When we reflect on the past week, we can truly experience the weariness of the world. After the events in Charlottesville, Va., we as a nation should realize just how fragile national unity can be for some.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and other bishops across the country, have used this tragedy to address the reality of racism in our country. Racism, in any of its forms, is a sin and is an absurdity. Any form of “white supremacy” is an embarrassment to the values that we as a nation and as Christians hold dear. One cannot be a Catholic and a white supremacist. They are mutually exclusive.
People of faith cannot have sympathies with any form of “neo-nazism.” We need to pray through the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Edith Stein, who were martyred by the Nazis; through St. John Paul II, who endured his beloved Poland’s captivity under the Nazis; St. Josephine Bakhita, a slave who became a saint, and St. Martin DePorres, the patron of racial harmony, to convert the minds and hearts of anyone who would allow their minds to flirt with such insanity.
As Catholics in the U.S. today, we have to ask a simple question: As women and men of faith, what can we do to help lead America into the identity it needs to be the beacon of hope and democracy for the world?
Catholicism and American values are not incompatible. Father John Courtney Murray, S.J., spent his life proving that, influencing Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae. He presciently writes in 1960 about what was at stake when we lose direction as a nation:
“What is at stake is America’s understanding of itself. Self-understanding is the necessary condition of a sense of self-identity and self-confidence, whether in the case of an individual or in the case of a people. If the American people can no longer base this sense on naive assumptions of self-evidence, it is imperative that they find other more reasoned grounds for their essential affirmation that they are uniquely a people, a free society. Otherwise the peril is great. The complete loss of one’s identity is, with all propriety of theological definition, hell. In diminished forms it is insanity. And it would not be well for the American giant to go lumbering about the world today, lost and mad.”