By Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC
It’s me, Melissa.
When I first began my seminary studies at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union, I was taught by a priest from West Africa, and sat in class alongside a nun from Iraq, brothers from a fraternal order in South America, and Irish American laywomen from the Northside of Chicago. And I began to appreciate the global reach and inclusiveness of the Church.
Despite our differences, we shared a genuine engagement with Catholicism–not only as a faith, but also as an agent for social change. As you know, Catholicism’s reach extends beyond those of you who hold the reigns of power in Vatican City, and even beyond the Church’s global body of 1.2 billion believers.
As one of the world’s most enduring and influential institutions, the Catholic Church also encompasses all of those around the world who don’t identify with the Catholic faith, but have benefitted from the work of the church and the organizations it has created.
At its best the church has been an advocate for human rights and the dignity of the most marginalized of people–feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and providing care for the sick and disabled. Here in the United States, the Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental provider of health care, human services, and education. For low-income families and students of color, Catholic schools have long been the only alternative for an affordable, quality education.
But cardinals, even as the church has been a channel for good, it is has also has been conduit for injustice around the world. Read the full letter and watch video at tv.msnbc.com.