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Norbert Bufka

Author  ·  Historian

Published Articles, Letters, and Blogs

Vigano’s letter to Trump is not Catholic

I was extremely distressed this morning when I read in NCR that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former Papal Nuncio to the United States wrote an open letter to Donald Trump. In this letter he said “we have been witnessing the formation of two opposing sides that I would call Biblical: the children of light and the children of darkness.”  He praised Trump for leading the children of light and opposing the children of darkness.

A number of priests and bishops supported Vigano by posting the letter on their parish website or facebook. In at least one case, after a parishioner objected, the priest deleted it.

I am currently reading Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. It is absolutely amazing the similarities between Hitler and Trump. Both werenarcissistic at a pathological level.  Both blamed others for their mistakes and both took credit for things they did not do. Hitler appealed to the German masses because he played on their oppression by the Hapssburgs while Trump appeals to the supremacy of whites. Hitler did whatever he could to promote his agenda. Trump is doing that today.

Vigano supports Trump for his opposition to abortion, but Vigano and others fail to remember that Trump supported abortion until he decided to seek the Presidency. Vigano support Trump because Trump supports religious freedom of Christians. We live in a multi religious country and world. We can no longer think in terms of Christians vs. all the others,but must think in terms of the human family which is made up of many diverse siblings and cousins.

 

 

The killing of George Floyd is reprehensible

I am not sure what to write today about the video taped killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but I feel compelled to say a word of support to my fellow Americans who happen to have a skin color different than mine and the majority of people in this country. Does this fact of minority make them less American? Or less human? Or less important?

The answer to those questions is a resounding “no”, but yet some whites ignore the reality before them or choose to look a different way or just plain deny what they see and know in their hearts of hearts. Without rendering legal opinion nor denying the right of a person to a fair trial, the video clearly indicated a brutal and deliberate killing. What makes it morehoreendous is that four policemen were involved. Policemen are an honorable profession and we need them, but we do not need ones who are so callous as to kill someone who is telling them, “I can’t breathe.”

As a result of this inhuman act, hundreds and thousands of people peacefully protested and are seeking justice, not just for George but for all people of color who have and continue to be mistreated by police and many others in our society.

Yet, our president used the military to clear out the protestors in DC so he could have a photo-op. this was disgraceful and shamefull. The Episcopal bishop of Washington was right to call him out for that. the president has not offered a word of compassion for the senseless killing nor a word of comfort to the family. Yet he was able to tweet denunciation of the looters and violent protestors with law and order slogans .

Jess Sessions, former U. S. Attorney General under Trump said he supported swit justice in all cases but 'We don't need to overreact. politically correct policing' will 'demoralize officers.” So are we to assume that protesting killing a man in the line of duty is just politically correct language? How absurd! I would think that all respectable policeman are demoralized by this very inappropriate behavior of a fellow officer.

Please, let us stand up to the rioters by all means, but let us listen to the cries of the peaceful protestors and not confuse them with the opportunistic rioters who could be from the extreme right or left.

 

 

Mail-in voting is necessary

 

Due to the pandemic we face a challenge in securing the right to vote by every citizen who wants To vote.   The solution is mail in voting and a secure postal system.

Five States already conduct elections entirely by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. In the April 14, 2020 issue of the Atlantic,Priscilla Southwell Wrote in an article „In the Pandemic, Every State Should Vote by Mail” that  the process has been successful and secure. Oregon had only a dozen or so cases of proven fraud out of 100 million ballots since 2000.

Even without a pandemic, many voters face inflexible work schedules or lack adequate transportation to the polls.

The League of Women Voters and Surveys of people across all political persuasions show support for mail in voting.  Vote by mail should be the right of every citizen in every state, and we should let our legislators know that this option should be enacted soon, for every state.

In addition, no mail-in process can work without a functioning US Postal System. Currently the US Postal Service is struggling due to the pandemic. Voters should insist on full support for America’s mail and postal workers.  The time to act is now.

 


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Civil service under siege

in the first century of our country’s existence, the president made many appointments as favors to friends. The assassination of James Garfield in 1881 by a disappointed office seeker, resulted in the creation of civil service under the Pendleton Act of 1883. After a few years of adjusting to the change the country has been operating under this system very well.

The most important reason for the Pendleton Act was to ensure that competent people were appointed to government positions through exams and other requirements. president Trump demands loyalty above everything else. As a result he has been firing and appointing new people so often it is hard to keep track of who is in charge. The high level positions do not fall under the Pendleton Act but do require approval by the Senate. Many positions have acting directors because the Senate has refused to go through the process of pproval of appointments.

Since the impeachment trial, the president has been firing or transferring people from their positions in retaliation for their testimony against him in the trial.

Dale Cabaniss, director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), was forced to resign. Michael Rigas, formerly of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, took his place. Rigas believes the Pedleton Act is unconstitutional. The OPM is refusing to give briefings to Congress for the first time in its history. This does not bode well for government employees and the civil service system.

Trump has already hired a number of people outside the OPM, but his most egregious example was the transferal of Dr. Rick Bright from  the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA,  to a lesser position. Bright claims this transfer was due to his opposition to Trumps promotion of the antimalaria drug as a drug for covid19. He is a specialist in emerging infectious diseases and has refused to leave his position.

Be sure you are registered to vote in upcoming elections.  Check out your registration status here.

Free markets need regulation

One of the realities of a capitalist economy is the cycle of boom and bust, said more academically, prosperity and depression. The cycle became so serious  in the long decade of the 1930’s and the Great Depression that Congress passed the Glass-Stegal Act in1938 which kep  the investment, insurance, and banking sectords of the economy separated. This Actwas repealed in 1998.

