Peace and Justice

July 6, 2020                                         

Pastoral Statement on Racism

St. Alphonsus Liguori 'Rock' Catholic Church is a Redemptorist Parish welcoming all of God's children. We worship our Lord in a style that is Authentically Black and Truly Catholic. We strive to joyfully preach, teach and live the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The Pastor, staff and parishioners of St Alphonsus Liguori 'Rock' Catholic Church stand against racism and all the hateful ways it impacts our world and our community.

We stand against systemic and structural racism, white privilege, hate speech, and the continuing assault on the Black community.

We stand in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and assert that it should receive the same amount of resources and zeal from the Catholic Church as the pro-life movement.

We stand in solidarity with those calling for police reform which includes accountability, funding and training.

We challenge the subliminal and explicit miseducation that sanctions and enables the premise that white lives matter more than others.

We call upon our elected representatives local, state and national to take immediate action to address the institutional racism that keeps a "knee on the necks" of African-Americans, particularly those in North St Louis city and county by denying access to quality health care, safe neighborhoods, fully funded schools and allowing the abuse of power that fosters racial inequality, injustice and mass incarceration.

While the leadership of the Archdiocese of St. Louis has acknowledged racism as a sin, it must further recognize it as an ethical and moral evil that can no longer be tolerated. We ask that immediate action be taken to halt the closing of schools in     north St Louis city and county and fully support the efforts in the north city and county deaneries to maintain their current parishes by providing the support, i.e., financial and otherwise, needed to keep them viable. We encourage the inclusion of African American men and women in leadership roles at the Archdiocesan and parish level.

We call upon white Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to stand with us in calling out racism and white privilege by committing to the eradication of both by continuing to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and welcoming all God's children to the table of the Lord.

We acknowledge that the 'Rock' Church has not always been a place of welcome and diversity. We apologize for actions in our parish history that included racial prejudice and suppression and for our silence and failure to  speak out. We encourage others to do the same.

We pray to continue to serve our church, our Parishioners and the greater community through the richness of our Black spirituality in union with our God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit under the compassionate love of our Mother of Perpetual Help.

A Redemptorist Parish since 1867

1118 N. Grand Blvd • St. Louis, MO 63106 • (ph) 314-533-0304 (fax) 314-533-4260

www.stalphonsusrock.org

 

Teaching True Truth T-shirt flyer 2021.03.29

 

(catholicracialjusticestl.org)

 

Following a recent address from Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles that excoriated social justice movements (including Black Lives Matter), Black Catholic leaders have spoken out in response—calling his remarks false, irresponsible, and harmful to the African-American community.

Among them is the National Black Sisters' Conference, which has penned a statement in response. It is reprinted here, with permission, in its entirety:

November 16, 2021

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez
Archdiocese of Los Angeles
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Your Excellency,

We greet you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother.

Founded in 1968, the National Black Sisters’ Conference (NBSC) is an organization of Black Catholic Women Religious and Associates belonging to congregations and communities from across the United States, the Caribbean and Africa. We are committed to confronting the sin of racism, which continues to permeate our society and Church as we work tirelessly for the liberation of our people.

In 1989, Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA addressed the Conference of Catholic Bishops challenging her “brothers in Christ” to continue to evangelize the African-American community while promoting inclusivity and full participation of African Americans in the Church, and to work tirelessly to eradicate the sin of racism that continues to divide the Body of Christ.

Thirty-two years later, African Americans continue to confront racist systems of oppression as we fight for justice, to have our lives, our Black Lives Matter in the same way that white lives are valued in this country.

Last year, the world watched in shock and disbelief as George Floyd took his last breath under the knee of a police officer, who swore to “serve and protect”. It led to a raw awakening around this nation and world that America did not see or treat her African American citizens as human beings endowed with inalienable rights.

As president of the Bishops’ Conference, Black Catholics had hoped that you and your brother bishops would have acted in solidarity with those who have suffered at the hands of white supremacy since first being kidnapped from their homeland and enslaved with the blessing of the Catholic Church.

In 1968, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus declared that the Catholic Church is a “racist institution”, and while significant progress has been made, the Church continues to fail its African American members by its frequent silence and now its condemnation of Black Lives Matter.

If respect for life is the primary issue of our time, then we would certainly have hoped that you and the Bishops’ Conference would surely understand that it is paramount that we lift up and support Black life as a precious gift from God that should be protected not only in the womb but throughout life until death.

We would have expected that you and your brother bishops would have stood in solidarity with your African-American brothers and sisters; representing the compassionate face of Christ.

For the most part, you have remained mysteriously and regretfully silent; often failing to call out hate groups for their racist ideologies and violence.

We are especially troubled by your comment: “…the Church has been ‘antiracist’ from the beginning”. With all due respect, Archbishop, do you not know the history of the Church’s involvement with the slave trade, with the segregation of churches; with black people often being relegated to the back of churches and forced to receive Holy Communion after white parishioners; and the rejection of black men and women who desired to enter seminaries and religious communities? Over four hundred years of slavery, trauma, pain, disenfranchisement, and brutal violence have been a part of the fabric of this nation and the American Catholic Church.

Black Lives Matter grew out of the frustration of seeing black lives struck down over and over again with no accountability. It is a racial justice movement…a gospel movement. Scripture tells us that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:19 to “love your neighbor as yourselves”.

When African-American lives are systematically devalued in this country and in the Catholic Church, we must speak out. BLM is not a pseudo-religion; nor is it a “dangerous substitute for true religion”. It is a movement very much in the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching. It does not nor has it ever “served as a replacement for “traditional Christian beliefs”.

We respectfully encourage you to rethink your ill-advised remarks and rescind them.

If we intend to proclaim the authentic gospel of Jesus, we must acknowledge our sinfulness as a Church as it pertains to the sin of racism and give more than lip service to combatting racism in our Church and nation.

It is time for a resolute effort on the part of all people of goodwill and most especially on the part of our Church leaders.

In her final words to the bishops, Sister Thea said that “the Church must walk together with her African-American brothers and sisters in a new way. Inspired by Jesus Christ, let us begin anew today”.

The leadership of the National Black Sisters’ Conference would welcome the opportunity to meet with you, Archbishop, to pray together and to have a much-needed and honest conversation about race relations in order that we might begin anew together…begin anew today.


United in the love of Christ,

Sister Josita Colbert, SNDdeN
President, The National Black Sisters’ Conference

415 Michigan Avenue Suite 102
Washington, DC 20017
(202) 529-9250
[email protected]

 

The National Black Sisters' Conference, established in August 1968, is an inclusive Catholic organization of vowed Black Catholic women religious and associates from congregations across the United States.