1985 Sept 15 – 24th Sun Ord Time (Bulletin Letters)
It’s been brought to my attention in a loving and caring way that there are people in our parish communities who have had a difficult time with the social justice emphasis I have brought to the ministry. Particularly, some people are troubled by the consistent way in which I preach on these issues at our Sunday services. There may well be truth in this concern, and to the extent my focus on the social justice agenda of the Gospel and the Church has been a cause for excluding members of our parish communities I am sorry. It is not my intent to exclude or force out any one member of our St. Anne’s and Holy Family Faith Community.
Preaching is such a personal thing. I have and will continue to preach directly from the Word of God as given in our scripture readings. Of course, scripture does not speak by itself; a human encounter is required to give life to the Word of God. Each priest and preacher brings to the pulpit their own unique ‘faith’ and life experiences. Much of my adult life has been spent in an urban setting working with poor and oppressed people with the Catholic Worker Movement.
The social injustices of war, racism, poverty, sexism and violence are more than abstract issues for me. They are evils that are hurting very real people I’ve come to know as friends, people who are suffering because of our acceptance of these evils within our social, political and economic structures.
I know I’m not in the city any longer and I will try to be more sensitive to where you are coming from. I ask you to be more open to the social justice direction our church has taken the last few years. As the U.S. Bishops made clear in 1972 “action on behalf of justice is a constituent part of the Gospel ministry.” Some peoples reaction to my social justice preaching may well be an indication of how uncomfortable we all are with the recent social agenda our church has embraced. We are all groping in these areas.
I want to be a pastor to you all. I want to be with you in the good times as well as the bad times and to be a person of faith you can count on for prayer and support. As a citizen I may well have some far-fetched ideas, yet as a pastor I’ll be with you regardless of your political or economic disposition. I ask you to bear with me as I try to wed my urban experience to your rural life, my activist past to my priestly role, and my city heart to a country soul.