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

Police officers attend a July 17 vigil at St. John the Baptist Church in Zachary, La., for the fatal attack on policemen in Baton Rouge, La. (CNS photo/Jeffrey Dubinsky, Reuters) Police officers attend a July 17 vigil at St. John the Baptist Church in Zachary, La., for the fatal attack on policemen in Baton Rouge, La. (CNS photo/Jeffrey Dubinsky, Reuters)

Two years ago, at the age of 7, my daughter developed an interest in the biographies of famous people. We started with a children’s book about Amelia Earhart, followed by Walt Disney and Anne Frank. Next up was Rosa Parks. The book opened with Parks as a girl growing up in rural Alabama, watching white kids ride buses to white schools while she and her black friends walked to black schools. The moral of the story was clear: Racism is bad. When we finished the book, my daughter said to me, “I go to a segregated school.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement of fact.

My children attend a Catholic elementary school in Baton Rouge, La. My spouse and I send our children there for obvious reasons. It’s connected to our parish. It’s seven blocks away from our house. We both attended Catholic schools as children. My mother taught at Catholic schools. My wife works in the parish office.

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What can I say? We’re Catholic.

We’re also white.

In describing her school as segregated, my daughter was simply calling it as she saw it. The children she encountered every day—in the classroom and on the playground and at birthday parties—were white. I couldn’t disagree with her, but I tried to explain why. I said things like, “Most Catholics in the school district are white, and only people who live in the district can go to the school,” and “Most of the people who go to our church are white, and only the people who go to our church can go to the school.” Remember, she was 7. So she replied, “Well, that’s too bad.”

RELATED: Imagining a church that reflects the diversity of its people

Not much has changed since my childhood in the 1980s. I attended a Catholic elementary school in a rural town on the outskirts of Lafayette, La. Two black children started kindergarten with me, Quiana and Joshua. They were gone by the third grade. I never spoke to them again. My kindergarten teacher was black, Mrs. Norman. She was fired the following year. My mom seems to remember that she filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the school. I don’t know the outcome. And I didn’t read a biography of Rosa Parks when I was 7.

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?

A Separate Faith

After President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the Catholic Church continued to marginalize African-Americans. During the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866, U.S. bishops decided against a motion to address the hardships of free, black Catholics. They agreed with Archbishop Jean Marie Odin of New Orleans that African-Americans “already received sufficient care and had no need for new programs.” This was coming from a bishop who suppressed the black Catholic community of New Orleans for organizing a pro-Unionist church during the Civil War. By the end of the 19th century, and with the endorsement of the white clergy and laity, most black Catholics had acquiesced to a segregated model of parish organization. One of the leading architects of church segregation was the Dutch-born Archbishop Francis Janssens of New Orleans.

The Catholic Church in Louisiana became a Jim Crow institution after Homer Plessy, a Catholic of color from New Orleans, lost his case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896. “Separate but equal” was not just the law of the land. It was the practice of the church. The church’s position on race compelled W. E. B. Du Bois to state that “the Catholic Church in America stands for color separation and discrimination to a degree equaled by no other church in America.”

RELATED: Healing the wounds of racism after Dallas begins with crossing the street.

In response to this racial discrimination, African-American Catholics founded the Federated Colored Catholics in 1925. Thomas Wyatt Turner, the group’s leader, did not mince words with the white clergy. “We have undoubtedly come to a sad parting of the ways,” he wrote to the president of St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, adding, “the passing of Christ out of His Church if our bishops and priests are willing to acknowledge that their labors are no longer efficacious in changing men from their sinful ways.” Turner was talking about “the sin of race prejudice.” “Should not the bishops and priests speak out against this sin as the paramount evil of the age?” he asked the seminary president. “Should the Church become a party to our oppression, and an abettor of our contemnors?” A handful of white Catholics advocated for interracialism during the early 20th century, chief among them the Jesuit priest John LaFarge. Their gradual approach to change, however, aggravated the intentions of black Catholics like Turner.

