Monday, May 31, 2010

Holy Trinity Sunday and Marriage

They go together at least in the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph where couples celebrating 50th Anniversaries (and more) gather at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert W. Finn. (I note as an aside that Feast of the Holy Trinity and marriage literally joined together this year for this blogger and his wife Lynn as we celebrated our 18th anniversary on Sunday.)

Following is Bishop Finn’s homily from the Jubilarian Mass:

Dear Jubilarians, Dear Friends in Christ all,

In his first encyclical, which he entitled, “God is Love,” our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the love of the Holy Trinity – God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as the image and model of our love for one another. “If you see charity, you see the Trinity,” he writes quoting St. Augustine.

Today’s Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is the Church’s praise for this wondrous mystery of love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Though the Easter Season was completed in last Sundays’ Feast of Pentecost, these weeks bring us wonderful feast days: Holy Trinity today; next week – Corpus Christi (the Body and Blood of the Lord); and then the commemorations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These celebrations continue the high pitch of joy that we have celebrated in Easter and the days after.

Today our prayer is one of Glory: Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ did not merely come among us, but He revealed His Father in heaven, and He told us that this Father was Our Father. Before His death He tells – He promises – the apostles, indeed the Church, that He and the Father are going to send the Holy Spirit. This most amazing mystery calls to our human hearts and causes us to praise God for the love with which He sustains the world. True enough, He has created the world, but it is love which drives the world forward in its best sense. It is love that holds us together; it is love by which God draws us to Himself.

This enduring love is the heart of your marriages: You have come together by God’s providential design. It is love which has sustained you for these years; a mixture of human love infused with God’s love. It is love that helps you to bring each other more and more to God.

According to the Pope’s encyclical, “The [Holy] Spirit is that interior power which harmonizes the hearts of believers with Christ’s heart, and moves them to love their brother as Christ loved them.” (Deus Caritas Est, no. 19) This love is expressed in humble and generous care for others, and sacrifices, even like that of Christ who gave His life for us.

Today, in the name of the Diocese, I welcome with joy our Jubilarians celebrating 50 years of marriage. A few of those here are celebrating milestones beyond 50 years. Like the solemn feasts of these days which celebrate the manifestation of the life and love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in a living communion of love, so also your anniversaries of marriage distinguish this day by means of a union of life and love which has powerful implications for the good of the world.

The love of husband and wife is an essential part of God’s plan for the world. Your love is life-giving – in the wonderful gift of family and children, and also in the way it completes and transforms you as spouses.

Your love is a powerful and personal gift to you from God, and a means of holiness; and it is also a gift to the Church and the world. Indeed, St. Paul tells us that the love of husband and wife is an image and a reminder of Christ’s love for the Church. (Eph 5:23ff)

The way this love reaches its perfection in marriage and in the family is in humble service one for another and in self-sacrifice, both after the example and image of Christ. Jesus Christ, through His Church, perfects and completes the natural institution of marriage through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony so that married couples will have the benefit of a supernatural grace and assistance.

How could couples ever hope to give themselves so completely and forever unless it is because of supernatural faith, hope and love? Your marriage in Jesus Christ is a testimony to the Providence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, who as the Pope writes, “harmonizes our hearts with Christ’s heart,” and moves us to love each other as Christ loves us.

Dear friends, Dear married couples:

The Diocese thanks God for your vocation to marriage and for the health, peace, and commitment in which He continues to sustain you.

As the Holy Trinity chose Mary to be the daughter of the Father, the mother of Jesus the Son, and the spouse of the Holy Spirit, we ask her to intercede always for us and for the Church. As Mary obtained from her Son the very first of His miracles on behalf of a married couple at the wedding feast of Cana, the Church entrusts you Jubilarians to her again, confident that she will never fail to bring your prayers before her divine Son.

On this day of the Most Holy Trinity, may the grace of God be poured in abundance into your hearts, on all our families, our parishes, on our Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. In this way the love of Jesus Christ, manifest in humble service and self-sacrificing and generous love, will become a lasting oblation of glory to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kansas City Council Unanimously Opposes Arizona Immigration Law

By a vote of 13-0 about an hour ago, Kansas City’s City Council called upon the Arizona legislature to repeal it’s controversial immigration law and urged Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. They also opposed Arizona House Bill 2281 which prohibits ethnic studies in state schools. While tons of cities are doing this, the move is fairly significant since Missouri is considering similar legislation and the author of the Arizona bill is a professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Story follows:

By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The Kansas City Council went on record — unanimously — in opposition to an Arizona law that gives local and state police in that state broad authority to detain and demand proof of citizenship from any person suspected of being an undocumented immigrant.