Its repeal was one of the causes of the Great Recession that began in 2008.

Congress, now controlled by wealthy and extreme free market ideologues  are concerned only about their own wealth and reelection. They bailed out the  three sectors in 2008 without giving a thought to he history lesson of the 1930’s. They even added to the path to greater control by allowing the wealthy to “buy” our government leaders through Super Pacs. Both political parties are involved in this chaotic thinking and thus make it virtually impossible to change direction.

the wealthy, with the help of Russian interference and the one issue Catholic bishops propelled Donald Trump into office as president, despite his complete lack of moral integrity or any sense of governing. Christians by the millions are overlooking this flawed human being for the sake of overturning Roe v. Wade. They see Trump as a “savior”.

Because of these factors, Trump is able to get away with abandoning the high values of our country that have in the past shown world leadership  in the areas of disarmament, fighting climate change, regulating dangerous practices that damage our health and environment. All for the sake of making more money. This is becoming very clear in the pandemic we are living with.  The concern of our president throughout has been the economy rather than the health of our citizens.

It is time to change that power structure in Washington. Be prepared to vote in upcoming elections.   

The Divine Plan

Surgeon General Jerome Adams has publicly and repeatedly stated his belief in a divine plan.  During the covid19 crisis. Adams is a Catholic and expressed the view that it is not coincidence that the pandemic is happening during Holy Week. We were sad that Jesus died, but then there was salvation and we are happy, he said.

When speaking of a divine plan in regard to the pandemic sounds like God  planned the pandemic. I don’t accept that view at all.

But can we learn something by living through this pandemic? Of course. As the saying goes, when you have lemons, make lemonade. So too with this pandemic. Let’s make something good of it, like a friend making masks for passing out to people. Or a neighbor buying groceries for an older couple. Or being friendly from a distance. Or giving away the government check to someone who needs it more than you do. Or sending a kind note to a shut-in or talking  to someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. or just calling neighbors to find out how they are doing.

The divine plan is to become a more civil and compassionate society. .  God didn’t intend the pandemic, but he certainly intends for us to act compassionately towards others andif we learn that lesson from this, then what we have become is a good thing.

The meaning of Good Friday

Today Christians all over the world remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus nearly 2,000 years ago. I was taught that my sins as well as all the others were responsible for his death. I was also taught that Jesus died so that our relationship with God would be restored. Adam and Eve destroyed the original good relationship and someone had to restore it., But that meaning of the Cross misses the mark.

Jesus’ mission was to show us how to live  a life of love, healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  The more we live like this, the more we are saved from our sins. In this way, Jesus truly redeemed us. His life was so authentic, it challenged the establishment of his and they decided to kill him.  Jesus was true and faithful to the end. We are called to be the same kind of person.

If Jesus had to die to restore our relationship with God, then Judas was a saint because he was necessary for Jesus to be turned over to the establishment. Yet, Jesus said, “woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.””  (Matthew 26:24).

Let’s follow Jesus by doing what he did: love all people and act with mercy and compassion.

 

Prayer during pandemic

Most Merciful God,

We come to You in our weakness.

We come to You in our fear.

We come to You with trust.

For You alone are our hope.

We place before You the disease present in our nation and in our world.

We turn to You in our time of need.

Bring wisdom to doctors.

Give understanding to scientists.

Endow caregivers with compassion and generosity.

Bring healing to those who are ill.

Protect those who are most at risk.

Give comfort to those who have lost a loved one.

Welcome those who have died into Your Eternal Home.

Stabilize our communities.

Unite us in our compassion.

Remove all fear from our hearts.

Fill us with confidence in Your care.

We thank you God for the gift of this day. Amen.   

Amen.

Wanton ignorance is evil and dangerous

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in a sermon, : "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

With the ease in communicating through the social media, far too often messages are sent without regard to the facts or the truth. Each of us must be on guard when we receive forwarded emails that do not have a source citation for the facts presented.  Far too often they are opinions and not facts, but too often readers, including me, accept them as factual and truthful because we want to believe them.

I never forward messages before I have verified their authenticity and I delete all the forwarding address fields in order to protect a person’s idenity. .  I urge you to do the same.

Politics are a particularly dangerous minefield of opinions. I have always said that Democrats are interested in people and Republicans are interested in business. We need both the bisness leaders and the people who are employed by businesses and do all the work. For many decades political parties worked together to arrive at common good solutions.

In recent decades, the differences have become much more polarizing and extreme. On the left is Sen Bernie Sanders who is not reluctant to call himself a socialist. On the other side is Lt. Gov. of Texas, Dan Patrick, who thinks old people will willingly give up their lives for the sake of the economy.  How dare he suggest that the economy is more important than life?

Thoughts during a pandemic

 

 

The pandemic we are fighting is a time for all of us to work together individually and collectively so we can get through the crisis with as little damage as possible. Here are some ideas:

Donate to organizations that are already helping people in need. They will need more resources now than ever.

Support people who are unemployed with whatever assistance you can give. This will depend on your status and the status of the recipient.

My parish is continuing to pay the employees during this crisis. i encourage people to increase their donations to the parish and any other non-profits who are continuing to pay their employees.

Instead of going to the grocer store find out if someone at the store will find your items and have them bagged for pickup.

Call or email your friends and relatives to find out how they are doing. The conversation will give you both comfort and support.

Write notes of support or encouragement to anyone, but perhaps those who maybe forgotten.

Focus on other people or a project to keep your mind off worrying, if you tend to be a worrier.

Share these ideas with others and come up with more ways to combat the crisis.

 

Prayer for a Pandemic

 

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

 

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

 

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

 

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

 

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.

 

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

 

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

 

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

 

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

 

Amen.

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