Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Charities’

A Call to Action

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Last week, a very important press conference took place, in response to the recent release of statistics on abortion in New York City.

Anyone with a conscience should be shocked by the horrifying numbers in the report:

  • 41% of all pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion — 87,273 abortions;
  • In the Bronx, 48% of all pregnancies ended in abortion;
  • 60% of African American pregnancies ended in abortion;
  • Among Blacks, there are far more abortions  than live births — for every 1,000 live births, there are 1,489 abortions;
  • Among teens of all other ethnic groups, for every 1,000 live births, there are 1,288 abortions;
  • This is not just an issue with teen pregnancy — 54% of abortions were with mothers in their 20′s, 30% were with mothers in their 30′s or 40′s;
  • These statistics were analyzed by the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a private group that has committed to working to support pro-life initiatives, particularly pregnancy support efforts. They have set up a website, NYC 41 Percent, to publicize this effort.

    The press conference was most significant because it called together a group of interfaith leaders — Catholics, Protestants, Jews, whites, blacks and Hispanics — who all pledged to work to offer pregnant women real choices.

    For his part, Archbishop Dolan re-issued Cardinal O’Connor’s famous pledge to offer support to any pregnant woman in need.  For his remarks at the press conference, see here.

    Catholic Charities is already doing a great deal to fulfill that pledge, and the Sisters of Life do heroic work to help pregnant women and those who have already given birth.  The various pregnancy support centers in the City, and many faith communities are working miracles.  These efforts are certainly worthy of support.

    But they’re not enough.  More must be done.

    At Mass I attended this morning, the celebrant read the Archbishop’s press conference statement in his homily, and called to mind a story from his earlier days as a construction worker.  When things were slow, and the workers were idle, the foreman would tell them, “This isn’t a spectator sport”.

    Just so.  Preventing abortions is not a spectator sport.  The decision to have an abortion, all too often, is made by a woman who feels afraid and isolated, with nobody to support or help her.  That means that all of us, in our families, parishes, and communities, can prevent abortions by giving practical and emotional support to the women in our lives.  No woman should ever go to an abortion clinic because she feels alone.

    That’s a call to action for us all.

    Why Did I Answer the Phone?

    Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

    I have to start out by saying that I resent the telephone.  It sits there on my desk, interrupts my train of thought, and brings nothing but trouble.  It requires me to engage with real, live people, which makes me uncomfortable.  I much prefer to deal with email, because it’s more efficient, and because I can do what I am comfortable with — looking intelligent, answering questions, and solving problems.  The phone makes me face my shyness with people, my insecurity, and my fear of emotional involvement.

    So, why did I answer the phone the other afternoon?

    I was rushing — as usual — between one meeting and another, from one task that I considered very important to another I thought was just as important.  That’s me, Mr. Too Busy and Important to Answer the Phone.  When it started to ring, and I didn’t recognize the number, I knew that answering it would make me late, and would throw me off my train of thought.  It was a most inconvenient time for a phone conversation of indeterminate subject and length.

    So, why did I answer the phone?

    When I picked up the receiver, the young lady started out with a very relieved sound in her voice.  She explained that she had happened upon one of my earlier blog posts, in which I mentioned how we need to do more to help pregnant women in crisis, for example by providing more day care.

    She then went on to tell me that she was in exactly that position.  She was pregnant, alone, and was having a hard time figuring out how she was going to take care of her child and return to work.  She wasn’t sure if I could help her, because she didn’t live in the Archdiocese, but instead was in upstate New York.   But she was scared, and a little bit at the end of her rope.  She was asking me for help — real, concrete help, in the here and now.

    So, why did I answer the phone?

    I talked to her for a while, telling her how there was definitely help out there for her.  I then gave her the best advice I could think of.

    I suggested that she call the Sisters of Life.  Their Visitation Mission specializes in helping women and men deal with the difficulties of a pregnancy, and they have innumerable connections all around the nation.   I have heard stories about their work that have moved me to tears.  So that was the first smart thing I did.  I told her about the Sisters.

    The second thing I did was to tell her that she should get in touch with her local diocese’s Catholic Charities.  Here in the Archdiocese, our Catholic Charities helps hundreds of pregnant women every year.  I know this, because their Maternity Services office is on the same floor as mine, and I’m constantly seeing moms, dads and babies.  They also work miracles.

    I then told her how great it was that she was doing the right thing, and that she would be able to do this with a little help.  I told her “God bless”, we said goodbye, and I offered a small prayer for her.  Afterwards, I realized that I never even asked her name.  But I believe she’ll be alright.

    So, why did I answer the phone?

    I don’t know.  But I think that the Holy Spirit, who moved my heart and will, and my guardian angel, who was whispering in my ear, know the answer to that one.  And maybe, someday, I’ll meet a young lady and a baby, and I’ll know the answer too.

    Oh, Yes, So Very, Very Tolerant

    Saturday, February 20th, 2010

    The forces of “tolerance” are on the move again, and have found their most recent victim.  The Archdiocese of Washington, faced with an unjust law that would have required them to recognize the validity of same-sex “marriages”, has been forced to withdraw from foster care and adoption services.

    The basic facts are very simple.  The District of Columbia government was dead set on recognizing same-sex “marriages”, and had little regard for anything that stood in their way or any of the consequences.   Remember, the City government refused to allow the proposed bill to be voted on as a referrendum, refused to grant a reasonable religious exemption despite repeated requests by the Archdiocese, and imposed such a rigorous schedule for compliance with the law that Catholic Charities had little choice but to close down their program.  This was accompanied by a propaganda campaign that accused the Church of turning her back on the poor, even though, all along, it was the City government that was shoving the Church out the door.

    This is not unprecedented.  Catholic Charities in Boston was forced to surrender its adoption services in the face of the Massachusetts same-sex “marriage” law, after the state legislature refused to grant an exemption.  And a few years ago, here in New York, we were lucky that the Court of Appeals struck down a New York City law that would have required all city contractors to recognize same-sex “marriages” — but they rejected the law on technical grounds, not because of the infringement of religious liberty.

    Nor will it be the last time that it happens.  Other cities and states are likely to try similar tactics.   The legal community is unlikely to help.  After all, the Administration has nominated a person to serve on an important federal civil rights panel who believes that when “gay rights” and religious liberties collide, the rights of churches should lose.

    In his famous letter in 1790 to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, President George Washington pledged that the government of the United States would respect the religious liberty of all, demanding only that they be good citizens.  The letter is worth quoting here:

    The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.  It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

    President Washington’s promise is not being honored, in the city that bears his name.  Will it be honored elsewhere?