Friday, January 30, 2009

Bet You Won't Read This in The Peoria Catholic Post

CBS News Sunday Morning had this story last Sunday.

It is national news....except in Peoria.

About a "carrier", formerly known as "expectant mother", who delivered a baby at OSF-SFMC in Peoria. With in vitro fertilization (IVF) she was paid to be a surrogate mother for a couple from New York.

The Catholic Church does not like IVF.

And OSF continues to let my Haitian kids who need repeat heart surgery die out of site and out of mind. These Haitian kids, who are already out-of-the-womb, have moms(not "carriers") in Haiti that really care about them and do not want to give them up.

But the Haitian kids don't get a bed at OSF. They just don't count.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Katina Needs Surgery

Katina is a 13 year old Haitian girl. She had heart surgery at OSF in Peoria in 2002.

She needs repeat heart surgery and OSF will not operate on her. Haitian Hearts has contacted other medical centers and they believe she is OSF's ethical and medical responsibility. And she is.

I examined her two months ago in Haiti and she needs heart surgery soon or she will die like Jackson and Maxime.

OSF's International Committee needs to accept Katina. Haitian Hearts is able to give OSF $10,000 dollars for her surgery.

Her passport is up to date and I would go to Haiti to get her if OSF accepted her.

See this video of Katina.

How OSF is willing to let this little girl die in Haiti is beyond me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

No Wonder People Don't Trust

The Peoria Catholic Post December 21, 2008 has an article on the Vatican document "Dignitas Personae" (The Dignity of a Person).

This document reaffirms that Catholic teaching opposes all fertilization techniques that separate procreation from the conjugal act.

Paul Kortz, R.N. is FertilityCare coordinator at OSF in Peoria. Paul teaches Natural Family Planning (NFP) at OSF which is consistent with the Church's teaching.

Paul states in the Catholic post article, “Keeping this in mind we are all called by God to use our intellects to become participants in the work of our Creator. The fight of our intellect provides the means to share an ethical responsibility to discern if medical interventions ever compromise the sacredness of life.”

“Challenging as it may be, we must make concerted efforts to educate our family, friends, and associates that participation in any intervention that undermines the dignity of the human person is to be avoided."

So why did the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and OSF create a loophole for OSF physicians to write prescriptions for oral contraceptives? This policy was created about 15 years ago and flies in the face of Catholic teaching.

Humanae Vitae, written in 1968, states this regarding physicians and health care providers:

Paragraph 27: To Doctors and Medical Personnel

We hold those physicians and medical personnel in the highest esteem who, in the exercise of their profession, value above every human interest the superior demands of their Christian vocation. Let them persevere, therefore, in promoting on every occasion the discovery of solutions inspired by faith and right reason, let them strive to arouse this conviction and this respect in their associates. Let them also consider as their proper professional duty the task of acquiring all of the knowledge needed in this delicate sector, so as to be able to give to those married persons who consult them wise counsel and healthy direction, such as they have a right to expect.

Does OSF and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria promote on every occasion the discovery of faith and right reason and arouse this conviction and this respect in their associates?

I don't think so and money is the reason according to OSF Catholic Ethicist Joseph Piccione.

No mention was made in the article regarding any NFP physician working for OSF. I wonder if OSF even has a NFP at this point. Their only NFP doctor was run out after asking for more money for NFP and being told that OSF needed to pay for the half billion dollar Milestone Project. Women's issues regarding Catholic teachings were given very short shrift.

Also, the Catholic Post article is deceiving by casting eyes on embattled Governor Blagojevich and his policy regarding health care providers and following their consciences. The Post left out that OSF and the Diocese were intricately linked in allowing OSF physicians to provide oral contraceptives. It seems to me that The Diocese and OSF were more effective than the Governor regarding this issue.

The Post article ends with the editor pointing the reader to (Pope Paul VI Institute). OSF FertilityCare Department takes much of its philosophy from this Institute.

