By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Amid protests and violence in the United States, Cardinal Kevin Farrell is praying for unity, not division.

In an interview with ZENIT on the sidelines of the Prayer for Peaceful Coexistence in the US, organized by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio, the Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, expressed this is his hope.

The prayer vigil, following the murder of George Floyd and the tensions the country is going through, was held on Friday, June 5 at 7 pm in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, in Rome, and presided over by the American prelate.

The event was broadcast online and on the Facebook page of Sant’ Egidio Community. At Friday’s prayer, there was not an empty, social distant seat in the entire Roman Basilica, with many being occupied by Vatican ambassadors and other dignitaries, as well as numerous faithful.

In this interview with ZENIT, the American Cardinal reflects on his prayer for his country, how he has been following the news, and what religions, pastors, and individuals can do, to construct unity.

“Religions, if they are Christian, need to teach the Word of God. That is all. It is all in the Bible,” he says.

The Vatican prefect also denounces media ‘rhetoric’ which can exacerbate division and rivalry. Moreover, in his sermon, Cardinal Farrell, who is also camerlengo of the Roman Catholic Church, warns against divisions among different races, but even among Christians and Catholics.

In the Cardinal’s meditation, he recalls Pope Francis’ words at his June 3 General Audience: “We cannot tolerate or close our eyes to any kind of racism or exclusion and claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we must recognize that “the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-destructive. Nothing is gained by violence and much is lost.”

“Dear brothers and sisters,” Cardinal Farrell underscored, when the Church makes the words of the Gospel resound, she wants to be faithful to Jesus, she does not want to take one side or one category against another, she does not want to make political propaganda or proselytize for herself, but she simply wants to help society to promote the common good and to create bonds of authentic brotherhood among men and women.”

He said that a “culture of respect, a sense of universal brotherhood, worthy living conditions, just laws are goods that remain,” while warning that “offensive words and gestures of contempt, looting and violence lead to nothing good for the future.”

“For this reason,” he encourages, “we Christians must not hide and fear, on the contrary, precisely in these delicate moments of social tension we must be present to address to the true and lasting good the just desire for equality, respect and justice that is present in the hearts of so many men and women.”

“We ask the Lord to look upon all innocent victims who have died because of injustice and racial discrimination, and may their spilled blood help our beloved nation to build a truly peaceful and fraternal society,” he prayed.

Marco Impagliazzo, President of the Community of Sant’Egidio, also spoke to Zenit, noting: “we follow the example of Martin Luther King, a great example because in the nonviolence, in prayer and the way of reconciliation among the communities, it will be bear great fruit.”

“It’s a long battle. It requires time, but praying, working together, especially opening peaceful avenues, one,” he notes, “will find the solution, and a better future, a better future for all Americans.”

#NOW IN #ROME (via @DeborahLubov): #Prayer for Peaceful Coexistence in #UnitedStates, organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio; @CardinalFarrell, @LaityFamilyLife Prefect, leading, remembers #GeorgeFloyd. Cardinal says we’re pained by these events @santegidionews @Marco_europa pic.twitter.com/HSvmUDaKQb

— ZenitEnglish (@zenitenglish) June 5, 2020

Here is ZENIT’s interview with Cardinal Farrell, followed by the Cardinal’s sermon during the prayer service:

***

ZENIT: How have you been following the events in the United States?

Cardinal Kevin Farrell: I follow it every day. I get up in the morning and I watch the news. The last thing I do is the news.

ZENIT: How can we construct unity in a time where there is so much division?

Cardinal Kevin Farrell: I think we all, and I intend everybody, including the media in a certain sense, needs to bring the rhetoric down, because the violence begins in the heart. It begins with words. We need to lower that.

ZENIT: What do you consider some of this rhetoric?

Cardinal Kevin Farrell: We see this through the use of language … There is a little good in everyone. We need to look at the person, we need to look at the ideas, discuss the ideas, and refute the ideas.

