"A Welcoming Community of Faith Rooted in the Catholic Tradition"

 






Home
Parish Locations
Returning Catholics
Religious Orders & Societies
Ministry to Veterans
Apostolic Succession
Marriage
Pastoral Publications
Protecting the People of God
ECC Policies & Procedures
Church Calendar
ECC Photo Gallery
Request for Masses
Speakers Bureau
Church Archives
Bishop's Meeting
St. John Evangelist Seminary

A Pastoral Letter:  For the Kingdom of God on Earth

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

 It has pleased God to create our world, and humankind as its custodians.  He has blessed His creation with all good things and has remained steadfast and loyal in His promise of unconditional love for each of us. (1) 

Upon seeing His children struggle with their human imperfections, He sent His Son into the world to redeem it and to promise to each of us His unconditional welcoming of us into His eternal Kingdom in Heaven. (2) 

While each of us awaits the gift of the Heavenly Kingdom, God calls us to witness our personal and communal relationship with Him by rising about the frailties and weaknesses of our mortal condition by implementing and witnessing our love and faith in God enriching to Kingdom of God we now live in. (3) 

Much of the history of humanity on earth has been a history of social, political and individual struggles for peace, justice and equality. (4)  Despite the greater sophistication of each new generation, humanity continues to struggle with many of the same recurring profound moral dichotomies. (5) 

We have perfected the ability to land a human on the moon, but we cannot overcome our ignorance to cease polluting the earth.  We have perfected the ability to harvest human organs for transplantation, but we cannot overcome our inability to feed the hungry with the abundant harvests of our farms.  We expound to others the morality of human rights, but we will not admit that we continue silently to assent to the continued restricting of opportunities for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of millions of men, women and children without our own society.  We enjoy wrapping ourselves in the flag to aid the cause of international democracy, but we turn a blind eye to the international plight of persons with AIDS (6).  We watch eagerly as architects compete to build the world’s tallest building, but no one wants a homeless shelter built next to their home.  We have celebrated the era of women, but we failed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.  The shelves of our bookstores are amply stocked with the latest books about new teaching techniques, but our state and federal governments continue to grossly under fund textbooks for our schoolchildren.  The insurance companies acclaim the advantages and superiority of their restructured HMO’s, but for millions of people in need of affordable health care, all HMO means is “Hopelessly Missed Opportunity.”  Modern science has provided the world with the Internet and the technology to educate our people and improve their lives, yet tabloid talk shows, which panders to the basest of human emotions “net” the highest ratings.  Many of our local and national corporations sponsor charity marathon races, but too many talented people cannot breach the corporate walls impeding their advancement because of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or race.  Man dogmatic and theocratic Christian leaders preach about the many rooms awaiting us in the Heavenly Kingdom (7), but seem quick to display a “No Vacancy” sign to those whom they regard as morally inferior to themselves. 

The constitution of the United States, and the Constitutions of our fifty states proclaim the equality of all citizens, yet the realization of this promise constitutes a never ending advent for those who remain socially and politically disenfranchised because of their race, gender, orientation, ethnicity or age. 

We believe that the reality of the Kingdom of God on Earth is one of potential perfection in the making.  That is to say that while we recognize our human limitations and failings, we must nevertheless strive to create as perfect a community as possible, (8) acknowledging the perfect love, peace, and beauty shall be achieved only after we enter the perfect and eternal Kingdom in Heaven. 

But while we are all still living in this expression of God’s Kingdom, we must continue to challenge all that which is contrary to the authentic tradition of Catholic Christianity, as well as the spirit of the theology of Social Justice and Peace.  We must protect ourselves and our community from the power of evil that seeks to enslave us. 

Despite the uncharitable comments of some very conservative and one-dimensional ministers and politicians, we cannot set ourselves up as judges of the lives and welfare of others.  As Catholic Christians we must emulate the graces of community building, and not engage in building walls of bigotry.  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged, do not condemn and you will not be condemned.  Forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you.”(9) 

We must realistically confess and acknowledge that no aspect of human society is immune from the sin of bigotry.  No individual, government, faith community, workplace, or social organization is exempt from this all too human weakness.  To continue to live in this state of denial will only foster and empower all that remains dysfunctional in our society and to aid and abet the power of evil. 

