Metuchen Catholic bishop: Racism an evil 'more dangerous' than coronavirus

61920 Prayer Service   Deacon Rick 1 Members of the African American, African & Caribbean Apostolate hand the Evangelion to Deacon Rick Fortune at an Enduring Love service June 19 2020.

The Bishop of Metuchen led a prayer service for racial harmony and justice Friday, urging Catholics to focus on the eradication of racism.

Bishop James Checchio held the prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi June 19.

"Evil is real and even more dangerous than the coronavirus," he said during his homily, challenging Catholics to pray and sacrifice for an end to racism, adding that "we need to address this national plague [of racism] with the same intensity we are using in our efforts to eradicate the COVID-19 virus."

"As we continue to respond to the global pandemic of COVID-19 and its impact on our health and our economy, evil has shown itself anew to us as the sin and social disease of racism," he said.

"During this already difficult time, confusion, mistrust, anger and anxiety have all helped to bring to light an extremely contagious and dangerous outbreak of hate."

In addition to clerics, lay minister and members of the diocese's African American, African, and Caribbean Apostolate participated in the service.

The Diocese of Metuchen is holding prayer services, called "Enduring Love: Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for racial harmony, peace, justice and healing in our nation", across the diocese on Fridays this June

In addition to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Litany of the Sacred Heart, Bishop Checchio also knelt and offered a prayer for George Floyd, who was killed May 25 in police custody. The bishop knelt for 8 minutes and 45 seconds - the amount of time that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin used a controversial knee-to-neck restraining method that led to Floyd's death.

"The root of racism is never 'someplace else' but rather it lies within the human heart," said Bishop Checchio. "We each can contribute to a civilization of love or of hate. Racial healing begins by a greater acceptance of our own humanity as a gift from the Father, and then, a recognition that every person is a child of the One Father."

Bishop Checchio emphasized the dignity of all human persons, noting that every person is made in the image and likeness of God. He said racism contradicts the teaching of Christ and is an attack on humanity.

"My brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all equally made in the image and likeness of God. Racism occurs when this fundamental truth is ignored," he said. "Racism is a sin that divides the human family."

The bishop said that through sacraments, prayers, and daily sacrifices, God makes himself more present in the world and in each person. He said every time people live as true brothers and sisters in Christ the image of God is restored in our world.

"God uses us to make Himself present in our world by our simple yet genuine acts of love, and hence the world better reflects the image of God Himself as we renew the face of the earth, making it over in God's own image," he said.

"Yes, God provides us with all we need to strive to be perfect, like Him, and the hallmark of one's friendship with Jesus – for all of us – is to absorb the life of Jesus so completely, that we want only to do what He wants to do through us."

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