The Maryland bishops released a pastoral letter Monday decrying the sin of racism and confessing their own participation in it.
“For centuries, our country and our State have been plagued with problems of racial inequality and injustice,” the bishops declare. “Although many people have acted in good faith in service and prayer to bring about just change, to acknowledge the dignity of each life, and to love one another, our current crisis causes us to reflect on how much we still must do together to make impactful progress.”
“We vividly recall our own Church’s past sins and failings and admit to them freely,” they write.
The bishops also confess to having themselves failed to follow the gospel, which now impels them to lead the charge in eradicating unjust discrimination.
“With regret and humility, we must recognize that as Catholic leaders and as an institution we have, at times, not followed the Gospel to which we profess and have been too slow in correcting our shortcomings,” they state. “For this reason, it is incumbent upon us to place ourselves at the forefront of efforts to remove the inequalities and discrimination that are still present in Maryland and our nation today.”
The bishops call for “prayers, thoughts and actions for an end, finally, to the sin of racism that remains with us and in us.”
“The unjust killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans, and the subsequent protests, rallies and vigils that continue to take place make it clear that the conscience of our nation is on trial as questions of race and equality confront each and every one of us,” they state.
While important, “prayer and dialogue, alone, are not enough,” the bishops assert. “We must act to bring about true change.”
On a hopeful note, the bishops seem to renounce misguided Affirmative Action programs and quota systems that penalize or benefit individuals based on race.
“Over the years, the Catholic Bishops of Maryland have stood firmly in our support of laws that sought to bring about justice and an end to unequal treatment based on race,” they note.
“We continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten the minds and hearts of our elected representatives so that truth and justice will prevail over the falsehoods of discrimination and injustice,” they note.
“We pray that God will guide us during these difficult times and give us the courage to act with conviction in our duty to seek racial equality, heal divisions, and build bridges of understanding and hope,” the bishops conclude.