May God Heal Us: Bishop Katharine at the Otay Mesa Detention Center
Facebook Video of the Press Conference. Bishop Katharine’s comments are from 38:27 – 43:29. Senator Kamala Harri’s comments are from 1:07 – 1:17.
This nation has a long and ugly history of removing children from their natural parents, and subjecting some categories of children to truly inhumane practices.
The first peoples of these lands endured massacres of whole villages and entire families – not just war, but wholesale extermination. In the nineteenth century the US and Canadian governments began to steal or cajole children away from parents in order to re-educate them as part of the dominant culture. Incarcerated in boarding schools, many died of disease, were abused physically, emotionally, spiritually, and culturally, and forced to relinquish their native names, languages, traditions, and relationships. The result was wholesale trauma, and a multi-generational cancer of poverty and spiritual brokenness.
Chattel slavery, in the colonies and the new nation, routinely and callously sold children and parents to different owners with no regard for the damage done to human souls. African-American slaves were treated little better than brood stock, and their children sold off like puppies.
Jim Crow continued those attitudes throughout this nation, and children who wandered out of the bounds set for them were deemed expendable, children like Emmet Till and Ruby Sales and Trayvon Martin. The racism named and rejected in Black Lives Matter is simply the latest chapter of our national disregard for the sanctity of human life, particularly the lives of young people of color. The grief of parents is dismissed and ignored, yet that grief is breaking the heart of God and destroying the soul of this nation.
People of faith recognize the pervasiveness of violence against children. The biblical tradition includes a call to bash the babies of enemies against the rocks (the human urge to vengeance is ancient) – and repeatedly forbids sacrificing children. When King Solomon is asked to decide which woman is really mother to a disputed child, he suggests cutting the infant in half, and the real mother’s anguish becomes obvious.
The gospels tell of a Syrophoenician woman asking Jesus to heal her daughter. She’s a foreigner and a gentile, and he ignores her, until she insists that even puppies get crumbs from the table. Then he heals her.
Any healthy human adult knows that it is wrong, immoral, to remove a dependent child from loving parents, or to withhold food, water, healing, and nurture from a child. People of faith call it evil and sinful. We’ve been challenged to love our neighbors, whatever their age, race, condition, or nationality.
God judges nations who kill the souls of neighbors. Jesus insists that blessing only comes to those who care for the least of these – the poor, the hungry, the weak, the grieving and imprisoned – and even the blind and hateful who perpetrate these evils. May God turn our hearts toward all our neighbors and heal us.
The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
22 June 2018
Facebook Video of the Press Conference
Bishop Katharine’s comments are from 38:27 – 43:29.
Senator Kamala Harri’s comments are from 1:07 – 1:17.