Welcome. Protect. Promote. Integrate. These are the verbs used by Pope Francis to guide Catholics on how to treat immigrants, migrants and refugees in our midst (from his message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 2018).
With sadness and frustration, I read recently about the Rev. Nick VanDenBroeke’s homily about immigration and a comment he made about Muslims on Jan. 5, Migration Sunday — as promoted by the Minnesota’s Catholic bishops — and the Feast of the Epiphany (“Rice County priest apologizes for criticism of Islam,” Jan. 30). None of us need any more divisive rhetoric spewed into our lives. We as Catholics, and all members of increasingly diverse societies, need messages from those who have the privilege to preach from a pulpit that encourage us to encounter one another, to build bridges with one another and not to tolerate or succumb to fear rhetoric or visions of scarcity.
I am a pastoral associate at Church of the Ascension in north Minneapolis, a very diverse Catholic community, and have also attended services at Masjid An-Nur, the mosque just two blocks east of us. Before coming to the North Side, I had never been to a mosque, but have since opened myself to new experiences and people.
Yes, our faith traditions are distinct, yet time and again, my experience has been one of friendship, respect and openness to questions. Our world desperately needs compassion and love, and my great hope is that our communities of faith will lead the way instead of leading their faithful astray.
Anne Attea, Minneapolis
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Somebody needs to remind VanDenBroeke that there was a time when people worried about the number of Catholics who were entering the country.
Nancy Butler, Bloomington
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How saddened I was to hear of a Lonsdale priest describing Islam as the “greatest threat in the world both to Christianity and to America.” He apologized, saying he was sorry his words hurt Muslims. He did not apologize for the words he spoke. He stated that his comments were not fully in line with Catholic teaching. The hurtful words do not in any way reflect Catholic, let alone Christian, teaching.
Growing up in Seattle in the 1960s, Sunday night the TV was dialed to “Challenge.” The program focused on interfaith dialogue. The Rev. William Treacy (still alive today at 100) and Rabbi Raphael Levine, along with rotating Protestant ministers, discussed many topics over the 14 years the program aired. Although disagreeing frequently, the conversations were always respectful. The men were trying to understand, not change, each other.
Several years later Treacy and Levine founded Camp Brotherhood. The 300-acre farm one hour north of Seattle was dedicated to interreligious endeavors: fostering dialogue, respect and understanding between all faiths and nonbelievers.
Beyond apologizing, perhaps this Lonsdale priest, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, should initiate “Challenge 2020.” Perhaps the group might include Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Quakers, nonbelievers, etc. This would be a positive step toward reconciliation.
A final comment: Jesus was a Jew, not a Catholic nor a Christian. He wants us to imitate his lifestyle, not a name.
Cathy Smith, West Concord, Minn.
Restore rights of asylum-seekers
It’s been one year since the Trump administration unleashed its cruel “Remain in Mexico” policy, which has led to an unjust and illegal situation where thousands of asylum-seekers are being denied their rights. While most Minnesotans are swept up in the drama of the impeachment trial and coming election, nearly 60,000 people (asylum-seekers and migrants) have been returned to Mexico, often to unsafe situations. This policy also means the asylum-seekers are kept south of the border, purposefully hidden from the view of the American people.
Seeking asylum is a human right. We need to demand that the administration revokes this inhumane policy.
Betsy Ohrn, St. Paul
If it’s your top issue, vote Democrat
Good news for “consistent life ethic” followers (like a Jan. 30 letter writer) who feel torn between agreeing with Republicans on abortion and Democrats on everything else: There’s no reason to think Republican policies would reduce the rates of abortion, so you can safely vote Democrat.
Outlawing abortion would decrease the reporting of and survival rate after abortions, but it’s absurd to think that even the most restrictive policies would stop abortions from happening.
Research suggests that the No. 1 reason women in America have abortions is “financial reasons.” If Republicans were more interested in reducing the rate of abortions than ineffectual virtue signaling, they would support economic policies like those of Andrew Yang, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Matthew Byrnes, Minneapolis
Red-flag laws would’ve helped us
I was a frightened 15-year-old when my dad returned home from a state hospital where he had received little effective treatment. He was a good man with a terrible disease — schizophrenia, paranoid type. His rifle and shotgun stood in a corner of our dining room “for your protection.” Every day when I crept into the house after school I was terrified at what I might find. Mom asked the police to take his guns, but they said they couldn’t, unless he had used them in a crime. Finally she managed to sneak them up to the family farm and gave them to her brother, who hid them. At first furious, Dad eventually thanked her (once he was on some medication).
Thank you to the Star Tribune Editorial Board for its continued stand on red-flag laws and gun control (“More division over Minnesota gun laws,” editorial, Jan. 27). I know my dad would approve.
Barbara Weller, St. Paul
Much ado about an easy fix
The Friday Star Tribune article regarding the insulin battle is disturbing because of the absolute necessity of insulin for treatment (“Insulin battle in state drags on,” Jan. 31). Slightly less concerning but just as important is the failure of our Legislature to enact a lifesaving proposal with speed, intelligence and efficiency. Does a proposal such as this really need a partisan debate and, in particular, over the cost of a monthlong, emergency supply?
The informative article lacks some important statistics and facts that we all should be aware of. Only 5% of all Minnesotans with diabetes mellitus have the insulin-requiring Type 1; this translates into 16,500 adults. A much smaller percentage of people with Type 2 may need insulin, but this form of the disease is generally well-controlled with diet and oral medications. The overwhelming majority of people with Type 1 diabetes have perfectly good insurance that will cover their medication. However, in the impossible situation in which every single patient needed a one-time 30-day emergency supply, what would be the cost, copays (which should not be required) notwithstanding? Given the current status of the state’s budget, I am willing to bet we can manage it. The drug companies certainly can. And what about insurance companies, given that trips to emergency departments for out-of-control diabetes is not only life-threatening but expensive?
This is a no-brainer. Solve the problem now.
Paul Waytz, Minneapolis
The writer is a physician.
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