The Pope Paul VI Institute website states it is dedicated to building a culture of life by confronting the culture of death:

• By confronting the contraceptive mentality, which is the gateway to abortion.
• By confronting artificial reproductive technologies that suppress, distort, and alter women's fertility; that negatively impact marriages and families; and that lead to the "new abortion."
• By confronting moral erosion.
• By confronting Planned Parenthood's agenda.

So when all is said and done, the reader should be confused regarding what the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and OSF really believe regarding pro-life issues.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria

See Elaine Hopkins post today.

Law of Reform

Niccol├│ Machiavelli presciently wrote in 1513, "There is nothing more difficult to manage, more dubious to accomplish, nor more doubtful of success . . . than to initiate a new order of things. The reformer has enemies in all those who profit from the old order and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit from the new order."

This keenly observed dynamic, known as the "Law of Reform," suggests that a determined and concentrated minority fighting to preserve the status quo has a considerable advantage over a more diffuse majority who favor reform but have varying degrees of willingness to fight for a promised but uncertain benefit.

New England Journal of Medicine, January 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bishop Jenky Needs to March in Peoria

The Peoria Catholic Post has a lead article this week that reports that Bishop Daniel Jenky is going to Washington D.C. to march for a pro life culture in the United States.

"Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will join hundreds of representatives from the Diocese of Peoria and tens of thousands of other participants at the national March for Life and supporting events this week in Washington, D.C.

“This year especially, I thought it was necessary to witness in Washington, D.C., to the Gospel of Life,” Bishop Jenky told The Catholic Post, noting the Jan. 22 march recalling the 36th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions legalizing abortion comes just days after President-elect Barack Obama is inaugurated.

“The election of the new president is an occasion that I believe is going to ask of the church to redouble our pro-life efforts,” he said.

The print version of the Post has a quote by Bishop Jenky stating that any cooperation that leads to abortion is "evil". This was not on the web version of the article.

I would suggest that Bishop Jenky "redouble" his efforts right here in Peoria.

Why shouldn't Bishop Jenky march with hundreds of central Illinois pro life supporters at OSF-SFMC against OSF's artificial contraceptive policy that the Diocese helped create and seems to support? This OSF policy is definitely not pro life. One of the actions of contraceptives is potentially abortifacient. (See this article.)

My brother and I would march with Bishop Jenky regarding this issue. He has our support regarding this.

Interestingly, an advertisement on the Catholic Diocese web page is from OSF HealthCare--A Commitment to Life. Maybe that is where the answer really is regarding the Diocese's "cooperation" with OSF.

The African-American Womb is a Dangerous Place

In Haiti the maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. This is not good for the baby inside if the mother's health deteriorates prior to delivery.

And the infant mortality rate in Haiti is one of the highest in the world also. And part of the reason many babies die before age one year in Haiti is that their mother is dead.

In the United States the infant mortality rate of black infants is 2.5 times higher than whites. And the maternal mortality rate in the United States for black women is 3 times the mortality rate for white women.

And in the United States, a black baby is 5 times more likely to be killed in the womb (abortion) than is a white baby.

See the following article regarding abortion in African-Americans in the United States. It is written by Reverend Clenard H. Childress, Jr.

Black Genocide

What would Martin Luther King say to a nation where an African-American baby is 5 times more likely to be killed in the womb than a Caucasian baby?

MONTCLAIR, N.J. (Black - This is probably the most asked question presently in America since the end of the Civil War, but I am wondering: who is asking it more? Due to the historical implications and the political climate throughout the world, the Global spotlight is clearly on the United States. The world wants to see how Barack Obama will navigate the tumultuous course ahead of him.

In his Election Night Acceptance Speech he referenced Dr. Martin Luther King's famous and prophetic speech, "I've been to the mountain top." Barack Obama said, "We may not get there in one year or four years." It was at that point there seemed to be a degree of uncertainty and this is totally understandable when one considers the state of economic and social affairs of our country and global unrest. I would personally encourage and insist the nation ask another question along with the previous inquiry: 'where do we go from here and what will it look like when we get there?'

