New York parish anti-racism pledge prompts controversy

Denver Newsroom, Sep 3, 2020 / 11:26 am (CNA).-  

A New York priest said his parish added a “pledge for racial justice” to Masses as part of its anti-racism initiatives, and that no one at the parish is required to participate in it. While video of the pledge has been the subject of criticism in the media and from some Catholics, the Archdiocese of New York has not commented on the matter.

“Under the sponsorship of the Pastoral Council, we held a prayer service for the victims of racism and commissioned our Sacred Space ministry to produce a display so that there would be heightened awareness. In that context, someone found a version of the pledge from a Unitarian Church in Texas,” Fr. Kenneth Boller, SJ, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in New York City, told CNA Sept. 2.

“We invite people to take the pledge after the post communion prayer and before the final blessing-a time when many churches have announcements. People are invited to respond yes to each question. Some choose not to. That's fine,” Boller added.

Liturgical law prohibits the addition of any components to Mass that are not prescribed by Church rubrics.

The General Instruction for the Roman Missal directs that each priest “must remember that he is the servant of the sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass.”

Similarly, the Second Vatican Council’s apostolic constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium, says that no person, “even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”

For his part, Boller told CNA that the pledge is part of a broader effort in the parish to be attentive to racial justice.

“After the death of George Floyd our parish wished to be more pro-actively anti-racist.  There had been a book discussion group on racism  for 18 months and there was a recent history of dialog with an African-American Catholic parish in Harlem,” the priest said.

The pledge asks whether Catholics “support justice, equity, and compassion,” and affirm that “white privilege and the culture of white supremacy must be dismantled wherever it is present.” It also asks whether Catholics commit “to help transform our church culture to one that is actively engaged in seeking racial justice and equity for everyone,” and affirm “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

The pledge gained attention earlier this week, when a redacted video of its recitation began circulating online. On Sept. 2, Fox News television host Tucker Carlson erroneously reported that the pledge, which he called “talking points from BLM” had “replaced the Nicene Creed” at the parish. In the same segment, commentator Eric Metaxas said that if the parish “had a swastika on the altar, it would be no different.”

“The people who are using these new terms — systemic racism or white privilege — these are Marxists,” Metaxas added. “If you do not reject this with everything you have, you are bringing about the death of Christian faith in America,” he said.

The U.S. bishops’ conference 2018 pastoral letter on racism, “Open Wide our Hearts” laments “years of systemic racism working in how resources are allocated to communities that remain de facto segregated.”

In June, Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, who is Black, wrote that “Prejudiced and racist attitudes of individuals also infiltrate institutional structures and organizations, thus forming the foundation for systemic racism….The residual effects of these attitudes are still felt by many Catholics of color today.”

The Archdiocese of New York told CNA it had no comment on the pledge and the controversy that surrounded its recitation during Mass.


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  1. No comment from the archdiocese? Dolan is worthless. This screams for disciplinary action and a swift condemnation. The Mass is not an ideological plaything, most especially not for the woke fake Catholics who misuse worship as an opportunity to virtue signal to their friends and to brainwash or coerce people into compliance with their preferred political positions that have no relevance to Catholic faith nor the purpose of the Mass. What that Jesuit pastor did to the liturgy is analogous to what rioters and looters have done to businesses. The pastor looted the Mass of its holiness and rioted with words to make congregants who disagree with him feel unsafe.

  2. The term “systemic racism” is accurate in so far as it describes disparate treatment sanctioned in law be it the old, long repealed “Jim Crow” laws, or there modern day equivalent of court mandated racial set asides and quotas, or publicly or privately mandated”sensitivity training” and the like. The imposed notion that only certain racial groups can be “racist” but not others is a like manifestation. It is a term that should be discarded altogether.

  3. It is my belief that the term “white privilege” is a negative term as it portrays an entire group of humans with a negative brush. Any time a groups is singled out like this priest did with a negative term that its intention is to coerce a capture audience to comply to a belief that they nay not agree with is right out of the Marxist or Nazi play book.

    I believe the priest changed the Mass and that is not allowed by Church doctrine. He needs to be disciplined or at severally admonished. I for one go to Mass for the grace, not to hear a priest perform a political rally.

    If the Priest want to hold a political rally, let him do it off Church grounds. This kind of behavior can drive parishioners to relocate to another parish.

    M. Rose

    M. Rose

    • I agree with you 1,000%. Do not tamper with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We already renew our baptismal vows each year. We know right from wrong. We do not need or want adherence to Marxist playbook or their divisive name-calling. This priest had better not be the new role model. The parishioners should be wary not complicit.

  4. Father Z has a posting about this incident, complete with video (1 min. 32 sec.) and a transcript of the travesty:

    Wacko New York City Jesuits

    On his program on Fox News on September 2, Tucker Carlson (a protestant) thought it worthwhile to express his dismay, right before he interviewed Eric Metaxas.

  5. A Catholic priest gets a pledge from a Unitarian Church and has everyone recite it at Mass. Any more brilliant ideas where this one came from?

  6. I am a catholic, a eucharistic minister and Confirmation PSR teacher at my local parish and this sickens me. This church is straying off the lesson plan of Jesus. To back a group that will not recognize that all life matters is a disgrace. I listened to the video of this pledge and it was like hearing lambs going off to slaughter.
    Even if white privilege was a real word it would be those hard working white people that risked their lives to hide slaves, free slaves, created affirmative action bills to be passed in congress and make up the 90% of monies donated to black communities, programs and lives today. Separate church and state!

  7. This is disgraceful and a very bad idea in a church that is already struggling for it’s life due to the damage it’s clergy has caused in the past. I wrote to the Archdiocese…didn’t get a response yet.

  8. Thank you for having the courage to soeak up. As a devout Catholic and former President of a Boston A.O.H. division #6 I was sickened and shocked by that phony clerics abomination of Mass. He needs to take an oath and a stand against his own prejudices. Is white privilege working 2 jobs to support my family? Missing kids events to give my world of family and friends a better life? An absolute disgrace. Do they wonder why families like mine are going to Real Christian churches in droves. It is so uplifting and truly spiritual. They librralism and their pedophilia culture have destroyed a BEAUTIFUL 2000 and 20 year religion. They have the audacity and contempt to cajole some innocent believers into an oath. When they take an oath against pedophilia and acknowledge they destroyed our lovely faith with their cover-up..Then ask your hypocritical oath of us…

  9. Today is 10/3. Has there been any corrective action taken by our Catholic leaders? Of not, why not. Shame on the church for letting this go untouched!

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