This week as Catholic Charities Feeding Our Neighbor’s campaign is launched; Monsignor Sullivan speaks with Eric Munoz, of Oxfam America about the work he’s done in helping to create a global index that measures quality, accessibility and affordability of food. Also on the show is Triada Stampas of the Food Bank of NYC to speak about how the Farm Bill’s passing will hurt millions of Americans relying on SNAP benefits.
The next step has been taken to fix our nation’s broken immigration policies with the release of the House Republican’s immigration reform principles. I was present at Capital Hill last spring when a bi-partisan group of Senators made an earlier step forward by introducing Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation. The Senate later passed this as a bill on June 27, 2013.
The Senate’s steps last year – while positive – did not bring us to the end of the race. The House’s steps towards immigration reform – while positive – remain principles, not an approved bill and a long way from becoming law. These differ greatly, but I am not prepared at this stage to say irreconcilably.
At least there is acknowledgment that specific issues need to be addressed. From my perspective, one of the values of the House’s reform principles is that they identify most of the critical issues facing our nation’s immigration system. I also believe strongly that the ways they propose to address these issues need much debate. They also, in my judgment, fall short in certain important areas of comprehensive solutions needed and articulated by many including the Catholic Church.
Having said that, I say let the debate and negotiations begin. Clearly the bill already passed by the Senate is more concrete. The House principles still need to be translated into legislation.
I suggest that a good place to begin negotiations is for both sides to stipulate two things:
- Nobody in this debate is reading from their private tablets of Commandments delivered by God from the mountaintop.
- Nobody’s positions have been inspired by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
A positive outcome, while not assured, is necessary. There are many interests and many strongly held positions that at least on the surface seem almost impossible to reconcile. But sides have been further apart on other issues and the process of genuine negotiation has produced results unimaginable at the outset.
So let the negotiations begin in earnest. The continued strength of our nation – for immigrants to the United States and native-born Americans – depends upon it.
On this week’s show Monsignor Sullivan speaks with Sheldon Danziger, President of the Russell Sage Foundation about the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty to discuss what has worked and what can be improved upon in America today. Also on the show is John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter to talk about Pope Francis and what his comments on inequality and poverty means for Catholics.
Thanks that Pope Francis continues to give voice and draw attention to the unacceptable reality of inequality in the world – most recently in an address prepared for the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Catholic Charities deals with this reality each day – neighbors unfed and under-fed; families dangerously housed or without housing; children neglected and inadequately educated; immigrants un-welcomed and refugees in fear and persecuted. Providing Help, Creating Hope, Catholic Charities’ tagline, is also our mission laced with more than a tinge of obsession. And so Catholic Charities provides help – day in and day out to non-Catholics and Catholics alike. And we try to create hope for those we help. For many, a different future will require long and hard work. Yet, it is essential to who we are and what we do. Catholic Charities’ work is grounded in our core belief that each person – no matter how wounded and struggling – is made in the image of God.
I admit I was stunned by the Huffington Post headline related to the World Economic Forum that the “Richest 85 Wealthier than Half the World poorest” (est. 3.5 Billion). I know headlines and statistics can be misleading, but this one – even if off by a lot – still points out an incredible amount of inequality in the world.
Let me offer my two cents on this word, “inequality,” that has captured media buzz – and the attention of the Pope, Mayors, and protesters and just about everybody. Here’s my “non-sound bite” translation of the word. “There is such an unequal distribution of income and wealth that so many people don’t have even the basics that each human being has a right to, while some people have much more than they need.” This comes with the correct therefore: “We need to do something about it!”
Let me move into a “spin area.” Too many in the media and others seem to want to make this into “class warfare.” The media are given ample fodder by political campaigns. It may be good politics. It may be good media. But it’s bad public policy and bad for the common good.
To deal with this unacceptable inequality, we need “as many hands on board as possible” and especially “hands” that share different perspectives. We need business, unions, charities, government, religion, immigrants, native born, rich, poor and the still large middle class, the right and the left. In our own country and throughout the world this is a human problem. No person or group can shun the responsibility to be part of the solution. I am realistic enough to know that some will choose not to cooperate or claim to participate while really being obstructionist. That’s not good or ideal. But I do believe we can put together – with God’s providence – a broad enough movement to deal with this inequality so that more and more of our sisters and brothers at home and throughout the world have the basic necessities. Catholic Charities has been working at this for almost a century. Count me in to be part of this renewed movement. Enough for now, more to come…
Sometimes, in the middle of the night, in unexpected places, you come across a treat that captures so much humanness. Luck, serendipity – I might call it God’s grace. It’s worth sharing…Treat yourself!
JustLove is back for another year! In our first episode of 2014, Monsignor Sullivan speaks with the Pew Research Center’s Paul Taylor to discuss America’s income inequality crisis and some of the statistics behind what’s being called the “Lost Decade of the Middle Class” Also on the show is Thomas Sugrue of the University of Pennsylvania to discuss Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy towards economic equality.
Yesterday, Cardinal Dolan and Mayor de Blasio met at the Cardinal’s Residence to discuss how they might work together to foster a better New York.
Mayor de Blasio expressed particular appreciation for the inspiration of Pope Francis and his concern about issues of inequality that impact the poorest and most vulnerable. They spoke about the tremendous contribution the Church makes in multiple ways to the fabric of New York. They also expressed hope for a visit by Pope Francis to New York to share his message about serving the poor.
Mayor de Blasio specifically pointed out the important work of Catholic Charities:
“We talked a lot about affordable housing. We talked a lot about Catholic Charities and the work it does on behalf of children, on behalf of people in need. We talked about the need to help prisoners returning to society, a whole host of areas where we have common ground and where we can work together.”
I am not surprised, but still delighted, that the Mayor recognizes the tremendous good being done by our federation of Catholic Charities agencies in touching and responding to almost every human need.
Because of the work of these agencies, including professional staff, board members, donors and volunteers, help is provided with dignity and compassion and hope is created in neighborhoods and communities throughout New York.
Children are protected and nurtured. Families are strengthened and crises resolved. The hungry are fed and the homeless sheltered. The physically and emotionally challenged are supported. Immigrants and refugees are welcomed and integrated into their new home.
Our Catholic Charities agencies have worked with each New York City administration for over 100 years to care for the poor and vulnerable New Yorkers of all religions and look forward to doing so with the de Blasio administration. We are already convening agencies experienced in critical program and policy areas to discuss how we might best work together to expand these services and meet unmet needs.