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opinion/commentary View Comments

'Help is finally here.'
By The Editors
Source: Catholic New York
Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2011
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New Year's is a time for resolutions, and New York's Catholics will be making them just like everyone else, vowing to lose weight and exercise more, to save money and pay down debt, to spend quality time with family and friends and to learn something new -- like Photoshop or French.

We'd like to see a lot of Catholics add to their list as well a commitment to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days, to receive the sacraments often, to be actively involved in their parish and to donate time and/or money to helping the poor.
But New Year's isn't only about resolutions. It's also a time to celebrate, and this year all New Yorkers have something special to celebrate.

In the last days of 2010, with Congress winding down its session, the long-stalled bill to cover the cost of ongoing medical care for 9/11 rescue and recovery workers overcame a major hurdle with its approval in the Senate. The bipartisan vote, which took many in Washington by surprise, was followed quickly by passage in the House and an announcement that President Obama would sign the bill into law.

New York's Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who pushed hard to negotiate a compromise with their Republican colleagues, called the Dec. 22 vote "the Christmas miracle we've been looking for."

Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan and Queens, who sponsored it in the House with fellow Democrat Jerrold Nadler of Manhattan and Republican Peter King of Nassau County, joyfully told 9/11 responders and survivors: "Help is finally here."

The emergency workers and 9/11 families that packed the Capitol were rightfully jubilant at the news.

We share their happiness.

We also want to take the opportunity to thank Mayor Bloomberg, city officials, and the entire New York congressional delegation for their steadfast support during years of intense debate on the bill.

We've called for passage of the measure -- known formally as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act -- before. And although the costs and time frames are reduced from the original, the legislation goes a long way toward repaying those heroic and selfless workers who spent days, weeks and months breathing the toxic dust and smoke of the ground zero rubble after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The $4.3 billion, five-year measure provides $1.8 billion for health care for first responders and others at the World Trade Center site and $2.5 billion to reopen the Victims Compensation Fund for five years.

The argument for doing this has been made many times, on this and on other editorial pages and by our public officials. But it's worth making again.

The firefighters, police officers and emergency medical workers who were the first responders did not hesitate at the site of the burning World Trade Center towers as they rushed to save the thousands of people trapped inside. The recovery workers who spent months digging through the noxious rubble in a search for human remains displayed remarkable courage as they carried out a grim and dangerous task.

And even though the majority of rescue and recovery workers were from the New York metropolitan area, the 9/11 attacks were not directed only at New York. The attacks were aimed at all Americans, on our nation and our values. We applaud Congress for recognizing that and addressing it.


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Hildegard of Bingen: 
		<p>Abbess, artist, author, composer, mystic, pharmacist, poet, preacher, theologian--where to begin describing this remarkable woman?</p>
		<p>Born into a noble family, she was instructed for ten years by the holy woman Blessed Jutta. When Hildegard was 18, she became a Benedictine nun at the Monastery of St. Disibodenberg. Ordered by her confessor to write down the visions that she'd received since the age of three, Hildegard took ten years to write her <em>Scivias</em> (<em>Know the Ways</em>). Pope Eugene III read it and in 1147 encouraged her to continue writing. Her <em>Book of the Merits of Life</em> and <em>Book of Divine Works</em> followed. She wrote over 300 letters to people who sought her advice; she also composed short works on medicine and physiology, and sought advice from contemporaries such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux.</p>
		<p>Hildegard's visions caused her to see humans as "living sparks" of God's love, coming from God as daylight comes from the sun. Sin destroyed the original harmony of creation; Christ's redeeming death and resurrection opened up new possibilities. Virtuous living reduces the estrangement from God and others that sin causes. </p>
		<p>Like all mystics, she saw the harmony of God's creation and the place of women and men in that. This unity was not apparent to many of her contemporaries. </p>
		<p>Hildegard was no stranger to controversy. The monks near her original foundation protested vigorously when she moved her monastery to Bingen, overlooking the Rhine River. She confronted Emperor Frederick Barbarossa for supporting at least three antipopes. Hildegard challenged the Cathars, who rejected the Catholic Church claiming to follow a more pure Christianity.</p>
		<p>Between 1152 and 1162, Hildegard often preached in the Rhineland. Her monastery was placed under interdict because she had permitted the burial of a young man who had been excommunicated. She insisted that he had been reconciled with the Church and had received its sacraments before dying. Hildegard protested bitterly when the local bishop forbade the celebration of or reception of the Eucharist at the Bingen monastery, a sanction that was lifted only a few months before her death. </p>
		<p>In 2012, Hildegard was canonized and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI.</p>
American Catholic Blog It is for you to find your place in the history of humanity. Nobody can do it for you. It is a work that will be left undone unless you do it yourself.

 
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