Catholic bishops condemn white supremacist rally that left one dead in Charlottesville

Rescue personnel help injured people after a car ran into a large group of protesters after an white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, condemned the “violence and hatred” playing out at a gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., saying that U.S. bishops “stand with all who are oppressed by evil ideology” and joining their “voices to all those calling for calm.”

A group describing themselves as part of the “alt-right” gathered in Charlottesville this weekend, some carrying Nazi paraphernalia and chanting anti-Semitic remarks through the streets. The rally turned violent when a car plowed into a crowd of people who were protesting a rally, which was held by white nationalists who oppose the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee by the City of Charlottesville. Officials say one person was killed and at least 26 were treated at local hospitals.

“The abhorrent acts of hatred on display in Charlottesville are an attack on the unity of our nation.”

“The abhorrent acts of hatred on display in Charlottesville are an attack on the unity of our nation and therefore summon us all to fervent prayer and peaceful action,” the cardinal said in a statement released late Saturday afternoon.

“We also stand ready to work with all people of goodwill for an end to racial violence and for the building of peace in our communities,” he continued.

Cardinal DiNardo, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston, also offered “prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed and for all those who have been injured.”

Meanwhile, Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Diocese of Richmond, which includes Charlottesville, released a statement on Saturday condemning the violence.

“In the last 24 hours, hatred and violence have been on display in the City of Charlottesville. I earnestly pray for peace,” he said, quoting a prayer for peace commonly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

“Lord, show us new ways in which hatred can be left behind, wounds healed, and unity restored.”

“I pray that those men and women on both sides can talk and seek solutions to their differences respectfully,” the statement continued. “The love of Jesus Christ is the most powerful weapon against hatred. Only the light of Christ can quench the torches of hatred and violence. Let us pray for peace.”

The Archdiocese of Washington, located about 100 miles north of the rally, tweeted, “Lord, show us new ways in which hatred can be left behind, wounds healed, and unity restored. Amen. #charlottesville #pray4peace”

Local clergy gathered in Charlottesville to voice opposition to the rally and other religious leaders took to social media to condemn racism in light of the rally:

The chaos boiled over at what is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade: The governor declared a state of emergency, police dressed in riot gear ordered people out and helicopters circled overhead.

The turbulence began Friday night when the white nationalists carried torches though the university campus in what they billed as a “pro-white” demonstration. It quickly spiraled into violence Saturday morning. Hundreds of people threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays. At least eight were injured and one arrested in connection with the demonstration.

President Trump tweeted Saturday that “we ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for.” He then wrote “There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”

But some of the white nationalists cited Donald Trump’s election victory as validation for their beliefs, and Mr. Trump’s critics pointed to the president’s racially tinged rhetoric as exploiting the nation’s festering racial tensions.

Later on Saturday, Mr. Trump condemned what he described as violence “on many sides” but he did not specifically mention racism or the injuries caused by the car.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. This story will be updated.

Tim Donovan
3 days 21 hours ago

My brother Kevin has a degree in History from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, and our family are natives of Pennsylvania. His wife Martha is a native of Virginia, and both graduated from the University of Virginia Law School. They were married in the University chapel, officiated by both a Catholic priest and a Presbyterian minister. (Martha is a Presbyterian, and our family is Catholic). Kevin is a Civil War "buff," and enjoys visiting Gettysburg as well as other historical sites. Their family of two children , John and Virginia, (my niece was named for her loving mother's home state) grew up in New Jersey, though are now adults living in other states. I know as good citizens, well-versed in history and followers of Christ, that they share my oposition to the indefensible and violent white nationalist rally. Surely, as an imperfect Catholic who is pro-life, I join the bishops and leaders of other faiths in condemning the anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric of the very misguided, hostile white supremacists.

Mark Mac Donald
3 days 6 hours ago

do you condemn gay-haters with the same strength?

