Sunday, March 28, 2010


God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life. Jn 3:16

s we approach the celebration of conquered death, Christ’s Resurrection at Easter, contemplate the nonviolent love and mercy of God vanquishing the mythology of violence-inflicted as the way to redemption. The myth of justified lawful lethal violence is dispelled. Violence endured and transcended triumphs. Our hope, caught in the terrible trap of these ongoing wars, and a million abortions per year, lies in Jesus’ dying request, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Leon Ferrari's sculpture of Christ crucified on a US fighter jet.

[Now morphed into a Predator Drone--instrument of execution]

This season is a perfect time for new reflection, a new respect for life. For the Christian the message about justified lethal violence begins with common sense, and then transcends. You can’t teach that killing people is wrong, by killing people. It’s counter intuitive. Even a small child knows. “Daddy, if a bad man is so bad that he’s killed somebody, why do we punish him by killing him?” The flat adult answer would be, “That is how governments do things. They believe you can protect the lives of others by killing people if you need to.” This answer serves to justify lethal violence for governments and concurring churches, across the board—in our prisons, in fighting our wars, and in abortion clinics. “In God we trust,” is proclaimed, but we reserve the right to kill, in God’s name or feeling we act with God’s approval, if God doesn’t seem to be doing the job, and if our lives are too threatened or inconvenienced.

To welcome the Redeemer, to fully experience the power of God’s saving grace, we must relinquish our grip on the power of violent means. In order for the mind to release the will to kill, the hand must also relinquish the gun and the abortion machine. Or they remain constant reminders and temptations of this power to take human life, that we think a necessary part of our nature.

rom the series , Boldly Like God, Go Against the Swords, by Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy:
One of the great anti-abortion advocates of our time, one of the great Christians of our time, one of the great people of our time is Mother Teresa. Eileen Eagen[who lived and worked with her], says this: “Once I heard the religious editor of an international magazine ask mother Teresa if the taking of human life was ever justified—whether by abortion or even by war. She shook her head in the negative. He continued, ‘But your Church teaches that there can be a just war.’ Her response was, ‘ I can’t understand it.’ The interviewer mistakenly insisted, ‘But Catholics have to believe in that teaching.’ Mother Teresa looked at him sharply and retorted with a question, ‘Am I not a Catholic?’ She simply sees the presence of God in the unwanted, in the unborn, and in the enemy.”

In two months the United Nations will again consider a real commitment to nuclear disarmament and the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It will take 67 votes in the Senate to ratify the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty negotiated yesterday with Russia. Pray that we’ll have the wisdom to put away the nuclear sword.

“The taproot of violence in our society today is our intent to use nuclear weapons. Once we have agreed to that, all other evil is minor in comparison. Until we squarely face the question of our consent to use nuclear weapons, any hope of large scale improvement of public morality is doomed to failure.” --Richard T. McSorley, S. J. [taught at Georgetown University, died 10-17-02, family friend of the J.F.Ks, and my daughter Maura]

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

Sunday, March 21, 2010


The new system for a “virtual fence” all along the borders we have with Canada {4000 miles} and Mexico {2000 miles} has just been put on hold. The Government Accounting Office announced last week that it still doesn’t work. This is the second time the prototype on the Mexican border, built and rebuilt by Boeing at billions of dollars, has been judged inadequate.1

We have started constructing the towers for the same type of system along our Northern borders right here in St. Clair County [11 towers planned along the 37 miles of the St. Clair River, to cost $20-30 million]. What didn’t work in the south {see below} was sent to the north to be further tweaked north & south, and to keep the defense contract running for Boeing. The Times Herald announced this on April 2, 2009 with the headline, “Border patrol to get cameras.” The WSJ was more specific the day before, “U.S. Plans ‘Virtual Fence’ to assess Canada Border.”2 {And how to extend a “fence” up the middle of Lake Huron?}

Both papers should have included “April Fools,” in parenthesis. On March 17, 2010 Homeland Security announced funding for the Secure Border Initiative [presumably both north & south] frozen. The GAO says what didn’t work 3 years ago, continues ineffective despite redesigns. With the luck of the Irish, perhaps this wasteful project will never be resurrected.
AP/Arizona Daily Star, David Sanders
A 98-foot 'virtual fence' tower laden with radar, sensors and sophisticated cameras west of Arivaca, Ariz.