ZENIT: Justifiably so many people are so upset by the unjust murder of George Floyd, but at the same time time violence is not helping to accomplish anything…

Cardinal Kevin Farrell: To me it is a sign also when you have arms all over the place, all over, everyone and everywhere, well then the police need to be armed, to defend themselves, and to defend society, and then one thing leads to another. So we react with violence.

ZENIT: You are a Vatican Prefect, but I ask you as a pastor, if one of these upset and outraged individuals, demanding justice, were to cross your path, what sort of pastoral guidance would you give? How would you reason with them, explaining it is hard to get past wrongs and injustice, but violence also is not the answer…

Cardinal Kevin Farrell: We all have to try. It is very hard to answer that kind of a hypothetical question because in counseling someone, you have to have them there and you have to known and assess what their ability to reason is…

ZENIT: Religions, how can they be an instrument for constructing unity?

Religions, if they are Christian, need to teach the Word of God. That is all. It is all in the Bible.

ZENIT: Is there anything else you would like to add, Your Eminence, that I have not touched on in my questions?

Cardinal Kevin Farrell: I pray that there will be peace and serenity in the United States, the greatest country, the leader of the whole world. We have a position in the world, where people look to us, to solve their problems. People look to us when there is a disaster. People look to us for everything. We shouldn’t be afraid of that. We should gladly accept the opportunity to lead.

***

PRAYER VIGIL “FOR PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE IN THE USA”

MEDITATION ON John 14, 23-27

Rome – Basilica of S. Maria in Trastevere

Friday 5th June 2020

#NOW IN #ROME (via @DeborahLubov): #Prayer for Peaceful Coexistence in #UnitedStates, organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio; @CardinalFarrell, @LaityFamilyLife Prefect, leading, remembers #GeorgeFloyd. Cardinal says we’re pained by these events @santegidionews @Marco_europa pic.twitter.com/HSvmUDaKQb

— ZenitEnglish (@zenitenglish) June 5, 2020

John 14:23-27 Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

25 “I have told you this while I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

Dear brothers and sisters,

These days, the whole world is watching with apprehension the wave of protests that is going through many cities in the United States of America following the unjust death of George Floyd. Especially for us American citizens, it is a source of great sadness to see how discrimination, prejudice and hatred on racial grounds still persist in our country.

We are always inclined to think that after long years of fighting for civil rights and racial equality, certain injustices and violence of the past could never happen again. But we see with sorrow that this is not the case. Social peace and fraternal coexistence among all citizens can never be taken for granted. They are not a given once and for all. The great social movements of the ’60s and ’70s for civil rights and against racial discrimination have undoubtedly left a deep mark on the civil conscience of the nation, but they have not definitively solved all the problems. In these days, we realize that peaceful coexistence and mutual acceptance are precious goods that must always be promoted. They do not automatically derive from words spoken in the past and now preserved in writing in some historical discourse, but they are the fruit of profound attitudes that must dwell in the hearts of men and women. For this reason, each new generation must be helped to have a ” fraternal heart”. Social fraternity must always be built anew, it is never reached in a stable and definitive way, because the human heart can always close itself in its selfishness and return to being polluted by sin, thus causing new injustices, new violence, new oppressions.

This is precisely the area in which we Christians can make our precious contribution. We Christians must always proclaim and bear witness with our lives to the newness that the Gospel of Christ has brought on earth. A novelty that is never taken for granted and that must always be welcomed again by every new generation that appears on earth. We have heard the beautiful words of the Gospel that speaks of a “dwelling place” of the Father and the Son in all those who love Jesus, that speaks of the Holy Spirit Paraclete given to believers, and that speaks of the peace that Jesus gives us as the most beautiful fruit of his death and resurrection. All this cannot remain a theory, it must have concrete consequences in life.

