We are Not Born Hating Anyone: Asking For the Grace to Tear Up "The Memo"

At the bottom of this post is a video of a large dog and a small cat who apparently never got the memo that they are supposed to fear and hate each other. As the video makes clear, they are bosom buddies who love to romp, play, wrestle and even snuggle. How unlikely, and yet, there it is before our eyes.

While the interactions between animals are mysterious and not to be compared with human relationships, and I can’t help thinking of humanity as I look at these animals. What would things be like if some of the “memos” we pass back and forth were never received or got lost?

I remember some years ago when the former Yugoslavia broke apart as the long reign of communism ended there. Good news, as Soviet style rule ended. But then, a horrible blood bath ensued as and the Bosnian, Serbians and Croatians turned on one another, rekindling old hatreds going back hundreds of years. I remember wondering how people who had lived largely without violence for so long could still hate each other so. It seemed that the injustices of the past predated most of the people who were alive now.

Bosnian babies were not born hating Croatian babies. Some one must have taught them to hate each other. Some one gave them “the memo.” So when the “strong man,” Tito left the scene, ancient hatreds which had continued to be handed on from parent to child, exploded. Looking with my American eyes, I wondered how the Bosnian, Croat and Serbian people could even distinguish each other. To me they all “looked alike.” But they surely knew the differences, drew the lines, and spiraled right down into the hell of hatred.

I realize that I may be over-simplifying things, but there is also the tendency to over complicate matters. The fact is, no child enters this world with an intrinsic hated of a whole group of other children. Some one teaches them that. That part isn’t complicated.

Another awful example of this was what happened in Rwanda in the early 1990s. There, the Hutu and Tutsi tribes had separated back in 1959. But suddenly in 1990 Civil war exploded and in 1994 a Tutsi Tribe undertook an attempted Genocide of the Hutu tribe killing as many as a million in a very short period of time. Some argued that the tensions went all the way to colonial times. But here too, most of grievances seemed to predate the soldiers and vigilantes who undertook to massacres. Who taught them this hatred? Who “gave them the memo?”

When I was a child I lived in Chicago, Ill. I never remember my parents ever telling me to hate or even be wary of Black people. I give them a lot of credit for that. Neither do I remember any awareness of Racial tension or hatred in my neighborhood. However, to be clear, I was still very young and the racial riots that Followed Dr. King’s assassination did not really register on my 7 year old mind.

But in 1969 we moved to Northern Florida (think “Southern Georgia”). And there the racial tension was in the air. I remember being confused and bewildered by the unexplained resentments and fears. I guess I was too young, and was a newcomer and had not read “the memo” which indicated that I was to be suspicious, hateful and in no way mix with “them.” I remember seeing the Black children on the other side of the playground and they were playing with some “really cool” toys. Not having read the memo I went to join them. I was rebuffed not only by fellow Whites, but also by some of the Black children who were unaware that I had not read the memo and considered my “incursion” unwanted and even threatening.

Crazy stuff. We are not born hating anyone, any race, or ethnicity. Some one teaches us that. And this very fact increases the total disgrace that such hatred is. There is an old phrase that talks about “burying the hatchet.” You may call me naive, and simplistic, even myopic, but I wonder, what might happen if we could just “tear up the memo.”

I hope most of you know me by now well enough to understand that I am no moral relativist. I am not suggesting there is no such thing as truth, right or wrong, injustice etc. Neither am I one to dispatch slogans like: “Can’t we all get along?” or “Coexist.” For these sorts of slogans often rest on faulty premises that there is no real truth to announce or protect. But honestly, some of the hatreds we struggle with go back to things long gone, that predate any of us here today, and which, quite frankly, are not even grievances we know much about.  There are just some “memos” that need to go to the shredder.

The Catechism makes some very helpful observations:

Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”….

Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is the tranquility of order. Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity…..

Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war: Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until Christ comes again; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished and these words will be fulfilled: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (CCC # 2303,2304, 2317)

Well, if nothing else, enjoy this video of two animals who never got “the memo” that they are supposed to be mortal enemies, and consider joining me in the dream that some of us humans too will never get “the memo.”

