Published March 31, 2021 | En Español
ATLANTA—On March 31, Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., offered a statement on racism, pledging a personal commitment to model the change that must take place to eradicate the sin.
The archbishop’s statement follows:
“We have all witnessed in the past year a resurgence of the sin of racism. This insidious evil—our country’s original sin—has resurfaced in our modern, socially distanced lives, causing further division between families, friends, and faith communities. More importantly, sisters and brothers of color continue to suffer from both overt and systemic expressions of this sin, often feeling intense anger and great disappointment in the failure to condemn and eradicate racism in our country.
The U.S. Bishops were clear in the 2018 pastoral letter on racism, Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, stating that ‘Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love (Mt 22:39).’ Our words affirm what God has revealed to us: the sin of racism is not an expression of love and we cannot truly love God and allow racism to continue to thrive and separate us as brethren united in Christ.
As your shepherd, I confess and own the fact that racism exists both individually and structurally in our own archdiocesan Chancery, in our parishes and in our schools. To those who have experienced racism, I care deeply about what has happened to you and I apologize for our failure to condemn the violation of your human dignity. It grieves me to know that I cannot undo the harm that has been done. It is my hope that my apology for the sins of our past can serve as a prologue for our path forward towards healing and reconciliation.
I commit myself to personally modeling the change that must take place, ensuring you that I support the work of eradicating the sin of racism at all levels in this local church. I commit myself to modeling change through the gift of encounter, where the ignorance and fear of the other is dispelled through mutual recognition and respect of our shared human dignity. I also commit to prioritizing the celebration of all our diverse communities in the archdiocese through measures promoting the intercultural competency development of ministry leaders in our communities and institutions.
I humbly ask you, sisters and brothers, to pray for me, your bishops and our local church in the spirit of the prophetic words Micah: Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, may we do ‘… what is good, and what the Lord requires of [us]: only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with [our] God.’ (Mi 6:8)
May God bless us, guide us and keep us on our journey together in eradicating the sin of racism.”