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Calling for conversion

Archbishop calls racism a 'festering wound' that can't be denied but can be redeemed

MIAMI | AJ and Melissa Tablada heard about the Mass "for unity against racism and for peace" at Holy Redeemer Church in Liberty City and wanted to be part of the event. 

“We wanted to come to support the efforts against racism,” said Melissa Tablada. The young couple usually attend Gesu Church in downtown Miami. “This is the first time we’ve come to this church. I love hearing the joy of the singers. We’re trying to figure more ways to donate against racism that are in line with Catholic social justice. We appreciate Archbishop Thomas Wenski’s support against racism and his comments in his homily.”

Elizabeth Davis prays during the Mass for unity against racism and for peace, celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski July 5, 2020, at Holy Redeemer Church in Liberty City.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Elizabeth Davis prays during the Mass for unity against racism and for peace, celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski July 5, 2020, at Holy Redeemer Church in Liberty City.

Others came from farther away July 5, 2020 to attend the special Mass at the oldest black Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Miami. Edward Kennedy and his wife, Elaine, and her mother, Nancy Blanco, traveled from Kendall where they attend Good Shepherd Church.

“We decided to drive up here to lend our support,” said Edward Kennedy.

In his homily, Archbishop Wenski said that America today faces a triple crisis: a global pandemic, an economic catastrophe and ongoing unrest across the country because of persistent inequality,

“The killing of George Floyd has pulled off the scab on a still festering wound in our nation, the wound of racism,” the archbishop said. “On this Independence Day weekend, we gather to pray for justice, to stand as a community of faith for unity against racism.”

Racism is a sin, the archbishop said. But Jesus Christ loves sinners, not with a love that would enable denial, but with a love that is stronger than sin. Jesus’ love "names the sin not to damn the sinner, but to call the sinner to conversion of heart and mind."

He noted the name of the parish — Holy Redeemer — "because Jesus died on the cross to redeem us from our sins." His love "believes that the sinner can be redeemed.”

The archbishop also quoted from an 1852 Frederick Douglass speech, “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” where the black orator and statesman said, “What is the 4th of July to the American slave? I am not included under the pale of this glorious celebration. The 4th of July is yours not mine.”

After the Civil War and emancipation from slavery, free blacks made the holiday a celebration of black freedom, the archbishop noted. But Jim Crow laws, legalizing racial segregation, tamped down those celebrations. Civil rights legislation in the 1960s got rid of Jim Crow laws, but inequality and persecution persisted.

Katrenia Reeves Jackman, director of the archdiocesan Office of Black Catholics, addresses the congregation after the Mass for unity against racism and for peace, celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski July 5, 2020, at Holy Redeemer Church in Liberty City.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Katrenia Reeves Jackman, director of the archdiocesan Office of Black Catholics, addresses the congregation after the Mass for unity against racism and for peace, celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski July 5, 2020, at Holy Redeemer Church in Liberty City.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "opposed the evils of segregation and racial prejudice through non-violent action. With courage and great sacrifice, he helped make America better," Archbishop Wenski said. "His example and his faith should inspire and guide us today as we face new challenges and new evils.”

Katrenia Reeves Jackman, director of the archdiocesan Office of Black Catholics that organized the Mass, thanked the archbishop for the opportunity to unite against systemic racism.

“When you deny racism, you allow the problem to grow,” she said. “I think the archbishop hit it on the head when he said that when you deny that there is a problem, you enable it. We need every parish and every parishioner to talk about what is happening in our world. When we are silent about racism, we consent to it. We need to use our Catholic social teachings to not be enablers of what is wrong.”

Reeves Jackman said that we need to focus, pray and reach out to each other and understand that together we can envision a world without racism. Recent protests across the country have started the process of making changes in society.

Like Frederick Douglass, Dr. King, and all who came before, this is not just a moment, but a movement, Jackman said. "We must continue, this is a journey, a first step.”

Nancy Blanco, Elaine Kennedy and Edward Kennedy came from Kendall to attend the Mass for unity against racism and for peace, celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski July 5, 2020, at Holy Redeemer Church in Liberty City.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Nancy Blanco, Elaine Kennedy and Edward Kennedy came from Kendall to attend the Mass for unity against racism and for peace, celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski July 5, 2020, at Holy Redeemer Church in Liberty City.


Comments from readers

John Killmer - 07/12/2020 04:59 PM
Somewhere in these pious discussions, and multiple "mea culpas," I wish the Church hierarchy and lay people would acknowledge the point that, although "black lives matter" is a fine slogan and worthy sentiment...the organization "Black Lives Matter" is ardently anti-family, pro-abortion, and anti-"any Catholic values." These positions are on their website for all to see. It seems that a very large percentage of US Bishops are kneeling and paying homage to the organization. Bishops: vet the truth regarding the bandwagons that you jump on, with wringing of hands and beating of breasts. Frederick Douglas is mentioned multiple times...but the BLM mob, along with their allies "Antifa," have destroyed Douglas, as well as other abolitionist monuments. Come on. Don't be taken in so quickly.

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