Roman Catholic bishops are condemning racism in the U.S. in light of national tensions over police treatment of African-Americans.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, made the statement Wednesday at the start of an assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in St. Louis. Kurtz is the president of the bishops' conference.

Kurtz noted the bishops are meeting near Ferguson. Protests and unrest erupted in predominantly black Ferguson last year after the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, inspiring the national "Black Lives Matter" movement.

Kurtz said all people deserve to be treated with dignity. He urged parishes to work toward and pray for racial reconciliation.

The U.S. bishops plan in the coming months to issue a teaching document highlighting how racism damages families and the country.