"Why are we not doing reparation to God for the sins that we have done to each other?" she asked. "Until we have a conversion of heart, there is not going to be peace among us." Catholics can examine their consciences to see where they might have committed sins of racism, take them to the confessional, and ask God to heal them, Purvis said.
Brown gave the example of the pro-life movement, where members pray and fast for an end to abortion even though they might never have had an abortion or participated in one. Catholics can do the same with racism, he said.
Catholics can also make an effort to understand the experiences of others they may not be familiar with. For instance, Brown said, African-American communities have especially suffered from COVID-19. "Part of it is that we don't have access to medical care that we should have," he said.
Some other concrete actions Catholics can take to "unleash" the "force of love," he said, is to set up communal forums at their parish for better understanding between communities and healing. If someone has an issue with their local police department, he said, "be engaged."
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in South Africa in 1994 was not perfect, Brown said, but people confessed of injustices they committed, and healing occurred. "We need that now in America," he said. "We have never dealt with our woundedness here in the United States of America. We change a law and we try to move on. That's clearly not working."
The social bonds of faith, family, and love, he said, "have been seriously, seriously threatened and diminished," and if Catholics don't take action now to help the country heal, "we may not have the country that we love."
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.