Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
So, how we all doing in the hellscape of America? Good? Good.
Your friendly neighborhood Catholic pagan has an invitation for you at this time. I’d love for everyone to take a second and read Nostra Aetate. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Ok, now that you’re done not doing that, I’ll let you in on what it is and why I want us all to read it. Nostra is a declaration by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965, regarding the Catholic Church and her relation to non-Christian religions.
You seeing where I’m going with this yet?
Banning a whole people from a country, marking people as “illegal”, calling an entire religious group automatically dangerous…these things may ring familiar.
Regardless, there is a message of action and attitude toward other peoples in Notra Aetate. Pope Paul VI encourages Catholics to remember Christianities birth in Judaism and to recognize them as people of the same God.
Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
Of Muslims, the Pope says, “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.” Tied up in this message of a shared God and the morality of Muslims is something greater than historically connected belief systems.
The declaration, in highlighting for Catholics specific historical and spiritual connections with other people, is really reminding us of the value and dignity of all people’s which, in a Catholic view, comes from creation by God and in His image. He relates that, “We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God.
I’m not trying to do any theology here, really. I’m just a religious studies major who recently had to read this declaration for a class, and as I read the call I became aware of the failings of Christians as a whole, including moderate and apolitical Catholics, to support others in this time of injustice and discrimination.
We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God.
Meaning, to all of us, it is time to stand actively against these actions instead of living in our safety, recognizing all people as our family in need of protection.
And if you don’t want to do that, if you think you aren’t part of the problem, I’d like to introduce you to an MLK Jr. quote that you likely won’t see in mainstream media:
“First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” – Letter From a Birmingham Jail
A final note: does my cover photo for this post seem contradictory to a Catholic view? Yes. Do I care? Not really. Punch a nazi, it’s the American spirit.