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U.S. Bishops approve "Open Wide our Hearts," a pastoral letter against racism

Image: Individual displays anti-racism signDuring their Fall General Assembly, Nov. 12-14, the U.S. Bishops approved the formal statement, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism."

Read the full text here.

“Open Wide Our Hearts" is a pastoral letter from the bishops to the lay faithful and all people of goodwill addressing the evil of racism.
 
The letter asks us to recall that we are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God. Because we all bear the image of God, racism is, above all, a moral and theological problem that manifests itself institutionally and systematically. Only a deep individual conversion of heart, which then multiplies, will compel change and reform in our institutions and society. It is imperative to confront racism’s root causes and the injustice it produces. The love of God binds us together. This same love should overflow into our relationships with all people. The conversions needed to overcome racism require a deep encounter with the living God in the person of Christ who can heal all division.
 
"Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love," is not the first time the U.S. Bishops have spoken collectively on race issues in the United States, but it is the first time in almost 40 years.
 
In 1979, they approved "Brothers and Sisters to Us: A Pastoral Letter on Racism in Our Day." 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." The newly approved “Open Wide Our Hearts” continues the message that “Brothers and Sisters to Us” sought to convey.
 
Along with the full text found at the link above, many accompanying pastoral resources are also posted including a bulletin insert, homily help, prayer materials, background information on systemic racism, and activities for primary, secondary, and higher education classroom settings.
 
Read additional updates from the U.S. Bishops' Fall General Assembly here.