A Campus Ministry Response to the Hate Riots of Virginia
The rallies of hate that filled the campus of the University of Virginia and Charlottesville, VA should trouble each of us. I watched on TV with my kids and asked them why anyone would punch and kick another human being. As only a child can, my six year old said, "Dad, I just don't know. Why would anyone ever do that to someone else?"
For those under the age of forty, scenes like that in Charlottesville seem odd. We've read about these kinds of incidents but hear about them so rarely. To see an organized rally that promotes hatred seems nothing short of evil. Add to that fact that one of the events took place on the campus of UVA is even more unsettling.
Many of our clergy have been vocal about these incidents. They need our support as racism and bigotry are rarely easy topics to address in print or from the pulpit. America Magazine has this piece about the riots.
- The US Bishops have issued several statements about the Charlottesville events and you can read them here.
- Bishop DiLorenzo of the Diocese of Richmond has also issued a statement, inviting all to calm and a peaceful resolution.
What are we to do from a campus ministry perspective?
We should not only pray for peace and civil discourse but we ought to teach our students how to disagree with one another in a charitable way. If we disagree, let's find out more about the other person's perspective rather than demonize their perspective.
Beyond discourse, we also have an obligation to "call a spade a spade". In other words, when we see something that is patently wrong (like racism, bigotry, etc.), we should name it. Through our conversations with students, the use of social media and the messaging of our programs, we can gradually train up students to thoughtfully stand up for the rights of one another.
Everyone on your campus is talking about the events in Charlottesville. Don't be on the sidelines with nothing to say but add your voice to theirs, helping them make sense of these events through the lens of Catholic social teaching and Catholic moral teaching.