Why the slow movement toward racial justice in the church? The answer is straightforward: the power of white, Catholic racists. Diocesan-wide desegregation before Brown v. Board of Education (1954) occurred in Indianapolis in 1946; St. Louis in 1947; Washington, D.C., in 1948; New Orleans and Raleigh, N.C., in 1953; and San Antonio in 1954. In these and later cases, large numbers of white Catholics put up resistance to episcopal authority. For example, when a Louisiana bishop excommunicated a group of white mothers for acts of violence against those integrated into a children’s catechism class, a Catholic man from Ohio reminded the prelate that “it is morally wrong to mix the races.”

White Catholic support for desegregation grew during the 1960s, a decade that witnessed the peak of the civil rights movement and the aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council. But a comprehensive plan to address racism never materialized in the church. The National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus observed in the late 1960s that “the Catholic Church in the United States, primarily a white racist institution, has addressed itself primarily to white society and is definitely a part of that society.” Since then, U.S. bishops have issued pastoral letters and conducted studies on the realities and sinfulness of racism. Yet as much as some white, Catholic activists have worked for racial equality both inside and outside the church, many rank-and-file Catholics of European descent have continued to harbor attitudes toward interracialism ranging somewhere between ambivalence and violent opposition.

A Racial Sin

This brings us to the present day. On July 5, a white police officer shot and killed Alton Sterling, an African-American man in Baton Rouge. In the days following the incident, I listened to my white Catholic friends and family members talk about the Black Lives Matter movement. I read a statement released by Bishop Robert W. Muench of the Diocese of Baton Rouge that made no reference to the racial implications of violence against African-Americans. I spoke to a representative of the diocese’s Office of Black Catholic Ministries who said that all we can do is “pray and let God bring us insight.” I went to Mass on the Sunday after the killing of Mr. Sterling and listened to a homily on the parable of the good Samaritan that made no reference to the tragic events of the week.

RELATED: Do we have to choose between ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘All Lives Matter’?

All of this silence and inaction made me wonder what my white Catholic neighbors in Baton Rouge were thinking about their involvement in the racism of our church and our community. I was encouraged when my parish announced a special event, billed as a Prayer Service for Peace. On the night of July 12, our white senior pastor led about 200 people through an opening prayer and Scripture readings. When he got to the sermon, instead of offering his personal thoughts on racism and violence, he read a message written by our associate pastor, who was away on a teen service trip.

The associate pastor is the only African-American priest in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. He is in his late 20s. His father is black and a retired Baton Rouge police officer. His mother is white and a retired nurse. The senior pastor wept throughout most of the sermon. “It’s interesting,” the white priest read from the black priest’s notes, “since I have become a priest, not much has changed…. When I wear clerics, people respect me. But when I wear [civilian] clothes...my experience growing up being judged for the color of my skin continues to this very day.” The associate pastor explained to his white flock, “Some of you may have never experienced discrimination in this way, but this is normal for us [African-Americans], and this is not okay.” He implored the congregation to pray the rosary and to “listen to God who we cannot see,” for only then “can we certainly begin to listen to our brothers and sisters who are different than us and whom we can see.”

Then on July 17, a black man shot and killed one black and two white police officers in Baton Rouge. Their names were Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald and Brad Garafola. John Bel Edwards, the Catholic governor of Louisiana, asked Louisianans to pray for the officers and families involved in the shooting. Bishop Muench issued a call to prayer, fasting and action, “so that we may gain wisdom and courage to become personally and communally involved in building bridges across everything that divides us to become better brothers and sisters to each other.” He encouraged Catholics to recite the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,” et cetera and so forth.

