“Open Wide Our Hearts”

This past week’s March for Life was marred by an incident involving Catholic high school boys and a Native American protester. One would never have guessed from the ensuing coverage that the US bishops had recently put out a letter on racism, which includes not only a litany of sins that Europeans and white Americans committed against Native Americans, but this strong judgment: “The effects of this evil remain visible in the great difficulties experienced by Native American communities today.”

The pastoral letter, released in November 2018, was tragically swallowed up amidst the turmoil of clerical sex abuse scandals. That is too bad, as the text is strong but much-needed medicine:

The injustice and harm racism causes are an attack on human life. The Church in the United States has spoken out consistently and forcefully against abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, the death penalty, and other forms of violence that threaten human life. It is not a secret that these attacks on human life have severely affected people of color, who are disproportionally affected by poverty, targeted for abortion, have less access to healthcare, have the greatest numbers on death row, and are most likely to feel pressure to end their lives when facing serious illness. As bishops, we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue. Accordingly, we will not cease to speak forcefully against and work toward ending racism. Racism directly places brother and sister against each other, violating the dignity inherent in each person. The Apostle James commands the Christian: “show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ” (Jas 2:1).

On this day commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr, take a moment to read the letter, “Open Wide Our Hearts.” Let it challenge us to ask whether we are really proclaiming with our lives that, “Through his Cross and Resurrection, Christ united the one human race to the Father.” Only that faith is worthy of the name “pro-life”.

Read analysis on the letter from America, Crux and NCR.

Want to spread this conversation to your parish, school and friends? The bishops also prepared educational and parish resources.

And don’t forget Dr King’s own words:

I Have a Dream

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Nonviolence and Racial Justice

And many others

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