The United States Department of Justice has handed down its decision. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the decision, one thing remains the same: there is a racial divide in our city that exposes a gap of access and opportunity.

We must dedicate ourselves to work for racial healing and transformation in Baton Rouge. While recognizing the universal respect we should have for those whose duty is to ensure our public safety, we must work together for law enforcement and criminal justice reform, economic development in all parts of the city, access to health care for all, quality education, and employment opportunities.

The flood of 2016 demonstrated the strengths of our beloved city in times of crisis. We saw a self-sacrificing and compassionate embrace of those in need, regardless of color or ethnicity. Now that strength needs to be put into action to heal the wounds in our city.

I call upon Catholics of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, members of all faith communities, and people of good will to seize this opportunity to bring about healing and change. This moment calls for conversion of mind, heart, and spirit that is both personal and systemic.

The Diocese of Baton Rouge has established a Racial Harmony Commission that is working on ways that we as a diocese can respond to this challenge and build bridges of dialogue, understanding, respect, and action.

May God bless our city at this critical time! May God move our hearts and our wills to work for the establishment of His Kingdom of peace and justice on earth.