Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

by Patricia Yarberry Allen, MD | bio

So here, from the pen of Peggy Noonan, writing as only Peggy Noonan can, about the Papal Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral this weekend.

“And now the great huge doors of St. Patrick’s opened and sunlight poured in, crashed down, and there was the pope, and the crowd—nuns and religious, deacons and priests, meaning a lot of people who actually deserved to be there—sent a wave of applause crashing against the old Gothic dome.”

Pope Benedict observed, “The spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral are dwarfed by the skyscrapers of the Manhattan skyline, yet in the heart of this busy metropolis, they are a vivid reminder of the constant yearning of the human spirit to rise to God”.

Now we know the Pope arrives at a time of great turmoil in the Catholic Church. Attendance in the church and parochial schools is dwindling so much that many are simply being shuttered. Few young men want to be priests, never mind the number of women called to become nuns. And the ghosts of past sexual abuse linger still, contaminating the once innocent and glorious relationship between young people and their priests. 

One needn’t be Catholic to know that here in Gotham, as in its other urban metastases, we have embraced an ethos once confined to the Sodom and Gomorrah of Las Vegas. Our society’s focus on money and materialism and just plain more, more, more, amounts to a loss of a collective moral compass.

So what is our individual responsibility for the issues about which the Pope speaks?

Most of us do not actively participate in financial schemes that are destroying the economy. But we didn’t demand that our government regulate the financial markets to prevent the shenanigans that led to the current economic catastrophe. 

Most of us do not participate in the promotion of the sex trade where young people are used and used up by those who prefer to outsource their sex lives rather than work to build relationships of intimacy and love where sex is a joyful extension of that. But we do not demand that those who abuse “sex workers” be held accountable legally and we do not support programs for the rehabilitation of prostitutes.

Most of us are not coyotes who spirit desperate immigrants across the border in crowded and filthy trucks and vans. But when we discuss this volatile issue, do we demand that those who prey on and exploit these human beings be held accountable?

Some of us may not be directly suffering from the mortgage paper schemes with loss of jobs, loss of homes and loss of hope.  But we know, in our hearts, that time is up. Change is up to each of us. If we don’t speak out and get involved, then we are participants in a way of life that increases the wealth of too few and makes the lives of the poor and middle class worse every day.

This is a time, like no other in the history of our country, for a renewal of spiritual life in all faith communities. It is a time for spiritual leadership and renewal. And we here in New York City and across America must take up our work.  We have the work of choosing leaders for secular governance. We have the work of living not just for today and for the acquisition of more. We have the work of making the world more equitable. We have the work of choosing and living a spiritual life.

Noonan concluded, “At the end of the St. Patrick’s Mass, the pope, impromptu, spoke of St. Peter falling, failing, and yet of being, becoming, the rock on which the church had been built.  He seemed to be saying, he was similarly frail and full of fault.  He seemed to be saying we all are.  And yet we must take up our work.  “Never forget that you are called to carry on with joy and enthusiasm,” he said.

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  • Elizabeth Hemmerdinger April 22, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    An awesome call to arms, Pat. Today I passed a gas station where the posted price was $4.19 a gallon. I asked my friend, “Why are we not having a revolution?” Why, indeed? We’ve all got to speak up, act up, stand up for those things we see need changing. Thank you for leading the way — again. Elizabeth