Call me a bad Catholic, but I don’t expect much change to come from prayer and fasting, especially when there is such an aversion among many white Catholics to talk about race and to admit their racism. Growing up white and Catholic in Louisiana, I do not remember a time when I didn’t hear people say the N-word. Children used it when parents and teachers weren’t around. Teachers and parents used it when children weren’t around. Grandparents used the word whenever they wanted. The only adults I addressed by their first names were my grandparents’ maids. No Miss or Missus. Just Leona and Willie Mae. Kids played a game called “black baby,” which involved throwing a ball or doll in the air and trying to catch it. I didn’t interact with African-American Catholics because there were two Catholic churches in town. St. Joseph was the white church. Our Mother of Mercy was the black church. To this day, the Diocese of Lafayette has more racially segregated churches than any other diocese in the United States. I am told that my grandfather went to confession toward the end of his life and said, “I can’t help it, Father. I hate N—s.” He knew racism was a sin. He knew he was racist. I think we all knew we were.

Some white Catholics out there might be shocked by this kind of upbringing. But I suspect many can relate. In parts of Louisiana, this was and in some cases still is normal. I didn’t learn about race in religion classes or during homilies. I wasn’t provided a theological vocabulary that addressed racism from a Catholic perspective. The vagaries of caring for the poor, turning the other cheek, loving thy neighbor and being a channel of peace just didn’t cut it. Race was not a culturally constructed category to be understood and appreciated. It was a dividing line that made white people superior and black people inferior. Racism was not a problem to be eradicated. It was a way of life, so pervasive as to be invisible.

RELATED: Our special issue on being Black and Catholic

History, like prayer, matters when addressing the deep roots of racism in the Catholic Church and in Catholic families. But let’s be honest. Thinking about the past and kneeling in prayer can be a lot easier than living in the present and turning faith into action. I’ll also admit that the last people I want to read this essay are my white Catholic friends and family members—people I love—because then we will have to admit to some terrible sins, sins that we were born and raised into, sins that we have kept alive in what we have done and what we have failed to do. 