It is a natural human desire to be free and to have equal opportunity of experiencing a fulfilling life that will, in turn, contribute to the common good of the global community.  Part of the fundamental truth of Catholic Christianity is that humanity, being created in the image of God (10), has been made to share the mystery of His unconditional love. (11)  When individuals, governments, faith communities and social organizations embrace practices, laws and policies of exclusion, they act to undermine that which is Godly, and encourage that which is evil in the world. 

Within recent years, we have seen a resurgence of hate-related crimes, and other acts of violence and evil.  How have the deaths of Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd affected the Kingdom of God on Earth?  This resurgence of evil demands the questions as to how the Matthew Hales, KKK, Fred Phelps and other provocateurs of evil have affected the Kingdom of God on Earth.  For too many, the effect has been to become desensitized to the power over our lives, and the will of God for His people is thwarted.  The tragic murders of Mr. Shepherd and Mr. Byrd are crimes against humanity, and the horrors of these acts, and all those that we are not aware of, is compounded by the telling silence of the overwhelming majority of religious leaders in our national community.  We acknowledge that no individual person, government, faith community or social organization can abolish the sin of hate and hate related violence from the Kingdom of God on Earth, however, we believe that indifference and silence towards such acts is morally wrong, a sinful act of omission and empowerment of evil in our society. (12)   

Acts of responsibility are the keys, which will build up the Kingdom of God on Earth.  Regardless of who one is, or what responsible office one holds, each person is indebted to God for the opportunities of our existence in this world.  This indebtedness to God can only re repaid with our own unconditional acts of love, charity, justice, civic involvement and the peaceful building up of the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Like generations that have gone before us, we continue to struggle with the evils of prejudice and hatred.  Sadly we still see our own preconceptions and animus towards others based upon their age, gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnic background expressed in our own society today.

It is all too common in the Kingdom of God on Earth for people to be socially and financially disenfranchised because of their age.  Corporations reward their managers creating ways to avoid hiring qualified and experienced people because of the accident of their birthdays, because it remains in their financial interest to seek out younger and therefore less expensive employees.  Many insurance carriers make it difficult for senior citizens to obtain reasonably priced life and health insurance, improving their profit margin at the expense of those who need such policies the most and can afford them the least.  Many senior citizens that live on fixed incomes continue to struggle with very limited options for affordable, quality housing.  Governments still burden senior citizens with unreasonable tax liabilities.  Faith communities solicit senior citizens for a portion of their estates, rather than honor them for a lifetime of dedication and service.  And for too many people, senior citizens are viewed as easy targets for violence, instead of fonts of wisdom to be protected.  Such practices are morally wrong, and their sinfulness undermines the building up of the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Within many segments of the Kingdom of God on Earth, women strive to achieve respect and equality (13).  Women struggle to break through the barriers of "glass ceilings" and the inequality of wages in corporate life.  Single women with families risk enslavement to a social welfare system that denies them any significant opportunity to seek meaningful financial and employment options.  Too many female heads of households lack proper health care for themselves and for their children.  "Deadbeat" husbands and fathers avoid their moral and financial responsibilities at the expense of their families.  Many faith communities continue to deny women full and equal roles of responsibility as well as ordained ministry (14).  Untold acts of emotional violence and physical abuse of women go unchecked, and the plight of our sisters continues to be looked upon with indifference.  These acts are morally wrong, and their sinfulness undermines the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Within all segments of our society, our brothers and sisters are disenfranchised, persecuted and even martyred because of their sexual orientation. (15)  Employment opportunities are denied based on sexual orientation.  The privilege of serving one's country in the Armed Forces or in other governmental agencies is restricted based upon sexual orientation.  Housing options are still denied to gender common couples and to gay and lesbian individuals.  The right legally to enter into life affirming unions is systematically denied as well as many other basic civil rights that the rest of society takes for granted.  Faith communities continue to persecute and demean our brothers and sisters because of their orientation and deny them the fullness of their vocations or their rightful place amongst the laity.  We find such acts of hypocritical persecution analogous to Hitler's genocidal slaughter of the Jews because, in part, of his inability to deal with the Jewish heritage of his family.  Our federal government and the majority of state legislatures have failed to enact effective hate crime legislation to stem the tidal wave of violence against persons based upon their sexual orientation.  The Legislatures have also failed to enact meaningful laws to protect the human and social rights of all gay and lesbian individuals as well as gender common couples.  Such acts of selective prejudice and willful indifference are morally wrong, (16)  and their sinfulness undermines the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Racial discrimination and prejudice continue to show the power of evil at work in the Kingdom of God on Earth. (17)  One would think that the lessons learned from the sinfulness of the American slave experience would reinforce for this generation the moral and spiritual imperative for racial respect, inclusiveness and acceptance. (18)  As long as society denies the God-given right tot he fullness of equality and liberty to persons because of their race, then we have learned nothing from the sins of slavery and repression.  We still see acts of "steering" in the real estate industry, where individuals and families of color are manipulated from moving into certain communities and neighborhoods in order to improve their lives.  Also the new phenomenon of "quick loan" companies that offer individuals easy cash loans until the next payday.  This new generation of legal loan sharks prey primarily on the poor and people of color with their hidden fees and immoral and usurious interest rates. (19)   Insurance companies still offer or deny policies based on the zip codes of their customers, instead of treating each person as an individual.  Dignified health care options remain an unfulfilled dream for many individuals because of race.  People of color still encounter obstacles in their struggle for educational and employment opportunities.  Such overt and covert acts of racial prejudice are morally wrong, and their sinfulness continues to undermine the Kingdom of God on Earth. (20)

