Friday, July 13, 2012

Untouchables, a Missing Bishop, and Charities at Risk

I was one of 'those crazy kids' in the '60s who thought that human beings were people: all human beings, not just the 'important' ones.

I also thought that the establishment should butt out of people's lives, and let us follow our beliefs.

When I became a Catholic, I had to change some of what I'd taken for granted: including some of my favorite ideas. (June 8, 2009)

But I'm still convinced that:
  • All human beings are people
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258, 2270, 2274)
  • Faith must not be forced
    (Catechism, 2104-2109)
Because I take beliefs like that seriously, I'm part of a counter-culture in America.

My native country isn't the only place where the Catholic Church is at odds with local traditions or the national government. I don't find that comforting, but at least America isn't alone:
  1. Caste, Human Trafficking, and Traditions
  2. One of Our Bishops is Missing
  3. Catholic Charities Will Not Kill

Optimism, Prayer and an Election

Eventually, I think India's 'untouchables' may be like slaves in America: a sad chapter in history, but not a current issue.

China's government may decide that maintaining a Catholic Patriotic Association isn't a good idea.

America's leaders may decide to acknowledge that all human beings are people: even young ones.

I can, and do, pray that all nations will support basic human rights. That's about all I can do about what's happening in India and China.

As an American citizen, I have an obligation to vote. There's an election coming up in November, less than three months away. There's a lot at stake this time.

1. Caste, Human Trafficking, and Traditions

"Christianity changing lives of India's 'untouchables'"

catholicnewsagency, YouTube (July 12, 2012) video, 2:56
"Christianity changing lives of India's 'untouchables' "
Hillary Senour, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (July 12, 2012)

"A human rights group in India says Christianity has brought slow but lasting change to the country's Dalits or 'untouchables,' especially for the community's women who are often victims of prostitution and human trafficking...."
"Human trafficking" is: "A criminal activity in which people are recruited, harboured, transported, bought, or kidnapped to serve an exploitative purpose, such as sexual slavery, forced labor, or child soldiery." (Wiktionary)

'Judgmental' as this may sound, I think human trafficking is wrong. More to the point, the Catholic Church says it's wrong.1

'Meddling' With India's Traditions

I suppose a case could be made that the human rights group shouldn't interfere with India's cultural traditions. Here's how the Christians are (meddling?):
"...'The Dalits are told that they are less than animals and we tell them they are not,' non-profit director Jeevaline Kumar told CNA, 'because they are made in the likeness of God.'

"Kumar - who heads up Operation Mobilisation's Anti-Human Trafficking Project in Bangalore, Karnataka - explained that the simple message that every person created in God's image has transformed the lives of India's Dalits.

" 'They are crying out for a change now that they know they can live differently,' she said.

"At roughly 250 million people, Dalits make up close to one quarter of the country's 1.2 billion member population but, according to the caste system, are seen as inherently impure and worthless...."
(Hillary Senour, CNA)

Caste, Law, and Ethics

India's caste system hasn't been abused for generations. Officially. Discrimination based on caste was outlawed in 1950, when India gained independence from Great Britain.

I think I can understand why folks running India haven't gotten around to dismantling the caste system. As it stands, about one out of four folks in India can be used for cheap labor: and treated like livestock. Economically, it's probably expedient to maintain the cast system.

That doesn't make it right, though.
"...Although caste discrimination, not the caste system itself, was technically outlawed in 1950 after India won its independence from Great Britain, law enforcement is still lacking.

"Dalit women bear the brunt of caste discrimination, Kumar added, since women are looked upon even more unfavorably in Indian culture as they will need to be married off at the expense of their parents.

" 'The women are the Dalits of the Dalits,' Kumar said, explaining that many of them are forced into lives of prostitution, cleaning human waste or being aborted as soon as their gender is learned...."
(Hillary Senour, CNA)

Law, Culture, and Human Rights

It would be nice if India's government abolished the caste system entirely. On the other hand, they did outlaw caste discrimination.

The good news is that for more than six decades, Indian law has apparently acknowledged that Dalits are people. I've posted about human trafficking, law, and ethics, before:
In a way, India is off to a good start: their laws recognize that Dalits are people. Changing the minds and hearts of folks who like the status quo can take time: and that's almost another topic.

2. One of Our Bishops is Missing

"Vatican lauds ordination of China's missing bishop"
David Kerr, CNA/EWTN News (July 10, 2012)

"The Vatican has praised the approved ordination of a Chinese bishop, who is now missing after announcing his split from the state-controlled Catholic association during his ordination.

" 'The ordination of the Reverend Thaddeus Ma Daqin as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Shanghai on Saturday 7 July 2012 is encouraging and is to be welcomed,' said a July 10 Vatican communique...."
(David Kerr, CNA/EWTN News)
That's the good news.

