TOR Charlottesville Response

  • August 29th 2017
  • Published by Fr. Richard Davis, TOR

Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

August 28, 2007

To the Friars and all Friends of the TOR Sacred Heart Province,

PAX ET BONUM!

I will start by quoting our own Rule: …in greeting others, let them say, ‘The Lord give you peace.’ (TOR Rule, 20).

Events of the last week or ten days compel me to write an important message to you. Very likely, you have been following national events in Charlottesville and its aftermath, as have I. It seems most appropriate to join my voice to the voices of so many who have spoken out, particularly our own leaders in the Catholic Church. As Franciscans, we are in close cooperation with the Church, and as followers of Saint Francis, we are devoted to peacemaking and gospel love for all peoples.

First and foremost, I want to join my voice to that of Archbishop Blaise Cupich of Chicago when he said, “When it comes to racism there is only one side. We are against it.” This is not a controversy. There is no discussion about racism. Hatred is wrong. Antisemitism is unbiblical and unchristian.

In my own lifetime, I have witnessed the nonviolence of the civil rights movement. Our nation moved from segregation and treating human beings in a manner that allowed them no dignity, to a nation which admits great diversity and recognizes it as our strength.

We cannot remain silent. Our Province ministers primarily in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio. These states rank 2, 3, 6, and 8 respectively in the number of hate groups. Thus it is not a choice in this instance. Silence conveys consent. Silence makes it seem as if we accept racism. In our ministries we must make clear that our beloved Savior loves all people, of all races and yes, people of all creeds. We pay a price for it, but we must not equivocate.

The United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference, in the persons of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, its President, and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, chair of the committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, have publicly and explicitly rejected racism, white supremacy, and neo-nazism. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia also spoke out forcefully, saying this: “Racism is poison of the soul. It’s the ugly, original sin of our country, an illness that has never fully healed.”

Please join me in praying for the injured, and especially for eternal rest for those who died in Charlottesville, the young woman and the two state policemen. As we observed with the vast majority of counter-protesters in Boston last weekend, we must remain strong and patient while not promoting violence of any sort. Let us commit ourselves to some action, any action, to oppose racism and hatred. We can employ many methods to add our voice, such as in our homilies, within lessons in our classes as we make it appropriate, reprinting my letter in parish bulletins or posting in on our university web sites, etc. Be creative!

May our Lord hear our prayers and help us to join our Church leaders in fighting racism and all its ugly manifestations, through the intercession of our beloved Mother of Our Order Mary and our patrons Saint Francis and Saint Clare.

Fraternally,

Very Rev. Richard. L. Davis, T.O.R.
Minister Provincial