BY ISN STAFF | August 9, 2019
Catholic bishops on a national and local level have spoken out publicly against racism that motivated the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas this past Saturday.“Once again in our nation we see the face of evil,” said Bishop Mark Seitz, who leads the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, in a statement published on the diocesan website. He continued, “We see the effects of a mind possessed by hatred. We see the effects of the sinful and insipid conviction that some of us are better than others of us because of race, religion, language or nationality.” In the days following the shooting, Bishop Seitz met with victims and family members of those who lost loved ones and also participated in a locally organized interfaith prayer vigil.
Catholic bishops from three committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed their deep concern about racism and xenophobia that apparently motivated this past weekend’s massacre in El Paso and that have motivated numerous other recent mass shootings in the United States. The Chairmen called on our elected officials to exert leadership in seeking to heal the wounds that these shootings have caused and to deal with the scourges of racism, xenophobia, and religious bigotry, including refraining from expressing hurtful, painful, and divisive rhetoric that dehumanizes and polarizes people on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.
Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the Committee on Migration, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, FL, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development, and Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism offered the following comments.
“The tragic loss of life of 22 people this weekend in El Paso demonstrates that hate-filled rhetoric and ideas can become the motivation for some to commit acts of violence. The anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim, and anti-Semitic sentiments that have been publicly proclaimed in our society in recent years have incited hatred in our communities. Hatred and harsh rhetoric were echoed in the El Paso shooter’s explanation about why he committed this weekend’s shooting, as well as being evident in the motivation of the shooters who attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year and the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015. We, therefore, renew our call to all to act swiftly to stop using hate-filled language that demeans and divides us and motivates some to such horrific violence. Instead, we ask our leaders and all Americans to work to unite us as a great, diverse, and welcoming people.”