Statement of the National Black Catholic Congress on the civil unrest in Baltimore

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For Immediate Release, April 30, 2015

The recent events in Baltimore, Maryland, along with those in Ferguson, Missouri and other communities in our nation, lead us to reaffirm our position as African American Catholics on the inviolate value of the Life and Dignity of every Human Person.

Deeply rooted in the Word of God and our Catholic Social Teaching, and in the spirit of the Pastoral Plan from the eleventh National Black Catholic Congress in 2012, we deplore the violence, brutality, harmful illegal and self-destructive behavior and the racism that plagues our communities. We call for prayerful, honest and peaceful dialogue that will lead to justice and truth.

Poverty and hopelessness breed violence and despair. With tragic frequency young people, our most treasured human asset, seem to be both perpetrators and victims. Not all anger and frustration manifests itself in looting or violent behavior, and many know how to positively, creatively and productively channel their frustrations.

More than ever we need a new model for engaging society on poverty and race. Faith communities have a unique and particular role to play in the healing of broken communities and are called to courageous witness. The Catholic Community in particular has been challenged by Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to enter fully into the struggles of the people who are most marginalized and on the peripheries of society. We call for a renewed a commitment to ministry with our youth and young adults, along with meaningful commitment to meet their educational, employment and other social justice needs.

As people of faith and prayer, we turn to the Risen Lord Jesus who reconciled those at enmity with each other in his own flesh. We pray that his example of self-sacrificing love for his sisters and brothers will inspire our communities and their leaders to be reconciled in these turbulent times.

We confidently invoke Mary, the Mother of Jesus to help obtain a spirit of brotherly and sisterly love among all the Father’s children. We pray that St. Joseph will inspire the formation of good, strong, wholesome family life--rooted in the sacramental union of husband and wife--so that mothers and fathers will faithfully fulfill the sacred task entrusted to them in training up their children in the way that they should go.

Finally, we invoke the intercession of the holy men and women of our community, especially St Josephine Bakhita and the Servants of God, Mother Mary Lange, Mother Henriette Delille, Father Augustus Tolton and Sir Pierre Toussaint, for prayer and guidance. They knew firsthand the sting of oppression and the liberating power of Christ’s love serve as examples of healing and reconciliation.

May our fervent prayer for lasting peace move us to work assiduously for justice.

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