The following is a statement by Most. Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston regarding the recent violence in Charlottesville.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The violence and hatred in Charlottesville has without a doubt led all of us this past week to spend some moments reflecting upon racism in our society. And we’ve all said a prayer for the soul of Heather Heyer and for the others injured in racist-inspired attacks.
In our Diocese, we have sought to combat racism and prejudice. Our diocesan schools strive to lead students to put on the mind of Christ when looking at any fellow human beings. This summer the Catholic Campaign for Human Development of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference has given a grant to the Call to Action for Racial Equality (C.A.R.E.) organization which has done such great work dialoging with the Charleston Police Department on improving relations between the African-American community and officers. This grant will enable the C.A.R.E. model of inter-racial dialog to extend to the rest of the state.
But the events in Charlottesville should not only foster discussion. They should deeply touch each individual’s heart. They should challenge us to prayerfully reflect on our own prejudices, including any vestiges of racism. Are we really willing to speak up when we hear language disparaging any group of our sisters and brothers? Are we willing to work to promote respect for all persons?
The Feast of St. Peter Claver occurs on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Four centuries ago this amazing disciple of Christ brought medicines and loving kindness to those crowded into the ghastly slave ships arriving at Cartagena, Columbia. His ability to see with the eyes of Christ those despised by nearly all citizens of Cartagena has inspired subsequent generations.
Let us all devote a period of prayer during the weekend of Sept 9-10 to meditating on what we should do regarding prejudice in our lives and in our society. The readings at mass that weekend fit right into these themes: they deal with the correcting of our erring brothers and sisters, and with love doing no evil to the neighbor.
May the intercession of Mary of the Magnificat, she who sang of God’s justice for all and mercy to all, help guide us in our reflections.