“Why a silence?”

Mass of The Holy Spirit celebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, University Chancellor, at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to mark the start of the academic year at The Catholic University of America in washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Ed Pfueller/Catholic University

Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, University Chancellor, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to mark the start of the academic year at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Photo credit: Ed Pfueller/Catholic University

I delivered the following remarks today at the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the Catholic University of America:

Before we conclude this wonderful, beautiful and inspiring celebration of the beginning of this academic year, I want to share just one very, very serious thought with you. This is a time that’s so very different from the ordinary time when we come annually to open the academic year. We hear so much today of the word “solidarity.” It’s a word that has become a part of our vocabulary in the past 20, 30 years. Today our solidarity with brothers and sisters of our faith and of other faiths in a part of the world where there is clearly an effort to eliminate them is something that we simply cannot in conscience ignore. Often we’re asked, “How is it possible that in human history atrocities occur?” They occur for two reasons. Because there are those prepared to commit them and there are those who remain silent. And the actions in Iraq and Syria today, what’s happening to women, children, men, their displacement – as the least of the things happening to them – is something that we really are not free to ignore and sometimes all we have to raise is our voice.

I’m sharing these thoughts with you because I don’t want to have on my conscience that I was complicitous in something as horrendous as this simply by being quiet. And I ask myself where are these voices? Where are the voices of parliaments and congresses? Where are the voices of campuses? Where are the voices of community leaders? Where are the voices of talk show hosts and radio programs? Where are the voices of the late night news? Where are the voices of editorial columns? Where are the voices of op-ed pieces? Why a silence? I think each one of us has at least the power to raise our voice and be in solidarity with people distant from us, unknown to us, not a part of this campus, not a part of this family, not a part of this university, not a part of our nation. But they are a part of our human community. I think it should rest on the conscience of each one of us. Atrocities happen because there are those who commit them and those who simply remain silent.

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2 Responses to ““Why a silence?””

  1. Arlene Oswald, O.P. says:

    Yes, though we have the power to raise our voices today in light if the atrocities happening in a distant land, we choose not to say anything, we choose not to raise our voices. We are complacent about the sufferings of our sisters and brothers. We are fearful that all of this may be closer than we would like to really think. We don’t want to face the reality of the truth. Our immoralities today are camouflaged and detracted by insignificant disputes of government, by our controlling economy, by our indifference to the Poor who share our humanity, by “faithful” church-goers who turn a deaf ear to the Gospel of Jesus. Society and culture are this way because each individual chooses values that are less than sacred. In our Catholic and Christian teachings we need to focus on simple morality, which has gone “out the window.” We talk but we don’t teach. Jesus taught through the example of His life. We need complete conversion. All places where I use “we,” substitute “I”. Only then will we get the point.

  2. John Lynch says:

    Thank you for your voice and I hope and pray that the people of America let their collective voices be heard this coming November.