In partnership with the Repentance Project, Little Lights, DC Unity & Justice Fellowship, Catholic Volunteer Network, and St. John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, VA, we will be offering a conversation with our friend and Catholic priest, Fr. Chris Pollard, on “Protestants, Catholics, and Race in America” on November 19 from 7:00-8:30 PM (ET).
We invite you to join us by registering here.
Why offer this event now? Because the Catholic church has been speaking to our country’s racial wounds since well-before the pivotal events of this past summer.
In 2018– after Eric Garner and Michael Brown and Tamir Rice but before Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor– the leadership of the largest Christian denomination in the United States wrote with one voice, denouncing “one particularly destructive and persistent form of evil… racism still infects our nation.”
Bill Haley will be joining Fr. Chris on the 19th for a conversation revolving around “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love – A Pastoral Letter Against Racism“, approved and presented by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Before this past summer of racial reckoning in America, the bishops– the top authority for the roughly 51 million Catholics in America– acknowledged their own church’s failure in dealing with Native, Black, and Hispanic Americans. Further, they state, “The evil of racism festers in part because, as a nation, there has been very limited formal acknowledgment of the harm done to so many, no moment of atonement, no national process of reconciliation and, all-too-often a neglect of our history.” We are grateful for the work of the Repentance Project and our other partners for pushing against this historical neglect.
To be consistently and coherently pro-life is critically important for Christians in this day and age. The 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.”
There are many things that commend a careful reading of the bishops’ letter, not least of which is its robustly biblical framework, drawing from Micah 6.8, “You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” The bishops close the letter with 8 areas of action that all churches and all Christians can step into, finishing:
“We pray that the reader will join us in striving for the end of racism in all its forms, that we may walk together humbly with God and with all of our brothers and sisters in a renewed unity. For there is no place for racism in the hearts of any person; it is a perversion of the Lord’s will for men and women, all of whom were made in God’s image and likeness.”
Amen. I hope you’ll join us for this conversation in a couple of weeks. More than that, we invite you to stay on the journey with the Repentance Project, Coracle, and our other partners as we all seek to respond first and foremost as followers of Jesus to the racial wounds that America still carries and still inflicts.
For more information on the role of the Church in the history of slavery in America, see American Lament Week 3, Day 1.