On Oct. 4, a letter was published that criticized Our Lady of Victory Parish for having a homeless person arrested for theft of a religious article (“Mercy always a better option”).
The letter stated that “such an action is not reflective of the Catholic faith and is contrary to the social teachings of the church.”
In charity, I assume that these comments about this incident were made out of ignorance due to the brevity of the news story, rather than any other reason.
In fact, rather than being “scandal,” our actions were the epitome of what the Catholic Church, as all Christians, and all persons of good will should do. Rather than simply ignoring his actions and condition or hoping he would go away, we took action to aid a person who needed assistance.
Privacy for the individual involved and pastoral confidentiality preclude going into detail. However, when we encountered him it was apparent that this person has several serious problems and required immediate help.
In assisting him, the police and other services became involved due to his circumstances and as a means to obtain additional assistance — not to punish him.
Since this encounter, he has received care and is in better condition, though he still has serious problems.
Pope Francis has called the Catholic Church to be a “field hospital for the wounded.” This is a mission that Our Lady of Victory Parish willingly embraces.
The writer is a deacon at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in State College.