Photo Credit above: From the Zazzle Catalog

38 Replies to “We are Not Born Hating Anyone: Asking For the Grace to Tear Up "The Memo"”

  1. I grew up in Mississippi and was given “the memo” but also “the other memo” from my parents. My parents quickly pointed out was I in no way to use the N word ever. Nor was I to treat anyone differently because of the color of their skin. My mom’s family is very bad about the N word. My mom taught me that staying silent is just as bad. She would tell her brothers that they were never to say that word around her ever. She stood up for her beliefs and so I behaved that way too. Although it didn’t always work so well that way, sometimes I got the feeling that black people were suspicious of my friendliness (like you described). I suppose I would be too if I were in their shoes. But you have to start somewhere.

  2. “I realize that I may be over-simplifying things”
    Since I think you usually write very good posts, I’ll just ascribe this one to what you mention and refrain from commenting further on it.

      1. Here’s a good book on Bosnia: http://www.amazon.com/Bosnia-Short-History-Noel-Malcolm/dp/0814755615,
        Until I read it, I would have taken what you said above for granted, too.

        The point, I think, is that the “Bosnian, Serbians and Croatians turned on one another, rekindling old hatreds going back hundreds of years” explanation is out and out wrong, as is the common understanding of the historic state of things in the former Yugoslavia, where, when not getting invaded and pushed around, people mostly got along as well as any place else. Western powers were complicit in much of what went on, because we chose to believe the “ancient hatreds” line and simply refused to recognize that one country – Serbia – was invading its neighbors and slaughtering people, even though the UN troops on the ground could see with their own eyes that that was what was happening.

        Anyway, thanks, good essay, just not a good example.

  3. Please get your facts straitgh before writing that Croats, Serbs and Bosnians turned on one another. Its not called “turning on another” if one country (Serbia) invades and attacks you in your home, occupies half your teritory, bombs your cities and systematicly kills children and women.
    I know it MAY look the same as turning on each other from 10000 miles away.
    Pax Christi!

    1. I was clear that my remarks were made in bewilderment not in substantial knowledge so I am not taking sides. But it is true enough that the hatreds in that region are very old and passed on through generations. This fierce factionalism has been enshrined in the English word “balkanization” My point is that it is sometimes better NOT to know the details and all the ancient hatreds and to forget to hand the memo down to your children. I know that Serbian children were not born hating Croats and Bosnians, they were taught to do that. I also know that such a thing has nothing to do with the Pax Christi or any other type of pax but is in fact a pox that afflicts the human family.

      1. You definitely have a valid point but use the wrong example. It’s as if I were to say that the whites and blacks turned on each other, the whites led by KKK and the blacks led by Dr. King. Thats how far off your example is. Again, I agree with your point.
        Pax Christi!

        1. Msgr. Pope,
          Using the conflict in the former Yugoslavia as an example in such oversimplified is not a good idea. Please gain “substantial knowledge” so you do not make such sweeping generalizations about groups of people. You wouldn’t do it against whites or blacks. Do not do it against Croats, Bosnians, or Serbs. You did more than make remarks in bewilderment. You used these generalizations to preach the gospel, teachings of Jesus’ Church. To your credit, you did admit ignorance, but you still used the example. You opened the can of worms.
          As a child of Croatian immigrants and a faithful Catholic, using this example as you disturbs me. I don’t like to think myself as overly sensitive, but to read a Catholic priest use such a caricature of my people saddens me. I do not have to tell you that Croatians are faithful Catholics. The Church in Croatia is much respected, much loved. The Church, its clergy, preached of Christ’s love to the Croatian people and many Croats, including my parents and grandparents took this message to heart and never hated anyone.
          Your generalization, whether you intend to or not, throws Croatians, including many of your own brother priests, under the bus. I “get the memo”. Just please don’t use such a generalization, an uneducated, admittingly ignorant “bewilderment” to illustrate this point.
          Sorry if my comment seems attacking in any way. They are not meant to be. I probably share the same sentiments with other Croatians. To read such remarks against our people, we are used to. To read them from a Catholic priest, whose fellow priests preached love and brought Christ to the Croatian people, is disheartening.

