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shrike3's Journal
shrike3's Journal
March 31, 2022

Ukrainians fleeing terror at home find solace in Polish church


Though the family, who had lived outside the capital of Kyiv, were brought up in the Orthodox tradition — as are most Ukrainians — differences between Orthodox and Catholic traditions and theologies mean little right now, Opanasuk said. (The Krakow parish acknowledges Pope Francis as the head of the church but practices Byzantine liturgy similar to that in the Orthodox tradition.)

What is important to Opanasuk is that she and her family are safely in Krakow, living with a Polish-American couple who volunteered to take them in and finding some solace as they contemplate next moves and try to make sense of their fate — and their country's.

Opanasuk's 62-year-old sister-in-law, also named Ludmyla but hesitant to give her full name, said she feels enormous anger over the Russian invasion and being uprooted.

"Bitter," she said. "Bitter. We were afraid for our lives."

Yet being at the church — even for a few minutes during the week to pray, sit in quiet contemplation or have the chance to talk to Senyk and another sister — is a balm, the women say.
March 31, 2022

As the Amazon loses resilience, church and popular movements strive to intervene


This article on the Amazon is written from a Catholic POV. Non-Catholics are welcome to comment so long as they observe our Safe Haven rules.

The invasions at times involve setting fire to large land extensions, which can cause uncontrolled wildfires. In the years of 2019, 2020 and 2021, there has been an outstanding number of wildfires in the Amazon as a result of deliberate human action combined with severe droughts.

But new models of producing in the Amazon and organizing its peoples point to change. Bellini explained that over the past few decades many groups have been able to set up sustainable development projects in areas of land reform.

That is the case of the initiative promoted by the late U.S.-born Sr. Dorothy Stang in Anapu, Pará State, in association with local small farmers and forest collectors. Stang, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, was shot dead in 2005 by hitmen hired by big ranchers who opposed her project and wanted to grab its lands. But the work is ongoing with the help of Stang's colleagues.

Such initiatives have also been congregating Indigenous and quilombolas in other areas of the rainforest, Bellini added. "And it is not a coincidence that invaders have been attacking exactly the lands where such guardians of the rainforest live," she said.
March 16, 2022

Why Pew's new study on Black Catholicism is critical for US church leaders


The new study tells us that 6% of Black Americans are Catholics. While this percentage is admittedly small, it still means that there are nearly 3 million Black Catholics in the U.S. Millions of people must be included in the conversation about what it means to be Catholic in our country if the conversation is going to be comprehensive. Furthermore, we learn from this study that 20% of Black Americans born in sub-Saharan Africa and 15% of Caribbean-born Black Americans identify as Catholic while only 5% of U.S.-born Black Americans identify as Catholic. These numbers tell us that Black Catholics in the United States are not a monolith. These drastically different numbers deserve further consideration by scholars and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as dioceses and parishes. Church leaders must keep this in mind in ministering to Black Catholics and creating pastoral plans. Similarly, scholars must incorporate this knowledge into their research.

The information provided by the study can, and should, inform scholars like me in addition to national, diocesan and parish leaders in our work. The large scale of this week's report offers data that just isn't possible for a qualitative researcher to collect and it affirms what my own research has found over the last 20 years. I was not surprised to learn from the full report that only 17% of Black Catholics attend a predominantly Black church and a comparable 18% of Black Catholics report a combination of call-and-response, and other expressive forms of worship during Mass. Part of my research involves examining liturgy as a form of identity work where I've discussed just this type of worship experience in detail. I've discussed at length how African American Catholics incorporate music, preaching and Church aesthetics into liturgy in order to create a unique identity as African Americans and as Catholics.

Only 41% of Black Catholics report having heard a homily on race in the 12 months prior to completing the survey and only 31% reported hearing a homily on political engagement in the same time period. The reckoning around systemic racism that we have seen over the last year has demonstrated that it is long past time for the church to regard racism as a pro-life issue. For this reason, these findings are also a call to action. A thunderous 77% of Black Catholics said that "opposition to racism is essential to what being Christian means to them," yet, only 41% reported having heard a homily on race in the twelve months prior to completing the survey. Many Black Catholics are not getting a message at Mass that they identify as something essential to being a Christian.

While most of the data were collected before the reckoning around systemic racism began in the wake of George Floyd's murder in 2020, these shocking, but not surprising, numbers will add up to losing Black Catholics if we don't see our church fighting with, and for, us for racial equality. This week's report also tells us that 46% of Black adults who were raised Catholic no longer identify as such. The aforementioned disconnect between the themes Black Catholics hear about at Mass and what they consider essential to being a Christian provides some insight as to why so many Black Catholics leave the church. The results for young adults only exacerbate this situation.

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