What if the Catholic Church in the United States were mostly black?
That question was posed to an audience at Georgetown University Monday by Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Ill., during a talk in which he asked those present to imagine themselves in a world where the Catholic Church’s imagery and culture is Afro-centric in order to broaden their thinking about race to try to better understand the everyday issues faced by nonwhites.
As he did in his January pastoral letter, “The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection for the World Day of Peace 2015,” Braxton, who is African-American, asked people to think about how they’d feel if the Catholic churches in their neighborhoods featured images of saints and God that were all dark-skinned and African in features.
Imagine that in those churches, he added, the reputation was of a “black racist institution” where people of light complexion would be unwelcome. He challenged people to consider how they’d feel about such a faith.
He then recited a lengthy list of recent cases in which African-Americans were killed in encounters with law enforcement officers.
In most of the situations, the men killed were unarmed and seemed to have posed a limited threat to others. He summarized the cases of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant III, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and others.
Braxton touched on the occasionally violent public responses to those cases, including the killing of two New York police officers. Last December, Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were killed as they sat in a squad car in Brooklyn, by a mentally unstable man who said it was in retaliation for police killings of black men. He later committed suicide.
“A growing awareness seems to be emerging that renewed efforts must be made to re-establish bonds of trust and respect between law enforcement, the judicial system and local communities,” Braxton said, quoting his pastoral letter.
In addition to the acknowledgement by law enforcement agencies that they need better training, more racial diversity, and the regular use of body cameras by officers, he added, “some young men may be becoming more aware of the importance of complying promptly with police instructions, even if they seem unfair or unjust.”
Also, he said, religious leaders “are appreciating the urgent need for them to take a more active role in bridging the racial divide, especially between young African-American men and white representatives of the law.”
Braxton cited examples of “points of agreement” in society about race.
Among them: “None of us knows with certainty what happened in any of these incidents,” and that while some young men do commit crimes and are violent, that is not a reason to demonize anyone.
Source: Crux Now | Patricia Zapor