          1. Serbia conducted genocide over Croats throughout the whole 20th century. A fact that is being covered up by the Western world. After Yugoslavia fell apart the Serbs, the Bosnians and the Croats didn’t go at each other. The aggression on Croatia and Bosnia started from Belgrade and was coordinated from there. An it had the blessing of the Western world.

  4. There is an incident in the life of St. Martin de Porres where a dog, a cat, and a mouse all drank milk from the same bowl. This picture can be found on holy cards of this interesting saint (look closely at the holy card). It makes one wonder what level of peace can be attained with the help of God in the human kingdom as well as the animal kingdom.

  5. Epistle 195
    My some ideas of “the homily” of Msgr. Charles Pope are here below:
    Firstly, in the homily, Msgr. Charles Pope said that “We are not born hating anyone”, on the contrary, we ought to love our enemies.
    Secondly, now permit me to add some problems hereafter:
    In my opinion, the sentence “We are not born hating anyone” has two meanings:
    Its first meaning is “We are not born to hate anyone”.
    Its second meaning is “We are not born hatred for anyone”, that is, we don’t do something so that anyone hates us.
    Here, hating (noun) is synonymous with hatred (noun) means “sự căm ghét” in Vietnamese language.
    When reading Gospel of Matthew 5:46, I saw Jesus said “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you”.
    I understood that, Jesus didn’t say that we ought to love our Satan or our sins.
    But we ought to pray to God so that Satan becomes a good man. Likewise, we ought to pray for those who persecute us so that they become good men.
    We ought to remember that Jesus is a Savior. Saviour is a person who helps people achieve Salvation, or saves them from their evils.
    If we think that “Love your enemies”, that is, we ought to love Satan so that we become as Satan is, then we are not a real disciple of Jesus.
    As far as I’m concerned, if I can’t convert Satan so that he becomes a good man, then I will end relationship with him./.

    1. Agreed, but only with the exception that Satan, as a fallen Angel will not change, for we hold that angels have made the final determination of who and what they will be.

  6. I grew up in Los Angeles where racial tensions run high. I witnessed a great deal of hostility toward Hispanics who, according to many white people, were stealing all the jobs, having too many babies, and sucking the system for all its worth. (Ironically, the only time I have encountered any open hostility toward my own large family was by a Hispanic family of tourists who openly ridiculed the fact that I was pregnant and had many other young children. Back in LA, this was exactly what I heard about them all my life growing up.)

    Then, my husband and I moved to Anchorage, AK with our kids. We live in a small town about 13 miles out of the city, a town which happens to be largely Caucasian. It started to really bother me that there wasn’t a more visible level of diversity around us. I remember seeing a black man at our former Protestant Church (pre-conversion) and feeling disturbed that this was such an unusual occurrence!

    Ultimately, I converted (my husband reverted) and we are parishioners now at the Cathedral downtown. I simply thank the Lord that there are people of all different types around us…that the homeless person from the street is just as likely to be at Mass as the business person and that everyone is all different types. It is quite common to hear the prayers of Mass spoken in an African language alongside our own. Being Catholic is awesome. 😉

    Interestingly, Msgr., that former Protestant parish of mine is hoping to plant a church in a part of the city that is largely minority, and they are trusting that God will provide a pastor who is able to fit right in (race, etc.). I am in no way faulting them for this…it’s reasonable according to how the world thinks…but I have as my examples now our own Archdiocesan director of Hispanic ministries who is the most Caucasian person you could ever know…a Dominican priest who is blond and pale, fluent in Spanish, and completely loved and accepted because of how he loves them. And then there’s you too. It’s awesome to me that our Catholic faith and liturgy transcends these details.

  7. Msgr, good post. You are definitely not oversimplifying things at all. There was a point in my life I would’ve definitely told you that you were, but not now.

    I was given the memo. I grew up in a medium sized rural town in South Carolina where the lines were clearly delineated. In college my future wife told me I was racist and I thought she was crazy.

    Years later my best friend told me the same thing.

    I can honestly answer that the memo is torn up now, thanks be to God.

  8. There’s an old joke from Northern Ireland, a place where hate reigned for years. A man is walking down the street one night, when, from the shadows, another man jumps out and places a gun to his head. “Are you Catholic or Protestant!?!” he demands. Know that the wrong answer will cost him his life, the man says “I’m Jewish!” “Well” says the gunman, “I’m the luckiest Arab in Belfast tonight!”

    You can swap the religious denominations around any way you want – the point is that in certain places hate is so embedded that the original reasons for it (even if they have some validity) do not matter any more. It takes tremendous courage, will, time, and prayerful intervention to change such evil attitudes.

  9. “Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity.” This is exactly why the Catholic Church in the US has lost 1/3 of those who say they are Catholic not to mention that those who are left rarely profess the Catholic Faith pure and entire. This drivel has been used to socially engineer a pacifist society which will accept anything including bishops who do nothing in the face of rampant immorality and aberrations, and priests who blindly obey such perfidious leaders. The Catholic Encyclopedia says the following about hatred:

    “Hatred in general is a vehement aversion entertained by one person for another, or for something more or less identified with that other. Theologians commonly mention two distinct species of this passion.

    •One is that in which the intense dislike is concentrated primarily on the qualities or attributes of a person, and only secondarily, and as it were derivatively, upon the person himself.
    •The second sort aims directly at the person, indulges a propensity to see what is evil and unlovable in him, feels a fierce satisfaction at anything tending to his discredit, and is keenly desirous that his lot may be an unmixedly hard one, either in general or in this or that specified way.”

    This second kind of hatred, as involving a very direct and absolute violation of the precept of charity, is always sinful and may be grievously so. The first-named species of hatred, in so far as it implies the reprobation of what is actually evil, is not a sin and may even represent a virtuous temper of soul. In other words, not only may I, but I even ought to, hate what is contrary to the moral law. Furthermore one may without sin go so far in the detestation of wrongdoing as to wish that which for its perpetrator is a very well-defined evil, yet under another aspect is a much more signal good. For instance, it would be lawful to pray for the death of a perniciously active heresiarch with a view to putting a stop to his ravages among the Christian people.”

    St. Thomas says the following about love of our enemies: “[Charity] does not require that we should have a special movement of love to every individual man, since this would be impossible. Nevertheless charity does require this, in respect of our being prepared in mind, namely, that we should be ready to love our enemies individually, if the necessity were to occur.” (Summa Qu25, Art. 8-9).

    Did King David not pray thus: “Have I not hated those who hate Thee?” in the Psalms which are exemplary prayers inspired by the Holy Ghost.

    Unless we are willing to hate the enemies of God as such, they will continue to conquer us.

    There is not enough time or space to address the rest of the ambiguous platitudes quoted from the CCC which seek only to reduce Catholicism to a society of spiritual geldings unwilling to fight for Truth and destroy error and evil.

    1. You kind of sound like the people beneath the Cross who tried to tempt our Lord to come down from that cross. Afterall, it would seem by your thinking, Jesus, by accepting death was trying to socially engineer a pacifist society which will accept anything including bishops who do nothing in the face of rampant immorality and aberrations

      Now, lets see…. Peter C says we should “hate the enemies of God”……But Jesus prayed for his enemies, and asked his Father to forgive them, died for love of them (us) and says to us, that we should “love our enemies.”…….Hmm……Who should I listen to…..Peter C or Jesus…?….Oh, what the heck, I think I’ll listen to Jesus!

  10. Thank you for this reflection. Rodgers and Hammerstein endured severe criticism when South Pacific toured in 1949. Within the musical – and it was essentially the theme – was the song, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” which referred to racism. The last verse is:

    “You’ve got to be taught
    Before it’s too late
    Before you are 6 or 7 or 8
    To hate all the people
    your relatives hate
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

    Here is youtube footage of Mandy Patinkin singing this song as Lieut. Cable in a production of South Pacific:


  11. You show an utter contempt for facts. Peter said “have I not hated those who have hated Thee O Lord” You conveniently omitted the fact that Peter was quoting the inspired word of God. Who are we going to believe, Msgr. Pope or the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity?

