RACISM IN AMERICA

A Test of Faith + healing for Our Nation


Webinar: CATHOLIC Dialogue on Racism

Our nation is in pain and in crisis, with angry, peaceful protesters demanding justice; with some lawless attacks on places and people; and with leaders who are failing us. At the same time, a deadly pandemic that touches all of us has exposed pervasive injustices which leave communities of color far more likely to suffer and die, lose work and wages, and risk their health and lives in essential jobs.

Responses from Catholic Leaders

Bishop Seitz

Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, kneels at El Paso's Memorial Park holding a Black Lives Matter sign June 1. Seitz and other clergy from the diocese prayed and kneeled for eight minutes, the time George Floyd, an unarmed black man, spent under a police officer's knee before dying May 25. Read more.

leaders respond

Unprecedented scenes...across the country were provoked by nine horrifying minutes captured by onlookers outside a convenience store in Minneapolis as George Floyd’s life was extinguished by local police. A small sample of the first responses from Catholic voices follows. Read More.

ArchBishop Gomez

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops statement on George Floyd and the protests in American cities. Read more.

U.S. Bishops' Documents on Race:

Open Wide Our Hearts (EN) (SP) | Brothers and Sisters to Us | Love Thy Neighbor | What We Have Seen and Heard (EN) (SP)

Articles Worth reading

The Duty of White Christians to Dismantle Racist Idolatry (2020)

Jesus preached the need for conversion, for changing structures that oppressed or pushed people to the margins. Jesus required people to take responsibility for their actions and sins. The cross and Jesus' death on it was the result of his life and his challenging injustice.

Jesus did not need to be crucified, yet he was, and he rose again. We celebrate this resurrection; a resurrection that shows us that violence and suffering is not the last word. God brought and will be bringing again something new. Jesus, after he rose, fulfilled his promise to the disciples to send the Holy Spirit, the spirit of new life, of renewal.

As fires burned in D.C., Minneapolis, Boston and elsewhere, I wondered what is the Holy Spirit bringing forth? Where is the spirit moving in the evocative rage, in the images of red, orange, yellow against the night sky?

Will white Christians enter this turbulent space and by the labor of our obedience (an obedience to listen, to learn, to return to God) work with others to dismantle idolatry in all its forms?

Will we respond to the call of our teachers to seek healing from all disease that prevents us from seeing each other as members of the One Body of Christ, as equal in dignity, worth and bearing the image and likeness of God?

And in responding to the Holy Spirit and our teachers of the New Pentecost, work to build the community called for by Arabome, where all are "able to breathe with both lungs no matter the color of our skin."


Read the full article from the National Catholic Reporter.

The Assumptions of White Privilege (2020)

All of this weighs on my spirit. I try to pray, but inner quiet eludes me. I simply sit in silence on Pentecost weekend before a lit candle praying, "Come, Holy Spirit" as tears fall. Words fail me. I ponder the futility of speaking out, yet again, trying to think of how to say what has been said, what I have said, so often before. Then it occurred to me. Amy Cooper holds the key. The event in Central Park is not the most heinous...The black man didn't die — thankfully. Compared to [other events], it has received little attention. But if you understand Amy Cooper, then all the rest, and much more, makes sense. And points the way forward.


Read the full article "The assumptions of white privilege and what we can do about it" from the National Catholic Reporter.

How Can Catholics Help Lead The Fight Against Racism? (2020)

Every day, black women and men are faced with the reality that in America, all it takes is one person to see your body and the color of your skin as a threat. These thoughts are ever-present, not only when images of black death go viral. Black people are routinely viewed by white citizens and police as suspicious, dangerous and unworthy. Once again, black Americans must confront the dangers of being in a black body while wearing masks in public spaces. Black people are suffering. How can the church show that it is listening?


Read more from "How can Catholics help lead the fight against racism?" in America Magazine.

Catholics must hunger for justice like we do for the Eucharist (2020)

Catholics cannot be content to stand on the sidelines of this struggle. In the face of racism, Catholics must hunger for justice as we hunger for the Eucharist. The Gospel calls us, as we prepare for Communion, to “go first and be reconciled” (Mt 5:24) with our sisters and brothers. At this moment, when the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the depth of our need for the sacraments and for community, this national outcry should lead Catholics, white Catholics especially, to conversion, repentance and reconciliation.


