Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
April 30, 2001
Welcome vulnerable people — Reichers
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
RED DEER — Pallotine Father Erik Riechers has a booming voice, a large physical presence and a keen mind.
But the pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Red Deer who has battled cancer off and on since he was 20 says he "can sink into voiceless invisibility" when he is re-diagnosed with the disease.
Suddenly those who had paid great attention to him when he was in vigorous health can no longer hear his voice, Riechers told the Catholic Women's League convention here April 21.
Even his students who listened to him in class with respect chattered freely the day he walked into class with a cane, the priest recalled.
Riechers urged the CWL members to welcome the vulnerable and to "stretch your heart to speak up for those who have no voice."
And he congratulated them for sticking up for disabled murder victim Tracy Latimer when she was on nobody's "pragmatic agenda."
Riechers urged the CWL to speak out for all the vulnerable people in society, but especially for children. "They are the most endangered in our culture."
"We are not interested in children; we are interested in the cost of them," he said.
A child serves no pragmatic use, he said. "They can consume your goods, but they won't produce any."
"If we welcome children into educational institutions, we are welcoming those who will soak up tax dollars."
Modern politics has made it clear who is welcome in our society — those who make money, create jobs and swell our budget. "If that is all that we will welcome . . . then we have to admit that the agenda in modern politics is not just pragmatic, but selfish."
The real revolution of the last 10 years, he said, has been both spiritual and negative. "We have found a way to sanction selfishness."
Riechers warned that ultimately all are vulnerable. "That's where you start life and that's where you'll end up. We are the clean and the strong for only a sliver of our lifetime."
He noted that disabled people such as Rick Hansen and Terry Fox are praised, not because they are vulnerable, but because they have surpassed the limits of their disability. "It was not (Fox's) vulnerability, it was his courage that got our attention."
Vulnerable people have no way to force us to welcome them, he said. The rich have affluence, the powerful have influence and the beautiful people have fame, all of which attract us.
But the vulnerable "can't wheedle their way into our halls of power," Riechers said. They have nothing to barter to get something in return. "And once we bring them in, they can't even promise to return the favour."
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