BRIDGEPORT—Gloria Purvis was the presenter of the third of several webinars being hosted by The Leadership Institute, the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and the Apostolate for Black Catholics.
“So much of the conversation on race has been politicized, said Purvis. “As Catholics, we have to remember that we fight against racism because it is a sin. It contradicts the very word of God—that every person is created with dignity and respect.”
“As Catholics, we believe that we should live in a community where we share the common good—where I would not want to see my neighbor be deprived of anything,” explained Purvis.
Gloria discussed how racism is not only an ideology, it is a system, prevalent in practices, policies, institutions that began with slavery. “Once we let slavery into our country that was the beginning of the need for us to realize that we must have a spiritual response to the evil.”
“We abolished slavery but what happened to freed blacks after that? What we saw was a concerted effort to keep blacks subjugated,” said Purvis. “Our country has a history that I don’t think we have really dealt with or admitted on a spiritual level—a history that is contrary to the Gospel.”
Gloria explained that the sin still is there and can infect even those who claim to preach the Gospel.
“We need to have a real come to Jesus moment as a Church,” she said.
Purvis said that she noticed that the values of people who claimed to be pro-life completely went away when it came to George Floyd. “His past did not make him any less a child of God,” said Purvis. The same way people dehumanize infants in the womb, people dehumanized George Floyd.
“There is a difference between a criminal committing a crime within a community,” Purvis explained. “There is not as great a violation of the public trust as a police officer who is paid to protect the people they serve using violence. To say we can have one or the other is a way to deflect from police brutality and the gross injustice inflicted on the Black community.”
“It is okay if you don’t like that organization (referring to Black Lives Matter) but what are you doing in the cause for racial justice?” Purvis raised the question. She said that her response to those people would be, “Your issue isn’t with the organization it is that you haven’t been able to find a place for you in the racial justice movement—let me invite you to do so.”
Gloria explained that we have to help people understand that we are missing a conversion of heart on a massive level. She suggested we name it, apologize to God for it, and do some type of reparations and reconciliation for it.
“There seems to be an idea that if there is to be some kind of recompense toward descendants of slaves that it would somehow take away from or punish white people…that justice to our neighbor is some kind of punishment to white people—they must not believe that there has been some kind of injustice on Black people as a whole.”
Gloria explained that if we understand that racism is a sin we would not be surprised that it still exists. It deforms their humanness and puts a wedge in the human family.
“Imagine what would happen if Catholics really got involved in the fight for racial justice and for police reform…,” Gloria addressed the listeners. “Imagine what would happen if we expected people to be treated a certain way—if we demanded criminal justice reform and health care that would care for the poor properly. If we could come in with this vision as Catholics.”
Purvis discussed that racism is a life issue because it deals with the dignity of the human person. “The answer is to bring the full Gospel to bear,” she said.
“As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to change the world, to expel evil and not be so wedded to political parties,” Purvis said. “The only person you should be worried about offending is Jesus Christ. You are making the Gospel too small and being false in your witness.”
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano thanked Gloria, “for an inspiring and honest conversation.” Purvis commended the bishop for making these webinars available, stating, “you are truly a shepherd to your flock.”
About Gloria Purvis
Gloria Purvis is a graduate of Cornell University and she worked for nearly two decades in the mortgage industry before becoming a risk management director at a major financial services company. She served on the National Black Catholic Congress’ Leadership Commission on Social Justice, and as an Advisory Board Member on the Maryland Catholic Conference’s Respect for Life Department as well as the Archdiocese of Washington’s Pastoral Council. Gloria is the co-host of EWTN’s Morning Glory.