Tim Donovan
3 days 2 hours ago

Yes, I certainly do. I'm a gay Catholic who as I was growing up was taunted by many of my peers and some adults who assumed that I was gay because of my personality. I was more than a few times called a faggot, and once while riding home on an elementary school bus a younger student spit on me because he correctly knew that I was too shy/ introverted to say anything to challenge his bigoted behavior. (I was about 12 years old at the time; in fairness, the other student did apologize to me) but such an act damaged my already poor self-esteem. I am certainly imperfect. I'm now 55, and for most of my life I've been celibate, following the church's teaching about sexuality. However, many years ago for several years I was very depressed by my orientation and had sex with men. I'm very much ashamed of my promiscuity, and have found consolation and forgiveness in going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation with several compassionate priests. I usually go to confession once a month. It's not an easy choice to refrain from intercourse, but undoubtedly like many other people, I have enough to do in my life with my family, friends, and by myself to keep myself generally busy and usually happy.
By the way, although as a gay man I agree that gay men and women should be treated with respect and compassion, I do support marriage as being between one man and one woman. Although I oppose same -sex marriage, I do support. legal rights in many ways for gay people. I also have a friend who I worked with many years ago who is gay. I haven't been able to drive for some years, but when I did, we would frequently enjoy spending time together. He doesn't drive either, and we live about an hour away from each other, but we do keep in contact by phone. Also, my sister has a friend who's gay that I graduated from elementary school with. We disagree about gay marriage and some other matters, but when she visits my sister for parties and (often) for holiday dinners I treat her with courteous and in a friendly manner.

J Cosgrove
3 days 6 hours ago

Two violent antagonistic groups came together yesterday. A bad result was predictable.

The bias of the America author is evident as he took swipes at Trump at the end of the article when both sides in this conflict are at fault for the violence and neither one is supported by Trump.

Tim Donovan
3 days 1 hour ago

You're absolutely right that it was inevitable that the white nationalists and the liberal counterprotesters would be in conflict.
However, I disagree with your implication (please correct me if I'm wrong) that both groups were equally at fault. The anti-Semitic chants and Nazi paraphernalia used by the white nationalists/supremacists was more offensive than the attire and anything that I understand from news reports in the Washington Post was said by the counterprotesters. Yes, both groups engaged in domestic violence. However, again, according to an article in the Washington Post many of the white supremacists carried weapons such as guns. I believe such behavior shows a propensity to engage in conflict. I did very reluctantly vote for President Trump although I disagree with him on many issues. Trump, although he did condemn the bigotry of the white nationalists and called for peace, David Duke, the leader of the Klu Klux Klan, did issue a statement making it clear that not only did he support President Trump, but said words to the effect that he was elected at least partly by white voters who favored his strong opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. Although I don't entirely agree with their thinking (I agree that all human lives matter) I do believe that prejudice against black people and other minorities is common in society, both by individuals as well as many of our elected officials who make our laws.

J Cosgrove
2 days 20 hours ago

I would wait and see just who provoked who and who was most violent. Right now both sides apparently were very provocative and there apparently were a large antifada contingent and Black Lives Matter group as part of the mixture as well as the white supremacists. That is a witches brew.

I would be interested in the potential law suit from the dead woman's family and those injured. The City of Charlottesville and the state of Virginia police stood down and watched the whole thing play out. I hope their liability insurance is paid up.

Trump has nothing to do with this but if the press including America the magazine can make hay with it, they will do it. The largest killing machine of the 20th century and probably history was represented on the side against the white nationalists. This was the communists who were also present. But somehow they get a pass from the press who forget the 120 million they killed.

Oh, I can also show you Obama supporters who said the Nazi's did some good things. There are no good guys in this.

Thomas Severin
2 days 19 hours ago

"I would just wait and see just who provoked and who was most violent."
It has been confirmed that the 20 year old from Ohio who was responsible for the death of the 32 year old woman from Charlottesville had earlier marched with the White supremacist protesters. I believe murder would qualify as the most violent act of any protester. Also, if the white supremacists wanted a peaceful demonstration, why did they come armed with clubs,baseball bats, guns and shields? I also heard reports from people who were on site that the white supremacists were hurling racist and terrorist threats at people who were protesting their being there.

J Cosgrove
2 days 8 hours ago

There was a murder of a Republican official by a Trump hater last week. Then there was the shooting of Republican congressman and staffers a short while ago. There have about 40 incidences of violence in the last year by liberals against those they disagree with. Mostly radio silence by America the magazine except with false provocative articles, photos and headlines.

America, the magazine, should examine its editorial policies!!!!

