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From the Bishop: Racism is a sin that defiles the image of God

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A Statement by Bishop Malooly

 

I stand with many U.S. bishops in condemning the evils of racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism that were evident during two days of demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 11 and 12. Our prayers go out to the families of those who lost their lives during the protests and to those who were injured.

The U.S. bishops wrote in their 1979 pastoral statement, “Brothers and Sisters to Us,” that “racism is a sin.” That simple statement was as self-evident then as it is now, but racism — which Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia recently called America’s “original sin,” evidenced in our tragic history of legal slavery — is a sin that persists.­­­ Read more »

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Bishops decry ‘abhorrent acts of hatred,’ racism, white supremacy in Charlottesville, Va.

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of a chaos- and hate-filled weekend in Virginia, Catholic bishops and groups throughout the nation called for peace after three people died and several were injured following clashes between pacifists, protesters and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 11 and 12.

White nationalists are met by counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12 during a demonstration over a plan to remove the statue of a Confederate general from a city park. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, condemned the violence and hatred and offered prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed, and for all those who were injured. (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

A 32-year-old paralegal Heather D. Heyer was killed when a car plowed into a group in Charlottesville on Saturday. Various news outlets have identified the driver as James Alex Fields, who allegedly told his mother he was attending a rally for President Donald Trump. Reports say the car allegedly driven by Fields plowed into a crowd during a white nationalist rally and a counter-rally on Aug. 12 in the afternoon.

The bishop from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia was one of the first to call for peace following the violence in Charlottesville late on Aug. 11, which led to the events the following day.

On the evening of Aug. 11, The Associated Press and other news outlets reported a rally of hundreds of men and women, identified as white nationalists, carrying lit torches on the campus of the University of Virginia. Counter-protesters also were present during the rally and clashes were reported. The following day, at least 20 were injured and the mayor of Charlottesville confirmed Heyer’s death later that afternoon via Twitter after the car allegedly driven by Fields rammed into the crowd of marchers. Two Virginia State Police troopers also died when a helicopter they were in crashed while trying to help with the violent events on the ground.

“In the last 24 hours, hatred and violence have been on display in the city of Charlottesville,” said Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo in a statement on the afternoon of Aug. 12. “I earnestly pray for peace.”

Charlottesville is in Bishop DiLorenzo’s diocese.

Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency Aug. 12 when violence erupted during the “Unite the Right” white nationalist protest against the removal of a statue of a Confederate general. But the trouble already had started the night before with the lit torches and chants of anti-Semitic slogans on the grounds of the University of Virginia.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the events “abhorrent acts of hatred,” in an Aug. 12 statement. He said they were an “attack on the unity of our nation.”

Other groups, including many faith groups, seeking to counter the white nationalist events showed up during both events. Authorities reported clashes at both instances.

“Only the light of Christ can quench the torches of hatred and violence. Let us pray for peace,” said Bishop DiLorenzo in his statement. “I pray that those men and women on both sides can talk and seek solutions to their differences respectfully.”

On Twitter, Jesuit Father James Martin denounced racism as a sin and said: “All Christians, all people of faith, should not only reject it, not only oppose it, but fight against it.”

Other bishops quickly followed denouncing the violence.

“May this shocking incident and display of evil ignite a commitment among all people to end the racism, violence, bigotry and hatred that we have seen too often in our nation and throughout the world,” said Bishop Martin D. Holley, of the Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee in an Aug. 13 statement. “Let us pray for the repose of the souls of those who died tragically, including the officers, and for physical and emotional healing for all who were injured. May ours become a nation of peace, harmony and justice for one and all.”

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said racism was the “poison of the soul,” and said in a statement that it was the United States’ “original sin” and one that “never fully healed.”

He added that, “blending it with the Nazi salute, the relic of a regime that murdered millions, compounds the obscenity.”

On Aug. 13, Cardinal DiNardo, along with Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement saying: “We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love’s victory over every form of evil is assured.”

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Bishop Malooly leads ecumenical prayer service for peace and justice in communities

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Dialog Editor

“Strip away pride, suspicion and racism so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities,” Bishop Malooly prayed at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington Sept. 9.

Bishop Malooly delivers he homily during the Ecumenical Prayer Service for the National Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Friday, Sept. 9,. (The Dialog/www.DonBlakePhotography.com)

Bishop Malooly delivers he homily during the Ecumenical Prayer Service for the National Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Friday, Sept. 9,. (The Dialog/www.DonBlakePhotography.com)

He was leading an ecumenical prayer service the U.S. bishops called for during the National Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities.

