Points of View

April 30 2015 | by

DEAR FRIAR RICK: A friend of mine loves animals so much that she has become an extremist – at least from my point of view. For instance, she insists on taking her dog with her wherever she goes, and gets really furious when she finds a restaurant or bar that is not pet-friendly. If she is allowed inside, for instance in places like Starbucks, she buys a doughnut and gives it to her dog. Her latest rant is that, seeing she has no close relatives, she wishes to leave her whole estate to a pet charity when she dies. Excuse me, Friar Rick, but with millions of human beings starving to death around the world, don’t you think it is sinful to give preference to animals, even though they are also God’s creatures?


I guess, in life, it usually comes down to one’s ‘point of view.’ One person’s extremism is seen as quite normal by another person. So I would suggest that we avoid such labels and stick to the facts. You have a friend who does not seem to have much of a family, and from what I surmise, not much in terms of close, intimate friendship. That’s certainly unfortunate. It’s too bad. I wish it weren’t so. But there it is. It’s the situation she faces. Somehow she has managed to find solace in her dog. In an ideal world would she not be better off also showing that same love and devotion to a human being? Sure. But she’s not. And unless you are prepared to become her best friend and fill the void in her life I would leave good enough alone. You don’t need to fix every problem or person you meet. Perhaps if you really care about her and are concerned that she has such a limited circle of friends you might want to take an interest in her and her dog. Build some bridges to deepen your relationship with her. As far as the ‘estate’ goes I’m sure that humanity has the capacity to care both for all its children and also care for the animals which are our sisters and brothers in creation. We each need to do our part as we best see fit.


Dear Friar Rick: We are a devout Catholic family and regular Mass-goers. Lately, however, my 15-year-old son is beginning to say he no longer wants to go to Mass or to confession or to any other activity promoted by our parish. Now the reason for this is not that he is becoming lukewarm, quite the opposite, he is becoming very religious, but in the Church of his buddies! During the recreational activities in their parish my son is also in some way indoctrinated into their faith, and as a consequence he is becoming increasingly critical of the Catholic Church.

Even though his teenage friends (which include a few girls) are all good people, and I certainly cannot say they are having a morally bad influence on him, I do not like his Catholic bashing at home. What should I do, Fr. Rick?


I wonder why it is that your son is not participating in the recreational activities for teens in your own parish. I bet they don’t exist. So we guess you have the answer to your question.

We Catholics sometimes become complacent as the One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and feel we don’t have to try hard to attract and keep our flock. That attitude might have worked in the past, but it doesn’t anymore. In a culture of instant communication and instant gratification people move quite easily away from institutions that do not meet their needs and towards those who make an effort to reach out. Often times this lack of commitment reflects a ‘consumerist’ view of church and community. “I’m there to take!” But to be fair why would I invest in an organization that doesn’t take the time meet me at my level as a young person?

Pope Francis in The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium) states: “More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6:37).” You son seems to have found a place where he is fed.


Updated on October 06 2016