Thanks to Sue Sturgis over at the Institute for Southern Studies for posting the story of John Wathen and his heart-breaking video of the oil spill destroying our southern coast as a result of BP criminal negligence.
The Institute for Southern Studies was founded in 1970 by veterans of the civil rights movement and has established a national reputation as an essential resource for grassroots activists, community leaders, scholars, policy makers and others working to bring lasting social and economic change to the region. Sue Sturgis writes:
At nine miles out, they began to smell the oil. At 11 miles, they saw a visible sheen on the water. And at mile 87 off the Alabama coast, they reached ground zero of the disaster — what Wathen described as a “red mass of floating goo” as far as the eye can see.
“The Gulf appears to be bleeding,” he said.
“For the first time in my environmental career, I find myself using the word ‘hopeless,'” Wathen continued. “We can’t stop this. There’s no way to prevent this from hitting our shorelines.”
Wathen and Hutchings had no trouble finding their way back to land: “All we had to do was follow the red,” Wathens said. “There was a perfect line of it leading from the rig to the shoreline.”
Here’s the video from that trip, which is also posted to Wathen’s blog dedicated to documenting the disaster:
I got a note today from Pat Mahon over at Pax Christi South saying he’d been banned from speaking in the Diocese of Venice, Florida. He was scheduled to lead a retreat on Thomas Merton but the retreat was canceled by the chancellor. Pat speculates that this was because of his support for Catholic women’s ordination to the priesthood. Here’s an excerpt from Pat’s reflections:
I immediately began finalizing arrangements and the materials for a retreat on Merton I was giving to a parish peace and justice group on Florida’s west coast this Friday and Saturday. Then, out of the blue, I was notified Wednesday evening that the retreat was canceled because I was no longer approved to speak in the Diocese of Venice. I had been approved last March to speak on Merton in San Marco and understood that once approved, further approval was not necessary. The retreat coordinator in October was told that I was approved when he inquired to make sure. What?
I arose early after a restless night and called the contact person. The chancellor had had the person in charge of the deacons call the deacon who was coordinating the retreat to deliver the message. Speaking of dialogue, openness and transparency! The only reason I have been able to find so far is that I support the ordination of women as priests. I now join a select group of people who I been told are banned in Venice–Joan Chittister, Charlie Curran, Anthony Padovano. I also suspect that Roy Bourgeoise and John Dear are on the list.
Read Pat’s whole post here and send him a suportive note.
This tactic of “banning” speakers that someone in Catholic hierarchy doesn’t approve of is becoming more popular. In October, the diocese of Richmond refused to allow Pax Christi to meet in Holy Family Church — even though a bishop was one of the keynote speakers! Pax Christi had to hold its meeting at the local Methodist college.
It’s important to note that technically the diocese can only “ban” speakers who are holding events on diocesan-owned property. So if you hold your events elsewhere, the hierarchy can “ban” all they want but to no effect.
I find it ironic that when judges were deciding on financial settlements for priest sex abuse cases in the dioceses of Portland and Seattle, the dioceses made it clear to the judges that the churches were the property of the parishioners. This was a strategy to reduce the diocesan “assets” and therefore limit the financial exposure of the diocese. The courts saw through this and determined that the churches were part of church property. But if the diocese can make that determination once, maybe parishioners should join together into an ownership model for their parishes.
I’d love to hear other people’s experiences with diocesan approval for speakers and events.
Pat blogs for Pax Christi South, a web site for two Pax Christi groups—the Berrigan Peace and Justice Community at St. William Church in Murphy, NC, and its mission, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Hayesville, NC. Pat is a leading nonviolence teacher and retreat leader. He and his wife Joan live in Georgia.
I really like his paraphrase from the epistle of James. Check it out:
The readings for this Sunday offer further thoughts for reflection. Let’s paraphrase James 2:15-16:
If a brother or sister is unable to secure affordable and adequate health care and one of you says to him/her, “Goodbye. Be healthy!” without giving him/her access to health care, what good does that do?
As Christians we always face the struggle of discerning, espousing and working for Christian values. Pope John XXIII made the Christian value explicit when it comes to health care. It is the right of every American. Period! End the debate! Now let’s find out how to make it a reality.