    From your reply it appears that Peter’s thoroughness was above your grasp.

    There are great saints among the Crusaders. If your line of thought had prevailed we would all now be Moslems. I don’t think that matters much to you but it does to me.

    Pope Blessed Urban II sure did teach those knights to hate. He didn’t use a memo though. I guess the knights would have torn it up if he had. Blessed Urban II Ora Pro Nobis!

    1. You are under pretty serious delusion if you really think that we are commended to hate our enemies in direct contradiction to Jesus’ command that we love them. This isn’t even debatable, it’s Christianity 101. You simply cannot be serious. You might also brush up on Jewish idioms to understand the text you mishandle.

      I am no pacifist and realize that war is sometimes a regrettable reality. I do not utterly condemn the Crusades that there are aspects of them that are regrettable (E.g. sacking of Constantinople and the tensions this introduced between Western and Eastern Christians).

      1. The complete and utter lack of respect for members of the clergy that I see, more and more, from those who, I believe, call themselves Catholics is, for lack of a better word, disgusting. I try to teach my teen daughter that respect and deference to our clergy is a must (anyone else too, but our clergy occupy a special role); if she addressed you in the disrespectful manner that John has done, I think she would be grounded! I am so saddened that so many “adults” haven’t learned the same manners. Thank you, Monsignor, for being willing to stand up to these people who twist the teachings of Our Lord and for not letting them get away with it!

      2. “Our enemies” are not the only enemies in question. But I won’t bother you with any more facts. Your mind is made up.

        If Jesus had spoken the way you speak He would not have been crucified.

        1. Wow, you are greatly misled. Jesus died forgiving and loving his enemies and asking his Father to forgive them. How could you be so confused? Many many prayers for you my friend, you have surely gotten a horrible memo.

          Matt 5:43 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

          Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:15ff)

  12. Fr.
    Your logic is presented in immaculate simplicity. Thank you for this post.

    The product of a pre-WWII, I grew up in a governmentally segregated environment (schools, churches, public businesses, etc.) in rural Texas and could never comprehend the sense of that “memo”.

    And, you, as an ordained religious, are not alone in the personal experience you described in your post. I think you would find a lot of common ground with a Trappist monk in Georgia, even though he is an octogenerian. Check out his latest book, Black Like Licorice, by Fr. Anthony Delisi, O.C.S.O.; published by Monastery of the Holy Spirit (2011); ISBN 978-1-4507-6741-5. What a testimony to the sanctity and beauty of life, regardless of color.

    BTW, may God continue to bless your ministry that WE may continue to be fed with you inspiring, insightful and Spirit-led messages.

    Bob Laird

  13. @Donna at 12:19 p.m.: Thank you for the post. The same example from South Pacific occurred to me. Consider that sometimes a “prophet” emerges in an unexpected place. Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the lyrics for the musical “Showboat”, produced in 1927, as well as South Pacific in 1949. Interesting that both dealt with (among other things) an interracial romance that was not acceptable to many adults in the US culture of the day. IMO Hammerstein was fulfilling the office of a prophet in some of the lyrics he contributed in both musicals. A prophet is supposed to “comfort the afflicted”, and “afflict the comfortable”. Afflicting the comfortable is necessary and appropriate when the comfortable are tolerating evil.
    Sad that the conflict between Serbs and Croats, suspended after WWI in 1919, and inoperative when the tribes in Yugoslavia were more afraid of the USSR than of each other, should resume 70 years later between the G-G-Grandchildren of those who fought in WW I.

  14. Sometimes there isn’t justice in this life or it can take very long. Hopefully Msgr. you will agree that when Jesus commanded us to love our enemies He did not mean that injustices need not be rectified.

    A spouse commits adultery and 50 years later, accompanied by his new partner, smiles at the victimized spouse in Church hoping he/she will let bygones be bygones. The priest blesses the divorce and remarried. What do you think the victimized spouse should think and do?

