This understanding of racismisn’t solved by a personal resolve toswallow stereotypes unuttered. Ourbishops have firmly named racism“an attack on life”: a form of violenceas morally grave as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, poverty,and unjustifiable warfare (Open WideOur Hearts, USCCB, 2018).
U.S. bishops have taken up thesubject many times. In 1958, theydenounced segregation and Jim Crowlegislation in Discrimination andChristian Conscience. Ten years later,during urban race rioting, the bishopscondemned national policies contributing to the rage and frustrationin National Race Crisis. In perhapstheir strongest critique of how racist systems perpetuate their evil ineconomic imbalances, in 1979 thebishops offered Brothers and Sistersto Us. Ten black bishops wrote theirown pastoral letter, What We HaveSeen and Heard, in 1984. In 2018, wehear again from the USCCB in OpenWide Our Hearts, which frames racismin a bracing historical overview andbiblical/theological analysis. In 2020,the pope and bishops from aroundthe world condemned systemic racism, and some church leaders “tooka knee” to protest police brutality,particularly against people of color.
The USCCB website includes
downloadable lesson plans for reli-
gious educators and discussion mate-
rials for parish-wide study. But as our
bishops urge, we must go past strong,
fine words to meaningful action if the
world is going to change.
Thoughtful readers will sense
this tension in Open Wide Our Hearts.
People of good will already know rac-
ism is bad, but not what to do about
it. We know significantly more black
and Latino men are incarcerated,
with longer, more severe sentences,
than white men convicted of the
same crimes. Many of us are ambiva-
lent about “celebrating” Columbus
Day without qualifying asterisks
attached. We’re aware Native Ameri-
cans still suffer the destruction of
their cultures and violations of their
territorial rights. Stand-up comedians
of color remind us, with humor that
bites deep, how America remains a
white-managed enterprise in which a
minority’s welcome and participation
is tentative and revocable.
A change of heart
Our bishops ask us to do more thanget “woke” to racism and to confesshow white privilege benefits onesegment of society at the expense ofevery other. They offer a staircase ofascent to promote the redemptionof these bitter social patterns. Thework begins within: We examineour hearts, and we change them.We pray together and learn togetherabout what we’ve done, and failedto do. These steps aren’t as simple asthey sound, and they don’t happenovernight. Nor can we finish eachone, check it off, and move on. Thework of conversion is always a spiralof seeing, repenting, confessing, andmaking recompense. We pray to see
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Our bishops have
firmly named racism
“an attack on life”:a form of violenceas morally grave asabortion, euthanasia,capital punishment,
Code #574 VocationNetwork.org Community Search