Kids say the darndest things — the sequel

A Jewish neighbor of mine talked to me early this spring about how he could explain Passover to his inquisitive 4-year-old daughter without either making it sound too grisly or papering things over.

I was confronted by a similar situation at church last month.

My family’s pew is in a transept where there is a large crucifix, one much larger than the one in the sancutary. My 5-year-old daughter asked me why Jesus was on the cross — including “Why did he die?”

Mentally, I took a big breath, then explained that Jesus knew he had to die for us, but that Jesus was wrongly arrested, falsely tried for a crime he didn’t commit, and that back then, when the government  killed people it didn’t like, it put them on the cross.

My daughter thought for a brief moment. “Were you around then?” she asked. “No, no,” I said.

Another pause. “Was Mommy around then?”

Catholics and the death penalty

The Florida Catholic has created an interesting presentation on the death penalty that is worth looking at. It’s a 12-part feature, headlined “The death penalty: Voices unite for louder opposition,” outlining church treaching on the death penalty and opinion poll results and includes the witness of Catholics and non-Catholics speaking out against the death penalty.

Support continues despite delay of immigration reform meeting

Although the White House announced that the meeting between President Barack Obama and key leaders in the push for immigration reform would be delayed for a second time, supporters still came to Washington for a prayer vigil at the Church of the Epiphany Wednesday.                                          reform logo

Parishioners representing the Archdiocese of Baltimore, including St. Michael/St. Patrick Parish, held up signs during the vigil and the press conference given beforehand. Redemptorist Father Robert Wojtek, pastor of St. Michael/St. Patrick, gave his speech in both English and Spanish, saying: “I know I want to be more active in this cause, starting today. May God, whoever he may be to you, set your hearts on fire with justice and hospitality.”

Some may think these delays would result in waning support for the cause but from the looks of things, supporters are staying hopeful.

The White House rescheduled the meeting for June 25.

CNS World Youth Day blogger now a priest

Many readers may recall Deacon Chris Valka, a seminarian for the Congregation of St. Basil who blogged for us during World Youth Day in Sydney last year. Deacon Chris was ordained a Basilian priest last month at St. Anne Church in Houston. A great friend of CNS, Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the executive director of Toronto’s Salt and Light Television, preached his Mass of Thanksgiving. You can see photos of Father Chris’s ordination and read the text of Father Tom’s homily. Don’t forget to read Father Chris’s reflection on vocations on the same site.

Father Chris is finishing up a stint in campus ministry at the university chaplaincy in Las Cruces, N.M., before doing a summer immersing himself in Catholic TV at Salt and Light. Then it’s back to the U.S. for his first assignment as a new priest.

You also can read about Father Tom being recently appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

You have to hand it to the Basilians. They stay busy.

Judge Sotomayor, Catholic education and Catholic identity

President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx section of New York, where Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore grew up.

Writing in his June 15 column in The Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan newspaper, he said he knew the school to be “solidly Catholic in spirit and in consistent fidelity to the church and its teachings.” But news reports that say Sotomayor is not a regular “Mass attendee,” the archbishop notes, seem that to imply that her high school “somehow failed in its mission.”

“I would not say that at all,” he writes. ” The question, however, does bring to light the importance of our own parochial schools’ ‘Catholic identity.'”

Bringing denominations together sometimes challenging

At Bread for the World’s annual gathering Monday, a panel of Hispanic religious leaders from various denominations was convoked. They said they were setting doctrinal differences aside to work on issues on which they had common cause, like hunger, poverty and immigration.

However, speakers talked about some of the tensions that still exist among different faiths. The Rev. Juan Martinez, a Church of the Brethren minister, recalled trying to set up a Hispanic pan-Christian clergy breakfast at Fuller Theological Seminary in Atlanta, where he teaches. After much internal deliberation, he said, he decided against inviting Catholics out of fear of alienating the Protestant clergy he hoped would attend.

At another event he organized, Rev. Martinez said, an Episcopal bishop supported the endeavor with a monetary contribution, but shied away from attending himself, saying his presence would be too divisive.

Another panel speaker was an Augustinian Recollect priest who is director of the Hispanic Pastoral Institute in Newark, N.J., sponsored by the Archdiocese of Newark, which educates both Catholics and Protestants. A Protestestant minister let it be known he would not attend any events sponsored by the institute because of the name of the building in which it is housed: Centro Guadalupe, named after Our Lady of  Guadalupe.

Story on Vatican and access to Facebook provokes debate

We hit a nerve yesterday with our story on how the Vatican has set up a firewall to stop employees from accessing social-networking sites like Facebook while at work. We posted it on our own Facebook page (naturally!) and got reader comments ranging from the Vatican is just like any company that has a right to secure its computer network to the fact that some people have legitimate reasons to go on Facebook during work hours.

Vatican employees interviewed for our article maintained that Facebook has become an important news source for many and that problems last winter with a Holocaust-denying bishop could have been avoided with better access to information. But Vatican officials said that the policy was, in the words of one, “a fairly normal and prudential measure.”

What do you think? Is social networking a modern-day equivalent of having a telephone on your desk that too can be abused, or are such policies a valid way to block access to inappropriate material? Share your thoughts below.