We in the New York area certainly felt the effects of that exile in the last couple of days with Hurricane Sandy. Many hundreds of thousands lost their homes and other property, and at least 74 people (and still counting) lost their lives in this terrible storm. However, the storm actually incapacitated a relatively small portion of the New York Archdiocese, whose bishop is Timothy Cardinal Dolan. The main areas affected by the storm were southern Manhattan and Staten Island, which is south of Manhattan. Below is a map showing the entire New York Archdiocese, which consists of the counties of New York (Manhattan), The Bronx, and Staten Island (Richmond County), as well as Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester. Next to map of the Archdiocese is a map showing the area that was most severely affected by Hurricane Sandy, which is Staten Island and the southern half of Manhattan:
|The Archdiocese of New York The Affected Area in Red|
There were also a few areas in the Bronx, which is north of Manhattan, that were also severely impacted, such as City Island. But despite the fact that only a small area of the Archdiocese was incapacitated, Cardinal Dolan has excused ALL of this area from the obligation to observe All Saints Day.
NEW YORK -- The head of the New York Archdiocese says it is OK to skip mass on All Saints Day in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan says he's dispensing people from their obligation to go to church on the holiday [this should say holy day].
He says they should only go if their safety is not at risk.
Sandy left many neighborhoods in the dark and littered with trees and electrical wires.
Dolan said it was a time to pray and mourn for those who died, were injured or left homeless as a result of the storm.
He said he also was praying "in thanksgiving for all the heroic service of so many entrusted with our protection."
|Timothy Cardinal Dolan|
Much more of New Jersey was impacted by Hurricane Sandy than the Archdiocese of New York, and I don't see any of those bishops telling the faithful to forget about All Saints Day. No one expects those who are cut off from the world without electricity, food or water or any means to get around to attend Mass on this day. No one who has suffered tremendous loss of property or even worse would be expected to find their way to Church today.
But c'mon! To give a blanket "amnesty" as it were to all Catholics who choose not to go to Mass is going too far, and I think it is actually spiritually harmful. The Church has designated these days as holy days for good reason - to keep us mindful of the spiritual and to keep our thoughts on things above and not on things of this earth. His Eminence has a right to lift this obligation, but I would think that would be more in cases of war or when a large majority of the area simply can't make it to Mass. Manhattan itself has Catholic churches every few blocks, and many of them have Masses all day long, especially on a holy day. Unless they are physically incapacitated, no one in Manhattan has a reason to miss Mass.
I live in the Diocese of Brooklyn, and therefore Cardinal Dolan is not my bishop. Anything he says and does has no impact on me personally. There were actually rather large portions of the Brooklyn/Queens Diocese that were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Breezy Point, where about 100 homes were burned down, is a prime example. But my bishop, Nicholas DiMarzio, did not lift the obligation for this day. [UPDATE: Bishop DiMarzio, as pointed out in the comments below, actually did lift the obligation in his diocese. Although parts of the diocese did suffer tremendous damage, other sections, such as where I live, didn't even lose power. The hurricane is no reason for anyone where I live to miss Mass.]
For whatever it's worth, which admittedly isn't much, I'm using this opportunity to register my strong disapproval with Cardinal Dolan's decision to basically suspend All Saints Day for the faithful in the New York Archdiocese. I hope that all Catholics under Cardinal Dolan will still find it important to go to Church and attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and be surrounded by many of the saints whom we are honoring on this day.