In last week’s column, I talked about how the leadership of our Church is responding to the racial unrest our nation is experiencing. This week, I’d like to talk about the Church’s broader response to the sin of racism. After all, the responses made by our leaders are based on the social teaching of the Church. They are rooted in the Christian belief of the dignity of every human life, and this belief has compelled the Bishops of the United States to speak out against the sin of racism long before the current wave of unrest began.
The U.S. Bishops recently (2018) published a document entitled Open Wide Our Hearts (http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/upload/open-wide-our-hearts.pdf) addressing the sin of racism. It’s just one of many things that they have written on the subject, but I think it encapsulates the Catholic perspective on racism very well. It is certainly prophetic, and parts of it look like they could have been written last week.
The Bishops caution against thinking that racism is “someone else’s problem”, but rather stress that a sin against one member of the Body of Christ damages the whole Body, and that each and every one of us (including the institutional Church) is in need of ongoing conversion.
With the positive changes that arose from the civil rights movement and related civil rights legislation, some may believe that racism is no longer a major affliction of our society— that it is only found in the hearts of individuals who can be dismissed as ignorant or unenlightened. But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart.
Each of us should adopt the words of Pope Francis as our own: let no one “think that this […]