The Kingdom of God on Earth models a rainbow of men and women of color and ethnic cultures.  Ethnicity comprises the individual notes that compose a vibrant musical chord in the life here within the Kingdom.

America has prided itself on being a cultural "melting pot."  Yet we are now seeing within the contemporary political arena individuals wishing to deny certain ethnic groups the right to enter our society through legal immigration.  We are seeing a growing arrogance demanding the ethnic peoples give up their heritage to conform to a cultural model not their own.  We see demagogues espousing isolationism and jingoistic Americanism rather than unconditionally embracing all of God's creation.  As in the case of people of color, individuals representing ethnic groups are also denied their rights and opportunities in housing, labor, finance, education and also their rights to affordable, quality health care.  Such acts of ethnic prejudice are sinful and their sinfulness fails to build up the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Sacred Scripture calls upon us to turn our swords into plowshares (21).  Instead of heeding this call, we have permitted the power of evil to motivate us to use our natural resources to create swords instead of plowshares.

The national epidemic of handgun violence in this country is the holocaust of the new millennium that knows no age, race, gender, ethnic origin or economic status.  This holocaust robs from us the unique gifts of each victim, bestowed on them by God.  The creation of a handgun is a disgusting waste of our natural resources.  For all of the metal that goes into the creation of a handgun, four pounds of nails could have been produced to go into the building of schools, homes, hospitals, libraries or improving public transportation.  This same amount of metal could have been used in the creation of medical instruments for use in impoverished communities or for use in three dozen pairs of eyeglass frames for the poor.  All of the natural resources used in creating handguns and the bullets they fire are a sinful misappropriation of the gift of our natural resources and the social immorality, pain, loss and suffering which it inflicts upon the human family unquestionably fails to build up the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Each of us currently resides within the Kingdom of God on Earth through the grace and will of God.  The mystery of why we are here and the mystery of the meaning of the Kingdom are completely beyond our mortal understanding. (22)  Despite the teachings of Sacred Scripture, each and every generation has struggled with its human weakness and imperfection as they take their turn experiencing their own citizenship.

