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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

US archbishop calls for bishops’ racism statement given election tension

The Archbishop of Atlanta has urged US bishops to issue a document on racism due to a rise in hate crimes following the recent presidential election.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory called on bishops gathered in Baltimore at the USCCB’s autumn general assembly to issue, sooner rather than later, a document on racism.

“A statement from the full body of bishops on racism is increasingly important at this time,” said Archbishop Gregory.

He urged that the Administrative Committee of the country’s bishops, “in collaboration with relevant standing committees, do all it can to expedite the drafting and approval of the statement on racism currently contemplated in the 2017-2020 strategic plan, given the urgency of the present moment.”

Earlier this year, as communities faced tensions, protests and violence, following a spate of shootings and killings of black men by police, the Archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, Joseph E. Kurtz, as president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked dioceses across the country to observe a day of prayer for peace.

He also wanted the bishops to look for ways they could help the suffering communities, as well as police affected by the incidents. To that end, he appointed a special task force to explore ways of promoting peace and healing around the country and named Archbishop Gregory to head it.

Following the presidential election, states across America have seen an increase in racist and anti-Semitic vandalism and violence with the Southern Poverty Law Center counting more than 200 complaints of hate crimes since election day, according to USA Today.

“Since the election, we’ve seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr Trump’s election,” Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., told USA Today. “The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop Gregory expressed hope that the Church could help foster dialogue and bring healing by working with communities for a lasting peace.

“The disruptions (to the) communities that sparked the establishment of the task force have been going on for at least two years,” he said. “Violence against people of colour is a lot longer than two years…The reaction to the election, it’s added to that tension.”

He said he was praying and hoping that “expressions of frustration, of anger, of disapproval” don’t continue to disrupt the social fabric of those communities.

Picture: Anti-racism protesters take part in a demonstration denouncing Donald Trump outside the US embassy in London, after he was elected as US President. (Picture by Victoria Jones PA Wire/PA Images).