Remarks to the Police Athletic League
On Monday I had the honor of addressing a luncheon in support of the Police Athletic League (PAL). Here’s a copy of my remarks.
Police Athletic League
Thanks, everybody! It is an honor and a joy to be with you!
My nine years as archbishop of New York have taught me a high regard for the Police Athletic League. This pleasant luncheon gives me the chance to praise the PAL, to thank those who lead and direct it, and to salute those good people – – here you are – – who support it.
Come to think of it, the PAL and the Catholic Church in this great metropolis are natural allies aren’t we?
- The PAL and the Church both know the importance of sports . The Bible tells us that “a sound mind is at home in a sound body.” Sports teaches discipline, teamwork, respect for rules, listening to wiser people, joy in victory, perseverance in defeat and character. Visit our PAL centers this afternoon and evening, and you’ll see sports; visit one of our 300 parishes, odds are you’ll see the CYO – sponsored athletics.
- The PAL and the Church both value education. The league has tutors, computer labs, homework help, and remedial courses for our kids; the Church has the largest non-governmental education system in the nation. No wonder I feel so much at home with you; no wonder that when I stop at one of the PAL centers I feel I’m at one of our schools.
- We both know that boredom, that “nothing to do” is toxic to our young people. The Bible tells us that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” You and I would rather see our kids welcomed, in a cheerful place, busy, active, involved in a project or a game, than hanging out at the bodega or roaming the streets.
- The PAL and the Church both are realists. We know that people want company, they want to belong, they want to be part of something bigger than they are, they want a sense of purpose. People, even our kids, get that at the PAL; hopefully they get that at Church. They’ll get it somewhere, and we’d much prefer they get it at the PAL or in Church than in a gang.
- We both depend upon the generosity of others. The priest got up at Mass and told his parishioners, “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that I have found the $50,000 we need to repair the roof. The bad news is that it’s still in your pockets.”
So does the PAL need the investment of generous community movers and shakers. Thanks for coming through.
By the way, that fact is not un-noticed by our kids. When they see quality people coaching, tutoring, listening, intervening, and helping, well, they invariably sense, “These folks are giving of themselves for me. I must be worth something.”
- Finally, both the PAL and the Church are people of hope. We do not give up. Daily do we confront sadness, tragedy, injustice, trouble, sin. Daily do we take a deep breath and keep going, counting on interior belief, the support of great people, the nobility of our cause, and God’s grace.
Our kids see this, too: people of grit who believe and belong, who dream and dare. The bigger the problem, the more expansive is the hope. That lesson is even more important than learning to throw a three-pointer.
The PAL and the Church are in the business of hope.
Wednesday, we Catholics begin Lent, forty days of prayer, sacrifice, and charity as winter winds down leading to warmth, light, and new life at Spring, at Easter, which happens always, not coincidentally, to coincide with Passover. For Jews and Christians,
spring always conquers winter,
light trumps darkness,
hope beats despair,
life overcomes death.
We learn that at Church; we learn that at the PAL. No wonder I love you and enthusiastically support you.
We are people of hope . . .
And, besides, Spring training starts Wednesday!