Archbishop Hebda, Bishop Cozzens condemn violence; say Christ is answer to despair

| August 18, 2017 | 2 Comments

Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Bishop Andrew Cozzens “join men and women of good will around our archdiocese and around the globe who condemn all senseless violence and expressions of hatred,” they said in a joint statement Aug. 18.

“The recent attacks in Charlottesville and Barcelona, as well as the bombing at a Bloomington mosque earlier this month, have forced all of us to confront the existence of evil in this world,” they said. “While we cannot known or judge what is in the heart of another, we know that we need to confront any evidence that racism and hateful prejudice reside in our hearts. The temptation to hopelessness is all too real, but we know that we have in Christ the answer to despair.”

They quoted from remarks Pope Francis gave before praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square Aug. 18, 2013: “The Christian’s real force is the force of truth and of love, which involves renouncing all forms of violence. Faith and violence are incompatible. Instead, faith and strength go together. Christians are not violent; they are strong. And with what kind of strength? That of meekness, the strength of meekness, the strength of love.”

The bishops encouraged people to “people of encounter who look for opportunities to engage others in ways that acknowledge the dignity of each human person.”

“Living in such a diverse community, the possibilities are real and endless,” they said. “We need to be witnesses of peace, hope, kindness and charity, which should begin in our homes, neighborhoods and parishes.”

They also encouraged people to “acknowledge and promote the power of prayer.”

“We ask the faithful of this archdiocese and our neighbors of good will to join us in praying for those who have been killed and injured, as well as for all who have experienced the scourge of racism and discrimination,” they said. “Let us pray for peace, patience and solidarity in our community and among all peoples.”

The Mass for Reconciliation  and the Mass in Time of War or Civil Disturbance, the bishops said, “would both be appropriate for parishes to celebrate in the days to come.”

The bishops were responding to race-related intimidation and violence during protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12-13, that included an Ohio man associated with white supremacy driving a car into a crowd, killing a demonstrator and injuring at least 19 others. On Aug. 17, a man also used a vehicle as a weapon in a popular Barcelona street, killing 13 and injuring more than 100. ISIS took credit. Two other terriorst events in Spain that day may be related.

In Minnesota, the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington was bombed Aug. 5, extensively damaging the imam’s office.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet were among religious organizations that sent condolences.

“On behalf of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St Paul Province, and Consociates, please know that our thoughts and hearts are with you and Minnesota’s entire Muslim Community at this most challenging time,” they wrote the center’s Executive Director Mohamed Omar and its Muslim community Aug. 7.

“We are heartbroken that you experienced this egregious violation of your sacred space,” they said. “As a community of faith, we are committed to peace, unity and love. You are and will remain in our prayers.”

Father Erich Rutten, chairman of the Commission on Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, represented the archdiocese at a solidarity event Aug. 8 at the mosque.


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  • Dominic Deus

    Dominic Deus here. I’ve been away at school. As many commentators here can testify, I am always in need of further education. But Full Stop for a moment:

    Archbishop Hebda, with whom I have met and spoken, trust and pray for at every Mass, needs to say more than he has. Prayer and piety are not sufficient to address what has happened in Charlottesville. The time has arrived for a declaration of faith, not only Catholic faith, but faith in the essential goodness of humanity and faith that it will prevail over an evil which must be named.

    We know its name and we know the millions martyred in that name and we know the names of at least three more martyrs added to that list in Charlottesville. We have historical evidence, readily available, witnessing its rise, identifying its acolytes, its methods, its demagogic leader, his arrogant subordinates, and the cost, in blood and treasure spent to remove it from the earth–or so we thought.

    Our Kristallnacht has arrived.

    “I seek no middle ground with neo-Nazis. I reject the claims of “free speech” offered by armed militias carrying weapons of war across the University of Virginia campus at a nighttime rally by torchlight. I refuse to acknowledge white supremacy in any form and reject the political, social, economic, institutional and bodily violence practiced in its name.”

