Gave a talk at St. Joseph’s Church in Modesto, California, about Pro-Life issues today. I said in Nazi Germany during World War II trains would come down the tracks Sunday mornings carrying screaming Jewish children and their wailing parents. The Christian response in many of the churches near the tracks — was to turn the music up and sing a little louder. The year 2006: Some 4,400 unborn babies are coming down metaphoric tracks on metaphoric trains — every day in America. However, we busy ourselves with entertainment, with sports, with shopping and all sorts of other extra-curriculars… metaphorically: ‘singing louder.’ In Hitler’s Germany, to protest might well have meant death. We, on the other hand, are at liberty to protest, loudly. Yet tragically, many of us who say we are Pro-Life, don’t… While at St. Joseph’s, I also interviewed Malissa Souza, who is on the Pastoral Council here and very active with social justice issues in general. She explained St. Joseph’s has a sister-parish in Bladvistok, Russia. In 2003, Ms. Souza and a number of other St. Joseph parishioners visited the parish at Bladvistok. The Russian parish has an outreach to a nearby orphanage and Ms. Souza volunteered there several times during her stay. She said she was prohibited from visiting a couple of the floors in the orphanage, but one day on her own clandestinely ventured into one of the “off limits” wards. Ms. Souza said there she found infants from birth to three-years-old quietly lying in tiny beds in their own urine. “They were there to die (because there wasn’t enough care, financial resources… to go around),” she lamented. “There is a mortuary just across the street.” (Several years ago, I’d read an article that explained infants with virtually no care in these types of places — eventually stop crying, even whimpering. Simply, and tragically, because there is no response. They, in effect, shut down emotionally if there is no care shown them, no bonding.) Ms. Souza said it only takes 20 American dollars to provide enough formula to feed a baby: for a year in Russia. And St. Joseph’s here continually does fundraising to try to get as much help to their sister parish and the orphanage. (Ms. Souza was so affected by the conditions in Russsia, that last year she donated 40% of her income ($45,000) to Russian causes.) To donate write to: St. Joseph Parish, 1813 Oakdale Road, Modesto, California 95355; phone: 209-551-4973 / www.saintjosephs-modesto.org Note: Our administration would push for a “U.S. Department of Peace.” For several years now (as a Department of Peace initiative), I’ve proposed a plan for American cities and churches to set up sister cities and sister churches with Russia. Small rural towns and parishes could match up with small rural Russian towns and parishes. Intermediate sized towns and metropolitan areas could do the same. The strategy could include both cultural exchanges and monetary help to Russia (“To Russia With Love.”) The Russian people stand at a precipice. The transition to democracy and free-market economy has been extremely difficult there and they need help to stay bouyant. People are hungry. (Modesto’s Ms. Souza said she saw scores of youth, and adults, sleeping over sewer pipe lines on the streets to stay warm at night.) We, as Americans, have an excellent opportunity for a tremendous grassroots outporing of help to our brothers and sisters there. For years during the Cold War, we would have relished this change in Russia — and this opportunity to help. And here it is… By the way, America doesn’t have to wait for us to be in office, and the U.S. Department of Peace to be underway, for this Russian project to take off in a major way. It can happen now… one town, one church, at a time.