“In 1838, the Jesuit priests who ran the country’s top Catholic university needed money to keep it alive. Now comes the task of making amends.”
By RACHEL L. SWARNS April 16, 2016
This is an important story for the Catholic Church, for Georgetown University and for our whole nation. Our deep historical sin of human trafficking, and the need to make amends for that sin, are not simply political or financial issues, they are the stories of fellow human beings with names and families that need to be told and owned by everyone in America, today. Even if you are not descended from human beings sold and exchanged as property, it is not so difficult to empathize and imagine the generational pain and impact of these kinds of wrongs in our history.
Today and tomorrow we need to be so much more aware of every person’s dignity, and also for yesterday, we need to be aware of a debt owed to those who carried more than their share of the cost at arriving where we are today as a nation. If first responders and soldiers are heroes for serving our country, and I believe that they are, then so also are the named and unnamed, remembered and forgotten slaves who toiled and served the economic engines at the birth of our nation. They may have not chosen their fate, but we can still honor their existence, repent the sins which enslaved them, and give them and their descendants their due. Honor them. Never forget them. Making amends is not about changing history, because that is something we cannot do. Making amends to them and to their families is about changing our now, and changing our future. That is something we can and must do.
This is an important story.