Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, released the following statement in response to the attacks at the US Capitol.
In light of the deeply troubling attacks upon our democracy this week, including the loss of human life, let us reflect upon Abraham Lincoln’s words toward the end of the Civil War.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” (From Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address March 4, 1865.)
While these attacks against core government institutions impact all, they deeply touch our Catholic Charities agencies. We necessarily and frequently interact with government and elected officials to advance government policies that better meet the needs of the vulnerable individuals we serve.
Many of us have met with some of those officials who were under attack in the Capitol. I add something personal. Just about a year ago, I delivered the opening invocation at a session of the House of Representatives from the very same place an attacker took over and posed on Wednesday. Seeing that photo profoundly disturbed me. Given this assault, we renew our appreciation for the many dedicated elected officials with whom we have worked. At the same time, we recognize that not only do some officials fall short, but they act in ways destructive of the common good.
Despite these publicly admitted assaults to overturn election results, we will transition to a new Presidency. While this provides some solace, we would be naive to think the repercussions of this assault will be short-lived. We are still dealing with the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd; and will long be confronting these issues. This week’s assaults, and the response to them, again raises up some of these same issues.
Paradoxically, this attack on government compels us to recognize and re-affirm the essential role that mediating non-governmental organizations like Catholic Charities have in fostering the common good and a civil society. We do not shirk from this role – especially in this environment
I reiterate and intensify my appreciation for the dedication, commitment and generosity of the trustees, directors, staff, volunteers, and donors of Catholic Charites agencies and programs. While feelings of discouragement, frustration, and anger are normal, we need to act on behalf of those we serve in a way that fosters civility, respect, compassion, justice, and healing.
Our renewed human efforts need to be coupled with a profound recognition and plea for God’s wisdom and grace.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Highest dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46; 1-7.)
Let us pray for our nation, let us pray for one another.