Read more from 'To fight racism, Catholics must hunger for justice like we do for the Eucharist" in America Magazine.


What #BLM Can Teach Catholics About Racial Justice (2019)

While racial justice has not been at the forefront of the public agenda of the Catholic Church, many Catholics...have encouraged church leaders to meet with activists within the movement. “I think, like the civil rights movement and the black power movement, the Black Lives Matter movement is this generation’s response to racism,” Felix Cepeda says, adding that there is much the Catholic Church can learn from the black citizens leading the movement.


Read more of this article from America Magazine.

How can Catholics help bridge our nation’s racial divide? (2018)

We are living in a unique moment in our national history: a moment when, sadly, the racial divide in our country is becoming more acute. The events of the past year concerning freedom of speech, public Confederate monuments, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan are particularly challenging and complex for Christians seeking to obey the law of love...we must learn from the past by studying the choices, decisions, beliefs and experiences that have brought us to this moment. As Catholics, we must open our hearts to the purifying power of the Holy Spirit and the healing grace of Christ. We Catholics sometimes have only a superficial cultural commitment to our faith. But a deep existential commitment to follow Jesus as the way, the truth and the life impels us to truly live our Catholic faith in all of the complex and difficult situations of our lives, including those that require us to oppose anyone and anything that serves to maintain the current racial divide in the United States.


Read more of this article "How can Catholics help bridge our nation’s racial divide?" from America Magazine.

How Ferguson Helped Me Understand My Baptismal Vows (2017)

In August 2014, I tweeted that I wanted to go to Ferguson, Mo., in the immediate wake of Michael Brown’s death. Within a matter of minutes, a Twitter contact alerted me to a group organizing a bus ride from Washington, D.C., to Ferguson. After a few moments of contemplation, I decided to join that group on the long journey to Missouri. Why I tweeted that desire to visit Ferguson, I will never know. But I do have an idea of where the desire came from, beyond a sense of justice for and connection to the life of Michael Brown: my own baptism.


Read more of "How Ferguson and Michael Brown Helped Me Understand My Baptismal Vows" from America Magazine.

Bishops Form New Task Force after Charlottesville (2017)

In the wake of a rally led by white supremacists that rocked Charlottesville and engulfed President Trump in a race-related controversy, Catholic bishops in the United States announced the creation of a new task force to address racism—in both the nation and in the church.


Read more of "In the wake of Charlottesville, U.S. Catholic bishops form new anti- racism task force" from America Magazine.

White Catholics have 'to talk about race and to admit their racism' (2016)

Today, there are more African-American Catholics in Louisiana than almost anywhere else in the United States. They are here because of slavery. During the 18th century, French and Spanish colonists introduced Catholicism and race-based slavery to the Mississippi Valley. Sacramental records of the period show people of color—most of them enslaved but some of them free—being baptized, married and buried in the church. In the years following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the church became one of the largest slaveholding entities in the state. When Pope Gregory XVI condemned slavery in his 1839 apostolic letter “In Supremo Apostolatus,” the white clergy continued to defend slavery as it was practiced in the United States. Most white laypeople never heard of the pope’s letter, much less read it. They also agreed with the assessment of Bishop Auguste Marie Martin of Natchitoches, La., that slavery was “the manifest will of God” and the result of the so-called curse of Ham. The Vatican rejected Bishop Martin’s opinion in 1864, but who was listening?


Read more of "White Catholics have 'to talk about race and to admit their racism'" from America Magazine.

Students Attempt to Shatter "Post-Racial" Illusion (2015)

On Oct. 10, a group of African-American students at The University of Missouri interrupted the school’s homecoming parade. Armed with megaphones and wearing shirts that read “1839 Was Built on My B(l)ack,” the protestors stood in front of president Tim Wolfe’s car and, one by one, described racism they’d each experienced at Mizzou.


Read more "Student activists are attempting to shatter the “post-racial” illusion many believe exists" from America Magazine.

