BY ISN STAFF | August 23, 2017
WASHINGTON —The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops today announced the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Initiated by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the USCCB, the committee will focus on addressing the sin of racism in our society, and even in our Church, and the urgent need to come together as a society to find solutions.Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, has been appointed by Cardinal DiNardo as Chairman of the committee. The membership of the committee will be finalized in the coming days and its mandate will be confirmed at the first meeting, expected very shortly.
“Recent events have exposed the extent to which the sin of racism continues to inflict our nation. The establishment of this new ad hoc committee will be wholly dedicated to engaging the Church and our society to work together in unity to challenge the sin of racism, to listen to persons who are suffering under this sin, and to come together in the love of Christ to know one another as brothers and sisters,” says Cardinal DiNardo.
“I look forward to working with my brother bishops as well as communities across the United States to listen to the needs of individuals who have suffered under the sin of racism and together find solutions to this epidemic of hate that has plagued our nation for far too long,” says Bishop Murry. “Through Jesus’ example of love and mercy, we are called to be a better people than what we have witnessed over the past weeks and months as a nation. Through listening, prayer and meaningful collaboration, I’m hopeful we can find lasting solutions and common ground where racism will no longer find a place in our hearts or in our society.”
During a live broadcast announcing the committee, Bishop Murry emphasized that the committee’s formation is tied to “confidence that Christ wishes to break down these walls created by racism, on display for the world to see or buried in the recesses of our hearts.”
He emphasized that the committee will focus on addressing racism from a Gospel perspective. “For those who have been watching…it should be plain to see why we need a concerted effort at the moment. Our times demand it. Our Gospel demands it.”
The new ad hoc committee has been formed upon the unanimous recommendation of the U.S. Bishops Conference Executive Committee and in consultation with members of the USCCB’s Committee on Priorities and Plans. The establishment of the committee will also welcome and support the implementation of the pastoral letter on racism anticipated for release in 2018. The formation of the ad hoc committee also follows the conclusion of the work of the Peace in Our Communities Task Force. The Task Force was formed in July 2016 by then USCCB President, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, in response to racially-related shootings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas.
Almost 40 years ago, the Bishops of the United States wrote a Pastoral Letter on Racism. Among the many things, they discussed was the fact that “Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father.”
Murry, a Jesuit, entered the Society of Jesus’s Maryland Province in 1972 and was ordained a priest in 1979. During his formation, he served on the faculty and was dean of student activities at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. After ordination, he was an assistant professor of American Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., from 1986-1990, and president of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., from 1989-1994. He was named Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Detroit Mercy in 1994. Pope John Paul II appointed him a bishop in 1995 and in 2007 he became the fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown.