Last weekend there was a mild debate in the rectory among the priests as to what we should properly call Monday’s holiday. Is it “Victory Day” or “VJ Day”? Officially it is named “Victory Day” and Rhode Island is the only state that still celebrates it as a holiday. When I was a child it was always called “VJ Day” as it marked the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II.
The day had special significance in my household as my late Father was a combat veteran of the Second World War. He fought the German Army and the Nazi regime in Italy. My Father always told me that if Japan had not surrendered he would have been shipped to the Pacific for an invasion of Japan. Therefore, he always insisted on calling the holiday, “VJ Day.” Well, no matter what we call it, what is important is that we remember its historical significance. And also remember the sacrifice made by America’s Greatest Generation. They helped to defeat the hatred and violence of the Japanese and German fascists regimes.
How terribly sad it was to learn of the last weekend’s tragedy in Virginia where agroup of neo-Nazis and White Supremacists gathered to publicly display their racist and hateful ideas. Violence erupted and a young woman lost her life. How very tragic and sad that such hate and violence should take place as we mark the defeat of fascists in World War II. The racist message espoused by these neo-Nazis and White Supremacists is repugnant and reprehensible. It is an affront to all right thinking Americans but especially to America’s Greatest Generation who sacrificed so much to defeat the racist and hateful ideology of the Nazis.
It wasn’t lost on me that as we marked Monday’s civic holiday, the Church celebrated the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan Priest who died at the hands of the Nazis at Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Inspired by the truth of Jesus Christ, St. Maximilian resisted the racist ideology of the Nazi regime with every ounce of his being. In the ultimate sacrifice, he gave up life to save a fellow prisoner from execution at the hands of their Nazi captors.
With his in mind, let us pray for end to racism, hatred and violence of all kinds and let us reject the Nazi and bigoted ideology displayed in Virginia. News reports indicate that these Nazis are bringing their racist and hateful message to Boston this weekend. Their sinful and evil message of racism and hatred must be condemned and rejected at everyone of us.
In light of the tragedy in Virginia, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement: "Our prayer turns to the people of Charlottesville who offered a counter example to the hate marching in the streets. Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country. We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love's victory over every form of evil is assured."
Let it be very clear that racism of all kinds and anyone expressing hatred for another because of the color of his or her skin, is always evil. In Catholic teaching, racism is considered an intrinsic evil on par with a the evils of abortion, assisted suicide and torture. In moral theology, this means it can never be justified. It is always, under every circumstance, evil. And the events of last weekend serve to remind us, perhaps with even more urgency now that we are called reject such evil and work for its end. This goes far beyond any politics. There are no two sides to this issue. There is only one side. We can only stand against the evil of racism.
St. John Paul taught us: “Racism is a sin that constitutes a serious offence against God. To oppose racism we must practice the culture of reciprocal acceptance, recognizing in every man and woman a brother or sister with whom we walk in solidarity and peace. The Church asks all believers to make their own responsible contribution of conversion of heart. ”Let us unite against all racism and pray for the end of such evil and hatred.
We say “So Long” to Fr. Connors who returns to Rome this week. Do good. Be well. God Bless. Go Sox!