The Catholic Diocese of Arlington welcomed community members in Virginia to a conference focused on addressing racism Saturday.
“Open Wide our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love” welcomed keynote speaker Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, to the Nativity Catholic Church in Burke for the panel discussion to reflect on recent events in the country, and how the church can help move the conversation around race forward.
“There are few, if any, areas in American life that are not influenced or shaped by the issue of race,” he said.
Cardinal Gregory stressed the importance of unity, mutual respect and education as the way forward.
“We must be brave enough to acknowledge the savage realities that history may hold. That is why cross-cultural opportunities are a herbicide for the unchecked growth of racism,” he said. “The more that we know about history, the less likely we may be to repeat its failures. The appreciation of a culture and history is a primary step in the eradication of racism.”
During the panel discussion, when asked what the Catholic Church can do to engage with a more diverse set of people, Amelda August, parishioner of Holy Family Catholic Church in Dale City, said inviting neighbors from communities of color to cultural events within the church is a start.
She acknowledged racism won’t go away, but said it presents an opportunity for the church to begin conversations around it.
“As the body of Christ, we must open up our hearts to love,” she added.