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Lisa Weber
1 year 2 months ago
In the church, we do not talk about racism in the same way that we do not talk about sexism. We also do not talk about how all of the cardinal sins are related to the desire for power over other people. If we thought of Original Sin as the desire for power over others, we would have a much more accurate understanding of sinfulness. Racism and sexism are both about a desire for power.
Joseph McGowan
1 year 2 months ago
I greatly desire to share my thinking about racism in our church but I can only do that with a few White Catholics. And I have to work very hard to manage my frustration, anger, and cynicism.
ed gleason
1 year 2 months ago
Sure there is racism in the Chuch communities but there is also remarkable healing and renewal.going on too. My St Boniface parish in San Francisco has a community of four languages and three language Masses. 30% Spanish speaking, 25% Vietnamese, 15% African American [most from La. }and 15 % white at the English Mass with 10 % English speaking Asians, Latinos and tourists.. and 10% at the sometime Tagolog Masses. Our church is open at 6am till 3pm for the homeless to sleep in the pews, about a hundred mostly men and at least 10 women take 6 minutes and watch a video of a Church community that Pope Francis wants talk about; Then Go and do likewise. http://thegubbioproject.org/videos/ " the day and the hours'
Bonnie Weissman
1 year 2 months ago
Re: sexism, agree. I think our beloved church is really afraid of that discussion! I am of two minds about the racism talk. Yes, it's there, and most of us have had racist thoughts. But by being born Caucasian, I do not think of my race as a personal Original Sin. My ancestors from Eastern Europe were little more than slaves themselves, and never owned them. I am so proud that when my shrewd Polish grandfather used some additional income from his wife's family to buy rental houses that he was one of a few at the time who would rent to black people and would socialize with them, something NOT done in the 20s and 30s, even in the Midwest! So please, we know we sometimes have racist thoughts, but most of us quash them as soon as possible and ask God's forgiveness. Please stop ramming it down our throats!
Kathleen Simoneaux
1 year 2 months ago
As you say, your grandfather was the rare white person who would rent to people of color. This means you are part of an exceptional family. An exception. If you lived in Louisiana or any state in the Deep South you would appreciate more what this professor has written. Most of us here are what I would call "passively" racist, and many, many are actively racist. By sending my kids to predominantly white Catholic school I know that I am perpetuating passive racism by self segregating from our public school which is 99% black in my neighborhood.
William Atkinson
1 year 2 months ago
The quest today Bonnie, is not where your almost slave land owner grandfather worked hard to end racism, but where are YOU today in your character, workings, and thinking. The Midwest is a basic white society, most ranches, farms, huge areas outside of the cities, the Heartland is white, the school are white, the churches are white. Look around you how many farms, ranches, silos, mills, stores, eateries are owned by Indians, Blacks, Asians (You know those Chinese coolies), Mexicans. I thank your grandfather for in his time it was heroic to do what he did, BUT the Midwest, the Heartland of America is white. You want to be a hero like your grandfather, move to Ferguson, MO. 95% black, governed, fire department, police administration, schools, stores, eateries all run by whites who don't even live in Ferguson.
alan baer
1 year 2 months ago
Hear, hear! I very much appreciated this brave article on racism. May there soon be a similar article on sexism.
Linda Dickey
1 year 2 months ago
I live in a well-integrated parish, Holy Name of Jesus in NYC, and I grew up here; My schools were mostly segregated, but my kids' schools were less so (especially public elementary school)--but those schools have reverted to defacto segregation with the increasing wealth of the neighborhood. We spoke the right words about race in our family, but I know I still harbor racist thoughts and feelings--and I despise myself for them. I think the only strategy for this is to make my racism conscious and to ask for forgiveness, not to mention that I must not act on the basis of racist thinking.
Patrick Murtha
1 year 2 months ago
