Caritas Corner | The Ministry of Charity Demands Advocating for Justice

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Lady Justice


Two dates in 2020 will be etched in my memory forever:  March 13, the day COVID-19 changed everything, and May 25, the day George Floyd’s death changed everything again.  In both cases, the staff at Catholic Charities relied on prayer, faith, compassion, and innovation to help find a way forward.  As a result, we never missed a day of service to our poor and vulnerable during the coronavirus shutdown, finding new and innovative ways to help those in need.  Similarly, this last week, guided by our mission, the collective voice of our staff found words for the painful and difficult reality of racism in our society by issuing a statement. 

 While law enforcement has been central to this issue, we were deliberate in not making this a statement about police.   As an agency, we partner with local law enforcement to help our homeless, vulnerable families, and immigrant communities, and our experience has always been positive.  We would advocate for an examination of policing as it relates to race in our nation and local community rather than an all-encompassing generalization of the women and men who serve.      

 We were also deliberate in identifying black and brown lives rather than people of all ethnicities.  All life is valuable in the context of our faith; however, we believe that, at this moment, a specific focus on the communities of color that are most affected by oppression, violence, and racism is justified.

 This is our statement:

 In recent weeks, we have been reminded of America’s painful history of oppression and violence directed at our black and brown brothers and sisters. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are, sadly, only the most recent examples of racial injustice.

Throughout our 52-year history, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado has responded to the call of Jesus Christ to affirm the value and dignity of each human life. In following Christ’s example, we walk with those members of society who are vulnerable and oppressed. For these brothers and sisters, above all we seek justice: the balance necessary to fulfill Christ’s greatest commandment to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This mission and ministry call for us to raise our voices against inequity and to advocate for righteousness and renewal. The times we find ourselves in today call for us to use that voice.

Catholic Charities of Central Colorado stands in solidarity with all those who are calling for an end to racism and the systems – both overt and subtle – that allow it to fester in our communities. Words and statements alone are not enough, but silence is not acceptable. In order to wipe out the sin of racism, we must commit to working for change beyond this moment. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we must address the ways in which we are complicit and seek reconciliation. We must confront intolerance and compel ourselves first, and then our neighbors to rectify it. We must call out the systems that perpetuate persecution and eliminate or reform them. We must recognize prejudice and find meaningful, permanent solutions. We must acknowledge the ways in which we are divided and work to build bridges.

Catholic Charities commits to continue to work for dignity, unity, and equality. This common good will be fulfilled when black and brown lives are treated as equal to all lives.

Catholic Charities Mission Statement:  In response to Jesus Christ’s call to affirm the value and dignity of each human life, to build solidarity within the community, and to advocate for justice for the poor and vulnerable, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado humbly engages in the ministry of charity for those in both economic and spiritual poverty so that all – staff, volunteers, and clients – may fully achieve their God-given potential.

Andy Barton is the President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.  This article first appeared in the Colorado Catholic Herald.

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