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A Franciscan Response to the Racial Crisis in the US

Friars of St. John the Baptist ProvinceJustice & Peace

Eight hundred years ago St. Francis of Assisi profoundly changed the world with his message of peace, his concern for the poor and his love for all creation. Today we work to bring about justice and peace, to end violence and war, poverty and oppression, and the destruction of our planet. We hope you will join us on our journey. Click here to read more.

A Friar on the Power of HopeA Friar’s Message of Hope

Franciscan Media — The loss of hope is a terrible thing. It can be lethal. But for most of us, a deficiency of it shows itself in more subtle ways: discouragement, putting our trust in everything but God, or focusing too much on the negative in the world.

The recent vitriol between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un—as well as the attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the ensuing racial tensions—have given many of us a reason to panic and lose sleep. But hope is alive.

A man holds a Confederate flag outside the Statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, July 9, hours before Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill to remove the flag from Statehouse grounds. (CNS photo/Jason Miczek, Reuters)Stars, Bars, and Scars

St. Anthony Messenger — The debate about symbols of the Confederacy present in government-sponsored memorials and other spaces has been erupting, on and off, since the Civil War. The issue came into focus a few years ago, with southern state flags containing Confederate symbolism. Local governments have been acting and debating on various statues and memorials ever since.

Now, in August of 2017, the nation is embroiled in the debate about racism, violence and freedom of expression again, this time after protest conflicts in Charlottesville, Virginia.

People in Chicago demonstrate July 11 after a string of nationwide police shootings of African-Americans and the slaying of police officers in Dallas. Around the country, Catholic organizations, parishes, clergy and laity are taking action and bolstering efforts to build peace and battle racism, following a summer of violence. (CNS photo/Tannen Maury, EPA) See WASHINGTON-LETTER-ELECTION-RACE Aug. 25, 2016.Minding What Matters: A Look at Justice in the United States

St. Anthony Messenger — The US Department of Justice reports that one in three black American men can expect to go to prison in his lifetime. One in three: the same proportion as suffer hair loss or weight gain.

The same ratio as those who have insomnia or develop diabetes. One in three. It’s hard to imagine that this stark fact is a fluke rather than a symptom of a larger problem.

Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi: A Model of Peace

Franciscan Media — Peace is both a wonderful and a much-abused word. Because we seek peace constantly, it has many counterfeits. For example, peace at any price always yields no peace at a very steep price.

Francis promoted peace among his friars, among the Poor Clares, among the Secular Franciscans, among all people. Thomas of Celano writes that the immensely popular Francis “seemed to be a man of another world” (First Life, 36). Francis called people back into the peace and harmony of a world into which God had created the human family and which was as fragile in Francis’ day as it is in our own.

Community members in Charlottesville, Va., hold a vigil for Heather Heyer Aug. 16. She was killed Aug. 12 during a white supremacist protest over a plan to remove the statue of a Confederate general from a city park. (CNS photo/Kate Bellows, The Cavalier Daily via Reuters) See CHARLOTTESVILLE-CAMPUS-CHAPLAIN Aug. 18, 2017.Charlottesville’s Catholic students ready to heal wounds, chaplain says

WASHINGTON (CNS) — After the weekend of mayhem in Charlottesville, Virginia, the town’s college Catholic community was wondering — like many others around the nation — what to do.

The protest and counterprotests making national news were unfolding right in their hometown and the rally’s torch-lit march and angry chants the night of Aug. 11 were even closer to home — on the grounds of their campus, the University of Virginia.

A monument of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan in Lexington, Ky., stands encased in protective scaffolding Aug. 15. (CNS photo/Bryan Woolston, Reuters) See WHITE-NATIONALIST-RALLY-REACTION Aug. 16, 2017.Catholic leaders urge all Americans to confront ‘sin of racism’

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Franciscan Action Network called on all Americans, “especially ourselves and those who have benefited from white privilege,” to look within themselves “and confront America’s original sin — the sin of racism.”

“White Americans must no longer stand silent as we continue to benefit from the attitudes and structures that put us ahead of African-Americans and other minority groups,” the organization said in an Aug. 14 statement issued in reaction to a chaotic and hate-filled weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 11 and 12.

Two people comfort Joseph Culver of Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12 as he kneels at a late night vigil to pay his respects for a friend injured in a car attack on counter-protesters rallying against white nationalists. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, condemned the violence and hatred and offered prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed, and for all those who were injured. (CNS photo/Jim Bourg, Reuters) See WHITE-NATIONALISTS-RALLY-VIRGINIA Aug. 12, 2017.Bishops ask for peace after white nationalist rally turns deadly

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the aftermath of a chaos- and hate-filled weekend in Virginia, Catholic bishops and groups throughout the nation called for peace after three people died and several others were injured following clashes between pacifists, protesters and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 11 and 12.

Additional Resources

Wilton Gregory on Charlottesville: Bishops must speak, because silence is approval, via Crux

LCWR Condemns Racism in All Forms, via the Leadership Conference of Women Religious 

President of US Conference of Catholic Bishops Calls For Calm Amid Violent Protests In Charlottesville, via the USCCB

Post a prayer for peace at our St. Anthony Shrine.