Ambassdor Nikki Haley, shortly after announcing her upcoming departure from her role at the United Nations, spoke last week at the Al Smith Dinner in New York City. The Al Smith Dinner, held annually in support of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of New York, draws together for a good cause ecclesiastical representatives, political personalities and other public figures of note.
Haley’s comments at the dinner were particularly striking in that she observed forthrightly how scandals presently unfolding in the Church have raised great concern and distress. Yet, she highlighted the Church for its daily work with the poor and the marginalized, while not denying the severity of the sins of some of her ministers. Haley stated, “I’ve been to the border between Colombia and Venezuela, where people walk 3 hours each way in the blazing sun to get the only meal that they will have that day. Who’s giving that meal? The Catholic Church…I’ve been to refugee camps in Central Africa where young boys are kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers and young girls are raped as a matter of routine. Who was in the forefront of changing this culture of corruption and violence? The Catholic Church.”
Haley’s comments remind us that God’s good work continues in and through the Church on a daily basis, often in spite of us. They should give hope and comfort to those who continue to labor in their particular corner of the vineyard, knowing that despite the challenges that lie ahead, God’s people continue to need his Church to be his eyes and hands in the world.