by Chris Canniff
Catholic theologians in the United States have drafted a document on racial injustice, stating their commitment to stand by the disaffected. Several Boston College theologians have signed the document in solidarity. All of this comes following the recent demonstrations that have occurred nationwide in the wake of the two separate grand jury rulings that determined not to indict white police officers who killed unarmed African Americans during confrontations.
The theologians’ statement opens with an appeal to scripture. “To the poor shepherds, the angelic host proclaimed “peace, goodwill among people” (Luke 2:14), which refers to a shalom that
is not merely the absence of conflict, but rather a just and lasting peace, wherein people are reconciled with one another, with God, and indeed with all creation.”
They continue, “But this Advent, hope for a just peace must face the flagrant failures of a nation still bound by sin, our bondage to and complicity in racial injustice.”
The theologians also cite the words of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. who, in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” said of white moderate Christians that they prefer “a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”
The apostolic letter Evangelii Gaudium of Pope Francis was also referenced. “When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root.”
The theologians conclude by listing twelve bullet point commitments that they are making in light of this statement. They include fasting as a sign of penitence for the sin of racism, support for police while working to reform policing policy, and scholarly theological writing on the topic of racism, among other things.
The Boston College theologians who signed the statement are: Lisa Sowle Cahill, Francine Cardman, Boyd Taylor Coolman, M. Shawn Copeland, Craig A. Ford, Jr., Richard Gaillardetz, Roberto Goizueta, Margaret E. Guider, OSF, Kenneth Himes, OFM, Mary Ann Hinsdale, IHM, David Hollenbach, SJ, Mary Jo Iozzio, James F. Keenan, SJ, Mark Massa, SJ, Kate Mroz, Timothy P. Muldoon, Nancy Pineda-Madrid, Stephen J. Pope, Andrew Prevot, Brian Robinette, Annie Selak, Andrea Vicini, SJ, and Kate Ward.
The full statement can be read at this link.