Some dioceses have begun initiatives to do this, Archbishop Gregory said, like the Archdiocese of Detroit which organized a prayer demonstration in one of its most violent neighborhoods during a week in August.
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore led a prayer walk for peace through the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, where over one year ago riots erupted after the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, the Catholic Review reported.
However, “more must be done,” Archbishop Gregory said.
And the Church will also have to work with other Christian denominations and religions. “The issues that we face are not Catholic issues. They are American issues,” he maintained.
“We have to work with our interfaith and ecumenical partners so that we present a united front, so it’s not simply the Catholic Church speaking in response to violence and racism, it’s a community of believers and men and women of good will who may not have any particular religious faith that they follow,” the archbishop said.
A new pastoral letter on racism is in the works, the bishops confirmed. Archbishop Kurtz issued a statement on race relations in June of 2015, but a pastoral letter would be the first new such letter by the bishops since “Brothers and Sisters In Us” from 1979.
Bishop Fabre noted that the letter is “really in the very beginning stage,” but will cover “how is it that racism manifests itself in society, and maybe even in the Church today.” He hoped it will offer practical “action steps” for Catholics to “actively work on the healing and reconciliation that is hoped for in this pastoral letter.”
“We’ve made a lot of progress but there remains a lot of progress that needs to be made,” the bishop continued. “We thank God for what we have done, and we ask God’s encouragement and God’s strength to face what we need to do.”
The bishops were also asked if they would eventually have to take a stance on the Black Lives Matter movement, and if the issues raised by the movement would be addressed in the pastoral letter.
“The Church has always held that all of human life is sacred, and particularly in those areas where human life might be under attack or threatened, we would certainly want to work with others to see that those issues are addressed,” Bishop Fabre said.
“I do know that the Black Lives Matter, it’s still unfolding, and certainly depending on what is it that they embrace and what is it that they want to devote their time and their attention to, I think that the Church would be very interested in discussing working with them to see how together we can assist one another in addressing these needs in the community.”
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“While the emphasis on the Black Lives Matter sheds light on the very serious issues that confront African American and people of color in too many situations of violence, it is not in any way contrary to the Church’s position that human life in and of itself has a dignity that must be respected in all circumstances,” Archbishop Gregory stated.