U.S. Catholics need to listen to the pope [Letter]

December 18, 2013

The message of Pope Francis about economic fairness is loud and clear, and we need to get with the program. Unfortunately, the current leader of the Archdiocese of Baltimore has a different agenda. He is busy leading an unsuccessful crusade to Never-Never Land.

We need to get busy and correct some of our mistakes. The church does a pretty good job of feeding the hungry and housing the homeless, but we need to return to empowering the youth of Baltimore which will help them move forward in the future. We need to reopen parochial schools in the neighborhoods where they have been closed.

Additionally, the church needs to be more involved in our daily lives. We know that Catholics hold some very powerful national roles in government. Catholics are also in leadership positions in corporate America. We need to remind these Catholic business leaders that they need to be concerned about more than just the bottom line. We need to hear more about improved ethical and moral behavior in business. Employees should be paid a fair wage. Bankers need to refrain from lending practices which approach usury. Catholic medical institutions need to lower patient rates as well as the salaries of high level employees so that health care can really become affordable.

At the beginning of the Great Recession, I assumed that we would pray in church for those who had lost their jobs or whose hours had been cut. I never heard a peep. Apparently, local church leaders were so unaware of the concerns of their parishioners that these very basic human concerns were of no real importance to them. It is true that many parishes have helped families in their areas, but I still think that public prayer for significant human concerns is necessary.

The reality is that any thorough reading of the Gospels will reveal the call for significant social outreach and the building of community. If the leader of the local church is simply another careerist, we can't use that as an excuse. We need to reset priorities. As Pope Francis has said, it will be messy. The church needs to have a prominent role in the City of Baltimore. I think that Catholics will be more than willing to support a cause they believe in.

Edward McCarey McDonnell, Baltimore

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