In Dr. Martin Luther King's last and most radical presidential address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he entitled his message just what we find ourselves asking at the moment: "Where Do We Go From Here?" Martin said, "First we must massively assert our dignity and worth, we must stand up amidst a system that will oppress us and develop an unassailable and majestic sense of values." Martin Luther King then says that the priority in getting to your destination, are your values, not economy. If that's what's needed then the journey must be delayed indefinitely until we gain those unassailable, unmovable, indestructible values that are divine, lofty and exalted.

But where do we go from here? We can go nowhere until this nation recognizes all of its citizens, especially our most vulnerable, many whose 'unalienable Rights' are presently denied. Until our national values reflect the Giver of our rights —"endowed by their Creator" — as the Declaration of Independence describes to us, there will be no 'there' there when we arrive. In so saying, as Martin Luther King was speaking at a church conference in Nashville Tennessee, he spoke across the decades these profoundly portentous words:

"There must be the recognition of the sacredness of human personality. Deeply rooted in our political and religious heritage is the conviction that every man is an heir to a legacy of dignity and worth. Our Hebraic Christian tradition refers to this inherent dignity of man in the biblical term the image of God. This innate worth referred to in the phrase the image of God is universal, shared in equal portions by all men. There is no graded scale (not pay scale) of essential worth; there is no divine right of one race that differs from the divine right of another. Every human has etched in his personality the indelible stamp of the creator. The idea of dignity and worth of human personality is expressed eloquently and unequivocally in the Declaration of Independence."

Allan Guttmacher reveals that the most dangerous place for an African-American to be is in the womb of their African-American mother. When the Man on the Mountain, Barack Obama, says one of the first things he is going to do is to get the Freedom of Choice Act passed, FOCA would eliminate all state prohibitions and restrictions on abortion, the leading cause of death of African-Americans; I do not want to go to that land. When King went up, he said, "I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you but we as a people will one day get to the promise land." And what land is this? A land with unassailable and majestic values; a land where America lives out its creed; a land where the endowed rights of the Creator are given to all of its citizens, even the unborn!

Ironically, when Dr. Martin Luther King gave this address, he was deeply concerned with the rate of infant mortality. Dr. King said, "The rate of infant mortality among Negroes is double that of whites and there are twice as many Negroes dying in Vietnam as whites in proportion to their size in the population." In Iraq, 6% of the deaths are African-Americans yet African-Americans make up 12% of the population. When compared to the war against children in the womb, 37% of all abortions are African-Americans or more than 3 times the percentage of representation. 52% of all African-American pregnancies are ended tragically through abortion.

When I read of Martin's deep concerns over the infant mortality rate in the 60s, what would Dr. King say if he could have lived in a nation where 16 million African American infants were victims of the abortion industry? Even if you take into consideration AIDs, violent crimes, accidents, cancer and heart disease, this number would not account for half the amount of infants killed in the womb by abortion. What would Martin Luther King say to a nation where an African-American baby is 5 times more likely to be killed in the womb than a Caucasian baby? Where do we go from here, and what will it look like when we get there if Obama's agenda comes to fruition?

Interestingly, one day a newsman came to Martin Luther King and said, "Dr. King, don't you think you're going to have to stop now opposing the war and be more in line with the administration's policy. As I understand it, it has hurt the budget of your organization and people who once respected you, have lost respect for you. Don't you feel you really have to change your position?"

Dr. King answered, "Sir, I'm sorry you don't know me. I'm not a consensus leader. I do not determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I've not taken a Gallup Poll of the majority opinion. Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus. On some positions, cowardice ask the question, is it expedient? And then, expedience comes along and asks the questions, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right?"

I absolutely concur!

Rev. Clenard H. Childress, Jr., is the senior pastor of The New Calvary Baptist Church in Montclair, NJ., the founder of the website and president of Life Education And Resource Network, Northeast. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Diocese has Problems

See this Forum article in the Peoria Journal Star.

One of the commenters, Celsion, hits it on the head. My experience and my family's experience with Bishop Jenky, Monsignor Rohlfs, and Patricia Gibson regarding saving Haitian Hearts in Peoria was very similar.

Unfortunately, Celsion's advice about needing a lawyer when speaking with the Diocese is good advice.

