America’s bishops have been struggling to regain their balance ever since the lockdowns began. Financial ruin faced our schools, parishes, even entire dioceses. Catholics everywhere were starving for the sacraments. Recently, a brave few prelates dared to shed the onerous handcuffs imposed by their Blue State governors. Without the government’s permission, they announced that Catholics could return to Mass. They were surprised at the alacrity with which the authorities backed off.
Many among the laity had been insisting for months that the ban on public Masses was a violation of our religious freedom, but most bishops had proven unwilling to challenge the quarantines. Democrats were undoubtedly pleased at how little resistance their burdensome diktats had provoked, not only from religious leaders but from a public intimidated by an unprecedented campaign of fear.
Restrictions were slowly easing when George Floyd died a grisly death at the hand of a Minneapolis policeman on the 28th of May. Suddenly, our body of bishops, long anesthetized by the lockdowns, came back to life and embraced Floyd’s death as the inspiration for a renewed campaign against racism.
There had been other murders that might well have qualified as a catalyst for their campaign. In December, an Arab al-Qaeda terrorist named Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani assassinated Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters in Pensacola. No bishop raised the cry of “racism” — in fact, most media reports didn’t even bother to mention the names of the victims.
Last month, Kelvin Edwards, who is black, savagely attacked a middle-aged white couple, Kevin Craft and his wife Leanne, in Nashville, Tenn. Edwards was apparently attempting to dismember them with a machete. The incident received brief media attention, but when we asked Nashville Bishop J. Mark Spalding whether this was a racist incident, our repeated requests received no reply.
During the riots that followed Floyd’s death, two black law enforcement officers, David Dorn of St. Louis and David Patrick Underwood of Oakland, were killed by unknown assailants. In her Capitol Hill testimony following her brother’s death, Underwood’s sister Angela Underwood-Jacobs said, “I’m wondering where is the, where is the outrage for a fallen officer that also happens to be African American?”
In all of these cases, no one marched, no one cried “racism,” although many, like David Underwood’s sister, wondered, “Where’s the outrage?”
For our bishops, the answer to her pertinent question is simple: “It depends.”
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