Fr. John's Letter Archives

Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.


09-25-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

As soon as a child learns to crawl a parent puts up boundaries: gates, fences that lead to the stairs, the plugs in electrical outlets and the stops on kitchen cabinets where the cleaning supplies are kept. And on it goes up the ladder as the child grows. Boundaries, or as I like to call them walls, are erected to help a child learn the consequences of his or her behavior. The goal of course is for a child to eventually internalize why an action is good or bad, helpful or harmful. We pay pretty frantic attention to putting up walls for things that could harm a child physically but we are doing a poor job putting up walls that prevent harm to a child morally and spiritually.

One thing that is becoming more and more ubiquitous is a young child with a smart phone. In addition to giving a young person access to call his parents you are also giving them access to the child molester, the pornographer and the drug dealer to name a few. Do we really expect children as young as 7 or 8yrs old to spot the danger zones when using such technology?

Maybe worse still children have access to the media which presently tells them just about everything is acceptable. The wall that said promiscuity is wrong has been leveled so no wonder our children walk through it. Our children march over the rubble that used to be the wall protecting the authority of teachers, parents and the law. Then our children come to the wall that used to say that drug abuse was forbidden. In fact now the bricks in that wall have been rearranged into a path that promises happiness and true freedom.

The latest wall that is coming down is the wall that kept marijuana illegal. The truth is that wall has been in disrepair for sometime. The lack of enforcement of the laws on the books has made the idea that pot is a bad joke with young people. The legalization of marijuana for medical purposes has had the effect of making marijuana almost a health food. But before we in Arizona jump on the marijuana train we should consider how it is affecting young people in Colorado where it is legal for recreational use. Here are some of the effects so far:

*Teen marijuana use is 74% higher than the national average. Colorado is #1 in teen marijuana and illicit drug use. The legal age to use marijuana in CO is 21, the same age required in Arizona under Prop 205.
*Newborns testing positive for marijuana are on the rise. In one hospital alone, half of newborn babies test positive for marijuana.
*When legislators saw an increase in children ER visits due to accidental marijuana ingestion; they responded by banning marijuana-laced gummy bears. Note: Arizona’s legislature would not be able to make the same changes to the law because ballot measures are voter protected in Arizona.
*There are more pot shops than both McDonald’s and Starbucks in Colorado.
*And the promise to bring more revenue to our schools: Colorado’s top marijuana official said tax revenue from legal marijuana is a “red herring … you're not going to pave your roads and pay your teachers with marijuana tax revenue."
*Marijuana use harms the developing brain of teenagers. It is often responsible for early onset of teenage schizophrenia and other mental health issues.

The legalization of recreational use marijuana in Colorado and Washington as well as the 25 states with legalized medical marijuana has hurt the profit margins of the Mexican Drug Cartels. Being good business people the Cartels have simply flooded the market with heroin hence the current heroin epidemic in the US.

The walls we put up for our children are ways to help them limit their self-destructive behaviors. This is especially true when it comes to drug use: the sooner a teen hits the wall the lesser will be the negative consequences of drug abuse. As the adults in the room who vote we can keep up one wall to protect our young people:

Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: the problem of drug use is not solved with drugs! Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise. To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem. Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called “recreational drugs”, are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects. Substitute drugs are not an adequate therapy but rather a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon
… Pope Francis

Fr. John B