The power of evil cannot stand the beauty of God's earthly creation and out of its jealousy and contempt for this creation, it attempts to invade and work its evil through individuals unable to reject their false promises.  (23)

One of the most significant challenges for us is to be aware of the working of evil within our midst.  When we look at the misery burdening our global family, we usually can find the forces of evil lurking nearby.  Another challenge is for each of us to work for the conversion of those overcome by the power of evil and now acting as its agents.  The antidote for evil is unconditional goodness.  Each of us has the power to overcome the evil working within the Kingdom of God on Earth. (24)  Every man, woman and child is a steward of the gifts of this Kingdom.  We all have been given the promise of life within the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. (25)  While we can never achieve complete perfection within the Kingdom of God on Earth, we can surely improve and nurture it through good works and working for the betterment of all humankind.  By working for the common good of all our brothers and sisters, we, in turn, give glory and thanks to God for the opportunity of being a part of His Kingdom of God on Earth. (26)

The story of human history has taught us invaluable lessons from our past mistakes.  We have seen how individuals, governments, faith communities and social organizations have failed in their mission to build up the Kingdom of God on Earth.  But despite such mistakes, every human person, with their God given ability to seek out and be co-creators of goodness, can overcome evil and take positive corrective action.  Does a rational person stand by idle and watch a house burn down when there is a nearby hose to use to put out that fire?  I think not.  Nor do I believe that it would please God to watch the stewards of His creation stand by and let the forces of evil go unchecked. (27)

Each of us has been born into the global human family that resides in an imperfect world.  We inherited the ongoing problems of our ancestors.  The mission for each of us, regardless of our faith tradition, is to nurture our world into a place that denies the forces of evil and promotes the beauty and dignity of the human family.  I believe that each of us has the God-given ability to contribute to the common good and common welfare of our global family. (28)  The power of evil relentlessly works to undermine and confuse us as we try to work to sustain the Kingdom of God on Earth. (29)  We must always remember that when we permit the power of evil to slow us down, it cannot stop us from ultimately making the world a more holy place to live.  For God has blessed each of us with the power to overcome evil. (30)

Let this be our prayer.  Let this be our common goal.

May this season of Advent renew our commitment to the citizenship within the Kingdom of God on Earth.

 

Let Us Pray

Gracious and loving God, through your will You have blessed each of us with citizenship within Your creation here on Earth.  Help us as we strive to fulfill our obligations as stewards of this world as we anticipate the time when you welcome us into your Kingdom in Heaven.  Help us to stand firm against the forces of evil trying to soil Your creation.  Assist us as we witness our faith to a world that struggles to find meaning in this life.  Assist us to embrace all those who foster evil within the world, so that they may no longer be prisoners of evil and free to return to You.  Amen

 

Respectfully Yours in Christ,

James Alan Wilkowski
Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest

The First Sunday of Advent
November 28, 1999
Chicago, Illinois


1.             Genesis 1:26-31;  2 Peter 1:3

2.             John 3:35

3.             John 15:18-27; 16:1-4

4.             Isaiah 1:26-28

5.             Gaudium et spes 13

6.             Luke 10:29-37

7.             John 14:2

8.             Exodus 3:7-12

9.             Luke 6:37-38

10.           Psalms 8:5-6

11.           John 15:1-17

12.           Gaudium et spes 9

13.           1 Corinthians 12:12-13

14.           Romans 16:1-2

15.           Luke 6:31

16.           Romans 14:10-12

17.           Gaudium et spes 42

18.           Galatians 3:26-29

19.           Matthew 6:24

20.           Matthew 7:12

21.           Isaiah 2:4

22.           Colossians 1:24-29

23.           Genesis 3:1-13

24.           1 John 2:12-17

25.           John 3:16-36

26.           Lumen gentium 40

27.           Ephesians 4:14-16

28.           Gaudium et spes 58

29.           1 John 5:19

30.           Ephesians 6:10-17


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Church Office
Post Office Box 178388  Chicago Illinois  60617-8388
(T)  773-721-5383   (F)  773-721-2581

evcathchurch@evangelicalcatholicchurch.org
©2011