The faith-based roots of what we do at Catholic Charities are clearer as we enter Holy Week. We see and celebrate this week, and throughout the Easter season, the mysterious way that suffering can be transformed into happiness and peace, and death into life.
This is the work that you do day in and day out.
I am proud that as Holy Week began this past weekend, Catholic Charities was present to assist victims of the tragic life-taking gas explosion on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan. Staff from Nazareth Housing and Catholic Charities Community Services were immediately present to provide needed help. I truly appreciate this timely intervention to provide for those in need once again. None-the-less, I harbor two concerns this Holy Week.
First, there is too much violence and intolerance in the world that claim religion as their justification. Religion is not a justification for violence and no political correctness should prevent us from condemning the killing of Christians by radical Muslims in the greater Middle East. Without getting into the unproductive debate of “moral equivalency,” we should also not overlook words and actions of intolerance by others in the same region, in other parts of the world, and even in our own country.
During Holy Week we need to be particularly attentive to words and actions by Christians that promote intolerance and prejudice. The simplest antidote is to say this is wrong, unacceptable, and repeat that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to save us all.
My second concern is that our eyes are so narrowly focused on first century Jerusalem that we fail to see life-giving work in 21st century New York. We might overlook the efforts you make compassionately and professionally to transform and breathe renewed new hope into troubled, hurting lives.
So many participate in this work in a variety of ways. Executives run agencies. Staff interacts with vulnerable individuals. Volunteers generously give their time. Donors give their resources. Board members give their commitment and wisdom. Together this cohort of dedicated people provides help and creates hope to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in need.
So, although I have concerns, I am hopeful and rejoice because of the goodness you bring to our world. And so, in anticipation of this holy Easter season day, let me say, Alleluia.
Monsignor Kevin Sullivan