Lord, When did We See You? Reflection on Mass Incarceration


Lord, When Did We See You? Reflections by Faith Leaders on Mass Incarceration
By Father John W. Crossin, OSFS 
Two weeks ago, here at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and later on Capitol Hill, 40 of us gathered for learning, personal witness and a few ‘Amens’ as we studied mass incarceration. Bishop Denis Madden , chairman of the bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, chaired the gathering.For me the topic is a depressing one—it speaks of lost respect for human dignity and of inaction by leaders. Ours was a modest effort to push in more positive directions because of our faith.

Those of us present—representing 16 Christian churches and several church organizations such as Bread for the World—realize that working together is important for achieving results. The image of Pentecost, where the Church came together with many languages, came to mind.

There is a surprising convergence, which seems to be the work of the Spirit, among Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, and African American churches on mass incarceration. Our effort as Roman Catholics was to build on previous efforts of Christian Churches Together and other church partners to remind people of the importance of treating all, especially the poor, with respect.

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