Sr. Anita Baird’s Witness on Race Relations in the Church

On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, Sr. Anita Baird, DHM generously offered a powerful and prophetic witness on race in the Catholic Church and in the world. Sr. Anita is a member of the Religious Congregation of the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary having served as Regional Superior, Provincial Councilor, and most recently as United States Provincial. A trail blazer and history maker, Sister Anita became the first African American to serve as Chief of Staff to the Archbishop of Chicago in 1997. In 2000, Cardinal Francis George appointed her the founding director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Racial Justice. She is a past president of the National Black Sisters’ Conference and recipient of the organization’s Harriet Tubman “Moses of Her People” Award.

Read her text below or download a PDF of it.

Race Relations and the Catholic Church… Our Past – Our Present – Our Future

Sister Anita Baird, DHM

“IF MY PEOPLE, CALLED BY MY NAME, WILL HUMBLE THEMSELVES AND PRAY AND SEEK MY FACE AND, TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, THEN WILL I HEAR FROM HEAVEN AND WILL FORGIVE THEIR SIN AND WILL HEAL THEIR LAND”.  (2 CHRONICLES 7-14)

AS WE EMBRACE THIS SACRED MOMENT IN THE LIFE OF OUR CHURCH; A CALL TO BE A SYNODAL CHURCH…A PILGRIM PEOPLE CALLED TO LISTEN TO THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE SILENCE OF OUR HEARTS AND IN OUR COMMUNAL SHARING AS THE BODY OF CHRIST.  WE MUST ENTER THE SACRED SPACE OF OUR HEARTS AND FIND THE COURAGE TO SPEAK TO ONE OF THE GREATEST ISSUES OF OUR TIME AND THAT IS THE HISTORY OF SYSTEMIC AND INSTITUTIONAL RACISM THAT TO THIS DAY CONTINUES TO WOUND AND DIVIDE THE BODY OF CHRIST.

THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A SOCIAL PROBLEM MORE ENDURING IN THE LIFE OF OUR NATION AND CHURCH THAN THE STRUGGLE WITH THE CONCEPT OF RACE.  IT IS THE LENS THROUGH WHICH MOST OF OUR SOCIAL ILLS PASS—SUCH AS CHRONIC HEALTH PROBLEMS, DRUG ABUSE, FAMILY BREAKDOWN, VIOLENCE, POVERTY AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION.

RACISM IS THAT EVER PRESENT, SILENT MENACE CLOAKED IN HOUSING PATTERNS, SCHOOL TEST SCORES AND THE UNEQUAL DISTRIBUTION OF DWINDLING RESOURCES AND WEALTH.

WHILE MOST OF US WANT TO BELIEVE THAT WE LIVE RELATIVELY FAULTLESS LIVES; WE ARE ENTANGLED IN A FORM OF EVIL THAT IS EVERY BIT AS PERNICIOUS AS THE BLATANT RACE CRIMES OF LONG AGO.

ACCORDING TO DR. JAMES CONE, THE PREEMINENT AFRICAN AMERICAN THEOLOGIAN AND FATHER OF BLACK LIBERATION THEOLOGY, “RACISM ENCOMPASSES THE UNDERLYING AND LARGELY COVERT SYSTEM OF RACIAL ADVANTAGE AND PRIVILEGE ENJOYED BY WHITE AMERICANS IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR CONSCIOUS AWARENESS OR CHOICE, EVEN IF INDIVIDUAL WHITE AMERICANS WISHED IT OTHERWISE.  THEY CANNOT ESCAPE THE ADVANTAGES CONFERRED UPON THEM SOLELY FOR BEING BORN WITH WHITE SKIN.”

CONE VIEWS AMERICAN RACISM AS BEING SYNONYMOUS WITH WHITE SUPREMACY.  “WE LIVE IN A NATION COMMITTED TO MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS OF WHITE CULTURAL, POLITICAL, AND SOCIAL DOMINANCE.  WHITE SUPREMACY HAS SHAPED THE SOCIAL, POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS ETHOS IN OUR CHURCHES, INSTITUTIONS OF LEARNING AND THE BROADER SOCIETY.”

