Cardinal Cupich on the Toxic Environment Giving Rise to Xenophobia, Racism, and Populist Nationalism

Cardinal Blase Cupich writes:

We as a people are divided. Our world is plagued by global terrorism and the re-emergence of nationalism, threatened by climate change, the exploitation of limited resources, the exclusion of many people who are left homeless, or forced to migrate owing to wars and privation. As a result, we have become fearful of one another in a time marked by great divisions over race, ethnicity, religion and place of origin….

This toxic environment of “anger mixed with disgust” is infecting our political environment, especially when voices within the halls of governance give rise to xenophobia, nationalism, populism and racial intolerance. This polarization is also spilling over into the life of the church — to the point that it seems to be open season on papal teachings, especially those calling for needed reforms in the church, promoting a consistent application of the church’s social teachings regarding human dignity, care of the environment and a preferential option for the poor. Sadly, ad hominem attacks through social media, including against Pope Francis, seem to be commonplace….

The problem is that contempt is like a drug. It is addictive, and there are pushers who exploit people’s fears….

It is time for all of us to begin a conversation about the need to replace a culture of contempt with a culture of solidarity….

But it will also require all Catholics to reflect on and take seriously the first mark of the church, namely that we are one. The Holy Father has the unique charism of guaranteeing that unity. We should always be willing to distance ourselves from anyone who would injure that ministry of unity, the unity the Lord himself prayed for the night before he died for us: “Father, I pray … that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”



Confronting the Malady of Populist Nationalism

Claire Giangravè writes:

“Populism is an ancient malady. Even Christians have been faced with its force,” said Father Rocco D’ambrosio, a diocesan priest and professor of Political Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University, in an interview with Crux Jan. 10….

D’ambrosio spoke at a conference titled “Power and populisms” along with Vincenzo Buonomo, dean of the Gregorian, as part of a cycle of lectures commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights….

Today’s populist leaders, or “new Caesars,” said D’Ambrosio, “are immature, corrupt, with monolithic institutions at their back and are weary of measures of control.”…

“I think it’s a Christian cultural deficit,” said D’ambrosio of the Catholic adherence to populist politics, calling out the United States as a ground zero of what he defined as the “great marriage between the political right and right-wing Catholics.”

According to the scholar and author of the book “Will Pope Francis Pull it Off?” the pontiff’s social push for the poor is often misunderstood in the United States, leading to a general refusal of his vision.

“Take a young person, a 20 or 30-year-old in the United States. He grew up with most priests and bishops telling him that being a faithful Christian means fighting for certain principles such as bioethics, sexual morality and family morality – which are important, no doubt – but setting aside all the others such as peace, justice, commitment toward immigrants, solidarity, fighting poverty and corruption etc,” he explained….

Many Catholics, he said, “take a part of the Christian teaching, exclude another and, on a practical level, tie themselves to those who have a populist vision of politics.”…

In a 2017 interview with the German weekly Die Zeitrendeva, Francis said that “Populism is evil and ends badly, as the past century proved,” a message echoed by the speakers at the conference in Rome, who at the same time urged people not to lose hope….

He recalled that in the Italy of 1926, in the wake of a global war and during the rise to power of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini – strengthened by the populist writings of the French writer Charles-Marie Gustave Le Bon – the priest and politician Father Luigi Sturzo urged his countrymen to be the seed that grows under the snow.

“Let’s hope that the DNA has the strength to beat the malady, that the malady is not chronic but transitory,” he said. “Under the snow, the seed.”


Christians Must Find Constructive, Effective Ways to Oppose Xenophobia, Racism, and Populist Nationalism

via CNS:

Christians have the teachings and the responsibility to address growing fear of and discrimination against immigrants and refugees, said speakers opening a Vatican-sponsored conference.

“Welcoming migrants, especially those in danger, is a moral principle whose foundation and strength come from the Gospel and sacred Scripture, and it is part of being Christian, that is, of belonging to Christ,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The cardinal was one of three speakers giving opening remarks Sept. 18 at a conference in Rome on “Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism in the Context of Global Migration.” The gathering Sept. 18-20 was jointly hosted by the Vatican dicastery and the Geneva-based World Council of Churches in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity…

He asked whether – after 70 years of upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – humanity “has learned how to build a world in which race, sex, color, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, wealth or poverty would not be sufficient grounds to justify indifference, marginalization, hatred, exclusion or the rejection of a human being.”

“It pains us to note that when it comes to international migration, too often mistrust and fear prevail over trust and openness toward the other,” yet at the same time, there are many examples of solidarity and compassion being demonstrated as well, he said.

Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said in his opening remarks that “the Christian message and the churches’ experience can contribute considerably to understanding more fully the challenges and opportunities arising from the current phenomenon of mass migrations.”

Christian communities, he said, have a “moral and prophetic mandate” to seek out “constructive and effective ways to oppose xenophobia, racism and populist nationalism.”

“All churches and their members have the responsibility and the mission to promote the objective understanding of human dignity, human rights, social cohesion and integration as an essential instrument for building an inclusive, just and peaceful society,” Farrell said.

 


Christian Ethicists Denounce Racism, Anti-Semitism, ‘America First’ Nationalism

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Dozens of Christian ethicists and theologians—including Millennial writers Meghan Clark, Nichole Flores, and Marcus Mescher—have signed a statement “firmly condemning racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim, neo-Nazi ideology as a sin against God that divides the human family created in God’s image.” The statement states:

  • We reject racism and anti-Semitism, which are radical evils that Christianity must actively resist.
  • We reject the sinful white supremacy at the heart of the “Alt Right” movement as Christian heresy.
  • We reject the idolatrous notion of a national god. God cannot be reduced to “America’s god.”
  • We reject the “America First” doctrine, which is a pernicious and idolatrous error. It foolishly asks Americans to replace the worship of God with the worship of the nation, poisons both our religious traditions and virtuous American patriotism, and isolates this country from the community of nations. Such nationalism erodes our civic and religious life, and fuels xenophobic and racist attacks against immigrants and religious minorities, including our Jewish and Muslim neighbors.
  • We confess that all human beings possess God-given dignity and are members of one human family, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin.
  • We proclaim that the gospel of Jesus Christ has social and political implications. Those who claim salvation in Jesus Christ, therefore, must publicly name evil, actively resist it, and demonstrate a world of harmony and justice in the midst of racial, religious and indeed all forms of human diversity.

You can read the full statement here.