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.


US Bishops Praise New Climate Change Bill

via USCCB:

After the introduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (EICDA) yesterday, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, welcomed the legislation as an important step forward in addressing climate change.

“This bipartisan bill is a hopeful sign that more and more, climate change is beginning to be seen as a crucial moral issue; one that concerns all people. If enacted, this proposal is expected to result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. At a time when the dangerous effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, the need for legislative solutions like this is more urgent than ever….

Additional in-depth and independent analysis is still needed to fully understand the potential impacts on poor and vulnerable persons, families and their communities. Supplemental support for these households may be needed to further alleviate potential financial burdens. Climate change can only ever be adequately addressed if it is done with an eye towards ‘the least of these.’”


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) .


The US Bishops Must Denounce Alt-Right Racism

At US Catholic, Stephen Schneck writes:

It is long past time for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to speak out against the evil of today’s racism. The “alt-right” white nationalist racism that surged alongside the political campaigns of 2016 is an evil that the church in America cannot ignore.

After endorsing candidate Trump during the campaign, the Klu Klux Klan celebrated the president-elect’s win in its publications and websites. A local Klan chapter in North Carolina even held a victory parade. In Washington, the white supremacist National Policy Institute celebrated during its convention in the Ronald Reagan Building, some attendees replete with Hitler haircuts and “Heil Trump” salutes. The scary “alt-right” leader of the institute, Richard Spencer, spoke glowingly of how the election had awakened a movement of white nationalism in America. Since the election, a tide of hate crimes has swept across the country….

What needs to be said is not hard to put into words.

The sinful infamy that is racism must always be opposed and can never be tolerated.  The sin of racism corrupts the individual soul. Racist ideologies corrupt and deform the divinely appointed purpose of political life. Racism is gravely in contradiction to the Christian understanding of the human person as taught by Christ in the gospels and as presented in the most ancient teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholics in political life are morally obliged not only to reject racism personally, but also to prophetically oppose any advance of racism and racist policies by others and answer every instance of racism with the remedies of social justice. Catholics must oppose “alt-right” white nationalism.


The New Archbishop of Chicago Is a Radical—And That’s a Good Thing

Millennial editor Robert Christian has a new article in Time Magazine. He writes:

Bishop Cupich has been labeled a moderate by some who are analyzing the appointment through the prism of American politics. In some sense this is true. He is committed to finding common ground and engaging in civil dialogue. He rejects the confrontational brand of politics associated with the culture war.

But Pope Francis’ message is fundamentally radical, and Cupich, like Cardinal O’Malley, embraces that radicalism. This approach is rooted in a commitment to reaching out to those on the margins and peripheries and results in radical policies that fully reflect the dignity and worth of the vulnerable and poor.

The full article can be read here.


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Elite Politics by RR Reno: “Thus our current political culture, which is dominated by upper-middle-class concerns even as various political figures protest otherwise. On the Left we have a wide range of views about economic issues, but primary candidates can’t deviate from the dictates of Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, and the Human Rights Campaign, all of which represent upper-middle-class preoccupations. On the Right we have a wide range of views about social issues, but candidates can’t deviate from tax-cutting dogma, another upper-middle-class issue.”

Pope’s ambassador: US bishops should act warmly toward Catholics, not follow ideology by AP: “The Vatican ambassador to the U.S., addressing American bishops at their first national meeting since Pope Francis was elected, said Monday they should not ‘follow a particular ideology’ and should make Roman Catholics feel more welcome in church.”

Sit down and be quiet: How to practice contemplative meditation by US Catholic: “One day in 1974 Meninger dusted off an old book in the monastery library, a book that would set him and some of his fellow monks on a whole new path. The book was The Cloud of Unknowing, an anonymous 14th-century manual on contemplative meditation.”

The Francis Era: Synthesis or Civil War? by Ross Douthat: “And for my generation of Catholics, wherever our specific sympathies lie, this inheritance of conflict has created a hunger for synthesis – for a way forward that doesn’t compromise Catholic doctrine or Catholic moral teaching or transform the Church into a secular N.G.O. with fancy vestments, but also succeeds in making it clear that the Catholic message is much bigger than the culture war, that theological correctness is not the only test of Christian faith, and that the church is not just an adjunct (or, worse, a needy client, seeking protection) of American right-wing politics.”

Everything You Need To Know About Batkid by Ryan Broderick, Buzzfeed: “Five-year-old Miles spent the day keeping the streets of Gotham/San Francisco safe from ne’er-do-wells.”

Prudence or Cruelty? by Nicholas Kristof: “So slashing food stamp benefits — overwhelmingly for children, the disabled and the elderly — wouldn’t be a sign of prudent fiscal management by Congress. It would be a mark of shortsighted cruelty.”


What’s next for the American bishops?

The American bishops meet in Baltimore next week to elect a new leader and figure out the way forward. Clearly the first seven months of Francis’s papacy have had an effect on the American episcopacy.

The question is: to what degree? And how will his papacy affect the public policy agenda for the bishops moving forward.

John Gehring of Faith in Public Life addresses these critical issues in TIME today.

Catholic leaders pouring more resources into fighting the cultural tide on issues of sexuality obscures the fact that traditional Catholic teaching on the economy is left of most Democrats in Congress. New Deal reforms championed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt even owe a debt to Catholic bishops, who asked a populist Catholic priest whose thinking on social inequality was widely read in the decades following World War I to develop a bold plan for progressive social change that included minimum wages, public housing for workers and insurance for the elderly and unemployed. Time magazine described Msgr. John Ryan as the “Right Rev. New Dealer” and “U.S. Catholicism’s most potent social reformer.” Where is this Catholic leadership today?