Letters: July 7, 2016

| July 7, 2016 | 0 Comments

Racism can’t be ignored

On April 28, The Catholic Spirit reported “Minneapolis Catholic Workers back Black Lives Matter.” Reading The Catholic Spirit on June 9 and seeing the negative reactions from what I’m assuming are white Catholics on Black Lives Matter is by no means a surprise.

Throughout America’s history any black movement going back to slavery — whether the abolitionists of that day, the “Back to Africa” movement of Marcus Garvey in the 1920s, the NAACP of the early and beyond the mid-20th century, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, the Black Panther Party and Martin Luther King — has had the opposition by the majority of whites.

Institutional racism is still a major threat to our American fiber. But the problem of the critics of “Black Lives Matter” goes far beyond that movement. Because even to this day, many white Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, are simply unenlightened to the real damage that racism has done, past and present.

I am an African-American Catholic who attends weekly Mass (and sometimes during the week) and I am appalled at the deafening silence by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis at a critical time, for the African-American communities in the Twin Cities are at their worst in education, housing, jobs and health care. As a longtime activist of 50 years in Minneapolis, I see what’s sadly missing with the average churchgoer by his or her passing race issues by like the priest and the Levite passing by the man that’s robbed (Lk 10:25-37) only to be attended to by the Good Samaritan.

Howard McQuitter II
Sacred Heart, Robbinsdale
St. Constantine, Minneapolis

Letters in the June 9 issue criticized Minneapolis Catholic Workers for working with Black Lives Matter because BLM is not a worthy racial justice organization. They were accused of involvement in civil disobedience and disruptive tactics that often inconvenience people, and wasting time and resources trying to find out what really happened to Jamar Clark. Why would Catholic Workers support BLM, and should the Church support their efforts to advance the cause of racial justice?

BLM emerged after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 and its message was greatly amplified by a series of deaths at the hands of police across the country (Eric Garner on Staten Island, Freddy Gray in Baltimore, Walter Scott in South Carolina, Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Sandra Bland in Texas). There exists an absolute lack of trust in the black community for governing authorities and police departments based on historical experience in this country from slavery, through Jim Crow and up to today. This distrust has led to legitimate questioning of why the arrest of young men like Jamar Clark escalate when there should be nonlethal ways of taking prisoners in custody.

We are at a critical time when trying to understand the reasons for the actions of BLM is more important than criticizing them based on our own beliefs of what is appropriate, or telling African-Americans what they should do to advance their own cause. As long as they are working nonviolently, BLM has the weight of history on its side. I suggest reading Jim Wallis’ recent book, “America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America.” It lays out the background to the events leading to the formation of BLM and what people of faith can do to build a bridge to racial unity.

Gary Gullikson
Guardian Angels, Oakdale

Walking in faith

I have walked a few labyrinths in my time, and have felt closer to my faith doing so than in some Masses where the priest is just reading words that he has recited hundreds of times and where the congregation does so in a similar rote fashion — if they even respond at all — totally devoid of any acknowledgment of what they are saying.

The Mass, like a labyrinth, is a tool to keep us in touch with our Creator. True, Jesus told us to celebrate his memory by taking and eating the bread and wine, his body and blood. Is that the only thing we can do to remember him? Did he only do that once? Seems to me he did a lot of dinners. And walking. Up and down Palestine, back and forth to Emmaus, Jerusalem, Bethany, you name it. You try walking 10 miles, talking the whole time. Perhaps he meditated a little on the way. Perhaps his disciples meditated on the way. Does that make them “New Age”?

Labyrinths have been around for centuries. Like a lot of other customs, the Catholic Church co-opted the tradition and tweaked it, seeing a good tool for making people’s faith stronger. We have always done that. (Take the timing of Christmas, for example.) But if your readers are implying that labyrinths are Satan’s way of getting in your heads and stealing your faith, what on earth does their prayer life consist of? You can pray the rosary doing the labyrinth, did you know that? And because it’s not a maze, you’ll never get lost, did you know that? You ask for God’s help, guidance, love, and let it fill you with wonder and joy, free from the distractions of work, traffic, politics, etc., and just meditate on God’s love. There is nothing more glorious on a beautiful day than walking an outdoor labyrinth giving thanks to God that you’re alive, feeling his creation under your feet. “New Age”? Oh, ye of little faith. If that scares you, what a fearful world you must live in.

Elizabeth Rosenwinkel
St. Albert the Great, Minneapolis

Share your perspective by emailing CatholicSpirit@archspm.org. Please include your parish and phone number. The Commentary page does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Catholic Spirit. Letters may be edited for length or clarity.

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Category: From Readers