DC Archbishop: National unrest offers ‘the possibility of changing hearts’

Sorrow and hope — those are the emotions the head of the Catholic Church of D.C. used to describe how he feels during the current racial tumult.

“These times fill my heart with deep sorrow at the suffering of people in light of the pandemic, in light of the economic repercussions, and also in light of the obviously cruel and unjust murder of innocent people,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the highest-ranking Black leader in the U.S. church, said.

“But it also fills my heart with hope because, as we have seen, many of the protests have been a wonderful assembly of Americans across cultural, racial, age, regional and religious affiliations.”

Speaking during a Zoom conference hosted by the AJC, a global Jewish advocacy nonprofit, Gregory said he is hopeful the country has reached a plateau where it can work together to address some of the things that have been flash points and caused such national anxiety and angst.

“This is different, I think, I hope, than the civil rights era that produced some legislative initiatives that accomplished some important moments in our nation’s history,” Gregory said.

“I think this moment also offers us the possibility of changing hearts.”

He said unlike in the past, the call for change is not yet waning and the media is covering the movement at a level of intensity that he does not recall from the past.

“In addition to the protesters and the coverage of these events, there’s another investment that hadn’t taken place at this level in prior moments — the American business community is now responding. The sporting community is responding,” he said.

He is hopeful that when the nation begins to talk about the heavyweight realities that influence America so strongly, it could bring about real change.

That is something he hopes and prays for.

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