The Tablet Staff
Bishop of Brooklyn Nicholas DiMarzio delivered his homily on June 7, Trinity Sunday, at the 11 a.m. English Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, broadcast live on NET-TV, on the evil of racism and what society and the Church must do to bring about change.
“In our situation today as we see many protesting the horrible death of George Floyd, we recognize the anguish that comes from a deeper understanding of the inequalities in our own society and the burden that people of color must bear,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
In his remarks, Bishop DiMarzio decried the violence and looting by people who purposely look to create anarchy in our society and destroy the rightful message of the protestors. As a Church and a family of faith, Bishop DiMarzio said, we must stand and assist our brothers and sisters.
“Only when we find the love of God and bring that love to others will things change,” he said.
He also looked to the words of Martin Luther King, who said, “this time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities that have surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way. This does not mean that we abandon our righteous efforts, but we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege and obligation to love. This is the only way to create beloved communities.”
The Diocese of Brooklyn fully endorses the conversations currently taking place about racism. Only by talking about this difficult topic can there begin to be an understanding of what is still happening to people of color in Brooklyn and Queens, who make up half of the diocese.
More than two years ago, the diocese formalized these conversations. In 2017, after the Charlottesville, Virginia white supremacist demonstrations, Bishop DiMarzio established the Commission on Racism and Social Justice to look into racism within the Church. The Commission held hearings and received over 500 messages which have helped to understand the issues.
As a result of what it learned, the Commission held meetings with priests of the diocese to help them understand how to preach about racism. There were also meetings with Catholic school teachers focused on teaching lessons aimed at preventing the seeds of racism from growing.
“Racism is a learned behavior. People are not born as racists. Racism is learned in different ways, even if it is not taught specifically. It is picked up by attitudes, feelings, and words. We need to work in our Catholic schools where we have some influence to make sure that our young people today do not pick up the racist attitudes of the past,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
He also acknowledged the diocese has to do more to see how it can deal with the feelings and the reality that racism exists in the Church. “What we must understand is that societal change on the evil of racism must happen,” he said.