Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, explains to bishops and archbishops how to participate in the USCCB’s fall meeting, held virtually because of COVID-19. On Nov. 17, Archbishop Alexander Sample discussed the work of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism from his chancery office. (CNS)
Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, explains to bishops and archbishops how to participate in the USCCB’s fall meeting, held virtually because of COVID-19. On Nov. 17, Archbishop Alexander Sample discussed the work of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism from his chancery office. (CNS)
Combatting racism was one focus of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ annual mid-November meeting, held online this year because of the pandemic.

Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample told the assembly Nov. 17 that every bishop should learn the history of the African American experience in their communities. He also urged the church to move away from secular slogans or movements and focus on its own social teaching.

“I think as a church we need to speak from our own tradition and we need to speak our Catholic social teaching strongly,” Archbishop Sample told the Zoom gathering of more than 300 people. “If we can as a country just live by the principles of Catholic social teaching we wouldn’t have so many of the problems that we deal with.”

Archbishop Sample praised a move that continued the existence of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.

He and Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso brought up the importance of including Native Americans, Hispanics, Latinos and Asians in conversations about racism.

Archbishop Sample also noted the church focus on racism during his Nov. 20 Chapel Chat, a livestreamed message from his home.

He called the bishops’ discussion on racism fruitful.

“We need to continue to do what we can to root out this evil from our midst,” the archbishop said. He urged Catholics of western Oregon to study, discuss and enact the bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts.”

Other topics discussed at the Nov. 15-19 bishops’ meeting include the pastoral needs of people during the pandemic and the practical effects the sickness has had on the worldwide church. Archbishop Sample said the bishops discussed what they have learned, offered ways to keep people close to the Lord during the crisis and reflected on how the Holy Spirit has been present over the past months.

The archbishop said he was encouraged by news that the bishops are planning a national campaign to revitalize faith in the Eucharist. Parish, diocesan and national events are in the planning stages.

“The bishops recognized our real crisis of faith,” Archbishop Sample said.



Learn more

Read “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” a 2018 pastoral letter on racism from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, at go.sentinel.org/30RDwrz