Apartment Entry- Prati, Rome, Italy

Apartment Entry- Prati, Rome, Italy
(click on this image to begin)



Richard V. Allen, Ronald Reagan’s national security advisor, recently wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times strongly defending Reagan’s honorary degree from Notre Dame University on the basis of the former president’s alleged “pro-life” politics. Allen, a Notre Dame alumnus, just as strongly argued against a similar honor planned for President Obama in May.

Apparently Mr. Allen was so busy working for Reagan that he never noticed the president’s actual history on abortion rights. As one “pro-life” writer points out on www.issues2000.org
“Reagan was not as obsessive about anti-abortion legislation as he often seemed. Early in his California governorship he had signed a permissive abortion bill that has resulted in more than a million abortions. Afterward, he inaccurately blamed this outcome on doctors, saying that they had deliberately misinterpreted the law. When Reagan ran for president, he won backing from pro-life forces by advocating a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited all abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother. Reagan’s stand was partly a product of political calculation, as was his tactic after he was elected of addressing the annual pro-life rally held in Washington by telephone so that he would not be seen with the leaders of the movement on the evening news…”
(Source: The Role of a Lifetime, by Lou Cannon, p. 812 Jul 2, 1991)

Notre Dame has given honorary degrees in the past to publicly pro-choice people like Obama including U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, President John F. Kennedy, and actress Cicily Tyson, a Planned Parenthood advocate, to name just a few. (Notre Dame also gave an honorary degree to Joseph P. Kennedy, father of the president, a Catholic and an alleged bootlegger, public philanderer and long-time paramour of actress Gloria Swanson.)

In 2005, another Catholic college, Loyola University, gave former seminarian Rudy Giuliani an honorary degree, seemingly unconcerned that the former Republican mayor and presidential candidate was pro-choice, had a series of marriages, divorces and public infidelities, abandoned his wife and children, and supported homosexuals, all in defiance of Catholic teachings.

President Obama is at least as worthy in the “Catholic context” as many others on Notre Dame’s past lists of commencement speakers and honorees: so-called “good Catholics” who don’t think so need to stop changing the rules whenever it’s convenient.

Obama, not a Catholic, worked as an attorney helping the underprivileged, shunning higher paying jobs to do this good “Catholic” work.

His record as a politician, as far as we know, is unblemished by the usual shady behaviors and tendency to overlook (if not participate in) graft and corruption.

Obama’s respect and love for his elders, wife and daughters, as well as for those less fortunate than himself, shows that he understands and embraces the greatest commandment to “Love thy Neighbor.” Regarding “basic family values” he excels where Reagan (divorced, remarried, estranged from his children, and no friend to the poor) failed miserably.

If the Catholic Church-- losing membership, wanting in new priests, and steeped in scandals which are bankrupting dioceses left and right-- can’t get its values in order, at least its defenders should try to get their facts straight.



The letterhead of an itinerary planning firm I used to own, asked, “Have you ever known anyone who went to Italy and never wanted to return?”

Probably not.

Italy enchants. It fascinates with its reverence for ancient ruins and it tantalizes with its innate elegance, visible on the streets of Milan, Florence and Rome as well as on its volcanic islands and in its remote villages.

If disclaimers are necessary, I am proud of my 100% Italian roots. My father was an immigrant from a small town outside Pompeii, and his parents as well as those of my mother were born on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples. I make no apologies: I love Italy.

In that affection, I am joined by millions around the globe. Italy has been Europe’s top tourism destination and it remains a country which citizens of the world adore.

Now, as it struggles to rise once again from yet one more assault by nature in the earthquake-ravaged Abruzzi, sympathetic admirers from around the globe rush to send whatever relief they can. Here at home, the millions of Americans with roots in the boot, interrupt their Easter plans to raise monies, gather supplies, contact friends and family who may have been displaced and establish bridges of hope between the leveled towns of Italy’s Southwest and the struggling cities of the USA, those latter leveled economically by the current and deep recession.

Even Italians outside the stricken region are raging and mourning the unnecessary death toll because government funds provided years ago—after similar quakes—were apparently skimmed by politicians instead of being used to build the earthquake-proof buildings that might have saved so many lives. Americans share that disillusionment as they look around at the plundered financial landscape around them as well.

We can only do what brothers and sisters do in tough times like these. So we share what bread and water we have between us and send what pennies we can spare along with clothing, blankets and medical supplies. Those of us who pray should do so.

All of us, meanwhile, should think positive thoughts and work for justice, for in Italy’s current moment of tragedy we join her in the allegory of the greed of the powerful bringing down ruin on the serenity of the struggling.

In that sense, we are all family.
Aid to earthquake victims in Italy can be given by calling 1-800-REDCROSS



A national Study-- the American Religious Identification Survey-- reported this month that 1 million fewer New Englanders claim to be Roman Catholic today than did in 1990. Nationally, 29 states showed a decline in the number of Catholics, while gains in supporters of Rome turned up in Texas (up 9%.,) California (up 8 %,), and Florida (up 4 %.)

Overall, these results agree with another study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. The trend seems to be a shift of Catholic population in the U.S. from the Northeast to the Southwest. Florida qualifies with its tremendous influx of traditionally Catholic immigrants from Cuba, South and Central America and the Caribbean. Texas and California, as border states, share a similar demographic experience with large numbers of Catholic Mexicans arriving daily.

Mainstream Protestant sects also showed national losses. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists and United Church of Christ members declined from 18.7 to 12.9 %. Among non-Christian groups, Jews and Muslims slipped from a combined total of 3% of American believers in those religions to only 2%.

Where is god going?

While we may not be becoming a godless nation, we may be altering the way we understand god and the way we worship. “Blind faith,” which for centuries held Catholic believers together, no longer cuts the mustard with American congregations weary of taking orders from a hierarchy unable or unwilling to acknowledge its own scandals, sins and mistakes.

Diocese after Catholic diocese has either approached or fallen into bankruptcy brought on by settlements for sexual abuse scandals involving priests. Additionally, Rome’s continued rigidity regarding female ordination and its refusal to heed the 21st century concerns of its faithful regarding celibacy, birth control, abortion and sexual orientation have only widened the breach of lay distrust and dismay.

What is seldom discussed, on the other hand, is the appeal that Catholic dogma has for evangelical extremists and just-plain-rednecks who love to wallow in inflexibility. For some, what actually attracts is the lack of “gray” areas and the rejection of free will, a basic tenet of Catholic theology despite Rome’s disregard for it.

In New England, cities like Worcester, Manchester, or Woonsocket—once Catholic strongholds— seem unlikely to rise again to strengthen the numbers of what they once called the “one true church.” Boarded up factories, foreclosed homes and a Catholic ministry ill-equipped and disinclined to nurture a decimated flock do not bode well for “blind faith” or “glorious mysteries.”

The real as well as spiritual “loaves and fishes” exhausted bodies and souls seek and require seem nowhere to be found there.

But even as places like Texas and Florida-- where men are men, women are disposable and authority figures like cops, judges and bishops never have to say they’re sorry-- have become the new hotspots for organized religions, it is important to remember that god (as opposed to “churches”) can exist anywhere.

Perhaps the new shift in faith-based demographics tell us less about America going godless than they tell us about god going global.

Mary Ann Sorrentino

Mary Ann Sorrentino
Italy Series of articles runs Aug./Sept/Oct 2015

Hope for the Future: Uruguay 2007

Hope for the Future: Uruguay 2007
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About Me

Hillsboro Beach, FL/ Cranston, RI, United States

"JOACHIM" - Oct. '92-March '08

"JOACHIM"  - Oct. '92-March '08
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Castel Del Monte

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