In his powerful encyclical, Fratelli Tutti—On Fraternity and Social Friendship—Pope Francis challenges us to look deeply at our individual and collective lives. He articulates a paradigm of communal life shaped and upheld by the immense and steadfast love of our God. With life infused fully with God’s love, the possibilities for culture, connection, and creation are inspiring.
Directly addressing our local and global struggles, Pope Francis confronts us and inspires us to holiness. If you have not read this document, look for it online and read it!
A primary and deep-rooted struggle of our day is racial injustice. We are a country founded with the legal institution of human chattel slavery and all the underlying spoken and unspoken assumptions this rested on. In a myriad of ways, we are still healing from this history.
Sitting with a twenty-first century mind, it is tempting to ease my discomfort and simply claim: Slavery is gone—let’s move on. Yet, Pope Francis warns: “It is easy to be tempted to turn the page, to say that all these things happened long ago and we should look to the future. For God’s sake, no! We can never move forward without remembering the past; we do not progress without an honest and unclouded memory. We need to keep alive the flame of collective conscience, bearing witness to succeeding generations to the horror of what happened, because that witness awakens and preserves the memory of the victims, so that the conscience of humanity may rise up in the face of every desire for dominance and destruction.”
Pope Francis encourages to go into the struggle: ”When conflicts are not resolved but kept hidden or buried in the past, silence can lead to complicity in grave misdeeds and sins. Authentic reconciliation does not flee from conflict, but is achieved in conflict.” We are encouraged to stay in the dialogue—open, honest, and hard.
Over the past year, The Basilica staff and leadership have been learning to address racial injustice in our individual lives and our parish community. We are working on four parish goals.
- Increased understanding of implicit/unconscious biases and its effect on each of us and our parish community
- Thursday, May 19th at 5:30, Zoom session, “Cultivating Equity at The Basilica.” Learn more and register at mary.org.
- Increased opportunities to listen to voices from the community, underserved and marginalized populations in our parish and in the community
- This fall we will share, in respectful and healing ways, stories of racial injustice right here at The Basilica. Ignored and hidden, it eats away at the dignity of our brothers and sisters.
- Increased opportunities for personal transformation to support staff and parishioners in working toward systemic change
- May 22nd at 1:00 in The Basilica: “Seven Fates: Racial Healing Stations,” a meditative experience. Register at mary.org.
- Increase diversity at all staff levels and in volunteer ministries
You are invited to join in this work, wherever you find yourself on this issue. If you are struggling, come to share your concerns. Come and learn how you can get involved in our parish work.
If we believe “God created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters,” as Pope Francis states, let us engage together and continue the hard work of love.