I can't trust The Catholic Diocese of Peoria to do the right thing.

The question is what to do?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Catholic Diocese of Peoria in Trouble in the 90's, and "We" Didn't Even Know It

I found this article in the Chicago Tribune from 2002.

So while the Catholic Diocese of Peoria was firing a Notre Dame High School teacher and working with OSF-SFMC to create a policy for oral contraceptive prescriptions in the 90's, it seems they were also trying to buy the silence of an "archivist" for the Diocese.

And Archbishop John J. Myers said that when new Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky defrocked seven priests that he (Bishop Myers) had no real knowledge of the individual allegations against the priests.

What? Why didn't he know?

And how did new Bishop Jenky learn so much so quickly which enabled him to defrock these priests?

I don't get it.

In the early 2000's when the Catholic Diocese of Peoria turned their back on dying Haitian kids, I was so surprised. But I sure didn't know how the Diocese conducted business at that point.

I do now.

The last sentence in the article below says it all.

Bishop on Abuse Committee under Fire
Handling of Cases in Peoria Is Cited

By Flynn McRoberts and David Heinzmann
Chicago Tribune
June 2, 2002

The grim news spilling from this central Illinois river town in recent weeks has carried all the hallmarks of the American Catholic Church's present nightmare:

Priests ousted from the ministry after allegations of sexual misconduct. Apologies to angry victims. The belated creation of a committee that includes lay professionals to better deal with abusive pastors.

Lost in the familiarity, though, is the fact that the man who until recently led those priests and victims is now one of eight prelates charged with mapping a way out of the church's crisis.

John J. Myers, who was promoted last year to lead the Newark archdiocese, was recently named to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse. The committee is writing the policy proposal that will be put before the conference in Dallas later this month.

But some parishioners, pastors and victims in the Peoria diocese are challenging Myers' own judgment in the decade he led 240,000 Catholics spread over 26 central Illinois counties. Given his own approach to the issue, they are questioning his fitness to carry out his new role in addressing the church's mishandling of clerical sex abuse.

Those critics describe an ambitious "ecclesiastical politician," as one priest put it, who responded to some victims' cries only after they threatened to go public; moved certain problem priests without informing parishioners; and allegedly sought to purchase the silence of a church archivist who had gathered information on priests.

With his orthodox theology and reputation for relishing the princely trappings of Catholic prelates, Myers has prompted controversy throughout his climb from the Peoria diocese of his childhood to leadership of the 1.3 million-strong archdiocese of Newark.

Among his critics, Myers' notable moves in Peoria included his installation of a hot tub in the bishop's residence and his push to remove a Catholic teacher who had defied a priest's warning and allowed a classroom discussion on the ordination of women.

But it is not Myers' conservative theological bent that has drawn attention in recent weeks. More to the point is the fact that his successor, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, quickly decided he needed to craft a significantly tougher policy to address sexual misconduct by priests--an issue that some church leaders already had addressed.

In the most dramatic move, Jenky on Thursday removed seven accused priests.

In an interview late Friday, Myers, 60, rejected accusations that he was slow or reluctant to respond to allegations of sexual abuse by priests in his diocese.

"The actions that Bishop Jenky has taken were based on information I never had available to me," Myers said of Jenky's removal of the priests. "If I had known, I would have acted like he acted."

But one of Myers' former top aides said that while he assisted Myers, the idea of establishing an independent commission to review sexual misconduct--such as Jenky recently set up--was never discussed.

'Commission never came up'

"A commission never came up. I don't know why," said Monsignor Eric Powell, now pastor of St. Mary Church in Kickapoo, Ill.

Powell said Myers liked to handle sensitive issues personally and quietly. He said he believed Myers always did the right thing to protect victims and potential victims when he was faced with allegations.

Still, Powell acknowledged that parishioners now demand a different approach. Myers used "the older model--to deal with it seriously, but deal with it quietly," Powell said. "This newer model is more satisfying to the people of God."

