Thursday, November 6, 2008

One week: a new champion, a new president, a new era

What a week it was, which explains the dearth of posts to this space.

Within the span of a week, the Philadelphia region saw history made twice, with street parties in spades. The Phillies won their first World Series in a generation, and an African American man was elected by his fellow citizens to lead them as president of the most powerful nation in the world.

The first was a long time coming, and it prompted shrieks of joy among millions around these parts. Who can forget the smiles and high-fives, and the parade?

The second, the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States of America, was profound for two reasons. Certainly, all Americans witnessed the immense pride felt by African Americans who saw one of their own elected to the highest office in the land. The descendant of those brought in chains from Africa three centuries ago -- Obama himself is the son of a man from Kenya -- stands today as an example of what any person can achieve in this country through hard work and a strong family. No wonder the tears of joy, the hugs of solidarity.

Now is a new era. Now is also no time to forget the fundamental challenges to our nation. Can the president-elect, after he is sworn in, be persuaded to protect the lives of the defenseless, especially the unborn? Will his family's example of a loving husband and wife, with young children, affirm for all the necessity of supporting marriage and family life? Will he be able to provide compassionate help to the poor, health care for those without and economic oppportunities for more Americans? Will he use the nation's vast military strength wisely, and chart a prudent course through a litany of daunting challenges, including climate change, foreign relations and economic distress?

The American people have chosen one man, Barack Obama, to lead the country toward resolving these issuses. Regardless of how Catholics or other Americans voted on Tuesday, come January 20, 2009, each of us must salute the new occupant of the office of president. Encouraging him always, praising or confronting him when necessary, Catholics especially must advocate for our highest priorities as faithful American citizens.

We'll do so in due course. For now, everyone should appreciate the gravity of this milestone in American history.

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