ROME – Following the tragic events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia where a white nationalist rally turned violent and resulted in the death of a young woman and left nearly 35 people injured, a member of Pope Francis’s Council of Cardinals advisory board has called U.S. citizens to stand against “the pagan ideas of Nazism.”

“Those who seek to resurrect a new form of Nazism and extreme nationalism — those who denigrate African Americans, who preach and practice anti-Semitism, who disparage Muslims, those who threaten and seek to banish immigrants in our land — all these voices dishonor the basic convictions of the American political and constitutional traditions. They must be opposed in word and deed,” Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, said in a statement dated August 15.

The cardinal, who also heads the pontifical council tasked with overseeing the fight against clerical sex abuse, said in the statement that ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ meaning from many peoples we shape one nation, is a core statement of the identity of the United States and that it’s “rooted in the biblical heritage of belief in the dignity of all people, and a shared humanity.”

On August 12 a ‘Unite the Right’ rally, described as the largest white supremacist event in recent U.S. history, clashed with counter-protesters. A speeding car, driven by the 20 year old white supremacist James Alex Fields, was intentionally rammed into protesters and fatally wounded a young woman as a result.

O’Malley wrote that even though the U.S. has not always reflected the best of its ideals, it is necessary to continue to strive toward inclusivity. “Our country is once again in a moment when the civic and biblical heritage is being attacked and tested,” the statement said. “We need to reassert and reaffirm the belief that one nation is meant to include all: the multiple races, cultures, ethnicities and religions which make up our country.”

In the document the Capuchin cardinal said that he stands with other religious leaders who in the past few days have stood in opposition to “the voices of fragmentation and hatred.”

The day after the rally, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement condemning “The abhorrent acts of hatred” that took place in Charlottesville, which he described as “an attack on the unity of our nation,” and called faithful and non-faithful alike to “fervent prayer and peaceful action.”

Catholic Charities USA, the U.S. office for Catholic Charities agencies nationwide and a member of Caritas Internationalis, released a statement in reaction to the violence in Charlottesville and the controversial statements made by President Donald Trump in its aftermath stating their solidarity with the USCCB and “decrying racism as a sin and a radical evil.”

“Catholic Charities USA expresses our ongoing commitment to fight against bigotry and hatred of any kind. We remember those who even today sacrifice and face the horrible realities of racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism,” said the statement signed by the agency’s president, Sister Donna Markham. “We pray for the softening and conversion of hardened hearts and the healing of wounds that racism in our communities continues to perpetuate.”
O’Malley invited the Catholic community to remember the rights and duties that we have toward each other deriving from God and expressed the belief that civility and charity can “successfully oppose hatred and bigotry.” He also added that keeping this in mind, U.S. citizens can unite across racial, religious and ethnic communities in order to celebrate the pluralism that has enriched and strengthened the country.

“Today when our unity is tested, when our basic truths of faith and reason are violated, as people of faith and as citizens we must uphold our ideas and ideals,” the cardinal concluded. “My prayer is that we can rise to this challenge. My belief is that we are surely capable of doing so.”