Catholic Charities chief ignites racial firestorm after calling out the church — and himself
Rob McCann (YouTube)

A Washington bishop denounced the Black Lives Matter movement after the CEO of Catholic Charities apologized for his own past racism and pledged to do better.

Rob McCann, who heads the non-profit organization's eastern Washington charities, expressed solidarity with the civil rights movement in a video late last month as nationwide protests have sharpened the focus on systemic and historical racism -- but the local bishop and some other Catholics were furious, reported The Spokesman-Review.

“I am a racist," McCann admitted. "That’s the hard truth. I am a racist. How could I not be? As a white person living in America where every institution is geared to advantage people who look like me, it’s seemingly impossible for me to be anything other than a racist.”

McCann lamented that he had not done more to be actively anti-racist, and he called on the Catholic Church to end its silence on U.S. racism -- and that set off Spokane’s Catholic bishop Thomas Daly.

“When Rob spoke of the church as racist, himself as racist and essentially all white people are racist – I thought it was a very simplistic way to look at the tragedy of racism,” Daly told the newspaper.

The bishop said McCann's video had prompted numerous calls and emails from churchgoers who felt his message ignored the church's positive actions and unnecessarily "roiled" the community.

“No, not everybody is racist by sheer skin color,” Daly complained.

McCann said in the video that Catholic Charities supported Black Lives Matter, saying the organization could not "stand outside" something so significant, but Daly was puzzled.

“BLM is in conflict with Church teaching regarding marriage, family and the sanctity of life," the bishop said. "Moreover, it is disturbing that BLM has not vocally condemned the recent violence that has torn apart so many cities. Its silence has not gone unheard. One need not stand with BLM to stand for Black lives."

McCann said he was disappointed in the response, and apologized for causing any hurt.

“I wanted to challenge our team members to recognize that even the most ardent forces for good in our world can, and must, do better," McCann said. "However, I fear that my video hardened the hearts of some. Instead of engaging in a discussion about race, I spoke in a way that some heard as a critical rant against the Church. For that, I am deeply and truly sorry."

McCann said his organization and family have been targeted with hate and violence, but didn't describe any specifics.

“There also has now been violence committed against my wife and children at my home,” McCann said. “For all of my best intentions, these past weeks have been marked by hurt and sadness from all involved.”