In a Sept. 4 talk livestreamed from his home chapel, Archbishop Alexander Sample reiterated his views on racial justice, Portland protests and police. Some readers misunderstood his past comments, and media presented his views without enough context, he said.

The archbishop first told viewers that racial injustice is real and should be decried. Black citizens, also Hispanics and other cultural groups, suffer from it, he explained, adding that he has witnessed racism firsthand.

“Some people just haven’t quite been converted of heart to recognize the equality and dignity of every human person,” the archbishop said. “We should call it out.”

He reminded viewers that the Catholic Church condemns racism and suggested that parishes study “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love — A Pastoral Letter Against Racism” published by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2018.

Second, the archbishop encouraged citizens to demonstrate and protest peacefully to make their voices heard on social evils like racism and abortion. But he condemned those who have inserted other agendas into the Portland protests. Some have acted violently with looting, attacks on property and recently even a murder.

“This is not a solution to the problems facing our country,” he said. “It only foments greater division, greater hatred, pitting us against each other. This is not the way of the Christian. It is not the way of Christ.”

Third, the archbishop offered backing for police. “I am a very strong supporter of those in law enforcement who dedicate their lives to protecting us,” he said. While some officers have done bad things, it is unfair to claim that all are bad or that the policing system is corrupt, the archbishop said.

There are people in all professions and walks of life who have done bad things yet we don’t criticize or demonize the whole group, said the archbishop, calling for a sense of fairness toward police.

“They walk out the door of their houses every day and kiss their families goodbye, and for many of them there is no guarantee they are coming home that night,” the archbishop said. “They do that for us.”

Reporting that the faithful from all points of the political spectrum have pressured him to take sides, the archbishop rejected the notion.

“My role as a shepherd is to unite and to hold us together and to call our attention to the things that really matter,” he said. “I will not align myself with anyone’s agenda. The church has her own agenda.”

He urged viewers to study and live out church social teaching.

“If we all lived by the principles of Catholic social teaching we wouldn’t be having these problems,” he said.

Chapel Chats with Archbishop Alexander Sample from Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon on Vimeo.