It is all over the news, of course: one dead and 19 injured during a riot by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. Between 500 and 1000 white nationalists, neo-Nazis and alt-right supporters, all heavily armed, descended on Charlottesville to “protect their heritage” in the form of a statue of Robert E. Lee that is slated for removal from the newly renamed Emancipation Park. There were a large number of counter-protestors; details remain sketchy, but it appears that while a few were anti-fa and black flag anarchists looking for a fight, the vast majority were peaceful. The white supremacists turned on them, and one drove his car into a group of peaceful protesters, killing one. (Her name was Heather Heyer; she was a 32 year old para-legal. Please remember her and her family in your prayers.)
Unlike President Trump, who issued a weak statement condemning violence on all sides, the American bishops have quickly and forcefully spoken out against racist violence. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the most senior black bishop in the US, tweeted
“Hatred & vile racist actions defile the USA. Such activity is NEVER justified. Those who planned these acts must be denounced & defied. +WDG.”
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the USCCB, issued the following very forceful statement:
“On behalf of the bishops of the United States, I join leaders from around the nation in condemning the violence and hatred that have now led to one death and multiple injuries in Charlottesville, Virginia. We offer our prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed and for all those who have been injured. We join our voices to all those calling for calm.
The abhorrent acts of hatred on display in Charlottesville are an attack on the unity of our nation and therefore summon us all to fervent prayer and peaceful action. The bishops stand with all who are oppressed by evil ideology and entrust all who suffer to the prayers of St. Peter Claver as we approach his feast day. We also stand ready to work with all people of goodwill for an end to racial violence and for the building of peace in our communities.Last year a Task Force of our Bishops Conference under Archbishop Wilton Gregory proposed prayers and resources to work for unity and harmony in our country and in our Church. I am encouraging the bishops to continue that work especially as the Feast of St. Peter Claver approaches.”
Given the forceful response of the bishops, the next step is to see whether their message is communicated to the laity. Will pastors mention it today? I realize that today’s homilies were all written before this started, and it may be too much to ask a priest to completely scrap a homily and start over at the last minute. But will anyone add a few remarks? Add an intention to the prayers of the Faithful? Say something during the announcements? I really don’t know, though I fear that very few will say anything.
So if your Pastor does say something at mass today, please let me know in the comments. If not, what do you wish you had heard? What do you think the next step should be for the Church in America?