Mr. Pasquier, Have you forgotten the thousands upon thousands of missionaries from all ages and all races and all walks of life, who, in the true spirit of Christ, flocked to all nations, to all races, to raise them in the Faith of Christ? How can you dare suggest that the Church segregates? How can you dare label the Church with the faults of a few of her Church or of her Catholic who have preferred their cultural prejudices over their Faith? The Church can never promote slavery anymore than the Church can promote adultery. A man or a woman can, but such a man or woman is acting solely nominally as a Catholic. But it is not Catholic--at any time or any place--to promote the enslaving a man merely to get a job done; it is not Catholic to allow a person to remain in adultery and yet approach the altar for Communion; it is not Catholic to tell a Homosexual that it is excusable and even morally acceptable to commit the sin of sodomy; it is not Catholic to tell a non-Catholic that they might be saved outside of the Church. The Church has never nor will never support such falsities. And yet, certain churchmen, certain religious, and certain laity--under the false pretense of love and mercy--promote such things. While they do, we can never say the Church does as well. A distinction must be made between what belongs to the heart of the Church and what belongs to the hearts of men. The Church has always and everywhere loved all men for the sake of Christ. She has always and everywhere desired the salvation of all men for the sake of Christ. She has always and everywhere sent out her servants, commanding them with the command of Christ, "Go forth and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Is this the racism of the Church?
Robert Klahn
1 year 2 months ago
To pretend The Church exists separately from those who lead it, administer it, and even those who belong to it, is to pretend that a perfect church can be filled with highly sinful people and not be corrupted. Sorry, your ideal church does not exist. By denying the failures of the church you incite the schism that has resulted all too often from the arrogance of those who believe the name of "The Church" excuses anything. Are you going to tell me now that the concept of the Mystical Body of Christ is some story also? " That those who exercise sacred power in this Body are its chief members must be maintained uncompromisingly. It is through them, by commission of the Divine Redeemer Himself, that Christ's apostolate as Teacher, King and Priest is to endure. " http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_29061943_mystici-corporis-christi.html Pius XII may not have meant it this way, but if those who exercise sacred power are compromised, how can the body not be compromised?
Joseph McGowan
1 year 2 months ago
We are members of the communities that make up the Church. We have always brought our gifts and weaknesses to our churches. I was ignorant, hurt, and afraid. I failed to speak up when I saw other human beings being hurt or I did not apologize when I hurt them. I can do two things: pray that I hurt as few people as possible from now on; and do whatever I can to support those who are hurting and continually ask others stop hurting others.
Charles Krutz
1 year 2 months ago
As a clergy person living in Baton Rouge but not having grown up in Louisiana, I very much appreciate the historical narrative provided in the article. Even moreso, I appreciate the honesty of the article. The Church can be a vehicle of forgiveness, grace and renewal for the future. However, all of us will need to confess our racism and experience a kind of conversion, I think. Conversion from racism will open our eyes and hearts to to a different way of living faithfully with African Americans in particular. I hope the Church can take the lead in overcoming racism.
Joseph McGowan
1 year 2 months ago
Thank you.
Robert Klahn
1 year 2 months ago
When we were children we were taught there were four hallmarks of the church, it was One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Now we know a church that teaches that some of God's children could not be holy. It most certainly is not one if it differs from place to place. Catholic is supposed to mean universal, the church for all, but apparently not all at one time. Unless the church is brought together, as one for all people, it will not be holy, and Apostolic will mean nothing. Apostolic will mean less than nothing, since Apostolic means descended through the Apostles and their successors. The bishops are the successors to the Apostles, with the Pope the Bishop of Rome, and the successor to Peter. If the Bishops subscribe to the separation of the races, the inequality of the races in the church, the successors to the Apostles are corrupted, and thus the church. The work of integration is the work to make the church one and catholic and thus holy. The Apostles of today must lead in this. Pursue that work until it is achieved.