A resolution opposing the measure, sponsored by Fourth District Councilwoman Beth Gottstein and Third District Councilwoman Sandra Sanders Brooks, called on the Arizona legislature to repeal the law, and a second law banning ethnic studies in Arizona schools as a way, in part, to send a message to Missouri lawmakers not to attempt the same measure here.

Jude Huntz, director of the diocesan Human Rights Office which supported the council resolution, said that message was important.

“The Missouri legislature needs to realize that the Arizona legislation is not only flawed, it has no place in our state dynamic,” Huntz said following the council vote on May 27.

“Even if we had the same problems as Arizona, this legislation is not the tool for dealing with these problems,” Huntz said.

Gottstein and Sanders Brooks were the only two council members who spoke during a brief discussion of the resolution, which will now be sent to the Arizona legislature, among a long list of resolutions passed by local lawmakers around the nation.

Gottstein said the law places an “undue burden and unfunded mandate” on local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws while at the same time giving local police a license to discriminate.

She noted that the law says that Arizona local and state police cannot detain people “solely” on the basis of race, but that word in the law gives them the virtual authority to do so.

“If the police action is based 99 percent on race, then that will be OK as long as it is not ‘solely’ on race,” Gottstein said. “It’s a legal way of saying that discrimination is allowed.”

Sanders Brooks said she watched “in horror” as Arizona lawmakers passed the bill and Gov. Janet Brewer signed it into law in April.

“This will further allow racial profiling,” said Sanders Brooks, who also decried the passage of a second Arizona bill outlawing ethnic studies in the state schools.

“These two bills have had a chilling effect on the nation,” she said. “I hope we can send a strong message that we do not condone what the state of Arizona has done.”

Huntz said he hopes Missouri lawmakers get the same message.

“It is important that the (Missouri) state legislature receive a strong message from our cities that this type of legislation will not be helpful, and in fact, will be harmful,” he said.

The Gottstein-Sanders Brooks resolution also called on the U.S. Congress to pass a comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration system, an action that is also strongly supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Friday, May 21, 2010

When is a Catholic Hospital not a Catholic Hospital?

The Diocese of Phoenix has a very direct Q & A regarding the direct, procured abortion at St. Joseph hospital and the consequent excommunication of hospital administrator Sister Margaret McBride. The statement ends on a curious note that has fueled some speculation. After discussing the St. Joseph Hospital situation the statement turns to another Catholic Healthcare West owned hospital:

Moreover, Catholic Healthcare West has not followed the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Church in at least one of their institutions, Chandler Regional Hospital. These realities are a scandal to the faithful and must cease if CHW wishes to be maintain its recognition as a Catholic institution in the Diocese of Phoenix.

To wonder what Chandler Regional Hospital may have done to violate the “Directives” is to read too much, or rather too little, into the statement. Chandler Regional Hospital is not a Catholic hospital and like several other non-Catholic hospitals operated by Catholic Healthcare West it does not claim to follow the Directives at all.

CHW’s website section on Ethics explains:

In all our deliberations, we are guided by two foundational documents. Our Catholic hospitals observe The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. Our non-Catholic hospitals observe the CHW Statement of Common Values, which outlines the values CHW shares with our secular partners.

In short, CHW’s non-Catholic properties, by design, do not adhere to the Directives. They are bound to adhere to the CHW Statement of Common Values which prohibits direct abortion, assisted suicide and artificial reproductive services.

As an aside, the section on abortion is quite revealing:

1) Direct abortion is not performed. Indirect abortion is performed in certain medically indicated cases. An indirect abortion is a termination of pregnancy that is not directly intended and in which the sole purpose is the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of the mother, when the treatment cannot be safely postponed until the fetus is viable.