If in every baptized person, if in every Christian, there really is a special “dwelling place” of God, his or her heart will be transformed. In them there cannot be any more feelings of hatred and contempt towards anyone. And if the Holy Spirit Paraclete truly dwells in the hearts of Christians, they will look at every other human being “with the eyes of God”, with the same respect and compassion with which God sees every man and every woman on earth. The Holy Spirit, in fact, as the Holy Father reminded us at Pentecost, is the true “principle of unity … He reminds us that first of all we are God’s beloved children; all equal in this, and all different”. And if the peace of Christ is truly present in the hearts of believers there can be no more room for rivalry, for the denial of the dignity of others and for the oppression of others. This must be the real way of life of Christians and in this way, it must become a proclamation addressed to all, that it is possible to achieve a reconciled and fraternal humanity.

Our nation, since its birth, has been multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious. The foundations on which it was built were the equality of all people, the inalienable rights to life and freedom granted by the Creator himself to all people, tolerance, peaceful coexistence, equal opportunities for prosperity and well-being for all. These ideals are inscribed in the DNA of the United States of America and are part of its founding documents. But these principles, in the final analysis, are nothing more than the translation of Christianity into the language of civil law. That is why we Christians, every time we make Jesus’ teaching known, are helping all our fellow citizens to return to the authentic ideals of our nation, its constitution and its laws.

The command that Jesus gave to his disciples is: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12,17). Jesus made no distinction between men and women, between Jews and Samaritans, between simple fishermen and members of the Sanhedrin, between poor shepherds and rich publicans. Jesus addressed his message of salvation and mercy to all without excluding anyone. This simple fact should be a strong appeal to all of us who, instead, often make distinctions based on social class, economic status, race, political affiliation.

Unfortunately, even among us Christians a distorted way of thinking can infiltrate, which leads us to identify with only one side, distancing ourselves from those who belong to the other side: wealthy people against poor people, intellectuals against uncultured people, progressives against conservatives, whites against blacks, and in doing so we completely lose sight of the universal dimension of Christ’s message or even end up identifying our Christian faith with the ideological vision of the side we have embraced. We see, instead, how Saint Paul shows that he has fully accepted the spirit of Christ when he says: “Those of you who have been baptized in Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no Jew nor Greek; there is no slave nor free; there is no male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:27-28). Returning to this purity of the Gospel becomes the best way of promoting the social good, avoiding partial and ideological visions.

For us Christians, it is also dutiful to insist that the means must always be in harmony with the end. Jesus spoke of poverty by living poorly, he spoke of the dignity of human love by living chastely, he spoke of the Father’s mercy having mercy on all, even on his enemies. In this sense, one cannot hope to promote social peace through violence, one cannot overcome injustice by committing injustices and crimes even more serious than those one wishes to denounce. We Christians, then, must always urge all people of good will to unite their efforts to build together something that remains as a lasting good for all, fleeing from the temptation to irrationally destroy what exists and to give vent blindly to their anger and frustration. A culture of respect, a sense of universal brotherhood, worthy living conditions, just laws are goods that remain. Offensive words and gestures of contempt, looting and violence lead to nothing good for the future. For this reason, we Christians must not hide and fear, on the contrary, precisely in these delicate moments of social tension we must be present to address to the true and lasting good the just desire for equality, respect and justice that is present in the hearts of so many men and women.

As the Holy Father recalled in his last Wednesday Audience: “we cannot tolerate or close our eyes to any kind of racism or exclusion and claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we must recognize that “the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-destructive. Nothing is gained by violence and much is lost” (Audience of June 3, 2020).

Dear brothers and sisters, when the Church makes the words of the Gospel resound, she wants to be faithful to Jesus, she does not want to take one side or one category against another, she does not want to make political propaganda or proselytize for herself, but she simply wants to help society to promote the common good and to create bonds of authentic brotherhood among men and women.

We ask the Lord to look upon all innocent victims who have died because of injustice and racial discrimination, and may their spilled blood help our beloved nation to build a truly peaceful and fraternal society.

Amen.

[Unofficial Working Translation – Provided by the Community of Sant’Egidio]

The post INTERVIEW: Leading Sant’Egidio’s Prayer for Peaceful Coexistence in US, Cardinal Farrell Prays for Unity & Against Division appeared first on ZENIT – English.

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