The events in Charlottesville, Virginia last Saturday are a national tragedy. They have left many feeling despair and hopelessness. I have been reluctant to speak out for one reason: I struggle to know what to say.
Like many of you, I was horrified by this display of hate, racism, and anti-Semitism and have spent the week trying to make sense out of these events and the response of our President.
On Friday, I had coffee with a dear friend who is of the Jewish faith. He said many things but two comments compelled me to action. First, as he shared the story of his parents escaping Nazi Europe he mused, “I never thought this kind of hate would happen here.” And then he challenged me by calling on the Sisters and Mercy Housing to speak out.
At a time like this, the Sisters and leaders of their sponsored ministries must make our opinions known. For silence suggests, at best, complacency and, at worst, consent.
Today, I begin a series of communications aimed at exploring the impact of this tragedy, the events of this week, and those certainly to come. How can we together make sense of this senselessness? What can we do to counter this hate-filled rhetoric? I start by sharing with you the statement released by the leadership team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. And as the statement calls us to action by publicly condemning white supremacy and racism I want to make it very clear: at Mercy Housing, we believe there is no place in this world for white supremacy, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, or any act of hatred directed against a group of people. We will work together to counter that hatred and bring hope to our communities.
Statement from the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – August 14, 2017
The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas join with all who are suffering with grief, anger and utter bewilderment at the display of racism, white supremacy and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends affected by the deaths of Heather Heyer and two police officers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. Bates, and the many injured.
Tragedies like this one continue to spotlight our society’s institutionalized structural racism. While this latest incident has caught the attention of our nation, we know that every day people of color in this country feel threatened by its impact. Our ongoing failure to see ourselves and all of creation as one perpetuates our separation; our sense of “we” and “they” only serves to diminish all of us.
As Sisters of Mercy, we believe that racism is an evil affecting us all. We continue to call ourselves to pray and be present with others working to recognize and systemically dismantle racism and build a culture of nonviolence. We stand in solidarity with all who speak out to proclaim the power of our Gospel of love and the values and principles of dignity consistent with Catholic Social Teaching.
This bold display of hateful rhetoric and action impels us to call on elected leaders, and all people, to explicitly and publicly condemn white supremacy and racism and the organizations that embolden and encourage the movement.
May this grieving time call us to search our hearts and ask, what are the ways in which we perpetuate this culture of violence and fear? What actions will we take in response? What truths will we speak to contribute to dialogue that brings unity, peace and comfort to those who are afraid?
We must continue to act.