March 2018 Four County Catholic
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we continue our Lenten journey together and prayerfully contemplate Christ's suffering, death and resurrection, we are still grieving the loss of innocent young lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Ash Wednesday. We are suffering as one family. It is a heavy cross to bear.
Our Lenten prayers are with the families of the victims and their loving friends and neighbors who are suffering. Faith will lead us forward on a very long road to healing.
As we struggle to heal, I appreciate how hard we are all trying to understand the root causes of these tragedies. Our most productive path forward is to proceed deliberately, objectively, without political bias and with our one united purpose being the security of our precious children.
As each day passes, we are finding that some of the answers lie in legislation, some in enforcement of the law, many others in social conditions. Some are eminently fixable; while others will require much more patient planning. It has been good to see the young students in Florida leading the charge to fix what can and should be immediately fixed, such as tighter gun restriction legislation as per the Public Safety Act. Also, it is encouraging to see the administration in Washington listening and preparing with Congress to act. At every level, those who represent us at the state and national level seem prepared to move beyond partisan interests and turn their attention to protecting our most precious resource -- America's children. Hopefully, we have the beginning of a breakthrough.
Close to home, I would like to thank our School Superintendent, Henry Fiore Jr., for his leadership in continuing to ensure tight security at our diocesan elementary and secondary schools, as outlined in his letter published in this same issue. God bless the teachers and guardians of our students.
Faithful citizens of all denominations must begin to face the complex of causes that can lead the young to violent outcomes. We can no longer deny the inadequacies of the mental healthcare system in this Country. As a nation, we have not done our best to care for the young afflicted with mental illness and to protect them from harming themselves and others. For decades, medication has been thought to be the panacea for young people struggling with mental instability. The reality emerging is that the national approach to mental health is in need of radical reform. The close connection between mental illness and tragic violence by young men is clear and present. This reality needs to be addressed.
Also in need of attention is the pervasive influence of violent video games, movies and programming flowing out of Silicon Valley and Hollywood. These addictive products corrupt vulnerable young minds, especially the unstable. It desensitizes the young mind to the value of human life. Many of these games even reward killing with game points. It is poisonous and must be regulated and closely monitored at home.
The young person today is subjected to a barrage of violent images in the news on TV and online twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Gang violence. Terrorism. Loss of innocent lives in random crimes. Striking down of law enforcement officers in harm’s way. It can be overwhelming for young viewers. Let us be mindful of this and be there to help our young people work through the disturbing images.
A further devastating influence is the conduct of the abortion industry. Here we have a genocidal practice of killing hundreds of thousands of unborn children year after year - funded in part by taxpayer support of Planned Parenthood. This is a complete and shameful breakdown of respect for the value and sanctity of human life. Planned Parenthood alone is responsible for the taking of over 800 unborn lives a day. This is a complete abandonment of a culture of life. Our children are aware of this horrible disregard for life.
Sadly, there are more corrupting influences in today's culture that the young cannot escape. These damaging influences include hateful lyrics of entire genres of music and an epidemic rise in addictive drugs.
From a Christian perspective, the breakdown of the worth of family has the most harmful effect on the young. Here is where we, as Christians, need to make a stand. Here is where we become missionaries in our own land. We must do everything possible to encourage restoration of the family unit. And we must do everything possible to encourage our families to turn to our loving God to rediscover that God is the loving force to redirect our society from a culture of death to a culture of life. The family and your church communities are a powerful source of strength and hope.
By all means, participate in speaking out on legislative matters as they affect our young ones; but also participate with renewed energy in the preservation of the family and the vitality of your community of faith.
Children who do not have the benefit of a supportive family or who feel neglected or abandoned by a parent are at risk of being overwhelmed and mislead by the forces of corruption and evil. We can help build strong minds and young people of character by not neglecting them. This mission of love can help defeat the difficult pressures on the young. Pray with me that this is the core lesson learned that will protect and nourish our children as our society searches for long-term answers of substance.
God bless you and our children,
Bishop Michael R. Cote