Center for Ethics and Leadership

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Former St. Joseph's Dean to Lead Effort for Camden Schools

Few cities in America are as bad off as Camden, NJ. Its per capita income is either last or next to last among America's cities. Thirty-five percent of its residents are under the age of 18, and 57 percent of them live in poverty. The schools are correspondingly poor.

As a partial answer to the ongoing crisis that is Camden, the diocese is partnering with the International Education Foundation (IEF) to create the Catholic Schools Partnership. This initiative will bring five elementary schools, four in Camden and one on the Camden-Pennsauken border, under the guidance of a five-person management team and a 12-person board of directors. Their task will be to bring the best educational and business models possible to the schools to enable them to survive, and perhaps thrive in the difficult circumstances that are part of everyday living in Camden.

The IEF was founded by Robert T. Healy, an alumnus of Camden Catholic High School and St. Joseph's University. Dr. Robert Palestini, former dean of St. Joseph's division of graduate and continuing studies and accomplished educator, will head the management team. Other leaders in Camden, including Msgr. Robert McDermott, pastor of St. Joseph's Procathedral in Camden, will play a role on either the board or management team.

Here is an example of leadership at its best, and here's hoping that the initiative succeeds beyond the team's wildest dreams.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Retired Cardinal Reflects on Alienation of Catholics after Humane Vitae

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the Jesuit former cardinal of Milan has said in a long retrospective interview that Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which found artificial contraception to be intrinsically evil, distanced many Catholics from their church and caused them not to take the Church's sexual teaching seriously. While the cardinal did not specifically discuss the morality of contraception, he thought the Church would benefit from further discussion of contraception from a more pastoral perspective.

The encyclical's effects continue to be a point of conflict within Roman Catholicism. Defenders often allege that many of society's ills, from STDs to the dramatic increase in divorce over the last forty years can be traced to artificial contraception. Critics accuse the encyclical of understanding the moral act of sexual intercourse in terms too narrowly biological that do not take into consideration the full range of human moral concerns. At the height of the controversy, Charles Curran, a priest of the diocese of Rochester, NY, and prolific scholar, was removed from his position on the ecclesiastical faculty of The Catholic University of America for his public opposition to it.

Cardinal Martini, now retired, was once considered papabile, that is, a possible candidate for the papacy.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Abortion Again. This Time with Euthanasia and Same-Sex Marriage

Let's see . . . California banned same-sex marriage . . . In Colorado a proposal to define a human being as a person under law from the time of conception failed . . . Washington approved a referendum to allow physician-assisted suicide . . . and a law to outlaw abortion in North Dakota failed. I'm missing something here. America agrees to kill a living, genetically human organism (you can decide when to call it a person) at any stage during its life, including when it decides it no longer wants to live (and never mind the extraordinary ethical questions surrounding the genuine freedom and voluntariness of that choice), but committed partners' relationship cannot be formally recognized. The discussion of abortion and euthanasia centers on autonomy one way or another, but isn't that what marriage is, a choice? So the dissonance I perceive cannot be about choice. . . . I give up. Laws are passed to protect society; gay men and lesbian women apparently threaten society more than abortion and euthanasia. Can someone explain this conundrum to me?

Dear Rick Santorum: Is that a Threat?

I wondered what the far right's reaction would be to the election of Barack Obama. I didn't have to wonder long. In yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer occasional columnist Rick Santorum asked if Obama would lead or be led. If he is led by liberal Congress wrote the Senator, there will be government-controlled health care, automobile manufacturing, and more. If he leads, he will end affirmative action and abortion and will stay in Iraq. That sounds like an ultimatum, Mr. Santorum. Execute an uncompromising conservative agenda or face political sabotage.

Incoming! F-Bombs Incoming!

Some dope spray-painted obscenities on a few campus buildings last night. It isn't cool. It isn't funny. It just stinks. There's no sense in writing anything more. I have already given it more attention than it deserves.