Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
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demarco half“The deepest definition of Youth,” wrote philosopher/scientist Alfred North Whitehead, “is, Life as yet untouched by tragedy.” The words, “as yet” are foreboding. One way of staving off tragedy, therefore, is never to age. It is a strategy close to the heart of many writers of fiction. Neither Peter Pan nor any of Disney’s animals grow older. Nor do many comic book characters. Dorian Gray did not age, but, unfortunately, with tragic results. The Sybil made a colossal mistake when she chose immortality and not eternal youth. In her shriveled up old age, all she could desire was “death.”

Given the prospect of tragedy, there are but two strategies. One is to find its meaning. This is the difficult strategy. The other is to avoid it. Remaining young is one way of avoiding it, though it belongs strictly to the imagination. Heaven is a place where tragedy is absent. The desire to remain young represents a foretaste, though one that is incomplete, of paradise. The world can be “too much with us,” as Gerard Manley Hopkins has said, and can becloud our aspirations for something better.

Archie Andrews and his gang were forever 11th-grade high school students, residents of the mythical town of Riverdale. His life was predictable, innocent and stagnant, but he remained eternally young. The millions of readers of Archie Comics took delight in the fact that although they, themselves, were aging and dealing with life’s tribulations, Archie and his friends remained happily exempt from the curse of time. Would Archie marry the wealthy Veronica, or would he choose the down-to-earth Betty to be his mate? Readers enjoyed endlessly proffering their opinions. And this blissful state of youth and non-commitment continued unabated for roughly seven decades until political correctness arrived on the scene with the force of a tsunami.

Miss Grundy, who taught English and math at Riverdale High School, dies of kidney disease. Cheryl Blossom, an oversexed romantic interest for Archie, develops breast cancer. Jughead Jones, who always knew where his next hamburger would come from, struggles with financial woes. Archie, not wanting to discriminate between Betty and Veronica, marries both of them in alternate universes, without being too specific to either one.

Archie’s new best friend (replacing Jughead) is Kevin Keller who has a “husband” and is working hard as a United States senator for tighter gun control laws. In an assassination attempt against him, Archie takes a bullet for his friend and dies a hero (Life With Archie, July 16, 2014). The invasion of political correctness completely shatters the iconic Archie and his Brigadoon world. Writer Paul Kupperberg was not unaware of what he was doing.

“Archie Andrews is an iconic American character,” he told the world, “loved and remembered by millions of readers of all ages . . . And when you mess with people’s iconic memories, you’re playing with dynamite.”

Archie allowed us to dream of a Riverdale we all knew did not and could not exist. We found it comforting, amusing and reassuring. It was a pleasant escape from our own day-to-day problems. Yet the hope of discovering a new Shangri-La is always with us. All such fictional worlds are, to be sure, highly imperfect images of heaven, but they should not be shattered. Dynamite is not for dreams. We need to keep hoping for heaven, and mythical utopias are important stepping stones that help to keep that hope alive. The demise of an icon is the shattering of a dream and a rude return to a world in which one more refuge has been taken from us.

Donald DeMarco, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of HLI America, an Initiative of Human Life International. He is Professor Emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell. Some of his recent writings may be found at HLI America’s Truth and Charity Forum, where this column first appeared.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.