Thoughts on last night’s community forum

At last night’s Community forum for the Kraemer Multi-Service Center for the homeless in Anaheim, there was evident tension. At some level, we all share a common set of concerns, the well-being of our families, our children, public safety and health, economic concerns, etc. There is another set of concerns, however, which arise out of a spirit of kinship with the least among us, what Catholic social teaching calls “Solidarity”- that we are one human family.

I was grateful for all the voices from faith communities at the forum, Protestants, Catholics, other people of goodwill. It was a beautiful reminder of Jesus’ statement: the poor you will always have *with you*. I was thankful also for the homeless women and men who were brave enough to share in front of a not altogether sympathetic crowd. God, give us greater solidarity as a community, as a human family.

At one point at this meeting one speaker rose in support of the shelter but paused to make the following statement: “I grew up Catholic but haven’t darkened the door of a church for many years. But I’m proud tonight to see so many Catholics out supporting help for the homeless.” This is the work of evangelization. The joyful witness to “the love, beauty and truth of God.”

Pope Francis, in his address at the Festival of Families, recalled these “transcendentals” and reminded us that in our life of faith we walk between “love, beauty, and truth of God,” on the one hand, and “destruction and war” on the other. “It’s up to us to choose. It’s up to us to decide which path we want to take forward.”

This is what Respect Life Month is about. It’s about the human person. It’s about life, dignity, and justice. We take the time to consider how to walk the path that leads away from death and towards life. Thank you for the many ways that you will engage in parish activities, prayer, and advocacy during this month to life up and witness to the Gospel of Life.

–by Greg Walgenbach, Director of Life, Justice & Peace, Diocese of Orange