That’s probably not phrased as well as it could be. I think it would be better to say that an indirect abortion is a life-saving procedure which results in a termination of pregnancy as a foreseeable but unintended consequence. But at least it shows that CHW president Lloyd Dean’s expressed confusion and request for clarification on the issue from Bishop Olmsted means at minimum that he’s not familiar with his own Mission and Values statement.

There is plenty in the Directives not covered by the Statement of Common Values and I imagine that discrepancy is what the Diocese of Phoenix is referring to. The section on “Health Information” which is identical at all CHW hospital websites (Catholic and non-Catholic) contains non-judgmental descriptions of treatments options clearly opposed by the Church, including voluntary sterilization, contraception and RU-486.

The section describing these comes with the caveat that “Not all of the treatments or interventions described in this site are available at CHW hospitals.” Which are and which aren’t available at either CHW Catholic or non-Catholic hospitals is not explained. And whether a particular CHW hospital is Catholic or not is far from transparent as they all bear the Catholic Healthcare West logo and Cross.

The Diocese of Phoenix’ conclusion that these realities call into question CHW’s continued recognition as Catholic is one that should probably be considered wherever CHW operates non-Catholic hospitals (and apparently a few Catholic ones).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eleven espoused to Christ

DSC05440 The ancient Latin ceremony bore all the hallmarks of a wedding. There were rings, flowers, vows, even a reception with a wedding cake. Only this wedding had twelve brides and each of them were draped in a funeral pall symbolizing their mystical death to the world and to themselves.

On May 15 at Old St. Patrick’s in Kansas City, eleven sisters of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles made their perpetual profession of vows and were espoused to Jesus Christ.

While the pall signified their death to the world, the rest of the ceremony proclaimed their joy in their spouse. Before Bishop Robert Finn placed a ring on each sister’s hand, espousing her to Christ, he called them saying “Come, beloved, to be espoused; the winter is past, the turtle dove calls, the blooming vineyards give forth their fragrance.”

After Bishop Finn declared, “I espouse you to Jesus Christ,” the sisters knelt and chanted, “I am espoused to Him Whom the angels serve, Whose beauty the sun and the moon admire.”

Then raising their hands to show their rings to all those present, the sisters sang, “My Lord Jesus Christ hath betrothed me with His ring, and hath adorned me as a bride with a crown.”

The eleven are the first in the relatively new, young and fast growing community to make perpetual vows. Their number included their prioress, Mother Therese of the Most Holy Trinity. The others were Sisters M. Wilhelmina of the Most Holy Rosary, Emmanuel of the Most Precious Blood, Scholastica of the Holy Face, Benedicta of Our Lord’s Passion, Cecilia of the Merciful Heart of Jesus, Tarcisia of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, Agnes of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Bernadette of the Precious Blood, Gemma of Jesus and Misericordia of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Friends, family, witnesses and well-wishers filled Old St. Patrick’s to capacity during the four hour service.

In his homily before the profession of vows, Bishop Finn said the sisters “intend and desire to offer the total gift of their lives, for the full extent of their lives, that they may have life.”

The ceremony, he said, “will inspire us, and impress upon us all the dignity and finality of the action of the professed and the grace that comes efficaciously through the Church’s blessing . . . And they shall be joined to Christ their spouse; joined to Christ their spouse; joined forever to Christ their spouse.”

Bishop Finn recounted how the sisters have persevered through a novitiate year and three years in temporary vows living according to the Rule of St. Benedict and giving “themselves in prayer and sacrifice for the sanctification of the priests.”

To the sisters, Bishop Finn extended “the Peace of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, His joy, His gift of hope.” Urging them to trust in Jesus, Bishop Finn said, “He chooses you today and forever. Knowing all our weaknesses and limitations, He will grant you sufficient grace and extraordinary love to keep the promises you are about to make. He wants you to wear the crown, not for a day, but unto eternal life.”

Bishop Finn said that the Holy Ghost will seal their profession and that Jesus would never be far from them to call upon. “Don’t think that you will wear Him out – but never stop calling Him who is spouse of our Lady, and Lord and Giver of Life.”

A reception followed at St. Therese Education and Parish Center in Parkville.

Visit website www.benedictinesofmary.org for more information on the sisters. Photo courtesy of Kansas Catholic who has tons more to look at.