FORTY-THREE YEARS AGO THE U.S. CATHOLIC BISHOPS WROTE IN THEIR PASTORAL LETTER ON RACISM, BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO US THAT “THE ABSENCE OF PERSONAL FAULT FOR AN EVIL DOES NOT ABSOLVE ONE OF ALL RESPONSIBILITY.”

WE MUST SEEK TO RESIST AND UNDO INJUSTICES WE HAVE NOT CAUSED, LEST WE BECOME BYSTANDERS, WHO TACITLY ENDORSE EVIL AND SO SHARE IN THE GUILT FOR IT.”

IN 1988, ST. JOHN PAUL II ASKED THE PONTIFICAL COMMISSION ON JUSTICE AND PEACE “TO HELP ENLIGHTEN AND AWAKEN CONSCIENCES ABOUT THIS MAJOR CONCERN:  NAMELY, THE RECIPROCAL RESPECT BETWEEN ETHNIC AND RACIAL GROUPS AS WELL AS THEIR FRATERNAL COEXISTENCE.”

IN 2018 POPE FRANCIS WROTE THE FOLLOWING.

“WE LIVE IN TIMES IN WHICH FEELINGS THAT TO MANY HAD SEEMED TO BE OUTDATED APPEAR TO BE REEMERGING AND SPREADING. FEELINGS OF SUSPICION, FEAR, CONTEMPT AND EVEN HATRED TOWARD OTHER INDIVIDUALS OR GROUPS JUDGED TO BE DIFFERENT ON THE BASIS OF THEIR ETHNICITY, NATIONALITY OR RELIGION, AND AS SUCH, BELIEVED NOT TO BE SUFFICIENTLY WORTHY TO PARTICIPATE FULLY IN THE LIFE OF SOCIETY. THESE FEELINGS, THEN, TOO OFTEN INSPIRE REAL ACTS OF INTOLERANCE, DISCRIMINATION OR EXCLUSION THAT SERIOUSLY HARM THE DIGNITY OF THOSE INVOLVED AS WELL AS THEIR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE VERY RIGHT TO LIFE AND TO PHYSICAL AND MORAL INTEGRITY,”  (SPEECH AT WORLD CONFERENCE ON XENOPHOBIA, RACISM AND POPULIST NATIONALISM, SEPTEMBER 20, 2018)

IN HIS SPEECH GIVEN SEPTEMBER 23, 2015 AT THE WHITE HOUSE POPE FRANCIS SAID, “MR. PRESIDENT, TOGETHER WITH THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS, AMERICAN CATHOLICS ARE COMMITTED TO BUILDING A SOCIETY WHICH IS TRULY TOLERANT AND INCLUSIVE, TO SAFEGUARDING THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES, AND TO REJECTING EVERY FORM OF UNJUST DISCRIMINATION.”

THE QUESTION THEN IS THIS.  ARE AMERICAN CATHOLICS REALLY COMMITTED TO BUILDING A SOCIETY THAT IS TRULY TOLERANT AND INCLUSIVE?

FATHER RICHARD ROHR OFFERS A CRITIQUE OF HOW CHRISTIANITY ALIGNED WITH EMPIRE AND COLONIALISM MANIFESTED SPECIFICALLY IN THE UNITED STATES.

“THE FORM OF CHRISTIANITY THAT HAS GROWN IN THE UNITED STATES AND SPREAD THROUGHOUT MUCH OF THE WORLD IS WHAT WE HAVE TO FAIRLY CALL “SLAVEHOLDER CHRISTIANITY.”  THE FOUNDERS OF OUR NATION DREW ON A CHRISTIAN TRADITION THAT HAD BEEN ALIGNED WITH EMPIRE BUILDING FOR MORE THAN A MILLENNIUM.  IT MUST BE SAID THAT THIS FORM OF CHRISTIANITY IS FAR, FAR REMOVED FROM THE GOSPEL AND THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS AS IT HAS FAILED TO RESPECT THE DIVINE IMAGE IN ALL BEINGS”.

