Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish & School

A CHURCH WHERE BLACK LIVES MATTER

It has been two and a half years since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the aftermath that swept across the country in Cleveland, Milwaukee, Chicago, Baltimore, Tulsa, Minneapolis /St. Paul, Baton Rouge, San Diego and….  The unrest continues and does not seem that it will go away.   In recent prayer I realized that diversity & racism has been sustained as an issue for the longest period of time since the early 70’s.  Many of my friends and some parishioners are hoping that all this attention will just go away.  But, if we are a people of solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, we need to address the issues that still divide, cripple, and hinder us from the unity that Jesus desires (John 17) “THAT WE BE ONE IN HIM”.

            The title above, A Church where Black Lives Matter, is the title of an article by Fr. Brian Massingale, S.J. a professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University in New York (U.S. Catholic-December 2016 Issue).  In the article he identifies two elements that are not contradictory in fact, but emotionally they seemed to be tied together as one.  He says “many people are unable to distinguish between supporting professional and fair-minded police officers and criticizing a broken and unjust system of police practices and training.  Yes, we can and must support those who heroically perform the difficult profession of public safety.  But we also need to be critical of policing that subjects citizens of color to surveillance, interrogation, arrest and abuse that would be considered intolerable if routinely experienced by white people.”

(In 2002 the Catholic Church’s system of handling molestation of children by priests in secret became a scandal that swept the nation like a huge wild fire and still has repercussions 15 years later.   I have counseled teenagers who were abused by priests and many times they had deep scars.  I cried with them and their families.  I felt a deep sorrow for many of the priests who were accused & found guilty.  The Catholic Church’s system was messed up and it did not get better until it was forced to change its practices and then become accountable by outside monitoring.   As Christmas approaches in 2016 the Catholic Church is healthier, even though she has much work to do.  At the same time I felt the support of most parishioners in the parishes I have served.  People generally could distinguish between a broken system and the professional priests who were doing a great job.)

It is this kind of balance that Fr. Massingale is advocating.  He quotes the recent U.S. Department of Justice report found, through their investigations of police departments across the nation, patterns and practices of racially discriminatory behavior that violates the constitutional rights of citizens of color.  In a recent “Public Religion Research Institute Report”  80% of the Black Christians believe that the pattern of police shootings of Black citizens in the past several years are part of a larger picture of racial injustice, while 72% of White Christians believe that all the incidents are just a coincidence. 

I pray and hope that racism & diversity will continue to be on the discussion table for the next decade to come because we as Americans tend to get bored with issues and move on to something else very quickly.   We like fast answers, quick steps, but fail to walk the slow steps that calls for us to Lean In and grasp the depth of problems a person or a people are experiencing.

As we celebrate the Christmas Season when Jesus humbled himself by Leaning In to come among us as a human, may we  Lean In to listen to the cry of All of God’s Children, especially, our Black brothers & sisters who wonder if their lives matter in the Catholic Church.

In His Love,

Fr. Rosy 

Rev. Robert Rosebrough, Pastor


        


 

 

 
 
 


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