Friday, October 29, 2010

When will the Catholic Herald become Catholic?

I am an avid reader of the local paper in Milwaukee called the Catholic Herald, but this past week I saw something that bothered me. In the October 21st edition an ad for Senator Russ Feingold was printed. Senator Feingold is pro-choice. Above the ad was a notice saying that if they accept ads from any political candidate, then they must accept ads from all candidates. I didn't accept that no-endorsement statement as being enough to allow the Catholic Herald to print the ad for a Senator whose beliefs are far from Catholic, so I wrote the following letter to the editor of the Catholic Herald:

Regarding the Russ Feingold Campaign Ad in the Catholic Herald-

I am an active Catholic teen at St. Matthias Parish and I am not even old enough to vote yet, but I am very upset over the posting of the Russ Feingold ad in the Catholic Herald. The day the Catholic Herald arrives in the mail, I read it cover to cover. This is the first time that I have been incensed by what I found in it. Russ Feingold is openly for abortion and has consistently supported abortion rights. What kind of Catholic community are we when we support political candidates who oppose Catholic beliefs? Who would vote for him anyway?

I remember reading an article by Archbishop Listecki's a couple of weeks ago talking about Pro-Life. This political ad for Russ Feingold totally contradicts the Archbishop! What do you think he is thinking right now as he looks at this ad that has been printed in the paper that he publishes!

While watching the debate between Russ Feingold and his pro-life opponent, Ron Johnson, a few days ago, I couldn't help but notice that Senator Feingold showed no respect or courtesy for anyone else. He wouldn't even let Ron Johnson speak, because he continued to cut him off and interrupt him, smirk at him and laugh at him. Why should the Catholic Herald show respect for a man by printing his ad, when he shows no respect for anyone else?

And here is his response:

Dear John:
Thank you for your e-mail regarding our publication of the Russ Feingold ad.

The Catholic Herald has accepted political advertising for decades. One of the conditions for doing so is that if we solicit ads from one candidate for a political office, we must solicit (and accept) ads from all candidates for that office – even if his or her opponents choose not to advertise. This is not a self-imposed condition but rather one imposed upon us by the Internal Revenue Service. Here is how the legal department of the U.S. bishops explained it in 2007:

“Paid Political Advertising. A Catholic organization may not provide political advertising to a candidate, political party or PAC free, at a reduced rate, or on a selective basis. IRS has stated that acceptance of paid political ads in exempt organization newspapers, periodicals, and other publications generally will not violate the political campaign prohibition, provided: (a) the organization accepts political advertising on the same basis as other non-political advertising; (b) political advertising is identified as paid political advertising; (c) the organization expressly states that it does not endorse any candidate; and (d) advertising is available to all candidates on an equal basis. IRS places particular emphasis on the manner in which political advertising is solicited. One identified negative factor is solicitation of ads from certain candidates that support an organization’s views, but mere acceptance (without solicitation) of ads from other candidates. It is important to emphasize that once a Catholic organization accepts one paid political advertisement, it cannot selectively decline to accept others. [See: Election Year Issues at 384.]

“Factors to be considered in determining whether the provision of paid political advertising constitutes political campaign intervention include: (a) whether advertising is available to candidates in the same election on an equal basis; (b) whether advertising is available only to candidates and not to the general public; (c) whether the fees charged to candidates for advertising are the customary and usual fees; and whether the advertising activity is an ongoing activity or whether it is conducted only for a particular candidate. [See: Rev. Rul. 2007-41 at 1425.]”

In the case of the U.S. Senate race, advertising was sought from the Johnson campaign; thus it had to be sought from the Feingold campaign. The Johnson campaign expressed no interest in reaching Catholic Herald readers; the Feingold campaign did. Thus, the reason his ad appeared.

Be assured, John, that prior to the 2012 election, we will be evaluating our practice of accepting political advertising. It will not be an easy decision, so I ask that you keep the Catholic Press Apostolate in your prayers.

Again, thank you for taking time to write, and for expressing yourself in a Christian, civil manner.

Brian T. Olszewski
General Manager
Catholic Herald

For more on the subject visit Badger Catholic and Imprisoned in my Bones.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Well this past Sunday was my birthday! I just turned 17. This means that I am now one year away from adulthood. When we are younger, it seems like the only thing we want is to grow up. It seems to us that when we get older there are more privileges for us to take part in. However as the years go by, we sometimes wish we were still little children again, without a care in the world, playing, laughing, just generally enjoying the gift of life from God. Sometimes life has its up and downs, times when we wish we were still little kids, with no worries, but these ups and downs make us who we are and help us gain a more clear knowledge of God's presence and love in our lives.

I have a friend at school who told me that she doesn't celebrate her birthday. When I asked her why, she began to tell me the story of how when she and her friend were eight years old, they went to the store to get some candy. As they were crossing the street, a truck was coming down the road. My friend was about to be hit by the truck when her friend saved her life by pushing her out of the way only to be hit instead and died. Because she felt that her friend died because of her, my friend hasn't celebrated her birthday in over 8 years. She feels that she doesn't deserve to live.

Even though this happened so many years ago, it has totally changed her life and made it more difficult to spend time with her loved ones to celebrate her birthday Trying to comfort her, I told her how sorry I was that that had happened. I know what it is like to lose someone, but never like that. Still I told my friend that even though she doesn't celebrate her birthday anymore, she should still try to celebrate it because it is a celebration that she is alive. I told her that her friend saved her life and she would probably want her to continue to live her life.
Jesus died for our lives, but he doesn't want us to mourn his death, but celebrate his triumph over death and the new life he gave us.

My friend was comforted by my words and because she shared this difficult memory with me, we are now closer friends than ever before. I am grateful that she was willing to open up to me, and I am grateful that I was able to offer her some solace. Friendships that offer us opportunities to share our sorrows and joys are truly a gift from God.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Faith, Fellowship and Fun at Holy Hill!

This past Saturday my family and I had a great opportunity to go to 11th annual St. John Bosco Youth Day held at The National Shine of Mary Help of Christians Basilica at Holy Hill in Hubertus, WI. My mom, my brothers and I went along with our friends. We had such a great time listening to speakers talk about ways in which we can become closer to God and bring others closer to him.

One particular speaker was a brave young woman by the name of Lila Rose. This woman has, since she was 18, worked as a pro-life activist and is the founder of the pro-life group Live Action. She goes into Planned-Parenthood clinics undercover and catches what the nurses and doctors say on tape. She showed us some of the videos and they were very shocking. It is also very shocking that she is brave enough to do this. I don't think that I could be that brave. What she is doing is truly great and I truly support her and her mission. We should all pray for her and woman like her that are working for God and trying to teach people about the wrongs of abortion and that there are more loving alternatives such as adoption, instead of aborting innocent children. She was very inspiring and uplifting.

The rest of the day consisted of Mass, Adoration, Confession, a chance to climb the huge tower of the Basilica and of course time for fun and games. This was a great experience for my family and friends and was a great way to meet many other people who also have the same love for God as we do! A great time was had by us all, and we can't wait to go again next year.