The violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month held before the eyes of the nation an image of division.
In view of these events, Bishop George Murray of the Diocese of Youngstown, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ ad hoc committee against racism, has called on Catholics and all people of faith to observe September 9th as a Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities. Of the work to end racism, he said, “we must begin and end this effort in prayer together, even as we seek to act in concrete ways.”
Racism is not a new problem, but neither is it new for the Church to speak out against it. Take Bartolomé de las Casas, a Spanish Dominican who combatted the oppression of the indigenous population in 16th-century colonial America. Writing for the Spanish crown, he recalled the principle that should guide social action: Christ’s love leaves no space for division, even in the face of the most persistent differences. Quoting from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, he writes in his treatise In Defense of the Indians:
Christ wanted love to be called his single commandment. This we owe to all men. Nobody is excepted. “There is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised and the uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.”
Let us join today with Bishop Murray and the whole Church in praying for peace, and let us have confidence and hope in the Lord who heals all division.
Image: Félix Parra, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas