Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 16, 2017 Column Father De Celles

Racism, Prejudice and Hate. Last month our state, and the whole nation, was stunned when an avowed white-supremacist ran his car into a crowd gathered in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 others. It was a clear act of racist violence.
It is sad but true that after decades of great strides, racism is still alive in our country. On a certain level, it’s no surprise: we are a fallen humanity, prone to sin without God’s grace. So we see sin flourishing all around us today in a multitude of forms, and sometimes in the most extreme ways.
Even so, let me be clear: all human beings are created in the same image of the one and only God, so that even as He created each of us uniquely and so different in certain ways from each other, we are all fundamentally equal in dignity before Him. So that “racism,” understood as the unjust prejudice or discrimination against a person because of his/her race or ethnicity, is always a sin, and often a mortal sin. It is no less a sin than murder, abortion, contraception, or sexual sins. Moreover, racism that is fueled by genuine hate is truly despicable.
Racism cannot be tolerated. Nevertheless, Christ reminds us to love our enemies, even “those who hate us,” so that we must love the sinner while we hate the sin. So the road forward leads not through an escalation of violence (in word or deed), or even widespread witch-hunting for closet racists. We should confront actual racism where it clearly exists, but we should remember that none of us is perfect, and must not try to exaggerate small unintended or ignorant prejudices that we all have to be something vicious—we can afford to turn the other cheek once in a while, even as we continue to help remove these prejudices in ourselves and others.
Moreover, we should not imagine that everyone who disagrees with us on issues that seem to touch on race or ethnicity as being a racist. Sadly, many people today use our fear and revulsion of racism to fuel their own political agenda. Are those who stir up hate and shout “racist” against people who simply disagree with them on policy or moral issues any better than those who stir up hate against people who are a different race or ethnicity than them? These are not the same sins, but they are both repugnant.
The Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi’s come to mind when we think of people who stir up hate based on racial/ethnic differences. These are despicable organizations. But there are also organizations that stir up hate based merely on political/social disagreements, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center. While the SPLC was originally organized in 1971 with the noble mission of fighting racism in the courts, over the years it has morphed into fighting anyone who opposes the leftist agenda. So that now it maintains a list of what it calls “hate groups,” which includes many groups that merely disagree with their leftist agenda. For example, the list includes the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, National Organization for Marriage, and many similar pro-traditional moral values groups, categorized as “hate groups” simply because they oppose the Left’s anti-family/marriage agenda.
I am not equating the SPLC with the KKK. The sin of promoting racism is very different from the sins of promoting lying, sexual depravity and hate against political opponents. But they are still all grave sins. And the promotion of grave sins is despicable, wherever we find it.

Anti-Catholicism: The Acceptable Prejudice. Last week an old family friend, Amy Coney Barrett, testified before the Senate regarding her confirmation as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Barrett is a professor at Notre Dame Law School, a former clerk to Supreme Justice Antonin Scalia, and a wife and mother of 7 children. She has wide-spread bi-partisan support among her professional colleagues. But apparently there is problem with her being an appellate judge: She is a devout Catholic.
In an amazing example of religious prejudice Senators Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin called into question how her Catholicism might adversely affect her decision making as a judge. Feinstein told Barrett: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” What? In what sincerely religious person—Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jew—is the “dogma” NOT “living loudly within” them? As Fr. John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, subsequently wrote: “I am one in whose heart ‘dogma lives loudly,’ as it has for centuries in the lives of many Americans, some of whom have given their lives in service to this nation.” And as Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman wrote: “If a Catholic senator had asked a Jewish nominee whether she would put Israel before the U.S.…liberals would be screaming bloody murder. Feinstein’s line of questioning…is no less an expression of prejudice…[and] resonated with historic anti-Catholicism….”
Durbin then attacked Barrett’s use of the term “orthodox Catholic,” in a speech she gave years ago to a Catholic group, as he accused her of maligning Catholics who (like Durbin) disagree with Church teaching on things like abortion. Then he asked her directly: “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Two comments. First, if certain people publicly disagree with Church teaching, how could Barrett malign them by simply publicly recognizing that fact and saying she does not? Second, where does any Senator, Catholic or not, get the right to question a nominee about their religion, whether as an orthodox or unorthodox Catholic, a Methodist or Evangelical Protestant, a Shia or Sunni Muslim, or an Orthodox or Progressive Jew? There is that clause in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution: “no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Unless of course you are a Catholic who actually believes and lives by the dogma of the Catholic Church.

Parish Picnic—TODAY! Today, September 17, we have our annual Parish Picnic from 1-4pm here on the Parish grounds, behind the church. There will be lots of good food and fun for kids and adults alike. For new parishioners (and visitors) this is a great opportunity to meet people and learn more about the parish; for the rest of us, this is one of the best chances we will have all year to welcome others into a deeper participation in the life and fellowship of our parish—PLEASE JOIN US!

Parish Pictorial Directory. If you haven’t signed up to have your picture taken for the Directory, please sign up ASAP. I would like all of our parishioners to be in the directory, as means of strengthening our parish in the unity of Christ. (Remember you can chose what personal information will be included or excluded in the directory.) Appointments for photos will continue through September 24th and there are still prime appointment times available. Also, if you would like to volunteer to help with this directory, please contact the Parish Office.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles