It is with no irony that I remind our good readers that the events of Ferguson are happening amid Black Catholic History Month in the US Catholic Church. It was thus with great anticipation that I looked, time and time again, before and after the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, for a bishop to bring in a mention of racism and these tragic, tragic events in light of the broad and inclusive Catholic Social Teaching that grounds our Church.
Yesterday, however, the Catholic News Service reported here that Retired Bishop John Ricard of Florida, who is also president of the National Black Catholic Congress, spoke up.
“In a statement, the family urged the public to channel their “frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.”
When asked what can be done to work toward this “positive change,” particularly by the Catholic community, the bishop said Catholics should return to the passion many of them showed during the civil rights movement.
“We need to rekindle that commitment and not be so silent and only react when there is a great tragedy that forces us to.”…
“People throw up their hands in air when there aren’t clear solutions or they are distracted by other things going on,” he told Catholic News Service.
What he would like to see happen in the wake of the Ferguson decision and reaction is for parishes or dioceses to convene to discuss racism.
“We have structures in place,” he said, noting that it also takes courage and the “will and leadership to determine we’re going to take this step.”
Because as he sees it, these types of violent situations and reactions will continue “and if anything, get worse” if nothing is done.
As a side note, while I appreciate St. Louis’ Archbishop Carlson’s note about peacekeeping published on the 24th, its focus–unequivocally–is on the violence that people have caused since the decision has come down. There are 11 paragraphs focused on peace, and one sentence that pledges “support…to deal with issues of poverty and racism.” This is, simply, not enough.
Thank you, Bishop Ricard, for speaking up and speaking clearly. I hope others will hear and respond in kind.