African-American Archbishop to
Chair US bishops’ task force on race
Catholic News Service, Church in US, July 21, 2016
(Note: US and India have a common vexing, divisive issue to set right. If it is just the skin deep colour (anything other than white) that sets some people run riot like a bull before a red rag. In India it is the deep-rooted – to the marrow of one’s bones — caste system sanctioned by theology and spirituality of Hinduism.
In recent weeks and months race related fights and shootouts have been too sporadic which probably prompted US bishops to take this drastic step of appointing a task force headed by an African-American Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta. In India caste related division, segregation to the extent of untouchability leading to violence and murder of those breaking the Lekshman Rekha has been and still going on, the latest being the Caste uprising in Gujarat, UP and Bihar. It reached its zenith when three Reddy high caste Catholic priests, and therefore belonging to an admittedly enlightened spiritual section of society kidnapped, tortured, extorted huge sums of money and left Bishop Gallela of Kadapa half dead as in the story of the good samaritan.
Only, unlike in US, no known or public initiative from the highly placed Catholic Bishops’ conference has come to set things right. What is worse, the bishops here maintain a calculated silence on the incident even to this day in spite of repeated public protests and provoking letters and articles to bishops from scandalized sections of ordinary faithful. Even two days ago CCV has published a statement questioning Cardinal Baselius for his faiure to speak up and demanding a public statement of actions taken against the criminal priests. The writer asks why these priests are not defrocked till now.
We have to learn even from a grave digger, it is said. Shouldn’t we take much greater interest to learn from better informed persons like the remedial steps the US bishops are taking to tackle colour-caste problem and shootouts in US? Shouldn’t CBCI have established an Episcopal Commissions, some headed by Dalit bishops like Gallela of Kadapa, to wipe out Caste practices, untoufhability, the worse practice of Endogamy perpetuated by the blessings of Bhraminic Cardinal Alanchery, Archbishop Moolekat of Kottayam and Angadiath of Chicago?
Indian bishops can’t do it and they will never do it because, they do believe in practising caste system and Endogamy as their birth right. They think there is nothing wrong in it. That is why none of the bishops ever came forward to admit in the two Rome-based family synods in in 2014-15, to admit that Casteism, racism (think of attacks of Africans by Indians) and pure-blood marriage practice are three major threats destroying Christian family life in India. How can a mortally ill patient be treated and healed, if the patient himself/herself refuses to admit to be sick?
Therefore what is needed is more public pressure, protests and non-violent non-cooperation with the bishops to force open their lips, eyes and ears until they begin to listen to the Lality and learn from them. This is what Pope Francis himself has prescribed for the bishops, during these times rightly termed “the hour of the laity.” Are our bishops listening? james kottoor, editor)
Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia, who was the first African-American president of the US bishops' conference, has been appointed as chaiIr of a new task force of the U.S. bishops to deal with racial issues brought into public consciousness following a series of summertime shootings that left both citizens and police officers
WASHINGTON – Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta has been appointed as chair of a new task force of the U.S. bishops to deal with racial issues brought into public consciousness following a series of summertime shootings that left both citizens and police officers among those dead.
The task force’s charge includes helping bishops to engage directly the challenging problems highlighted by the shootings. Task force members will gather and disseminate supportive resources and “best practices” for their fellow bishops; actively listening to the concerns of members in troubled communities and law enforcement; and build strong relationships to help prevent and resolve conflicts.
“By stepping forward to embrace the suffering, through unified, concrete action animated by the love of Christ, we hope to nurture peace and build bridges of communication and mutual aid in our own communities,” said a July 21 statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In addition to creating the task force and appointing its members, Kurtz also called for a national day of prayer for peace in our communities, to be held Sept. 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver.Gregory is a former USCCB president.
Other task force members are Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Social Development; Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for African-American Affairs; Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, who is president of the National Black Catholic Congress.
The day of prayer, according to a July 21 USCCB announcement about the task force’s formation, will “serve as a focal point for the work of the task force.”The task force’s work will conclude with the USCCB’s fall general meeting in November, at which time it will report on its activities and recommendations for future work.
“I have stressed the need to look toward additional ways of nurturing an open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence,” Kurtz said. “The day of prayer and special task force will help us advance in that direction.”
The task force will have bishop consultants, including Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is USCCB vice president, as well as bishops whose jurisdictions have experienced extreme gun violence, or who otherwise bring special insight or experience on related questions. An equal or smaller number of lay consultants with relevant expertise will be appointed soon thereafter, the USCCB announcement said.
“I am honored to lead this task force which will assist my brother bishops, individually and as a group, to accompany suffering communities on the path toward peace and reconciliation,” said Gregory in a July 21 statement.
“We are one body in Christ, so we must walk with our brothers and sisters and renew our commitment to promote healing,” he said. “The suffering is not somewhere else, or someone else’s; it is our own, in our very dioceses.”