January 19-20, 2019

At their meeting last November, the Bishops of the United States approved a document entitled Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love: A Pastoral Letter Against Racism. In this letter, they invite all of us to confront the sin of racism in our society and to consider if there is any racism in our parishes and personal lives that needs to be addressed. The Martin Luther King holiday this week provides us with further incentive to consider this important issue. Our parish is wonderfully diverse, and that gift gives us an opportunity to give witness that all of us are children of God, created in God’s beautiful image. The document begins by reminding us that: 

Holy Scripture boldly proclaims, “See what love the Father has

bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet

so we are” (1 Jn 3:1). This love “comes from God and unites us

to God; through this unifying process it makes us a ‘we’ which

transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God

is ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28).”  By the work of the Holy Spirit, the

Church is called to share with all the world this gift of love. As

Pope Francis points out, “The salvation which God has wrought,

and the Church joyfully proclaims, is for everyone. God has found

a way to unite himself to every human being in every age.” Through

his Cross and Resurrection, Christ united the one human race to

the Father. However, even though Christ’s victory over sin and death

is complete, we still live in a world affected by them. As bishops

of the Catholic Church in the United States, we want to address

one particularly destructive and persistent form of evil. Despite

many promising strides made in our country, racism still infects

our nation. 

What Is Racism? Racism arises when—either consciously or

unconsciously—a person holds that his or her own race or

ethnicity is superior, and therefore judges persons of other races or

ethnicities as inferior and unworthy of equal regard. When this

conviction or attitude leads individuals or groups to exclude,

ridicule, mistreat, or unjustly discriminate against persons on the

basis of their race or ethnicity, it is sinful. Racist acts are sinful

because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge

the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as

the neighbors Christ calls us to love (Mt 22:39). 

I encourage all to read this document and consider this issue. The document can be found at usccb.org/racism

Fr. Jeff