As if the Catholic Church isn’t facing enough disruption by some of the pronouncements and activities of Pope Francis, now some American priests are jumping on the political bandwagon.

When I grew up, priests kept to a quiet life. Their talks to their parishioners, both personally and from the pulpit, were generally limited to religious themes, parish business and local issues.

In all those years, I never recall a priest venturing publicly into the arena of politics.

As a Catholic, I prefer it that way. I see the primary job of a priest is to guide followers/believers in their religious life – not to preach to them on how to think or for whom, or for what, to vote.

But times have changed, and a clear example is the “prayer for racial justice” that Fr. Kenneth Boller, S.J. presented to his congregation on Sunday, Aug. 23, at The Church of St. Francis Xavier in New York City.

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For all intents and purposes it was a normal Mass, until after the distribution of Communion. At that point, the priest asked the congregation to bow their heads, and he invited them to stand and “join in the prayer for racial justice, by responding ‘yes’ to each of the following statements.” They were presented as a “prayer” although there was no mention of Jesus or God or any saints.

After each statement, congregants responded with a “Yes.”

In my view, this was shameful and had no place in a Catholic Church, much less in the middle of Mass.

As Fr. Boller listed the questions, it was clear that he wanted the congregation to accept “white privilege” as being a reality, and he went on to ask the faithful if they were willing “to transform our church culture.”

Clearly this was not just a passing fancy of Fr. Boller – not surprisingly, he is a Jesuit and, by the way, he is white – because it’s reported that there was a side altar in the church with a display of pictures of black people killed recently, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Like it or not, that smacks of politics, and only a fool would deny it.

Some of the questions/statements presented to the congregants:

“Do you affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person?

“Do you support racial justice, equity, and compassion in human relations?

“Do you affirm that white privilege is unfair and harmful to those who have it and to those who do not?

“Do you affirm that white privilege and the culture of white supremacy must be dismantled where it is present?

“Will you strive to understand more deeply the injustice and suffering white privilege and white supremacy cause?”

The priest was only getting started:

“Will you commit to help transform our church culture to one that is actively engaged in seeking racial justice and equity for all, for everyone?

“Will you make a greater effort to treat all people with the same respect you expect to receive?

“Will you commit to developing the courage to live your beliefs and values of racial justice and equality?

“Will you strive to eliminate racial prejudice from your thoughts and actions so that you can better promote the racial justice efforts of our church?

“Will you renew and honor this pledge daily knowing that our church and our community, our nation, and our world will be better places because of our efforts?”

Boller isn’t alone with such thoughts.

In an early September Mass, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C., called on U.S. Catholic bishops to pray that “God ends white people’s racist sins.”

I wasn’t in that New York church the day all this took place, but I assure you, it would have been difficult for me to stay. I would have walked out – and I wonder how many people did. Talk about mixing Catholic teaching and Socialist/Marxist racism to undermine the church.

Rather than supporting the history of our country and the basic equality declared by the Founding Fathers – that “all men are created equal” – that priest has bought into the modern bigotry that white people are the source of all oppression.

One can only guess as to the final reaction of the Catholics that day in that church. I suspect there were many heated arguments at home – but who knows how the list of questions would affect the daily religious lives of those captive Catholics?

I would only hope that many of them would register their complaints directly to Fr. Boller and then, either change parishes or, at the very least, stop their Sunday collection donations.

People walk and money always talks – and no one knows that better than the Catholic Church.

Follow Barbara Simpson on Facebook.

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