by Dave Luecking
ST. LOUIS (CNS) – With the strife and violence in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting death by a police officer in Ferguson, more than 500 St. Louis Catholics gathered for a votive Mass for peace and justice Aug. 20 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
Brown, 18, was black, and Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot him Aug. 9, is white.
St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson celebrated the Mass with 27 priests and, in his homily, laid out five important steps to “dismantle systemic racism,” which has become evident in Ferguson:
– “I am re-establishing today the Human Rights Commission in the Archdiocese of St Louis.”
– “I am asking the Charles Lwanga Center to begin a study and offer solutions to decrease violence in our communities and in our families.”
– “I pledge an ongoing commitment to provide a pathway out of poverty by providing scholarships so that young people can receive a quality education in our Catholic schools.” (He noted that 3,000 children have received scholarships in the last year.)
– “I pledge my support and the support of the archdiocese to assist the churches in Ferguson to deal with issues of poverty and racism.”
– “Finally, I am asking each priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to offer a Mass for Justice and Peace.”
As Archbishop Carlson noted, “This is a modest beginning, but begin we shall.”
“There is more that will need to be done, and we will work to open dialogue with the churches, community leaders and people of Ferguson,” he said.[hr] Luecking writes for the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the St. Louis Archdiocese.