LIMA — Catholic Bishops across the U.S. have called for the faithful to participate in a day of prayer and fasting against racism. Some participated on Aug. 28, and others are doing so between now and Sept. 9.
The invitation comes after days of protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake, the black man who was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He survived but is paralyzed.
In their Pastoral Letter Against Racism, Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, from November 2018, the Catholic bishops of the United States wrote, “Racism occurs because a person ignores the fundamental truth that … all (humans are) equally made in the image of God.”
Bishop Daniel Thomas, bishop of the Diocese of Toledo, asked parishioners and parishes throughout the diocese to mark Sept. 1 as a day of prayer and fasting against racism.
In Lima, the parishes of St. Rose and St. John Catholic Church met Tuesday night at St. Rose Church for a prayer service, in the hopes of eliminating racism.
Elizabeth Parker is a member of the St. Rose Social Justice Committee, an organization that helped the service.
As a Black woman, she’s experienced racism throughout her 65 years and believes things have gotten worse under President Donald Trump.
“When Trump announced his candidacy, and he comes up with his slogan of ‘Make America Great Again,’ for me as a Black woman, it told, ‘Uh oh, he wants to go back to the days of John Wayne and the good old boys.’ A friend of mine, who’s now passed on, we would talk politics two or three times a week and I said, ‘What’s that tell you, Diane?’ And she said, ‘He wants to make it really white.’ And I said, ‘exactly.’ And he may not have meant it as such, but it was like a proverbial dog whistle to the white supremacist groups and the hate mongers. ‘Oh, we got somebody covering our back so we can do whatever we want to now,’” Parker said.
So what can the Catholic Church do to stem the tide of racism?
“Be more transparent, more inclusive — but it goes beyond just one particular denomination. This has got to be a society-wide thing. It’s disillusioning but I have faith that ultimately Dr. King’s dream of people being judged on their character, not the color of their skin, will come to fruition. It’s got to — if we as a society are going to survive,” Parker said.
Father David Ross, parochial administrator for St. John and St. Rose parishes said in a statement that, “It is sad to note that racism is still agonizingly apparent in our society. Prayer is a powerful antidote to this sin. When our community gathers to beg for heaven’s mercy, it can be healing indeed.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.