June 15, 2021
Dear Friends in Christ,
This past year, the Archdiocese of Baltimore worked diligently to ensure we are an organization that prioritizes equality and inclusion, and actively works to eliminate hatred and racism. This was a primary focus of my pastoral reflection The Journey to Racial Justice where I noted, “Now more than ever, we need to be the servant leaders Jesus calls us to be, by acknowledging and sharing the burden of those who have for too long suffered from the sin of racism.”
As you know, last year, I appointed a work group made up of community members, Archdiocesan leaders, and experts in racial justice. Their task has been to take a serious and pragmatic look at where the Archdiocese stands in its battle against racism and to move forward our commitment to identify and root out this sin wherever it may exist within our Catholic institutions, our family of parishes, and beyond. Today, I write to update you on this important initiative.
Recently, the work group led by Sherita Thomas, the Interim Director for the Archdiocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministries, presented its findings and recommendations. The findings are both comprehensive and thoughtful, and include the need for formation and education for both laypeople and clergy, for respectful dialogue and appropriate representation throughout the Archdiocese, and for social and restorative justice. Further, their careful review, guided by the Catholic Church’s teachings, affirmed the need to raise awareness, and open hearts for conversation, reconciliation, and healing. Finally, their findings remind us that the promotion of racial justice is a fundamental aspect of discipleship.
One of the work group’s recommendations, which we have already begun to move forward, is the creation of a Coordinating Council with the sole purpose of bringing to life and implementing the recommendations. This council is comprised of members of our clergy and lay leadership and I am happy to announce that Auxiliary Bishop Bruce Lewandowski will lead the council and its important work. Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Denis Madden will continue to serve in an advisory capacity. He has been an instrumental leader in the development of the workgroup and the Archdiocesan journey to racial justice.
With an abundance of prayer and the thoughtful participation of our Archdiocesan community, we now move forward to ensure we are not only a family of parishes that stands against hatred and racism, but a loving and welcoming community that celebrates the fact that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, the Incarnate Son of God.
We will be communicating more about the recommendations and if you are interested in supporting these efforts, please contact Sherita Thomas at Sherita.Thomas@archbalt.org.
With kindest personal regards, I remain
Faithfully in Christ,
Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore