Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

We must raise our voices against bigotry

By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published March 9, 2017  | En Español

The friendship that we Catholics enjoy with our Atlanta Jewish brothers and sisters is a cherished heritage that has only grown stronger over the years. Long before I became your Archbishop, all of my predecessors had worked closely with our Jewish neighbors and friends to establish and to strengthen the bonds of respect and love, which I have tried to enhance and expand. We have shared many recent events that highlight our mutual commitments to justice, understanding and peace—events that demonstrate our ecumenical collaboration and fellowship and bring us ever closer to one another because we believe that God Himself desires that union.

We have shared our music, our art and literature, our prayer rituals, our history and, above all, our affection for one another to strengthen our affiliations.

Recently the Jewish community in our country has been disturbed by a number of aggressive and offensive actions, including the desecration of cemeteries and sending of threatening messages to Jewish institutions. Such behavior is totally unacceptable and humanly pathetic. We should all be offended and repulsed by these actions. Wherever they occur, they threaten us all.

The rise of these activities embarrasses us as a nation and diminishes our worldwide public image. Especially, these actions should incite us all not only to denounce them but to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish neighbors in calling for a strong legal response and action against the perpetrators. To ignore this behavior or to minimize its impact on our neighbors is a betrayal of our Christian heritage and social dignity.

There is no question that the current climate of increasingly bitter public discourse has invited such conduct on the part of some people. Hatred and bigotry are sins that continue to afflict too many people and can occasionally erupt violently in the public arena.

Whether our Jewish friends are the targets of violent hostility, or whether the victims are Muslims, Sikhs, immigrants, Christians or people who simply appear to be of a particular ethnic or racial class, we cannot remain silent—for such silence becomes consensus.

Assaults on our Jewish neighbors diminish us as a people and lay the groundwork for future acts of violence. We Catholics must raise our voices against all forms of bigotry and hatred because they are contrary to our faith and to human decency. We can also remember that some of our own ancestors have been the recipients of such indiscriminate hatred. We Catholics must also acknowledge and denounce the violence in which we may have engaged in the past against those of other faiths. The current climate should remind us that human harmony is a cherished value that belongs to all people of faith and to those of good will who may profess no particular religious faith.

Every story of hatred or violence against our Jewish brothers and sisters ought to resonate within our hearts and cause us to reach out in prayer and friendship to them and to any other people who suffer such brutal treatment. Our response must also include a firm resolve to be intolerant of racist or discriminatory language, which all too often serves as a catalyst for behavior that harms or threatens our Jewish neighbors and friends or anyone else who becomes the target of public hatred and discrimination.