A letter from our priests
Dear St. Matthew Family,
The brutal death of George Floyd and other African Americans in police custody has again brought national attention to the issue of racial injustice in our country. We, the priests of St. Matthew Catholic Church, stand in full solidarity with the recent statements of Pope Francis, Archbishop José Gomez, and the chairmen of the US bishops committees condemning these actions and calling on all Catholics to respond to the issue of racism in our time.
Racism is a sin against the truth that we are all created in the image of God, equal in dignity as part of one human family (Gen 1:27). Racism is a sin against the truth that we are united in Christ, such that in the Church “there is neither Jew nor Greek… for you are all one in Christ” (Gal 3:28). Racism is a sin against the truth that we are all called to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, a place for “every nation… all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rev 7:9). Racism is a sin against the truth that God has given human beings differences of race and culture in order to enrich society and the Church by the diversity of the human family.
Racism is a sin against justice and charity because it is a failure to recognize the human dignity of our brothers and sisters. As St. John teaches us, “he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20); indeed, “anyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15).
As the US bishops reminded us in their 2018 pastoral letter, Open Wide Our Hearts, racism is a sin that can take different forms. It can be a personal sin arising from an attitude of the heart, leading to exclusion, mistreatment, ridicule, or unjust discrimination against other persons on the basis of their race or ethnicity. Racism can be a sin of omission, when we fail to act against racially unjust actions perpetrated by others. Racism can also be institutional, when personal sins of racism accumulate over time to create institutions, practices, or traditions that treat certain groups of people unjustly.
The US bishops have continually called attention to the lasting social effects of slavery, segregation, lynching, and other injustices perpetrated against African Americans in our nation’s history. We must resolve to contend with this tragic legacy and right the wrongs that remain. As the US bishops have stated: “Racism can only end if we contend with the policies and institutional barriers that perpetuate and preserve the inequality—economic and social—that we still see all around us. With renewed vigor, we call on the members of the Body of Christ to join others in advocating and promoting policies at all levels that will combat racism and its effects in our civic and social institutions.”
In the voices of so many who are crying out in the streets of our nation we hear a powerful testimony to the fact that we still live in a society where many feel excluded and unheard. As Catholics we must be attentive and willing to listen to the voices of our brothers and sisters during this time, knowing that “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26). We must seek real change through deeper conversion in our hearts and our lives, our homes, and our churches. We must act to correct any unjust policies and practices in our country.
We must contend with racism wherever it is found, always keeping in mind the words of St. Paul in the twelfth chapter of the Letter to the Romans: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Please know that your priests are united with you in prayer as we all seek deeper conversion to the fullness of justice and charity to which God calls us in Christ Jesus.
In Christ,
Father John Allen – Parochial Administrator
Father Peter Ascik – Parochial Vicar
Father Binoy Daivs – Parochial Vicar
St. Matthew Catholic Church