My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I have used that salutation in hundreds of letters, columns, and homilies throughout my 45 years of ministry as a priest and bishop. They remind us that as Christians we share a common kinship in the Lord Jesus; that we are created and loved equally, without distinction.
The tragic events of the last few weeks have shone a light on a problem that has never been fully eradicated: the sin of racism. As Catholics we share a long history of standing up for oppressed people everywhere. It is an essential part of who we are.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “the time is always right to do what is right.” We are each called to transform our hearts; to raise our consciousness; to put into action what it means to “love one another” as the Lord Jesus commands us. Addressing the scourge of racism is, essentially, a pro-life issue. As Pope Francis recently stated, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
As a beginning, I ask you to join me in praying for the unity of our country. I then ask that you invite the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see what each of us can do to help.
As we march together with this common goal, may the words of Saint Paul to the Galatians help remind us of whose we truly are – “… through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Yours in the loving heart of Christ,
Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich