I was going to call this post “Catholic Social Services” but it just didn’t have the right ring to it. After all, even the government provides social services. Catholics do good deeds and we do them in a BIG way. We also do them for the right reason. Jesus told us to love one another as ourselves and that includes helping our less fortunate neighbors whenever we can.
Take Catholic hospitals for example. In 2009, there were 624 Catholic hospitals in the United States, accounting for 5,5 million admissions, 16.9 million emergency room visits, and 92.7 outpatient visits. Because they’re not-for-profit operations, Catholic hospitals provide a disproportionate amount of unreimbursed care, not just to Catholic patients, but to anyone who enters their doors. (Ironically, it’s this ‘open to all’ policy that makes the Obama administration feel that our hospitals aren’t ‘ministries’. As a true ‘ministry’ our hospitals would only be open to Catholic patients. Go figure.)
Our Saint Vincent de Paul societies are another Catholic agency that’s all about good deeds. Every year SVDP provides millions of dollars of assistance to our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Plus they provide services like employment assistance, aid to the disabled, disaster relief, emergency transportation, and the list goes on and on. Seriously, it goes on and on.
You can’t talk about Catholic good deeds without including Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities is a nation-wide organization of local agencies that provided services to more than 10 million people in 2010. They provide food, clothing, utility assistance, emergency financial aid, and many other basic needs. Here in Missouri, Catholic Charities is the largest social service agency in the state.
Of course, the heart and soul of all Catholic good deeds is the local parish. We collect food, clothing, and other goods, as well as cash that’s provided to an untold number of the less fortunate, regardless of their particular faith tradition (or lack thereof). As a Catholic Charities worker told me one time, “We don’t help people because they’re Catholic. We help them because we’re Catholic.” And, we help them with no strings attached. There are no mandatory prayer services or Bible studies that the needy must attend before we’ll help them.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if the government forced us to give up all our good deeds, or give up our religious freedom?
No one has ever helped more people, regardless of their faith, than the various agencies of the Catholic Church. How cool is that?