Apology to the sisters and our readers: This post originally said 12 had made perpetual vows. In fact, it is 11. The post has been changed to reflect the fact, but unfortunately, the print edition is a done deal. Thanks to Kansas Catholic for spotting the error.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

M.I.A. Messes Her Message with 'Born Free' Video

From the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key comes an interesting reflection on a music video that’s been pulled by YouTube:

‘I got something to say’

“Born Free”
M.I.A.
Video directed by Romain Gavras

By Santiago Ramos

When I encounter something shocking—or something that wants to shock—in the media, I often transfer it to other peoples’ eyes. (I myself am young and jaded.) I wondered, for example, as I was mid-way through songwriter M.I.A.’s controversial new music video for her single, “Born Free,” how shocking it would be for other people. Those “other people” are sensitive, staid, stuffy and older than me. They would be shocked by something like this video, and M.I.A. wants to shock them. But by the end of this song, I was shocked myself.

M.I.A., the stage name of Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, British-born and of Sri Lankan extraction (her father was on the losing-end of the Sri Lankan civil war), is a multifarious talent—graffiti art, film, fashion, and songwriting are all in her background—with a marked interest in violence. She is the synthesis of Madonna and gangsta rap. She doesn’t sing about love. She sings about war and guns and she aims for political seriousness—her father fought in a civil war, and she is a witness to a sort of social chaos which the majority of her first-world audience has not experienced. (That’s not something you can say about Lady Gaga). Even if her lyrics are simple and sometimes frivolous (and frivolous about violence), she wills a serious purpose for her work. She wants to give voice to indignation.

That word—indignation—is the key to understanding the blood-soaked video to “Born Free.” The song is played softly in the background—the focus is on the images. The story begins at dawn, when a heavily armed (American) military convoy drives across a city and raids an apartment building. The soldiers search through every apartment, breaking in on a man smoking marijuana and a couple making love. Nightsticks fly, people are beaten and cry. The soldiers find their man—a redheaded teenager. He is dragged outside by two soldiers, and pushed into the back of a bus—where he finds that vehicle full of other redheaded teenage boys, all frowning but resigned to their fate. Their fate is annihilation. They are driven far away from the city, to a minefield. They are lined up and told to run onto the minefield. One boy—this is the scene that prompted YouTube to pull the video from their site—is shot in the head. Another is blown up by a mine, his severed hand flying before the camera along with other bits of flesh. The video ends abruptly, with the face of two angry soldiers who have just finished beating up a boy who managed to elude the mines.

I was shocked for the obvious reason that seeing a child shot on camera is still shocking. It is one of the few things which still cause revulsion because it is still relatively rare to see it on the screen. But after overcoming the revulsion, I realized that M.I.A. is aiming for more than inspiring revulsion. She aims to express indignation. The redhead ginger genocide sounds funny to those who’ve seen that episode of South Park, but the video’s more serious conceit is to expose the arbitrariness and senselessness of racism. M.I.A. wants to shock her comfortable first-world audience into the recognition of the horrible things that happen in other parts of the world. “I throw this in your face when I see ya/ I got something to say.”

The initial revulsion is not the ultimate flaw in the video. It doesn’t betray its message. The flaw is that the message itself is changed by the images used to convey it. Someone who suffers from indignation implicitly believes in human dignity. To believe in human dignity is to believe something special about the status of human beings. George Orwell puts it well in his definition of tragedy: “A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.”

Nobler than the forces which destroy him, because there is something within him which cannot be destroyed. We don’t need to get metaphysical about this. It is enough to note that a burst of bits of flesh, and limbs flying everywhere, implicitly communicates something degrading about the human form—communicates that it can degrade, totally, completely, to nothing. A soul overcome with revulsion at such a spectacle is too distracted to feel moral pity and outrage. The people who run YouTube are discomforted, but not in the way M.I.A. wants them to be.

This is not to blame M.I.A. The task she chose for herself is difficult. The audience can still be shocked. The art of revulsion can be renewed. But it’s much more difficult to shock an audience into the recognition that a certain way of looking at the human person leads to violence and murder—to that which is already shocking without the help of the artist.

Santiago Ramos is pursuing doctoral studies in philosophy at Boston College.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Archbishop Naumann, Bishop Finn Lead Mother's Day Rosary at Planned Parenthood

20100508_4781 For the third year in a row, Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn joined hundreds to pray the Rosary outside the Planned Parenthood abortuary in Overland Park, Kansas. About 400 people prayed all 20 Mysteries of the Rosary led by the two bishops on May 8.

