Pure evil. I heard these words spoken in reference to one of the murderous events that have occurred in our nation over the past month. While emotionally I resonate with the sentiment they express, intellectually I question the syntactical accuracy of these two words. How can evil be pure?
I was thinking about this last week after attending a tribute dinner for the Bishop Malooly, the bishop of the Wilmington Diocese. The celebration honoring the bishop was a fund raiser for the Ministry of Caring, (www.ministryofcaring.org) an organization for which the bishop has been an ardent supporter. But the evening was also an eye-opener on how the Ministry’s founder, a Capuchin friar, has made such a difference in Wilmington over a forty-year period.
Evil cannot be pure. It is an absence, an absence of good, an absence of love. Of itself it does not exist. It is made present by the absence of love. The more a person (human or angelic) shuns love the more he succumbs to this absence. Though his moral compass is compromised his vital force may still be vigorous, and his actions – rather than being edifying (building up community) – become destructive (tearing down community). One way to contemplate the consequence of evil (the absence of love) is to witness the consequence of love (presence of love). The phenomenal apostolate of the Ministry of Caring’s Capuchin friar is a sterling example.
At the age of 26 the recently professed Brother Ronald Giannone came to Wilmington from New York to assist with the operation of the Capuchin Friary north of town. That was in 1976. Since then the Ministry of Caring which he founded has been guided by the philosophy that “the poor should never be treated poorly”. Over three dozen programs have been established to meet the immediate needs of the homeless, poor, and disadvantaged, and also to help families build productive, self-sufficient lives. The printed dinner program at Bishop Malooly’s event profiled Brother Ronald’s (now Father Ronald) accomplishments:
“The Ministry began with the first shelter in Delaware for battered and homeless women – Mary Mother of Hope House. Since that beginning, the Ministry of Caring has added programs to meet the growing needs of the poor, including Emmanuel Dining Room at three locations in Wilmington and New Castle County; four emergency shelters for men, women, and children; three child care centers; a job placement center; transitional housing;……housing and care for people with HIV/AIDS; collection and distribution of food, clothing and furniture; dental and medical care for the poor. Ministry of Caring is the founding agency for Sacred Heart Village I, a safe, affordable apartment complex for very low-income seniors…..”. The list goes on.
In forty years, hope, compassion and dignity have been fully present. There’s been no time for evil.