Housing issue merits attention - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Housing issue merits attention

This evening I am going to have dinner with a family who recently returned to their home after the repair of extensive damage from a fire several months ago. They are naturally very happy to have returned and asked me to join them for a meal and to bless their home. I am happy and honored to share their joy with them and to pray with them for God’s blessings on their home and family.

I remember the sadness that was theirs when the fire occurred. The loss was great, and they knew that their lives would not be exactly the same as before for a long period of time. The brighter side of a dark day was the fact that the fire caused neither loss of life nor personal injury. I have thought often since the fire that the patience and good spirit the family has maintained through their time of exile were rooted in their gratitude that they are healthy and still have one another.

Other factors that, I am sure, sustained them were good insurance coverage, strong support from family and friends, and other resources to see them through this tough period.

Next week on Public Policy Sunday, we’ll be asking all of our parish communities to think about and consider some initiatives designed to alleviate the plight of people who yearn for adequate housing but who do not enjoy the resources that are available to my friends.

It may surprise you to know that one-quarter of the population of our country — 65 million people — experience housing problems. Among these problems are high cost burdens, substandard conditions, overcrowding and homelessness. And, as you well know, many people in our region struggle with such issues. The material you will receive at Masses next weekend will offer significant information about our local and regional situation. I hope you will give that information your serious consideration, and that you will be willing to do what you can to address this pressing problem.

I hope you will understand that this effort is not about support for or criticism of any political philosophy or party. Rather, these efforts are born of a sincere desire to live out as consistently and generously as we are able the call of the Gospel and the basic principles of Catholic social teaching.
We know that the Lord was strong in his call to serve our sisters and brothers in need. A classic example of that is Chapter 25 of the Gospel of St. Matthew: “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry ‚Ķ or thirsty ‚Ķ or sick ‚Ķ or naked ‚Ķ or a stranger?”

In this passage — and in many others — Jesus lays out some clear and strong principles to guide the ways in which we identify, relate to and treat our neighbors. What he does not give us is a detailed handbook containing instructions that cover every situation for all time. He left the application of these principles to the church and promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide the community to right judgment in these matters, and to give it courage and wisdom to act on those judgments.

In the materials you will receive next week you will be able to read about some of the basic principles of Catholic social teaching that have evolved over time. They are quite challenging, but they are solid and rich sources that can help all of us assess and respond to the complex social issues that challenge us every day. Let me extend the invitation to you to spend some pre-Lenten time on the issue of affordable housing and how we can respond wisely and generously to our neighbors who yearn to enjoy that blessing.

Peace to all.

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