CLEVELAND (CNS) -- Never shy about her views, staunch pro-life advocate and radio program host Gloria Purvis considers racism as much a sin as abortion. Any time an affront to human dignity occurs, whether in the Catholic Church or across broader society, Purvis explained, people of faith are called to confront it. "Racism is demonic. It's the influence of the evil one to separate the human family," Purvis told Catholic News Service July 21. Along the way, Purvis knows she has made some people uncomfortable, even angry. She has publicly supported the Black Lives Matter movement and has called for reparations to descendants of enslaved African Americans, which has opened her to significant backlash. "All I'm doing is explaining the plain truth of our faith," the host of EWTN Radio's "Morning Glory" program said. "That's all I will continue to do as long as the Lord wants me to, as long as it will lead people to conversion and to Christ." A popular speaker who regularly shares church teaching on life and sexuality, Purvis has garnered a bit more attention in recent weeks as she has addressed racism on the radio program with co-hosts Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers and Msgr. Charles Pope. Her views have been amplified because of their timing, coming in the aftermath of the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, a Black man who was pinned to the ground under a white Minneapolis police officer's knee for nearly nine minutes. The death has galvanized a nationwide call for racial justice and reform of police departments.
DETROIT (CNS) -- There is an African proverb that says, "As long as a person's name is called, they never die." With the spirit of that proverb in mind, John Thorne, pastoral minister at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit and executive director of the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, created a memorial in his front yard for Black men and women whose lives have been taken unjustly, complete with crosses bearing their image and name. Thorne's homemade memorial not only serves as a remembrance, but also is a nod to African American history and the all-encompassing meaning of the pro-life movement, he said. Along with his 13-year-old son and a friend, Thorne built each cross and assembled the memorial in the front yard of his Detroit home. In early June, when he first spoke with Detroit Catholic, the online news outlet of the Archdiocese of Detroit, he had assembled 42 crosses with plans for more. Thorne said it's an opportunity for his son to learn and remember, especially because he is young enough to not know all of the stories and names. "This is a part of our history, a sad and tragic part, but something that we must pay homage to and remember so that they are not forgotten," Thorne said.
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CNS) -- Black lives matter in the Caribbean but, here, "blackness" takes on a different hue. "I'm 'red' in Trinidad, Black in the U.S.," said Trinidad-born Alison McLetchie, speaking at a virtual symposium hosted by Caribbean Theology Conference Today. In Trinidad and Tobago, "red" describes a mixed-race person of Black and white heritage; the term applies also if other races are included in the mix. A Catholic race and ethnicity professor at South Carolina State University, McLetchie later added that, growing up, she was conscious of having, "late for school hair" -- a derisive local expression for African hair -- unlike her other relatives, who sported "good hair," the term used to describe any variety of non-African hair. Centuries of slavery, indentureship and immigration in the Caribbean have peopled Caribbean islands and continental territories with a variety of white, nonwhite and mixed-race ethnicities. Nonwhites dominate the population, but, the legacy of European colonization in this region has left its people valuing "whiteness," or the nearest possible equivalent, so the lighter one's skin and the more "un-African" one's hair, the more highly one is esteemed. This carries over into commerce and culture.
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- A month after the death of George Floyd, two Philadelphia parishes -- one largely African American, the other predominantly white -- are creating what one pastor called a "template for conversations" on racial healing. A June 29 virtual town hall on the topic drew more than 120 members of St. Martin de Porres in Philadelphia and St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford. The Zoom meeting was coordinated by the parishes in response to Floyd's May 25 death while in the custody of Minneapolis police, which sparked waves of global protest against racism and police brutality. Pastors Father Stephen Thorne and Father Edward Hallinan shared their insights on overcoming racism in response to parishioner questions. The hourlong discussion was moderated by James Andrews, a St. Martin de Porres parishioner, who also is director of Black Catholic ministry in the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, and the diocese's racial justice commission coordinator; and Mary Chollet, director of ministry and communications at St. John Chrysostom. Father Thorne acknowledged that "talking about race is very, very uncomfortable," but both pastors stressed that the town hall conversation was rooted in faith.
CURRENT NEWS from IN A WORD
July 23, 2020