Archive for the ‘Defending Life’ Category
A little more than half a century ago, Jesuit Father Charles J. McCarthy sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on his return to San Francisco as one of the last two Jesuits released from prison in Communist China, a confinement he endured for four years following an earlier house arrest by the Japanese during WWII.
Waiting for him were his brothers, Walter, Alex, Robert and their families, including Walter’s 10-year-old daughter, Mary Jo, who would later chronicle the dramatic story that linked her father and uncle, a story documented in hundreds of letters written by the two men over more than 50 years.
The letters illustrate the history of China, from the Japanese occupation in World War II to the Communist takeover; they also reveal the devotion of brothers, a connection that endured despite distance and deprivation.
Aug. 2, 1952 – From Charles to Walter: Today is my 23rd anniversary as a Jesuit. It doesn’t seem that long since the family was all together. We certainly had some good times and lots of fun around the table. Dad was especially encouraging when I raised the vocation question with him, and he talked Mom out of the idea I was too young. The trip to Los Gatos was a step light-hearted enough for me, but I’m sure Mom and Dad felt deeply the first splintering of the family. Fortunately, though, there’s never been any real separation of our hearts.
In 1941, Charles sailed for Peking, where he studied Chinese for two years before the Japanese placed him and 29 colleagues under house arrest in Shanghai until the end of World War II. “He was able to send me letters via the Red Cross,” said Walter.
Upon his release, Charles taught theology in Shanghai until July 1946, when he returned to the U.S. to study journalism at Marquette University. He moved back to Shanghai in 1949, where he was appointed the superior of the Jesuit School of Theology in Shanghai, making him the highest-ranking American Jesuit in the Shanghai Jesuit Mission. He worked with Jesuit scholastics until his arrest by the Communists in 1953, when he was led away from his room at gunpoint, accused of “ideological sabotage” for giving harmful guidance to his students.
When Jesuit Father Mike Kennedy was pastor of Dolores Mission, located in the barrio of East Los Angeles, he witnessed firsthand the impact to the community of having so many of its youth facing life without parole. After serving as pastor from 1994 to 2007, Fr. Kennedy left Dolores Mission to start the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative (JRJI) to provide support and hope to juveniles with life sentences.
Through the Spiritual Exercise of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a series of meditative prayers helping people find God in their everyday experiences, the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative provides tools that allow prisoners to find healing and forgiveness and to recognize their lives have meaning and purpose. As JRJI’s Executive Director, Fr. Kennedy also reaches out to victims and their families to provide support and healing. The group’s advocacy outreach from its headquarters in Culver City, Calif., includes mobilizing communities to transform the justice system from one that is solely punitive to one that is restorative. Fr. Kennedy has been recognized for JRJI’s efforts to transform the lives of incarcerated youth, their families and communities by the California Chief of Probation Officers and the City of Los Angeles.
In this Ignatian News Network video piece below, you can find out more about Fr. Kennedy and the work of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative to bring hope to Los Angeles’ incarcerated juveniles:
A new study conducted by Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life has dug deeper into India’s gender ratio imbalance crisis to find that it is being fueled by complex family pressures, including the belief that boys will be better wage earners, and that men will more likely take better care of their aging parents. The study also indicates that elders in the family and often husbands prefer a male child, while many wives pointed out that their voices were not being heard and had little choice in the matter.
Fairfield University’s innovative survey examined how gender dynamics and family pressures in India lead to the birth of a significantly greater number of boys than girls. The study suggests that male child preference is quite prevalent and the gender ratio imbalance – which is on the increase and was evident in the 2011 Indian National Census – is likely to be a major impediment to the future development of India.
Jesuit Father Richard Ryscavage, professor of sociology and director of The Center for Faith and Public Life, conducted the study and recently sat down for an interview with National Jesuit News.
According to the 2011 National Census of India, there were 914 girls born for every 1,000 boys; in some regions reaching as low as 824 girls. These figures are alarming in comparison to the United Nation’s 2010 Population Sex Ratio norm of 101.7 males to 100 females. The Indian census numbers therefore show a severe gender ratio imbalance in the nation. The Indian government, numerous global agencies, NGOs and researchers contend that as women become a minority in the population, there is bound to be a detrimental effect on both India’s economic development and social stability.
