Saturday, August 19, 2017

Catholic bishops condemn white supremacist rally

Excerpts from an article from the Jesuit magazine, America[1]:

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, condemned the “violence and hatred” playing out at a gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., saying that U.S. bishops “stand with all who are oppressed by evil ideology” and joining their “voices to all those calling for calm.”

A group describing themselves as part of the “alt-right” gathered in Charlottesville this weekend, some carrying Nazi paraphernalia and chanting anti-Semitic remarks through the streets. The rally turned violent when a car plowed into a crowd of people who were protesting a rally, which was held by white nationalists who oppose the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee by the City of Charlottesville. Officials say one person was killed and at least 26 were treated at local hospitals.

 “The abhorrent acts of hatred on display in Charlottesville are an attack on the unity of our nation and therefore summon us all to fervent prayer and peaceful action,” the cardinal said in a statement released late Saturday afternoon.

“We also stand ready to work with all people of goodwill for an end to racial violence and for the building of peace in our communities,” he continued.

Cardinal DiNardo, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston, also offered “prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed and for all those who have been injured.”

Meanwhile, Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Diocese of Richmond, which includes Charlottesville, released a statement on Saturday condemning the violence.

“In the last 24 hours, hatred and violence have been on display in the City of Charlottesville. I earnestly pray for peace,” he said, quoting a prayer for peace commonly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

“I pray that those men and women on both sides can talk and seek solutions to their differences respectfully,” the statement continued. “The love of Jesus Christ is the most powerful weapon against hatred. Only the light of Christ can quench the torches of hatred and violence. Let us pray for peace.”

The Archdiocese of Washington, located about 100 miles north of the rally, tweeted, “Lord, show us new ways in which hatred can be left behind, wounds healed, and unity restored. Amen.”  

Local clergy gathered in Charlottesville to voice opposition to the rally and other religious leaders took to social media to condemn racism in light of the rally:
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fr James Martin on Charlottesville

Here is another Facebook post by Fr. James Martin.  It is a very thoughtful piece, that speaks especially to Christians on the issue of tolerance and the tragedy of Charlottesville, Virginia.  You can find Fr. Martin’s Facebook page at

 (Facebook post 8/13/17)

How many white supremacists who were in Charlottesville consider themselves Christian? 

Probably most of them. But “supremacy” is the precise opposite of Jesus’s message.
In the Gospels, Jesus asks us to love one another, to place others’ needs before our own, even to die for one another. The idea of “supremacy" is absurd to Jesus.

Indeed, Jesus tells us explicitly that we are never to “lord” power over others, and that we are to be one another’s “servants” (Mk. 10: 42-43)

The idea that anyone is “less than” because of his or her race is likewise antithetical to Jesus’s message. For example, in his day the Samaritans were avoided, despised and even shunned by the majority of the Jewish people.

Yet Jesus not only speaks to a Samaritan woman, and reveals his divinity to her; but he makes the hero of one of his most well known parables the “Good Samaritan.” (Jn 4; Lk 10)
He even encounters a Roman centurion, someone completely outside of his religion, speaks with him, heals his servant, and praises his faith (Mt 8:5-13).

So for Jesus, there is no “us” and them.” No one should be made by the community into an “other,” as white supremacists do to non-whites. There is only us.

More basically, racism goes against everything that Jesus taught. It promotes hatred, not love; anger not compassion; vengeance not mercy. It is a sin.

So “Christian white supremacist” is an oxymoron. Every time you shout “White Power!” you might as well be shouting “Crucify him!”

And any time you lift your hand in a Nazi salute, you might as well be lifting your hand to nail Jesus to the Cross.

And lest you miss the point, your Savior is Jewish.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Yes, This is Racism

The terrible events in Charlottesville Virginia last week prompt me to depart a bit from the “rules” I made for myself for this blog and reprint the most thoughtful pieces I have found trying to make sense – or at least, speak truth – about the hateful act and American society.

As a writer and pastor, my job is to weave together words so that those words will hopefully reach people in their deepest places; to frame the experience of this life in a way that is somehow compelling or creative or interesting, causing them to engage with the world differently than before.

But there are times when to do this would be actually be a disservice to reality, when any clever wordplay would only soften the jagged, sickening truth; when clever turns of phrase might succeed in obscuring the horrid ugliness in front of us.

Sometimes we just need to say it without adornment or finessing.

What we’ve watched unfolding in Charlottesville, with hundreds of white people bearing torches and chanting about the value of white lives and shouting slurs, is not a “far Right” protest. When you move that far right, past humanity, past decency, past goodness—you’re something else. 

You’re not a supremacist, you’re not a nationalist, and you’re not alt-Right. 

This is racism.
This is domestic terrorism.
This is religious extremism.
This is bigotry.
It is blind hatred of the most vile kind.
It doesn’t represent America.
It doesn’t represent Jesus.
It doesn’t speak for the majority of white Americans.
It’s a cancerous, terrible, putrid sickness that represents the absolute worst of who we are.

No, naming it won’t change it, but naming it is necessary nonetheless. It’s necessary for us to say it—especially when the media won’t, when our elected leaders won’t, when our President won’t. It’s necessary to condemn it so that we do not become complicit in it.
This is our national History being forged in real-time, and to use words lacking clarity now would be to risk allowing the ugliness off the hook or to create ambiguity that excuses it. 

And yes, there are all sorts of other ways that racism and privilege live and thrive; ways that are far less obvious or brazen than tiki-torch wielding marches. There are systemic illnesses and structural defects and national blind spots that we need to speak to and keeping pushing back against, and we will. But in moments that are this clear, when the malignancy is so fully on display—we’d better have the guts to say it. 

White people especially need to name racism in this hour, because somewhere in that crowd of sweaty, dead-eyed, raw throated white men—are our brothers and cousins and husbands and fathers and children; those we go to church with and see at Little League and in our neighborhoods. They need to be made accountable by those they deem their “own kind.” They need to know that this is not who we are, that we don’t bless or support or respect this. They need white faces speaking directly into their white faces, loudly on behalf of love.

Though all of us can eventually trace our lineage back to oneness, all carrying a varied blood in our veins—the surface level differences matter to these torch-bearers. They value white lives and white voices above anything else, and so we whose pigmentation matches theirs need to speak with unflinching clarity about this or we simply amen it.

So I’m saying it.

We are not with you, torch-bearers, in Charlottesville or anywhere.
We do no consent to this.
In fact we stand against you, alongside the very beautiful diversity that you fear.
We stand with people of every color and of all faiths, people of every orientation, nationality, and native tongue.

We are not going to have this. This is not the country we’ve built together and it will not become what you intend it to become.

So you can kiss our diverse, unified, multi-colored behinds because your racism and your terrorism will not win the day.

Believe it.