    A man robs another of valuable property and thereby becomes wealthy. Fifty years have passed and it has become practically impossible for the victim’s family to recover it. Now the thief’s grandchildren, supposedly as an act of “charity” are willing to rent the property to the victim’s grandchildren at a discount, for the latter are poor. Who does the property belong to?

    Somehow I do not think Jesus ever excused injustice. I never read anywhere that after a number of years one should “let go”. Time is absolutely irrelevant to injustice, don’t you think.

    The Catholic Catechism insists on our right to defend ourselves. Do you believe Jesus was in any way opposed to that? If so, why did he question the guard who slapped him in the high priest’s house? John 18: 22-23

    I raise my concerns in good faith and would really appreciate your thoughtful responses. Thank you in advance.

    1. We do need to worry if one has more than one needs while others barely survive. One needs very little. I remember walking down the streets of the historic part of Lima. There was a man there, in his 40’s with no legs, standing on his pelvis, arms stretched out, pleading aloud “for the love of God…” as people walked right by paying no attention whatsoever. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) But what about those who walked right by?

      A few thoughts:

      When the judge his seat attaineth
      and each hidden deed arraigneth
      nothing unavenged reamaineth.

      cf also luke 12:13ff

      Consider also:
      Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, I will repay

      Finally, your last example:
      It’s only money
      Self defense is about life, money is about …..money
      If you have two coats…one belongs to the poor.
      If we were honest we would likely figure we owed more to the poor than the rich ever took from us.
      We have been pardoned more than we have ever been offended.
      We have received more mercy than we have ever experienced injustice.
      We have received more mercy than we have ever shown.
      We have been forgiven more than we ever forgave.
      We have sinned more that we have ever been sinned against.

      Pardon the random nature of these thoughts but I am typing fast.

      In the end the ONLY way you and I will ever stand a chance is with mercy, boatloads of mercy, otherwise you and I are going right to hell.
      God is very holy and he is the standard we must meet. You’re focused on justice…careful, fact is we are going to need mercy, lots of mercy!
      Since we so depend on mercy we had better show it and get out of the vengeance business as fast as we can.

      Tear up the memos EIA tear up the grievances, you can’t take them to heaven with you, there are no grievances, grudges or vendettas in heaven, you can’t take them with you. If you die with them, the best you can expect is purgatory to burn them away.

      Finally, look at this Sunday’s gospel, and leave the vengeance to God.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful responses but I think you have made assumptions that I did not intend.

        I used examples of injustice that might lead to feelings of anger and even hate but I was not thinking of vengeance. There are various degrees of dislike and the intent to avenge is near the bottom.

        One can experience a great injustice and feel the wound for a long time. It is impossible to forget. Furthermore, it is impossible to act towards the unrepentant party as if they had repented. Nor do I believe one should. But that is prudence, not vengeance or hate.

        Furthermore I believe one is obligated to help protect those who may be within the reach of the guilty party by explaining the danger they face.

        In the case of the remarried after divorce that is the opposite of what some priests do when they even bless the illegitimately “remarried” possibly even in the presence of the true spouse. The former are prohibited from receiving the Eucharist but they can nevertheless be blessed. Why are they blessed? Do priests bless unrepentant sinners when they are unable to absolve them? Pray for them, yes. That is what priests ought to do for the divorce and remarried when they come for a public blessing. But bless them?

        With regard to your distinction between life and money I obviously would agree ontologically but not pragmatically. Consider what it would be like to be without any money, assets or any source or means of financial support in almost all societies? Isn’t it immediate or accelerated death by malnutrition, starvation, murder, disease, etc. That needs defending against in this life and money is required in most societies, don’t you think?

