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Bishop Burbidge offers Mass for the eradication of racism, end to injustice

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Joined by leaders of the black Catholic community, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated a livestreamed Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice June 8 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. 

Bishop Burbidge noted that the Mass marked two weeks “since the brutal and incomprehensible” death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked a nationwide wave of protests of racial inequality and police brutality.

“We pray for justice in our world reflected in our absolute expectation that law enforcement officials never abuse their authority with excessive, unacceptable and cruel force,” Bishop Burbidge said. “We pray for the eradication in our nation of racism, injustice and all evil actions that fail to revere the sacredness and dignity of each and every person.”

He called those gathered “to first confess to God the things we have said or done to contribute to any form of racism and discrimination and/or for the times we did nothing to prevent them. Confessing before the community helps us to seek healing for the pain we may have caused others, our brothers and sisters in Christ. “

Bishop Burbidge said that “now more than ever, we must bring our faith into the public arena and allow the Lord to use our voice as we advocate strongly for a more just society. We ask God to send us his Holy Spirit for the courage and fortitude we need to be his faithful witnesses even when it means we must suffer or be rejected by others for defending all that is holy, right and just.”

He said, “God has always called us to act with justice and live in peace. In this Mass, he says to us, ‘Put on love. Let the peace of Christ control your hearts.’ For only then dear friends can we sing confidently, 'Justice will flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.' ”

Several priests from across the diocese concelebrated the Mass, including Father Robert C. Cilinski, pastor of Church of the Nativity in Burke; Josephite Father Donald Fest, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Alexandria; and Father Michael J. Bazan, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Manassas. 

Deacon Al A. Anderson Jr. of St. Joseph Church in Alexandria read the Gospel and assisted at the Mass, and the reader was Beverly Carroll, vice chair of the diocesan Black Catholic Ministry. Other members of the Black Catholic Ministry, as well as members of the diocesan Multicultural Council and the diocesan Peace and Justice Commission were in attendance. More than 1,400 watched via livestream. 

UPDATE: At 7 p.m., the diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries organized a "Rosary for the Preservation of Peace and Justice” conference call with Bishop Burbidge and members of the diocesan multicultural community. Bridget Wilson, director of the office, estimated that about 300 people participated. She said rosary conference calls have been a regular practice within the multicultural community for years. The prayers on the call also included a prayer to end racism, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' 2018 pastoral letter against racism, "Open Wide Our Hearts." 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020