Thursday, December 04, 2008

Backing the Bailout... and Calling for "Hope"

Earlier today, as the "Big Three" returned to Capitol Hill to press their case for a ($38 billion) Federal bailout of the auto industry, back home in the Motor City, Cardinal Adam Maida convoked a meeting of 12 of Detroit's top ecumenical and interfaith leaders to discuss efforts to support the industry's survival...
A dozen interfaith leaders from across Metro Detroit huddled in a private session today at Sacred Heart Major Seminary to discuss the economic crises affecting the state and possibilities for cooperation in assisting local residents through some of the most distressed times in decades.

"Respect of the faith is critical in all times and all circumstances, and it is more necessary now then ever," said Cardinal Adam Maida. "We have a great concern for the countless individuals and families who are in great distress because of the economy. It is time to stand in solidarity."

The religious leaders said they would form a lobbing alliance so their denominations around the county would lobby Congress on behalf of the automobile industry.

"These larger national denominations will contact those individuals who are straddling the fence," said Bishop Charles Ellis of the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. "Our constituents in those communities will engage in a campaign to influence those people," he said....

"The economic crisis, especially as it relates to the auto industry, is affecting all of our people," said the Rev. Patrick Halfpenny, the ecumenical and interfaith officers for the Archdiocese of Detroit. "Collectively, the interfaith leaders at this meeting represent 3.5 million faithful. Their coming together is an expression of solidarity and concern for the people of our region." an added underscore, Maida's rolled out a four-page pastoral for this weekend, tying the economy and Advent into a call for solidarity:
Ultimately, the economy is not just about money; it is about people — about us — fellow human beings made in the image and likeness of God. Our spiritual well-being and our human dignity do not depend on the fluctuations of the stock market. No matter what happens to industry or big business, we belong to God and have rights and responsibilities for one another. At times, we may feel anxious about things we cannot control, we need to meditate all the more on God's investment in us and His desire that we live as His family supporting one another.

God made us social creatures. We grow and thrive in our relationships and by life together in our families and in communities of faith and service. None of us can live for very long all on our own. We crave the loving support, and challenge, of being with and for others. Each of us has something to give and each of us has some need to receive. We are all at our best when we are part of a healthy flow of giving and receiving in respectful relationships.

Every aspect of our Western culture has trained us to think and act competitively. We often speak of "winners and losers." Mistakenly, these dynamics can suddenly be transferred to larger economic concerns. As the Advent Scriptures remind us, instead of giving into divisiveness, each day we need to renew our commitment to the common good, remembering we are truly brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of one same God and Father. As the birth of the Son of God in our midst teaches us, we are called to live together in solidarity....

Sometimes in life we feel we have little power over the circumstances around us. Who of us – single handedly – could change the flow of our economy or turn things around? And yet, each of us has the power to hear God's Word and to use our time and talents to express concretely and creatively our solidarity with our brothers and sisters, many of whom are profoundly suffering in body or spirit. This holy season of Advent and Christmas provides us countless opportunities for charity, something as simple as a smile, a "thank you" to the grocery bagger, taking a tag from the Giving Tree, providing company or help for the homebound.

We all need to receive and we all need to give. Most of us find it much easier give; it is humbling to admit we need the help of others. Everything about our culture encourages us to be self-reliant and independent. As we have seen, our lives are interwoven. In today's unusual circumstances, many will need to admit their need for help from relatives, friends or the Church; please remember there is no shame in such vulnerability. Every one of us has something to give, something to offer.

During the Depression, my own family suffered greatly. I truly believe we became stronger through the challenges. Hardest on me, as a 6-year old, was the loss of our home in a terrible flood. I will never forget watching the raging waters destroy our community. And I still recall my father's assurance to us that everything would be all right, that we were all together and safe in God's hands.

Each person – no matter what – has the power to make a difference, the power to build up, affirm and strengthen. Alone, we cannot do it. But together, we can proclaim, even at this time of darkness, that Christ is our light and Christ is our hope. We wait together for the coming of the Lord. We trust His coming will be as certain as the dawn and the light of His love will make us into a people of hope.

May the Lord bless our nation, our world and especially our region as we begin a new chapter of our history. May the light of Christ shine upon us and through us so we may be ministers of Christ's message of hope to one another and to all in need.
The text closes with a prayer summarizing the letter's points:
Loving Father, you know the fears and anxieties that weigh us down even as we prepare to celebrate the joy of your Son's birth among us.

In the darkness of our uncertainty, give us renewed confidence in your providential care and our own potential to work together for a sharing of gifts wherein no one's needs will be lost or forgotten.

May we proclaim with new courage that Jesus your Son is the true light of our lives, the fulfillment of all our hopes and the lasting joy of every human heart.

We ask all this through Jesus your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
PHOTO: Reuters