It’s Election time again and that means for us in AZ: Ballot Propositions. Arizona law makes it rather easy to get a Proposition on the Ballot for Voter approval/disapproval but at the same time makes it very difficult to change, refine or tweak Voter Approved Ballot Propositions. If there are unintended consequences or problems with a Voter Approved Proposition it is a real heavy lift for the legislature to make any changes, requiring a 75% majority in both Houses.
Case in point Proposition 207, not the current Proposition on the Ballot but Prop 207 that was Voter approved in 2006. That Proposition greatly restricted municipalities ability to change zoning requirements to prevent or restrict private development. For us in Tempe, this is now becoming a challenge.READ MORE
G.K Chesterton once famously advised against removing what may look like a needless fence until you know why it was put there in the first place. Case in point is the argument over conscience rights or conscientious objection. This long held moral principle states that a person has a right to refuse, based on their sincerely held beliefs to perform or participate in certain actions that they deem morally repugnant, harmful or a violation of their conscience. The classic example is fighting in a war.
More recently the issue of conscience rights has surfaced in regards to medical providers who refuse to participate in certain non-therapeutic medical procedures that they deem immoral or harmful actions such as abortion or sex reassignment surgery. On the other side the argument is that there is no individual right to refuse to provide a procedure when requested by a patient. Seems like they are willing to remove a fence without considering the implications.READ MORE
The Catholic Bishops of Arizona have taken a position against Prop 207 (The legalization of recreational use marijuana and hashish in AZ). They ask us as Catholics and faithful citizens to consider the harmful effects that passage of Prop 207 would bring to our young people and our communities in general. The harm is not theoretical or hypothetical but is based on the experience of US states that have legalized recreational marijuana as well as the increased use of marijuana in AZ since the legalization of medical marijuana.READ MORE
ACB had been nominated to fill the seat occupied by the late RBG. There are two things I find curious about this nomination. If Judge Barrett is seated on the Court, then six of the nine Justices will be Catholic (Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh, Sotomayor). Considering that Catholics make up about a little less than a quarter of the population of the US that would mean that Catholics are way overrepresented on the High Court. How did that happen? Luck of the draw? Were they all just in the right place at the right time? Social Darwinism? Catholic Karma? Is the Pope giving orders to the various Presidents? Or do non-Catholic Presidents have a thing for Catholic justices? Are Catholics just better at jurisprudence than everyone else?READ MORE
We all know about the price of war, the blood spilled and the treasure spent but what about the price of peace? While many would argue that the price of war is way too high, particularly endless wars in the Middle East and elsewhere, others argue the price of peace is just too costly.
Recently the Washington Post reported that much of the $1 Billion CARES ACT funding allotted to the Pentagon to combat COVID-19 was diverted to defense contractors for military supplies and not to bolstering the country’s supplies of medical and PPE equipment. You might argue this is just another example of mismanagement of taxpayer money. But it’s more than that.READ MORE
Since the previous ballot proposition for medical marijuana passed several years ago, many of you obviously voted in favor of it. You did so, I imagine since much of the campaigning was designed to pull on your heart strings and elicit your compassion, not that you yourself intended to make use of it. So, you reasoned, “if someone can be helped by using marijuana and receive relief for a medical condition, who am I am to stand in the way?”. At this point some of you still hold to that position, others may have changed your minds seeing that medical marijuana has caused more problems than it solved.READ MORE
Today’s readings are all about relationships. Among the many lessons we have learned from the global pandemic is the deep importance of the relationships and communities in our lives. Our families, neighbors, friends and parish family need us, and we need them to be our best selves.
St. Paul gives us simple instruction in our second reading from Romans to guide us in our dealings with others, reminding us what Christ Himself taught: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the overarching principal that guides us to be good stewards of our relationships.
In our Gospel passage from Matthew, Jesus further refines this instruction on good stewardship of our relationships, even when they involve conflict. He says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.”READ MORE
My letter of 05/31/20 was entitled, “Fear Factor” and it was all about some of the fears that were being hawked by the hucksters of fear regarding the coronavirus. So, let’s see how those Fear Factors are holding up.
I listed as Fear Factor #1: asymptomatic people can transmit the virus. Of course, with that assumption we would need to fear just about everyone. Of the six million people in the US who tested positive, how many actually got sick? We’re not given that information. But this past week the CDC announced a change in its testing policy, namely that not everyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 needs to be tested but only those who have symptoms of the virus. Why the change? Large numbers of people who test positive for the virus never develop symptoms and never get sick from the virus. The reason for this is that the PCR test can detect very small levels of the virus, levels that are insufficient to make a person sick or be a transmitter of the virus. In order to transmit the virus a person needs a certain level or viral load. This is similar to the way the TB testing works. If you get the prong test for TB and it shows a positive result, it does not mean that you have TB but rather that you were exposed to TB, further testing is needed to diagnose if a person actually has the disease. For COVID-19, the newer rapid tests require a much higher viral load and will most likely, more accurately diagnose those who have the disease as opposed to those who were merely exposed. Think of it this way, sometimes you feel like you are getting a cold but you never develop symptoms. Most likely you had a low level of the virus and your immune system stopped it in its tracks. The same thing seems to be happening with this version of coronavirus. With this change in testing protocols, the CDC seems to be tacitly admitting that asymptomatic people don't transmit the virus.READ MORE