“There is no reason the U.S government should ignore the plight of Middle Eastern Christians,” Anderson urged, emphasizing again the work of the Knights of Columbus in protecting Christians of the Middle East.
Anderson’s speech was part of a larger session focused on the peripheries, a word used often by Pope Francis to refer to the outskirts of geographic and social boundaries.
His comments were followed by a panel discussion on how the Church works in the peripheries in the United States and across the world.
Dr. Ansel Augustine, a campus minister at St. John’s University and former head of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry in the Archdiocese of New York, highlighted the gifts that black Catholics have to offer the Church at large in America.
“Sometimes when we talk about black Church or black Catholicism, it’s met with some kind of shock or even at times disgust, because normally when we hear the notion of the word ‘black,’ it’s with the connotation of negativity,” he said.
This connotation, along with the long history of how persons of African descent have been treated in the U.S., make the black Catholic Church part of the peripheries, he noted.
The black Catholic community also has many gifts to give the American Catholic Church. He pointed to the example of the five African American men and women whose causes for canonization are open: Venerable Pierre Toussaint and Venerable Henriette Delille and Servants of God Fr. Augustus Tolton, Sister Thea Bowman, Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, Julia Greeley.
“That’s important to us and that’s our story, our pain, our struggle,” he said.
“All we ask is that the Church that we love show us they love us back.”
Sr. Norma Pimentel, MJ, Executive Director of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grand Valley spoke about her experience ministering to immigrants coming over the southern border. She explained that many people coming over have experienced hurt and pain by other people who are Catholic as well.
When reaching out to those people, she said, “you have to trust that God is with you.”
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She also stressed the importance of placing Christ and love for the other person at the center of outreach to people in vulnerable situations.
"If our work isn't grounded in the love of Christ, it quickly becomes about us," she said.
Lastly, Sr. Pimentel explained what can be learned from people living and ministering in the peripheries.
“The people in the valley, somos familia (we are family). We take care of one another,” she said. "Welcome the immigrants in your communities. They need you.”
Fr. Paul Check, Rector of St. John Fisher seminary and former Executive Director of Courage, a ministry for Catholics who experience same-sex attraction, spoke about chastity.
"Chastity is part of the Good News of Jesus Christ,” and a message that is needed in the world, he said.