By Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, Clarion Herald Commentary
Among the many documents of the Second Vatican Council, in particular the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” the church encourages us to examine the “signs of the times” and interpret those signs in the light of the Gospel.
There are many current issues that demand our attention and require us to interpret them in light of the values of Jesus. I’d like to reflect on a few.
The first is racism. Racism is alive and well in the United States and likewise in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Because of race, people are sometimes overlooked or treated unfairly. It is Jesus who reminds us that God has created all of us in his image and likeness and that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
One of the ways in which we in the archdiocese have responded to racism in our midst is to sponsor monthly peace walks, coordinated by our Racial Harmony Committee. That committee also is eager and available to present workshops to parishes or deaneries that encourage all of us to respect one another and to see Christ in others.
Sometimes we hear people say, “There’s no racism in our community.” Sometimes it is those very communities that have been blinded to the sin of racism and need prayer and self-examination.
Immigration is another issue that needs our attention. We are mindful that many undocumented children in detention centers in the United States are not treated humanely and often are separated from their families.
The Catholic Church has never said the United States should simply open its borders and let everybody come in. However, Catholic social teaching reminds us that we as a nation must reach out to those who are fleeing persecution in their homeland and desire a safer and better quality of life. We should encourage our Congressional representatives to look carefully at our immigration laws to find a way to foster justice and charity.
In recent years, sadly, we have experienced so many mass murders, which raises the question of requiring better background checks for gun owners or some form of gun control. I do not have the answer, but I pray and beg Congress to look carefully at this issue.
No community in America is immune to violence and even mass murder. We see violence in our own archdiocese, sometimes with guns, other times with words. We must become a more respectful society and find better ways to resolve our disputes.
We hear off and on about human trafficking, but sometimes we don’t realize that this is a grave issue in the New Orleans area. It is said that I-10 is one of the most frequently traveled corridors for human trafficking. We have many people in the archdiocese who are committed to bringing safety to those who are being used. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery.
This certainly is not meant to be an exhaustive list of social justice concerns. This may serve as a beginning for all of us to listen a little more attentively and sensitively to issues in our society that do not reflect the values of Jesus.