Diocese of Arlington announces Bishop’s Advisory Council on Racism  

CNA Staff, Oct 4, 2020 / 03:06 am (CNA).- Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, has formed an advisory council on racism, the diocese announced this week.

The Bishop’s Advisory Council on Racism includes 14 members – both clergy and lay people – who will serve for three years. They will work to help identify ways in which racism and prejudice has affected both individuals and the community, and will propose and help enact a plan to counter racism and heal wounds.

“As we come face to face with the evil of racism, we must remember always that God has created us in his image and likeness,” Bishop Burbidge said in a statement. “We are members of his Holy Family. Together, by the grace of God, we can achieve greater understanding and move forward in confident hope in the transforming power of Christ.”

The announcement of the new council follows a summer of anti-racism protests and riots in U.S. cities, after the killings of African-Americans including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, and George Floyd. Protesters have called for a greater awareness of, and response to, police brutality and systemic racism in America.

Sharon McCarter, a member of the new council, thanked the bishop for his leadership on the issue.

“Racism is a terrible evil in our country and the world. I am honored to be asked to help see what we can do to effectively address this together,” McCarter said. “My hope is that the work that we do not only helps our diocese but reaches into communities across the country, bringing new hope and unity as we move forward.”

The advisory council is the latest in a series of initiatives from Bishop Burbidge to counter racism. The bishop has also held several Masses and prayer services for peace. He has hosted a listening session on racism, as well as a forum aimed at promoting greater understanding and conversion of hearts on the subject.

Next March, the diocese is planning another forum, entitled “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.” The forum, which was rescheduled from this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, will include a panel discussion and Mass.

In a statement, Bishop Burbidge noted that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a pastoral letter against racism in 2018, calling for conversion at the root of social change.

“I pray that this council’s work helps bring us closer to that goal and, in doing so, enable us to find the courage not to be silent and to carry the light of Christ, peacefully and boldly, to others,” the bishop said.

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