WASHINGTON — Saying there is an "urgent need" to address "the sin of racism" in the country and find solutions to it, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has established a new Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and named one of the country's African-American Catholic bishops to chair it.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, initiated the committee Aug. 23 "to focus on addressing the sin of racism in our society, and even in our Church, and the urgent need to come together as a society to find solutions."
He appointed Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Catholic Education, to chair the committee.
"Recent events have exposed the extent to which the sin of racism continues to inflict our nation," Cardinal DiNardo wrote in a statement. "The establishment of this new ad hoc committee will be wholly dedicated to engaging the Church and our society to work together in unity to challenge the sin of racism, to listen to (people) who are suffering under this sin, and to come together in the love of Christ to know one another as brothers and sisters."
The naming of members to serve on the new body will be finalized in coming days, the USCCB stated in an announcement. It added that the committee's mandate "will be confirmed at the first meeting, expected very shortly."
"I look forward to working with my brother bishops as well as communities across the United States to listen to the needs of individuals who have suffered under the sin of racism and together find solutions to this epidemic of hate that has plagued our nation for far too long," Bishop Murry wrote in a statement.
"Through Jesus' example of love and mercy, we are called to be a better people than what we have witnessed over the past weeks and months as a nation. Through listening, prayer and meaningful collaboration, I'm hopeful we can find lasting solutions and common ground where racism will no longer find a place in our hearts or in our society."
The committee also will "welcome and support" implementation of the U.S. bishops' new pastoral letter on racism, expected to be released in 2018. In 1979, the bishops issued a pastoral letter on racism titled "Brothers and Sisters to Us," in which they addressed many themes, but the overall message then as today was "racism is a sin."
Creation of a new formal body that is part of the USCCB — formed on the USCCB Executive Committee's "unanimous recommendation" — speaks to how serious the U.S. Catholic Church leaders take the problem of racism in America today.
In addition to the Executive Committee's recommendation, the USCCB stated, the decision to initiate the new Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism also was made in consultation with members of the USCCB's Committee on Priorities and Plans.