Luke Stocking

Luke Stocking

Stocking is Development and Peace Deputy Director of Public Awareness & Engagement, Ontario and Atlantic Regions.

The pandemic has led to a resurgence in the tradition of family board games, including one called Pandemic. My own family has favoured a word association game called Codenames. There is another game on our shelf though that I find myself thinking about these days — Monopoly. 

In a recent interview with Global News, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government will put forward an “ambitious agenda” for a green recovery. “We know the world is going towards lower carbon,” he said. It appears that he is willing to stake the fate of his minority government on such an agenda.

The killing of George Floyd by a police officer and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement to end white supremacy and systemic racism led me to reflect on an early memory I have from my journey of work towards being an anti-racist Catholic.

At a time when mother nature has “sent us to our rooms” (as one viral post put it), the digital world has opened its arms wide to embrace us. It is a reality that I have been reflecting on during this pandemic.

I had a coronavirus earlier this year.

Not THAT coronavirus. It was just a common cold, which is one of the many types of coronaviruses out there.

Fifteen years ago, on Feb. 12, a 73-year-old nun walked along a rural road in the Amazon region of Para state in Brazil. She was followed by two men with guns — Clodoaldo Carlos Batista and Raifran das Neves Sales. Both men worked for a livestock company. They asked her if she had any weapons. In response she showed them her Bible and began to read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit ….” 

The phrase “thoughts and prayers” has become so common it has its own Wikipedia page. The page outlines in detail the use of the expression by prominent public figures in times of crisis — most notably following natural disasters or American gun violence — and also offers both a criticism and defence of this practice. 

I am holding a statuette. It came to our office from the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) of Amazonas state in Brazil. It is a naked Indigenous woman with long black hair. She is kneeling. A child is visible in her red womb. 

I spent the two Sundays before election day handing out small booklets entitled “For Heaven’s Sake, Vote!” to parishioners after Mass. The booklet is a federal election guide published by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Some questions for the average Catholic in the pews: Do you know what the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is? How about the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops? Have you ever heard of the Social Affairs Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario?

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