LOS ANGELES — Responding to violence caused by the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Archbishop of Los Angeles said that the United States is seeing a “new kind of racism and nationalism,” rooted in fear.
“We are seeing in our country a new kind of racism and nationalism. It is a racism and nationalism rooted in fear. There is fear about what is happening in our society. There is fear about what is happening in our economy. Our country has become so angry and bitter, so divided — in so many different areas,” Archbishop José H. Gomez said Aug. 19.
“This has been a hard week in our country,” he said, urging prayers for the people of Charlottesville and calling on Catholics to be “a true sign and instrument of healing and unity.
“There is no place in the Church — and there is no place in American society — for racism or prejudice against people based on their race or nationality,” Gomez said.
His homily follows the August 11-12 riot, when hundreds of white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a General Robert E. Lee statue. The demonstration began on Friday night, where they waved Confederate flags and yelled phrases such as “you will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.”
On Saturday morning, the group was met by opposing protesters, ranging from religious leaders to supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. After convening at Emancipation Park, violence ensued when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 more people.
“We heard those beautiful words from the prophet Isaiah in the first reading: ‘For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,’” Gomez said, reflecting on the day’s Gospel.
“Today’s readings remind us that God wants his Church to be the home for all peoples – to be one family that welcomes men and women of every nation, every race, every language and every culture,” he said during a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels.
The archbishop also spoke of the need to acknowledge God’s desire to be with all his children, which he said overcomes ideologies that oppose the dignity of the human person.
Gomez referenced the Canaanite woman in the reading of the Gospel of Matthew, and said that it was her faith that was “the key to belonging to God,” not where she was born, her skin color, or the language she spoke.
He said this was a radical teaching both during Jesus’ time as well as our time, but that God’s universal family united in his mercy is a message we must all form our lives to.
He added: “The Gospel teaches us and the saints show us that beyond the color of our skin or the countries where we come from, we are all brothers and sisters. We are all children of one Father. And we all have the Mother of God as our mother.”
At the end of his homily, Gomez urged Catholics to face this challenging time with the faith of the Canaanite woman: “She was desperate but she never doubted in God’s love, or in God’s goodness. She kept talking to Jesus, kept praying. She said, ‘Lord, help me!’”
Crux staff contributed to this report.