Put Out into the Deep

The Election Results Are In

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

As we have concluded the formal election season, it might be good to reflect on our duty as citizens to work with elected officials in governing our city, state and country.

Our democracy is a participatory democracy. Those who are elected should represent all of the people. It is unfortunate, however, that some who are elected by large margins feel that they have a mandate, which means that they need not consult again with the people when those who are elected feel that they have a majority-rule mentality.

I do not mean to apply this to our current situation where our former Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio, as our newly elected mayor here in New York City, would adopt this type of attitude. Mr. de Blasio, as the advocate for the people of New York, has accomplished much, and certainly this was part of his appeal to those especially who feel disenfranchised in one way or another that he would be for them and on their side. It is the job of every elected official to work for all the people over whom they have a responsibility.

I congratulate Mayor-elect de Blasio on his victory and pledge to work with him, especially as he looks at the needs of those who are poorer than others. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has enunciated his deep concern for the poor and his call to reach out to those people so much in need. Again, I reiterate the best definition of poverty that I have ever heard, “those who are poor do not have what they need, while the rich have more than what they need.” Any scheme of redistribution of wealth, however, must take into consideration not only actual wealth but also justice in a society where a just distribution of goods should be our goal.

It is unfortunate that Charles Joseph Hynes, a proven advocate for justice in Brooklyn, was defeated. It is difficult over time to keep the attention of people. He made his mark in Brooklyn, especially with the terrible situation in Howard Beach with the killing of a black man who was simply walking through the community. He was dogged in pursuing that case and to bringing to justice those who committed that crime and the eventual healing of that volatile situation, in that area of our city. Mr. Hynes also developed a credible system of social services under the auspices of the Brooklyn District Attorney, which is second to none and one that has proven to be important in avoiding recidivism by those convicted of crimes. To his credit, he has done this work with limited budgets and developed ways of keeping people out of prison, as well as convicting those who needed to be convicted.

I also take this time to congratulate Ms. Letitia James who has become our new Public Advocate. As the Councilwoman in the Brooklyn district in which I live, Ms. James has been a staunch advocate of many causes, and I am sure she will bring that same energy to the new position which catapulted Mr. de Blasio into the Office of Mayor. Lastly, we congratulate Scott Stringer, who was elected to serve as comptroller.

City Council elections are also critical to the well being of our populous and the operation of the Church in Brooklyn and Queens and the other three boroughs of the City of New York. You may not know that, in May, 2008, the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn developed an organization called the Catholic Community Relations Council where we jointly represent our concerns to the New York City Council, so that we speak in one voice on education, human services, housing and other important issues affecting the operation for the Church in New York City. Hopefully, we represent well the needs of the people we serve with distinction.

Another interesting development of this past election was the approval of the statewide gambling casinos. The New York State Catholic Conference cautiously recognized the downside of gambling, citing some of the statistics in Connecticut’s casino experience for example. However, the main point of the Bishops is that there is no shortage of revenue from gambling, but to what use would it be put? There is no commitment on the part of the governor who proposed the ballot issue where these monies will go. As you know, the Church is not opposed to gambling itself. Rather, obviously, gambling can become an addiction and destroy the lives of families and individuals. A prudent approach to this is necessary.

Every elected official puts out into the deep when they begin a new term or take on a new responsibility. Our prayers go with all of our elected officials, that they will continually represent people who not only elected them to their office but also to all the people who are under their governmental jurisdiction.

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