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Editorial: Our Christian call remains the same even amid the storm
The United States is going through a perfect storm — a coinciding of three critical events, each of which, just on its own, has the capacity to turn the nation on its head. First, of course, is the coronavirus pandemic, running rampant with more than 6.3 million confirmed cases, almost 200,000 deaths and no end in sight. The second: the Black Lives Matter social change movement, in response to unwarranted deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement. And finally, the ongoing storm before the storm of November’s presidential election — no explanation needed.
As the events of 2020 have unfolded, we have become a country that is enduring a seemingly perpetual major crisis. Our resources, energy and capacity for navigating reality have shifted, leading us often doggedly to put one foot in front of the other, just trying to get by. Media attention, too, is consumed with crisis reporting.
Those events that the media deem to be major crises have a way of eclipsing other crises, whether they be found in the hurricane-ravaged flatlands of Louisiana, the numerous unrelenting California wildfires, or half a world away in the shattered city of Beirut. Without media attention, they are much more easily overlooked than they otherwise might have been.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, recognized this when, in early September, he asked that bishops across the United States consider taking up a special collection for the needs of those affected by the several natural disasters currently plaguing the country.
“The traditional storm season has only just begun, and already we have witnessed the devastating impact of Hurricane Laura and the California wildfires,” Archbishop Gomez wrote. “Thousands of homes, businesses and churches have been severely damaged or destroyed, and the impacts will be long-lasting.”
In the letter, he acknowledges the reality that we are enduring, including the negative financial impact of COVID-19 on parishes. But he adds that he has faith and hope in the generosity of the faithful, that they can push beyond this major crisis to be attentive to those deeply in need.
Father Andrew DeRouen, a priest of the Diocese of Lake Charles, reported in a recent interview with Our Sunday Visitor that 16 priests have been displaced, and 20 rectories within the diocese — his included — were damaged to the extent that they were ruled uninhabitable by late August’s Hurricane Laura.
“At the rectory where I was staying, two pine trees fell on the house, crashing through the kitchen and the living room. The building has been recently condemned, it’s completely uninhabitable, and it’s scheduled to be bulldozed,” Father DeRouen reports.
Please consider assisting the Diocese of Lake Charles through a donation to Catholic Charities USA or Catholic Relief Services. Let’s not forget about our brothers and sisters in the South.
The same is true for those in the West, where a climate scientist at UCLA has said that more acres (2 million and counting) have burned in California in 2020 than in any other time in modern history. Communities there are evacuating, and many have watched helplessly as their homes have burned to the ground. Please don’t forget our neighbors left with nothing in the sweltering fires of the West Coast.
At the same time, the Lebanese still struggle after the explosions that rocked the coastal city of Beirut. A recent visit from the Vatican by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, expresses Pope Francis’s closeness to the people of the city. But the hundreds of thousands made homeless by the blasts continue to be in great need. Let us not forget our fellow Christians and others suffering in Lebanon — and those all around our country and the world who need our prayers and financial assistance.
In St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, the apostle reminds the new followers of Jesus how they are to live in community: that they are to “bear one another’s burdens” and that in doing so they “will fulfill the law of Christ.”
What a grace it is, during this year that has been so full of challenges, that we know our Christian call remains the same no matter what: to bear one another’s burdens as best we can and, in doing so, fulfill Jesus’ commandment to love one another.
Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott P. Richert, Scott Warden, York Young