Cardinal Adam Maida, the Archbishop of Detroit, on December 4 privately met with various religious leaders he had invited to Sacred Heart Major Seminary to discuss their deep concern for those affected by economic decline and the ramifications the difficulties of the auto industry could have for the region.
Their meeting was titled “Conversation on the Economy.”
Speaking to the press in a post-meeting briefing, the cardinal said that religious leaders want to offer words of hope and encouragement for “countless” individuals and families under great stress because of economic uncertainty.
“With one voice, we wish to stand in solidarity with all who are suffering loss of jobs or homes, and all those who are anxious about what will happen with the future of the automobile industry in Metro Detroit,” Cardinal Maida stated.
Religious leaders “truly appreciate the creative efforts of the leaders of the automobile industry, as well as the cooperative spirit of the labor community,” he said, praising the joint work of business and labor.
“We join the leaders of business and labor to encourage federal support for this vital industry,” the cardinal added. “We all recognize the domino or ripple effect of how one aspect of our economy influences every other aspect of our life together. Clearly, the well-being of our metro area and, indeed, of our nation, depends on the continued strength of the automobile industry.”
Religious leaders recognize that the economy is “not just about money” but is ultimately about “people created in the image and likeness of God, people whose dignity does not depend on the fluctuation of the stock market or the good fortune at having permanent employment and secure healthcare.”
Cardinal Maida said he joins other religious leaders in seeking to secure “every person's right to fair employment and just compensation, affordable healthcare, food, housing, and adequate clothing.”
“Every one of us has needs of body or spirit, and conversely, every one of us has something we can give for the sake of the common good. I join with my fellow religious leaders in seeking to create an environment for such a healthy exchange of gifts.”
The cardinal referenced the gift-giving customs of the holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas, adding:
“We Christians see these traditions of gift-giving as a response to God's generosity toward us in sending His own Son into the world. This year, in some ways, our Christmas giving will probably be different. On the one hand, we will still be celebrating our faith in the light and hope Christ brings to the darkness of our world. But we will probably celebrate the feast in a more modest way, spending less on ourselves and hopefully being more generous toward those with greater needs.
“We also believe in the power of prayer and trust in God's providential care for us all,” Cardinal Maida assured. “We pray the Lord will bless our nation and our region as we begin this new chapter in our history. We are confident that working and praying together, we can find a way forward that will assure a bright and hopeful future for the citizens of this great state and our nation – indeed our world – for generations to come.”
On Sunday, one of Detroit’s largest Protestant churches, Greater Grace Temple, offered prayers for a Congressional bailout of the auto industry as auto workers sat in the pews and three sport-utility vehicles rested at the altar.
Local dealerships donated the three hybrid SUVs representing Ford, GM, and Chrysler.
"We have never seen as midnight an hour as we face this week," the Rev. Charles Ellis told several thousand congregants at the service at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple. "This week, lives are hanging above an abyss of uncertainty as both houses of Congress decide whether to extend a helping hand," Ellis said according to Reuters.
Rev. Ellis said he and other ministers would pray and fast until Congress voted on a bailout, urging his congregation to do the same.
The Archdiocese of Detroit has published Cardinal Maida’s full statement and a list of places to obtain assistance at its web site, http://www.aodonline.org