Apologize and Listen to Black Catholics

Archbishop José Gomez

Beginning Monday, November 15, U.S. Catholic bishops will gather for a high-profile national meeting -- just as Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the U.S. bishops' conference, is making headlines for blasting social justice activism.

"Whatever we call these movements -- 'social justice,' 'wokeness,' 'identity politics,' 'intersectionality,' 'successor ideology' --- they claim to offer what religion provides," the archbishop said in a speech that described these movements as "dangerous."

Black Catholic leaders in particular have responded with sadness and outrage to the archbishop's harmful remarks.

In contrast to Archbishop Gomez, Pope Francis has called for a "Church in the streets." He frequently praises "popular movements" for marching and advocating for social justice. The future doesn’t rest solely in the hands of powerful politicians or religious authorities, the Pope has said, but "in the hands of people and their ability to organize."

Archbishop Gomez should listen to Pope Francis and hear from those of us whose social justice advocacy is inspired by our faith. Catholic bishops and other religious leaders ought to be in the streets with racial-justice movement organizers -- not demeaning them.

This petition asks Archbishop Gomez to apologize for his statements and urges him to stand in solidarity with social-justice movements -- as Pope Francis has done. We plan to deliver the letter before the bishops meet, so be sure to add your name by November 15!
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Washington, DC

To: Archbishop José Gomez
From: [Your Name]

Dear Archbishop Gomez,

In a recent speech, you criticized "new social justice movements" as a "dangerous" form of "pseudo-religion." After the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, social-justice movements that focus on racial justice have helped awaken our national conscience to the epidemic of police brutality and systemic racism. Catholic bishops and other religious leaders should be out in the streets with these movement organizers -- not demeaning them with language that only emboldens opponents of racial equity.

Your speech was particularly painful and offensive to Black Catholic advocates in the United States who have organized for racial justice in the face of indifference and even hostility from many white Christians. Please apologize for your statements and stand in solidarity with social movements, as Pope Francis has done.

Pope Francis frequently praises "popular movements" that march and advocate for human dignity. He reminds us that the future won't only be shaped by powerful politicians, but is instead "in the hands of people and their ability to organize." The Pope even calls for a "Church in the streets." We encourage you to embrace this "Church in the streets" by finding common ground with a new generation of social justice leaders who, in the language of Vatican II, are reading the "signs of the times" and inspiring diverse movements of people who are putting their faith into action.