My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. ~ Pope Francis
As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:12 and 26
The Catholic Church proclaims that all human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. ~ A Century of Catholic Social Teaching, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Our nation has been locked since its founding in a cycle of racism and the injustice it creates. Fr. Bryan Massingale calls racism a “soul sickness,” and so it is. The sin of racism is pervasive – our Black, Native, Latinx and Asian brothers and sisters all bear its scars. There is, however, a particular legacy in America of racial injustice targeting Black men and women. Public policy is an essential part of the solution and still it alone is not enough. What is needed is a true conversion of heart. Change rarely comes quickly or easily so we must commit to the long haul.
Guardian Angels Catholic Community will speak and act against racism in all its forms and we stand in solidarity with others who raise their voices against racial inequity. We will engage our parishioners in transformative education and experiences that lead to new awareness and understanding. We all are called to a change of heart, a call to action, and the building of a community of justice.
Initial Action Steps:
- Provide weekly entries on our website, social media, bulletin, and weekly parish email. These are items that are worth watching, reading, or listening to as we all work to learn more about racial injustice.
- Formulate questions for staff liaisons and committee and commission chairs to use at their meetings. This will prompt discussion and action on racial justice among parish leaders and will help others to get involved in this movement from the perspective of their own ministry area.
- Environmental scan of our parish, considering our website, bulletin, signage, art, environment, and our building for signs of inclusivity and welcome. What might need to be improved?
- Create an initial list of education options for the parish. Provide brief experiences as well as more intensive options to meet a variety of parishioner preferences.
Ways to Engage in the Work of Racial Justice
There are many ways that we can all engage in the hard work of confronting racial injustice and becoming anti-racist. There is so much to learn! We can all deepen our understanding of how racism is a part of the fabric of American life in ways we may not even recognize. How do we move forward? There will be different paths for different travelers. We can read. We can listen to podcasts. We can watch films. We can concentrate on listening to the voices of those affected by racism as they talk about their lives and experiences. No matter what we choose, there is hard work ahead. This hard work can help us to heal the Body of Christ – we can heal ourselves, we can heal our relationships and we can help to heal the world. The parish Racial Justice Team will continue to add resources as we move forward. For now, choose one thing. Then choose another to go deeper. Consider taking someone with you as you go, because the road is always easier to travel with companions.
Podcasts / Videos
Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life hosted a moderated conversation with Washington, D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory; Marcia Chatelain, professor of history and African-American studies at Georgetown University; Ralph McCloud, director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and Gloria Purvis, host of the EWTN radio show “Morning Glory." You can watch it here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?472782-1/dc-archbishop-gregory-discusses-racism-faith-georgetown-university.
Veggie Tales co-creator Phil Vischer hosts this brief but excellent overview video of the legacy of institutionalized racism in America. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGUwcs9qJXY.
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church of Christ in Chicago is well-known for his powerful sermons on racial justice. Watch this recent one, “When Is Someday?” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_dNzYifsow.
Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and founded of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, AL speaks with National Public Radio. Listen to it here: https://www.npr.org/2014/10/20/356964925/one-lawyers-fight-for-young-blacks-and-just-mercy.
Angela Davis, local journalist at Minnesota Public Radio, hosted a conversation with three women on “How to Be A White Ally and Practice Anti-Racism.” Listen to it here: https://www.mprnews.org/episode/2020/06/09/davis-how-to-be-a-white-ally-and-practice-antiracism
Books and Articles
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh (link to an article): https://nationalseedproject.org/Key-SEED-Texts/white-privilege-unpacking-the-invisible-knapsack
https://ideas.ted.com/how-you-can-be-an-ally-in-the-fight-for-racial-justice/ (link to an article)
How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi (book)
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (book)
75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice by Corrine Shutack (link to an article): https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (book)
Racial Justice and the Catholic Church by Fr. Bryan Massingale (book)
A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota by Sun Yung Shin, ed. (book)
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (book)