Some victims and their family members have come forward to say Myers only reacted when faced with media exposure. They include Theresa Koenigs of Cambridge, Ill., who was outraged a year ago to hear that Myers planned to reinstate a priest who acknowledged molesting her son in the 1980s.

Koenigs said the diocese initially didn't respond to her repeated phone calls concerning the priest, Francis Engels, who was removed from active service in 1993 after allegations were brought against him.

"So then I called one last time and I told them, 'You have somebody call me in 10 minutes or I'm going to a newspaper.' They called me within 5 minutes," she recalled.

Koenigs said she was told: "Well, we thought enough time was elapsed, that everybody had healed and it would be OK."

"I said, 'No, it's not OK. Not ever. Some of my family are just now starting to heal, and now you want to put him back on the altar?"

Myers acknowledged in the interview that he did move to allow Engels to return to limited ministry, but only in capacities in which he would not have direct contact with minors. When Koenigs contacted him to object, he relented and kept Engels inactive.

"I didn't realize they would be so upset," he said of the Koenigses' reaction. "I changed my mind on the spot the second I understood how upset they were."

Another alleged victim of Engels also said Myers responded to complaints only after he and his family went to the media.

"He was cordial but didn't do anything," said Michael Emery, a former priest who accused Engels and another priest of abusing him. "I would say we got stonewalled."

Emery said he and his family first spoke face-to-face with Myers in November 1992 but nothing was done about Engels until after the family got frustrated and told their story to the Peoria Journal-Star several months later.

"Given my family's experience ... I think it's crazy" for Myers to be named to the bishops' committee on sex abuse, said Emery, who left the priesthood in 1988 and later got married. "I don't think he's dealt with it in an insightful fashion."

Monsignor Steven Rohlfs, now the chancellor in charge of handling sex-abuse allegations under Jenky, defended Myers' handling of such allegations, saying, "I would hope that we would not act with lightning speed on accusations like this" and be "fair to the victims and fair to the accused."

After Jenky announced the removal of seven priests last week, Myers said through a spokesman that "he really has no knowledge of the individual allegations against these priests."

But Myers was informed of allegations against at least two of the priests as early as 1993. That year, a victim accused Rev. John Anderson of sexual misconduct about a decade earlier, and the family asked that he be moved to administrative duties, said Rohlfs.

"We had an allegation against him. And the victim did not want to go public, and he did not want Anderson removed from the priesthood. He just wanted him removed from any access to children," said Rohlfs.

None of the assignments Anderson subsequently took involved contact with children, he said, including local fundraising for church mission work and later executive director of King's House of Retreats.

Anderson, now 69, was sent away for treatment and continued in regular therapy when he returned to Peoria, according to Myers. The former Peoria bishop said that to his knowledge Anderson was not guilty of sexually abusing minors.

Behavior called 'inappropriate'

"He had not broken the law, as far as we know," Myers said, but he had engaged in behavior that was "inappropriate." Myers declined to elaborate, but acknowledged that the behavior was serious enough to warrant in-depth treatment.

The second priest, whom Myers knew about as of 1997, was Rev. Norm Goodman. The former pastor of Holy Family Church in Lincoln, Ill., Goodman consistently has denied accusations brought by more than a dozen victims. But Bishop Jenky stripped him of his Roman collar last week.

One of the victims who settled a lawsuit with the diocese over Goodman's alleged abuse was Lance Rainforth, whose family owns two candy and gift shops in Peoria and Lincoln.

After the Rainforths approached the diocese with their complaints, according to one Peoria priest who asked not to be identified, Myers seemed to suggest that the family would pay a price for pursuing its charges. "Before this is all over with," the priest recalled Myers telling him, "the diocese could end up owning two candy stores."

On Friday, Myers said he could not recall whether he said that.

"If I said anything, it would have been that 'If you keep pushing this, then people might stop coming to your business,"' he said, because people at the time were very supportive of Goodman.

Three years after becoming Peoria's bishop, Myers purchased files on priests from an archivist at the diocese's cathedral parish.

The archivist, Paul Geers, sold the files to the diocese in November 1993 for $6,000.

The "agreement of sale" document, written in halting sentence fragments, included a reference to "a very large file on priests ... many old photos of priests and histories. Death, Gay, Aids, married, those who left Diocese." The agreement also included a promise that Geers not keep any copies of the documents and that he not discuss their contents with anyone.

The day after the sale, Geers said, he got a call from Powell. "Bishop Myers would like to buy your silence," Geers recalled the priest telling him. "I said, 'My silence is not for sale.'"

At the time, Geers was a parishioner at St. Mary's Cathedral parish and an amateur archivist who came across the information while interviewing priests for research into diocesan history. "He tried to buy my silence to keep me quiet and now he's on this committee? Come on," Geers said of Myers. "I'd like to know what they're hiding."

But Powell and Myers challenged the recollections of Geers. Powell said that if secrecy had been his purpose, he would have been shrewder than to say so openly. "I dispute that," Powell said. "It's not a very clever thing to say."

Myers said the diocese did pay Geers, but did so chiefly because they wanted control of any confidential personnel files, rather than have them circulating among people who shouldn't have access to them.

"We did not know what he had," Myers said. In the end, Myers insisted, Geers' claim of having confidential priest files was false.

Looking back on Myers' Peoria tenure, even some victims' attorneys compare Myers favorably with other bishops in his handling of sexual misconduct cases.

"He sought to compensate the victims, which I think is commendable," said Frederic Nessler, a Springfield attorney who handled the Goodman cases. "Some dioceses defend the cases at any cost on any technical grounds they can muster. That was not the case that I experienced with Myers," said Nessler.

But Nessler said Myers failed to act as forthrightly as his successor. "He did not act to remove the priest as Bishop Jenky has," the attorney said. "I think you need to act transparently, and that's what Bishop Jenky has done. He's acting quickly to rid the diocese of these alleged pedophiles."

Some with whom Myers publicly clashed acknowledge his talents. "Bishop Myers is bright and charming. He's a wonderful managerial person, a gifted canon lawyer," said Marlynn Kelsch, a former scripture teacher at Notre Dame High School in Peoria who was let go in 1993 by one of Myers' proteges; she had defied the priest's order not to allow her students to debate the idea of ordaining women.

Others who know Myers through the painful experience of their loved ones' abuse look at the breadth of bishops who mishandled such cases for years. And they wonder if it's possible to find any prelates who haven't erred.

"The way I look at it as a Catholic and a person, they're not going to find a perfect bishop," said Ron Koenigs, Theresa's husband and a retired factory worker. But "what good is a church if you can't trust the priest?"

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Surrounded by Walls

My father-in-law, Ed King, and I traveled to Haiti in mid-November. We went down to transport two young women in the Haitian Hearts program to the United States for heart surgery.

This was Ed’s second trip to Haiti. We stayed at a guest house in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Port-au-Prince has an estimated population of 3,000,000.

The first morning Ed looked at me, chuckled, and said, “We are surrounded by walls.”

Ed had surveyed the neighborhood that morning. And he was right. There were walls everywhere.

The top of the walls that surround private homes in Haiti have broken glass and razor wire embedded in cement. One would really have to want to get inside the walls to run the risk of going over top.

Prior to his retirement, Ed served as Dean of Men at Bradley University for many years. He is probably the most respected graduate in Bradley University history.

One midnight in 1969, Ed was awakened and emergently summoned to the Bradley Student Center. He quickly walked from his home which was just off campus and learned that students had taken over the Student Center.

African-American students were inside the Student Center and demonstrating against a university tuition increase. The Peoria Police were there and electricity had been cut to the building. Spotlights were shining and the police and their dogs were ready.

As the students called the police “pigs”, Ed calmly spoke with a microphone to the students inside.

After several hours of negotiations, the students left the building. Ed had confronted a disaster waiting to happen. No one was hurt.

Ed travels the country now and gives workshops on “constructive confrontation” which is about effective communication between people. The formidable walls in our neighborhood in Haiti’s capital startled him since he has spent most of his adult life trying to tear down walls.

