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Statement from Archbishop Carlson regarding events in Ferguson

The Archdiocese has posted this statement, along with further resources, on its website.

October 10, 2014 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, 

By now we should all realize that there is no going back to the status quo following the tragic shooting of Michael Brown. Rightly so! The status quo was not good enough. This tragedy has left a community struggling to cope with anger and frustration that it had repressed for many years. Now is our moment of truth. We can let the anger and frustration spill over in violence, and then be repressed again. Or we can take the opportunity to break the cycle and address the underlying issues that cause the anger and frustration. 

But we need to keep in mind the issues here are bigger than Ferguson. They are as deep as the hold of sin on the human heart and as broad as the solidarity of the entire human race. That means we will not be able to fix things quickly. But we have to move forward. And it is not just Ferguson or the greater St. Louis metropolitan community, but the entire country and the whole Church that needs to look at these issues. 

Is it not a sad reality that we integrated professional baseball and schools a long time ago, but we have not integrated everyone's heart? 

The sin of racism in our cities and our nation must be dealt with, but never with violence. There are small but vocal groups currently threatening violence. I urge anyone who feels the desire to violently lash out to first pause and consider the potential consequences of their actions: Will violence make the situation right? Will it right the wrongs? Or will it only make things worse? The unrelenting desire for revenge is a poison that seeps into our souls and can become contagious carrying with it a commitment to violence. 

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars...Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." What's the solution? For all of us to be quick to apologize for our own faults, and as quick to forgive the faults of others as we want them to be in forgiving ours. 

We need to come together in prayer and dialogue to address the deeper underlying issues – family breakdown, racial profiling, quality education, abuses of authority, lack of gainful employment, fear of one another, mistrust of authority, black on black violence, and white flight. 

In God we are all one family and we need to call upon Christ the Prince of Peace in prayer to give us the strength to sit down together as brothers and sisters. 

So, let's ask: what blueprint does God have in mind for us? And let's remember that Christ gave us the blueprint: to love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. What that means for us is that we must respect the dignity of each other. We show that respect by having a willingness to sit down together and dialogue, by having the humility to admit our mistakes and say we are sorry, and by praying for one another – yes, praying! Praying that God fills our hearts with love for one another, removes the hate we have allowed to fester there, and teaches us how to express our love in concrete ways. 

It is no longer the time to ask "What would Jesus do?" It is time to ask "What is Jesus doing?" What Jesus is not doing is adding violence to violence. Remember what he said to his disciples in the Gospel of Luke when they asked if they should call down fire from Heaven to consume a town that didn't welcome him? (Lk 9:54). He rebuked them. Jesus is also not ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away! What Jesus is doing is pleading with us to listen to each other, respect each other, and help each other. 

That's the same Jesus who said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Christ calls us to promote peace, not provoke violence. Our Lord Himself suffered the most terrible of injustices, because although incapable of doing wrong, He was nevertheless condemned to suffer and die on the cross. And when one of his disciples responded by lashing out in violence he said "Put away your sword!" 

Inspired by the example of Christ, I fervently renew my call to everyone in Ferguson and the greater St. Louis community: be an instrument of peace amid the chaos! Work for calm in the turmoil! 

If we depart from God's blueprint, the fruit of our thoughts and actions will not be peace but its opposite – force and violence! 

It's time to turn to a different kind of power – persuasion and service. It is the way of Gandhi and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. It is the way of the Lord who is filled with love and mercy. It is the way each of us should be. May the God who suffered on the Cross fill us with love, and guide our thoughts and actions. 

Sincerely yours in Christ, 

Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson 

Archbishop of St. Louis 


“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

“Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.” –Chapter 4, 25-26

“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

“On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage each other, for the sleepy like to make excuses.”

Chapter 22, 8

“Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment.”

Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.”

Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).”

Chapter 53, 1

“Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.”

Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4


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