Pope sends anti-racist message to Black Brazilian clergy

The priests introduced themselves as "descendants of Mother Africa" and mentioned the murder of George Floyd
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[Brazilian Priests\Pope Francis]
National Catholic Reporter: "Why can't a Black priest can't be a bishop? Is the choice connected to white supremacy?" the clergymen continued, also saying they are tired of "vain and careerist diplomats."
Photo: YouTube

Pope Francis' response to a letter about racism in the Catholic Church, sent to him by a group of Brazilian priests and bishops, has been received with hope by Black Catholic activists across the South American country.

The letter had been sent to the pope on June 19 by the group Padres e Bispos da Caminhada (roughly, Walking Priests and Bishops), which includes many progressive Brazilian clergy.

It was signed by 83 priests and five bishops and addressed themes such as alleged harassment of Black seminarians and the barriers for Black priests who wish to become bishops.

The group's missive began with the citation of a few verses from a long poem written by the Brazilian abolitionist author Castro Alves, called "The Slave Ship." Published in 1870, it describes the horrors of the transatlantic crossing of captured Africans who were taken to the Americas.

The priests introduced themselves as "descendants of Mother Africa" and mentioned the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, connecting it to their own experiences.

"Getting straight to the point, we, Black priests, in order to answer to the call of Jesus Christ, our Lord, as laborers of His Harvest, feel during our formation our educators' knees pressing our necks," the letter said. "We know what the outcry 'I can't breathe' means."

The priests said they had been "mocked" and "undervalued" during their formative years, always remaining "silent" and "choked up," fearing they might not be approved to receive holy orders.

The group also questioned the process for choosing bishops in the country, claiming that the Vatican embassy, known formally as an apostolic nunciature, "operates without duly consulting the local churches, not even the bishop that will be replaced due to his age."

"In a country of Black [populational] majority, may we have more Black bishops," the priests asked.

"Why can't a Black priest can't be a bishop? Is the choice connected to white supremacy?" the clergymen continued, also saying they are tired of "vain and careerist diplomats."

The pope opened his response, which was written by hand and dated Sept. 9, with praise for Alves' verses, which was widely seen in Brazil as a sign of his commitment to the struggle against racism.

Francis said he will take into consideration what the Brazilian priests told him and said he feels "close" to them.

Read rest of story here: https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/answering-letter-black-brazilian-...

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