The national event was scheduled in response to recent “racially-related shootings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas,” Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the USCCB said in July.

Ministers of other faith communities joined Bishop Malooly at the cathedral for the service, along with priests, deacons, parishioners and students of the diocese.

The bishop said Sept. 9 was picked for the national day of prayers because it’s the feast day of St. Peter Claver, a patron saint of African peoples and the patron of the Knights and Ladies Auxiliary of Peter Claver in the diocese at St. Joseph Church.

Bishop Malooly noted that at St. Peter Claver Parish in Baltimore City, parishioners had started a dialogue with city police and staged peace walks four years before the Freddie Gray tragedy in the area.

“They’ve been doing many things since then to try to bring people together, the bishop said. “It’s something that’s very important.”

The first reading at the service from the Book of Genesis recalled that everything in God’s creation was good, including mankind created in God’s image.

“But then sin came” and rejection came from man, the bishop noted.

The bishop told a personal story exemplifying the fall.

“Ten years ago, I was held up at gunpoint in Baltimore City,” he said. Because he had recently served on a jury, he recognized the gun as a quick-trigger gun.

“I gave the two young fellows, they were 15 and 16, a couple of dollars I had. Then I walked away and heard a gun go off about three blocks later.”

One of the robbers had shot himself in the leg.

The bishop encountered the young men a month later in a courtroom. Then he saw two women crying on a bench “holding hands and sobbing.” They were the boys’ mothers.

“They had tried everything they could to keep them on the narrow and right path, but the drug culture and crime-ridden area of East Baltimore was just too much.

“We have to try to make everything good again,” Bishop Malooly said.

The second reading of the service quoted St. Paul’s words to the Galatians, that through baptism, “there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female, for you are one in Christ.”

The message is clear, the bishop said. “It is so important to look at every individual person and not put anybody into a category but to recognize each person is a creation of God and try to make their place in life a little bit better.”

The Gospel from John at the service recounted Jesus telling his disciples that the father would send them the Holy Spirit to “teach you everything and remind you of all I have told you.”

The message not to be afraid and that the Holy Spirit would empower the disciples applies to us in our lives of service and ministry to others, the bishop said.

To build peace in our community, Bishop Malooly recommended three things to do as individuals, as faith communities and as parishes — prayer, conversation and ministry.

“Let us always be conscious of God’s presence and the importance of sharing prayer with one another,” the bishop said.

“Conversation is important. It’s what’s been happening at St. Peter Claver in Baltimore, a longstanding tradition of having the police and citizens speak to each other. Listen and try to understand where people are, what’s difficult for them.”

As for ministry, the bishop noted that “our various congregations within the city do many things. We take care of the poor; we have schools and a hospital not far from here. We have health resources; we have food pantries. We do a lot of these things because we are Christians.”

Bishop Malooly quoted Pope Francis on mission and mercy: “God’s mercy is infectious and must be shared with others. Mercy is a journey that departs from the heart to arrive at the hands.”

‘Too much violence’

Following the service Rev. Bob Hall, executive director of United Methodist Church Peninsula Delaware Conference, hailed the multi-faith service.

“We have to engage in ecumenical activities; it’s important because the Lord has directed us to do it.

“In this cause, bringing the faith community into play on the problems of racism and violence — it can’t be more important. Who’s going to do it, if we don’t?”

Franciscan Father Paul Williams, pastor of St. Joseph’s in Wilmington and head of the diocesan Ministry for Black Catholics, called the prayer service is a good start.

“I’m praying it will be because there’s too much violence here in Wilmington for it being such a small town. If you want to stop something like this, first of all get on your knees and beg for God’s mercy and grace, because it’s his grace that will strengthen us to be able to make a change in our society.”

Communication is crucial in peace making, Father Williams said, “because without dialogue everything remains the same. The community needs to be able to trust the police and the police need to be able to trust the community.”

At St. Joseph’s, the pastor said, “We work with Urban Promise (a citywide ecumenical organization)” to provide programs year-round for young people in the neighborhood.

“Every year we have a major coat drive where we give a coat to the children in the neighborhood. And we just recently had a backpack program for the start of school.”

Brenda Burns, a St. Joseph parishioner and member of the Peter Claver Auxiliary at the parish, said that the community needs “to continue with conversation and dialogue between all the denominations that were here and those that are not here. We have to get control of our neighborhoods. We have to teach our children how to have better coping skills and deal with adversity.

“That’s what it will take — prayer, conversation and implementing a positive plan.”

