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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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Dedication of St. Mary Major Basilica: First raised at the order of Pope Liberius in the mid-fourth century, the Liberian basilica was rebuilt by Pope Sixtus III shortly after the Council of Ephesus affirmed Mary’s title as Mother of God in 431. Rededicated at that time to the Mother of God, St. Mary Major is the largest church in the world honoring God through Mary. Standing atop one of Rome’s seven hills, the Esquiline, it has survived many restorations without losing its character as an early Roman basilica. Its interior retains three naves divided by colonnades in the style of Constantine’s era. Fifth-century mosaics on its walls testify to its antiquity. 
<p>St. Mary Major is one of the four Roman basilicas known as patriarchal cathedrals in memory of the first centers of the Church. St. John Lateran (November 9) represents Rome, the See of Peter; St. Paul Outside the Walls, the See of Alexandria, allegedly the see presided over by Mark (April 25); St. Peter’s, the See of Constantinople; and St. Mary’s, the See of Antioch, where Mary is supposed to have spent most of her life. </p><p>One legend, unreported before the year 1000, gives another name to this feast: Our Lady of the Snows. According to that story, a wealthy Roman couple pledged their fortune to the Mother of God. In affirmation, she produced a miraculous summer snowfall and told them to build a church on the site. The legend was long celebrated by releasing a shower of white rose petals from the basilica’s dome every August 5.</p> American Catholic Blog We may pat ourselves on the back for doing nothing bad, but if we have done nothing good, we might need to reconsider how well we are living out the Gospels. There is a valid reason why the penitential rite, which we often pray at Mass, asks God to forgive all that we have done and all that we have failed to do.

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Today's feast of Our Lady of the Snows commemorates Mary’s intercession in an August miracle.

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Do you know a priest who reminds you of St. John Vianney? Send him an e-card to thank him for his ministry.

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May God bless you today with gentle surprises.

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The founder of the Society of Jesus is also a patron of all who were educated by the Jesuits.




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