St. Peter Claver pastor: ‘White supremacy has cost someone their life’

| May 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

In a video message posted May 27, the pastor of St. Paul’s historically black Catholic parish called on his parishioners “to agitate” their community, Church and world for racial justice and healing.

Father Erich Rutten, pastor of St. Peter Claver in St. Paul, shared his vision for his parish following the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a police officer during his arrest in Minneapolis May 25.

And while Father Rutten said he doesn’t know all the details of the situation, the video posted online, now well circulated, showing a white police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd, who is handcuffed, repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, “seems so egregious.”

“I am saddened. I am sickened. I am angered. And I am tired of such things happening again and again,” Father Rutten said. “How long, O Lord, must we endure such things?”

Some people think white supremacy is a concept for university or talk radio debate, he said, but “here is a case where white supremacy has cost someone their life.”

“The misguided idea that white people can somehow push people around, or that we own this country, or that we own Minneapolis leads to terrible disrespect, leads to poverty, leads to, in this case, violence, and in many cases, violence,” said Father Rutten, who is white.

In contrast, God’s love, as revealed by Jesus, shows people that they are all children of one God, equally subject to Christ the King, he said. “We are all brothers and sisters.”

Father Rutten outlined four missions for St. Peter Claver parish. First, it has a historic mission as a home for African American Catholics, which, he noted, was its original mission. Second, he sees the parish as a home for African immigrants. Third, the parish has a mission as a place of hope in its neighborhood, St. Paul’s Rondo community, which was historically black. And fourth, the parish should serve “as an example in our broader church of really, people coming together in unity in Christ our Lord.”

“Rather than keep that to ourselves, as much as we can share that with the broader Church and encourage that in our Church, hopefully as we grow in unity in Christ and grow in our love for one another, hopefully that allows the world to shift as well,” he said. “That is our great hope.”

He said he sees St. Peter Claver as having a special role and responsibility “to agitate” the Church and world “for racial justice and peace and healing in the reality that we truly are brothers and sisters.”

“Virus or no virus, we have work to do,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. He thanked the “Clavers” who have been leaders for justice and peace.

“In a time like now, in remembering George, we need to continue that mission amongst ourselves at St. Peter Claver, and in conversation with our neighborhood, our Church and our world,” he said. “May George rest in God’s peace and love. Amen.”

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