More dialogue

Creating peace, racial and otherwise is “a complex issue,” said Deacon Robert Cousar, who ministers at St. Joseph’s.

The quest to end violence and racism “has to translate into mutual respect, more dialogue, getting to know people rather than allowing cultural stereotypes to inhibit our relationships and create fear,” said the deacon.

“People avoid the issue, even talking about it. It comes to the point where we need to collaborate. I can’t answer for the community but I know there must be more dialogue than there has been.

“A lot of people have a judgment on the Black Lives Matter movement. But not all the people are racist. Their primary point is that many African-Americans feel devalued, feel that they have no worth in the eyes of the majority.

“We’ve been subject to benign neglect. It’s no longer benign but the [lack] of black jobs in the community, the mass incarceration rate that we’re seeing, the lack of resources for mental health, the three strikes you’re out [sentencing]. How can a person live with no support, no resources whatever.

“We need more people willing to engage and dialogue, willing to reach out to the African-American community without being judgmental when protests arise over police brutality. Many African-Americans are in law enforcement. We rely upon that service and protection and we appreciate their dedication and the risks that they take every day. I just ask people not to be so judgmental but to try to put themselves in other people’s shoes.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Racism renders people invisible and denies human dignity, Cardinal Turkson says

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — To describe how racism can be dissolved, Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, referred to Zulu greetings in his March 3 message to an Alabama conference.

“The healing of racism begins in our own hearts. How our hearts would be shaped if everyone learned to greet each other in the Zulu manner!” Cardinal Turkson said in the message, which he called “A Word of Encouragement to the “Black and White in America: How Deep the Divide?” conference taking place March 3-4 in Birmingham.

Aryan Nations members light a cross in Maryland in this June 19, 2010, file photo. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

Aryan Nations members light a cross in Maryland in this June 19, 2010, file photo. Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson told a conference in Alabama this week that racism unleashes a host of ills into society. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

“When the Zulu people of South Africa greet someone, they say, ‘Sawubona,’ which means, ‘I see you.’ The one being greeted responds with ‘Sikhona,’ which means ‘I am here.’ The greeter ends by affirming ‘Ubuntu,’ which means, ‘We are, and so I am,’” Cardinal Turkson said.

The effect of racism, by contrast, is “to render people invisible, and from that follows the denial of human dignity, then loss of identity, then personal despair, then social and political distrust,” he added. “It unleashes a host of ills that have penetrated into every facet of life.”

The contrast “invites us to self-examination,” Cardinal Turkson said. “How often do I overlook people who differ from me and my kind? Do my biases cloud my ability to fully see another person in his or her full human dignity? Admitting my failure to see the other as human is to begin the struggle to vanquish unconscious bias and interpersonal racism.”

Cardinal Turkson also borrowed from the two popes, the U.S. bishops, a former president and even a Broadway show tune to hone his message.

He quoted from Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est” (“God Is Love”), in which the now-retired pontiff said, “Jesus’ program is ‘a heart which sees.’ This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly.”

“Love, says Pope Francis, brings them back in,” Cardinal Turkson added, quoting from remarks the current pope made during a 10th anniversary celebration of “Deus Caritas Est”: “From charity we learn how to see our brothers and sisters and the world. ‘Ubi amor, ibi oculus,’ say the Medievals: Where there is love, there is the ability to see.”

“Almost 30 years ago, the American Catholic bishops stated, ‘Racism is not merely one sin among many; it is a radical evil that divides the human family and denies the new creation of a redeemed world. To struggle against it means an equally radical transformation, in our own minds and hearts as well as in the structures of our society.’”

Saying that children “can readily accept differences,” but also can “be taught to hate,” the cardinal cited the “terrible lines” from a song from the musical “South Pacific” about the inculcation of racism: “You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught!”

Adopting his own voice, Cardinal Turkson said, “Racism excludes its victims form the basic resources they need. Among these are decent housing, a good education, jobs for those who can work, upbringing for the young and care for the elderly.”

He later quoted from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, when Lincoln “so eloquently bemoaned ‘all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil.’”

“Let us work to remove the personal and systemic barriers of racism that prevent us from seeing the brothers and sisters whom God created equal in his image and likeness,” Cardinal Turkson said.

Among those in attendance at the conference were Archbishop Anthony Obinna of Owerri, Nigeria, and Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham. Speakers included Archbishop Owerri; Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois; Mayors William Bell of Birmingham and Joseph Riley Jr. of Charleston, South Carolina; and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.

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