St. Peter Claver (1580–1654), whose memorial we celebrate today, offers a timely witness as our nation reckons anew with the enduring scourge of racism. The Catholic Church venerates St. Peter Claver as the patron saint of African Americans and slaves, but Claver himself was neither. Truer to his own biography, what might we learn from Claver, the pioneering patron of white anti-racism?
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“The social message of the Gospel must not be considered a theory,
but above all else a basis and a motivation for action.”
—John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, §57i