Videos Worth watching

VOICES WORTH HEARING

Prayers Worth praying

Prayer for Peace in Our Communities

Let us pray.

O Lord our God, in your mercy and kindness, no thought of ours is left unnoticed, no desire or concern ignored. You have proven that blessings abound when we fall on our knees in prayer, and so we turn to you in our hour of need. Surrounded by violence and cries for justice, we hear your voice telling us what is required...“Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mi 6:8). Fill us with your mercy so that we, in turn, may be merciful to others. Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities. Strengthen our hearts so that they beat only to the rhythm of your holy will. Flood our path with your light as we walk humbly toward a future filled with encounter and unity. Be with us, O Lord, in our efforts, for only by the prompting of your grace can we progress toward virtue.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


DOWNLOAD THIS PRAYER | Copyright © 2016, Therese Wilson-Favors. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Scripture quote taken from the New American Bible, Revised Edition, copyright © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz.

Prayer to Address the Sin of Racism

We pray for healing to address

The persistent sin of racism

Which rejects the full humanity

Of some of your children,

And the talents and potential You have given.

We pray for the grace to recognize

The systems that do not support

The dignity of every person,

That do not promote respect

For those who are seen as other,

Who bear the legacy of centuries

Of discrimination, fear, and violence.

We pray for graced structures

So children of color in Flint, and all children,

Have access to clean water and health care.

We pray for graced structures

So children of color in Mississippi, and all children,

Have quality education that will allow them to develop their gifts.

We pray for graced structures

So children of color in Camden, and all children,

Have homes where families can live in dignity and security.

We pray for graced structures

So children of color in Chicago, and all children,

Can grow up without fear, without the sound of gunshots.

Lord of all, we ask you to hear and answer our prayers.

Give us eyes to see how the past

Has shaped the complex present,

And to perceive how we must create

A new way forward,

With a new sense of community

That embraces and celebrates

The rich diversity of all,

That helps us live out your call to reject

The sin of racism, the stain of hate,

And to seek a compassionate solidarity

Supported by Your grace and Your love.

We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.



Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. This text may be reproduced in whole or in part without alteration for nonprofit educational use, provided such reprints are not sold and include this notice.

Prayer to Mary Against Racism (Spanish)

María, amiga y madre de todos, a través de tu Hijo Dios ha encontrado un camino para unirse a todos los seres humanos, llamados a ser un solo pueblo, hermanas y hermanos entre sí.

Pedimos tu ayuda al recurrir a tu Hijo, buscando el perdón por las veces en que hemos fallado en amarnos y respetarnos.

Pedimos tu ayuda para obtener de tu Hijo la gracia que necesitamos para vencer el mal del racismo y construir una sociedad justa.

Pedimos tu ayuda para seguir a tu Hijo, para que el prejuicio y la animosidad no infecten ya nuestras mentes o corazones sino que sean reemplazados por el amor que respeta la dignidad de cada persona.

Madre de la Iglesia, el Espíritu de tu Hijo Jesús alienta nuestros corazones: Ruega por nosotros.

Amén.



DOWNLOAD THIS PRAYER | Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Publication no. 7-626.

Prayer to Mary Against Racism

Mary, friend and mother to all, through your Son, God has found a way to unite himself to every human being, called to be one people, sisters and brothers to each other.

We ask for your help in calling on your Son, seeking forgiveness for the times when we have failed to love and respect one another.

We ask for your help in obtaining from your Son the grace we need to overcome the evil of racism and to build a just society.

We ask for your help in following your Son, so that prejudice and animosity will no longer infect our minds or hearts but will be replaced with a love that respects the dignity of each person.

Mother of the Church, the Spirit of your Son Jesus warms our hearts: pray for us.

Amen.



DOWNLOAD THIS PRAYER | Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Publication no. 7-626.

Gallery

Photo Credits: Bishop Seitz: CNS/Courtesy of El Paso Diocese/Fernie Ceniceros, Floyd: CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters, Archbishop Gomez: CNS photo/Bob Roller, Misc. images by beaheartdesign and pax.valerie.