This year will remembered as one of division. The nation was divided as a seemingly futile impeachment exercise paralyzed the country.
Politics is supposed to be the art of the possible. Instead, we have been treated to utter stagnation as our political leaders continue to feud and refuse to work together.
Incredibly, the nation enjoys good financial health. Jobs are available. Wages have increased. America continues to prosper as hundreds of thousands attempt to flee to our shores as another year goes by without significant immigration law reform.
Locally, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini — better known as Mother Cabrini — gets our nod as the “Person of the Year.” The 20th-century saint who ministered to immigrants in our diocese and was such a significant woman in the growth of New York City was overlooked when a city panel decided to nominate women to be memorialized with statues. That after Mother Cabrini finished on top of the poll conducted by the same panel that would make the nominations.
The Italian-American community, particularly in Brooklyn, rallied around the building of a statue in honor of Mother Cabrini. Our own Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio led a street procession in Carroll Gardens where Mother Cabrini walked. The Diocese of Brooklyn float in New York City’s Columbus Day Parade was dedicated to Mother Cabrini.
Finally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped in and promised that the state would erect a statue to the saint. He formed a commission, appointing Bishop DiMarzio to its membership. By year’s end, the commission had identified Battery Park City as the site for the future memorial. It was a victory against discrimination of all kinds and a reminder that the voice of the public is still the basis for our democracy.
Meanwhile, the lifting of the statute of limitations for sexual abuse crimes reopened the wound of that crisis in our church. Although the diocese has made great strides in combatting that sin among us, we continue to purge our community of its awful effects.
Among those lost to death this year was Auxiliary Bishop Rene A. Valero, the first bishop of Hispanic descent to minister in Brooklyn and Queens. His passing, after years of illness, reminded us all that our destiny is not here in this world.
We hope and pray that 2020, the start to a new decade, will be the beginning of a new dawn of cooperation. There is so much work to be done. But it won’t get done with constant bickering and dart-throwing.
We look to Pope Francis as one who continues to lead with a message of mercy and peace. He traveled extensively again this year, bringing his theme of reconciliation and unity to all corners of the world, whether they be Christian or predominantly members of another faith. At 83 years of age and 50 years a priest, the Holy Father is an example of the tireless spirit that we are called to bring to our day-to-day activities.
Ultimately, our daily actions and choices will control the kind of year upon which we will embark. Random acts of kindness and refusal to throw the proverbial first punch will determine our re-creation of a world badly in need of renewal. Let 2020 be that year when we turn the corner and begin to learn new strategies for living peacefully with one another.