Our Catholic faith and values have been challenged in many ways recently, and many of these trials have been out of our control. The recent perpetration of racially charged violence and injustice across our nation may just seem like the next installation in a litany of manias arising this year, but this situation is very different from what’s preceded it. This is something that, in many ways, we can control. Each of us is called to put on the armor of God, to fight the good fight, and to protect the dignity of the human person.
If you’re unsure of how your parish can take action or join the conversation, refer to some of these resources for inspiration.
The USCCB’s Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church published a pastoral letter on racism in 2018 entitled Open Wide Our Hearts . This document draws inspiration from the threefold charge in the book of Micah to “do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) and expands on how we can use this as a guide to acknowledge and correct the racism in our hearts and in our communities.
The canonization cause for African-American nun and civil rights activist Sr. Thea Bowman has recently opened. Share Sr. Thea’s story and impact with your parish and consider the Black Catholic community today. Consider how your parish can follow in Sr. Thea’s image and advocate for equality and dignity for Black Catholics.
Archbishop Vigneron shared a special episode of his Eyes on Jesus podcast to respond to the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the racial outcry that has followed it. Archbishop and regular host Mary Wilkerson are joined by Fr. John McKenzie, Associate Pastor at National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica, to have a conversation about race, especially where it meets Catholicism, and how we can respond and serve as healers and helpers.
Fr. Ted Parker, Pastor of St Charles Lwanga Parish in Detroit, Bp. Donald Hanchon, John Thorne, Executive Director of Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance and Vickie Figueroa of the Office of Black Catholic and Cultural Ministries held a webinar in early June to discuss what the Church teaches about racism and social justice, some of their personal experiences, and how we’re called to respond to these crises. Revisit the Inherent Dignity Webinar and share it with those in your parish community who may be needing more information on the sin of racism.
Getting educated is an excellent step, but it’s only the beginning. Once you’ve learned more about the challenges and responses surrounding the sin of racism, begin to take action. The USCCB has shared practical steps to eradicating racism , including having opportunities to discuss challenging topics in both large and small group settings, encouraging faith-sharing conversations, and leaning on Gospel values to respond to the concerns of your parishioners.
Here is a brief guide to responding to racial oppression , with practical ways to engage communities in this dialogue and to approach racial injustice on both the small-scale, personal level, and at the highest levels, where systems of power have failed or marginalized the Black community.
Through all of this, do not forget our burning need for prayer. We must take actionable steps to have conversations and stand in solidarity, but we must also remember to include our Lord in the action. Consider what parish-wide devotions or intercessions you can encourage to assist in our efforts to correct the racial injustice in our world.
Pray and share the USCCB’s Prayer to Overcome Racism .
Feel free to start a conversation and share any additional tools and resources on the Encounter Grow Witness online community so we can work together to combat the sin of racism.