  15. My father, born in 1913, did not embrace the civil rights movement of the sixties. He was a good man, devoted to his family, always stressed honesty and integrity to me and my sister. I never really understood his opposition to civil rights since it was so unlike him in all other areas of his life. It was only after his death, that so many of his friends, all black, stopped by our house to tell us how much my Daddy had encouraged them by listening to them when they had stopped to talk to him, or were grateful for the dollar or two he had given them when they were broke. He liked…no…loved the individuals he knew personally, but did not care much for the race. Or perhaps he did not like what he perceived was being forced upon him and his way of life. The fact that there so many black men who went out of their way to tell us how much they cared for my Dad made me realize that his words and his actions were very far apart. We so often reflect what the prevailing thoughts of our culture are, not what we really believe. The people in the south loved black people as individuals and thought less of them as a race. The people in the North loved black people as a race but thought less of them as individuals. That is a only a generalization and certainly is not true in every situation. Still, I think there was a lot of needless pain, disruption, and turmoil caused by the civil rights movement. Could the good have been accomplished by other means? Perhaps, but it would have taken another generation to accomplish what was good and right. If civil rights had not been forced upon us, would it have come at all?

    I would like to think that it would have, but I have no way of knowing. The way it is was done has left us, at least those who lived through it, with many conflicting thoughts and emotions. Unfortunately, the people who should have most benefited have been hurt the most. Families have been destroyed by welfare rules, we have all, black and white, been diminished by superficial and unrealistic rules and regulations.

    The Church and all it teaches does have all the answers, but we are so afraid of trusting God and His Church. We have mightily tried all that human wisdom can do and it has all failed miserably. Human beings are a lot like my Dad, hateful on the outside, but loving on the inside. May we all be what God intended us to be. How simple, but how difficult for us.

  16. Two quick family stories here from my Dad. Born in 1917 to a coal mining immigrant father in Frackville PA, Dad grew up in a 100% white town. There were Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox and probably a few Jews but no blacks. When my Dad was around twelve, the railroad moved a black porter and his family into the town and housed him in a shack by the station. One night my Grandfather took my Dad down to the station where a large group of men (some robed in white) had gathered. They were having a good old time for themselves and after a while shooting their mouths off wasn’t enough. It became time to shoot the guns off. They riddled the house with bullets. The Sheriff and his deputies were standing around to make sure things never got out of hand (lynchings I guess). Nobody got killed but that porter and his wife and kids were out of that town at dawn. As they left the scene, my grandfather, who did not live long enough for me to meet, turned to my Father and said, ” What you just saw was wrong. This is why I left Russia, learn from what you saw.” The second story occurred in 1942 at March Field CA. Dad and his unit were being trained adjacent to a segregated, all black unit. Someone in that unit had done something wrong, who knows what but their white NCO’s decided the whole unit deserved punishment. One morning there they were, in full field gear, packs and rifles ready for a twenty mile march with bare feet and no boots! My Dad told me he never would forget that, how man can treat other men just because of a physical difference. The occasion for this little lecture to me was the very first time I came home and used the N word. I was probably about twelve, the same age as my Dad was and was using the word because some of my friends had but, that was the last time I ever used it. There was no yelling, hollering, nor hitting, just a little story that made me so proud of my Dad and his Father and made me want to be like them. When years later, I became the father of three sons, after my Father had passed away I waited until just the right time to tell my boys the stories. Twenty years later I think they have had the desired effect.

    I had seen “Fiddler on the Roof” when it first came out and urged my father to see it. He did and was more than annoyed with me. Seems it hit too close to home to stories he had heard from his father. Right after that I had started working with a young woman whose own grandparents had immigrated from the same general area of Russia as mine did. Being totally unaware of her own cultural background (she was Jewish) she once wondered out loud if our great grandparents might have known each other. I know it was not nice but impishly answered her by saying. “it’s possible, my great grandfather may have led a pogrom against yours”. That’s the way it was in the old country. Those are the hates we all should have left behind but didn’t. We invented new ones here.

    Another thing that that wise old Dad of mine, the guy with the 10th grade education once said was that it would be so hard for poor white sharecropper southerners ever to give up their prejudice because being white was about the only thing that they had to differentiate themselves from their poor black sharecropper neighbors.

  17. Wonderful article Monsignor. I hope you don’t mind if I use it in my CCD class.

  18. Msgr,

    I really enjoy your articles. I think you made a slight mistake with Rwanda though: The Hutus tried to commit genocide on the Tutsis. I believe you have in reverse.

    God bless you and your readers and may your ministry be fruitful!

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