Dear Parishioners: Happy Independence Day! A day to remember our liberty and rejoice that we live freely. It is a time of picnics and fireworks, celebrations and homecomings. Sadly the celebration of our 4th of July was recently marred right here in our Town of East Greenwich. Just last week many homes in our local neighborhoods were littered with pamphlets that contained a racist rant. Of course they were distributed anonymously as is always the way with cowards.
So often we think of other places when we think of racism. Places far from our own homes. So often we think of other people when we think of racism. People very unlike ourselves. However, when such racist vitriol and hatred strikes so close to home we must reconsider our own attitudes and the attitudes of our entire community. This hateful act comes just as our nation continues to mourn the nine people murdered by a racist maniac in Charleston, South Carolina. Earlier this month the US Bishops gathering in St. Louis reminded us that “racism is an evil which endures in our society and in our church.” This h hateful and racist literature must always be condemned and called for what it truly is, moral evil. Writing it, passing it out and supporting it is a grave sin. Unfortunately the cowards who made this literature are likely never to be known.
As Catholics we must make it part of our faith lives to end any racism that exists in our homes, schools, neighborhoods, and churches. We must pray for the conversion of all those who hate others simply because the color of their skin that they might respect the dignity of every human person. If we reach out to our African-American neighbors and all those of other races and stand together as brothers and sisters then the cowards who promote such racist hatred might begin to realize that they are unwelcome and unwanted in East Greenwich!
Of course while East Greenwich was dealing with this unfortunate incident of racism, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. While many seem to be rejoicing is such a decision, it is truly a troubling event for those of us who hold to the traditional view of marriage. This includes not only the Catholic Church but the many faithful of other religious groups in the Protestant Community, the Orthodox Church, Mormon Community, Orthodox Judaism and Islam. This decision has many implications far beyond who can and cannot be married. The narrow decision simply casts aside the Biblical and Christian view about the nature of marriage as nothing more than mere bigotry. It also raises many serious questions about religious liberty and personal conscience for millions of Americans and their faith communities.
As Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated: “I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral conviction.”
And finally in the midst of such a tumultuous week, the RI General Assembly ended their legislative session rather abruptly. While the state budget had previously passed, much more legislation was left behind on the desk as our state leaders adjourned. Thankfully before adjournment the General Assembly did restore funding for the textbook loan program and busing that helps Catholic and private school families. They also fixed the state’s healthcare exchange program by allowing for coverage that excludes abortion in the plans. And thankfully the attempt to legalize physician assisted suicide died legislatively! Much to think about on this 4th of July as we celebrate liberty and freedom! Pray for our nation. God Bless. God Bless America. Happy Fourth of July!