Mosul Minus Christians

08-31-2014Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

The existence of Christian communities in the Middle East and elsewhere has become more and more precarious and now in many places in Iraq there are no longer any Christian communities. This is a stunning development as these communities were able to survive the ups and downs of history for over 1600 years. What does that say about our age?

The Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Archbishop Amel Nona (the Chaldean Catholics are one of the branches of the Catholic family and one of the most ancient) said this recently:

Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.

Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles. You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.


Solutions without Problems

08-24-2014Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

You probably have noticed the sprouting of signs urging you to vote in the upcoming Primary/Special Election in Tempe on August 26. I certainly urge you to be a faithful citizen and cast your ballot. The Center for Arizona Policy has a voter's guide that you can download at to help you gather some info on the candidates and other issues that are on the ballot as they relate to issues important to people of faith.

Most of us receive lots of postcards in the mail asking us to support this or that candidate. But one caught my eye; it was from the Mayor and two Tempe Council members urging me to vote YES on Prop 475 so that we "keep Moving Tempe forward" and "strengthen our great reputation". This ballot proposition amends the City Charter. Amending a City charter or a constitution is usually a pretty serious matter, which got my attention, so I was curious as to what Prop 475 is all about.

Here's the exact Ballot Proposition (the old language has a strike through it and the new language is in caps): "No person shall be appointed to, removed from, favored in any way or discriminated against with respect to any city position because of race, sex, political or religious affiliation, COLOR, GENDER, GENDER IDENTITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, RELIGION, NATIONAL ORIGIN, FAMILIAL STATUS, AGE, POLITICAL AFFILIATION, DISABILITY, OR UNITED STATES MILITARY VETERAN STATUS, EXCEPT AS SUCH FAVOR MAY BE AUTHORIZED BY LAW."


Back to School

08-17-2014Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Well, it's back to school for one and for all. The young ones start school for the first time, others are making their way through the various grades, some are finishing their last semesters, others are matriculating through college or university and the rest of us can enroll in our new Bible Class here at Mt. Carmel.
As I look across the educational landscape I see that All Sex University, colloquially known as ASU is listed as the campus with the most STD's, and that's not an academic degree. I wonder if that is included in the In-State Tuition Rate or is it just a free extra? Incidentally the same University is rated as the 4th most Promiscuous College in the US. I guess they will have to try harder to earn the numero uno spot. While I'm not sure how those ratings are had (, but sadly they don't really surprise me.

But for those students who may not be interested in getting an STD there are some good alternatives. The ASU Newman Center has a new building and some great programs for students. Also St. Paul Outreach continues to operate on campus a Women's House and a Men's House for students who want to live in a faith inspired environment. SPO also has lots of outreach to the larger campus.

I also see that some elementary school students at one school in Washington, DC are going to learn a new lesson called "Equity, Inclusion, and Caring" better know as Reality Denial. Apparently when they return to school one teacher, Mr. Robert Reuter will now be Ms. Rebecca Reuter. I wonder what will happen when a 10yr old boy blurts out, "that's not a woman it's a man dressed as a girl". Will he be disciplined, suspended, sent to sensitivity training? Children are taught that when an adult makes them feel "creepy" they should tell another adult since this could be a sign of an abuser. How will this one be handled? This lesson in "subtle and explicit gender identities" subverts common sense. We will not be teaching this lesson at our school. (


Not the Child I Want

08-10-2014Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Last time I checked there were 30 ways to make a baby these days. The "birds and the bees" talk obviously takes a lot longer. One of the more recent ways to have a child is through commercial surrogacy. That is when a couple pays to "rent a womb" of a third party to "gestate" a child and then by contract to give that child to the paying couple. This arrangement is fraught with problems and unfortunately reduces a child to a commodity.

There has been an explosion of "Surrogacy Agencies" for couples that can't or won't have a child. This represents the worst kind of entrepreneurial capitalism. Recently, the Washington Post reported that in one such arrangement the biological parents refused to accept one of the twins born of the surrogate or "gestational carrier". As the Post reported:

A Thai surrogate mother said Sunday that she was not angry with the Australian biological parents who left behind a baby boy born with Down syndrome, and hoped that the family would take care of the boy's twin sister they took with them. Pattaramon Chanbua, a 21-year-old food vendor in Thailand's seaside town of Sri Racha, has had to take a break from her job to take care of her 7-month-old surrogate baby, named "Gammy," who also has a congenital heart condition. The boy, with blond hair and dark brown eyes, is now being treated in a hospital for infection in his lungs.

The view that this Australian couple had was more akin to manufacturing a child and since one was defective they simply returned the merchandise. This sad situation also underlines one of the elitist cultural values that is pervading our society: "I have a right to a child and to the kind of child I want". Seeing a child as a gift, the fruit of love seems so blasé these days.


No Need to Execute

08-03-2014Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

How long should it take to die, or more precisely how long is too long? That is the question that is being asked in several states including Arizona as recent executions using lethal injection have taken much longer and possibly have been much more painful as the executioner has access to only two of the three drugs normally used for executing a condemned prisoner.

The drug, sodium thiopental is no longer produced in the United States and most European countries have banned pharmaceutical companies in their countries from selling the drug in the US. This follows a long campaign by death penalty opponents to pressure drug companies to stop making the drug available for use in executions. Thus we see the law of unintended consequences at work. I am sure it was not the intention of death penalty opponents to make executions more difficult or more painful but that wound up being one of the unintended consequences.

The use of lethal injection as a method for execution is probably not the best method to employ for a variety of reasons. From the start no one knew what combination of drugs and at what dosages they should be used at would make killing a basically healthy person quick and painless. Even though now it has been tried and tested we really don’t know if it is painful and it still takes lots longer than other execution methods. It also puts medical personal in the unacceptable spot of participating in the killing of a human being. And as we watched recently in Arizona without medical expertise the execution could easily be botched or violate the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.