Reflecting on the sin of racism

Hello and welcome!

In the Church, we have a long-standing concern about the issue of racism in our culture and in our country. In the year 2000, for the new millennium, I issued a pastoral letter on racism, “Solidarity: Arduous Journey to ‘The Promised Land.’” More recently, in 2018, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops produced a very valuable document, “Open Wide Our Hearts.”

This week, I mailed a copy of “Open Wide Our Hearts” to all the priests of the archdiocese. OpenWideCover

With it, I included a holy card with a prayer and a picture of St. Katharine Drexel.Blog-unnamed (5)These pastoral letters are to help all of us reflect on the sin of racism in our country and our lives and to help us to see the authentic teaching of the Church concerning human dignity and solidarity among peoples. Unfortunately, it seems that, in today’s world, this issue is becoming very politicized, but as Catholics, we need to look at this with the eyes of faith and see what God is calling us to do to be a community in which there is love and respect for everyone and in which there is a sense of being Christ’s family. The Catholic Church is universal, and God’s love is universal. We hope that these pastoral letters will spark some reflection and discussion in our parishes, Catholic schools and programs of religious education.

In addition, our fall Social Justice Convocation will take up the theme of racism, which is certainly a very important and timely topic for serious reflection on the part of our country and, in a special way, on the part of members of our Church.

Friday, I went to St. Mary’s parish in Hanover to attend the funeral of Father Henry Doherty, who had been a priest for 64 years and had served as pastor for over two decades at St. Mary’s. In fact, Father Henry built the present church during his time there.Blog-unnamedDuring my remarks before the Mass, I expressed my condolences to his brother, Paul, and his sister, Marie, who were with us and said how happy we were that so many parishioners who remembered Father Henry were able to be there to bid him farewell. I said that, earlier in the week, we had celebrated our Chrism Mass at which we prayed for Father Henry, and I also wanted to offer a special word of gratitude to Marie for the wonderful care that she provided for her brother in his final years.FrDoherty_02

This week I prepared a video reflection in light of the fact that so many of the Gospel readings this summer have been centered on Christ’s parables. I would like to share that with you here:

Each year, the Knights of Malta host a summer trip called International Maltacamp, which brings young adults with special needs to a different country around the world. For example, last year, the group made a trip to Bavaria in Germany.

However, this year, because of the pandemic, they had to hold the camp virtually, which I understand consisted of about 1 to 2 hours of Zoom sessions per day for about a week. As part of their activities, they asked me to celebrate an online Mass for them, and I was very happy to oblige.

We are so grateful to Christopher Carter Lee, Benjamin Malec and all those from the Order of Malta who did so much to make this virtual pilgrimage possible.

Midweek, I had an opportunity to make a trip to Montauk on Long Island, N.Y. with some priest friends. There, we visited the famous Montauk Point Lighthouse, which was commissioned in 1792 by President George Washington and built in 1796.

Blog-unnamed (4)The document establishing the lighthouse was signed by Thomas Jefferson

At the lighthouse, they have a model of the ship Amistad, which was intercepted by a U.S. ship off of Montauk Point.Blog-unnamed (3)Blog-unnamed (2)

The Amistad was, of course, a ship carrying Africans who had been illegally captured and sold into slavery in Cuba. But they rebelled, took over the ship and ordered their captors to sail them back to Africa. Instead, they turned the ship northward and were eventually intercepted by a U.S. ship off of Montauk. This led to the very famous case argued before the Supreme Court by John Quincy Adams, which saw the Africans acquitted and allowed to return to Africa.Blog-unnamed (1)

Finally, I want to share with you a photo sent to me this week by Father Andrew Small. I got a kick out of seeing it and thought you might, too.Blog-Bergoglio

It was taken during our visit to Buenos Aires in 2010 when we stopped by to visit then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. In it, we are looking at a photo of Pope John Paul II embracing Mother Teresa that he had in his residence. It was a wonderful reminder of that trip!

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

August 2020

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