Last Saturday, at an open-air, interfaith “Mass for Racial Justice” service on Castle Island hosted by Gate of Heaven parish, priests from Catholic parishes in the city, faith leaders from different denominations, and elected officials heard Cardinal Sean O’Malley draw lines between the murder of George Floyd and Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan.
The event, which attracted some 200 people, was centered on a makeshift altar set up near the “Clipper Ship” obelisk on the north side of Fort Independence.
In the biblical parable, many passersby ignore an injured man who has been mugged and left to die on the side of the road, but not the “good” Samaritan. O’Malley sees parallels between the story and the way Americans choose to take up or eschew their duty to strive for racial justice.
“We have to become Samaritans,” he said. “The Samaritan did not turn his back and walk away, he could see not just the differences with the man by the side of the road, he could see his humanity, his connectedness. He wanted to be his neighbor. Racial tolerance is not enough. We need reconciliation, solidarity, and a commitment to anti-racism. We need to be a real community. We need to take care of and care for each other.”
Other speakers at the event included state Sen. Nick Collins, who helped to organize the event, and his predecessor in the state Senate, Hon. Linda Dorcena Forry, who read the Prayers of the Faithful. Bishop William E. Dickerson II of Greater Love Tabernacle in Dorchester and Boston City Councillor Lydia Edwards offered remarks as well.
“As Catholics, we believe in the redemption of our souls by the way we respond to our shortcomings,” Collins said. “For now, let’s take a moment to listen.”
Added O’Malley: “George Floyd was left by the side of the road, crushed on the ground. We cannot turn our backs and walk away without being guilty bystanders.
“George Floyd was not just murdered by a rogue police officer. He was murdered by slavery, and its legacy of racism. He was murdered by those who turn their backs on racial violence, by those people who teach their children to be prejudiced, by those who know that it is evil, but are too cowardly to speak up, by those who profit by exploiting others, by police unions who failed to see that the best way to protect good police officers is to get rid of the bad ones. We have learned this in the Church.”
He continued: “This cannot become a national contest between forces of political correctness and the forces of law and order. Then everybody loses. This cannot be about partisan politics. But if we use this moment to play politics, it will be another false start doomed to failure. Blacks and whites together, Republicans, Democrats, Independents together, people from the Blue Coasts or the red flyover states. Catholics Protestants, Jews, Muslims, agnostics and unbelievers.”