Buffalo Shooting and our Catholic Missionary Response

Image attribution: Kleabe.com

Our hearts break for the families whose loved ones were ruthlessly murdered on May 14, 2022, by a proponent of white supremacy. We pray for the victims: Roberta A. Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Macneil, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey, Pearl Young, and Ruth Whitfield.

The act of violence that targeted Black communities in Buffalo was not an isolated event. It is tied to a long history of violence rooted in white supremacy that targets Black, Brown, Muslim, Jewish, Indigenous, immigrant, and other marginalized communities. White supremacy is lethal; it aims to keep us divided and afraid of each other and to reinforce the big lie that white people are the only ones worthy of protection, religious freedom, prosperity, and generational joy.

Our Catholic faith and its missional response demand that we invite all Catholics, our parishes, and peoples of all faiths and backgrounds to draw our circles of belonging wider. The missionary ideal of the Xaverian Missionaries, working in 21 countries worldwide, draws its encouragement from an iconic vision of our founder, St. Guido Maria Conforti, that we are to make of the world, one human family, creating cultures of encounter, dialogue, and solidarity everywhere.

From an American Catholic point of view, it demands we grapple and face our history of racism, rooted in slavery, and carried well beyond into present-day cultures of fear. White supremacy has held root in American Christianity and it is particularly Christians who bear the responsibility to heal these wounds that have caused violence and division until the present day.

The 18-year-old white man, who claimed to drive hours to the zip code he targeted in Buffalo because it “has the highest black percentage that is close enough to where I live,” repeatedly lamented immigration, which he feared would result in “ethnic replacement,” “cultural replacement,” “racial replacement,” and ultimately, he wrote, “white genocide.” White replacement theory is thus explained by the Buffalo shooter that has fueled hate and division over our long history and is resurfacing in our politics of Christian nationalism.

The Xaverian Missionaries join the insistence of the US Catholic Bishops for an honest dialogue rooted in Christ in addressing the persistent evil of racism in our country. The Catholic Church has been a consistent voice for rational yet effective forms of regulation of dangerous weapons, and the USCCB continues to advocate for an end to violence, and for the respect and dignity of all lives.” “We pray for and support the healing of the communities impacted and for all the victims of violence and that Christ’s peace be upon all affected.”

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