Thursday, March 29, 2007

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord make me
an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, Joy.
O divine Master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled
As to console;
To be understood,
As to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are
Born to eternal life.

Just think if everyone who had any interaction with the Haitian people said this prayer each morning. It would render so much good will and positive actions. There would be so little time wasted with nonsense that keeps the people poor and voiceless. Haitian people would be educated, paid well, and could drink clean water. None of the gran mange anywhere in the world would suffer---they would benefit. The slums could be torn down and Haiti's "boat people" wouldn't want to leave the Pearl of the Antilles. Who would want to?

MINUSTAH could go home and the Diaspora could come back. And the streets of Port-au-Prince could be safely walked in at night.

Why is this so difficult?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Deafening Cry

(Father Gerry Jean-Juste with parishoner at St. Clare's Church, Port-au-Prince, 2005.)

Perhaps the single most significant event to give impetus to the rise of liberation theology was the Second General conference of Latin American Bishops that met in August of 1968 in Medellin, Colombia. This meeting has been called the “Magna Carta” of liberation theology.

One of the documents on poverty from this conference, written by the bishops, stated the following:

“The Latin American bishops cannot remain indifferent in the face of the tremendous social injustices existent in Latin America, which keep the majority of our peoples in dismal poverty, which in many cases becomes inhuman wretchedness. A deafening cry pours from the throats of millions of men, asking their pastors for a liberation that reaches them from nowhere else.”

According to the documents from Medellin, the situation in Latin America was characterized by “institutionalized violence,” “unjust structures,” “internal colonialism,” and “external neocolonialism.” Together these amount to a “sinful situation” that leaves the Latin American countries dependent on the economic centers of power. In light of this situation, the bishops called for “ an all embracing, courageous, urgent, and profoundly renovating transformation.” The Church was called to “create an eminently Christian task.” The bishops commit the Church to a program of a “new society” in which the human person is “an agent of his own history.” The Church was encouraged to carry Christ’s message of liberation to the poor by becoming a poor Church, by being in solidatrity with the poor and giving “preference to the poorest and most needy sectors.”

In 1971 Gustaveo Gutierrez’s book was written. “A Theology of Liberation” remains the classic statement of the ecclesiological issues at stake in the rise of liberation theology. Critics charged that liberationists were guilty of reducing Christianity to a political ideology—in effect attending to this world while ignoring more “spiritual” concerns proper to the world to come.

Gutierrez wrote in an essay after publication of his book the following:

“One of the oldest themes in the theology of liberation is the totality and complexity of the liberation process. This theology conceives total liberation as a single process, within which it is necessary to distinguish different dimensions or levels: economic liberation, social liberation, political liberation, liberation of the human being from all manner of servitude, liberation from sin, communion with God as the ultimate basis of a human community of brothers and sisters.”

Jon Sobrino, a Jesuit priest in El Salvador, was recently criticized (2007) by the Vatican. Fr. Sobrino is a Spanish born priest and a well known proponent of liberation theology. The Vatican explained, “Father Sobrino manifests a preoccupation for the poor and the oppressed, particularly in Latin America. This preoccupation certainly is shared by the whole church.” The Vatican stated that the church cannot express its preferential option for the poor through “reductive sociological and ideological categories.”

Sobrino has written, “There is terrible injustice in today’s world, one which, slowly or quickly, brings the great majority of humanity closer to death. Justice and truth, therefore, are fundamental and urgent demands.”

According to liberationists, justice is the key concept for the Christian conscience of our day; the promotion of justice is the essential requirement of the Gospel message today. Gutierrez writes, “When justice does not exit, God is not known; God is absent.”

So maybe God IS absent in Haiti. Maybe God is not known here because there sure is very little justice in Haiti.

There also is little justice for Haiti’s Fr. Gerry Jean-Juste. The very priest who lived his life standing up for the poor, and feeding the poor in his parish, is in “exile” once again in Florida. His story is well known. Haiti and his parishioners really need him back.

The aging Latin American priests philosophy of preferential option for the poor wasn't wrong. It is the right and fair thing to do. But when the Jean-Justes of the world are terrorized and shackled and marginated and condemned of crimes they didn’t commit, the poor don't have any option. And when the Church leaders themselves don’t advocate for Jean-Juste, the injustice continues. Ignoring Jean-Juste is ignoring Haiti's "deafening cry" today.

Does this young boy pictured below, living with his family in rural Croix-du-Bouquets, look like he has many options?

(See "Liberation Theology After the End of History--The Refusal to Cease Suffering", by Daniel M. Bell, Jr.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

The First Class Parking Deck

The Peoria Journal Star had an article on March 21, 2007 regarding OSF’s new parking deck. It is an 1,800-spot visitor and patient parking deck. The article reports it is the largest parking deck in Peoria. The deck’s features will include valet service that includes free paring and shuttle cart transportation to the main buildings, as well as heated and air-conditioned stairwells.

The new parking deck costs $37 million dollars. This will accompany the Milestone Project which is OSF’s new 440,000 square foot expansion which will cost $234 million dollars. This Project will include an eight story building with a new Children’s Hospital, as well as an adult cardiac unit, and new emergency and surgery departments.

It is Peoria’s largest building venture ever.

Chris Lofgren, OSF’s spokesman stated, “One of our goals is to eventually have all private rooms." He also noted that OSF is one the verge of acquiring a FOURTH helicopter.

Now consider this:

1. OSF continues to reject former Haitian Hearts/OSF patients for surgery with partial or complete funds offered for their surgeries by Haitian Hearts.

2. Revenues for OSF are in excess of 1.5 billion dollars per year.

3. Revenues for the entire Republic of Haiti in 2003, with a population of 8.3 million people, was less than $300 million dollars.

4. There is approximately 1 physician/6000 people in Haiti’s rural areas. There is 1 physician/400 people in the United States. 40% of Haiti's population has no access to primary health care.

5. Haiti has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the western Hemisphere. Haiti is located 90 minutes from Miami by air.

6. 25% of Haitian children are chronically malnourished.

7. Only 50% of Haitian children are vaccinated with the standard vaccines.

8. 75% of births in Haiti are accompanied by non-qualified personnel.

9. There are many Haitian children born with congenital heart disease or who acquire rheumatic heart disease and need surgery. Cardiac surgery is not routinely done in Haiti and never done through the Haitian government for charges that the poor can afford. Serious heart disease in children and adults is virtually a death sentence.

The Journal Star article ended with Lofgren stating that while OSF works on its new project, visitors and patients can enjoy the new deck and its valet services.

“Because of the size of (the deck), it is the right thing to do,” Lofgren said beaming. “This is first class, all the way.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

John Carroll's Posts

In December, 2006, and January, 2007 I posted about 30 posts on a local blog in Peoria. I have compiled those posts and they can be found at John Carroll's Posts.

Most of the titles are highlighted and link back to the blog where comments follow the posts.