Our hearts break with sorrow in the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy

Our hearts break with sorrow as we witness the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia this past Saturday. We mourn the tragic loss of one innocent life and we are deeply saddened that 19 others have been wounded and hurt by the senseless act of violence spurned by a rally of hate. Anger and hatred always beget violence. Freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to malign, denigrate and murder other people who may not share your world view. There is no place in our country for hatred, for discrimination, for prejudice, and for seeing and treating others as inferior. The Catholic Church has long denounced any form of racism as an absolute evil and a great sin. As Christians we must fight vigorously against any ideology or vision of life that espouses hatred for others and embraces violence as an acceptable solution. As Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, stated this week: “We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love’s victory over every form of evil is assured.” We must affirm our belief in the sanctity and dignity of every human life; that each person is made in the image and likeness of our God. We are brothers and sisters who stand together in solidarity and we must renounce vigorously anyone who tries to convince us that a certain group of people are superior to others. St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta spoke often of the call to see the face of Jesus in each and every person that we meet. What a different kind of nation we would belong to if that were true. We must stand in solidarity – regardless of race, creed, ethnic background or political party – and affirm the goodness and beauty that is reflected in every human person, that divine spark of God himself that lies in every human heart. We saw that so clearly in the response of so many other people who have come out in force to reaffirm our foundational values that each and every person is worthy of respect regardless of our differences. And as Cardinal DiNardo reminded us let us lift us this tragedy to God, the divine healer. “At Mass, let us offer a special prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who sought to protect us from the violent ideology displayed yesterday. Let us especially remember those who lost their lives. Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country.” Each of us bears the responsibility to stand up and proclaim loudly and forcefully: “No to racism; No to hatred; No to bigotry. Not here; Not now; Not ever.”