    If these words read like a profession of belief, that is because they are–The Charlottesville Creed.

    I am not calling for war. I know far more of that than I would prefer. I am calling for strong moral voices now, defining where society, law, religion, and politics stand in relation to evil. Without that, there are many who will not speak, awaiting the voices of those elected or appointed to lead. Those voices need to be heard before it is too late.

    We are called upon to choose sides where no sides should exist.

    It is incumbent upon us to exam ourselves, our words and deeds, to discern what we have done to allow these lines to be drawn. Doing so neither disqualifies us from or relieves us from the responsibility to speak and act against manifest evil.

    Brother Hebda, I am happy you have spoken. Speak again. Your voice needs be heard.

    –Dominic Deus

    • Charles C.

      Welcome back. I trust your time at school was worthwhile, and I hope you’ll be able to pass on some of the lessons you learned. (Unless, of course, it was a course in diesel mechanics, keep that to yourself.)

      You may also be surprised at how much of your post with which I agree. Let me list some of the more obvious points.

      I agree that the Archbishop (and all bishops) needs to speak out more than he has, that prayer and piety are insufficient, and that the evil must be named. I also agree that strong moral voices must unite to name and fight evil.

      Allow me to make the assumption that you’re speaking about racism. Unfortunately, there is no agreement on what racism is. There are people who use the words you use to introduce the idea that if one race has less, on average, than another race then that is racism. Some say that it is racism to say “Black Lives Don’t Matter – to Blacks,” even though Blacks disproportionately have abortions. (In New York City for example, more Black babies are aborted than delivered.) Blacks also are far more likely than Whites to kill Blacks. There may be reasons for those things which are worth exploring, but is it racism to say those things? And to say that the entire system is racist is hyperbole carried to near insanity. (I also assume you mean racism directed against Blacks; for some reason Whites aren’t using “White Supremacy” to hold down Asians. Is it racist to say that 14% of murdered Whites were killed by Blacks, while 9% of murdered Blacks were killed by Whites?

      But my fundamental disagreement is that you and the good bishop are aiming at the wrong target. Yes, violence practiced in the name of racism is evil, but there are larger and more pressing targets which the bishops and much of society refuse to name and fight. Look at the Socialist-Anarchist Antifa, Black Lives Matter (BLM), and Islamic killers in the United States and the world.

      They live on hate and violence, are large organized groups believing that society must be destroyed or fundamentally altered beyond recognition. Did you or the bishops condemn BLM and dedicate themselves to fighting it after the Dallas shooting of 12 police men resulting in five deaths, or did people just say “Oh, it was a frustrated person acting on his own not influenced by anyone or any philosophy?”

      Consider a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, Mohammed Abed. He teaches, and has written, on Genocide.

      “Genocide is not in any sense distinctively heinous. Nor is it necessarily

      Morally justified genocide? Abed realizes this might be a tough sell:

      “Many will no doubt be shocked by these claims. Surely a view that has such unsavory implications should be rejected. In fact, it ought to be condemned in no uncertain terms. Reactions of this sort are overblown.”

      Opposition to genocide is overblown? Now there’s a target worth going after. American Nazis and the Klan? Sure they’re evil and I have no trouble with the fact that the FBI has infiltrated those groups and is watching them very closely. But organized Nazi groups conducting violent protests? Please. There haven’t been any that I’ve seen reported. But check the New Black Panther Party, or the Nation of Islam, among many others, for virulent hate.

      It is absolutely vital to recognize the threat of white supremacists, anti-Semites and all other race or religion haters. When people see the world as “us against them,” it never ends well for either us or them.

      That brings us to Charlottesville. There are a ton of questions about that, another post maybe.

      (Oh, and if you reject the concept of “Free speech” please let me know when I am getting close to crossing your line. Is it the carrying of Tiki torches after dark, or carrying legal weapons in conformity to all laws?)