Joseph J Dunn
1 year 2 months ago
This is an excellent piece with much historical background. One sentence caught my attention: "White Catholic support for desegregation grew during the 1960s, a decade that witnessed the peak of the civil rights movement and the aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council." So why the noticeable shift in white Catholic attitudes? We might look to the quiet work done by Catholic Sisters in white Catholic elementary schools during the 1950s. Growing up in a working class, entirely white suburb of Philadelphia, I have clear memories of several Sisters (they were IHMs in our parish) declaring the equality of all people including specifically Negroes (the accepted term in those days) and speaking out against various forms of discrimination, weaving these comments into the curriculum. While the pulpit on Sunday was silent on these issues, the Sisters were quietly molding a new generation. In most places, Catholic schools were far more prevalent than they are today, and the most powerful words in Catholic families in that era were, "Sister says". Whatever progress was made among white Catholics of the '60s generation might well be attributable to the Sisters, and they, too, were part of the institutional Church. Solving the 'separate' issue was never in their power, but let's not forget the tremendous work toward 'equal' done by Sisters even earlier, most notably Saint Katharine Drexel's Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People, which opened and conducted numerous schools (including Xavier University in New Orleans) throughout the US beginning in 1891. Each of those schools was built with income from the estate of Katharine's father. Each was also opened and operated under written agreement with the local bishop.
Kathleen Simoneaux
1 year 2 months ago
So true! Such a loss that there are so few nuns now.
Joseph J Dunn
1 year 2 months ago
Yes, that there are far fewer Sisters today is a loss, but the relatively few who are working are still making a big impact, as are so many lay teachers. And, we still have the philanthropists, more now than ever. Faith in the Future Foundation http://faithinthefuture.com/about/. Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS) http://blocs.org/history-mission/. All of these are part of the church.
Robert O'Connell
1 year 2 months ago
Perhaps the starting point is simply prayer and loving others like Jesus loves us: He gave His life to the Will of God. Do we follow him or the rants of racists, whether white or Black? I differ with those who "don’t expect much change to come from prayer and fasting" in that just as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, and somehow received the strength to carry on with His Crucifixion, we can carry on with whatever God asks of us if we (1) consent to His Will, (2) pray and (3) do what we are asked to do when asked to really follow Him. If "“the sin of race prejudice” “is a "paramount evil of the age" we ought not let it linger. If people feel alienated, we ought not let them continue to suffer. As for the Church, I used to see a protestant church sign "What is at the center of the Church? "UR"! Let's focus on our own conduct, not just the misonduct of others.
Margaret DelPlato
1 year 2 months ago
Race relations are a very difficult topic to discuss, but given current events, it is necessary. There is no need to get defensive about what the church has and continues to do wrong, the problem is when we members of the church see what is wrong and fail to deal with it. I have been in communication with black friends and one shared something her pastor wrote. He said when one part of the body of Christ is injured, we all suffer. The way I took this is, blacks are in pain. Blacks both in out of the Catholic Church. Until we work together to heal those wounds, Jesus will still be wounded. If we are truly working towards being One Body, we must do this work.
Kathleen Simoneaux
1 year 2 months ago
Yes, I agree.
Kathleen Simoneaux
1 year 2 months ago
Thank you for this article! When I saved it I did not even realize it was written by a LA native. I have been aware of the segregation of our schools and our contribution to the failure of the public schools by our absence, for a long time. I was not aware of much of this history though. Interesting and disturbing.
Michael Cardinale
1 year 2 months ago

