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Resource Guide to the Catholic Church’s Stance Against Racism
June 12, 2020
The Catholic Church stands against racism in all forms. The following resources constitute a starting place for understanding the position of the Catholic Church in opposing racism and discrimination while promoting the sancity of every human life.
Statement of the Sisters of the Holy Names, US – Ontario Province
“We can hardly find words to express our horror at witnessing George Floyd beg for air as a Minneapolis policeman restrained him by kneeling on his neck until he died. As Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary of the U.S.-Ontario Province, we join with those who condemn this outrageous act against a restrained and helpless black man. We stand with those who advocate for the dignity and respect of every human life. We strongly reject the racism and hatred reflected in this action. While we support peaceful protests against rampant racism, we condemn the destruction of property and the harming of persons involved. We call on our president and all leaders to exert moral influence by promoting peaceful means to deter the violence happening in so many cities. We grieve with and for the families, friends and black communities that have endured so many traumatic killings and for whom George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor’s deaths are yet another harsh reminder of repeated injustice. We pray for urgently needed reforms in our society and our hearts, so that we may learn to live Jesus’ message to ‘love one another.’” (Statement of the Sisters of the Holy Names, US – Ontario Province)
“Open Wide Our Hearts” and the Eradication of Cultural Discrimination
In November 2018, the United States Bishops issued a new pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts”.
Racism is a sin
Brothers and Sisters to Us, U.S. Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter on Racism, 1979.
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This morning we organized a public witness against the sin of racism to stand in prayer and solidarity with the Black community. Over thirty Jesuits walked together to the lawn in front of St Ignatius Church where we were joined by other supporters. At 8am, we knelt in silence for 8m46s- the duration of time that George Floyd was held down. I was brought to tears as the minutes passed. I couldn’t imagine pressing into a person’s neck for that long until his breathing ceased. “Forgive us, God of mercy and justice.” Black lives matter. Racism is sin. I pray for forgiveness for my own complicity and for healing. As we walked to the lawn, a worker for the T-commuter train said to us, “About time the Catholic Church did something.” He’s right. Our inaction and silence as a Church (and from me as an individual) has gone for too long. I commit to working for justice and dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our world and our church. “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” -Angela Davis, political activist and academic (later paraphrased by Bishop Seitz in a pastoral letter)
Pope Francis’ General Audience on June 3, 2020.
Bishop Gregory Parkes’ “Statement on the Death of George Floyd and Subsequent Protests.”
Fr. Mike Schmitz and Fr. Josh Johnson live streamed their conversation discussing how to restore racial division on Ascension Presents.
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Fr. Mark-Mary and Fr. Pierre Toussaint hosted a presentation on Ascension Presents about racism and division in the Church.
In his one-minute series, Fr. Rob Galea talks about “Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter“.
The Chicago Inquisition
The Chicago Inquisition, a group of friends who have discussed a variety of Catholic issues since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, addressed racism in their “Episode 8: George Floyd, Race Relations, & the Catholic Perspective.” This group, started by Mary Kate Knorr, a Catholic pro-life activist, livestreams their conversations on YouTube and later turns it into a podcast.
The Call to Love One Another
“Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
And yet I do write a new commandment to you, which holds true in him and among you, for the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” -1 John 2:7-11
A Call to the Unity of All the Races
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” -Acts 2:1-11
How Catholics Can Lead the Fight Against Racism
Olga Segura, in America magazine, dives into the Catholic Church’s response to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as steps that the Church could take to more passionately counter the sin of racism. Segura’s article “How can Catholics help lead the fight against racism?” explains why racism is a sin and steps to take as Catholics to become more loving of all our brothers and sisters on Earth.