We All Need to Take Responsibility (Video Message from Cardinal DiNardo)

June 9, 2020

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5

Plainly stated, for it is plain to see, we in America have a plank in our eye with regard to racism. This is a tough but necessary reality to confront, because we cannot address a problem until we acknowledge it.  This includes us as members of the Catholic Church.

Many in our society have been protesting in a show of solidarity with our brothers and sisters of color to push forward reforms to change our society.   The vast majority of the protestors have done so peacefully, while insisting - with determination and courage – that our nation change for the better.  Unfortunately, the use of violence by a small minority dilutes our focus away from the urgency of the reforms.

In the past, leaders of the Church frequently refrained from speaking out when acts of racial violence or other injustices have come to light. No more.

As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) declared in their important and inspiring work “Open Wide Our Hearts” in November of 2018:

There have been many times when the Church has failed to live as Christ taught—to love our brothers and sisters. Acts of racism have been committed by leaders and members of the Catholic Church—by bishops, clergy, religious, and laity—and her institutions. Consequently, we all need to take responsibility for correcting the injustices of racism and healing the harms it has caused.

For Catholics, this is particularly an issue of faith because of our principles of social justice. The sin of racism is a pro-life issue.  All human life is made in the image and likeness of God without regard to race, national origin, culture, or religion. 

Since 2018, the USCCB has been conducting listening sessions; providing resources about racism to dioceses and parishes to begin important conversations about this evil.  We too in the Archdiocese have been engaged.  For more than a year, our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council has been working on goals and objectives, which essentially include the overcoming of racism. 

Like many of you, in these recent days filled with anguish and pain, I have also been moved by the acts of kindness and good from persons of all races and faiths – who have responded to this fundamental, genuine tragedy with the best in the human spirit. I think especially of the grace demonstrated by the Floyd family, insisting that their loved one’s killing inspire positive change.

Jesus, our Lord and Savior, calls us to reform and invites us to a new life. To love your neighbor as yourself is part of the Great Commandment that Jesus proclaimed. To forget self and serve others is part of our creed.

We must remember whoever exalts himself will be humbled.  Whoever views or holds themselves as superior to others has substituted their judgment for that of the Lord. That is a sin against God, and humanity. And it must end.

But we need more than words. We need action.

Quoting again from “Open Wide Our Hearts”:

The Christian community should draw from this central, ongoing encounter with Christ and seek to combat racism with love, recalling the insight of Pope Francis that “if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, this wellspring of strength and courage must move us to act. Consequently, we all need to take responsibility for correcting the injustices of racism and healing the harms it has caused.

George Floyd, like Eric Garner before him, died after pleading, “I cannot breathe.” We can only breathe again rightly with the help of the Holy Spirit, if we make it our constant work to eliminate the sin of racism in our society.