Thursday, September 20, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa Bay Catholics to confront issues of race

TAMPA — During Mass, Catholics offer each other the sign of peace by shaking hands with those around them

But black Catholics Gerri Drummond and Dale Brown can recall times when white parishioners avoided the ritual, or deliberately changed pews so as to not sit near them.

For Brown, who grew up in New Orleans attending black Catholic churches, it has been surprising to be on the receiving end of such treatment decades later in Tampa Bay area parishes.

Jamaican-born Drummond, also a lifelong Catholic, said it was even more startling for her since she had never experienced racism before moving to the United States in 1983.

A parishioner at St. Peter Claver, a historically African-American parish in Tampa, Drummond sits on the St. Petersburg Diocese’s Life, Justice and Advocacy Committee and its racial justice committee, formed more than a year ago to confront prejudice.

"I have been pushing for this for a few years, because I see it in the community and I see it in the workplace and I see it in the church and I think that the church should be addressing it," she said.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg, encompassing Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Citrus and Hernando counties, will hold its first public meeting on the topic today at Tampa’s St. Lawrence Catholic Church. Bishop Gregory Parkes, head of the diocese of almost half-million Catholics, will attend.

"Racism is a sin that divides our communities," said Parkes in an email. "Healing racial division is a journey and our upcoming listening sessions and dialogues are only a beginning."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

Following the racial violence in Charlottesville a year ago, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops established a committee "to focus on addressing racism and the urgent need to come together as a society to find solutions."

In 1979, church leaders responded to similar concerns and issued a pastoral letter, "Brothers and Sisters to Us" and declared racism evil.

Parkes said discussions about "how to confront the sin of racism" had begun in the local diocese before Charlottesville.

"We watched community conversations dissolve due to unresolved anger or defensiveness," he said. "Knowing that there must be a better way, we began to research methods of civil discourse that would allow people of faith to apply church teachings to the most challenging issues of our day.

James Cavendish, associate professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of South Florida, will be a moderator.

Cavendish, who has examined issues of inclusion, race relations and racism in the Catholic church, has been a consultant to U.S. bishops. His work with church leaders had its genesis with his research and dissertation while in graduate school at University of Notre Dame.

More recently, bishops wanted to know how well the church had met the goals set their 1979 pastoral letter.

"In that pastoral letter, they made several recommendations for how the Catholic church in the United States could be a more inclusive church," he said. "And it called on the church to confront instances of racism within its own walls."

His research published in 2004 showed there had been "very good progress," he said, "but it is clear that there’s a lot of work to do still."

He said the discussion about race is especially important now, because of "the current political climate, which seems accepting of intolerance," Cavendish said.

Brown, director of the diocese’s Lay Pastoral Ministry Institute and liaison for its Black Catholic Ministry, will join Cavendish in moderating.

"I’m hoping that people will be willing to come out and say what they feel, say what they’re thinking. ... That people will attend and be open about the issue of racism and how it affects them in their everyday lives as well as in the church," said Brown, who worships at St. Peter Claver and speaks candidly about her own experiences.

Brown said she and other black Catholics have talked about people not drinking from the shared communion cup after them and wondering about their reason.

"I have the experience of people not sharing the peace with me, but sharing with others who are white," she said.

These are things that should be discussed, said Brown, adding that she hopes people will "examine their biases and hopefully begin to broaden their understanding of the difficulties and experiences of those that have felt not only discriminated against, but left feeling like second-class citizens in the church and society."

Carlos Flores, associate director of the diocese’s Office of Hispanic Ministry, said he wanted to be part of the racial justice committee because of his work with fellow Hispanics.

"I want to make sure their voices are heard, especially with the way things are going on in society, in our country, with immigration," said Flores, who was born in Puerto Rico.

"It’s not until you come together and share with each other that we can get a real appreciation for the other person, regardless of race."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: The ‘Dreamer’ who grew up to be a priest: ‘I pray and hope … we will get through this’

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.

Comments
The Daystarter: Rays keep rolling in playoff chase; how the Mississippi River is affecting Red Tide; behind the scenes at Howl-O-Scream

The Daystarter: Rays keep rolling in playoff chase; how the Mississippi River is affecting Red Tide; behind the scenes at Howl-O-Scream

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Start the day with a 30 percent chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms, which will grow to 50 percent in the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. The high will ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Boston incident sparks concern over testing gas pipes in St. Pete

Boston incident sparks concern over testing gas pipes in St. Pete

By SUHAUNA HUSSAINTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — One day after a string of fiery natural-gas explosions rocked three Massachusetts towns,St. Petersburg sent out a notice to residents warning them that Florida Gas Transmission will be testing its...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Romano: We need education solutions not slogans from DeSantis, Gillum

Romano: We need education solutions not slogans from DeSantis, Gillum

And 200,000 third-graders just rolled their eyes.I swear, even they can see through the education proposals offered by gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum this week.Let’s see, the Republican wants more privatization. And the Democ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Another reason Florida’s Red Tide is so bad this year: Pollution from the Mississippi River

Another reason Florida’s Red Tide is so bad this year: Pollution from the Mississippi River

The Red Tide algae bloom now tossing tons of dead fish on Pinellas County’s beaches has been fueled for months by many things — runoff from over-fertilized lawns, leaking septic tanks and sewage lines, even dust from the Sahara Desert.Now add anoth...
Published: 09/20/18
Are these guys threatening to turn AL wild card into a race? Just ask the Rays

Are these guys threatening to turn AL wild card into a race? Just ask the Rays

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays still have got a long way to go and a short time to get there if they're gonna do what they say can't be done.If the Smokey and the Bandit paraphrase doesn't work for you, then let's try another theatrical reference....
Updated: 1 hour ago
After fleeing Hurricane Florence, East Carolina trying to keep routine in Orlando before USF game

After fleeing Hurricane Florence, East Carolina trying to keep routine in Orlando before USF game

There is nothing normal about the situation East Carolina's football team finds itself in after Hurricane Florence.The Pirates' last scheduled game (against Virginia Tech) was canceled. After evacuating campus a week ago, they remain sequestered in o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Too many homeowners forced to tap home equity to pay for day-to-day expenses

Too many homeowners forced to tap home equity to pay for day-to-day expenses

Tapping home equity to pay for day-to-day expenses like groceries and utilities is a recipe for financial peril. It can work for a while, especially if home prices are rising. Eventually the spigot runs dry, bills pile up and your home can be lost to...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning falls to Hurricanes again in preseason

Lightning falls to Hurricanes again in preseason

The Lightning did not fare much better in its second preseason crack at the Hurricanes.In fact, it did worse.It lost 6-1 Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C.Carolina put a much more veteran team on the ice than it did Tuesday in winning Tampa Bay's preseason o...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Jameis Winston’s Uber ride will never be forgotten, and shouldn’t

Jameis Winston’s Uber ride will never be forgotten, and shouldn’t

Just when you thought it was fun to be a Bucs fan again. Just when you were blissfully under the spell of FitzMagic. Just when the Bucs were becoming the cool kids in the NFL with the latest greatest show on turf.Just as the good times have arrived, ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Buccaneers-Eagles All-22: Why Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fitzmagic could be real

Buccaneers-Eagles All-22: Why Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fitzmagic could be real

It’s just a mirage.At any moment now, Ryan Fitzpatrick will come crashing back to Earth. He’ll go back to being the Fitzpatrick of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Quarterbacks don’t t...
Updated: 9 hours ago