On Sunday, the Archdiocese of Baltimore celebrated a Blue Mass to honor the local police force and law enforcement officials, showing gratitude to the public servants and encouraging faithful leadership according to the Ten Commandments.
“Every day you put your lives on the line to keep the citizens of our city safe and strive to build bonds of trust between the police and the community,” said Archbishop William E. Lori in the homily.
“The fact that we’ve gathered together as a community of faith to pray with you and to pray for you is meant to be a source of comfort and encouragement to you and your colleagues,” he continued.
The Blue Mass took place on March 4 at St. Casimir Parish in Canton, one of the largest churches in the archdiocese. Archbishop Lori presided at the Mass, which was attended by police officers, local families, the Knights of Columbus, the Boy Scouts of America and the Maryland Catholic War Veterans. Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore and Darryl De Sousa, the city police commissioner, were also in attendance.
Archbishop Lori prayed for the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, patron saint of police officers, that those present would be protected from all harm and given “the strength, wisdom and virtue needed to fulfill your demanding responsibilities on behalf of all of us.”
Pointing toward the authority of the Ten Commandments, the archbishop that “the Word of God in Scripture may shed divine light on the work you have been called to do in our midst.”
“God’s Commandments are not unreasonable. The Lord did not command his people to do outlandish things; rather, through the Commandments he guided them to discover his law already written in their hearts, that innate sense of right and wrong, that inner voice which tells us to choose good and shun evil,” Lori said.
“As a rule, just laws enacted by civil authority relate in some way to one or more of the Ten Commandments,” the archbishop continued, saying that “if every citizen observed most of the Ten Commandments most of the time our society would be much more just and peaceful than it is.”
However, he noted, “The people of the Ancient Covenant did not always observe God’s Commandments…nor do people in our day always abide by human laws, however reasonable and just they may be.”
“Clearly, enacting just laws is not enough. Nor is it enough to cajole and even force people to be law abiding… something more is needed and it’s this: all of us, myself included, need to have the temple of our hearts cleansed,” Archbishop Lori said.
This conversion of heart is necessary in order to see real change in the community, leading people to obey God and his laws “as a free and loving response to his immense and merciful love,” he said.
“Just as Jesus cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem, so too he wants to cleanse and reform our hearts.”
The March 4 Mass came as the Catholic Church continues efforts to promote healing after heightened racial tensions in Baltimore took the national spotlight with the 2015 death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
In 2016, the Justice Department issued a report criticizing policing abuses in Baltimore after an investigation into multiple allegations of police misconduct within the city. They found a “pattern of civil rights violations,” including the use of “enforcement strategies that unlawfully subject African Americans to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests.”
“Signs of unity are particularly important now,” said Lt. Robert Quick Jr., one of the police officers in attendance at the Blue Mass, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
“This is the greatest job in the world,” Quick continued, noting that “there is so much good in the world. To be able to help people is very rewarding.”