Man for All Seasons
As Father Richard Mangini begins retirement, I recall all the ways he has touched my life:
How he was at the helm at St. Leander's when first we met, with his Glory Team of incredible priests and seminarians (Revs. Robert Rien, Roman Mueller, Stephen Swenson and Robert Charm) and how he used humor and candor to change our way of viewing our faith.
He was welcoming to many who were different from him long before "diversity" was a household word. He learned several languages so he could minister more closely to his flock and removed the feeling of priestly hierarchy I came to know as a Catholic school student.
He taught us the difference between religion and spirituality, introduced the charismatic movement and Cursillo to many of us who, through his gentle prodding, began so see that our Creator was not a harsh, judgmental God but a friend.
And through his friendship, practical and inspirational homilies, and his down-to-earth, approachable spirit, we began to understand that we were loved unconditionally and that there was nothing we can ever say or do that would take away God's love for us. He invited us to consider that what unites us is far greater than what divides us and that community is the most effective way to experience the presence of the Spirit in the eyes and love of others.
It's hard to believe that the same man who gave my son First Communion in 1979 is the same man who married my son and daughter-in-law in 2015. Father Mangini has been a family friend, a spiritual guide and a special human being to so many of us.
Whether he helped us celebrate a spiritual milestone, a marriage, a 40th anniversary or the loss of our parents, he has always been there for us. Even in our most fragile of times.
So, we thank you, Father, for having a church within you and outside of you where all of us, from many stations in life, have felt welcome.
And, as quoted in "Accidental Saints," "For teaching us that what makes us saints on earth is not our ability to be saintly but rather God's ability to work with flawed people." We have learned from you that "God has always used imperfect people … that our weaknesses are fertile ground for a forgiving God to make something new and beautiful. And that we can be little preachers for one another … to defy the darkness of living in a broken world by pointing to the light of Christ."
We thank you for holding our spiritual hands on our journey from darkness into light. We hope, in the happy times or challenging times ahead, you will know the sure and certain love of God and from so many that you have served. We are put on this earth to care about each other, so we pray that all the years of friendship and support you have offered us is returned tenfold when the need arises. And may you see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.
Al and Kathy Padro
I am extremely disappointed in the draconian decree by the bishop of Springfield regarding gay Christians and their supporters. What will he do next, call for the burning of transgender folks at the stake as witches?
It is a generally accepted finding of those in the medical community that there are as many questions regarding homosexuality and its causes and extent as there are homosexuals. There is no question that it plagues many. Some are able to deal with it, some by refusing to give in to the passion, others by marrying and remaining in the closet while having clandestine affairs. Some become celebrate priests and resist the passion as best they can, some fail.
I have never known any true homosexual who sought the passion; they became aware of it in early childhood and resisted the best they could some successfully, others less so.
Even St. Paul reveals how he was constantly troubled and beleaguered by his passions. There are many learned folks who suspect that homosexual desire was one of them. Not all who suffer these temptations are able to successfully resist them. Are they not all creations of God?
Why doesn't the bishop let God judge them Himself, only He can look into and understand what is in the soul. I for one trust in God, especially when I am ignorant of what is really in the person's soul.
Clifford R. Wiesner
Me but not thee
The fact that the USCCB has voted to make permanent its previously ad hoc Committee on Religious Liberty ("Concerns for religious liberty … echo at assembly," Voice, June 26) is nothing more than solidifying an attitude of "Religious freedom for me but not for thee."
A most obvious example: their concern all along has been more about limiting access to contraception than about who foots the bill. That suspicion was confirmed when the bishops turned from arguing for an exemption from the contraception mandate to arguing for the repeal of the mandate itself, claiming that it's a violation of religious liberty.
Under the First Amendment, religious believers have often been granted exemptions from general laws, such as laws requiring service in the military, or school attendance or children's vaccinations.
But the logic of accommodation on religious grounds has never meant that the law in question — requiring military service, say, or vaccinations — is itself a violation of religious liberty and must be repealed. That is the argument that the bishops are trying to make, but it is muddled and unconvincing. The claims of religious consciences must be respected, but they are not a trump card that wins every argument in public policy.
Entirely too many religious conservatives want to live in a world made over entirely in their own image. Freedom means getting their way, all the time. The future of religious liberty in this country will be a perilous one indeed if it becomes associated with such nonsense.
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