Racism ‘Woven Through’ America, Cardinal Sean O’Malley Says

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/06/05/racism-woven-through-america-cardinal-sean-omalley-says/

The United States is infected with racism at its core, Cardinal Sean O’Malley says in a letter to be read to Catholic parishioners in the Archdiocese of Boston this weekend.

“George Floyd’s death makes clear that racist premises and attitudes, often implicit, are woven through basic structures — political, legal, economic, cultural and religious — in the United States,” O’Malley writes.

He acknowledges changes in legislation starting in the 1960s and the eight-year presidency of Barack Obama, noting “that there have been important and meaningful advances of civil rights and the election of an African American President.”

“But to know that fifty years later four police officers would see themselves entitled to murder a black man with impunity makes clear how far we must yet go to achieve racial equality,” O’Malley’s says in the letter.

O’Malley makes a reference to the riots taking place in several American cities, but suggests they should not be the focus of attention.

“The protests in response to George Floyd’s murder, in my view, have been predominantly peaceful and focused on the urgent need to address racism as a systemic, cultural, and legal reality,” O’Malley writes in the letter, released in the late afternoon of Friday, June 5. “Some violent protesters and out of town infiltrators, few in number but by intention disproportionately visible, had interest in neither justice nor its achievement. As Governor Baker stated, they should be legally punished and should not be able to tarnish the greater significance of the peaceful marches and demonstrations we have witnessed.”

O’Malley, 75, recalls as a young priest in 1968 joining participants at the Poor People’s March on Washington not long after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., when “Off duty police officers hurled tear gas at our encampment and shouted vile profanities at us.”

“I did not then, and we do not now judge all police officers on the basis of the reprehensible, criminal acts of those few who betray their brothers and sisters in uniform,” O’Malley writes. “The vast majority of police officers, very notably in Boston through the leadership of Commissioner Gross, serve as heroic, selfless first responders who take seriously their mission and face danger to protect others.”

The text of the letter has been published by New Boston Post.

O’Malley ends with a reference to the movement at the forefront of protests against police in the United States:


The killing of George Floyd is painful evidence of what is and has been at stake for African Americans — the failure of society in too many ways to protect their lives and the lives of their children.  As Catholics we are taught to nurture [and] protect life from its inception to its natural end and at every moment in-between. The demonstrations and protests of these days have been calls for justice and heart wrenching expressions of deep emotional pain from which we cannot turn away. They call us to affirm the inestimable value of every person’s life. They call us to redouble our commitment to foster respect and justice for all people. They call us to uphold and defend the truth that Black Lives Matter.