent with cellphone numbers in case you need an interview and free video footage.”
“That’s the direction I’d like to see. Greater openness and accountability is all positive” for any institution, organization, and business, not just the Vatican, he said.
“The danger is you say nothing, it’s a closed shop,” he said, and then lies, distortions, or misunderstanding can fill the media vacuum.
He grew up in St. Louis Hills, which he credits as being “maybe the best neighborhood to grow up in with small houses, small yards, and big families.”
Living five minutes from his parish of St. Gabriel, the church was a big part of community life, he said.
The middle child of six, Burke went to Jesuit-run St. Louis University high school and praised his Jesuit Latin teachers as being “great scholars, gentlemen, and saints.”
Despite his all-American background, after nearly a quarter century in Rome, Burke took Italian citizenship earlier this year. That means he will be right at home at the Vatican, where Italians still far outnumber employees of any other nationality.
The religious articles gathered up each day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington are just a small part of the estimated 400,000 items left in honor of a veteran and collected twice daily by National Park Service employees since the memorial opened 30 years ago.
But for Felton, curator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection held at the Museum Resource Center in Landover, many of the items represent a mystery that will never be solved.
He holds up a small cross on a pedestal. A piece of paper affixed to the bottom says the cross was made from square nails used to build the original St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Kasson, MN, in 1873.
But that doesn’t answer Felton’s many questions: Who left the item and for whom? What did the church mean to the veteran or the person who left the cross?
“Most of the three-dimensional objects in the collection come with no explanation of what it is or what it means,” he said.
There is even a box of rocks left at the memorial on the National Mall. Felton isn’t sure, but he thinks some veterans bring the rocks as a symbol that they have “put their burdens down” and left their bad memories of Vietnam at the memorial.
“This is a collection unlike any other,” Felton said. It is the only collection in which the public decides what will be included, the only one made up of items left by the living for the dead and the only one in which “the bias of what is worthy is taken out” of the curator’s hands, he said.
But Felton believes that is more than appropriate for a memorial to those who served in “a completely different kind of war”–the only US war that was never officially declared.
“It’s Vietnam, so you can leave logic out the door,” he said.
With the exception of plant matter, food and unaltered US flags, every item left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is preserved and cataloged. The flags are given to veterans’ hospitals, visitors to the memorial, or civic groups such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.
The collection started almost by accident when a park ranger who thought the items had been left inadvertently started a kind of lost and found, thinking those who had left the items would return for them one day.
When no one came back for the items–and more were donated each day–the collection was born.
The most popular items left at the memorial are notes or letters, many of which are not addressed to a specific veteran. Thousands of metal bracelets commemorating a specific Vietnam prisoner of war or missing in action also have been left behind.
The largest item held in the collection is believed to be a painting on a nine-foot-by-five-foot sliding glass door that shows a scene in Vietnam and displays the names of all those who were POWs or listed as missing in action.
Donated with the door is a full-size reproduction of a tiger cage, like the ones that held POWs during the war. The cage is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History.
Another candidate for largest item is a Harley-Davidson motorcycle bearing a Wisconsin license plate with the word HERO. The group of Wisconsin veterans that donated it has asked that no one be allowed to sit on the motorcycle–hand-painted with scenes of Vietnam–until all those MIA in Vietnam have been accounted for.
According to the Department of Defense, 1,664 veterans are still missing in action in Vietnam.
Those items indicate a great deal of pre-planning, but other donations are spontaneous.
“It’s not unusual to see children go through their backpacks and leave whatever the popular toy of the day is,” Felton said.
“Every item is precious,” he added. “It might be a fourth-place karate medal, but for a person to leave it ennobles this offering.”
Religious items–medals, Bibles, rosaries, crosses and similar articles–make up a significant part of the collection. Among the most popular medals are those dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, patron saint of paratroopers; St. Anthony of Padua and St. Nicholas, both considered the patron saint of sailors; and St. Therese of Lisieux, patron saint of pilots and air crews.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection is one of about 40 historical collections held at the Museum Resource Center. Others include items from the Antietam National Battlefield Park, the Clara Barton National Historic Site, and the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.
But none of the collections has such strong emotions attached to it as the Vietnam collection does.
Felton, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam in 1967, said he tells new interns, “You have my permission to go outdoors and take a deep breath” when they need to. And he admits that he sometimes has to do the same himself.
“In my office I keep a photo of a very good friend who died in battle,” he said. “That keeps my feet on the ground.”
Holy Joe’s Cafe and Mission Capodanno have joined forces this Fourth of July to provide a place of respite for those who are forward deployed and serving on transition force commands.
Together, these two organizations are reaching out to forward-deployed chaplains inviting them to establish a Holy Joe’s-Capodanno Café in Afghanistan or Kuwait. The newly-created “joint task force” of Holy Joe’s Café and Mission Capodanno also invite interested others to invest time and resources into this endeavor from the home front.
“Coffee has the effect of making the chaplain’s space a nice place to hang out,” chaplain Pete St. Martin said. “It is in these moments that God and I do our best work, I believe in casual conversation with no specific agenda and before the burden someone is carrying has erupted into real trouble.”
“Establishing a frontline Holy Joe’s- Capodanno Café”, says Mission Capodanno’s Executive Director Vincent Criste, “is to invite weary soldiers to come and relax, enjoy a taste of home and share wholesome conversation on a very human level with someone who can offer them what they truly seek–and that someone is the chaplain.”
Holy Joe’s and Mission Capodanno are reaching out to individuals and corporations interested in sponsoring a chaplain looking to establish a Holy Joe’s-Capodanno Café or sustain one of the 182 Holy Joe’s Cafés currently in operation. Additionally, an invitation is going out to chaplains–especially those now serving in Afghanistan and Kuwait–to consider adding such a gathering place to their ministry’s “tool box”.
Mission Capodanno founder Judy McCloskey explained that a coffee-shop setting provides a more comfortable environment for soldiers to visit.
“While some soldiers may be reluctant to visit the chaplain’s office, others may be more comfortable discussing their concerns over a cup of coffee in hand,” explained Mrs. McCloskey.
“A soldier might even surprise himself at the depth of conversation that takes place when a chaplain shares a cup of coffee. Sometimes, it’s a simple matter of generating the opportunity for these soldiers to talk to someone who knows how to listen. And practically speaking, meeting over a cup of coffee is a lot less intimidating than making an appointment at the chaplain’s office.”
Both entities recognize that a coffee house provides neutral ‘grounds’–pardon the pun. There’s much synergy exchanged between these two organizations. Both are providing requested materials–excellent coffee and solid Catholic resources such as Fr. Capodanno holy cards and Fulton Sheen Wartime Prayer Books–free to chaplains and troops.
Whether in a chapel setting, community center, or a unique frontline coffee house, Holy Joe’s provides coffee for the body and Mission Capodanno provides resources for the soul.
“Holy Joe’s Café partners with the Carmelite’s Mystic Monk Coffee to ship orders received within 72 hours to forward-deployed US military chaplains,” Tom Jastermsky said.
“We are proud to say that we have five years of working and praying with the monks. Every donation goes to the purchase of coffee which directly benefits both Chaplains and the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming.”
Chaplains serving in both Kuwait and Afghanistan currently remain the outreach’s focus, but each Chaplain’s request–even those that may be outside the immediate service area–will be considered.
Tom sums it up well: “Its a small act, but a big undertaking.”
Holy Joe’s Café is an entirely volunteer ministry of the First Congregational Church in Wallingford, CT, which has shipped over 160 tons of coffee supplies to deployed chaplains since 2006. Holy Joe’s has partnered with 800 chaplains in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan as well as Marine Expedition Units.
Mission Capodanno is a Catholic, lay-run organization that seeks to build spiritual resiliency among the 1.8 million Catholics in today’s United States armed forces. With only 250 Catholic priests in the Chaplain Corps and with 800 priests needed, Mission Capodanno provides requested Catholic materials for free to chaplains and Religious Program Specialists of all faiths who minister to the needs of Catholic soldiers. As a 501 (c) 3 non profit organization, Mission Capodanno has provided for chaplains, commands, and individuals stationed in more than 10 countries, US military academies, the Pentagon, throughout the continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii.
For more information about Holy Joe’s Cafe in Afghanistan and elsewhere, visit their blog, YouTube channel, or coffee donation page.