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Racism - What does the Church Have to Say

Statement from Bishop Daly on Racism

Since the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of a law enforcement officer, our country has been roiled by protest, anger, and unrest. For many Black people, this was not an isolated event. In the 2018 letter by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops entitled “Open Wide Our Hearts,” we spoke about the sad reality of persistent racism in our country. We stated clearly, “Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love.” (OWOH, 3) As bishops, we recognized that racism extends beyond personal acts, saying, “Racism can also be institutional, when practices or traditions are upheld that treat certain groups of people unjustly.” (OWOH 5)

For those who seek to act justly, the ongoing reality of racism is troubling. Our brothers and sisters are crying out, saying they have not been seen or heard. Our nation’s laws and policies have not yet achieved justice or equal protection under the law for all people.

As Catholics, we must speak out against violence in words and actions. Justice in society will not be achieved by destruction or violence. “Open Wide Our Hearts” acknowledges that for many minorities, “interactions with police are fraught with fear and even danger.” This sad reality can anger all of us, but the letter also makes the point in the fight for justice, we must “reject harsh rhetoric that belittles and dehumanizes law enforcement personnel who labor to keep our communities safe.”

The Catholic Church has always been a champion of the marginalized, the suffering, and the poor. Our hospitals, our Catholic charities, and our missionary efforts all witness to this mission of love given to us by our Lord. I urge each and every Catholic and person of goodwill to earnestly pray for justice in our society and for reforms that bring peace, justice and reconciliation.