Posted April 21, 2008 – At a time when the United States is engaged in a series of candid, and sometimes explosive, discussions about race, Pope Benedict XVI reminded America that it has a ways to go before honoring its promise to Blacks and Native Americans.
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"Americans have always been a people of hope," Benedict said during the celebration of Mass Thursday at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. "Your ancestors came to this country with the experience of finding new freedom and opportunity. To be sure, this promise was not experienced by all the inhabitants of this land; one thinks of the injustices endured by the Native American peoples and by those brought here forcibly from Africa as slaves."
America has been engaged in very frank conversations about race in recent weeks, triggered largely by media attention on the words of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who challenged racism and White supremacy in America. As people called on presidential candidate Barack Obama to repudiate the fiery words of Wright, his former pastor, the Illinois senator answered with a wide-ranging speech about race. Some have described it as the most important discussion on race since Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1968.
On Sunday, the German-born pontiff wrapped up his six-day trip to America at New York ’s Yankee Stadium, telling the 60,000 in attendance that they should recognize the church’s authority.
“Authority ... obedience. To be frank, these are not easy words to speak nowadays, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom.”
Alluding to the Catholic Church’s child sex scandal, he also expressed shame. Living for God, he said, “means not losing heart in the face of adversity, resistance and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness.”
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