Archbishop Gregory to chair USCCB task force on race

IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters

By Mark Pattison

(CNS) — Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta has been appointed as chair of
a new task force of the U.S. bishops to deal with racial issues brought into
public consciousness following a series of summertime shootings that left both
citizens and police officers among those dead.

task force’s charge includes helping bishops to engage directly the challenging
problems highlighted by the shootings. Task force members will gather and
disseminate supportive resources and “best practices” for their fellow bishops;
actively listening to the concerns of members in troubled communities and law
enforcement; and build strong relationships to help prevent and resolve

stepping forward to embrace the suffering, through unified, concrete action
animated by the love of Christ, we hope to nurture peace and build bridges of
communication and mutual aid in our own communities,” said a July 21 statement
from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops.

addition to creating the task force and appointing its members, Archbishop
Kurtz also called for a national day of prayer for peace in our communities, to
be held Sept. 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver.

Gregory is a former USCCB president. Other task force members are Archbishop Thomas G.
Wenski of Miami, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Social
Development; Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of
the USCCB Subcommittee for African-American Affairs; Bishop Jaime Soto of
Sacramento, California, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic
Campaign for Human Development; and retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee,
Florida, who is president of the National Black Catholic Congress.

The day
of prayer, according to a July 21 USCCB announcement about the task force’s
formation, will “serve as a focal point for the work of the task force.”

task force’s work will conclude with the USCCB’s fall general meeting in
November, at which time it will report on its activities and recommendations
for future work.

“I have
stressed the need to look toward additional ways of nurturing an open, honest
and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental
health, economic opportunity and addressing the question of pervasive gun
violence,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “The day of prayer and special task force
will help us advance in that direction.”

The task
force will have bishop consultants, including Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is USCCB vice president, as well as bishops
whose jurisdictions have experienced extreme gun violence, or who otherwise
bring special insight or experience on related questions. An equal or smaller
number of lay consultants with relevant expertise will be appointed soon
thereafter, the USCCB announcement said.

“I am
honored to lead this task force which will assist my brother bishops,
individually and as a group, to accompany suffering communities on the path
toward peace and reconciliation,” said Archbishop Gregory in a July 21
statement. “We are one body in Christ, so we must walk with our brothers and
sisters and renew our commitment to promote healing. The suffering is not
somewhere else, or someone else’s; it is our own, in our very dioceses.”

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