MANY BELIEVE THAT SLAVERY IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD BEGAN IN 1619 BUT THAT IS FAR FROM THE TRUTH.

JESUIT FATHER JOSEPH BROWN, PROFESSOR AT SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY IN CARBONDALE, WRITES THAT “THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE ENSLAVEMENT OF AFRICANS WHO WERE FORCIBLY BROUGHT TO WHAT IS NOW THE UNITED STATES BEGAN LONG BEFORE THE EVENTS THAT LENT THEIR NAME TO “THE 1619 PROJECT”.

THE CATHOLIC SPANISH AND FRENCH COLONIZERS WHO ARRIVED HERE BROUGHT ENSLAVED AFRICANS TO THIS LAND AS EARLY AS 1526.  SURVIVING RECORDS AT ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA, CONFIRM THIS.

IN 1452 POPE NICHOLAS V ISSUES THE PAPAL BULL, ENTITLED DUM DIVERSUS (WHILE DIFFERENT) AUTHORIZING KING ALFONSO V OF PORTUGAL TO REDUCE ANY SARACENS, MUSLIMS, PAGANS AND ALL UNBELIEVERS TO PERPETUAL SLAVERY, FACILITATING THE BEGINNING OF THE PORTUGUESE SLAVE TRADE FROM WEST AFRICA.

THIS SAME POPE ISSUES A SECOND BULL IN 1455 ENTITLED ROMANUS PONTIFEX (ROMAN PONTIFF) AS A FOLLOW-UP SANCTIONING THE CATHOLIC NATIONS OF EUROPE’S DOMINION OVER DISCOVERED LANDS.

ALONG WITH SANCTIFYING THE SEIZURE OF NON-CHRISTIAN LANDS, THESE PAPAL BULLS GAVE CHRISTIAN EXPLORERS THE RIGHT TO CLAIM LANDS THEY “DISCOVERED” AND LAY CLAIM TO THOSE LANDS FOR THEIR CHRISTIAN MONARCHS, SANCTIONING THE ENSLAVEMENT OF NATIVE, NON-CHRISTIAN PEOPLES IN AFRICA AND THE NEW WORLD.

THESE PAPAL BULLS PAVED THE WAY FOR THE GLOBAL SLAVE-TRADE OF THE 15TH AND 16TH CENTURIES, HENCE BEGINNING THE 400-PLUS YEARS OF ENSLAVEMENT OF AFRICANS IN THE AMERICAS SANCTIONED BY THE HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BEGAN THE SLAVE TRADE AND BENEFITED FINANCIALLY FROM IT.

WHY IS THIS HISTORY LESSON NECESSARY?

BECAUSE HISTORY HAS BEEN REWRITTEN AND ERASED WHEN IT COMES TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE SLAVE TRADE IN WHAT IS NOW THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY…NOT TO MAKE ANYONE FEEL “GUILTY” BUT RATHER TO TEACH THE HISTORICAL TRUTH AND TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. UNTIL WE DO THERE CANNOT BE AUTHENTIC ATONEMENT AND RECONCILIATION FOR THE SIN OF RACISM IN OUR CHURCH AND NATION.

AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST WE ARE FOUND WANTING AND WE BEAR THE GREATEST RESPONSIBILITY OF FAILURE TO STAMP OUT THE SINS OF RACISM AND INJUSTICE IN OUR NATION AND WORLD.  TOO OFTEN, WE FAIL TO BE THE LIGHT THAT SHATTERS THE DARKNESS OF SIN.

TOO OFTEN, WE ARE COMFORTABLE CO-EXISTING WITH EVIL, RATHER THAN FIGHTING TO EXPOSE AND ERADICATE IT.  OUR SALT HAS GROWN TASTELESS.

