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opinion/commentary View Comments

'Help is finally here.'
By The Editors
Source: Catholic New York
Published: Wednesday, January 05, 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.


More Catholic Community Speaks
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Fidelis of Sigmaringen: If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint's life. 
<p>Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Fidelis soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor. </p><p>As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers. </p><p>He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions. </p><p>He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed. </p><p>He was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which was established in 1622, recognized him as its first martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog Obedience means total surrender and wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. All the difficulties that come in our work are the result of disobedience.

 
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