US bishops urge Americans to refrain from hate-filled speech

13 August 2019
A person hangs a sign at a makeshift memorial in El Paso, Texas. Image: AFP or licensors/Vatican News.


The Catholic Bishops of the United States urge Americans to unite following recent hate-motivated violence, and ask all to refrain from using racist and xenophobic language.

“The anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim, and anti-Semitic sentiments that have been publicly proclaimed in our society in recent years have incited hatred in our communities.”

Three US bishops came together to issue that worrying declaration on Thursday.

Bishops Joe Vásquez of Austin, Frank Dewane of Venice, and Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux head up committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

In their statement, they urge Americans to “stop using hate-filled language that demeans and divides us and motivates some to such horrific violence.”

Motivating violence

The bishops recall this past week’s raft of gun violence in various parts of the country.

In Texas, 22 people died on Saturday in a mass shooting in El Paso. The perpetrator had posted a manifesto online saying his actions were a response to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

The three US bishops also cite the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which an anti-Semitist killed 11 people.

Another related incident was the 2015 Charleston shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME Church, in which a white supremacist killed 9 people at a Bible study.

Racism and xenophobia

Bishops Vásquez, Dewane, and Fabre express their deep concern over the racism that motivated these deadly attacks.

They also call on elected officials to heal the wounds caused by these shootings and to deal with the xenophobia and religious bigotry found at their root.

Specifically, the bishops ask US leaders to refrain from using dehumanising language that polarises people based on race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin.

Finally, the three US bishops call on all Americans to come together “as a great, diverse, and welcoming people.”

With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.


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