Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week we were very saddened by the egregious death of George Floyd. It's okay to be outraged by George Floyd's death. We should be. George Floyd had the right to be born, the right to live peacefully, the right to just and humane punishment for any alleged crimes he committed, and right to die in peace of natural causes. It is also okay to be outraged by the violence that followed George Floyd's death.
It’s true that we are all tired of seeing cases of racism and social inequality. However, violence only leads to more violence. We cannot ignore what is happening with our black brothers and sisters, and equally to everyone else who is discriminated against for whatever reason. Racial inequality is only one problem facing our society. There are other problems that need to be addressed as well (women suffering from sexual harassment, violence and inequality, the plight of our immigrant community in these trying times, etc.). I don’t mention these problems to minimize what happened to George Floyd. Indeed, my point is the opposite. We have many issues that we as Catholics must address as part of our responsibility to work toward social justice. We cannot remain silent. We cannot ignore the injustices that we see. What can we do at IC?
We will not be able to change the world only by our words or posts online. We can only change the world by what we do, how we treat others, and how we react to injustices that we see. A person taught me once that as important as giving money or food to a homeless person in need, is to ask that person their name. That is, to give the person in need human dignity.
This is what we are also called to do. To respect that innate dignity that each person has. This is not politically correct; this is our moral obligation as human beings. Regardless of race, religion, sex, ethnicity or any background, we were all made in the image and likeness of God. For us Catholics, we also have the mandate of Christ himself who said, “LOVE ONE ANOTHER.” (Jn 13:34) There are no exceptions to that. Indeed, in the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk 10:25- 37), Christ makes the point to love even those that are our enemies. Today’s version of that could be to love even the person who votes for another candidate, or the person who has a different opinion than us. What is at stake here is to love! We are all asked to take a stand today, we are called to defend the TRUTH. And what is THE truth? Jesus replies, “ I am the truth, the way, and the life” (Jn 14:6). And who is Jesus/God? God is LOVE! Therefore THE TRUTH IS TO LOVE!
Often when we speak of RESPECT LIFE at Church, it is somehow matched with Pro-Life issues. The truth that it goes way beyond unborn babies. It refers to the elderly, the marginalized, the poor, minorities…in sum, to EVERYONE. When I say that all life matters, this is not part of any social movement or anything affiliated with an agenda. It has nothing to do with race but only the dignity of all human life. It is what God says in the psalms, “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of this faithful.” Every single life is important to God and also to us.
Father Steven Clemence