US Bishops: Racism Is a Persistent Evil
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved a new pastoral letter - Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love – examining the “persistent” history of racism in this nation. The report is particularly timely in that the FBI recently reported that hate crimes increased by 17 percent in 2017 with the most common bias being “race/ethnicity/ancestry.” Fr. Simon Kim, Director of Intercultural Initiatives at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, served on the original drafting committee and offers the following summary:
As bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States, we want to address one particularly destructive and persistent form of evil. Despite many promising strides made in our country, racism still infects our nation (3).
The 2018 Pastoral Letter against Racism, Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, by the USCCB addresses a growing concern in our country based on a continuous history of discrimination and violence along with extreme nationalist ideologies (4). With a posture of humility, the words of the prophet Micah are highlighted in the letter as a way of acknowledging that history of racism as a call to overcome the sins of omission when it comes to combating racism and in working for racial reconciliation:
You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God (Mi 6:8).
Urge Governor Brown to Stop Executions before Leaving Office
Earlier in the year, the Catechism of the Catholic Church was updated to reflect the official teaching of the church that the death penalty is “inadmissible.” State-sanctioned execution is a violent rejection of the inherent dignity of human beings, inconsistently applied across demographic groups and no longer necessary to protect society given modern correctional techniques.
Governor Jerry Brown, with just weeks left in office, has an opportunity to address this appalling inequity in California’s justice system by commuting the sentences of many on death row to life imprisonment. He can grant clemency, mercy to the nearly 750 people sentenced to die in California, or he can issue an executive order halting executions. In either case, the Golden State – which has more people on death row than any other state – can join the 19 other states in the Union who do not use the death penalty.
Sacramento Diocese Accommodates Evacuated Camp Fire Students
The Diocese of Sacramento is offering spaces in its Catholic schools for students who have been displaced by the devastating Camp Fire in Butte County. Students will be allowed to attend at no cost to families for the remainder of the school year.
“Many families have lost nearly everything in this fire, and being back in a school can be a major stabilizing force in a child’s life,” said Lincoln Snyder, executive director of Schools for the Diocese of Sacramento, in a letter to affected families. “Some classes in some of our schools could accommodate more students, and we have thus decided to open those seats to affected families who find themselves near those schools.”
The Camp fire is the deadliest in California’s history, killing at least 88 people, with almost 200 still unaccounted for. It destroyed 14,000 homes and left the town of Paradise virtually non-existent. Accommodations are available for grades preschool – 12.
“Paradise it not that small of a city. It has - or had - nearly 30,000 inhabitants, so the fire left around 4,000 school kids displaced, without any schools to go back to,” said Snyder to the CNA.
Those seeking more information on available school placements can call the Catholic School Department at (916) 733-0112. Anyone wishing to contribute to the Camp Fire Student Aid Fund can find more information here.
Pope Francis Names Auxiliary Bishop to Lead Diocese of Monterey
Pope Francis has named the auxiliary bishop of Austin, the Most Reverend Daniel E. Garcia, as the new Bishop of Monterey. He succeeds Bishop Richard Garcia, who died suddenly earlier in the year.
Bishop Daniel Garcia was born August 30, 1960 in Cameron, Texas. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary's Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in 1984. He completed his Master of Divinity studies at Saint Mary's in 1988. In 2007, he earned a Master of Arts in Liturgical Studies from the Saint John’s School of Theology.
He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Austin on May 28, 1988. Since then, he has served at the parishes of St. Catherine of Siena, Cristo Rey, St. Louis, and St. Vincent de Paul, all in Austin. He also served three years in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston at St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Humble, Texas. In the Diocese of Austin, he has served as a dean and as a member of the Priests' Personnel Board, the College of Consultors, and the Diocesan Liturgical Commission, as well as a member and chairman of the Presbyteral Council.
California Wildfires: How to Help
Catholic disaster services are working to bring relief for the victims of the 2018 Camp and Woolsey fires. Below are organizations actively assisting and ways that you can support these services. If you know of more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with contact information:
- Northern Valley Catholic Social Services, part of the Diocese of Sacramento, is providing extensive relief efforts – especially in their Adopt-A-Family program and, more immediately, through gift cards so that evacuees can purchase necessities now.
- The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which operates in many parishes across the nation, also coordinates relief through its Disaster Services branch. You can follow their efforts on the Twitter feed.
- The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is providing support to the communities affected by the Woolsey and Hill fires through Catholic Charities of Los Angeles and local parishes and schools. Donations can be made here.
- Those wishing to help victims of the Camp Fire can donate at this site provided by the Diocese of Sacramento. Those in immediate need of temporary shelter, food or assistance fires can contact their parish for support services.
November 30, 2018
Vol. 11, No. 32