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.”


When Opposing the President Isn’t Political, But About Survival

President Trump will visit El Paso today.

Following the recent shooting in El Paso, Americans and the media are rightly focused on the overdue reform of gun laws. But while the attack in El Paso was surely enabled by the failure of politicians to enact even a modicum of reform, it is categorically different. For El Pasoans, this killer’s bullets were aimed at a whole community, a way of life, and our values.

Since the beginning of the Trump administration, Latinos and communities like El Paso have experienced life under an ever-present pall of low-grade fear.

As a border community, El Paso has lived in a unique way at the intersection of the President’s politics of xenophobia and policies which dehumanize migrants at the border. Race baiting, zero tolerance, threats of deportation, and an increasingly militarized border are the stuff of everyday life. After the El Paso shooting, ICE and Border Patrol announced a suspension of enforcement activities around the mall, hospitals, and family reunification centers, a temporary reprieve to fear and the exception that proves the rule.

In this midst of all this, El Paso has shown the country that another way is possible in addressing the so-called crisis at the border: with compassion, generosity, and humanity. Even as the President builds walls and separates families, thousands have migrants have found shelter, relief, warm meals, and open doors in El Paso after the traumatizing experience of immigrant detention. In a vigil the day following the shooting, thousands of El Pasoans came together both to mourn the dead and to celebrate this community’s resilience.

President Trump reflexively trades in racism, nationalism, and sardonic put-downs. Now his poisonous rhetoric and kid gloves approach to white supremacy have inspired a manifesto of murder and terror. President Trump supplied the ideological ammunition to an assassin who violated our community and our values and killed our family members and neighbors.

This past weekend, hate came to the Cielo Vista Mall and El Paso. Latino blood was spilt in sacrifice to the ancient demons of political and racial terrorism. Now before brazenly trampling the scene of the crime, the President must atone for his misdeeds.

Until then, the President is not welcome here.

Dylan Corbett is the founding director of the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, Texas and has worked in global development in Central America and South Asia, as well as on domestic poverty programs with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Archbishop Gustavo Calls Out Trump’s Hatred and Racism

Christopher White writes:

One U.S. prelate has gone where none have dared to go before: Directly condemning President Donald Trump for racism.

In a series of tweets on Monday evening, San Antonio’s Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller pleaded with Trump to “stop hate and racism, starting with yourself.”

In several follow-up messages, the Mexican-American archbishop directly called out the president saying: “President stop your hatred. People in the US deserve better.”

“President you are a poor man, a very week [sic] man. Stop damaging people. Please!” Garcia-Siller wrote in another.

“Stop racism!!!! Stop!!!” he tweeted. “Starts with leadership.”

 



Three Bishops Speak Out Against Death Sentence in Case with Racist Juror

Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Bishop Frank Dewane, and Bishop Shelton Fabre write:

There is no toxin more pernicious than hatred based on racial stereotypes. Despite progress in overcoming the sin of racism in recent years, racism still exists in American society—causing pain and hurt, and even leading to death. As a case in point, Keith Tharpe sits on death row in Jackson, Georgia, convicted of a gruesome murder 28 years ago. While we cannot speak to the legal issues of this case, it is apparent that racism may have played a part in Tharpe’s death sentence. After the trial, one of the jurors displayed shocking racial prejudice in an affidavit, liberally using racial slurs as he “wondered if black people even have souls.”

Lower courts have been unwilling to reconsider the verdict, but the case is now before the United States Supreme Court, which could grant a writ of certiorari to consider the merits of Tharpe’s contention of racial bias. The failure to thoroughly consider the effect of racism in jury deliberations could lead to Tharpe’s execution. We therefore join with many others in asking the Supreme Court to consider this case and the effects of an admittedly racist juror….

Whenever personal prejudices surface in a trial, society relies on appellate courts and especially the Supreme Court to rectify these biases. We thus exhort the Supreme Court to take up Tharpe’s case and correct the clear, documented racism in the case by granting him a new sentencing hearing….

It’s not just the stain of racism that leads us to oppose Tharpe’s execution. The Catholic Church teaches that in the light of the Gospel, “the death penalty is inadmissible,” a teaching that has been reinforced most recently by Pope Francis. Indeed, the death penalty violates human dignity even if the convicted individual has committed a terrible crime….

The U.S. Supreme Court must intervene in his case to ensure that fairness is protected and justice is defended—before it’s too late. To do nothing would be tragic not only for Tharpe, but for our collective dignity.


US Bishops: We Unequivocally State That Racism is a Life Issue

In their new pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” the US Bishops write:

The injustice and harm racism causes are an attack on human life.  The Church in the  United States has spoken out consistently and forcefully against abortion, assisted suicide,  euthanasia, the death penalty, and other forms of violence that threaten human life.  It is not a  secret that these attacks on human life have severely  affected people of color , who are  disproportionally affected by poverty, targeted for abortion, have less access to healthcare,  have the greatest numbers on death row , and are most likely to feel  pressure  to end their lives  when facing serious illness . As bishops, we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue. Accordingly, we will not cease to speak forcefully against and work toward ending racism.  Racism directly places brother and sister against each other, violating the dignity inherent in each person.  The Apostle James commands the Christian:  “show  no partiality as you  adhere  to the  faith  in  our  glorious  Lord  Jesus  Christ ” ( Jas  2:1) .


Cardinal Cupich: We Must Call Out Bigotry, Racism, Anti-Semitism

via America:

[Cupich] noted that as a church, we must call out the xenophobic rhetoric of political leaders. He said, “It is not just quenching this anger that is there. The church actually has the responsibility to name bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism and call out those who are elected officials when they attempt to exploit the fears of people that eventually erupt into outbursts of violence.”