Black Lives Matter, because…
This is a slogan that has been polarizing our country unnecessarily. Of course black lives matter, because they are children of God! As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says so forcefully:
“Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity” (CCC 1934)
“The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it: Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design” (CCC 1935, quoting Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes).
It is unfortunate that a large, well-funded organization promoting transgender, radical feminism, and an anti-Christian agenda has usurped the name, Black Lives Matter International. While glorified by the media, let’s recall Pope Francis’ words:
“Bad news fills the pages of newspapers, websites and television screens, to the point that evil seems to reign supreme. But that is not the case. To be sure, malice and violence, abuse and corruption abound, but life is interwoven too with acts of respect and generosity that not only compensate for evil, but inspire us to take an extra step and fill our hearts with hope” (“Message for the World Day for the Poor,” June 13, 2020, 5).
This organization would be the last to say: Black Lives Matter, because they are children of God. So let’s say it, and mean it, and live it out. But let’s not let this keep us from doing so.
When I was growing up my parents moved our families to the south, to Huntsville, Alabama. Our family was among a handful of others from the north who integrated into an all black Catholic parish and school. But, as kids we didn’t notice skin color and we all became friends.
Isn’t this the secret to overcoming racism, to have this childlike approach to friendship and relationships? This is what we believe:
“As a spiritual being, the human creature is defined through interpersonal relations. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures. It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God.” Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 53.
I see this in our school, which is racially mixed and the kids treat each other with great simplicity and “color-blindness.” This is true maturity in their sense of their own self-worth and personal identity, valuing the true dignity of their classmates. It really makes me happy to see the number of inter-racial marriages we have in our parish—how they enrich our spiritual family and expresses the mature personal identity of these children of God.
Let us pray that we overcome racism with love of God. Let’s not just condemn racial discrimination as another form of sin, but let us fulfill our call to love and brothers and sisters in Christ, and defend their rights and dignity whenever someone else humiliates, ridicule, discriminate, or treat unfairly the image of Christ in them.
Also, let us acknowledge our own failings, whether it has been a direct offense against a child of God based on sex, race, color, social condition, language, or even religion. Perhaps we need to acknowledge some indifference or passivity to the structures of sin that has perpetuated racism, turning a blind-eye to someone else’s sin or injustice in the workplace.
“Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 54).
Only by confessing our sin and doing reparation are we going to make progress toward peace and true prosperity.
Fr. John R. Waiss