John L. Allen Jr.: Memo to Catholics everywhere: Amatrice still needs our help

(Crux) Most people feel a natural spark of compassion whenever they hear about tragedy or misery, wherever it strikes. How long that spark endures usually depends on how close the tragedy hits to home, and how well they know the people involved.

Thus it was that when a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy on this date last year, leaving 299 people dead and essentially wiping out the small town of Amatrice, that one stayed with me and still does, because I’ve known and cherished the place for the better part of 20 years.

It’s not just that it was a picturesque Italian village, although it was and hopefully will be again, nor is it just that it’s the birthplace of my favorite dish on the face of the planet, pasta all’amatriciana, though it certainly is that too. Once in a while I’ve popped down to Amatrice over the years for its annual amatriciana festival, where free samples of various versions of the dish were served up, and found both the people and the food absolutely priceless. [More]