Is it possible to love and pray for those who offend us — even our enemies? Is it possible to suffer and find blessings even in persecution? I know of four people on the way to sainthood in the United States who exude such hope.
The point here is not to review general threats to Christian morality in Alaska but to call attention to a very specific challenge that should be on the radar of all parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, godparents and others in positions of responsibility over today’s youth.
Since Adam and Eve we have lived with a great human contradiction. Is there anything therefore that can counter what seems to be our worst instincts? The answer seems rather clear: by necessity, it seems, we have law or a system of laws that help us live peacefully with one another.
This marks the sixth time since 1996 that the ACLU has sued the State of Alaska or one of its subdivisions over pro-life laws or policies. The ACLU has a proven track record: Alaska Supreme Court decisions stemming from ACLU abortion litigation have all ended by striking down pro-life measures.
So, my friends, when life often seems to resemble a dust bowl with not a sign of hope to be found, Christians gather in their churches to continue celebrating the year of grace all over again, a moment in time when we will see “the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.”
The bishop, with the laying on of hands, imparts the gift of the Spirit and then the priest, placing his hands inside those of his bishop, promises perpetual obedience. To the secular world this must seem horribly arcane but not to priests.
When people speak of Archbishop Schwietz, they invariably describe him as “pastoral.” I like to think of Pope Francis’ words: priests should be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.” Anyone who’s lived on a farm knows that’s a dramatic statement.
Christmas is fast approaching and as we prepare to celebrate this joyful holiday, we are also rejoicing in the installation of our new archbishop. Catholic Social Services welcomes Archbishop Paul Etienne to Anchorage and we look forward to working with him. We also celebrate our work and cherished partnership with Archbishop Emeritus Roger Schwietz.
Archbishop Schwietz developed a ministry of hope, healing and prevention. Under his leadership, I felt unfettered freedom to support victims who came forward by reaching out to the community at large through collaboration with government and non-profit agencies and other churches to address all forms of violence and abuse.
The foster care system is a huge challenge. Each year thousands of Alaska’s children are placed in out-of-home care, according to the Alaska Office of Children’s Services. On average approximately 3,000 children are in foster care in Alaska each month. Children often enter the foster care system because they have been determined to be unsafe or at high risk of maltreatment in their family home.