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The Role of Catholics in Fighting Police Aggression


Washington D.C., Oct 18, 2016 / 03:25 am (CNA).- C. Matthew Hawkins stood frozen with fear as the update crackled through the police car radio: the suspect in question is white and 5-feet, 7-inches tall. Hawkins, now a Catholic seminarian who happens to be 6-feet tall and black, was grateful for the news.

Why? Because a cop was about to pull a gun on him.

In the just over two years since the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in a suburb of St. Louis, the United States has again had to grapple with a topic that has surfaced over and over since the Civil Rights era – police aggression, particularly against minorities.

While new movements, such as Black Lives Matter, have been borne as a response to the subject, Catholics argue that the Church also has a role to play in addressing the problem.

Furthermore, they note, it’s an issue affecting the Church itself, as Catholics can be and are targets of unprovoked police aggression and profiling.

“Fundamentally the issue of aggressive policing does come down to the value we place on human life,” said Hawkins, a seminarian from the Diocese of Pittsburgh currently studying in Baltimore.

An African-American who worked as a university professor before entering seminary, Hawkins explained that the question of police aggression and Catholics’ response to it is akin to other questions of dehumanization we face in our society.

“If you think their lives are expendable and disposable, then you can subscribe to this culture of death, then you don’t become concerned about the high number of unarmed civilians who are dying under contested circumstances.”

Read more at Catholic World Report.

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