Day 28 – 90 Days to Peace

Day 28 – 90 Days to Peace

“Freedom from Racism” by Fr. Bill Peckman

As dominant a topic as racism is today, the word is only 140 years old in usage. I have been reading the book The Guarded Gate by Daniel Okrent. He traces how both nativism and eugenics in 19th Century America and Northern Europe led to the closing of the U.S.A.’s doors to immigrants in the 1920’s from groups deemed to be lesser races. Race didn’t exclusively refer to the color of one’s skin as it does today. Races were divided by religion and nationality as well. The likes of Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge would have been indignant at the idea that a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) such as himself, would have been put in the same race as Poles, Russians, Slavs, Italians, Spaniards, Irish Catholics, Catholics, or Jews. This type of racism found its most deadly form in the Third Reich in Nazi Germany. Hitler, being a northern European, also sent Slavs, Poles, Roma (aka Gypsies), Russians, Catholics (especially clergy and seminarians), as well as Jews to the concentration/death camps.

The notion of racism these days fully arises out of eugenics. For those who do not know what eugenics is, it is a belief that humanity can become a super race by eliminating what are considered lesser strains, or human “weeds”. English scientist Thomas Galton began this controversial study based on the extension of the work of his cousin, Charles Darwin. The Nativist movement in the U.S. and the U.K. picked up on this and found a particular champion in America with Planned Parenthood founder, Margaret Sanger. It was she who designated the entirety of those with black skin to be among the lesser of humanity, taking a view of them akin to the slave traders and owners who 50 years prior sought to keep them enslaved.

Racism is another way that Satan sets us against each other. It is another potent dividing line. Although he doesn’t address race in his epistles (mainly because the concept is non-existent), St. Paul writes many times how these manmade divisions are inappropriate to the Body of Christ. He says that in Christ, there is no male or female, Jew or Greek, slave or freeman (Galatians 3:28). It takes little effort to imagine he would extend this to the idea that in Christ there are no races, but that all in Christ are one despite manmade differentiations and the superior/inferior delegations we put to them.

Racism is tearing apart our country right now. It is a tool used by people with hopes of tearing down this country and reconstituting it as a communist or socialist nation. Both ideologies require struggles between an oppressed class and oppressor class to justify upending the system. They have simply borrowed the categories from other totalitarian groups, such as the Nazi’s, and tweaked them to suit the new narrative. They can do this because we have 150 or so years of fomenting the idea of racism.

There have been incidents of racism within the Church. When one looks at the story of Fr. Augustine Tolton, declared venerable by the Church, we see a black man and former slave who was called by God to the priesthood yet could not find an American seminary to take him. I believe that racism, in a soft form, has largely gutted inner city parishes where the natives refused or failed in evangelizing the new people moving in because they didn’t look like them. To be honest, I have heard more than a few times, vile racial slurs from those who claim to be good Catholics. Such things, as St. Paul would remind us, are wholly unacceptable behaviors for a follower of Jesus and have no place within the Body of Christ.

It is our society that likes dividing the population into separate corporate bodies to pit them against each other. Certainly, more nefarious political systems need and thrive upon such divisions. Within the Body of Christ, this is wholly evil. One of the marks of the Church is ‘One’ —that is, that we are one in Christ. That oneness is not subservient to worldly divisions and political jostling. Consider that the Catholic Church has over 1.4 billion members. Those 1.4 billion come from every conceivable culture, language, and skin color, yet we are called to be one. That oneness starts here and stretches to eternity.

What is needed is wisdom, that gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to see one another as Christ sees us. First and foremost, He sees each of us as needing God’s love and grace. He sees each of us as redeemable and worth the price of the Cross. We need to see each other in such a light. When someone searching comes upon us, they should not see us looking like the world, but they should see us in stark contrast to the world. We don’t seek to divide what is called to be one. Over the years, I have thought it asinine to make judgements about the character of a person based on how much melanin happens to be in their skin. Wisdom leads us to truth. Truth leads us to love. God is love. Let us pray for the courage to look at the agent provocateurs who use race (and any other category they can find) to pit us against each other, and instead choose to love each other as God loves us. (From “Let Freedom Ring“)


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