While the US Corporate Media has been fanning anti-Russian fake-news, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has moved to join President Trump's initiative in fighting the Opioid Epidemic. The Center for Disease Control announced recently that an average of 91 Americans die per day from Opioid overdoses. Overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.
The Trump Administration has taken steps to increase support for First Responders and has made funds available for new rehabilitation centers. Additionally, they have loosened federal restrictions on involuntary commitment. Hundreds of federal bureaucrats and contractors have been jailed for selling government-provided drugs on the Black Market.
Most of the Political Left is in denial that a problem even exists: in fact, Oregon has just voted to decriminalize Heroin. The fact that the epidemic exploded under the Obama Administration is worth noting.
Bishop Edward Malesic of Pennsylvania, whose Diocese saw hundreds of overdose deaths, proposed an initiative which would mandate parish educational programs addressing the crisis. But more importantly, he endorsed a growing movement among parishes to build support-groups for families effected by the problem. "This is a plague that has come into the homes and families of every city, town, and even rural areas in the Diocese." he stated. "We must accompany them with a courageous faith."
Bishop Christopher Coyne of Vermont has such a program already in place in Burlington. He testified before the Conference that his ministry also has taken the initiative to unite babies and children born to addicts to foster-families within the parish. Bishop Coyne noted that his support programs are designed also to help family members support a relative in recovery.
Similar programs have been established elsewhere. There actually though is nothing new about the approach; it is a restoration of the type of community activism and involvement that local churches engaged in until recent times. Over the last several decades, churches have ceded social welfare to state and federal agencies. The Denizens of the Deep State marginalized the church to the point that they had nearly become irrelevant. And indeed, without church participation in community affairs, religious institutions tend to lose much of their relevance. As St. James the Apostle bluntly wrote: what good does it do to tell the destitute to have faith if they see no good works supporting that faith?
State welfare programs have their purpose, but the State is not an institution that, at least on a collective level, considers itself answerable to God for the stewardship of a community. State officials are answerable to their superiors, the governor, and the legislature. While the Church and family may have intimate knowledge of a particular person's situation, the State typically does not; and follows a universal policy that may or may not be in the best interests of the needy.
"The closer you get to the Catholic Church, the closer you get to the Wounds of Christ," Bishop Burns said at a press conference after the initiative was endorsed, "And it is important for us to recognize that we accompany many people who are wounded. It is the very essence of the Church to reach out to those who are wounded."
True words, and we might add here that it is rarely the case that the State reaches out to anyone in need. That's a main distinction between legal and religious duty.
In closing, it should also be noted that this resurgent spirit of Christian community activism seems to parallel the advent of the Trump Administration. Both President Trump and Vice-President Pence have voiced support for greater religious participation in community affairs. The previous three Administrations positively discouraged it. The three previous to those attempted a sort of government-church partnership in community affairs which was very ineffective other than to politicize churches and create religiously-based political lobbies (although it should be stated that Presidents Carter, Reagan, and Bush Sr. were probably well-intentioned in pursuing these policies).
The Trump-Pence approach is far more pragmatic. Their policy seems to be that if Churches can do a better or equal job to the government in solving local problems---then don't interfere. It's very possible that younger generations of church leaders are seizing the opportunity to practice a dynamic and proactive faith after 40 years of stagnation. In America, churches have historically been community leaders. Bringing that back to American culture could only help.