Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
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When the chief executive of a collapsed investment bank testified before a Congressional hearing, he said, "I feel horrible about what has happened to the company and its effects on so many."

He defended the compensation system that rewarded him with what lawmakers said totaled $485 million since 2000 (although he put the figure at $350 million.) After all, there was a compensation committee in place that put its imprimatur on those packages.

I have to ask the foolish, simpleminded, naïve question that proves I don’t have the sophistication I always craved: "Does anyone deserve that much money? Anyone?"

One of my daughters, who works as director of communications for a fashion company, was driving to New Hampshire with me a few weeks ago. We were desperate for something to eat and pulled into McDonald’s in a small town off the interstate.

She went in to buy a few burgers and some fries, against my wife’s protests, but I figure you need some junk food in your stomach every so often.

While she went in, I listened to news radio and the agonizing debate about the $700 billion bailout, which did nothing to restore our confidence or calm our anger.

A few minutes later, she came out, paper bag in hand, and got into the car, stinking of fast food, with a troubled look on her face.

"What’s wrong? No Big Macs left?" I asked.

"I can’t explain it," she said. "There was a girl behind the counter who was my age. She had a wedding band on and I think she was pregnant."

"So? That’s a good thing."

"But I was sad that she was there, working for a few dollars an hour, while I have so much."

Good thought. Healthy guilt. Some compassion. Does such a thing occur to our corporate leaders?

Shouldn’t we all have a little guilt if our lifestyle is self-indulgent and materialistic? Once in a while, it doesn’t hurt to think about the person in Haiti who subsists on a few dollars a day.

Besides the guilt, I hope my daughter has a little gratitude because God has given her so much. And maybe a little compassion for everyone who doesn’t have as much.

At least she doesn’t suffer from the spiritually debilitating sense of entitlement that seems to be shared by executives in the collapsed financial services industry.

Is anyone "entitled" because of breeding, education, social status, salary level, executive position – or for any other reason?

I thought of the day laborers who stand under the bridge waiting for work and how much they incense some people because they earn a few dollars a day. Shouldn’t we be more distraught when people earn hundreds of millions?

There’s a vastly inequitable distribution of wealth in the world. We all know that. But the first baby step toward change is being able to look at the Latino woman behind the counter at Dunkin Donuts and wish she had a larger piece of the Wall Street pie, not to mention the same for ourselves.

When I was a young man in college in New York City, I’d occasionally visit the Catholic Worker soup kitchen on the Bowery, not far from the financial district where brokers and investors were thinking great thoughts and making great deals worth millions – while Dorothy Day, in her simple-minded Christian obstinacy, was ladling out soup and making peanut butter sandwiches for the homeless and hungry.

And she always reminded me of the story Christ told about the sheep and the goats, and the King who will come again and separate us and send some to a heavenly reward and others to perdition because we didn’t feed the hungry and clothe the naked or visit the imprisoned.

J.F. Pisani is a writer who lives with his family in the New Haven area.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.