On January 31st we celebrate the feast of a great saint who is known as “Don Bosco” or “St John Bosco.” I write fondly about him because he is the founder of the religious order to which I belonged for many years before I joined the Archdiocese of Chicago. He was born near Turin in Northern Italy in 1815 and his family was rather poor. His father died when he was about two and he was raised by his pious and determined mother, Mamma Margaret. From an early age John Bosco knew that God had called him to a special mission to the young. After he became a priest in 1841 he discovered the negative effects of the industrial revolution that was sweeping through Europe at that time. Young boys were leaving their homes in the countryside with a dream in their pockets that they would find a better life in the big cities. Often they were exploited by ruthless employers who made them work long hours with little pay. These boys had nowhere to go and eventually fell into lives of crime on the streets.
Over the thirty-two years that I have lived in this country, I don’t think I have witnessed a more divisive and acrimonious presidential election than this one. The accusations and the claims on both sides of the political spectrum have plunged the already-polarized nation into a deeper crater of suspicion bordering on hate. As a new president is sworn into office – irrespective of whom we voted for – we cannot afford to perpetuate the divisions of the campaign. As a nation, we need to come together and engage in deep soul-searching. Politicians on both sides of the aisle should call for calm and a more civil political discourse. Hopefully out of this puzzling period in our history, there will emerge an America where the citizens and the leaders will engage in the democratic process without condemning each other or trying to get rid of each other.
During the last election several states in the Union (including California) decided to make recreational use of marijuana legal and over the last few years many states have recognized gay marriage. The argument in both cases was that citizens should be allowed to do what they want to do. It is their right either to smoke pot or to marry anyone they choose. Over the last several months I have been wondering about the way we think about freedom.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...