Our website is made possible by displaying online ads to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our site.

Catholic groups, bishops pray for end to anti-Asian hate crimes, violence

First slide

WASHINGTON — Asian and Pacific Islander Catholic groups and a number of Catholic bishops have joined their voices with others in calling for an end to violence and hate crimes against Americans of Asian and Pacific Island heritage.

"We call on communities to engage in peaceful dialogue at the local and national levels to address prejudice and anti-Asian bias. We stand for the peaceful co-existence of all peoples, we pray for compassion and love, and work toward healing and unity," said a March 31 statement from the leaders of 16 groups representing Korean, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Hmong, Burmese, Indian and other Asian Catholics.

The statement was released by the Asian and Pacific Island Affairs section of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"The rise in violence against Asian people across the country is alarming and horrific to all people of right reason," San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said in a March 30 statement.

He announced the archdiocese will hold an afternoon "Easter Peace Prayer Service" at St. Mary's Cathedral on Easter Saturday, April 10.

"We will pray for an end to violence and racism particularly against Asians, for healing for our nation, and for the flourishing of peace and justice in our land," he said.

The evening of March 31 Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez planned to celebrate an outdoor "Prayer Vigil for Racial Acceptance" at Incarnation Church in Glendale, Calif., in solidarity with the Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. Auxiliary Bishop Alejandro "Alex" D. Aclan was to be the homilist.

"We stand in solidarity with the victims of racial violence across the United States as we uphold our commitment to the core values of Catholicism," Bishop Aclan said in a statement. "As we mobilize the faithful to take action against racism, we take Christian love, and not political interests, as our guide."

In a March 29 statement, Bishop Oscar Cantú of San Jose, Calif., said the Asian community "has been on my mind and in my prayers recently, given the disturbing rise of anti-Asian animus, prejudice, aggression and violence."

"It is disgraceful to see this in our American society in our modern times," the bishop said. He urged Catholics to embrace Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, "celebrate them, and love them as brothers and sisters!"

Protests and vigils have taken place around the country to demand an end to a growing wave of anti-Asian racism and violence and to remember victims of these attacks.

Two Jesuit universities, St. Louis University and Georgetown University, have held vigils online that also included discussion on challenges faced by the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and ways to better advocate for them.

The general council of the Dominican sisters of Adrian, Michigan, also has called for an end to the violence against these groups and urged Congress to enact strong legislation against hate crimes.

The organization Stop AAPI Hate released figures in mid-March saying it had collected reports of 3,800 hate crimes throughout the U.S. in the past year against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Some of the more known reports include general harassment in public, such as being told to "go home" or to get out of the country, at restaurants and in grocery stores.

Among the most recent attacks was a March 16 shooting spree at three spas in the metro Atlanta area left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent. Law enforcement is looking into the mass shooting as a hate crime.

"We must support all victims of violence and stand in solidarity with those who are vulnerable in our communities," said Atlanta Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer in a March 17 statement after the shooting.

Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich echoed these comments in his March 18 statement about what occurred in Atlanta.

Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB' Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs, also echoed the Atlanta archbishop's call to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable in these communities.

In a March 22 statement, he said the Atlanta shootings have "prompted national dialogue on addressing anti-Asian bias that has taken the form of numerous other acts of physical violence, verbal attacks and destruction of property against those of Asian descent over the last year that have left communities across the country traumatized."

Additionally, Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge expressed his sorrow over the mass shootings, as well as in Boulder, Colo., in a March 23 statement.

"The recent, tragic killings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., fill us with profound sadness and grief," he said. "These horrific events destroy the most precious of gifts — that of human life and peace. They call our attention, again, to our constant need for God’s love and his divine assistance in our lives and throughout our world. He is the One alone who can transform hearts from hatred to love and fill our world with the peace and unity for which we long.

"We pray for the families of the victims and the larger communities as they grieve, asking the Lord to give them strength, peace and healing, especially at this time. We are united in prayer for all victims of violence as we ask God to embrace them in his infinite care.

"In the face of hate and loss, may we renew our resolve to pray daily for the protection of all human life and the dignity of each and every human person. May the Lord give us the grace to live in harmony as God’s holy family and as brothers and sisters in Christ."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021