The following unsigned editorial is from the Sept. 8 issue of The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. It was written by Mike Krokos, editor. (It was published before Hurricane Irma made landfall).
It has taken an immense storm of epic proportions to again demonstrate how people in the United States come together as brothers and sisters of Christ in a time of need.
And we should be extremely thankful that at times like these most people are able to put aside their differences and focus on helping those adversely affected by a once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe that has claimed at least 60 lives and left hundreds of thousands of others in chaos.
While news reports about immigration, a border wall and the deplorable sin of racism, among other things, have shown a country very divided in several respects in recent months, we once again are able to witness the goodness of humankind — across races, ethnicities and faith traditions — when so many are hurting because of the effects of Hurricane Harvey. This tragedy has shown us again that the majority of Americans stand united — not divided — when it comes to the witness of loving our neighbors in need.
To date, truckloads of food, water and other perishable items have been delivered to devastated areas. Prayers for the victims have become a staple of daily lives. Millions of dollars have been donated to aid relief efforts as well.
Pope Francis also offered his prayers for the people of Texas and Louisiana struggling to cope with the devastating impact of the hurricane, and he praised all those engaged in rescuing and caring for the thousands of people forced out of their homes.
In a message to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston — who also serves as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — the Holy Father asked that his “spiritual closeness and pastoral concern” be relayed to all those affected by the hurricane and flooding.
Sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and released by the Vatican on Aug. 31, the message continued: “Deeply moved by the tragic loss of life and the immense material devastation that this natural catastrophe has left in its wake, (Pope Francis) prays for the victims and their families, and for all those engaged in the vital work of relief, recovery and rebuilding,” Cardinal Parolin said.
Pope Francis, he added, “trusts that the immense and immediate needs of so many individuals and communities will continue to inspire a vast outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid in the best traditions of the nation.”
The “best traditions of this nation,” indeed, include serving as disciples of Christ to those in need.
Our faith leads us to help all people when they are in need. We are taught at a very young age to serve all people with the hands and feet of Christ, not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic.
At times like these, it is a tenet that goes straight to the heart of Christianity, for so many people of faith, not just Catholics.
It will undoubtedly take all of our continued efforts to help our brothers and sisters in Texas, Louisiana and on the Gulf Coast to get their lives in order. It may be several months or even years for many of them to return to their homes — if the structures have not been completely lost because of the storm.
It’s not too late to donate to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. If you missed your parish collection or would still like to donate, we encourage you to make a financial contribution to Catholic Charities USA.
May we use this opportunity to again show how we live our faith in all that we do, especially when our brothers and sisters are most in need.
Parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will take up collections for hurricane relief efforts at all Masses on Sept. 16-17.
The views or positions presented in this or any guest commentary are those of the individual publication and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicPhilly.com, Catholic News Service or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.