Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Patrick and Saint Malachi,
As many are aware, I have spent the past few weeks meeting with a number of our parishioners, leaders, and members of law enforcement regarding the recent murder of George Floyd. Over thirty hours of in-person conversations, online communication, and written correspondence have given me a welcome array of perspective and creative suggestions as we address racism and related injustices.
Regardless of the different angles taken, the perspectives offered unanimously condemn racism and bigotry in any form. Of course, reactions and attitudes toward demonstrations of social unrest vary as do proposed solutions floating through the halls of legislators, offices of leaders, and voices in public square. Many shared their personal feelings and reactions to this current wave while others shared their very personal stories and experiences.
In light of these encounters, I believe four essential components present themselves for consideration.
- An opportunity for open and authentic dialogue is paramount. How this is done will require creativity in our current social distancing environment.
- This dialogue needs to be informed and rooted in relationships of trust with authentic respect for one another.
- If this is going to bear fruit within the parish, our understanding of this subject—or any area of social teaching—needs to start with a Catholic context. What does Church teaching offer us as a starting point and how does it interact with a diverse array of perspectives? What within our tradition already lends itself to promoting justice and racial equality?
- A sustainable plan is needed for us as this issue moves out of the media spotlight and the next hot-button issue finds its way into the headlines. Reaction is one thing but our thoughtful and enduring Christian response is what really matters.
Therefore, I will be asking members of both Parish Pastoral Councils, parish staffs, and other individuals within our communities to join me for an introductory conversation in the near future. It is my hope that this will lead to opportunities to engage more parishioners in the conversation and to take steps for constructive action within our parish community.
This weekend, as we give thanks to Almighty God for the gift of freedom, may we invoke divine assistance and respond to the call of promoting the common good so that every person may enjoy liberty and justice.
Yours in Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the USA,
For more on preserving dignity amid and beyond civic debate, check out the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Civilize It! campaign.