By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
The familiar Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” spans cultures, religious traditions and time periods. Now Catholic Charities of Louisville has claimed this maxim as the “rallying cry” of a new initiative.
Catholic Charities officially launched “Be Golden” at a press conference Feb. 5 at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville.
Be Golden is a year-long campaign that intends to reach across faith traditions and urge compassion for all. The initiative will have a special focus on immigrants.
Lisa DeJaco Crutcher, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities, said the mission of the campaign is to build awareness among community members, particularly in the Catholic community, of the diversity that exists in Louisville and to urge people “to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.”
“Whether you are talking to the person clearing your place at a restaurant or talking to the president of the University of Louisville, who is an immigrant, to remember however they got here and however long they’ve been here, everyone is a human being worthy of dignity, of respect,” she said in an interview last week.
DeJaco Crutcher, added that Catholic social teaching is clear in its instruction that Catholics are called to welcome the stranger.
“That doesn’t mean we have to have open borders, it does mean that we are to be respectful of the dignity of the people that come before us,” she said.
Rejecting people who look or speak differently from one’s own tradition is common in today’s negative rhetoric and negative feelings to migrants and refugees, she noted.
“I hope if people are willing to be open-minded and engage in this campaign that will lessen, that they will understand the people who are here today came for very much the same reasons that our own families came,” she said.
DeJaco Crutcher said the state of public discourse has
“become terribly negative, almost poisonous.”
“As a community we know we are better than that. That’s not how we were brought up. That’s not how we were raised.
“All of our faith traditions have in common that basic principle of the Golden Rule, that we should treat other people as we would like to be treated ourselves,” she said.
During the press conference, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz urged Catholics to embrace the Golden Rule and the Be Golden campaign, particularly as the Lenten season approaches in a few weeks.
“It seems to me that it’s within the reach of everyone of us, no matter our age or background to find a way to take a step to acknowledge and reverence the person before us,” he said.
Archbishop Kurtz noted that his father’s family came to the U.S. in 1880 from Slovakia and his mother’s family arrived in this country in 1905 from Poland.
“When they came, the first place they turned was to their faith community, to their church,” he said.
“So there is something deeply ingrained in me that we need to welcome, we need to be enriched by and we need to … honor and respect and see the person first,” he said.
Mayor Greg Fischer called the initiative “appropriate and timely.”
“Our country is looking for cities that, yes, are innovative and entrepreneurial, but they are compassionate,” he said. “We’ve got to get back to the basics.”
Fischer said the more the community shows “our love and pride for our immigrants, we just can’t go wrong.”
“We need everybody to step up in their own, authentic way and say this is who we are. It’s not bigotry; it’s not hatred; it’s not divisiveness,” he said.
A series of citywide Be Golden events will take place throughout the year. The events will focus on learning more about individuals that make up the diverse community in Louisville. The Louisville Free Public Library, the Speed Art Museum, the Muhammad Ali Center and Interfaith Paths to Peace will be among those to host such events. Visit do502.com and use the key words Be Golden to search events.
Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Worship will also provide materials to parishes for a series of Lenten reflections based on the Be Golden concept.
Leaders of non-profit organizations, educational institutions and the business community, as well as local faith leaders also attended the launch. About a dozen non-profits, schools and organizations are participating in the campaign as Golden Ambassadors who support the effort and spread it to their workplaces and schools.
Among the ambassadors are Compassionate Louisville, Louisville’s Office of Globalization, Interfaith Paths to Peace, Assumption High School, Americana World Community Center, The Center for Women and Families, Dare to Care Food Bank, DeSales High School, Passionist Earth and Spirit Center, Family Scholar House, Goodwill, Jewish Federation of Louisville, La Casita Center, Louisville Free Public Library, Louisville Public Media, Presentation Academy, Supplies Over Seas, St. Xavier High School, Trinity High School, the University of Louisville and the Zoom Group.
DeJaco Crutcher noted that Catholic Charities’ employees were recently invited to take part in the community-wide effort to help clean the Swaminarayan Temple, a Hindu temple that was vandalized with hateful graffiti. The employees earned professional development credit for attending the event.
“That’s the kind of thing I would ask all of you, all in this room to think about. How can you pursue opportunities like that within your own agency or your own educational institutions, particularly within our schools … to learn about the lived experiences of people who are different?” she said.
Visit begolden.cclou.org to learn more.