WASHINGTON (CNS) — The bishop from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia called for peace following violence in Charlottesville late on Aug. 11 and subsequent events at the University of Virginia that left at least one person dead after a car plowed into a crowd on the afternoon of Aug. 12 during a white nationalist rally.
The Associated Press reported that at least 20 were injured Saturday and the mayor of Charlottesville confirmed one death in the afternoon via Twitter after the car rammed into the crowd of marchers.
“In the last 24 hours, hatred and violence have been on display in the city of Charlottesville,” said Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo in a statement. “I earnestly pray for peace.”
Charlottesville is in Bishop DiLorenzo’s diocese.
Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency Aug. 12 when violence erupted during the “Unite the Right” white nationalist protest against the removal of a statue of a Confederate general. But the trouble had already started the night before. The New York Times reported that hundreds of men and women with lit torches chanted anti-Semitic slogans late the previous day on the grounds of the University of Virginia.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the events “abhorrent acts of hatred,” in an Aug. 12 statement. He said they are an “attack on the unity of our nation.”
Other groups, including many faith groups, seeking to counter the white nationalist events showed up during both events. Authorities reported clashes at both events.
“Only the light of Christ can quench the torches of hatred and violence. Let us pray for peace,” said Bishop DiLorenzo in the statement. “I pray that those men and women on both sides can talk and seek solutions to their differences respectfully.”
On Twitter, Jesuit Father James Martin denounced racism as a sin and said: “All Christians, all people of faith, should not only reject it, not only oppose it, but fight against it.”
Christopher J. Hale, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, announced via social media a Mass at the University of Virginia on Aug. 13 “in light of the white nationalist rallies that have terrorized the campus.”