By Vatican News
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, said Friday that “tolerance, peaceful coexistence, equal opportunities for prosperity and well-being for all” are ideals inscribed in the DNA of the United States of America. Christians, he said, have a duty to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel of love and inclusion, and to put the nation back on track.
Cardinal Farrell’s words came as he presided over a prayer service in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere organized by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic association with global reach.
The Community is deeply involved in justice and peace issues, and organized the liturgy to coincide with a march in Rome on Friday being held to show solidarity with protesters in the United States.
The prayer vigil came two days after Pope Francis said he is praying for George Floyd and all Americans, and warned against turning a blind eye to racism.
World is watching
“These days, the whole world is watching with apprehension the wave of protests that is going through many cities in the USA following the unjust death of George Floyd,” the Cardinal said. He noted that “especially for us American citizens, it is a source of great sadness to see how discrimination, prejudice and hatred on racial grounds still persist in our country.”
He reflected on how, after long years of fighting for civil rights and racial equality, it is taken for granted that certain injustices and violence of the past can never happen again.
“But we see with sorrow that this is not the case,” he added, saying that “peaceful coexistence and mutual acceptance are precious goods that must always be promoted.”
Precious contribution of Christian witness
This, Farrell said, is precisely the area in which Christians can make a precious contribution.
“We Christians must always proclaim and bear witness with our lives to the newness that the Gospel of Christ has brought to the earth,” he said. The peace that Jesus gives us as the most beautiful fruit of his death and resurrection, he said, “cannot remain a theory, it must have concrete consequences in life.”
“If the peace of Christ is truly present in the hearts of believers, there can be no more room for rivalry, for the denial of the dignity of others and for the oppression of others,” the Cardinal said.
Reflecting on the fact that the United States, since its birth, “has been multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious,” he said “the foundations on which it was built were the equality of all men, the inalienable rights to life and freedom granted by the Creator himself to all men, tolerance, peaceful coexistence, equal opportunities for prosperity and well-being for all.”
Ideals inscribed in the DNA of the USA
“These ideals,” Farrell continued, are part of the nation’s founding documents, but in the final analysis, “are nothing more than the translation of Christianity into the language of civil law.”
“That is why we Christians - every time we make Jesus' teaching known - are helping all our fellow citizens to return to the authentic ideals of our nation, its constitution and its laws,” he said.
Reflecting on Jesus’ command to "Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12,17), the Cardinal said, “This simple fact should be a strong appeal to all of us who, instead, often make distinctions based on social class, economic level, race, political affiliation.”
Avoid partial and ideological visions
Unfortunately, he continued, even among Christians a distorted way of thinking can lead to a distancing from others: “wealthy versus poor classes, intellectuals versus uncultured people, progressives versus conservatives, whites versus blacks.”
In doing so, Cardinal Farrell said, “we completely lose sight of the universal dimension of Christ's message or even end up identifying our Christian faith with the ideological vision of the side we have embraced.”
He said that the best way to promote the social good, avoiding partial and ideological visions, is to return to the purity of the Gospel received during Baptism.
He also pointed out that for Christians, “the means must always be in harmony with the end.” He highlighted that “Jesus spoke of poverty by living poorly. He spoke of the dignity of human love by living chastely. He spoke of the Father's mercy by having mercy on all, even on His enemies.”
“In this sense, one cannot hope to promote social peace through violence, one cannot overcome injustice by committing injustices and crimes even more serious than those one wishes to denounce,” he said.
Thus, Cardinal Farrell stressed, “We Christians must always urge all people of good will to unite their efforts to build together something that will remain as a lasting good for all, fleeing from the temptation to irrationally destroy what exists and to give vent blindly to their anger and frustration.”
Do not hide fear, address the lasting good
“We must not hide fear,” he continued, “on the contrary, precisely in these delicate moments of social tension we must be present to address to the true and lasting good, the just desire for equality, respect and justice that is present in the hearts of so many men and women.”
He recalled Pope Francis’ words on Wednesday during the General Audience, when he said: "We cannot tolerate or close our eyes to any kind of racism or exclusion and claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we must recognize that 'the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-destructive. Nothing is gained by violence and much is lost.'"
“When the Church makes the words of the Gospel resound,” Cardinal Farrell concluded, “she wants to be faithful to Jesus, she does not want to take one side or one category against another, she does not want to make political propaganda or proselytize for herself, but simply wants to help society to promote the common good and to create bonds of authentic brotherhood among men.”
May blood of racism's victims help US build just society
Finally, Cardinal Farrell asked the Lord “to look upon all innocent victims who have died because of injustice and racial discrimination.”
And he prayed that “their bloodshed might help our beloved nation to build a truly peaceful and fraternal society.”