The Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached at the Cathedral in New Orleans at their Service of Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation. Episcopal News Service publishes her sermon:
The human urge to expel, enslave, and exterminate the other is as old as Cain and Abel, as old as Canaanite and Israelite, as old as Joseph and his brothers. We are all connected by that sin – and we are all connected by our common yearning to live free.
When Joseph’s brothers come looking for help, he notes that in spite of their evil intentions toward him, God has used their actions for good. It is hard to claim that about the aftermath of slavery, yet we must note that whenever individuals on opposite sides of the dividing wall between slave and master began to see the other as human being, created in the image of God, the seeds of justice were planted.
The particular challenge of Episcopalians here and across the Church is to acknowledge our complicity in the institution of slavery – that the Church here in Louisiana began and continued as a wealthy, white proclaimer of a gospel of obedience and loyalty to a system of domination. Lay leaders and clergy here participated energetically – as slaveowners and planters, and as militant and military defenders of oppression. One of my predecessors, Philander Chase, was the first priest here, and acted as chaplain to the system here and later served as the sixth presiding bishop of this church. My husband and daughter are his blood relatives. Leonidas Polk was bishop here and a general in the army that sought to uphold this system.
Read it all here.