The Church of St. Francis Xavier in New York City asked parishoners to recite a "pledge for racial justice" which includes an affirmation to dismantle "white privilege and the culture of white supremacy."
Rev. Kenneth Boller led parishioners in the pledge on August 30:
The pledge asks the following questions among others:
- DO YOU SUPPORT 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 wherever it is present?
- DO YOU SUPPORT racial equity, justice, and liberation for every person.
- DO YOU AFFIRM the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
- Therefore, from this day forward . . .
- WILL YOU strive to understand more deeply the injustice and suffering white privilege and white supremacy cause?
- WILL YOU COMMIT to help transform our church culture to one that is actively engaged in seeking racial justice and equity 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 daily 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, our community, our nation, and our world will be better places because of my efforts.
Boller said his parish "has striven to be inclusive and respectful of all people in a conscious and purposeful way."
"After the death of George Floyd, the Church of St. Francis Xavier wished to be even more pro-actively anti-racist," Boller said. "In that context, we adapted a version of a pledge for racial justice used elsewhere in Christian circles. We invite people to take the pledge … after the post communion prayer and before the final blessing — a time when many churches have announcements. People are invited to respond yes to each question; some choose not to."
The Pastoral Council of the church posted a statement on their Facebook addressing responses they received from the pledge:
"Recently, a few Catholic social media outlets, web postings and even a cable news outlet drew attention to the Racial Justice Pledge posted on our website and recited by those who wish at the conclusion of Mass.
... As part of our self-examination we have sought to understand the term "white privilege" and how it operates to re-enforce racial injustice. "White privilege" has been defined as advantages that are taken for granted by white people and cannot be similarly enjoyed by people of color in the same context (government, community, workplace, schools, etc.)." These advantages pertain solely to the color of a person's skin.
... It is uncomfortable and often distressing for white people to recognize that simply being white confers a presumptive superiority at the expense of people of color.
... These reactions seek to end the conversation. They seek to sidestep personal complicity in perpetuating the systems and institutions that support racial inequity.
The parish's website features a picture showing photographs of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery on an altar inside the church: