Head of US Bishops calls social justice movements “pseudo-religions”

social justice movements pseudo religions

An archbishop’s speech saying some modern social justice movements are Marxist-inspired, woke, anti-Christian “pseudo-religions” has been met with “dismay and disbelief”.

US Bishops’ Conference head and Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez’s (pictured) 4 November speech to a group of Catholics in Spain shows “a serious misunderstanding, and perhaps even a willed ignorance, about the goals and motivations of contemporary social justice movements,” says Fr Bryan Massingale.

Massingale is concerned Gomez described the US anti-racist movement as an angry expression of corrosive secularism being pushed by an “elite leadership class.”

Gomez characterizes social justice movements like Black Lives Matter as “pseudo-religions based on profoundly atheistic ideologies that are hostile to Catholic belief,” Massingale says.

But Massingale says most Black Catholics he knows advocate Black Lives Matter “precisely because of our belief in the universal human dignity of all people as images of God.

“We declare that Black Lives Matter precisely because of our allegiance to what the archbishop calls the Christian story.”

From Gomez’s perspective, the “new social movements and ideologies … were being seeded and prepared for many years in our universities and cultural institutions.”

He said in the U.S., amid the tension and fear created by the pandemic and social isolation, “these movements were fully unleashed” with George Floyd’s death.

While Gomez characterized new social movements as evidence of “extremism” and a “harsh, uncompromising and unforgiving approach to politics,” he was selective about the examples he used.

Some observers note he didn’t mention anti-vaccine demonstrations or violent incidents such as the 6 January insurrection. During the insurrection, Donald Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol. Many invoked their faith while doing so.

A Black sociology professor at Villanova University says Gomez’s talk sends a message to Catholics who are people of colour or involved in anti-racism that Gomez does not stand in solidarity with them.

“This is beyond disappointing because the president of the [bishops’ conference] should, in fact, do more than stand in solidarity. He should be an anti-racism activist in his own right,” she says.

Another Black commentator says one of her immediate takeaways from Gomez’s speech was “how out of touch and erroneous” his interpretation of social justice movements in America is.

“Today’s social justice movements are rooted in the very ideals that Catholics profess: that all life is sacred, that the least among us deserve respect and protection, and that we must strive to end oppression and hatred.”

Gomez’s message sought to “erase the voices of millions” of Catholics and Christians of color who are involved in the anti-racism movement, she says.

“Seventy-nine per cent of Black Americans identify as Christian, and you better believe most of those people are also against racism,” the commentator says. “He is revealing the blind spot that many leaders in the church have.”

She noted Pope Francis has commended activists who protest against police brutality and racism. He called them the “Collective Samaritan” – who did not turn away when they saw “the wound to human dignity, afflicted by such an abuse of power.”


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,