THROUGHOUT THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS OFTEN FALTERED AND MISSED CRUCIAL OPPORTUNITIES TO STAND WITH AFRICAN AMERICANS AND OTHER PEOPLES OF COLOR IN OUR LONG AND DIFFICULT STRUGGLE AGAINST RACIAL INJUSTICE.

FROM THE CHURCH’S EARLIEST DAYS IN THE NEW WORLD, IT MORE OFTEN THAN NOT REMAINED SILENT IN THE FACE OF THE GREATEST ISSUE CONFRONTING THIS COUNTRY—THE BUILDING OF THE WEALTH OF A NATION UPON THE ENSLAVEMENT OF BLACK PEOPLE.

THE MAJORITY OF THE SOUTHERN SLAVE-HOLDING CATHOLIC HIERARCHY CONSIDERED SLAVERY TO BE A POLITICAL RATHER THAN A MORAL ISSUE.

MOST SOUTHERN BISHOPS ALONG WITH MANY RELIGIOUS ORDERS, INCLUDING THE JESUITS, THE RELIGIOUS OF THE SACRED HEART, THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF NAZARETH, THE TRAPPISTS AT GETHSEMANE, AND SEVERAL DOMINICAN ORDERS, JUST TO NAME A FEW, OWNED AND SOLD SLAVES FOR PURELY ECONOMIC REASONS.

IT WAS NOT UNTIL 1958, ALMOST 100 YEARS AFTER THE EMANCIPATION OF THE ENSLAVED THAT THE AMERICAN BISHOPS ADDRESSED RACISM AS A MORAL ISSUE AND STOOD FIRM AS A BODY IN DENOUNCING RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AS IMMORAL AND UNJUST AS THEY WROTE:

“THE HEART OF THE RACE QUESTION IS MORAL AND RELIGIOUS.  IT CONCERNS THE RIGHTS OF MAN AND OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD OUR FELLOW MAN.  IF OUR ATTITUDE IS GOVERNED BY THE GREAT CHRISTIAN LAW OF LOVE OF NEIGHBOR AND RESPECT FOR HIS RIGHTS, THEN WE CAN WORK OUT HARMONIOUSLY THE TECHNIQUES FOR MAKING LEGAL, EDUCATIONAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CHANGES.  BUT IF OUR HEARTS ARE POISONED BY HATRED, OR EVEN BY INDIFFERENCE TOWARD THE WELFARE AND RIGHTS OF OUR FELLOW MEN, THEN OUR NATION FACES A GRAVE INTERNAL CRISIS”.

WHLE THE BISHOPS MADE STRONG STATEMENTS ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL, LITTLE WAS DONE TO IMPLEMENT THEIR PUBLIC POSITION AT THE LOCAL LEVEL.

IT WAS ONLY IN 1965 THAT THE PUBLIC FACE OF THE CHURCH WAS SEEN STANDING WITH THOSE FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW WHEN DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. CALLED ON ALL OF THE NATION’S CLERGY TO COME TO SELMA, ALABAMA.  THE RESPONSE OF CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS WAS OVERWHELMING.  IT MARKED THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA IN THE HISTORICAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH IN AMERICA AND PEOPLE OF AFRICAN ANCESTRY.

HOWEVER, TANGIBLE, SUSTAINING PROGRESS COMES PAINFULLY SLOW.

HERE WE ARE 57 YEARS LATER STILL NEEDING TO ADDRESS AMERICA’S ORIGINAL SIN, WHICH IS JUST AS LETHAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF WHITE AMERICA AS IT IS TO BLACK AMERICA.

WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY; YET WE HAVE A LIFETIME TO GO.

