In response to the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the following statement was released by the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province.
NEW YORK — Hate speech and attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are a deplorable part of the history of the United States. The sad legacy of this evil is that such prejudice, a form of racism, has been tolerated within our country. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been a dramatic uptick in violence against the AAPI community, with instances increasing by over 150% between February 2020 and March 2021. Perpetrators of this type of hatred have used Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders as scapegoats for their unjust bias.
Along with religious, political, and educational leaders, as well as other people of goodwill, we Friars Minor stand in solidarity with our Asian American and Pacific Islander sisters and brothers. Our solidarity is further rooted in the reality that some of our own friars and people we serve at our ministries have been targets of this hate. We pray for their safety and peace of mind. We will work with them and others to ensure that their God-given right to live in harmony within the human community is recognized and protected. We also pray for those who have harmed them in speech or action, that they will be moved by God’s grace to a conversion of heart.
We commit ourselves to reaching out to support our brothers and sisters from Asia and the Pacific Islands. We must educate our local fraternities and the people we serve about the troubling history of this form of racism. In addition, our vision of inclusive ministry must be broadened to embrace the multicultural vision put forth in the 2018 USCCB document Encountering Christ in Harmony – A Pastoral Response to Our Asian and Pacific Island Brothers and Sisters.
Laws to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders already are in place on national and state levels. These laws must be enforced to ensure people’s safety. Tragically, within our culture, bias and hatred against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (and others) are frequently expressed in acts using guns. As a result, we must work to advance the common good within the political process by supporting effective public policy that limits gun violence.
Prayer, education, and political action are necessary, but so too is the conversion of hearts to become more inclusive of others. Standing alongside and standing up for our Asian American and Pacific Islander brothers and sisters should motivate us again to be “born anew” in this Easter season so that the Risen Lord’s gift of “new life” may take root in us. Emboldened by this rebirth, may we more readily reach out in love to all of God’s people.
About Holy Name Province
Holy Name Province is the largest of seven entities in the United States belonging to the Order of Friars Minor. With ministries in 12 states along the East Coast, its nearly 300 Catholic priests and brothers serve in colleges, parishes, urban ministry centers and a wide variety of social service ministries, as well as in overseas missions. The Order, founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi, commemorated its 800th anniversary in 2009. Today, St. Francis, whose feast day is Oct. 4, remains one of the most widely known saints, revered for his affection for nature and care for creation.