September 15, 2017

Editorial

Every day, we are called to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers

Sept. 11, 2017, will go down in history as a day when our nation and the world were responding to powerful hurricanes that battered the United States and parts of the Caribbean, dealing with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Mexico, and listening to an earnest plea from Pope Francis for the Trump administration to reconsider the rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. And those stories barely cover the breadth of headlines our 24-hour-news cycle offered us on that day.

As was the case 16 years ago to the day when terrorist attacks in New York City, Shanksville, Pa., and the Pentagon left nearly 3,000 people dead, we believe people of faith will rise to the challenge of assisting so many who are facing tragic circumstances. As our Catholic faith and as the tenets of other faith traditions teach, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers who are always ready to respond to the call to help our neighbors in need.

Hurricane Harvey’s and Irma’s wraths to date have resulted in more than 100 deaths across the affected areas and billions of dollars of damage. The Sept. 7 earthquake that struck the Pacific coast of Mexico registered a magnitude of 8.1 and left at least 96 people dead and hundreds injured.

And the pope made it clear he was disappointed with the Sept. 5 rescinding of the original DACA decision. That original decision allowed some 800,000 young people (known as “Dreamers”), brought to the United States illegally as children, to stay in the country, work or go to school. Changing that policy was potentially going to divide families and rob young people of a future, the pope said.

The Holy Father even went so far as to say that politicians, including President Donald J. Trump, who call themselves pro-life must be pro-family and not enact policies that divide families.

“If [President Trump] is a good pro‑lifer, he understands that the family is the cradle of life, and its unity must be defended,” Pope Francis said.

The pope’s words about DACA echoed what the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a Sept. 7 statement clarifying their position on advocacy and care for migrants and refugees.

“It is preposterous to claim that justice for immigrants isn’t central to Catholic teaching. It comes directly from Jesus himself in Matthew 25, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food … a stranger and you welcomed me’ ” (Mt 25:35), the bishops wrote. “Immigrants and refugees are precisely the strangers we must welcome. This isn’t Catholic partisanship. The Bible is clear: welcoming immigrants is indispensable to our faith.

“Caring for and about the ‘Dreamers’ is nothing more than trying to carry out that seemingly simple, but ultimately incredibly demanding, commandment,” the bishops continued. “It is a commandment found throughout sacred Scripture, reaching back to the Hebrew scriptures, including Leviticus, ‘When an alien resides with you in your land, do not mistreat such a one’ (Lv 19:33). In fact, the Church has been pro-immigration since God called Abram to leave Ur: ‘Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you’ (Gn 12:1). To suggest otherwise is absurd.”

As disciples of Christ, we understand that the storms in life—whether they be hurricanes, an earthquake or spirited discussion about young people brought to America by their parents—extend beyond politics or partisanship.

Our lives of faith are rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who calls us to love—not judge—our neighbor.

What the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and other life-changing events that happen nearly each day teach us is that we must always be ready to offer our loving hands to assist our brothers and sisters in need.

With an assist to Our Sunday Visitor, we share this Xavier University web site, www.xavier.edu/jesuitresource/online-resources/in-times-of-natural-disaster.cfm, which offers timely advice when dealing with natural disasters:

“While it is comforting to know the many ways that local, regional and national government workers and officials are responding to a natural disaster,” the Jesuit website says, “you may find yourself asking if there is anything you can immediately do to help. There are three practical ways:

  • “Pray.
  • “Donate to a relief agency.
  • “Become a trained volunteer for the next event.”

Our witness as disciples of faith does not end after we respond to a particular tragedy or life challenge. It is a lifelong vocation that we are called to live each day.

May we always embrace and live that tenet.

—Mike Krokos

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