Faith in the center of the storm
“We usually assist in Africa and other impoverished areas around the world, just like the Red Cross does,” said Sgt. Angelo A. Sedacca of the NYPD, talking about his work with the Knights of Malta, a Catholic charitable organization in more 120 countries throughout the world.
“Now we're needed here in New York City in the aftermath of Sandy.”
Essential to the story of preparation, rescue and recovery were men and women who work for the government — elected officials and bureaucrats as well as first responders on the ground. But they couldn't do their job without the existence of a support system of people who live to serve their fellows.
As happened in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York, the mayor's office immediately pointed to the leading role of the faith-based Salvation Army in providing relief. And there was the member of St. Augustine's Catholic Church in Westchester County, “organizing other parishioners in going door-to-door to check up on their neighbors and the elderly in the town, making sure they have everything they need,” as the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York told the story.
“Our hearts are broken when you see the loss of life, the grieving families, the devastation, the ruination, people without their cherished possessions and their homes,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, observed in a television interview. “But throughout all of it, too, you begin to see a glimmer of light and hope. ... Once again, the best, the most noble sentiments of people are coming out as people are heroic and generous in serving those in need.”
This notion of solidarity is one that has been dancing on the margins of presidential politics and public policy all year.
Faith is indispensable. It's why the increasingly narrow view of religious freedom that the Obama administration harbors is an issue of historic import.
Even some of the president's own appointees on the Supreme Court have indicated that it's a step too far, slapping down an administration rule regarding hiring practices at an Evangelical Lutheran school.
This rebuke, however, did not make the impression it should have on the White House. To this day, faith-based social-service entities — including schools, hospitals and some of the very charities providing essential services in Sandy's wake — face an unprovoked attack on their liberty, no matter what the White House spinmeisters say.
In the wake of disaster, though, we are reminded why it's in the best interest of everyone that we allow these faith-based entities to operate as their conscience guides them — of why protecting religious freedom in America is the right thing to do not only because it is just, but also because it provides a practical benefit.
Without hope, without people motivated by something greater than a presidential-election victory or financial gain, we're a sadly limited lot.
Can we translate this compassion into our civic choices, ensuring that we remain a people protecting what is most precious to us — our first freedom, religious freedom?
Kathryn Lopez is the editor-at-large of National Review Online (nationalreview.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Google grants teachers’ school supply wishes
- Pitt: Vaccine protects mice against MERS virus
- 2 suspects charged with second robbery
- Central Fellowship Church, Connellsville, pastor retires after 31 years
- Porterfield: County Line Church planning spaghetti dinner
- Steelers defense a long way from ‘greatest of all time’
- Global heat records tumble once again
- Red tide threatens Florida economy
- Video posted online captures Wilkinsburg child’s injuries
- Another woman accuses man of grabbing her shorts on river trail
- Hampton grad grabs lead in music video