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  Statement of Bishop R. Daniel Conlon Regarding Human Dignity of All People




August 25, 2017


On August 23, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops established an Ad Hoc Committee against Racism.  This action was taken in response to recent incidents in our country, most notably in Charlottesville, Virginia, that indicate a heightened tension over racial concerns.

In one sense, it seems remarkable that such a decision by the bishops was considered necessary.  As someone who, as a teenager and a young adult, witnessed the race riots and civil rights movement of fifty years ago, I hoped that our country had moved beyond such attitudes as white supremacy.  On the other hand, it is not surprising that generations of legalized slavery, both before and after the constitutional establishment of the United States, would have an enduring legacy.

It is not just bigotry that troubles our nation.  There are pockets of disrespect for Jews and Muslims, for immigrants, for persons who are aging and handicapped, for homosexuals, even for unborn children.  A lack of respect for those who are different from oneself goes all the way back to Cain and Abel, one who was a shepherd, the other who was a crop farmer.

This effect of Original Sin, although to be expected, is never right and never acceptable.  As children of the same God, with the same dignity and rights, we have an obligation to treat each other with fairness and respect.

When we Catholic leaders speak out on this subject it is from this perspective, the fundamental dignity of the human person as a child of God.  Our position is based on long-standing Catholic social teaching.  It is not motivated by political affiliation, economic advantage, sectarianism or any other bias, other than our belief in God and the love of Jesus Christ.

I call on others, especially the Catholics of the Diocese of Joliet, to join my brother bishops and me in thinking, speaking and acting in ways that will help to heal the divisions currently affecting our country.  Of course, we must also seek divine assistance.  We can – and must – do better for the sake of everyone.


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