TUCSON, Arizona — The government will replace its highly touted "virtual fence" on the Arizona-Mexico border with new towers, radars, cameras and computer software, scrapping the brand-new $20 million system because it doesn't work sufficiently, officials said. The move comes just two months after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff officially accepted the completed fence from The Boeing Co. AP story 4-23-08

Tower at St. Clair, MI, installed at north end of their riverfront Palmer Park--Photo by Joe Crowley

The most disheartening aspect of this whole thing is the mentality that it expresses--that we can somehow wall ourselves off from the rest of the world. It is the opposite perspective of that which has made this country great, “Give me your tired, poor, those yearning to be free!” Immigration and not Homeland Securitization is who we are as a people. We come from every country on the planet, and although the journey was often difficult, few of our ancestors scrabbled through fences to enter the USA. They were given varied levels of welcome. Immigrants were needed. They still are. Great are the contributions they make to our society.

Though most of the Mexican American migrant farm workers that move through the Midwest have been more native than any of the majority white population [their people lived in Texas before it existed], their experience has been the same discrimination as that faced by many immigrants.

Much of the activism I’ve been able to muster through my life has been a gift of the migrants of Carrizo Springs, and Crystal City, Texas, towns south of San Antonio, who would come each year to work the fields of St. Clair and Sanilac counties. Working with them for four summers during my college years, blistered my hands and opened my eyes. Initially a church outreach worker, I was invited in to live in their camps, working alongside them and their children in the fields. Blessed by the hospitality, there began in me the real experience of being brothers and sisters all, and a commission to help make the world a more just and peaceful place.

Photo by Larry Towell*

From a letter to the church by the Catholic bishops of Nebraska in 2006 we are given timeless advice:
The Word of God reminds us that we are all strangers and guests in the world. We are all
pilgrims on the way to our lasting home with God. Recall the command which God gives us in the Book of Leviticus:
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger
who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as
yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God (Lv 19:33-34).

They then recommend:
First of all, the Church urges reform of our immigration laws which leave so many in the
shadows of unauthorized immigration and have resulted in the loss of life for many who were
honestly searching for a life with a future and a secure home. The shadows of unauthorized
immigration sadly provide ample place for the exploitation of brothers and sisters in their great need of our help.

It is time and past time for comprehensive just and merciful immigration reform. El pueblo esta marchando una otra vez este fin de semana. The people are marching again this weekend. Let’s support them in whatever way we can. More follows--for study, prayer, action.

Jesus was an immigrant.

March 18, 2010
Dear Michael,
Last week, Pax Christi USA joined the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in calling on the Obama administration to suspend immigration enforcement during the 2010 Census. This weekend, on Sunday, March 21, we'll be joining Pax Christi members and thousands of others from around the nation in the "March for America: Change Takes Courage," hoping to push our leadership toward just and compassionate immigration reform in 2010.
Immigration continues to spark intense debate in the U.S. Since the failure of Congress to enact any immigration reform in 2007, it has become even more urgent to promote and push immigration reform to our representatives in government. We stand at a new moment for immigration - we can advocate for and support a new immigration reform bill while also countering negative stereotypes and categorizations of those who have immigrated to our country.
We invite you to pray for our immigrant brothers and sisters, both those living in our own country and around the world; to reflect on the need for just reform in our immigration system; and to take action to promote and agitate for long-needed reform.

In peace,
Beth Kenyon
Program Associate, Pax Christi USA

RAYER: A Prayer for the Immigrant
(Written and offered by the students of the Latin American Student Association at Azusa Pacific University)

God of Cultures, we pray for the millions of immigrants who are living around the world in countries that may be hostile to "strangers." Teach us to look beyond the borders of the nation and city in which we live.

