(Vatican Radio) Catholic leaders in the United States have spoken out forcefully against racism in the wake of violent protests that erupted last weekend in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia.
A planned rally by the so-called “alt-right” that included white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups was met by large counter-protests; as fights broke out between the two groups, police attempted to disperse the crowds. Dozens of people were injured, and one person was killed when a car was driven into a group of counter-protesters.
The Bishops of the United States spoke out immediately to denounce the violence. The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, issued a statement on behalf of all the Bisops condemning the violence and hatred seen in Charlottesville. “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.”
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal DiNardo was even more emphatic. “We see it as an attack on the unity of our nation, as a massive evil thing,” he said. Racism, white supremacy, neo-Nazism and similar evils, he said, “have raised their voices in acts of deplorable violence. And we want to raise our voices against them.”
At the same time, he said, Catholics “also want to pray for the victims of violence,” including Heather Heyer, the young woman killed in the car attack, and others wounded in Saturday’s fighting. “Our point is to pray,” Cardinal DiNardo said, “to call on Catholics and all peoples of good will, to pray for healing, and then to start working anew for unity and peace in this time of tension and division.”
Cardinal DiNardo emphasized the importance of speaking out against racism and other forms of intolerance: “Part of the problem of any kind of evil getting a foothold is when the really good people don’t say anything. So those kinds of issues are important – that we speak, that we act together.”
Listen to Vatican Radio's full interview with Vatican Radio: