Sunday, May 25, 2008

faith of our fathers

Writing about my father's birthday yesterday got me wondering what he would look like if he were still alive. He would be about the same age as Ted Kennedy, Gene Shalit and Casey Kasem. Of the three, he would probably look most like Kennedy. On this Memorial Day weekend, I can make a virtual visit to the cemetery where my father is buried, thanks to a blog entry I posted two years ago.

A blog post I read this past week mentioned a priest named Fr. Michael Whelan of Australia. Seeing that last name reminded me that my father had a friend named Fr. Charlie Whelan (of New York). Like my father, Fr. Whelan was a writer. He worked for a Catholic magazine called America. A quick search revealed that Fr. Whelan retired from the magazine a year ago after 40 years of service. Best of all, they have posted a video of Fr. Whelan speaking about the first article he wrote for America. I can see and hear what one of my father's contemporaries looks and sounds like today. I didn't realize until now that Fr. Whelan was about five or six years older than my father.

In the video, Fr. Whelan mentions President John F. Kennedy and the relationship between church and state. That became his area of expertise both as a writer and as a professor at Fordham Law School. He successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1971 on behalf of a Baptist church. The Fordham Law Review published a couple of tributes to him last May.

This morning at church I picked up a free copy of a newsletter called Catholic Update. The June issue deals with church and state too. It emphasizes that the Church does not endorse candidates or tell people how to vote. It merely reminds voters of the 7 key themes to keep in mind when making their own choices. Catholics are not single-issue voters. One sentence summed up my problem with politics:
In today’s environment, Catholics may feel politically disenfranchised, sensing that no party and few candidates fully share our comprehensive commitment to human life and dignity.
The newsletter directed me to a website on Faithful Citizenship that will warrant further reading on my part.

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