A piece of his mind

Bishop Charles Jenkins, 10th Bishop of Louisiana, wrote in his blog what he wished he could have said to President Bush during his visit to New Orleans on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

He writes that he wishes he could share with the president the tremendous outpouring of material help and support by many in the faith community for this wounded region. And he also wonders why it is that our government has failed in so many ways the people of the Gulf Coast.

We already know who faith-based America has proven to be.

These volunteers have not sacrificed for the “safe” above-sea-level neighborhoods or the economically secure residents of this city. They have not given their time, talent, and hard-earned dollars to the recovery of communities that rest securely on higher ground.

The volunteers of this country are still coming in larger numbers than ever to help heal the lives of their fellow Americans – the same vulnerable Americans we saw trapped, suffering and dying on our televisions two years ago this week. And those “looters,” “those people down there” as the President has called us, are proving to be some of the most courageous and resilient citizens of this land. Mr. President, did you know that according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 98% of survivors interviewed in the Houston Astrodome following the federal flood said that their faith in God is what had enabled them to survive? I am proud to be one of “those people.”

Does the President realize what hundreds of thousands of Americans are saying when they come to gut and rebuild this city block by block with their own bare hands? Does he realize what it means that tens of thousands of volunteers sacrifice personally to finance the purchase of building materials for residents who have yet to receive their Road Home money from the government? Does he hear what young people are saying by the thousands when they come to serve the children of this city as teachers in our struggling second-tier public schools?

It means, Mr. President, that a huge number of Americans love their neighbor as themselves. Not in words alone but in actions. This segment of our society, a segment whose values you claim to represent and share, has already cast its vote in the referendum on New Orleans. We clearly do not believe any of New Orleans or its people are dispensable or undesirable. We stand together in our fight to recognize and cherish the dignity and worth of every citizen of this city, and we believe how the citizens of this city are treated says who we really are as a nation.

Read the rest here.

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