The following continues our series of reflections on our Parish Statement on Racism:
“We are grateful to have the encouragement of Pope Francis, the American Bishops, and our Catholic brothers and sisters in St. Louis to take on this fight. In his recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis declared that ‘Racism is a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting.’ The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops reminds us in the pastoral letter Open Wide Our Hearts that ‘too often…individuals, communities, and even churches remain silent and fail to act against racial injustice’ when we encounter it in ourselves, among our neighbors, and in our institutions.” (from St. Margaret of Scotland Parish Statement on Racism)
Pope Francis’ metaphor of racism as a virus is one that needs little explanation. We’ve all been forced to confront the destructive power of an invisible, ever-changing scourge that resides within us and quietly spreads. One of the most insidious things about racism, perhaps, is its invisibility–the way it hides behind comfortable euphemisms, safe distances, and ever-morphing masks. According to St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Rules of Discernment, this secrecy is a tactic of the Evil One: “When the enemy of human nature brings his wiles and persuasions to the just soul, he wants and desires that they be received and kept in secret; but when one reveals them to his good Confessor or to another spiritual person that knows his deceits and evil ends, it is very grievous to him, because he gathers, from his manifest deceits being discovered, that he will not be able to succeed with his wickedness begun” (Spiritual Exercises, 326).
As Catholics, we know that naming our sins, bringing them into the light, allows God’s grace to seep into the cracks of our individual brokenness, heal us, and prevent evil from flourishing. The sin of racism is no different. We as a Church and society must name the racism in our lives so that evil schemes are foiled and healing can begin.
Kevin Kuehl is a member of the Racial Equity Team of Living Justice Ministries. He teaches theology at Cor Jesu Academy.
Over the course of nine weeks, the SMOS Living Justice Ministry – Racial Equity Team will present reflections from various parishioners on the Parish Statement on Racism. To read more about the Statement, please go to the front page of the Parish website at stmargaretstl.org.