Later that first morning in Haiti we piled into a pickup and traveled south and east of Port-au-Prince to an elite suburb called Petionville. We wanted to visit the site of La Promesse, the school that had collapsed suddenly one morning in early November.

This tragedy had riveted the world’s attention on Haiti and its courageous people.

The UN soldiers in Haiti dug through the rubble. International disaster experts were flown in. Pope Benedict sent his condolences. The world seemed to care about these Haitian students and their families.

When we arrived at the site, a small contingent of UN forces from Jordan was walking up the street from the collapsed three story building.

A big empty spot was apparent on the side of the street overlooking a steep ravine. About 30 Haitians were milling about on top of broken cement, rubble, and twisted rebar. Many were staring down into the ravine. Most people were quiet.

As we walked out onto the pancaked collapsed school, I thought I should not even be there. I wondered about crushed little bodies that may lie just beneath my dirty shoes.

One mother had lost 5 kids in the crush at the school named “ The Promise”.

Madame Telemak, a neighbor lady, standing in the debris with us, told me she heard a loud noise at 10 AM the morning the school fell. She ran over and witnessed the panic and screaming that enveloped the neighborhood. Family members and neighborhood people dug with their bare hands attempting to free anyone they could get to.

Another lady near us, wearing a black dress, sat down and put her face in her hand. She had lost no one in the disaster. She just wanted to be there.

This was Haiti’s version of 9-11, although Haiti seems to be one never ending 9-11.

A young man pointed to a small room made of cinderblock that was still standing somehow. He said it was the principal’s office. I peered in a small hole and could see some shadows of objects but I could not tell what they were.

Walls of adjacent homes that had been attached to La Promesse were hanging in various states of disarray and shambles. The walls had been partially ripped off when the school collapsed and again with the process of extrication of survivors and victims.

A tiny shattered one room house perched on the side of the hill was the home of a peanut vendor who was inside the school when it collapsed. He was killed.

After a short time, there wasn’t much more to see or talk about. Helpless doesn’t describe the situation. A few pictures and collective shaking of heads, and it was time to leave.

Ed and I ambled up onto to the street. A black sign had been hung over the street which read, “In memory of the students and professors of Petionville who lost their lives under the politics of the bourgeois and businessman.”

A well to do grocery store owner of Lebanese descent told me that morning that everyone wanted to blame the poor for the tragedy. But he blamed the government for lack of adequate construction safety codes.

I agree with my sagacious father-in-law. Walls everywhere, not just in Haiti, need to be removed so places like La Promesse don’t collapse and crush the future for all of us.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Ronald Accepted Today!!

Ronald is 16 years old and has been a Haitian Hearts patient for six years. Ronald is an orphan and lives in Port-au-Prince.

He was accepted by a medical center today for heart surgery which he desperately needs.

Now the paperwork.
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Diocese Needs Higher Standards

I am a Catholic.

I have had 14 years of Catholic education and have been attending Mass for 55 years.

But I don’t trust our Catholic leaders in Peoria. I don’t think Bishop Jenky and Monsignor Rohlfs, and Patricia Gibson have behaved like moral Catholic leaders need to act. Especially when times get tough. Like now.

Somehow, and I don’t know how, the laity needs to hold them to higher standards. But the laity is afraid…jobs, health insurance, kids, etc. get in the way of holding the Bishop to a “higher standard”. And that is how the Diocese wants it.

Elaine Hopkins wrote this post today regarding SNAP and their news conference in Peoria.

Before my meetings with Bishop Jenky, Monsignor Rohlfs, and Patricia Gibson, I may have had a hard time believing SNAP and the Diocese’s reaction to SNAP victims. I probably would have sided with the Diocese.

Not any more.

After my personal experience with the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and the way they minimized the importance of Haitian Hearts children’s lives and obstructed the process, I feel the Diocese has been complicit in the abandonment of the very children that they should try and protect. They preach it on Sundays but don't practice it on weekdays.

Whenever I bury a Haitian Hearts patient, I think of our Diocesan leaders in their big offices and new Spalding Pastoral Care Center.

What a shame. What a lot of money. SNAP probably thinks so too.