Atlanta Archbishop Seeks Stronger Condemnation of Discrimination

Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan of Atlanta, Ga., has called on the ecumenical council to make a more forceful denunciation of all forms of racial discrimination.

He called for an amendment to the proposed declaration on the Church in the modern world — the so-called schema 13 — to make it state explicitly that of all forms of discrimination, that based on race or color most dishonorably offends the God-given law of justice.

Archbishop Hallinan, whose metropolitan province includes North and South Carolina, Georgia and peninsular Florida, submitted both a written statement and a draft amendment to the council secretariat. He asked that the amendment be inserted after the 30th paragraph of the schema, which declares that much remains to be done to establish the fundamental equality of all men among themselves.

The archbishop’s proposed addition states that slavery, forced segregation, deprivation and degradation have been the fruit of racial discrimination. These in turn give rise, it states, to monstrous inequalities in education, housing, jobs, in the right to vote, and even in denying to members of racial minorities the right to worship in particular churches.

By the amendment, the council would condemn all varieties of racial discrimination as demeaning the human person. It would call on all Christians and members of other religious groups, and on governments as well, to work for racial justice.

In the statement to the council submitted along with the proposed amendment, Archbishop Hallinan said:

“Although racial discrimination is mentioned several times in this schema, it is not given the clear and forceful treatment for which injustice cries out today. Certainly the crises in disturbed families and among warring nations require the words and example of Christ, Our Lord, and of His Church.

“But even more urgently, the cries of racial minorities for equal opportunity, of majorities oppressed by hostile government, and indeed of whole new nations for dignity, freedom and advancement, regardless of color or race, cannot continue to go unheard. This Church and this council must, like the prophet, cry out her protest without ceasing.

“Some nations have indeed tried to curb this discrimination by law, education and example. Many churches and synagogues have met their high obligations by leading their people along the high road of truth and justice instead of following them blindly into alleys of fear and hate. But if racial discrimination is to be progressively eliminated, every social force must work incessantly for the complete acceptance by all men of the concept of the equal dignity, as well as the rights and responsibilities, of all the children of God.

“It is appropriate that 95 African bishops spoke last week through Bishop D’dungu of Uganda against the inadequate treatment of racial discrimination in this schema. That continent was the major victim of the scourge which cursed the Western world for centuries although it is true that every region of humanity has been soiled by some form of slavery from the beginning of history.

“Individual bishops and bodies of bishops have frequently condemned the sin of racial discrimination. But the universal Church, in a conciliar document, must publicly declare our position not only against slavery, but against the evils it has spawned. Such a statement would strengthen the hands of bishops, priests, Religious and laity as they earnestly try to remove this moral offense from mankind’s catalog of sins. It would ennoble the difficult efforts of those governments that are concerned with the social evils of inequality. With justice and compassion, this statement would publicly accord to the victims of these evils the dignity that is inalienably theirs. And finally, it would assure the world that the Church will constantly proclaim God’s law of justice and love, consistently act upon it, and lead its members to live in that true harmony that only equality and fraternity can provide.”

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