In the past three years, God has given us some pretty big signs.
St. Louis has experienced two major events — the shooting death of Michael Brown by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, and the not-guilty verdict of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
What has followed — the protests, the forming of commissions to identify and address underlying issues related to these events and the calls to action in promoting racial equity, among other issues — makes it pretty obvious that God is calling on St. Louis to improve things, so that all of His children are treated with dignity.
In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, our own Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has taken a courageous step in promoting peace and justice in our community. From being on the ground in Ferguson to establishing the archdiocesan Peace & Justice Commission and collaborating with other faith leaders in St. Louis, the archbishop is making a bold statement that the issue of racial equity is important. After all, it's an issue of human dignity. Or put more simply, it's being pro-life.
"We have to find ways that God would inspire us to be brothers and sisters to one another — or as the way I see it, to see our neighbors as ourselves," he told the Review.
To do that, we must first look into our own hearts. It would be fair to say that the ways in which some white people have been raised and how they perceive people of another skin color may not include overtly racist tendencies, but have biases. How do we better understand this in the context of faith? Part of it is looking at another person and recognizing he or she deserves the same dignity that we desire.
The easy thing is to choose sides — either we're for the police, or we're with those who are protesting. But as Catholics, the only "side" that's necessary is living the Gospel. And the truth of the Gospel is made evident in how we talk to one another. By choosing any other way, we continue to crucify one another and deny that we are all part of the same human family, created by God.
"We have to take a step back and lower the rhetoric," Archbishop Carlson said. "We have to put on our civility and begin to actually listen to each other."
Later this month, a group of parishioners at St. Alphonsus "Rock" and St. Francis Xavier "College" churches will perform a play on the racial differences of growing up Catholic. Thomasina Clarke, who is helping produce the play, said sharing those personal stories will hopefully open others to the importance of loving one another.
"It's inherent that we love and want to be loved," Clarke said. "And for those who don't have that, it's difficult." RELATED ARTICLE(S):God is Calling