Statement From Archbishop Hartmayer
Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., Archbishop of Atlanta, issued the following statement May 29 in the wake of several incidents of racial violence and protests which followed:
“The sin of racism continues to haunt America. In the past month, we have watched two black men die—one of them as he begged for his life. We wake this morning to face the outpouring of grief and rage over the latest manifestations of racism in America. In Atlanta, the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that anger boiled over last night into violence and destruction.
Yesterday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In February, here in Georgia, another black man, Ahmaud Arbery, was senselessly killed. I join my brother bishops in their condemnation of racism in all its forms. I join them in calling on all those in positions of authority, police, elected officials and yes, even pastors, to struggle with this issue—to seek the conversion we need to do the hard work of pursuing true justice in our world.
I echo the words of Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from last night when she said, ‘This is a time when we all have to listen–we have to listen to the cries coming out from the hearts and souls of my young brothers and sisters and all of the others that are in the streets of America right now and in our city.’
Dr. Bernice King called for non-violent response to this evil. ‘We will never get to the end of justice and equity and true peace, which is not merely the absence of tension but the presence of justice, unless we do it through non-violent means.’
Senseless murders will only become more normative in our society until we see each other as a reflection of our Creator and recognize the precious gift of human life from the moment of conception. God has never created a mistake. What we do to our life or another’s life is rooted in our free will and a manifestation of love or evil in our world. Our free decisions have consequences.
I call on our Catholic community in Georgia to come together this Pentecost weekend and beyond. Let us seek out true justice. Let us encounter our neighbors in love and let us join in prayer and work for an end to racism. In the words of Pope St. Paul VI, ‘If you want peace, work for justice.’”