PRESIDENT BIDEN HAS JUST SIGNED INTO LAW THE “EMMETT TILL ANTI-LYNCHING LAW” MAKING LYNCHING A FEDERAL CRIME.  IT ONLY TOOK 124 YEARS AFTER THE END OF SLAVERY FOR THIS NATION TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT LYNCHING IS A HATE CRIME AND MUST BE PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

THE CHURCH HAS THE VOCATION IN THE MIDST OF THE WORLD TO BE THE PEOPLE REDEEMED AND RECONCILED WITH GOD AND ONE ANOTHER FORMING “ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT IN CHRIST”.

GOD MADE THIS CLEAR IN ACTS WHEN PETER, THE DEVOUT JEW, WAS SUMMONED TO THE HOME OF CORNELIUS, THE PAGAN.

“GOD HAS SHOWN ME THAT I SHOULD NOT CALL ANY MAN IMPURE OR UNCLEAN…GOD SHOWS NO PARTIALITY”…FOR ALL SUCH DIVISIONS ARE NOW OBSOLETE, HAVING BEEN DESTROYED BY THE CROSS OF CHRIST, JESUS.”  (Acts 10:28)

IF THE CHURCH IS TO BE TRULY CATHOLIC AND UNIVERSAL, NO INEQUALITY ARISING FROM RACE, OR NATIONALITY, OR SEX CAN EXIST.  GOD WILL NOT BE MOCKED AND THE CHURCH OF CHRIST WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

RACIAL SUPREMACY, WHICH DENIES THE EQUALITY OF EVERY MEMBER OF THE HUMAN FAMILY AND SINS AGAINST THE CREATOR, CAN ONLY BE ERADICATED AT THE ROOT OF ITS EXISTENCE…THE HUMAN HEART.

WE MUST SEE ONE ANOTHER WITH THE EYES OF CHRIST; WE MUST THINK AS CHRIST AND LOVE WITH A CHRISTLIKE SPIRIT.  WE MUST ASK THE AGE-OLD QUESTION, “WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR” WITH A CLEAN HEART.

GOD CONTINUALLY CALLS US TO CONVERSION. GOD IS CALLING FOR SOCIAL AND ECCLESIAL TRANSFORMATION BORN OF THEOLOGICAL, RELIGIOUS AND MORAL CONVERSION.

TODAY, MANY CHURCH LEADERS ARE SIMPLY INATTENTIVE AND INSENSITIVE TO THE MORAL ISSUES INVOLVED AND TO THE BRUTALITY AND DEATH-YIELDING CONSEQUENCES OF INSTITUTIONAL RACISM.  THEY FAIL TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT RACISM IS A SIN AND A HERESY THAT NOT ONLY DIVIDES THE HUMAN COMMUNITY BUT ALSO SUSTAINS A PATTERN OF SYSTEMIC GENOCIDE.

SOME HAVE EVEN GONE AS FAR AS TO ATTACK THE “BLACK LIVES MATTER” MOVEMENT AS BEING MARXIST AND A PSEUDO RELIGION.

AS A RESULT, PEOPLE OF COLOR CONTINUE TO EXPERIENCE ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND PROFESSIONAL ALIENATION WITHIN SOCIETAL AND ECCLESIAL INSTITUTIONS.

THE REALIZATION OF RACIAL JUSTICE IN THE UNITED STATES AND IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH RESTS UPON THOSE CATHOLIC BISHOPS, PRIESTS, RELIGIOUS AND THE LAY FAITHFUL, WHO HAVE COME TO KNOW AND BELIEVE THAT RACISM DEHUMANIZES NOT ONLY PEOPLE OF COLOR BUT WHITES AS WELL.

RACISM KILLS PEOPLE OF COLOR PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY AND IT KILLS WHITE PEOPLE MORALLY.

IN CALLING US TO DISMANTLE INSTITUTIONAL RACISM, GOD PLACES BEFORE US A CHOICE OF LIFE AND DEATH.  WE MUST CHOOSE THE LIFE OF MORAL FORTITUDE AND TRUTH AS A CHURCH IN SPEAKING AND ACTING AGAINST THE SOCIAL INJUSTICE OF SYSTEMIC RACISM.

