A Santa Fe priest who said he didn’t feel any remorse for referring to the coronavirus as the “China virus” — a term considered by some as racist and xenophobic — has apologized.
In an interview Wednesday, the Rev. Larry Brito of St. Anne Parish was adamant there was nothing wrong with the term, saying it is a term others use. But in a letter to the editor submitted Friday to The New Mexican, Brito said he has since learned the term “can be hurtful and even harmful.”
Brito said he composed “a quick memo” Nov. 28 to the parishioners of St. Anne stating he had been exposed to COVID-19. He said he referred to the exposure as the “China/Corna [sic] Virus” with what he called a lack of prudential judgment.
“I am not apologizing because I wish to be ‘politically correct,’ or because I was asked by a higher authority, but rather as I discerned, with the input of a few brave souls (who shared dialog with me to help me understand how this way of referencing to the virus can be hurtful and even harmful to Chinese Americans and to people of Chinese descent),” he wrote.
Brito, who has tested positive for COVID-19, apologized “to anyone who was or may have been affected by those miswritten words.”
Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center launched in March in response to the “alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry” against Asians as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic lambasted Brito’s defense of the term before he apologized.
“It is wrong for any individual to spout hateful rhetoric, but for a man of faith — a reverend, no less — to continue to use the term ‘China virus,’ which we know to threaten the safety of the AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community, is unconscionable,” the group wrote on Twitter.