"What if the key question for Catholics to ask this Martin Luther King Jr. Day isn't whether Black Lives Matter is a pseudo-religion, but whether Catholicism itself in its response to racism in the United States is representative of the religion of Jesus Christ?" asks NCR contributor David DeCosse in a new commentary.
This question could reframe the issue raised by Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez's November speech on Black Lives Matter and contemporary social movements, which has been criticized for being indifferent to the racist injustice that prompted the largest protests in American history.
"The speech raises another matter that warrants the self-critical attention of the church: whether Catholicism itself is fit to respond to the challenges today of racism and white supremacy," DeCosse writes, adding that Catholics can turn to examples outside of their denomination, such as African American Protestant theologian Howard Thurman.
Gomez claimed in his speech that some modern social justice movements were Marxist-inspired, anti-Christian "pseudo-religions." Read reactions from Black Catholics here.
Growing up in rural South Carolina, a lot of outdoors time spent by Byron Wratee's family revolved around food. His community in Williamsburg County spent much time hunting deer and fishing for mussels. They also grew fruits and vegetables in their garden, including snap peas, collard greens and watermelon — what Wratee proudly called an indigenous African fruit.
"I'm really very proud to be Black. And what it means for me, to be Black, is to just have a really close connection to the land, to grow your own food, to be in connection with nature," he said.
The personal stories were part of a 90-minute virtual conversation Jan. 10 hosted by the National Black Catholic Congress. The event, titled "Imagining our Ecological Future: Black Life and Laudato Si'," positioned four young Black Catholics, all pursuing doctoral degrees in systematic theology, to talk their own experiences with nature, church teaching on ecology and what they see as the contributions they bring to the environmental conversation, both within the church and beyond.
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In the quiet farming village of Thigio, Kenya, Our Lady Hospice-Thigio, run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul, has helped treat terminally ill patients since 2010. Read more at Global Sisters Report.
Michael Sean Winters clarifies what Pope Francis actually said about cancel culture and asserts that the pope will never fit into America’s ideological categories. Read the opinion piece here.