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California’s Catholic Dioceses Create Virtual Stations Of The Cross As A Way To Fight Racism

San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy prays at the site of the former KKK ...

Credit: Diocese of San Diego

Above: San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy prays at the site of the former KKK headquarters in San Diego in this undated still from a video.

Many Christians are familiar with the “stations of the cross," the 14 events in the Passion of Christ, from his condemnation by Pontius Pilate to his entombment.

On this Juneteenth, the 12 Roman Catholic and 2 Eastern Rite Catholic dioceses of California have joined together to create the stations of the cross virtually.

Sadly, San Diego is not exempt from the racism that's found in every corner of this land. A branch of the KKK flourished here early in the last century. Its headquarters was in North Park.

RELATED: San Diego Faith Leaders Gather To Demand An End To Police Brutality, Racism

Reported by John Carroll

The Catholic dioceses of California put together a video where each one of them picked a site in their community that symbolizes a racist act or a place that symbolizes anti-racism.

The San Diego portion of the video finds San Diego's Bishop Robert McElroy standing in the parking lot where the local Ku Klux Klan headquarters used to be.

“We are standing on the original site of the Ku Klux Klan headquarters in San Diego from which was launched in the 1920s a campaign of terror against African American and Hispanic residents,” McElroy said as he led people gathered in prayer.

The Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego’s Roman Catholic Diocese, John Dolan, said the killing of George Floyd was the precipitating event that led to the virtual stations.

“We’ve been down this road before and it’s obvious that just addressing it when tragedy strikes, when people are killed, when massacres occur, that is not enough," Dolan said. "It certainly isn’t a proclamation of the Gospel.”

Other sites chosen in California are as tragic as San Diego’s KKK site. The one in Riverside is where Tyisha Miller was shot and killed by police in 1998. But there are stations that are also about hope.

In Orange County, it was the site of the first school in the state to de-segregate. Bishop Dolan said this moment is also an opportunity for the church to atone for its own failings when it comes to racism.

“And then replace that with a sense of communion which begins with listening, dialogue and love, charity at its core," he said.

The end goal of all of this is to create a document that will guide California’s Catholic churches, giving them a plan to help eliminate racism in all its forms.

Each group at each station ended with their own prayer.

The Los Angeles group included these words, "empower us to create a new way forward, with a new sense of community, that embraces and celebrates the rich diversity of all."

Words from people of faith, that can certainly be embraced by all of us.

Listen to this story by John Carroll.


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John Carroll
General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm a general assignment reporter and Saturday morning radio anchor for KPBS. I love coming up with story ideas that aren't being covered elsewhere, but I'm also ready to cover the breaking news of the day. In addition, I bring you the local news headlines on Saturday mornings during NPR's Weekend Edition.

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