September 4, 2020

Archbishop announces Mass for Peace and Justice, day of fasting and prayer on Sept. 9

By Natalie Hoefer

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson will be the principal celebrant of a Mass for Peace and Justice at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis at noon on Sept. 9. It will also be available via livestream at

The Mass is being celebrated in solidarity with the call for “a day of fasting and prayer” on Sept. 9

by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Sept. 9 is the feast of St. Peter Claver, who devoted his life to the service of slaves in Colombia and is the patron saint of missions for Black people.

“Racism is an evil that continues to plague society as well as the hearts of many both within and outside the Church,” said Archbishop Thompson of the importance of this Mass. “It is a sin that erodes the dignity of individuals and the common good of community.

“Prayer is the most powerful weapon against evil, and Mass is the ultimate form of Catholic prayer.”

He noted that the special Mass “is an opportunity to seek reparation for sins of racism, as well as seek divine grace to bring about a greater respect for dignity, unity, equality, justice and peace.”

The call for the day of fasting and prayer came in an Aug. 27 statement issued by the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.

“Considering the violence in Kenosha, Wis., and in other cities across the nation, we urge all people of faith to observe … the feast of St. Peter Claver on Sept. 9 as a day of fasting and prayer,” reads the statement.

“We stand in solidarity with Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee, which serves the City of Kenosha, who earlier said, ‘Violence can never be the means to attain peace and justice. … The sins of violence, injustice, racism, and hatred must be purged from our communities with acts of mercy, with the protection and care for the dignity of every human person, with respect for the common good, and with an unwavering pursuit of equality and peace.’ ”

In the statement, the USCCB invites Catholics to participate in the Mass “and offer your participation in reparation for sins of racism to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

Catholics are also invited to consider praying the rosary and seeking the intercession of saints “who have fought for racial equality, such as St. Katharine Drexel and St. Peter Claver.”

Participating in the Mass and day of fast and prayer for reparation for the sins of racism is one way for Catholics to open their hearts to the reality of systemic racism.

“Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” the USCCB’s 2018 pastoral letter against racism, states that, “Although our nation has moved forward in a number of ways against racial discrimination, we have lost ground in others.

“Despite significant progress in civil law with regard to racism, societal realities indicate a need for further catechesis to facilitate conversion of hearts. Too many good and faithful Catholics remain unaware of the connection between institutional racism and the continued erosion of the sanctity of life.”

In his 2018 pastoral letter “We Are One in Christ,” Archbishop Thompson notes that “the first key principle of Catholic social teaching is respect for the dignity of each and every human person—regardless of race, sex, nationality, economic or social status, educational background, political affiliation or sexual orientation—as created in the image and likeness of God. …

“All sins against the dignity of persons, including the taking of a human life, sexual abuse and sexual harassment, rape, racism, sexism, nativism and homophobia, are violations of this fundamental principle.”

The Mass for Peace and Justice and the day of prayer and fasting on Sept. 9 are powerful ways to combat racism, said Archbishop Thompson.

“Combating racism is consistent with Catholic prolife teaching on dignity of the person and sacredness of life from the moment of conception to natural death.”

(SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral is located at 1347 N. Meridian St. in Indianapolis. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, seating in the cathedral is limited to 250, and masks—available in the narthex—are required.)

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