The Church After Charlottesville

Written By Zachary Johnson


August 24, 2017

Last week, we wrote to you with broken hearts over the death and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Your response has been overwhelming. In your donations, emails and facebook comments, you made it clear that you are committed to dismantling white supremacy in our church and our nation.

As we spoke with many of you around the country, one question kept coming up: “The pictures of Protestant, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders standing up to neo-Nazis in Charlottesville were so inspiring,” you told us. “But where were our priests, bishops and cardinals?”

While it’s true that our clergy were absent on the front lines of the violence in Charlottesville, yesterday, the USCCB announced that it was establishing an ad hoc committee against racism. In a statement, USCCB president Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo said that, “recent events have exposed the extent to which the sin of racism continues to inflict our nation,” even though many Catholics have plead with church leadership for decades to address the sin of racism.

The announcement of this committee is a refreshing step in the right direction for our church leaders, but let us remember that we should not congratulate ourselves or our leaders for simply doing what is right, especially when the righteous act is so long overdue. So let us celebrate and affirm this announcement in stride while we continue to lead our clergy toward a church where all– regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or any other factor– are fully celebrated and included.

We know that hate groups continue to spread their racist messages in cities across the country, which means it is more important than ever that we keep working for racial justice. We cannot wait for the next tragedy or for our bishops’ next statement to examine our own uniquely Catholic connection to white supremacy.  

Last week we asked our members to get involved locally. Today we’d like to share some concrete suggestions for ways that you can help lead our church and encourage our clergy in dismantling white supremacy:

  • Write a letter to your bishop asking him to issue a statement that clearly rejects white supremacy. Or, if your bishop has already issued a statement, thank him.  
  • Ask your parish to include a petition in prayers of the faithful calling for an end to racism, and encourage your priest and other homilists to name the sin of white supremacy from the pulpit.
  • Become a visible Catholic presence for racial justice by participating in a vigil or counter-protest in your area.
  • Finally, join us in praying for an end to white supremacy and racist violence in our communities.

Thank you for your faithful leadership in our church.

In Christ’s peace,

Call to Action Staff and Vision Council


PS: Please drop us a note to let us know how you and your Catholic communities are speaking out against white supremacy. We would love to share your story in our future emails!