Told everyone we spoke with had only good things to say about him, Vettese laughs and replies, “That’s nice, but they’re talking to the press, and nobody wants to say anything negative about me to the press. But I have my enemies, believe me. I’m in a big hurry to accomplish things, and when you’re out there on the edge trying to do things, you start conflicts with some people. Usually when they see the results, they relent. But sometimes they don’t.”
Conspicuous by its absence in all these conversations is any mention of God. Thompson says the reason is simple: “It’s not a Catholic or even a Christian mission. As a friend of mine who went said, ‘I’m not here for God or because Jesus told me to be here. I’m here because these people need me.’ When I went, a Hindu, a Muslim, and an atheist were on the mission. Anyone with compassion can grab on to this mission. Every faith has a common belief of love your fellow man, and everyone believes in taking care of someone else. We may all believe in different things and go to different churches or to no church at all, but we’re not that different in how we treat other human beings.”
To the oft-asked question of why God allows this suffering, Vettese has a disquieting answer: “What has God got to do with it? Maybe we allow this suffering. After all, this isn’t a natural disaster like a tidal wave or a hurricane. It’s because of us. It’s because we overeat, because we overdrive, because we consume more than the rest of the world—and at the expense of the rest of the world.