Letters • December 14, 2020


Become agents of change

Black Catholic History month was celebrated in November, and this year our parish, St. Elizabeth, Richmond, listened to personal testimonies of what it means to be Black and Catholic. Each story witnessed faithfulness to the Gospel, concern for humanity, love of God and the teachings of the Church.

Each personal encounter embraced the Church with a respectful acknowledgement of the experiences of being Black and Catholic. As the stories were shared, I prayed that we all become agents of change who embrace cultural values and love of humankind and stand up against racial injustices.

Through truth and reconciliation, we can begin a healing process that acknowledges our true history of race relations and stand in truth and reverence so that dignity and respect for all is a shared, teachable value and belief that becomes a lived experience in all parishes. – Cathy Woodson, Richmond

What was meant by ‘right now’?

Regarding the article “Action must flow from devotion to Eucharist” (Catholic Virginian, Nov. 16). There is much reported about Cardinal Gregory’s preaching on Gospel-based charity and justice that elevates. “A deeper commitment to the needs of the poor, the forgotten… the least of [Christ’s] sisters and brothers” is always the life of a Christian. It needs reminding.

But something in the article, or in Cardinal Gregory’s address, perplexes me. This expression “the current moment” used more than once, clearly referencing “institutional racism” and “hating one’s neighbor,” in a very pointed way stresses “right now.”

What is “right now,” or the “current societal moment,” referring to? What a senator a few years ago revealed when she admonished a Black minister for Senate testimony that was very different from testimony she’d heard from other church ministers who looked like him? Too far back?

Or was the racism “right now” referring to what was revealed very recently in the statement of a major candidate for political office when he stressed to a Black journalist that you are not Black if you don’t vote for him?

Or am I wrong in thinking, as some have speculated, that he was joining his voice to the chorus that has been charging another, and those around him, for several years running, with racism, crypto-fascism, misogyny, indifference to the poor and hatred and prejudice for the immigrant? – Franklin Debrot, Spottswood

Church leaders must stand firm on moral principles

Re: “How Cardinal Gregory hopes to work with Biden” (Catholic Virginian, Nov. 30): The cardinal says he wants to have a conversational relationship with Biden and that he wishes to cooperate in areas of the social teachings of the Church while noting that there are areas where they won’t agree. Cooperation? Yes. Compromise on moral imperative? No.

One major area of disagreement is Biden’s support of legal abortion as opposed to the Catholic position of opposition to any abortion. In spite of this serious disagreement on abortion, which is contrary to Catholic teaching, Cardinal Gregory will not prevent Biden from receiving Communion.

He also says that “informed Catholics” know the teachings of the Church on the sacredness of human life so he does not believe they would be confused by the Church cooperating with Biden on other issues. Aside from the fact that this indicates that Biden is not an “informed Catholic,” there are more serious implications.

The first being that there a double standard in the Church when dealing with the elite as opposed to the average Joe. Secondly, it shows, to those who are “uninformed Catholics” and to all non-Catholics, that members of the Catholic hierarchy are willing to compromise our moral principles, indicating that the end justifies the means.

If leaders of our Church are not willing to stand firm on very serious moral principles, what can they expect of the people in the pews? Church leaders must show the courage of their Catholic convictions. As St. Thomas More said, “I am the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” – Dick Robers, Roanoke

Disappointed in bishops’ statements regarding Biden

Regarding the article, “After election, Catholic leaders pray for healing, unity” (Catholic Virginian, Nov. 16), I was deeply disappointed by the statement of Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware, congratulating President-elect Biden and expressing his hope that voters will now heed the Gospel’s call for unity.

Is Bishop Malooly suggesting that Catholics unite around Biden’s stated approval of abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy? Or perhaps he is referring to Biden’s plan to end the contraception exemption for the Little Sisters of the Poor as reported by the Catholic News Agency, July 9, 2020. Or to Biden’s full-throated support of same-sex marriage? Are these causes for unity among Catholics?

Separately, a letter from Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB, offered a very similar message, calling for national unity and adding a celebratory note that Biden would become “the second president of the United States to profess the Catholic faith.” Biden professes his faith in the Democratic Party, but I have heard nothing from him that indicates he witnesses to the Catholic faith.

It seems to me the duty of all Catholic bishops, and all clergy for that matter, is to shepherd the flock in the truth of Jesus Christ and the teachings of our Church.  Sadly, this seems to be severely lacking, at least on the part of these two bishops.

I believe many bishops have failed in guiding the faithful, especially preceding this election. How else does one explain that 49% of Catholics voted for pro-abortion Biden as reported by AP VoteCast? – Delia Laux, Charlottesville

Appreciates priest’s concern for environment

Many thanks to Father Louis R. Benoit for his letter (Catholic Virginian, Nov. 30). He deserves great credit for emphasizing the current and most recent two popes’ call for taking protection of the environment seriously, most recently in “Laudato Si’.”

It is so rare and yet encouraging to hear that Father Benoit is at least one priest in this diocese — home to great natural beauty, and with a Virginia constitutional mandate to conserve and protect our atmosphere, waters, lands and other natural resources (Article XI)) — address this need to be stewards of creation. – Gerald McCarthy, Richmond

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