Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our Authentic Heritage

This past weekend, white supremacists, homegrown admirers of Hitler, waving Nazi and Confederate flags, chanting the Nazi slogan, "blood and soil" and anti-Semitic slogans, rallied in Charlottesville ,Virginia to protest, in then name of defending their "heritage" the removal of a statue of Civil War general Robert E. Lee.
It's somehow fitting that this past weekend's shocking, disgraceful and ultimately murderous "Unite the Right" protest by the so-called alt-right (aka white supremacists), Klansmen and neo-Nazis occurred during the same week that as Catholics we remember and honor the memory of two heroic saints who died at the hands of the Nazis.

On August 14th, 1941 Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was put to death after volunteering to take the place of another Polish prisoner sentenced to death.

On August 9th, 1942 Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) was gassed at the Auschwitz death camp with hundreds of other Jews deported from the Netherlands.

The Nazis, through-going racists and anti-Semites, rationalized their genocidal campaign to eradicate completely the Jewish people as an act of "self-defense" against a Jewish world conspiracy that existed only in the depraved imagination of Hitler and those who lent their support to his murderous racist ideology.

They regarded Poles and Russians as racially inferior people,"useless eaters" destined to starve to death or work as slaves as their German overlords saw fit.

St. Teresa Benedicta and St. Maximilian Kolbe were among the millions of  Jews and peoples such as Roma/Sinti, Poles, Russians and others that the Nazis considered to be sub-human and not deserving to live, by Germans and others who cynically regarded themselves as the master race.

The message of the gospel, which they embodied, is simple: Jesus teaches us that every person and all peoples are loved, cherished and redeemed by God; that all men and women are brothers and sisters; that love is more powerful than hatred.

Despite our own faults, failings and sins, as disciples of Jesus, as Catholics, this is our authentic heritage.

Let us resist with all of our strength the pathetically ignorant but pernicious pathologies of white supremacy, racism and anti-Semitism.  

Let us pray for the conversion of those who have given themselves over to the service of such vile, hateful and sinful ideas.

Let us work together for a better, more just and more equitable society that we can take pride in again.

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