Other Catholics around the country told CNA that they attended recent protests against racism and police brutality in cities, suburbs, and towns—in California, New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., Nebraska, West Virginia, and Tennessee.
Most who talked to CNA of their experiences were lay men and women, although both a priest and a religious sister—Fr. Brent Shelton of the diocese of Knoxville, and Sister Mumbi Kigutha CPPS, of the Sisters of the Precious Blood—said they too attended local protests against racism.
Some Catholics said it was their first protest; others said they had attended a pro-life march before, but now felt the need to march against racism. Some marched with fellow Catholics and Christians, others attended larger marches by themselves.
All involved all had one thing in common—they felt that they had to do something to stand against injustice.
“To me it's simple. People need help and we help them. That's all,” said Jenne O’Neill of Wahoo, Nebraska.
And many of those who talked to CNA said they prayed at the rallies and protests.
Peter Nixon, a parishioner at Saint Bonaventure Church in the Diocese of Oakland, said his pastor led a Eucharistic procession at the tail end of a march in Clayton, California.
“The presence of the Blessed Sacrament had a powerful impact on many at the demonstration,” Nixon said. “Some police and firefighters crossed themselves as we passed. Others genuflected when passing in front of the monstrance.”
On June 1, the evening before President Donald Trump visited Washington, D.C.’s St. John Paul II Shrine, the president stood outside St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. holding a Bible in front of cameras. The Washington Post reported that federal police shot gas canisters and grenades with rubber pellets to dispel protesters in the area shortly before the president arrived outside the church.
Protesting in Lafayette Square that night was Anna Fitzmaurice, a 2019 graduate of the Catholic University of America. Fitzmaurice prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet in the square, but left shortly before police dispersed the protesters. She attended a protest of the president’s visit to the shrine on the morning of June 2.
“As he [Trump] was going to visit my church, I felt a moral responsibility to tell him what we believe in terms of the dignity of the suffering and the oppressed. Instructing the ignorant and admonishing the sinner are both spiritual works of mercy,” she said.
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Jenn Morson, a writer and parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton church in Crofton, Maryland, said she prayed the rosary to herself “in between chants initiated by the organizer” at a local march with around 350 people.
Not all Catholics who talked to CNA marched in protests. Some have been conducting outreach in their communities, or trying to foster constructive conversations about race.
Kathy Redmond, of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Castle Rock, Colorado, told CNA that she has organized around 450 people in her local “very white, affluent community” involved in community outreach.
Redmond said she saw injustice first-hand when a black family moved in four houses down from her and their cars were tagged immediately. “It was very unnerving for me,” she said. “It was in my face at that point.”
“As people of faith—as people of a Christian faith—we should be front and center on this,” Redmond said.
Catherine Perry, of Atlanta, Georgia, founder of the InwardBound Center for Non-Profit Leadership, has organized workshops of cross-race conversations on “Racism in America: What is Mine to Do?”