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Statement from Bishop Raica regarding events in Charlottesville
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
In light of the sad and tragic events that have swirled through the media in the past week in Charlottesville, VA, I wish to add my name to the list of those rightly concerned about the toxic evil of racism and its extreme form, white supremacy. Modern social media bring these events to our attention on our devices instantaneously. Consequently, there is an urgency to weigh in by responding to a dynamic situation even before the dust settles.
From my vantage point, I echo the sentiments of Bishop Francis DiLorenzo, who issued a statement about Charlottesville, his last statement before he passed away: “Hatred and its manifestations of racism, neo-Nazism and white supremacy, are sins against God and profoundly wound the children of God. I am grateful for the many people, including clergy and people of faith, who bravely stood against hate, whether in prayer or in person.”
In 1979, the Bishops of the United States wrote a prophetic Pastoral Letter on Racism: Brothers and Sisters to Us. They noted: “Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father.”
For all of us today, it is important not to reduce ourselves down to the basest learned human instincts that tend toward hate, violence and bigotry. Rather, we are told to acknowledge the dignity of each person before us, even those with whom we may disagree or dislike. As Christians, we are to pattern ourselves after the very mind and heart of Christ. Our Lord commanded, “Love one another as I have loved you!”(Jn 15:12) Early Christians understood this and lived a new and radical way in spite of persecution for their beliefs. It was something new, something novel, something attractive, something bold that enabled love to overcome hate, violence and bigotry of the early Christian centuries. That is our challenge in the aftermath of Charlottesville.
In closing, may I also suggest to the faithful of the Diocese of Gaylord the inspiring words taken from the Prayer of St Francis as our guiding principle: “Where there is hatred, let me sow love!”
+Steven J. Raica
Bishop of Gaylord