CATHOLIC SOCIAL WORKERS NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
A Call to Action:
Response to the May 25, 2020 Killing of George Floyd
In response to the brutal, power-abusing police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, as Catholic Social Workers we align with a position as stated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father.” (Brothers and Sisters to Us, 1979).
Call to Self-Examination
Acknowledging that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), in humility we ask “search me, O God, and know my heart; test me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24). May divine illumination reveal our own inner prejudices or resentments, which if not racial still result in micro- or macro-aggressions wounding, alienating, marginalizing and disadvantaging others while also offending the Creator of us all.
Call to Repentance
Starting with our own conscience-examination, as Catholic Christians we urge all people of faith to embrace this commitment and divine promise: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land,” (2 Chronicles 7:14-16). A valuable concept to incorporate is confession of generational sins committed long before our time but reverberating through generations until acknowledged and used to recalibrate conscience and behavior (Exodus 34:6-7). Such accountability for behaviors violating others – and inevitably self – destructive – has been correlated by researchers, mental health practitioners and such groups as Alcoholics Anonymous to relationship restoration as well as enhanced well-being, recovery from addiction, and upgraded competencies.
Call to Action
Our Code of Ethics prioritizes well-being of all people, empowerment of the vulnerable, social justice and social change. In that spirit, we embrace the May 29, 2020 USCCB challenge to “find substantive ways to enact systemic change.”
To that end, our CSWNA response not only to the tragedy of George Floyd’s killing in police custody but to racism, oppression and violence wherever it continues includes:
- Rights and Responsibilities: We seek both rights and responsibilities in all sectors of society and between those sectors. An informed population able to identify rights and secure justice for themselves and others is essential to guard rights and require responsibility. Accelerating education efforts on such issues, we are expanding forums for diversified voices to address social justice issues in our professional conferences, spheres of influence and among the populations we serve.
- Role of Government and Subsidiarity: As citizens, we seek more robust defense of government truly “of, by and for” the people, with elected, justice system and law enforcement officials as servants not masters of the American people. As Catholics, we embrace the subsidiarity concept, with government functions concentrated at the lowest possible level for efficacity, reinforcing accountability and responsiveness of officials to those they serve. To protect the U.S. population from chronic abuses of power, we seek proactive measures, such as a recommendation by the National Black Police Association requiring police officers to restrain or arrest a fellow officer if witnessed using undue force, and to hold them accountable for such self-regulation. We demand that social and legal principles be applied equally to all populations, which Martin Luther King, Jr., warned is a policy essential to protect the vulnerable.
- Family, Community and the Common Good: Believing that well-functioning families are not only a divinely designed foundation for human personality formation but also highly predictive of life-long well-being, we recommit to helping those we serve achieve cohesive, competent, nurturing families and support systems. To that end, we oppose violence too often threatening the lives and families and destroying the property and income sources of the very populations supposedly being defended. But we fervently support peaceful protests against injustice – historically proven as a powerful tool for liberating oppressed populations and transforming national trajectories.