The Planned Parenthood facility is a large and busy clinic close to the border with Missouri. There are no surgical abortion clinics on the Missouri side of the Kansas City Metro.

This year, a specific prayer for the closing of the clinic was recited after the Rosary. You can pray it too:

PRAYER FOR CLOSING
PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF OVERLAND PARK, KS

20100508_4795 Father, all life is in Your care.
You have entrusted us to one another,
that we may show our brothers and sisters
The same love You have for us.

We pray, then, for the least among us,
The children in the womb.
Protect them from the violence of abortion.
We pray for those that are scheduled to die
at Planned Parenthood in Overland Park, Kansas.
Save them from death.

Give new hope to their parents,
That they may turn away
From the desperate act of abortion.
Grant conversion to the abortionist
And to the staff.

Show us how we are to respond
To the bloodshed in our midst,
And lead us to the day when this place of death
Will be transformed into a haven of life.

Guard us with your joy and your peace.
For in you, life is victorious.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

20100508_4784

20100508_4800

20100508_4812

20100508_4803 (Photos by Sean and Jack Smith)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

You Have Got to Read Bishop Soto Today

Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto is simply one of the best speakers and writers in the Church today - Not on a grand theological level, but at simply and convincingly portraying the beauty of our faith and what our God has done for us. His column on Lourdes this week is no exception. After some preliminaries on his association with Lourdes he speaks of the paradox of the place, excerpt:

What baffles many about the infirmed pilgrims of Lourdes is the hope that brings them and how Lourdes does not disappoint them. The continuous convergence of those crippled by their physical ailments ignites the air with joy. This seems unexplainable, even absurd. Shouldn’t these people be disappointed? Wasn’t God letting them down again? Where are the spectacular miraculous displays?

The power of Lourdes is found in the glory of God revealed through human frailty. The credence in the Incarnation is tested in the crucible of human suffering. It is precisely in such moments that his glory is revealed.

Lourdes is considered a Marian shrine but, as all sites related to the Virgin Mary, its core is Christ. Mary helps us meditate on our share in work of her son, Jesus. At Lourdes, she brings us to contemplate the wondrous mystery of her Son’s glory reflected in our brothers and sisters who are crippled by sickness and bodily frailty. Those who are so often hidden or shuffled out of sight come into full view. Most often their predicaments are spoken of in hushed tones. In Lourdes they are announced. They become a sacramental sign of the Body of Christ. Their need for assistance and care during the pilgrim days in Lourdes make manifestly clear that which is true for all of us: We are all one body.

Often times the sacraments of penance and the anointing of the sick are celebrated as “private” sacraments, away from much public display. This is due to the manner of the sacramental rituals as well as the circumstances under which the sacraments are celebrated, in a hospital or in a confessional. While much of this is true and necessary, these sacraments, as do all the sacraments, possess a public character. The sacraments, even when administered to an individual, are intended to strengthen and console the whole church.

While penance and the anointing of the sick are for the sinner and the sick, these sacraments also make the sinner and the sick occasions for God’s grace revealed to the church as well as to them. Their weakness and frailty is the opportunity for God’s hand to bring healing and mercy. This is the same testimony about which Paul speaks to us when he says: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.” (II Cor. 12.9)

At Lourdes, the sick and frail openly “boast” of their weakness so that Christ may dwell in them. At Lourdes, the whole Body of Christ joins them in this paradoxical boast. In this way, the sick and frail minister to the rest of the church. They become an occasion of joy for what Christ has done and continues to do for all the members of His Mystical Body.

What follows is the most beautiful conclusion to a column I’ve seen for a very long time. And you’re going to have to go to the Sacramento Catholic Herald to read it. (scroll down to last paragraph)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Immigrants Loused Up My City

This blog has been happy to share a number of bishops’ views on immigration policy and in particular Arizona’s Immigration Law. If one could summarize the bishops’ central concern and argument, it is to “welcome the stranger”. I’m happy to keep posting these since:

1. This is an institutionally related Catholic blog and supporting what the bishops say is what we do;

2. I am convinced by the Gospel and Old Testament mandate to welcome the stranger;

3. On a visceral level – and let’s be honest, 99 percent of immigration arguments stem from the visceral level – I particularly like the stranger in question. I come from San Francisco where the only semblance of normality and sanity left is in the communities of ‘strangers’ from Mexico, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, etc.

