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Posted in Archbishop Chaput's column, Weekly column from Archbishop Chaput, on November 9th, 2012

What a ‘community of believers’ really means

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Another election has come and gone, and when the complaining dies down, most of us will go back to our everyday lives without a blink. Politics is important. On some issues, it’s deadly serious. But most of the time, for most people, political passion is viral: It appears and disappears like the flu every campaign season.

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone as well. But its human imprint, its extraordinary devastation and suffering, will be with us for a very long time.

During my years of service in South Dakota and Colorado, hurricanes seemed part of another America. The people of the western states had their own serious natural disasters: forest fires, droughts and tornadoes, but nothing on the scale of Katrina or Irene. Catholics in Rapid City and Denver raised money many times for storm victims in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and other states, and abroad. But the idea of water drowning an entire major city like New Orleans – a city right here in the United States — seemed faraway and impossible, even while watching the catastrophe unfold on television.

It’s a very different experience when the hurricane is bearing down on your own people, their families and homes, and their neighbors. That’s when the power of such a storm begins to become real. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett both did an outstanding job of public leadership throughout the storm and its aftermath.  Like many other people in the Philadelphia area, I rode out Hurricane Sandy as a particularly bad storm — expecting the worst, but never even losing power.

Hundreds of thousands of other people across the five counties of the archdiocese were not so lucky. Bucks and Montgomery were especially hard hit. Many families lost power and heat, and even water and telephone communications, for up to a week or more. Others have homes with severe wind and tree damage. Some of our parishes celebrated Sunday Mass, November 4, by candle light.

As painful as Sandy was for Pennsylvania though, the real carnage of the storm, with its loss of life and immense destruction of property, fell on New Jersey and New York. The images of devastation from Staten Island, Atlantic City and other surrounding communities are astonishing. They’re heart-breaking. Local Catholic dioceses, along with numerous volunteers and other relief organizations, are working hard to help the storm’s victims. But recovery will be a long road. Relief efforts need all the help they can get from neighboring dioceses and around the country.

The Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) Disaster Response Office is coordinating Church efforts to assist the victims of Sandy. Up to 50 Catholic Charities agencies will be involved, and donated resources will go to case management and emergency assistance, cleaning and house repairs, emergency evacuation assistance and long-term recovery needs. Financial contributions can be made by phone at 1.800.919.9338. Donations can also be made securely on the CCUSA website at:  https://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=2357

A Christian community – a community of believers in Jesus Christ; a community of his disciples – defines itself by the generosity of its people. Catholics in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania have again and again shown their willingness to help other people in need, and especially the victims of disaster. Please give your financial support to these vital Sandy relief efforts through Catholic Charities USA. And please be as generous as you can.


At the discretion of local pastors, an optional special collection will be taken up at Sunday Masses in parishes across the Archdiocese on the weekend following Thanksgiving, November 24-25.  All contributed funds will be provided to Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which will use the donated resources to assist Sandy storm victims locally and in other dioceses.  Please join the Archbishop in praying for all those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Thank you for your help and your good will.



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8 Responses

  1. The most critical issue is why Catholics don’t obey their Bishops anymore as evidenced by the majority of Catholics voting for the President.

    By: Robert on November 8, 2012 at 8:48 am

    • Robert,
      I truly think it is because the religious do not want to be treated differently than the secular. They want their parishioners to like them. It is hard to be the leader and have people being critical because you are the one dictating (the priests and bishops) follow the doctrine of the church and people do not want to be made to feel guilty for not following it. Priests do not want to be put on a pedestal. What they don’t realize is that they need to on the pedestal-the one standing above us, leading us.
      They also think that if we are involved in the decision making that we will be more cooperative.
      I think they need to know that they are the leaders and that we are their friends regardless of what hard decisions that they have to make.
      We need our leaders to LEAD so that we have some guidelines-we need someone with dignity to follow. Too many experiments dealing with the people has really just confused the people.
      Maybe I am wrong, but we did not have this problem in the past, so I am going off of life’s experience.

      By: Marie on November 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    • Robert, Catholics are not one issue voters, and what was at stake for the poor and vulnerable if Romney, Ryan took the reins sends cold chills through any feeling persons body.

      By: Kathy Sine on November 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm

  2. I suspect that the love affair between the Catholic Church and the Republican Party is over. I also suspect that the media now believes the Catholic Church is not as politically powerful as it once thought it was.

    By: Robert on November 9, 2012 at 10:15 am

  3. Dear Archbishop Chaput:

    My prayers are with all of you all as you continue to deal with the recent horrible weather disasters. And thank you for a column that you wrote not long ago in which you acknowledge that faithful Catholics may not feel at home in either party. I have felt that way for years, perhaps not for exactly the same reasons but nonetheless. You and I disagree on a number of things but I am grateful for your witness.

    Joseph Ross
    New Orleans

    By: joseph ross on November 10, 2012 at 6:45 pm

  4. Kathy,

    Are you saying then that our Archbishop is not a “feeling person” since he made clear that Catholic doctrine and social teaching obligate us to vote for the pro-life candidate over the the pro-death President?

    By: David on November 11, 2012 at 11:30 am

  5. To David:

    President Obama is NOT a pro-death President. He is not encouraging anyone to have an abortion. Rather, he is ensuring that no one goes to jail if they have an abortion. In this regard, he is relying on religious institutions to follow their own dogma and “punish” their members who disobey this dogma.

    By: Robert on November 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    • Robert,
      Increasingly clear is Barach Obama’s ideology – ‘culture-of-death’.
      As an Illinois US Senator, Senator Barack Obamaa co-sponsored F.O.C.A. or Freedom of Choice Act.
      F.O.C.A. states that a child who may, or should ‘survive an abortion’, cannot be allowed any subsequent medical or nutritional assistance, until the child dies. Seeing little chance of support at the time for FOCA’s passing, the bill was never put to a vote.
      The president’s unwavering pledge of support for Planned Parenhood is a matter of record. In response to Gov. Romney’s pledge that he would “defund taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood”, President Obama proclaimed that he would give up his presidency before defunding Planned Parenthood –
      approximate $500 million.
      Obama strategists shared that his campaign’s last 30 days were riddled with ‘code words’ for getting-out the pro-abortion vote.
      Mr. Obama’s history is clearly ‘pro-death’and his bold actions show that he is the “Poster Boy” for the Culture of Death.
      Robert, your statement may be well meant; however, they are at best misguided, and at worst, clearly ignorant of the Facts of Life.

      By: A deacon on December 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm

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