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Racism has no place within Catholicism

In January, Archbishop William E. Lori announced a new third-party system for reporting abuse and misconduct allegations by bishops.
In January, Archbishop William E. Lori announced a new third-party system for reporting abuse and misconduct allegations by bishops. (Amy Davis / The Baltimore Sun)

Skipp Sanders is right in noting the importance of Archbishop William Lori's letter on racism (“Baltimore archbishop’s pastoral letter on racism a ‘significant step,’” Feb. 1). The evil of racism has left a dark stain on the Catholic Church in Baltimore. I was an unwilling participant in this evil from the first day of my life as I was born in a segregated Catholic hospital in Baltimore.

In recent years, American Catholics have been roiled by the sex abuse and cover-up crisis which has been widely reported. I believe that the sin of racism has had a much greater impact on the archdiocese as more people were impacted. Additionally, segregation was officially recognized as acceptable behavior in Catholic life. More people in power positions within the church were part of this evil and they included bishops, priests, nuns and lay people.

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The local church has made a mediocre at best attempt to right this wrong. After closing schools in the inner city, the Baltimore archdiocese has announced the building of one new school. Hopefully, this is just a beginning as much more needs to done to repent for centuries of institutional racism. What will the next concrete steps be? Over many years, I don't remember ever hearing a homily about the serious sin of racism. We have prayed for an end to racism but there has been little guidance from the pulpit. I suspect that one of the reasons for this serious lack of direction is the fear of alienating some Catholics who still harbor racist sentiments.

Catholic racists do not normally advertise their feelings but they express them in coded ways as do other racists. Mr Sanders is right in suggesting that a conversation regarding race will be difficult for many people. Many are in denial and refuse to accept the fact that racism is with us to this very day. All of us have been negatively impacted by the evil of racism as it calls into question the very humanity of each of us.

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While we are grappling with the serious issue of racism, we must also confront sexism in the Catholic Church. We need to commit to making the world a more tolerant place for those generations that follow us. We need to commit to living the values we hear proclaimed.

Edward McCarey McDonnell, Baltimore

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