A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Invoking Blamelessness

News coverage of the 20th Anniversary of the Rediscovery of the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan, a ceremony that took place on 7 October 2011, is missing any reference to the invocation delivered by Father Nicholas Gregoris of the Church of St Andrew. I happened to be there to hear it.

Rather than simply bless the proceedings, Father Nicholas took the opportunity to make sure the audience held the Catholic church blameless for the centuries-long suffering of African slaves. Rather than a brief prayer, he delivered a speech that sought to convince his audience that the church had held the moral high ground for centuries on the slavery issue but was utterly powerless to sway the actions of mighty nation states. The church took what steps it could, he assured us. A rich Catholic woman from Philadelphia, for example, opened a school for blacks in New Orleans.

I thought Father Nicholas made a poor choice of venues for delivering this mainly political speech. I doubt the organizers knew he planned to front-load his blessing with a message meant to sway and convince. I don't think it was well received.


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