The Archbishop of Portland, Most Rev. Alexander King Sample calls for peaceful efforts against racism, he said to Christians especially Catholics to be annoyed at the sin of racism, and encouraged everyone to read the U.S bishops’ 2018 letter on racism, “open wide our hearts,” and initiated Portland’s parishes to organize groups to study, read, and discuss the letter.
Racism in Portland contributed to ethnic segregation and injustice for people of colour. Religiously, we are called to be unbiased thus to treat everyone we encounter with understanding, tolerance and acceptance for whatever reason. But for the people of Portland it may be more difficult than in other cities, especially the inclusiveness that involves different races and people.
In a video message, referencing the protests sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the Archbishop Sample stated that “This all began over the terrible, tragic killing of a man, and initially the outcry against injustice, against racism, was well-placed, and I have been very supportive of the peaceful demonstrations on behalf of justice and against racism.”
In Portland, Oregon, an American Flag was burned as protesters gathered in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland on July 25, 2020. Portland has now surpassed over 50 days of street protests, often taking the form of crowds of hundreds of people protesting, apparently, against racism, police brutality, and fascism which has gained national and international interest.
Speaking directly to Catholics, he asked them to be rational, careful, and calm and should avoid “virtue signals,” in their dealings but instead, they should live a life that will actually grow in virtue and to turn to Catholic social teaching in response to racism.
Archbishop Sample lamented accusing the violence associated to many of the protests in the city for the past two months, “But sadly, that’s not what this is about any more,” he said. He at the same time urged Catholics to learn about and study how to respond to the sin of racism. Furthermore, he mentioned that if more people would realize that they are called to greatness, holiness, virtue, to eternity and to heaven, they would not do undeserving things to fill the void in our hearts. Many problems we face today are because society has largely ignored God.
Archbishop Sample, again, in his video message, made it clear that as shepherd of the city’s Catholics, it is not his place to “get political” and take sides, despite requests via email and mail for him to speak out for one side or another. Despite the hard times, he urged all not to be afraid to speak the truth for the Church teaches that every person has a dignity that we, as humans, do not bestow on other humans, but rather comes from God.
The need to eradicate racism is serious, Archbishop Sample said, but any violence in the debate must be “unequivocally” rejected as another evil, “piling one evil upon another.”
Most Rev. Sample added that many are trying to justify the violence, but in contrast, he pointed to Martin Luther King Jr. as a great example of nonviolent resistance. Archbishop Sample said King and his followers often suffered violence, but did not repay violence in kind, instead praying for their persecutors as Jesus tells to do in the Gospel.
Story by, Theresa Kpordzo