THOSE WHO BENEFIT FROM THE PRIVILEGES THAT COME WITH BEING WHITE IN AMERICA MUST DESIRE AND SEEK A CONVERSION OF HEART.   THEY MUST UNDERGO A SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION OF HEART ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD.

THE CHURCH MUST DILIGENTLY INSIST THAT CHURCH LEADERS; PASTORS, PREACHERS, TEACHERS AND CATECHISTS, STUDY THE WORD OF GOD IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH AND THEN TEACH THE UNADULTERATED TRUTH ACCORDING TO SACRED TRADITION.

IF WE BELIEVE THAT “GOD CAN CHANGE HEARTS”, AND THAT THROUGH GOD’S DIVINE GRACE WE HAVE THE POWER TO ERADICATE RACISM, THEN WHAT MUST WE DO, AS MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, TO CONFRONT THE SIN OF RACISM IN THE MILIEUS WERE WE LIVE, WORSHIP AND WORK TO BUILD A MORE JUST SOCIETY?

THE CHURCH MUST EMPOWER PEOPLE OF COLOR—CLERGY, RELIGIOUS AND LAY—TO USE THEIR COMPETENCIES AND TO DEVELOP THEIR GIFTS.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE MUST ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE MAJOR HINDRANCE TO THE FULL DEVELOPMENT OF SUCH LEADERSHIP WITHIN THE CHURCH IS STILL THE FACE OF RACISM.

THE QUESTION THEN BECOMES, “HOW DO WE PROMOTE UNITY, ANTI-RACIST DIVERSITY AND INCULTURATION IN A CHURCH THAT IS STILL CONFRONTING THE SIN OF RACISM?

ARE WE WILLING TO SHARE POWER EQUALLY WITH THE POWERFUL AND POWERLESS?

CAN WE, AS CHURCH, COMMIT TO DISMANTLING RACISM IN ORDER TO MAKE ROOM AT THE EUCHARISTIC TABLE FOR ALL OF GOD’S CHILDREN?

CAN WE DWELL TOGETHER IN GOD’S TRINITARIAN LOVE?

IN HIS PASTORAL LETTER, “DWELL IN MY LOVE”, CARDINAL FRANCIS GEORGE WROTE:  “OUR GATHERING FOR MASS IS ALWAYS A GATHERING IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER OF OUR LORD, JESUS CHRIST.  IN THE EUCHARISTIC ASSEMBLY WE SHARE ALL THE CULTURAL, RACIAL, ECONOMIC AND SPIRITUAL GIFTS GIVEN US BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO ENRICH AND TRANSFORM BOTH CHURCH AND SOCIETY.”

“IF SHE IS FAITHFUL TO HER LORD, THE CHURCH WILL NOT ONLY PROCLAIM WHO HE IS BUT WILL HERSELF ACT TO BECOME THE WOMB IN WHICH A NEW WORLD CAN GESTATE AND BE BORN.”

ARE WE READY TO BE REBORN?

FUTURE GENERATIONS WILL JUDGE US BASED ON THE WORLD AND CHURCH THAT THEY WILL INHERIT FROM US.

UNTIL THERE IS A RECKONING AROUND THE SIN OF RACISM WE CANNOT MOVE FORWARD.  WE CANNOT BEGIN TO CREATE A TRULY INCLUSIVE SOCIETY UNTIL AMERICA’S ORIGINAL SIN IS ACKNOWLEDGED AND ATONED FOR.  THEN AND ONLY THEN CAN WE INSURE EQUALITY FOR ALL PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN, OR WHERE THEY COME FROM, OR THE LANGUAGE THAT THEY SPEAK, OR THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION, OR THE GOD WHOM THEY WORSHIP.

JESUS PRAYED TO HIS FATHER, AS HE PREPARED TO EMBRACE THE CROSS THAT “ALL MAY BE ONE…AS WE ARE ONE.”  JOHN 17:21-22

TO BE ONE WITH THE TRIUNE GOD IS TO BE IN PERFECT UNION WITH THE DIVINE AND IN TRUTH AND CHARITY WITH ALL MEMBERS OF THE ONE FAMILY OF THE CREATOR.

THIS UNION WITH GOD IN THE HOLY EUCHARIST MAKES US INTERDEPENDENT ON ONE ANOTHER.  EVERY CHRISTIAN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BROTHER AND SISTER AND WILL INDEED PUT THEIR NEEDS BEFORE THEIR OWN.

THE EUCHARIST COMPELS US TO LIVE LIVES OF TRUTH, BUILT ON JUSTICE AND ANIMATED BY LOVE…TO BUILD A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH WHERE ALL OF GOD’S CHILDREN CAN LIVE WITH HUMAN DIGNITY AND RESPECT.

THROUGH THE POWER OF THE EUCHARIST WE ARE ONE IN CHRIST.  THE COMMON DENOMINATOR IS NO LONGER COLOR, ETHNIC ORGIN, COMMON LANGUAGE OR COMMON INTEREST.

WHAT MIGHTY SOCIAL AND POLITICAL REVOLUTIONS WOULD COME ABOUT IF THIS MESSAGE OF LOVE WAS SERIOUSLY LIVED IN OUR COMMUNITIES, OUR CHURCHES, OUR WORLD?

OUR WORLD, NATION AND CHURCH ARE IN CRISIS AND WE NEED GOD’S TRANSFORMATIVE GRACE IF WE ARE GOING TO HEAL THE LAND AND SET THE CAPTIVES FREE.

IF WE TRULY BECOME WHAT WE EAT, OUR HEARTS AND MINDS WILL BE OPENED.  WE WILL NOT CLOSE OURSELVES BEHIND THE BARRIERS OF WEALTH, OR CLASS, OR COLOR.  WE WILL NOT DENY OUR COMMON HUMANITY AND SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE WHO CRY OUT IN PAIN AND DESPAIR.

TO BECOME WHAT WE EAT IS TO ERADICATE THE SINS OF RACISM, BIGOTRY AND HATRED FROM OUR HEARTS.

TO BECOME WHAT WE EAT IS TO NO LONGER KEEP SILENCE IN THE FACE OF WHAT IS JUDGED TO BE POLITICALLY CORRECT.

TO BECOME WHAT WE EAT IS TO RECEIVE THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND BECOME CHRIST’S DISCIPLES AND WITNESSES.

TO BECOME WHAT WE EAT IS TO BECOME A SYNODAL CHURCH…A GRACE-FILLED, RESURRECTED CHURCH.

THIS IS OUR APPOINTED WORK AS CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS…TO PREACH NOT WITH WORDS BUT WITH DEEDS THAT WILL TRANSFORM OUR CHURCH, OUR COMMUNITIES, AND OUR INSTITUTIONS; TO PREPARE A TABLE, WHERE ALL ARE EQUALLY WELCOMED AS MEMBERS OF THE ONE FAMILY OF GOD.

I LEAVE YOU WITH THIS QUESTION AND CHALLENGE…

WILL WE COMMIT TO THE LONG TERM WORK OF REDEFINING AND RESTRUCTURING OUR FAITH COMMUNITIES TO ADDRESS THE LEGACY OF RACIAL SUPERIORITY AND SYSTEMIC INJUSTICE?

FOR NOW IS THE ACCEPTABLE TIME.  NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION.

MAY THE PRAYER OF JESUS, BE OURS…THAT ALL MAY BE ONE…IN THE EUCHARIST, WHICH IS AT THE HEART OF RACIAL JUSTICE.

Future Church

3909 ROCKY RIVER DRIVE
CLEVELAND, OH 44111
PHONE: 216.228.0869
E-MAIL: INFO@FUTURECHURCH.ORG


© FutureChurch. All rights reserved.