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“The evil of racism festers in part because, as a nation, there has been very limited formal acknowledgement of the harm done to so many, no moment of atonement, no national process of reconciliation and, all too often a neglect of our history.”-pastoral letter, Open Wide Our Hearts.

Some may think that racism is not a major issue of our society because of gains of the civil rights movement and legislation. But it’s the very persistence of racism that motivated the bishops to write their pastoral letter. In the words of Pope Francis, let no one “think that this invitation is not meant for him or her.”

“All of us are in need of personal, ongoing conversion,” the bishops maintain. “Our churches and our civic and social institutions are in need of ongoing reform.” Healing will occur only when the causes and the injustices racism produces are addressed. Injustice done because of one’s race flows from what St. Augustine called, the “lust to dominate.” Too many Catholics, the bishops maintain, “remain unaware of the connection between institutional racism and the continued erosion of the sanctity of life.”