Portland bishop says religious prejudice ‘cannot be tolerated’

Portland, Maine, Jan 3, 2020 / 05:05 pm (CNA).- During his homily for Mass on Wednesday, Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland urged Catholics not to tolerate “any kind” of religious prejudice, following a spate of violent attacks against Jews and Christians in the U.S. during December.

“We need to work to overcome any form of religious prejudice,” Deely said Jan. 1.

“Unfortunately, it marks this century for us. We have seen too many shootings and attacks on religious houses and communities. As Christians, we cannot tolerate any kind of religious prejudice,” he added.

The bishop mentioned the recent attacks against Jewish people in New York during the week of Hanukkah, including the knife attack in a rabbi’s home that injured five people. He also mentioned the shooting at Christian church in Texas on Dec. 29. According to police, the shooter opened fire during a Sunday morning service and killed two people before members of the congregation shot and killed him.

“It is the implicit permission of society for that kind of prejudice which gives rise to these kinds of attacks. Often, the people who perpetrate the attacks are mentally disturbed, but they find their ideas in places where such hatred is fostered,” the bishop said.

Deely encouraged his congregation to do a personal examination of any possible religious or racial prejudices they might be holding onto, to ensure that they are not contributing to the problem. He added that religious freedom is one of the fundamental rights of U.S. citizens.

“We should be able, as religious people, to worship and practice our faith publicly in our society. That is a guarantee of the First Amendment,” he said.

Deely encouraged those in attendance to look to Mary as their model for prayer, peace, and following the will of God.

“At the beginning of a new year, we can learn from Mary. She asks herself how God is acting in her life. In her reflection, in her prayer, she holds the things that happen to her, and she looks at the way in which God directs her life through those events,” he said.

“Mary knew in her heart that only in reflection, in prayer, in conversation with the God who had asked her to be the mother of his child would she be able to carry on her mission, to be faithful to what she had been called.”

Deely said that Catholics are called to imitate Mary, who perfectly followed the example of her son.

“We follow him by humbling ourselves, as he did in his coming among us in his human nature, seeking the good in those around us, being open to the humanity of each person, and trying to help where we can to make the lives of others better.”

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