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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ed Koch – The “Jewish-Catholic”

New York City has lost probably the greatest mayor ever to hold office.  Mayor Ed Koch passed away of congested heart failure Friday morning 2/1/13 in the city he served and loved greatly.

Koch was born on December 12, 1924 in my hometown the Bronx.  He was of Polish-Jewish descent, but was not very strict in following Judaism.  He served in the army and later became a lawyer, councilman, mayor, movie and restaurant critic.  Koch was a longtime Democrat and labeled himself as being a “liberal with sanity.” 

He is probably most known for his time as mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989.  During these years, New York City was imploding.  Unemployment and poverty were high.  Crime was high and the quality of life was at its all time low.  Many areas, the Bronx in particular, looked like war zones with crumbling burning buildings.  New York City was not the bright red apple, but was a rotten apple that many wanted to leave from.  From the “Son of Sam” killing spree, to the riots and blackout; New York City was just dangerous to be in and there seemed to be no hope in sight.  Subway cars were often tainted with graffiti as well as buildings and other properties.  The movie “The Bronx Warriors” shows some glimpses of how life was.

As mayor, Koch rode the subways, something which the current mayor has imitated.  Koch would also stand on corners and ask New Yorkers “How’m I doin’?”   He was a people’s mayor.  There was speculation that Koch was homosexual because he had no known relationships or children.  He later stated that he was heterosexual.  Nevertheless, New Yorkers know him for the work he did in rebuilding the city and appreciate him for that.

Koch worked hard to replace burned down tenements with affordable housing.  He helped fix schools and made the NYPD work hard to clean up crime in the city.  These acts would eventually earn him the three terms he held in office.  In 1997 to 1999 he took on the role of the judge in the “People’s Court.”

Mayor Koch and the late John Cardinal O’ Connor were very close.  Despite differences in religion and philosophies, both worked together in order to better the life of New Yorkers.  Mayor Koch was a regular at the Midnight Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Cardinal O’ Connor would often remark at the beginning of the Mass,

“Now that I see Mayor Koch is seated, let the midnight Mass begin,”

this would cause a roar of laughter and Mayor Koch would be shown on camera blushing.

Koch attributes a healing from spinal stenosis to Cardinal O’ Connor.  He writes in a letter:

“I loved Cardinal O’Connor as a brother. Since his death, I have kept his funeral memorial card on my desk. When I’m depressed, which occasionally I am, I hold the card and become reinvigorated. Indeed, I believe holding his photo when I was in the hospital for six weeks in June of 2009 cured my spinal stenosis. I’ve been free of pain ever since. I told this story to President Obama’s former Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago. He asked me if he could borrow the photo.”  http://blog.archny.org/index.php/reflections-on-mayor-koch/

They both even co-authored the book “His Eminence and Hizzoner – A Candid exchange.”  Mayor Koch even gave testimony regarding Cardinal Terence Cooke’s cause for sainthood.

At his funeral, speakers spoke of his frank but down-to-Earth personality.  They spoke of how he worked hard to fix the city of New York.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg credited him for setting the path for himself and his predecessors to continue building up New York City.

The living Cardinals in New York, Cardinals Egan and Dolan call him a friend of the Catholic Church.  Koch as a liberal naturally did not agree with some things the Church teaches; however, he stated: “I believe the Roman Catholic Church is a force for good in the world, not evil.” 

At the conclusion of Koch’s funeral, Frank Sinatra’s “New York” was played at Emanu-el Temple via organ as the casket bearing Koch’s remains were taken in procession outside.  Mayor Koch requested that journalist Daniel Pearl’s words “My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish.”  Pearl was beheaded by Muslim terrorists in 2002.  Coincidentally, Koch died on the 11th anniversary of Pearl’s murder.

Mayor Koch chose to be buried at Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington Heights.  Mayor Bloomberg stated during the funeral, “Just think about it: a Polish Jew in an Episcopal graveyard in a largely Dominican neighborhood. What could be more New York — or even more Ed Koch?”

I have great memories of Mr. Koch from my childhood.  As a Bronxite, I saw how bad the Bronx and New York in general was.  From burnt tenements to burnt cars on the street, to now thriving communities; all of this could not have been possible without Ed Koch.   During my high school paralegal program days, our class was assigned the homework of watching the “People’s Court.”  I remember watching reruns of Judge Koch and writing down the cases and how they were decided.
Whenever I visit the Bronx I am shocked at how much has changed.  The Bronx of my childhood is completely different from the Bronx of today.  New York City is now the largest safe city on Earth.  Before Koch, one would be lucky to make it home alive.
Mayor Koch was indeed New York’s greatest mayor and will go down in history as the mayor who restored the Big Apple to its glory.  He was a New Yorker in every sense of the word.  May Ed. Koch rest in God’s peace and may future mayors imitate his dedication to the greatest city on Earth.
Here are some before/after photos:










The Presentation of the Lord – Candlemas

Today is February 2nd and the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also called Candlemas.

On this day we commemorate when Our Lord Jesus Christ was presented in the Temple 40 days after His birth as Jewish law demanded.

Male children were to be presented in the Temple along with a pair of 2 pigeons.  The child would be purified and the mother would go to wash herself (Tevilah) at the Mikveh, or pool.

Both Jesus and Mary did not need to be presented or wash because they both are pure.

