Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Recently, we celebrated the feast of Pentecost, in which we rejoice at the unity in diversity that makes our Church the beautiful reality it is. We also continue to mourn the loss of George Floyd, who brutally lost his life on May 25 while in police custody.
For us as Christians, “unity in diversity” recognizes that we are all made in the image of God. We are all God’s children — one family, no matter the color of our skin. Prejudice and all forms of racial discrimination, therefore, must be rejected as actions against God’s will.
Yet, we know these problems persist. Our diocese is part of a beautiful state, but prejudice and racial disparities exist in many sectors of our state — from housing and employment to the criminal justice and education systems. These disparities cause great suffering for people of color and are an affront to their God-given dignity.
I have heard many people express the question, “What can I do?” The answer isn’t simple. Real change will require a determined, long-term commitment.
Education is key. We must overcome any biases we may harbor. We also must listen, seeking out the stories of others and resources that inform us about the complex history and reality of racism in our nation’s history. Additionally, we must be advocates for systemic change, seeking community collaboration and accountability from policymakers and civic institutions.
For some months now, our diocesan staff has been studying the U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter against racism: “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.” I encourage clergy, parish staffs and others throughout the diocese to read and study the document as well as participate in other forms of necessary education and formation.
Finally, I ask us all to stand in solidarity with those who experience the impact of prejudice and discrimination. Call out racial comments or injustices when you see them. Organize or attend a prayer service or study opportunity. For our brothers and sisters of color, I ask you to consider reaching out to me and my staff to inform us of how we can better stand in solidarity with you.
I pray that we may see peace, healing and the conversion of hearts to end the injustices that plague our society. I ask you to please join me in prayer and action to accomplish this goal.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud
Photo credit: CNS photo/Dylan Martinez, Reuters