What happened after the ceremony sounds like something in a thriller:
"...During the ordination ceremony, Bishop Ma revealed that he was quitting his posts within the government-run Catholic Patriotic Association which refuses to acknowledge the authority of the Pope...."
(David Kerr, CNA/EWTN News)
China isn't the only country whose leadership took control of a nation's religion. I've mentioned Henry VIII before. (March 7, 2012)

The Disquieting Case of the Disappearing Bishop

"...The announcement by the 44-year-old native of Shanghai was made in front of several state officials and was seen by many as a rebuke to China's communist regime. The 1000 strong congregation in the city's St Ignatius Cathedral responded with rapturous applause.

"Bishop Ma, however, has not been seen in public since. Various media outlets suggest he was whisked away by state-officials following the ceremony...."
(David Kerr, CNA/EWTN News)
I have a high regard for China's culture and people. The country's government has improved a little in recent decades, in terms of allowing its subjects to provide goods and services with a bit less micromanagement. But I think China still has 'control issues.'

Message From a Cell Phone

In an information age version of the typewritten note, Bishop Ma told folks that he was fine. Or, rather, his cell phone sent a message:
"...UCANews reports that priests and nuns in Shanghai have since received a text message from Bishop Ma's cellphone claiming to be sent by him.

"It states that he was 'mentally and physically exhausted' and needed 'a break' to make 'a personal retreat.' It also claims he is residing in the Sheshan seminary near Shanghai...."
(David Kerr, CNA/EWTN News)
Maybe I'm being too cynical: but it occurred to me that if Bishop Ma has been snatched, whoever has him probably has his cell phone, too. It shouldn't be difficult to for anybody with the right language skills to impersonate the bishop in a text message.

China's government has had trouble with 'unruly subjects,' and they're not alone:

3. Catholic Charities Will Not Kill

"Catholic Charities of Chicago lawsuit shows reach of HHS mandate"
CNA/EWTN News (July 10, 2012)

"Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago has joined two Catholic dioceses and their charitable affiliates in a lawsuit over the federal contraception mandate, a move that one observer says demonstrates the potential societal impact of the rule.

"The charitable ministry 'will lose its identity as Catholic unless the HHS mandate now in force as the recent law of the land is changed,' Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago said in a July 9 statement supporting the charity's entry into a lawsuit against the federal government...."
The Catholic Church is quite flexible. We're allowed to:
  • Drink alcohol
    • In moderation
    (Catechism, 2290)
  • Gamble
    • In moderation
    (Catechism, 2413)
But we're not allowed to kill innocent people. Even if it's legal:
  • Some actions are always wrong
    (Catechism, 1789)
    • Even if the President says it's okay
      (Catechism, 2242)
  • Human life
    • Is sacred
      (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258)
    • Begins at conception
    • (Catechism, 2270, 2274)
  • Murder is wrong
    (Catechism, 2259-2262, 2268-2269)
I've written about this before: often. (July 4, 2012, June 29, 2012, June 28, 2012, June 26, 2012)

Legal, Yes: Right, No

In today's American, it's legal to kill babies who haven't been born yet. Scrambling a woman's reproductive system so that she can't conceive children is considered a "woman's right." Abortion and artificial contraceptives are legal in America: and considered indispensable parts of a 'liberated' lifestyle.

I learned that something can be legal, and still be wrong, in the '60s. That's another principle that I kept, because it's what the Catholic Church teaches.

The Church also says that we're supposed to follow ethical principles: even if a government official tells us not to. Like I've said before, "I was only following orders" isn't an excuse. (June 26, 2012)


Part of the Catholic Church's mission is to feed the hungry, satisfy the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the ill, and visit those in prison. (Matthew 25:34-46; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2446) I don't know any Catholic who does 'all of the above.' Folks like Mother Teresa of Calcutta are few and far between.

But we're expected to do something for folks who need help.

In my case, I'll be helping the local Knights of Columbus council raise money later this month. One of our major fundraisers is the 'Bingo booth' at the Stearns County Fair: and I plan to work there one evening. Then there's the conventional 'charitable giving.'

Discriminate Against Non-Catholics, Or Kill: Some Choice

"...Chicago's Catholic Charities joins the Dioceses of Joliet and Springfield, and their respective Catholic Charities organizations, in challenging the Obama administration's mandate.

"Formulated under the federal health care reform law, the rule requires religious employers to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs in employee health plans.

"Catholic Charities cannot obtain an exemption from the rule because it serves Catholics and non-Catholics equally. The mandate exempts only those organizations that primarily employ and serve members of the same faith for the purpose of instilling 'religious values.'..."
(July 10, 2012)
Like I said earlier, the Catholic Church says I have to see all human beings as people: not just the ones who are old enough to count under American law. I also have to believe that it's wrong to kill an innocent person. Even if the law says it's okay.

That may seem harsh, but it makes sense: once it's assumed that all human beings are people, and that human life is sacred. The Catholic Church expects us to act as if principles like 'human life is sacred,' and 'don't kill innocent people' matter.

That brings up the question of legitimate defense: which is another topic. (March 22, 2011)

Related posts:

1Human trafficking, prostitution, and kidnapping, from a Catholic viewpoint:

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.