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Archbishop Gregory issues statement on fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia

Archbishop Wilton Gregory is shown speaking at the April 2019 press conference on the morning that Pope Francis announced that he was appointing him as the new archbishop of Washington. Archbishop Gregory, who  served as the archbishop of Atlanta from 2005 until his appointment to Washington last year, has written and spoken out about the evil of racism. In 2016 after a series of shootings left minority citizens and also police officers dead, he was appointed chair of a U.S. bishops' task force to address racial issues and promote healing. He urged the bishops to issue a document against racism, and in 2018, the nation's bishops overwhelmingly approved a new pastoral letter on that topic, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.” (Archdiocese of Washington photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann)

(The following is a statement from Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory regarding the recent fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.)

Currently, our attention is fixated on the global deadly virus.  Desperately, we search for a vaccine to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Daily, we pray for the dead, those who have lost loved ones and first responders caring for our sick. 

The recent brutal killing of Ahmaud Arbery in the state of Georgia reminds us of another virus that is much older, but just as deadly. The virus of racism inflicts hatred, violence, and death in our society and in the lives of far too many people.  In the Georgia case of Ahmaud Arbery, once again, an unarmed Black man has had his life violently cut short.  This murderous attack, like all acts of racism, hurts all of us in the Body of Christ since we are all made in the image and likeness of God, and deserve the dignity that comes with that existence.

We also see racism destroying the lives of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian people because of their religious and ethnic heritages. Racism triggers the divisive and xenophobic attitudes of nationalism. It also targets people because of their cultural traditions or physical appearances and it threatens immigrant people who seek nothing more than the opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their children. 

We already have the balm that cures racism - compassion, mercy, love and justice. We must make sure we apply the balm. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us to seek the balm of Gilead and we know from Scripture that the balm is Jesus. Through Jesus, we become more compassionate, merciful, and loving to seek justice for all our neighbors.