|Sister Mary Rose McGeady|
Earlier this month, Sister Mary Rose McGeady died at the age of 84.
Back in 1990, Sister Mary Rose bravely stepped into what had been a media firestorm.
Sister Mary Rose was selected to run Covenant House, a highly respected charity which offered shelter to homeless youth. Covenant House’s original founder,
Father Bruce Ritter, had been hailed as a visionary. He started Covenant House in the late 1960s, offering little more than two cold-water apartments to those who needed a roof over their heads.
By 1990, however, Covenant House was serving as many as 30,000 youths in 11 cities across America, as well as in Latin America. Annual donations were estimated at $80 million.
Then came the sex abuse allegations against Ritter.
It may seem hard to imagine now, but there was a time when such allegations still had the ability to shock. That, of course, has changed thanks to the avalanche of sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church in Ireland, America and elsewhere since the late 1990s and 2000s.
No charges were ever filed against Ritter, who adamantly denied the allegations. But, as The New York Times noted, an independent investigation commissioned by Covenant House “found that although none of the sexual allegations could be proved, enough evidence existed, including evidence of financial irregularities, to warrant Father Ritter’s dismissal.”
Enter Sister Mary Rose, who picked the organization up off of the floor and made it into a miracle once again.
She retired in 2003, and Covenant House is now said to be serving 50,000 people in over 20 cities, with annual donations of well over $100 million.
This Irish American Catholic nun’s heroic effort was worth thinking about in the wake of Mitt Romney’s now infamous comments that roughly half of the American population (47 percent) expects handouts from the government.
It’s not even worth distorting the comments. Romney did not call people “moochers” or “freeloaders.”
His own words need not be twisted. For they are damning enough.
We should actually give Romney credit. We want our politicians to be honest?
Well, it seems to me Romney was simply being honest.
Many Republicans are not merely opposed to handing out welfare checks so that drug addicts can get their fix. Many of them are also opposed to financial aid for college students. And unemployment insurance. And aid for the elderly. And so on and so forth.
This even as they want to boost military spending, not to get soldiers the kind of medical assistance they deserve, but to purchase a lot of high-tech gizmos which just so happen to be manufactured by corporations that make hefty donations.
Again, give Romney credit. He simply explained where the Republican Party stands.
Now voters have to ask themselves – do I know anyone who benefits from financial aid? Unemployment? Medicaid or Medicare?
Where does Sister Mary Rose fit into all this?
Well, don’t forget, the Republicans were happy a few weeks back when Timothy Cardinal Dolan made an appearance at the Republican convention. It reinforced the notion that the GOP is the party of God, while the Democrats are Godless.
As usual, the Democrats did themselves no favors by not welcoming Dolan, and then by leaving God out of their platform.
But if the Republicans are so happy to tout themselves as the party of God, they should have some long conversations with the likes of Sister Mary Rose McGeady, and the thousands of religious people like her toiling to make the lives of the miserable and wretched slightly more bearable.
In the Republican universe, Covenant House is an exemplary organization. It is a religious charity that raises its own money, meaning tax money is not required. (Irish American Kevin M. Ryan now runs the organization.)
But Romney, and all the other Christian GOPers, should actually talk to some nuns. Don’t just prop them up and say, “Look, we actually like Catholics now.”
For if you actually talk to those toiling with the impoverished and needy, they will tell you government funds remain vital to helping out not just the poor, but working and middle class Americans.
That might even add up to more than 47 percent, Mitt.
(Contact Sidewalks at tdeignan.blogspot.com