The Church in America Must No Longer Be the Handmaiden of White Supremacy

The AND Campaign has released a statement on racialized violence in America:

We mourn the loss of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and all others who have lost their lives due to racialized violence. The grief of their loved ones is our grief and we share in their agony. The riots in Minneapolis are not to be glorified or romanticized, but we must realize that they are a product of a riotous and unjust system. The disorder began when a man’s rights were violated and his life was taken. American racism was rioting against the people long before they took to the streets. We must condemn and address the cause before we can appropriately address the broken reaction.

The Bible very clearly demands justice in the sight of oppression and murder. In response to vain worship, the Lord told ancient Israel, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:23-24, NKJV).  Any theology or ideology that minimizes or denies the importance of justice in a social context is not biblical and must be called out accordingly. We cannot place our cultural preferences, partisan interests and flawed race narratives ahead of the Christian justice imperative.

A spirit of racial hatred and violence has engulfed the United States of America for too long; in fact, it’s our nation’s original sin. This reality presents Christians with the difficult task of rising to a biblical standard of love and truth while enduring extreme evil….

The Church cannot quietly reside in a society where Black people are murdered because of their skin. It cannot lie dormant in a culture where one’s race too often determines the duration and quality of their life. The Church in America has too often been the handmaiden of white supremacy. Now, the Church must offer a sober, determined and steadfast witness against white supremacy as contrary to no less than the very word and judgment of God. This is where we stand: not on the shaky ground of man-made ideology or carried by the shifting winds of societal judgment, but with the Lord our rock, in whom we take refuge, our shield and the horn of our salvation, our stronghold (Psalm 18:2).

You can read the full statement, including practical steps here.


US Bishops Respond to Killing of George Floyd and the Persistence of Racial Injustice in American Society

via USCCB:

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism; Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Bishop David G. O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, chairman of the Subcommittee on African American Affairs have issued the following statement:

We are broken-hearted, sickened, and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes. What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences. This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion.

Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient. It is a real and present danger that must be met head on. As members of the Church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of indifference. We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.

While it is expected that we will plead for peaceful non-violent protests, and we certainly do, we also stand in passionate support of communities that are understandably outraged. Too many communities around this country feel their voices are not being heard, their complaints about racist treatment are unheeded, and we are not doing enough to point out that this deadly treatment is antithetical to the Gospel of Life.

Cardinal Blase Cupich:

The death of George Floyd was not the sole driver of the civil unrest our nation is witnessing today. It just ignited the frustration of a people being told repeatedly in our society: “You don’t matter”; “You have no place at the table of life”  — and this painful frustration has been building since the first slave ships docked on this continent.

This is where our conversation about healing should begin, not with simple condemnations, but with facing facts. We need to ask ourselves and our elected officials: Why are black and brown people incarcerated at higher rates than whites for the same offenses? Why are people of color suffering disproportionately from the effects of the novel coronavirus? Why is our educational system failing to prepare children of color for a life in which they can flourish? Why are we still asking these questions and not moving heaven and earth to answer them, not with words, but with the systemic change it will take to finally right these wrongs?

These questions should be particularly troubling to people of faith….

Other societies have experienced unfathomable offenses against humanity and found ways to engage the history, to admit the crimes, to hold accountable those who committed them and to move toward something resembling reconciliation: the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime, the Rwandan genocide, the crimes of South African apartheid. We Americans can do this too. We are well past overdue for such a national reconciliation and the need to account for the history of violence against people of color in this country.

Tragedy does not eradicate hope. If there is anything we Christians take from our faith, it is that even the darkest deeds can be redeemed by love. And love is what is called for now. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Not the love of transactional friendships and cheap associations made by the click of a mouse button or an easy retweet. Signpost solidarity will not do. Only the hard work of familial love will set us on the path toward justice.

Archbishop José. Gomez:

We should all understand that the protests we are seeing in our cities reflect the justified frustration and anger of millions of our brothers and sisters who even today experience humiliation, indignity, and unequal opportunity only because of their race or the color of their skin. It should not be this way in America. Racism has been tolerated for far too long in our way of life.

It is true what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, that riots are the language of the unheard. We should be doing a lot of listening right now. This time, we should not fail to hear what people are saying through their pain. We need to finally root out the racial injustice that still infects too many areas of American society.

But the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost. Let us keep our eyes on the prize of true and lasting change.

Legitimate protests should not be exploited by persons who have different values and agendas. Burning and looting communities, ruining the livelihoods of our neighbors, does not advance the cause of racial equality and human dignity.

We should not let it be said that George Floyd died for no reason. We should honor the sacrifice of his life by removing racism and hate from our hearts and renewing our commitment to fulfill our nation’s sacred promise — to be a beloved community of life, liberty, and equality for all.


Converting the Imagination: Teaching to Recover Jesus’ Vision for Fullness of Life

Millennial writer Patrick Manning has a new book:

For two thousand years countless people around the world viewed reality through a Christian lens that endowed their lives with meaning, purpose, and coherence. Today, in an era of unprecedented secularization, many have ceased to find meaning not only in Christianity but in life in general. In Converting the Imagination, Patrick Manning offers a probing analysis of this crisis of meaning, marshalling historical and psychological research to shed light on the connections among the disintegration of the Christian worldview, religious disaffiliation, and a growing mental health epidemic. As a response Manning presents an approach to religious education that is at once traditionally grounded in the model of Jesus’ own teaching and augmented by modern educational research and cognitive science. Converting the Imagination is an invitation to transform the way we teach about faith and make sense of the world, an invitation that echoes Jesus’ invitation to a fuller, more meaningful life. It is sure to captivate scholars and practitioners of religious education, ministers seeking to reengage people who have drifted away from the faith or to support young people suffering from existential anxiety, and anyone in search of deeper meaning in their religious traditions or in their own lives.



As ‘Laudato Si Year’ Begins, Pope Encourages Everyone to Protect the Earth and the Poor

via Vatican News:

After praying the Regina Coeli on Sunday, Pope Francis recalled the 5th anniversary of his encyclical “Laudato si’: On the Care for our Common Home.”

He said the document sought to “call attention to the cry of the Earth and of the poor.”

The Pope invited everyone to take part in the Laudato si’ Year, which is promoted by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and runs from 24 May 2020 until 24 May 2021.

“I invite all people of goodwill to take part, to care for our common home and our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.”


What Possessions Do We Value The Most?

Millennial editor Robert Christian writes:

Until recently, it has been easy in our society — at least for those of us who are not facing violence or abject poverty on a daily basis — to go about our days as though death is scheduled for a distant future, focusing on our daily lives and perhaps planning for an even more secure, enjoyable future. But that’s changed now. As Pope Francis explained, “The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities.”

This heightened sense of vulnerability and the fragility of the present moment may give us a sharper sense of what truly matters.

In a throwaway culture where we are all inundated with stuff, I have started to consider which of my possessions are actually worth passing on to another generation: the simple rosary I got for my grandma’s wake and have had with me in my happiest and most trying moments since; the wedding ring I inherited from my grandfather; the stuffed monkey I got at my first birthday; the files on my computer with our family history, pictures, videos, and more; the mementos I have saved from various meaningful occasions; the autographed football card signed by Jerry Rice to the “white Jerry Rice;” the three prayer cards that I got when my kids were born (which match those sent to their cousins and the children of our dearest friends). For all the marketing we are bombarded with every day, it is remarkable how many of our most valued possessions have little material value.

You can read the full article at Grotto Network.