Thursday, September 11, 2003

More Little-Noticed and Unsung Heroism on That Awful Day

Most of us know of the incredible acts of courage on the part of the hundreds of New York City firefighters and police officers who put their lives on the line on Sept. 11, 2001 helping those caught in the burning WTC twin towers to escape, often at the cost of their own lives.

We know also of the hundreds of rescue workers who, painfully and out of compassion as well as a sense of duty, risked their own lives searching for victims and survivors among the ruins of that calamity.

We know also of the ultimate sacrifice paid by Fr. Mychal Judge, the courageous Catholic chaplain with the NYC fire department who lost his life ministering to his FDNY colleagues as they lay injured or dying from the continually falling debri.

But most of us don't know about the dozens of Catholic priests who, alongside dozens of their colleagues of other faiths, went into that Hell on Earth to help others instead of run for their lives. After the dust and debris at Ground Zero settled, dozens more mobilized to help and comfort those hundreds of firefighters, police, rescue workers, survivors, and victims' family members who needed them.

This, and not the unfortunate sex abuse scandals on which the media seem so fixated, is what being a Catholic priest or any other cleric in any other religion is really all about, or at least should be all about.

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