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Fr Bryan Massingale named 2021 Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

A Black Catholic priest and scholar has been awarded Pax Christi USA's highest honor.

For the first time in 16 years, Pax Christi USA’s Teacher of Peace Award is going to a Black Catholic.

Fr Bryan Massingale was named this year’s recipient in a statement from the organization earlier today, having been chosen from a pool of 30 nominees.

“[We are] recognizing Rev. Massingale’s witness and leadership, his accompaniment and guidance of movements and organizations committed to the work of peace and social justice (including our own), and his promotion of the social mission of the gospel,” it reads.

An ethics professor at Fordham University and priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Massingale was nominated for the award by Pearlette Springer, director of Black Catholic ministry in Indianapolis.

The outspoken Black priest is known for his focus on racial justice issues, and is perhaps the nation’s most prominent voice on the topic. His seminal text, 2010’s “Racial Justice and the Catholic Church”, systematizes the history, present, and future of race issues as seen from a Black Catholic lens.

He is a frequently sought-after lecturer and instructor on the topic, and one of the many vectors therein is his focus on LGBT issues, which he has become known for since his publicly coming out as gay in 2019.

Winning the Teacher of Peace Award on this, the last day of Pride Month, Massingale beat out two other Black Catholic scholars who also often speak and write on LGBT matters: Drs. M. Shawn Copeland of Boston College and Emory University, and Craig Ford, Jr. of St Norbert College.

Pax Christi USA National Chair Isaac Chandler, also African American, in the announcement called Massingale “the prophetic edge of the Catholic Church in the United States today”.

“He mines the intersections of race, sexuality, and faith, raising our awareness of issues ranging from criminal justice to LGBTQ rights to capital punishment.”

Lexington’s Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., a White bishop who is also outspoken on the issue of LGBT outreach, serves as president of Pax Christi USA and praised Massingale “as [his] teacher”.

“He is clearly a Teacher of Peace and calls each of us all to work for genuine peace with justice. His prophetic voice is needed at this moment in our history and I am so pleased that Pax Christi USA is honoring him in this way.”

Both Stowe and Massingale participated in last Saturday’s Outreach 2021 LGBTQ Catholic Ministry webinar, spearheaded by Fr James Martin, SJ and praised by Pope Francis.

Massingale will officially receive the award during the Pax Christi USA National Conference on July 31st.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, in priesthood formation with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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