On Wednesday, the Archbishop of St. Louis, Robert Carlson, held a special mass for peace and justice in Ferguson as protestors continued to clash with police over the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
In a letter released on August 18, Carlson asked parishioners to donate to a collection set aside to "assist food pantries and parishes in the Ferguson area that offer assistance to those who have been affected by the looting and destruction of property." Over five hundred Catholics from the St. Louis area attended, according to the St. Louis Review.
The Archbishop laid out five crucial steps to "dismantle systemic racism" in his homily. According to the St. Louis Review, he said:
I am re-establishing today the Human Rights Commission in the Archdiocese of St Louis.
I am asking the Charles Lwanga Center to begin a study and offer solutions to decrease violence in our communities and in our families.
I pledge an ongoing commitment to provide a pathway out of poverty by providing scholarships so that young people can receive a quality education in our Catholic schools.
I pledge my support and the support of the archdiocese to assist the churches in Ferguson to deal with issues of poverty and racism.
Finally, I am asking each priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to offer a Mass for Justice and Peace.
Read the August 18 letter from the Archbishop in full here:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are all aware of the turmoil and tragedy our St. Louis community is experiencing. The residents of Ferguson, Missouri, are struggling to find peace in the chaos. As people of Christ, we are struggling to find direction in the unrest.
I have personally visited Ferguson and Michael Brown's memorial to offer my prayers for everyone affected by this tragedy. As I have been observing this situation and reflecting on it through much prayer, I find strength in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace." In all circumstances, but especially in these difficult times, we are all called to be instruments of peace through our words and actions. Pope Francis recently stated that, "All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace."
To that end, I invite the Catholic faithful to attend a Mass for Peace and Justice which I will celebrate at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, on Wednesday, August 20th, at 5 p.m. During the Mass a special collection will be taken to assist food pantries and parishes in the Ferguson area that offer assistance to those who have been affected by the looting and destruction of property. Additionally, I encourage all parishes to offer Masses for peace in our community. The Office of Worship will contact pastors to provide the appropriate resources. Additional parish activities could include Holy Hours, a parish rosary, or a special collection this week to assist in the effort.
Because many Catholic schools are beginning classes both this and in the coming weeks, I have asked our Catholic schools to begin a daily rosary for peace and to offer special intentions during all school Masses. Catholic Family Services, an agency of Catholic Charities, has made counselors available to any Catholic school that requests assistance. Catholic Family Services has also publicized tips for parents and schools when dealing with crisis situations.
Pope Francis has encouraged us again and again to ask Our Lady, the Undoer of Knots, to intercede for us in difficult circumstances. So too, I ask all the faithful in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to join me in praying to Our Blessed Mother and to her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, for peace and justice in our community.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson
Archbishop of St. Louis