By CAROL ZIMMERMANN, Catholic News Service | Published January 26, 2017
WASHINGTON (CNS)—The Catholic Church has a “tremendous responsibility to bring people together in prayer and dialogue, to begin anew the vital work of fostering healing and lasting peace,” said a report by a U.S. bishops’ task force released Jan. 5 in the wake of last year’s incidents of violence and racial tensions.
The work to “root out racism and create healthy dynamics in our neighborhoods” is a long-term project, but the scope of it should not cause fear or intimidation, wrote Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, chairman of the Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities, in the report’s introduction.
He also said “the church is at her absolute best when she is a bold and prophetic voice for the power of the love upon which our faith is based, the love of Jesus Christ.”
The task force is taking on a broad issue, but in its report, it breaks down what needs to be done into a few recommendations to the U.S. bishops, urging them to focus on:
– Prayer: Masses, rosaries, prayer services during the year.
– Local dialogues: conversations on race and dialogues hosted by parishes or dioceses.
– Parish and diocesan training: intercultural competence training for staff and parishioners.
– Opportunities for encounter: providing forums for people to examine local challenges firsthand.
– Support of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which funds groups that address concerns about race, poverty and violence.
The group also recommended that the National Day of Prayer for Peace in our Communities be an annual observance, urged U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop committees to provide resources for racial healing and stressed that a statement on racism from the bishops was “more important than ever.”
A summary of the findings of the task force—convened last year by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, then president of the USCCB—was presented to the U.S. bishops in November at their fall assembly in Baltimore.
The full report—online at http://bit.ly/2iMX8rS—highlights some of the activities promoted by the task force last year, including the nationwide celebration of a Day of Prayer for Peace in our Communities Sept. 9 and listening sessions and interviews between members of the task force and community members.
In describing some of the discussions that took place among task force members—both bishops and lay leaders—the report notes that there is not a one-time solution for overcoming racism and violence.