God of the Poor, we pray that immigrant families and especially children who have restricted access to shelter, food, health care, and education would cease to be marginalized by the systems in which they live and instead be treated with dignity. We pray that they would be provided with covering shelter, nourishing food, sustaining health, and a nurturing education.

For more of this information and what you can do, please contact Beth Kenyon and ask her to send you the complete March 18th
Pax Christi USA - Rapid Response - Immigration reform now!

Link to support effort for Rep. Luis Gutierrez’ bill on immigration reform:

*Child with cucumber baskets. Mennonite German immigrants to Canada to Ontario became family farmer migrants, working the fields of both Canada and Mexico.



Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Saturday, March 13, 2010



Healthcare reform is on the horizon this week, still struggling in Congress, just out of reach. On the other hand, the need for great sums of money to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to continue to bolster our nuclear weapons arsenal, goes virtually unquestioned by Congress and the press. There are a few voices striving to be heard, that we should completely end these wars, and move at this May’s Non-Proliferation Treaty negotiations, towards making fully practical Obama’s April 2009 call to eliminate all nuclear weapons. 1,2 Yet there is tremendous outcry against any reform of our exorbitantly expensive healthcare system that would make it more accessible to those in need. It seems to be easier to care for our bombs, than to care for our people. We rank national military security high above national health care.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Martin Luther King, April 4,1967

The military, and health, have both become industries. Huge profits are being made by large private corporations, off of both public needs.

ost of the dollars that we send to health insurance companies do not stay there for our healthcare. They are re-invested--sent to the stock market, and large financial corporations like AIG [the largest recipient of a government bailout in U.S. history], to be wagered for bigger profits. The recent collapse of international financial institutions, has also damaged our nation’s health systems.3 Medicare, and public option plans, do not carry these investment, risk-based, liabilities. Having to make more and more money for corporate shareholders has lead health companies to take greater and greater risks with their pools of our premium dollars. They have been stretching and expanding their investment returns.

Another way they measure success is by medical loss ratio. Defined: cost ratio of total benefits paid out, compared to premium revenues received. As well described by a former top executive of Cigna in a Bill Moyers interview 4, health companies, now dominated by the for-profit model work hard to keep this medical loss ratio as low as possible. Traditionally .95 [95%] of premium dollars eventually spent on actual health service, was felt a good number, 5% retained for administration and profit. In the past 20 years, since the Clintons attempted reform, this 5% has tripled, with .80 or below now the industry objective.

This is an updated version of my letter published in the Michigan Catholic, the Detroit Diocesan newspaper.

November 8, 2009

Dear Michigan Catholic Editor Marylynn Hewitt,

As we see healthcare reform legislation, which has been much discussed in these pages, struggling to make its way through Congress, we need to address manufactured misconceptions.

There is a problem of perspective. The critics of healthcare reform, a chorus of nay-sayers and foot draggers, such as my Representative Candice Miller [who voted against the barely passed House bill this past weekend], all are certain to have adequate healthcare resources themselves. In this richest of countries, they begrudge it for the rest. At this time in the life of our country, it might be well for us all to read and contemplate Matt 25: 31-46. [Last Judgement portrayed: eternal importance of what you did, or didn’t do, for the least of your brethren.]

n important consideration for Right to Life Christians: abortion will not be increased by an “Obamacare” bill, contrary to the claims of many who would obstruct health insurance reform.* It is also good to recognize that most of us already buy private health insurance through our employers, from insurance companies that do pay for abortion as part of their available policies. Policies are purchased for us, from companies that fund abortions. Adding to the irony of mistaken campaigns, most abortions in the U.S. are paid for cash out of pocket anyway, without recourse to government or private insurance. [Despite having coverage many apparently don’t submit claims.**] This issue is one of many smoke screens enflamed to protect the profits of some of the biggest players in our monolithic private health industry.***

I’ve been a Physician Assistant and provided health care for over 30 years, in both public and private funded clinics. Medicare has been consistently respected by doctors and patients in these different clinic models. We should deep-six Medicaid, which discriminates against the poor, by paying medical costs so poorly. Make Medicare, fully funded, the public option, available for all ages and incomes. A nation that can spend hundreds of billions for fancy fighter jets and nuclear weapons, and tolerates a million plus abortions per year, but can’t pay to care for its citizens’ health, is physically sick and spiritually, needs to be put on life support.

