Without a Doubt Tidbits

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin - Without a Doubt
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It’s been awhile since I’ve written a “tidbits” column, a collection of personal thoughts and reflections on a variety of topics, so let’s get to it.

I wasn’t especially caught up by the royal wedding of William and Catherine, but I was impressed by the homily given by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres.

Quoting St. Catherine of Siena, the Bishop said to the bride and groom: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” And he continued, “In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.”

And this: “As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practice and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.”

Like just about everybody else, I was pleased by the news that Osama bin Laden had been discovered and executed. While some of the details of the raid are in question, it was, it seems to me, an appropriate and necessary expression of justice.

It’s important, though, that in applauding this event we don’t nurture a spirit of violence and vengeance, lest we become as barbaric as those we condemn. The statement from the Vatican got it right I think: “In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.”

I sincerely hope that the members of the General Assembly won’t support the civil-unions legislation that’s now been introduced in the House, HB 6103. As the National Organization for Marriage correctly pointed out, “the proposed civil union legislation is nothing more than a Trojan Horse that will usher in same-sex marriage sooner rather than later.”

The proposed legislation simply replaces the concept of homosexual marriage with civil unions; it makes no effort to recognize the distinct value of traditional marriage; it enshrines into law morally unacceptable homosexual relationships; and it provides little or no conscience protection for individuals or institutions that would object to recognizing or participating in such civil unions. In short, the proposed civil-unions approach is a classic case of “bait and switch” – we’ll promise you one thing but give you another. I hope that our legislators will see through this charade.

And speaking of homosexual marriage, the “Providence Journal’s” Bob Kerr steps way over the line in his May 6 column. While Mr. Kerr’s liberal perspective is well known, and his determined support of homosexual marriage well documented, his angry column labels as “cowardly” those political leaders who have attempted a pragmatic approach to the issue for this year.

Worse yet, he says that the latest effort to pass homosexual marriage legislation was “an opportunity to move Rhode Island into the fair, reasoned company of states that have moved beyond ignorance and Bible-thumping thuggery to do the right thing.” What an insult to the tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders, including legislators, who certainly aren’t “ignorant, Bible-thumping thugs” but rather good, decent, thoughtful citizens who happen to believe that the concept of same-sex marriage is morally inappropriate and harmful to our state. These good folks should be able to hold and express their views without being verbally trampled by Mr. Kerr. Is it possible that his own brand of bigotry is showing? He owes lots of people a sincere apology for his inflammatory and insulting language.

Next Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday, when we reflect upon God’s compassionate pastoral care for his people, fulfilled in Jesus who said: “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me . . . I will lay down my life for the sheep.”

Throughout its history the Diocese of Providence has been blessed by truly good shepherds – men who have given their lives for the care of God’s people. That tradition continues today. Please take a moment to pray for more vocations to the priesthood in our Diocese and to pray for our priests – those in active ministry and those who have retired from daily administration.

And perhaps you can find an opportunity to personally thank your priests for their dedicated and generous service. Your encouragement of our shepherds is important and greatly appreciated.

Is it just me, or do you find that navigating airports and traveling by plane is becoming increasingly annoying and distasteful these days? The high fares and additional fees, the intrusive security searches, the loud cell phone conversations, the comatose passengers immersed in technology, the crowded planes, and the sloppy careless passengers all add to the horrendous experience.

On my last flight, a woman plopped herself down in the middle seat next to me and proceeded to remove her shoes, extending her bare feet with painted toenails on either side of the tray table in front of her. Who wants to look at that all the way from Baltimore to Providence?

And finally, who would have believed that six weeks into the baseball season, the Pittsburgh Pirates would have a better record than the Boston Red Sox? And keep in mind that Boston’s opening day payroll this year was $161 million; Pittsburgh’s just $46 million.

At this point I’d say that the Pirates are getting their money’s worth. Boston fans deserve a refund.