03 Jun A Reflection on Race in light of the death of George Floyd
The death of a black man, George Floyd, in the USA has confronted and sickened us all and challenged us to look deeply at our own issues of racism and injustice in the Province and the way we treat First nations peoples. Racism is a concern of which we must all be aware, especially in a culturally diverse society. It takes real vigilance and some courage to recognise racism, its attitude of superiority, and its prejudice against those whose culture, customs, language, or ethnicity are different from our own.
In a pastoral letter to all Catholics in November 2018, the United States Catholic Bishops Conference offered a challenging reflection on how racism can easily infect our minds, hearts, churches, and institutions and take us away from the Gospel call to love one another. It is titled: Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love – A Pastoral Letter Against Racism. You will find this attached, and I commend it to your reflection and prayer. These are their concluding remarks:
Almost thirty years ago, Pope John Paul II reminded us of just what is at stake. Each person “is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life.” We are all called to that great life, to the communion of heaven where “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue [stand] before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev 7:9). That Lamb, the Christ, showed us that the very life of God is love, and love requires something of each of us.
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.
We end by adopting the words of St. Paul: Brothers and sisters, “be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love” (1 Cor 16:13-14).
As in all things, we turn to prayer, asking Our Blessed Mother to intercede on our behalf:
Mary, friend, and mother to all, through your Son,
God has found a way to unite himself to every human being,
called to be one people, sisters, and brothers to each other.
We ask for your help in calling on your Son,
seeking forgiveness for the times
when we have failed to love and respect one another.
We ask for your help in obtaining from your Son the grace we need
to overcome the evil of racism and to build a just society.
We ask for your help in following your Son,
so that prejudice and animosity will no longer infect our minds or hearts
but will be replaced with a love that respects the dignity of each person.
Mother of the Church, the Spirit of your Son Jesus warms our hearts:
pray for us.
In this time, when the whole world is wounded and concerned about COVid19, we cannot turn a blind eye to other deep-seated wounds affecting us all. Issues of injustice are inter-related and do not stand alone – poverty, racism, inequality, exploitation, exclusion, ecological destruction, violence, and misuse of power… The wounded world is right before us and within us and demands of us an authentic Gospel response.
May the Holy Spirit guide us to have the fortitude and courage to recognize and act against Racism.