As I approach retirement I’m searching for a health insurance company that doesn’t cover abortion. They’re very hard to find. I eagerly await the day when I might be able to buy morally responsible health insurance, as well as the life insurance I have already, from my local Knights of Columbus Council.

Yours truly,
Michael McCarthy PA-C,
Member of Blue Water Pax Christi, St. Clair County Right to Life,
Knights of Columbus Council 11756
Port Huron, MI 48060

*For an in depth discussion of the legislative details by a health law expert, please see

Guttmacher Institute, while pro-choice, is used by National Right to Life, because of its credible statistics.

***See number 4 below. Referenced interview has an excellent discussion of how health companies are spending great sums on media and politicians, to stop reform.

A personal addendum to this piece is that neither I nor my wife has yet found a good moral health insurance company that offers a “catastrophic” backup to our health savings account at a justifiable price. Almost struck a deal with Golden Rule health insurance [the only health insurance I can find that does not cover abortions] of Indianapolis, IN, but their computers unilaterally raised the monthly premium by $7 each of the three weeks in which we were in negotiations to finalize the policy. Their agents were not able to correct these problems. So much trouble at the point of their trying to sell me insurance, led me to think that getting them to pay out for any future major unexpected health costs, might be even more difficult. Ande could be getting a low budget BCBS policy through her work at VNA.

But as of yet, we remain amongst the “uninsured” self-insured, until 3 to 5 years down the line when we can join with the public option Medicare—or sooner on the slim chance that Obama’s reform passes with a public option included. This is coverage where our relatively good health, will be pooled with those less blessed, and our dollars spent on premiums will go to the health of the community, rather than the profits of a health corporation. Having both worked over 30 years in healthcare, we realize the nature of the system, its plus and minuses, the financial risks and idiosyncrasies. Ande says health insurance equals bankruptcy insurance. It certainly has become in our country, more about money, and less about health.

Health, and long life to you
Land without rent to you
The partner of your heart to you
and when you die, may your bones rest in Ireland!

1. Good resource for ongoing efforts to end the war in Afghanistan

2. A Pax Christi campaign to achieve real lasting and complete nuclear disarmament, in the President's upcoming Nuclear Posture Review And please email Johnny Zokovich [] , ask how you might take part.

3. For an eye opening report on the financial status our Michgan health system by Michigan BCBS, in their own words, please go to their annual report:
Click on “2008 Consolidated Financial Statements,” then on “Discussion of Financial Results.”

4. A very informative video interview from July 2009 of Wendell Potter by Bill Moyers. An insider's look at the heath insurance industry. And for an update return interview--

We are approaching the seventh anniversary of our war of occupation in Iraq. Let us remember the need to declare this March 19th date: Unjust War Remembrance Day. [see Feb 2010 posting]

May the Lord bless and keep you.
May he shine his light upon you,
And be gracious to you,
And give you his peace.

Illuminations created by Kathy Brahney

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Today’s Gospel passage [Luke 13:1-9] tells of murders by an occupying government, a disastrous building project in Siloam, and a barren fig tree [symbol of our leaders]. The reaction of Jesus to the provocative, designed to entrap, news stories is stern, focused, and beyond politics—for all of us—repent, change your heart, change your direction.

From Luke: A tower falls killing 18 in Siloam {every day in Bagdad, today 38 on Election Day*}. Iraq is a series of incessant catastrophes. If one reads the NYT, AP stories, and listens to NPR news, every day there will be more violent deaths in Iraq. Who is to blame? Many insurgents, criminals, factions, and U.S. forces, have been involved. We must leave and soon. This election in Iraq had the largest turnout ever, in an apparently credible voting process, despite 100 blasts from bombs and rockets. Iraqis were undeterred. They know that a successful election is a condition for our leaving—and they dearly want us to leave.

What follows is from a series I could title: Unpublished Letters to the WSJ
{There are many, though one did make it in.}

July 8, 2008
Dear Editors of the Wall Street Journal,

A picture is worth a thousand words. The one that accompanies “Why We Went to War in Iraq,” Doug Feith’s 7-03-08 WSJ editorial**, is a classic, a mass grave of Saddam’s Shiite victims in Hillah, a skull still wearing its headscarf. Its vacant stare should be a reminder of the futility of war [was this the remnant of one of those who answered the call of the first President Bush to rise up against Saddam?].

The photo was apparently taken in 2003 {WSJ does not specify} at grave excavation. The massacre at Hillah was of Shiites by Saddam's forces, occuring on 3-6-1991 just weeks after we'd won the Gulf War.

Instead, the photo's apparent intent is to solidify Mr. Feith’s [formerly one of Donald Rumsfield’s DoD war planners] contention that President Bush’s decision to launch the current war in Iraq was a good and necessary thing. Yes, Saddam was ruthless. This picture is indeed a picture of evil. Evil we tolerated until the world’s oil supply became too scarce. Such pictures are meant to invoke the wrath of indignation which will keep the flames of justified war brightly burning. Blood of martyrs and dried bones used to keep the violence coming, this time from our side.

To bring us up to date, this could have been a picture of Saddam hanging, or of any number of the 650,000 [last reputably studied in 2006] now possible 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians killed, or the more than 4500 U.S. soldiers killed, or Palestinian insurgents blasted from a helicopter or an overturned Israeli bus--more senselessly dead in road and marketplace. We have a surplus of villains and victims in the Middle East, and points West. To fit the article's title best, to be most accurate, the picture should have been an oil well in the desert sand. Some day the two collaborators from Texas, the ex-President and the ex-Vice-President, may tell us the rest of the story, detailing their pre-Iraq War deliberations.

Where are the Ezekiel’s when you need them, to put flesh back on, and new life in, all these dried boned casualties? We need more prophetic Ezekiels, and less pompous well paid politicians & newspaper publishers, in the seats of power Middle East and West.

Yours truly,
Michael McCarthy PA-C

Though written at a time nuclear war was at the door, Merton’s Prayer for Peace is just as pertinent now, with our War Without End on Terror courting similar eventual disaster. There follows an excerpt of this prayer read to Congress on April 12, 1962. [Found at the end of the book, Passion for Peace, by Thomas Merton]

lmighty and merciful God…You have witnessed the impious fury of ten thousand fratricidal wars, in which great powers have torn whole continents to shreds in the name of peace and justice.
And now our nation itself stands in imminent danger of a war the like of which has never been seen!
This nation dedicated to freedom, not to power,
Has obtained, through freedom, a power it did not desire.
And seeking by that power to defend its freedom, it is enslaved by the processes and policies of power.



Thank you to Kathy Brahney for illumination.

Locally: This week's Free Film Series
To be held this year at the Palmer Park Recreation Center, 2829 Armour St., from 7:00pm to 9pm

Tuesday Mar. 9th The Reluctant Prophet The story of a Fenton, MI priest who was the chaplain for the Enola Gay flight crew, that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima. With time and study, prayer and reflection, he came to regret that action, and led the rest of his life traveling and preaching for reconciliation and nonviolence. Vanunu A short BBC documentary on the development of the nuclear bomb in Israel in the 80’s, and the Israeli man who disclosed the truth, and then was put in solitary confinement for more than a decade. Even now released, he continues under virtual house arrest to this day.