In Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, the Catholic bishops of the United States invite the reader to recognize the ways in which the evil of racism profoundly impacts the lives of many people in the United States. The pastoral letter reflects on the dignity of every human person and establishes the Church’s moral imperative to combat racism as a life issue.
The text draws lessons from current and historical experiences of several groups—including African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Americans—while acknowledging that many ethnic groups and nationalities have been and are still affected by different forms of racial discrimination and hatred.
In the pastoral letter, the US Catholic bishops acknowledge the history of racial crimes in the United States and ask forgiveness for the participation of leaders and members the Catholic Church in this sin and in enabling or perpetuating structures of injustice. The bishops call on fellow clergy and Catholics to help change racist attitudes and acts to conform to the moral order established by God, in which men and women of all races are honored as brothers and sisters. The bishops implore Catholics to work against racism and to support institutional policies and community relationships that will eliminate racial injustices and prejudices. Finally, they encourage collaboration with fellow Christians and members of other faiths to root out this societal evil.
This pastoral letter against racism is a call to action for priests, deacons, religious men and women, parish staff, theologians, educators and catechists, all the Catholic faithful. It asks the Body of Christ to give an ever more authentic witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ, grounded in the truth that men and women of all races reflect the goodness of God, in whose image all are made.