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from issue no. 03 - 2006

Jim, Mother Teresa’a attorney

Jim Towey in front of the Basilica 
of Saint Mary Major’s in Rome

Jim Towey in front of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major’s in Rome

When George W. Bush took possession of the White House at the beginning of 2001, he was already clear about the way he would attempt a «quiet transformation» in the activities of the social services of the United States, establishing the office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, FBCI. Jim Towey came to the FBCI by presidential choice in February 2002 And his concrete and bipartisan profile counted more than his two degrees in Accounting and Law in the eyes of the president: a profile substantiated by years of collaboration with the Republican Senator Mark Hatfield and with the Democrat Governor of Florida Lawton Chiles, whom Towey left in 1995 to draw up a guide document for the social world known as ‘Five wishes’, on the subject of assistance to the terminally ill.
To the two degrees gained at Florida State University as an honest student, Towey added others, honoris causa, by way of recognition for the work undertaken in defense of socially weaker people. In his profile published on the White House website it is evident that the most important fact in Towey’s life was his friendship with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom he met in 1985 and assisted for twelve years as her legal counsel. Towey often followed her on her trips, and also lived for a year in a Mother Teresa mission in Mexico and dedicated another entire year to the House of the Missionaries of Charity in Washington, where the homeless and the moribund take refuge. The fact that it is written in his official biography that his declared career ambition is to “get to Heaven”, cannot but make his wife Mary and his five children smile because they know it already. «I esteem my friend Jim Towey» Bush told the delegates at the Washington Hilton, «and every time I talk about him I always tell the same old story, but I can repeat it one more time. And so… he was the Mother Teresa’s legal counsel, and I always marvel about a society in which Mother Teresa also had need of a lawyer… but she got a good one, Towey». And it’s so. When Towey speaks about the poor and about Mother Teresa, there is silence in the hall.
To the entirely American audience that crowded the second national meeting of the FBCI on 9 March, Towey recounted something about what only God can do and the mistaken pretension of believing that commitment can bring salvation. «Mother Teresa was asked at the end of her life, after she’d been working fifty years with the poorest of the poor whether she got discouraged, because for every person she had picked up there were still ten out there dying all alone and this was the case year after year after year...”Didn’t you get discouraged Mother?” she was asked. Mother Teresa responds, “No, God doesn’t call me to be successful; God calls me to be faithful.”»

Giovanni Cubeddu

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