Monday, March 11, 2002

Prayers ask for race settlement

Clergy also urge calls to leaders

By Cindy Kranz,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Religious leaders are summoning the power of prayer as key negotiations get under way this week to settle a racial profiling lawsuit filed against Cincinnati.

        The Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati asked local congregations to pray this past weekend for successful negotiations to improve community/police relations.

        The negotiations, scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, are an effort to resolve a racial-profiling lawsuit that accuses Cincinnati police of decades of discrimination against blacks.

        Parties — including the American Civil Liberties Union, Black United Front, City of Cincinnati and Fraternal Order of Police — also negotiated Sunday, said Scott Greenwood, general counsel for Ohio's ACLU chapter.

        The process concludes months of input from thousands of citizens and help from a nationally known mediation group.

        “We in the religious community are not helpless spectators watching others struggle over police and community problems,” according to a statement issued by the religious coalition. “Through the collaborative process ... we can be major players in improving community/police relations in Cincinnati.”

        Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati asked parishes to pray for the negotiations in the Prayers of the Faithful on Sunday and throughout the week. The archdiocese is a member of MARCC.

        At Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Westwood, parishioners offered this petition: “For the leaders of our city, that they may be successful in improving police and community relations in our city, we pray to the Lord.”

        After Mass, Judy Davidson, one of the church's 6,500 members, said the prayers are important.

        “We need to bring reconciliation to our community,” the Green Township woman said. “We have more in common than what divides us.”

        The MARCC also encourages congregations during the next two weekends to write or call lawsuit principals to commend them for negotiating and encourage them to approve the agreement.

        According to a timetable set by the U.S. District Court, the parties must approve or reject the agreement by April 5. If a settlement is not reached, a court date will be set for litigation.


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