Our nation is in crisis. What began as horrific images from Minneapolis, where an African American man was killed before our very eyes by a white police officer, has now spread past peaceful protests and into violence and destruction across the country. It begs the question: What can the Church do to bring light to this moment of profound darkness and beyond? What can help transform the systemic problems of racism and privilege we experience over and over?
Both the racism that predicated the murder and the resulting hatred and violence are rooted in a deep distortion of the human person. And while there is no denying the racism that is present in our country and lurking even in the Church, it is precisely our Christian faith that offers the remedy to the sin’s ugly fruits. Our faith proclaims the truth that all of God’s children are made in his image and likeness, no matter the pigment of their skin. It follows that every man and woman is our neighbor in Christ, truly “brothers and sisters to us,” as the U.S. bishops stated in their 1977 pastoral letter on racism. (A new letter penned in 2018 is titled “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.”) More to the point, Christ’s invitation to come and follow him is open to all men and women. Any distortion of these truths is simply sinful.
Christians recognize that there is only one antidote to sin: holiness. We must be conformed to Christ in all things. Lives of virtue, marked by our own cooperation with God’s plan for salvation, is the only way forward. Holiness will eradicate racism and the violent reactions to it.
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