Beth Cioffoletti
3 days 3 hours ago

"I for one remain FOR the Negro, I trust him. I recognize the overwhelming justice of his complaint, I confess I have no right whatever to get in his way, and that as a Christian I owe him support, not in his ranks but in my own, among the whites who refuse to trust him or hear him, and who want to destroy him." - Thomas Merton, from his essay, "From Non-Violence to Black Power"

Mark Mac Donald
3 days 3 hours ago

It's good bishops condemned this violence. I believe their statement went something like, "Hey you guys, go after the gays, they're an abomination!"

Tim Donovan
3 days 1 hour ago

First, I assume you're being facetious since the bishops made no statement whatsoever regarding gay people. The bishops do oppose same-sex marriage, but so do many other Americans of different faiths, and they have upheld the teaching of the church that gay people must be treated with respect. Many black people oppose gay marriage; in fact, I believe according to at least some major polls, that blacks oppose same-sex marriage even more so than white Americans. Finally, although in years past gay people were slandered by many in the church I'd like to point out that such slander was not limited to Catholic church leaders or your "average" Catholic , but by people of various faiths, including people who weren't particularly religious. In my experience in the past decade or so, I have been treated with respect by priests both in terms of their preaching from the pulpit and how they have treated me as a gay man.
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Tim Donovan
3 days 1 hour ago

Many thanks to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah for speaking out forcefully against the bigotry of the white supremacists. Senator Hatch, a Mormom who is also pro-life regarding the violence of legal abortion, stated that his brother fought and died during World War II to defeat the Nazis and their hateful propaganda. It's commendable that religious leaders of many different faiths who may disagree on many matters joined in defending racial equality.

Carlos Orozco
2 days 18 hours ago

Racial relations are an extremely sensitive issue in America. That is why people interested in setting off an explosion know what triggers to pull. Follow the money that funds these groups (Right AND Left), don't fall for their violent designs, and let lawful justice be done.

Molly Roach
2 days 9 hours ago

Amen Carlos! The money will tell the whole story!

Vincent Gaglione
2 days 10 hours ago

The intent of the demonstrators - white nationalists, the KKK, the anti-Semites, and the alt-right vigilantes - is to provoke violence by their appearance, by their rhetoric, and by their weapons. Otherwise why would any group of people so prepare themselves to attend what they claim to be as peaceful demonstrators. Unfortunately the counter-demonstrators have among them some who would accept regrettably the invitation to violence, either with intent or some by loss of self-control in the face of bigotry. Peaceful counter-protests are necessary, otherwise it gives ammunition to the sympathizers of the bigoted demonstrators that right is on their side, that there is moral equivalency between the bigoted demonstrators and the counter-demonstrators.

The first imperative is to specifically denounce by name the nationalists, the KKK, the anti-Semites and alt-right vigilantes for what they are – un-American, unChristian, immoral. The President failed to do that. So did some of the nation’s Catholic leadership. I went to Mass yesterday morning. One would have thought that nothing had happened the day before. Not even a prayer of the faithful for the nation’s well-being in the face of bigotry! If I have heard a specific moral teaching from the pulpit about anti-Semitism or racism in all my 60+ years attending Mass I could probably count them on two hands!

Once again, the older I become, I find the tepid moral reactions of USA Catholic clergy to major political events unsatisfying and abdicating the teaching function which they are charged with providing to the Catholic faithful.

J Cosgrove
2 days 8 hours ago

The headline for this article should be

Catholic bishops condemn white supremacist rally and violent counter protesters that left one dead in Charlottesville

Just as President Trump condemned all violence and has witnesseed a excessive number of violent actions from liberals in the last year.

And Mr. O'Loughlin should refrain from being one sided in his quotes and what he reports on. He trots out the bishops in support when is suits his purposes and admonished them when it suits his purposes as do the commenters here.

Douglas Fang
20 hours 50 min ago

There is absolutely no moral basis to compare the White Supremacist/KKK/Neo Nazi with Black Live Matter. The first is a chronic cancerous disease that has been plaguing America for hundreds of years and now seems to be in relapse. The later one is just a temporary reaction to the perceived brutality of police and will soon be forgotten if these kinds of brutal acts subside. Remember the “Wall Street Occupancy” movement? Whoever shows support and tolerant to the White Supremacist, i.e. Trump, is a disgrace to the nation. There is no truth or honor for those who continue to make excuse for these supremacists. Anyone with some shred of conscience, not even faith in God, knows that these supremacists are wrong and should be eradicated from America modern society.

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