Denver Newsroom, Nov 18, 2020 / 18:31 pm
The U.S. bishops on Tuesday praised a virtual exhibit created by the Diocese of Green Bay, which features portraits of racially diverse Catholics from the diocese and testimonies about their experiences.
The exhibit, Open Wide Our Hearts, was developed by Peter Weiss, the Living Justice Advocate for the Diocese of Green Bay. Weiss told CNA that his job is primarily a teaching role, seeking to promote Catholic social teaching and raise awareness of problems of injustice.
In 2017, the same year Weiss started at his current position, the U.S. bishops formed the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism in response to increasing racial tensions and an outburst of violence in Charlottesville, when a white nationalist attacked counter-protesters of a far-right gathering, killing three and injuring 19.
Since its formation, the committee has produced an award-winning children’s book on healing and reconciliation, as well as organizing a day of prayer and fasting in reparation for sins of racism this summer. The bishops this week voted overwhelmingly to renew the ad hoc committee for another three-year period.
Weiss started to consider how he could use his position to help to bring the issue of racial justice into the conversation in Green Bay— a diocese which, he notes, is probably "about 90% white."
"The experiences of particular racial or ethnic groups is not the same as what the vast majority of people are having within our diocese. And I think it's important to reach out and find those stories, learn a little more, and find out what they can tell us about our understanding of ourselves as Catholics," he said.
On a personal level, Weiss said, reports of various killings of black men by police was disturbing to him, in no small part because he has several biracial nieces and nephews.
Around 2018, Weiss attended a traveling photo exhibit in his community chronicling the experiences of racially diverse people, and was inspired to create a similar project for the diocese.