Undertaken in partnership with two Jesuit schools in India – St. Xavier College in Mumbai and Loyola College in Chennai – the research also found that girls are being systematically devalued in society. Yet, the findings also revealed many wives responding that daughters would be better caregivers than sons.
Fairfield’s researchers surveyed the upper layer of the lower class and the lower layer of the middle class. The assumption was that those families could be the part of the population that can make changes in their attitudes towards the son preference practice, a change that could be discernible by the next census, in 2021.
For more information on the “Impact India” study, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/cfpl/cfpl_gsri.html.
How do we make sense of life? How should we treat others? When human life is at stake, are there reasonable principles we can rely on to guide our actions? What kind of society should be built?
Many people rely on their religious beliefs to answer these questions. But not everyone accepts the same religious premises or recognizes the same spiritual authorities. In an effort to understand this balance, Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer wrote the book “Ten Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues” to explore the ten basic principles that must govern the reasonable person’s thinking and acting about life issues.
The 10 universal principles discussed in the book are broken down into four sections under the topics of reason, ethics, justice and natural rights, and identity and culture.
Fr. Spitzer – former president of Washington’s Gonzaga University and founder of the California-based Magis Institute – said that he wanted the work to be “very accessible” and help everyday Catholics learn how to oppose issues such as euthanasia by using philosophy.
A highly-regarded philosopher, Fr. Spitzer appeared on EWTN’s Bookmark to discuss the book in depth:
Italian Jesuit Brings Background as Doctor and Moral Theolgian to the Study of Bioethics at Boston College
With this background, School of Theology and Ministry Associate Professor, Jesuit Father Andrea Vicini, is uniquely equipped to study the complex, and often controversial, ethical issues that have emerged in the wake of technological and scientific advances in health and medicine.
“Fr. Vicini is one of the few specialists in medical ethics who is both a physician and a theologian. His broad international background gives him keen insight into the importance of the social and cultural contexts of medical practice,” said Jesuit Father David Hollenbach, the University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice. “BC and its students will benefit greatly through his presence.”
“Part of the task and responsibility of reflecting theologically on [ethical] issues,” said Fr. Vicini, who joined the STM faculty last fall, “is that you need to combine different elements that are relevant for theological thinking. First is the tradition — theological insight from other theologians in the past and the present. Second is the magisterial, or official, teaching. The other is the experience of the people. This way the universal and the particular are given consideration.”
When dealing with the end of life, he says, the Christian tradition is to see it as a process and to consider the patient’s consciousness, identity and network of relationships. Ethical challenges, however, arise from the interaction of new technologies and end-of-life issues, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which can be used to determine if brain-injured patients previously thought to be in a vegetative state may, in fact, be reclassified as being in a minimally conscious state.
The technology is still very primitive, but the concept raises issues such as possibility of recovery, access to quality rehabilitative care and family support, according to Fr. Vicini, whose article on this topic will be published later this year in The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics.
Another emerging field of interest for Fr. Vicini is oncofertility, which looks at preserving the fertility of cancer patients. “Advances in cancer treatment for children and young adults have the positive result of recovery but also the negative result of infertility. Technology is available now that can be used to preserve fertility and restore, not only the patients’ health, but their wholeness.” He wrote on the topic of ovarian tissue transplantation for the journal Theological Studies.
A native of Italy who earned his medical degree from the University of Bologna, Fr. Vicini was born with a physical deformity affecting his left hand. He wanted to become a doctor “to help people, to heal and cure. The experience of disability in my life has helped me feel close to people in need.” He was drawn to pediatric practice in particular, he said, because of its holistic nature and opportunity to build relationships with patients and their families. “You get to witness the healing power of medicine in a special way.”
Discernment led Fr. Vicini to join the Society of Jesus in 1987. “I was attracted to the Jesuit commitment to help people in need in various frontiers around the world through education, social justice work and interactions between scientists and other religions and cultures.” He was ordained a priest in 1996.
To read the full story about Fr. Vicini at Boston College, please click here: [Boston College's New Bioethics Professor]