Elephants and Ireland

Brooklyn Bridge elephants

One hundred thirty-five years ago today, the Brooklyn Bridge opened. Twenty-one of P.T. Barnum’s elephants paraded across, to prove to the public how strong and safe the bridge is.

Exactly one hundred twenty years later, to the day, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, a native of New York, ordained your unworthy servant a priest.

Everyone will be salted with fire. But if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor?  (Mark 9:49-50) You can’t salt salt. Salt has to stay salty.

The Church of Christ must salt this earth, with the message of justice, truth, and selfless love. We do not merit such a mission. But God has summoned us to it anyway.

When Holy Mother Church met in solemn Council at the Vatican in the early 1960’s, She articulated a vision of universal solidarity among all the people of the earth. Our Church gave the human race hope for a worldwide civilization of love.

Vatican II did not base that vision on empty optimism or naïvete. The Church knows that She always faces a battle against evil. She spoke as She did at Vatican II because of the preaching of Her founder Jesus Christ, and because of Her hope in His unfailing grace.

Last week the Apostolic See published a moral study of the contemporary world financial system, which sounded an echo of James 5 and Psalm 49 (which we read at today’s Holy Mass).

The Catholic Church continues to have the guts to point out to the world that no one can adequately understand “the economy” without adequately understanding man—human nature, the meaning of life, of work, of social interactions and exchanges among people. And no one can understand the meaning of human life without Christ, the Son of God.

brooklyn bridge elephants coverEven with the supposedly wonderful internet, it seems obvious that we have not really progressed toward a more unified and peaceful world over the course of the past generation. The rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer. Greedy people have enriched themselves by taking irrational risks with other peoples’ money, including public money belonging to entire nations and peoples. Someone has to have the guts to say this isn’t right. The Catholic Church has the guts.

Speaking of the poor and defenseless, and of entire nations and peoples, and of having some guts: Let’s pray hard for the voters of  mother Ireland. Tomorrow they vote on making abortion legal.

Someday, to be sure, they will look back with horror and shame that they ever thought it prudent or good to put the human rights of the innocent to a majority vote. But still we must pray hard for a pro-life outcome of tomorrow’s national referendum on their constitutional amendment that protects the unborn child.

Those agitating for a repeal of the pro-life amendment argue as if making abortion legal involves a step “forward.” They forget that killing infants was perfectly legal under the inhumane emperors of old, like Nero and Caligula.

In fact, Ireland has the kind of forward-looking abortion laws that every country ought to have, including ours. May the Civilization of Love gain an electoral victory tomorrow, so that Ireland can continue to show the world the right way.