The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and Cleveland Catholic Charities are co-sponsoring a conference centered on the recent pastoral letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.”
Bishop Nelson Perez said the recent rise in anti-migrant rhetoric, coupled with the increasing visibility of white supremacist groups and explicit racist behavior has resulted in a national crisis that is in some ways similar to the racial tensions experienced in the 1950s and '60s.
“For many Catholic communities, this crisis and the ensuing dialogues regarding race in America has created an urgent desire to hear a response from their leaders,” he said, which prompted the daylong program.
The conference -- which shares the name of the pastoral letter -- will take place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Dolan Center at John Carroll University, 1 John Carroll Blvd., University Heights. Cost is $20 a person. It is free for students, but registration is required. Visit catholiccommunity.org/racial-justice for registration. Call Cary Dabney, director of the Office of Ministry to African American Catholics, 216-696-6525, ext. 3020, for more information.
Dabney said registration begins at 8:30 a.m., followed by a prayer service/welcome by the bishop, who will deliver the keynote address at 9:45.
The event will include a listening session facilitated by Bishop Perez and a representative of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Dabney added.
“We will lead all present in a conversation about the challenges of responding to the increase in language about race in our communities, while also exploring our own convictions about racial diversity in America and in the Church,” the bishop said.
After lunch at noon, there will be breakout sessions and a discussion on next steps and processing before Bishop Perez offers the closing blessing.
Diane Zbasnik, who heads the diocesan social action office, said sponsors are needed to help defray conference expenses, including speakers, workshops and materials. Deadline for sponsorships is Aug. 15. She said sponsorships are available for $50 to $500 and all sponsorship levels include at least one ticket to the conference.
To become a sponsor, contact Zbasnik at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 216-939-3843.
“Please plan to attend this timely conference. As a Church, we have spoken out consistently against abortion, euthanasia and other forms of violence that threaten human life. In a particular way, the injustice and harm caused by this rise of dividing rhetoric has had a negative effect on human life. Therefore, we cannot cease working to improve our efforts to work towards racial justice and cultural harmony,” Bishop Perez said.