The archbishop's reflection laid out an unsparing resume of his earliest predecessors, saying that "no credible treatment of the history of the establishment of the Catholic Church in the United States can be told without also acknowledging the reality of the early Church's direct involvement in slavery."
Noting his own previous pastoral statement on Dr. King's teaching on non-violence, Lori acknowledged that the Church had fallen short of the demands of the Gospel in the era of so-called Jim Crow laws and beyond, allowing de facto segregation between and even within parishes and other institutions.
While efforts by Church leaders to support and champion the civil rights movement offered examples of "efforts, sacrifices, and achievements" by Catholic leaders, priests, religious, and lay people, Lori warned there is still more to be done.
"Without a doubt, many members of the Catholic Church today have continued to devote themselves to addressing racial injustice in our Church and society," the archbishop said.
"These efforts, encouraging as they may be, cannot by themselves end racial injustice, nor can they be causes of complacency," he said, while asking "if we can still easily identify the 'black' and 'white' parishes of our archdiocese, have we truly accomplished the goal of racial equity we claim to embrace?"
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In November, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the pastoral letter "Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love," also on the subject of racism in America.
Lori made frequent reference to this document, which warned against a "neglect of history" among many in the Church with regard to racism and a lack of awareness of "the connection between institutional racism and the continued erosion of the sanctity of life."
The U.S. bishops wrote that neither the Church or society could "look upon the progress against racism in recent decades and conclude that our current situation meets the standard of justice."
"God demands more of us," the bishops said.