| By Bishop Steven J. Raica

Care & concern for the common good

My dear friends in Christ,

“May grace and peace from God our Father, and Christ Jesus our Savior, be with you” (Titus 1:4b).

As we draw to end of our summer vacation period and schools and fall activities are restarting, we seem to be getting back to a more normal routine.  I say, “Normal,” in quotations. We still have the shadow of the COVID and the delta variant lurking around. It continues to put a wrench into our best plans as we seek to live with the effects of this new reality. There doesn’t seem to be a silver bullet or a magic solution to it. Frankly, I’m tired of it, as I believe you are as well. Unfortunately, there has not been a definitive manual to address this public health crisis. As I prepare this text, the ICU beds throughout the state of Alabama are full. My prayers are with those affected and their families. Hospitals are scrambling again to keep up to the task before them and help their staffs stay psychologically up to deal with this crisis. In spite of the progress we have made, the air is filling with hesitation and concern. Well over a year ago, we were told – it would take two weeks to flatten the curve.  It now has extended into a third wave of a surge here in Alabama over a year later.

Pope Francis and many cardinals, archbishops and bishops in a recent Public Service Announcement are urging everyone, insofar as possible, to be vaccinated for the sake of charity toward neighbor. I have been vaccinated. With them I urge everyone who is eligible and not medically exempted from doing so, to get the jab. Will it stop it completely? Probably not. It is one small but important step to apply the brakes to this disease in our communities, especially when it is accompanied by other measures that we all know very well. 

While a person is always free to follow the dictates of his or her conscience, one must also consider how personal decisions can affect the broader human family.

As I have often said, “I would rather we do more than is necessary for prevention and look back and wonder why we did so much, than not do enough and wonder why we didn’t do more when we could or should have.”

We have a golden opportunity to make a decisive difference to protect ourselves, our families, our fellow parishioners, and our neighbors. And we should.

Some say that “God will protect me – we just need to believe and trust in the providence of God.” God has also gifted us with intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom to address the different issues that we face day after day.  It is true that we make judgement calls about all sorts of issues every day. Through them, miracles can also happen. I believe that by entrusting ourselves more and more to the Lord, we may respond in a way that respects individual conscience as well as demonstrates care and concern for the common good for which we also have a moral obligation.

Can we lift each other up in prayer? I am so grateful already for the witness of faith I experience every day. It is a blessing to be here in Alabama. May our Lord, Who is concerned about our ultimate destiny, guide us to remain close to Him always.


May God bless you all!

Most Reverend Steven J. Raica
Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama

Grace & Peace no. 18 8-20-21.mp4 from Peter Rataj on Vimeo.