A few anecdotes -

A political commentator in San Francisco recently assessed whether former Police Commission President Theresa Sparks could be elected in a race for a Board of Supervisors seat. The judgment was that she would be regarded as “too conservative” for the district.

Now get this – Theresa Sparks is a divorced father of three who went to Thailand about ten years ago to undergo “sex reassignment surgery.” S/he now sells sex toys for a living and was named “Woman of the Year” by the ultra-liberal California State Assembly in 2003.

What makes Sparks “too conservative”? She is regarded as, gasp, “business friendly” – in that she runs a business, albeit a sex toy business. Worse yet, she took that business from being a failing coop (good) to being a successful privately owned business (bad).

It is not the “strangers” from Mexico, the Philippines, China or Vietnam, almost all of which have a very solid grasp on gender and are happy to work hard at the many small, often family businesses they run who would regard Sparks as “too conservative”.

Actually, the “strangers” who have loused up San Francisco, and indeed California, are immigrants from other states. The massive immigration in the 1950s to the 1970s of rootless individuals from other states seeking to find themselves or lose themselves in San Francisco has turned a once great, and once very Catholic, city into an embarrassing freak show. From the transsexual sex toy salesman Theresa Sparks (Kansas City) to the abortion queens Barbara Boxer (Brooklyn) and Nancy Pelosi (Baltimore) to psychopaths like Jim Jones (Indiana) to the intolerant gay narcissists Tom Ammiano (New Jersey) and Mark Leno (Milwaukee), nearly every kind of nut in California shares in common being a white, native born American from another state (Mayor Gavin Newson, admittedly, is a native San Franciscan).

I used to joke that California doesn’t need a wall along its Southern border, but along the Sierra Nevada.

Incredible contrasts can be found in San Francisco. I witnessed a scene one afternoon which crystallized my visceral attitude toward foreign immigration. I was eating a bowl of Pho at a Vietnamese shop in an area the City now calls "Little Saigon". The area used to be known as "Gross!". There is still an element of the latter alongside the industrious Vietnamese who now live and work there.

Anyhow, the Vietnamese owner of the shop had double-parked his truck (a necessity given the parking situation) in front of the restaurant. His teenage son ran out to the truck to pick up some big boxes of supplies. Holding them, the young man had to stop on the sidewalk while an ancient, inebriated crossdresser had to be roused from his perch blocking the service door.

Similar scenes are common throughout other immigrant communities in the City. In the Mission, an impossible number of taquerias, carnicerias, groceries, panaderias and other small businesses are manned by Mexicans and other Latinos (legal and not). In a City which has the lowest number of children per capita of any American city (SF literally has more dogs than children), a single parish in the Mission, St. Peter's, has over 400 baptisms a year. A largely Hispanic parish south of San Francisco had 500 First Communions last week. I'll bet those statistics are alarming to some people. To me, they are a glimmer of hope and a sign of life in a city otherwise intent on suicide. I'll take the culture and fecundity of the Mexicans over the alternatives in the Mission - like the massive BDSM porn factory in the former San Francisco Armory or the useless, unemployed, pasty-white, pierced, art/activist/anarchist “community” which also finds a home in the Mission.

I used to live in the largely Asian Richmond district. The neighborhood is about 45 percent foreign born. It is altogether saner, safer and happier than districts with fewer foreign immigrants. The Chinese community has recently been at odds with mostly white, aging hippie potheads who are blighting their neighborhoods with phony “medical” marijuana clubs. Again, I’ll take the Chinese (many who voiced their frustration to the Police Commission through interpreters) over the potheads any day.

Certainly, my experience of immigration is not the same as the people of Tucson or even Los Angeles. But it is also not the same as people in many places of the country now who are developing a visceral antipathy to immigrants while having little or no experience of them.

This post doesn’t aim to make any sort of prescription for immigration policy. Serious problems exist which call for a federal solution. But to those who fear what is becoming of the “American culture,” it suggests a little finger pointing in the mirror.