Sunday, November 27, 2016

Year of Mercy


Pope Francis declared 2016 to be the "Year of Mercy."  His declaration was well publicized.  Proof is still wanting about whether or how seriously an appreciable number of Roman Catholic clerics, lay individuals and lay leadership groups have heeded the pope’s message and acted upon it.  

Negative personal attacks between presidential nominees and their supporters have made 2016 among the worst of political campaigns.  There continues to be an urgent need for more Catholic politicians and clerics to step forward and do more than lip service to stem the tide of negativity. 


The continued lack of naming African American priests to the level of cardinal demonstrates that the African American segment of God’s ministries continues to be invisible in the eyes of individuals/groups who have vetted clerics Pope Francis has inducted as cardinals.  Some individuals or groups with clout had to have brought to his attention the merits of the final finalists.  According to a write-up in the October 21-November 3, 2016 issue of the National Catholic Reporter, there were “…only 13 spots for cardinal electors…” Consequently, only 13 were made cardinals.   The rule is that cardinal electors must be under the age of 80.  College of Cardinal members (electors) elect popes.   

Pope Francis gave recognition to clerics over the age of 80 by naming them to what I consider to be honorary cardinals:  Archbishop Anthony Soter is retired and from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Bishop Renato Corti is retired and is from Novara, Italy; Bishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai is retired and is from Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho; and Father Ernest Simoni has not been listed as retired but he is from the archdiocese of Shkodre-Pult, Albania.                                            

Pope Francis has been quoted as saying that his main concern was “to have a balance of representation from around the world.”  Since no African Americans are among the electors or honoree cardinals, the balance is skewed; the selection of cardinals is diverse, but not totally inclusive.


Individuals/groups who advise Pope Francis or who make suggestions to him have demonstrated that they follow a pattern of ignoring African Americans. The cultures of native Africans and South and Central American blacks who have ascended to the level of cardinal differ from the culture of African Americans, which puts African Americans in a different and distinct category.  Consequently, adding black images to the College of Cardinals does not compensate for the snubbing of Americans of African descent.

Chicago’s own archdiocesan leader, Cardinal Blasé Cupich, is one of three American clerics elevated to the level of cardinal.  Based upon his background and experience, Cardinal Cupich certainly deserves the honor. Moreover, he should and does appear to serve his constituents impartially.  His first parish visit after being assigned to the Chicago Archdiocese was to an African American church where the church’s previous pastor, Daniel McCormack, was criminally convicted for sexually abusing boys.  During Archbishop Cupich’s visit to that church, he made a public apology for McCormack’s atrocities.

In lieu of my aforementioned observations of racism within the Roman Catholic Church, a plausible question is: Why an appreciable number of Roman Catholic African Americans still profess faith in the Roman Catholic Church?  Garry Wills in his book, WHY I AM A CATHOLIC, published in 2002, covers reasons that could be attributed to why Roman Catholic African Americans continue to believe in the Roman Catholic Church.  Father Byron Massingale, who is reported to be joining the faculty of Fordham University, has during speaking engagements voiced his reasons for continuing his Roman Catholic priesthood.  His highly acclaimed book, Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, also, posits his reasons for remaining Catholic and a priest. 

A pertinent question that can be asked is, if Roman Catholic clerics/lay groups/politicians/individuals, etc., who have been traditionally active in discriminating against minorities, particularly African Americans, actually believe in life after death, where do they envision themselves to be when they pass onto eternal life?

1 comment:

  1. You point out the obvious lack of inclusion and it is bewildering that the Catholic hierarchy can continue to ignore the issue of diversity within the institution generation after generation. You were so right to point out that in these times of unprecedented political division and negativity, the Vatican had an obligation to lead in the opposite direction, and failed to deliver because of this festering ongoing systemic problem.