Archbishops Differ on Roots of Racial Violence

News: US News
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  August 16, 2016   

Abp. Lori on Police Corruption vs. Abp. Listecki on the black community's "self-inflicted wounds"

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BALTIMORE ( - While Baltimore's archbishop is focusing on police corruption as the cause of racial tension between officers and members of the black community, Milwaukee's archbishop is referring to the black community's "self-inflicted wounds."

Yesterday, Abp. Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee issued a response to racial protests unleashed on the city. Violence by members of the black community erupted after an armed black suspect was shot by a black police officer trying to disarm him. Members of the black community were rioting and looting to bring about change in the police force. They claimed the shooting was proof of excessive use of police force.

Archbishop Listecki lamented these actions by certain members of the black community. "Protest is a right of every American, but burning, shooting at legitimate authority and stealing are not. In fact, those who committed these actions imposed self-inflicted wounds on the very community whose interests they claim to represent."

Milwaukee's archbishop didn't claim that police needed reforming but rather that the protesting community itself needed reform. "Supporting the family, building the economy and attacking crime is a wonderful formula for defusing the intensity that creates the 'burn baby, burn' mentality."

The archbishop saw the problem as being rooted in a lack of commitment by such people to live the Faith. "I firmly believe that the loss of a strong faith that builds character and creates change is currently missing from our current, secular equation."

Last week, however, Baltimore's archbishop William Lori took a different view. He too was responding to a similar problem of discord dating back over a year between members of Baltimore's police force and many of Baltimore's black residents.

His immediate comments were relating to a 164-page report about perceived problems with Baltimore's police force. In his statement Wednesday, which followed the release of the Department of Justice report, Lori called the document "sobering and distressing and should be a cause for great concern for all people of good will."

The archbishop believes the report to be an "affirmation" of the systemic problems in Baltimore's police force that "have undermined both public trust as well as the inherent dignity" of the community. He encouraged people to read the document and lauded the "long overdue reforms and changes" that would be forthcoming.

Archbishop Lori went on to say, "However, it is clear from the report that nothing short of a change in the culture within the department will result in the kind of reform that is necessary to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of every citizen of Baltimore."

The archbishop failed to mention any changes for the inner city culture necessary to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of every citizen, as did Abp. Listecki.


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