Don’t be holier than the pope
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the official domestic anti-poverty agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, works to break the cycle of poverty by helping people help themselves. It has been doing good deeds for more than four decades. It has also been the subject of repeated criticism by those who say the agency does not directly help the poor and works for social change. The most recent criticisms focus on the agency's grants made to coalitions, not all of whose member organizations support all Catholic positions on social issues.
The past worries about parenting turned into joy
Before we had children, my husband was deeply worried about whether he would be a good father. It is the biggest responsibility to bring a person into the world: to raise, guide, nurture and love him or her. As an only child who majored in industrial engineering modeling and estimating complex systems, David thought the "learn as you go" approach was laden with opportunities for mistakes. I, who came from a family of six children, assured him that children are resilient; they don't need perfect parents, just sensible ones.
Battle lines of conscience protection run through Pa.
For 50 years, the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association (PCHA) has defended conscience rights for individuals and Catholic health care institutions. Its many victories are worth celebrating, but the fight to defend religious liberty rages on. The battle lines of freedom remain the same – defending the boundaries where the government cannot interfere with religious conscience.
Immigration: A Catholic matter
When 11-year-old Sebastian De La Cruz sang the national anthem at Game 3 of the NBA playoffs June 13 between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, the reaction by people on Twitter to his appearance and talent was venomous. People assume that Sebastian De La Cruz is Mexican from Mexico, but he was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. As one can see, the debate on immigration is often wrought with misunderstandings, fear, misconceptions and even hatred.
Humans: Trash or treasure?
A good understanding of the principle of human dignity can be found in examples from new technology. Or from the straight talk of Pope Francis. Both can be equally effective. "We have begun this culture of disposal where human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods, which can be used and thrown away," the pope said in a meeting with diplomats. Two recent magazine articles demonstrated how technology can lead to either the commoditization of humans or to celebrating their individuality.
Caring for a family member is a blessing and benefit
Washington, D.C., where I live, is a government town, and reminders of this fact crop up in places you might not expect. Many cities run ads in their transit systems for consumer goods and services. The ones in the Washington Metro often focus instead on advocacy and policy. I noticed one this month decrying cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. "Today you're an accountant," it reads. "Tomorrow you're dad's nurse. Further cuts to Medicaid and Medicare will impact 78 percent of post-acute and skilled nursing care patients. We have a solution."
Music education: The lessons that keep on giving
On May 3, The Rolling Stones, whose average age is 68, kicked off the band's "50 and Counting" tour at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. A few days earlier, I had attended an end-of-the-year recital hosted by a friend. It featured his piano students, whose collective age is much younger (the youngest performer was 5). Both events showcased the enduring power of all kinds of music and music education at all ages. There is an ever-growing body of scientific research finding intriguing connections between music and how it can enhance brain health, reduce blood pressure and provide a challenging way to make one's older years inspiring and fulfilling.
Freedom of expression also comes with responsibility
Nothing we do is private. In a world where our every movement is tracked, it's best to assume that anything we do can be known by anybody at the touch of a button. Recently, many have expressed concern about the news that the government required a certain company to provide records of customer phone calls and has made efforts to track email, video and voice chats, file transfers and other personal information.
Making family memories this summer
I'm not surprised that this summer is bringing back many memories of times when our three children were younger. This is the first one since their mom, my wife Monica, died last winter. What surprises me, but shouldn't, was how wise she was about making family memories. She was the one who realized how precious and fleeting these moments become, and how important it is to spend time together and take advantage of each summer.
Drones: Effective, accurate but moral?
President Barack Obama's speech in which he presented his long-awaited policy for use of drones in targeted strikes has shifted the focus from the policy to how well it may be observed and enforced. The president, in a May 23 speech to the National Defense University, said the new policy will restrict how and when the U.S. will launch targeted drone strikes as part of counterterrorism activities to target only imminent threats and limit civilian casualties.