Nevertheless, in keeping with their Jewish traditions, they were part of the rituals.  The day became to be known as “Candlemas” because of the introduction of candles in the Mass in the 11th century.  The faithful held lighted candles in a dark Church as the canticle of Simeon is sung.  This canticle is also said during Compline (night prayer) in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Canticle of Simeon:

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuumQuod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;Your word has been fulfilled.My eyes have seen the salvationYou have prepared in the sight of every people,A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.    –  Luke 2:29–32

Church Hypocrisy?

Anti-Catholics often cite the bad behavior of Catholics in order to “prove” their case that the Catholic Church is a flawed institution that must be disposed of.  They will cite the burning at the stakes, inquisition, abuse of minors, cover ups and so on.  The Catholic Church to them is “morally bankrupt.”

While the aforementioned are unfortunately a part of the history of Catholics, these acts were never sanctioned by the Church.  They are shortcomings from individuals who represented the Church.  Moreover, critics do not take into account the time and circumstance surrounding the bad events in the Church.  Those (heretics) who broke laws in their respective time received the punishment of that time.  We may see it now as cruel and unusual, but this is because we see things differently now in regards to justice and the treatment of prisoners.

The Past Haunts

In recent times, the sexual abuse of minors is what is focused upon when attacks against the Catholic Church are presented.  The moral authority of bishops and priests are questioned since they seemed to have allowed these abuses to go on and in some cases even tried to cover them up.   In the news recently, there was a report that files from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles show that retired Cardinal Roger Mahoney and Bishop Thomas Curry made attempts to conceal predator priests and obstruct justice.

The news has hit the Los Angeles Archdiocese so hard that Archbishop Gomez has prohibited Cardinal Mahoney from public duties within his Archdiocese and has accepted the resignation of Bishop Thomas Curry.  This basically means that Mahoney cannot present himself as an official of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  He can still function as a priest in private.  I applaud Archbishop Gomez for doing this.  He haspublicly reprimanded two of his brother bishops and has shown that their actions cannot be excused.  Cardinal Mahoney responded with a letter of his own excusing his “mistakes.”

I hardly call transferring priests from parish to parish who were known to have psycho-sexual issues a “mistake.”  Furthermore, the attempt to prevent these disturbed priests from facing justice is just appalling.  Clergy who are found guilty of abuse and those bishops and others who covered for them should be in prison.  They should not be given a platform from which to shout “mea culpa.”  The sexual abuse of a minor – or anyone for that matter – is disgusting and victims may never recover from it.

Fetus Not a Person

If that is not bad enough, a Catholic hospital in Colorado is being sued because its lawyers have used the defense that a fetus is not a person in order to protect the hospital from litigation.  The news has caused a tidal wave among Catholics and anti-Catholics.  I myself have been bombarded with Tweets and messages regarding the supposed hypocrisy of the Church in implementing this defense.  What these people do not understand is that the Catholic Church is not on trial here.  A Catholic hospital is on trial for malpractice and its lawyers chose to use this defense.  Lawyers have the reputation of being “certified liars.”  This is because they use a play of words in order to present a good case that will go in their favor.

The local bishop is investigating the matter.  I believe the lawyers used this defense because it reflects the current understanding of the law.  It would not be fair to sue a hospital for malpractice if the laws state that the fetus is not a person and fetuses are killed at abortion clinics daily without concern or litigation.  Therefore, lawyers must use the laws in the books in order to make their case.

A case that comes to mind that reflects this is that of Mary Ellen Wilson’s who was the first documented case of child abuse in the United States of America.   She was beaten, starved and chained in a dark room all alone and overall was treated inhumanely.  Neighbors were concerned over the welfare of young Mary Ellen, but to their dismay, the abuse was not illegal.  Under the law, children were not considered persons and were mere property.  They were no different than cattle or dogs and could be beaten and abused.  The police could not do anything because there were no laws protecting children.

Neighbors told Methodist missionary Etta Wheeler about the situation and she tried to help.  Wheeler did not give up despite the non-existence of child protection laws in New York.  She would eventually contact the ASPCA or American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which was founded by Henry Bergh in order to protect horses.  At the time (1800’s), New York used horses instead of cars.  The modern car was just being developed and horses were the only means to travel or transport goods.

Horses can be very stubborn creatures, so they were often beaten severely and treated badly.  The ASPCA would eventually get protection for them and other animals under the law.  This is why Wheeler sought the help of Bergh.  The ASPCA would help Mary Ellen Wilson and future children of child abuse by using the defense that children are part of the animal kingdom just like horses and they deserve protection under the law.  This is an example of how the current law and understanding of the law must be used in order to defend a client.

No Help for Rape Victim

Lastly, a victim of rape in Germany claims that a Catholic hospital turned her away because of the advice the hospital would have given regarding keeping the pregnancy.  The Archdiocese of Cologne had this statement:

“We regret very much that the impression has been given to the public that rape victims are no longer able to be treated in Catholic hospitals. That is false,”

The Archdiocese confirmed that rape victims have always and will always get medical treatment and that no victim will be turned away.  They added that there was a misunderstanding among hospital officials which led to the refusal to treat the victim of rape.

The Catholic Church is made up of human beings.  The Church is perfect, but not perfect.  She is perfect in that she is the Bride of Christ and holds the deposit of Faith.  However, she is not perfect in that she is a collection of sinners who can do both good and bad in her name.  If all the Apostles except John ran off after Jesus’ arrest, what makes you think the disciples of today won’t abandon Jesus?  There will be clergy, religious and lay people who will abandon Jesus and do things their own way which will cause scandal and most likely harm themselves and others.  This should not be seen as a reflection of the whole Catholic Church, but a reflection on the reality that individuals in the Church can do stupid things that offends God and one another.