Days after two men who allegedly attacked a Fordham student in an off-campus apartment were described in a school alert as “two male blacks,” Fordham’s President Fr. Joseph McShane, S.J., took a break from his traveling schedule to deliver a race-focused homily during Sunday’s 11 a.m. mass at the University Church.
He began his homily, which ushers in a pre-planned week of discussion on race relations in America, by evoking the words of St. Paul: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
McShane’s answer? “We can.”
“We say stupid, hateful things,” he added. “And then we’re surprised by behavior patterns that give us hard hearts.”
McShane then related this moral imperative to the general theme of race by discussing how humans perpetuate social systems that demean and enslave others.
“We are slaves to generalizations and stereotypes,” McShane said.
Indirectly alluding to the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, McShane then urged the congregation to help heal the nation by standing up against unjust social systems and “sacraments of evil.”
“The challenge is not political, social or economic, but moral,” McShane said. “We must engage in a heartfelt, honest, hard-hitting examination of consciousness.”
McShane then responded to possible critics who would say he is looking at the issue through a specifically Christian lens by saying that that same lens helped give birth to the abolition and civil rights movements.
“The world is transformed by conspiracies of grace, and by the renewal and redemption contained in the nation’s founding documents,” McShane said.
In his conclusion, McShane urged the congregation to desire a world of charity, peace and unity.
He did not directly reference this week’s controversial security alert.
McShane was joined by four concelebrants at the mass, which kicked off a campus-wide race relations dialogue.
Among the other scheduled events is Campus Ministry’s Hunger Banquet on Monday and a screening of the film Fruitvale Station on Thursday.
Six female students representing various ethnic groups read the intentions during the liturgy.