I think Prof. Pasquier is giving up to easily on prayer in his call to action. Nothing we do as Catholics (and Christians) should be done without the rock foundation of Christ. Too often we want to take social action without remembering why we do it. Our good works do not lead us to holiness; holiness leads us to good works. We reach holiness by being in continuous prayer with our Savior, asking for His grace. This leads us to love our neighbor and see him as Jesus - see Him as the one we fed and clothed and comforted. Prayer changes our hearts, and our hearts change our society. Prayer heals us, and we heal our Church. Pray, then act.

argentina herrera
1 year ago
You can do both. Not that difficult and in fact you should do both.
Chris Pramuk
1 year 2 months ago
Thank you for this outstanding essay, Michael, which I will use with my students at Xavier University. I appreciate the historical background but especially your poignant and unflinching honesty around this topic. For folks looking for parish, classroom, or book club resources, my book "Hope Sings, So Beautiful: Graced Encounters Across the Color Line" (Liturgical, 2013) is written especially with white Catholics and predominantly white churches in mind, intended to help facilitate conversations, understanding, and action around racial justice. It has been used in a number of churches and Jesuit schools around the country. https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Sings-So-Beautiful-Encounters/dp/0814682103?ie=UTF8&keywords=pramuk%20hope%20sings&qid=1377957844&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1 Fr. Bryan Massingale's "Racial Justice and the Catholic Church" is also a must-read. https://www.amazon.com/Racial-Justice-Catholic-Church-Massingale/dp/1570757763/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470275582&sr=1-1&keywords=racial+justice+and+the+catholic+church
Henry George
1 year 2 months ago
It may be a simple fact about humans that we find it difficult to relate to people who do not look like us, act like us, have a similar economic/educational status. While I deplore racism, I am growing to deplore the use of the term "racist" when it is not justified. To be "racist" is to automatically deny rights/responsibilities/acceptance because you hold that person belongs to a different race than you. I don't think most people in the United States are "Racists" and I think even less people in the Catholic Church are "Racists". I defy anyone to tell me where the "Colour Line" is in terms of skin colour. Where exactly is it - how "dark" do you have to be to be considered "Black" Where is the dividing line between "Black and Brown" between "Yellow and White" ? Why Professor Pasquier did you refer to the Assistant Pastor as "African-American" when you stated that he had a "Black" Father and a "White" Mother ? Why do you refer to his parents in terms of "Colours" ? Stop referring to people by the tincture of their skin and you will have made real progress. Accept that most discrimination is due to income/educational levels. If a rich African American Doctor wanted to move in next door to you - I doubt any of your neighbours would have a problem with it and with her children attending your parish school. However, if a "White Trash" family rented next door to you and ran a little side business in Crystal-Meth and did a little petty crime here and there - I think the neighbourhood would be up in arms and demanding that the Landlord move them out. Jesus told us that some demons are only driven out by "Prayer and Fasting". Be a good Catholic Michael and try that approach, also, and see what happens. In the mean time stop using the word "Racist" and stop referring to people as "Black or White" and you will make great strides in the goals you say your seek.
argentina herrera
1 year ago
It may be a simple fact about humans that we find it difficult to relate to people who do not look like us, act like us,have a similar economic/educational status. ------------------------------------------- Only whites subscribe to this who as part of their privilege consider white to be "normal" . Those of us that have been referred to as "minorities" a category created by whites MUST and DO relate to people "who do not look like us, act like us, have a similar economic/educational status". We do it everyday as college educated professionals that have to function in a primarily white work place, college environment or even neighborhood. There is a name for what you describe it is profiling. For all your protests of labels it is always a white person that references race and ethnicity. DO you see black college kids wearing whiteface? or dressing up as hipsters? But countless times we see white college kids in blackface or dressing up as "urban" folks. We would happily forget all labels but you simply won't let us.
William Atkinson
1 year 2 months ago
A Sin: It's more like a life situation, and White Peoples Sin, that statement in itself is racist. Everyone in the world is born into societies, families, communities and picks up the behavioral customs of their heritage; Bigotry, Biases, Prejudices, and Racist tendencies. It's in recognizing these characteristics in our own being and then acting on them. The negative element arrives in our selves when we act in a bad way, jokes, permitting tell tell hurting environments to exist around us, standing by and letting these situations exist is bad and ugly. The evil comes into our nature when we participate and act to engage and spread in prejudice, bigotry, bias, racism activities that consume our nature and being. It often reminds me of how we (we whites) portray Jesus as a golden brown long haired smooth bleached lilie white skinned radiant sparkling blue eyed man in ultra white flowing robes with Guchi sandals. Just go down to Catholic book store and check out the array of holy cards and the huge different pictures of Jesus. The fact that Jesus was an Armenian with Egyptian background that included Nubian (Black) heritage often turns the stomachs of many a northern European, Greco/Roman, Anglo/Saxon, American/Canadian Christians. There are more than these many forms of Bigotry, Bias, Prejudices and Racism in our daily lives and in the world. You and I have to ask your ourselves; had you been a witness on that fateful day in Ferguson, MO. would you have run to the aid of Mr. Michael Brown as he lay unattended for hours in the street. A perfect example of The Good or lack of a Good Samaritan. To apply labels to humans is a form of racism, to say a White Sin, or African American is RACISM. The next time you sit, stand or knell in front of a crucifix or image of Jesus, are you really knowing the real Jesus, a man different from you. A man raised in an all male social environment where males dominated society and His heritage is so far and different from ours today where equality, life and happiness with rights is dominant. The day is coming where these barriers to Christ come down, women equal to men (Bishops, Priests, Deacons), The Eucharist is for all mankind, not just the rich and righteous; The doors of Christ's are flung open to the world.
John Walton
1 year 2 months ago
First -- before self-flagellating ourselves for a perceived sin, perhaps the Pew organization should be asked to conduct a rigorous survey of racism among Catholics to see if it is a real or perceived problem. Let's talk about one little corner of these great United States in which institutional, government mandate racism could be ended. Allow American Indians to obtain clear legal title to their reservations, abolish the Bureau of Indian Affairs and let them establish their own codes for taxation.
Matt Holland
1 year 2 months ago
It is noteworthy that Professor Pasquier mentioned Jesuit Fr. John LaFarge as a key figure in Catholic Church involvement in attempts to deal with racism. It is important to remember two other figures, namely Fr. William Markoe, S.J. and his brother, Fr. John Markoe, S.J. Fr. LaFarge gave William Markoe credit for his interest and success in the “interracial field” – “He was the man who first made me angry, then made me think, then made me meditate on this problem.” The Markoes spent their entire careers as Jesuits challenging what they called the “heresy” of racism both in the church and society. They understood the horrible impact of racism - both on the victims and the perpetrators - and worked within the church, the black community, and the social institutions that implemented racial discrimination. They saw clearly, as John Howard Griffin put it, “that racists, in the very name of Christianity stab Christ in the darkness” and that “they would be hated for their efforts by the very racists whom they were trying to salvage from the dehumanization of their racism.” Men like the Markoes are reminders of the true message of the Church and we could do worse than use their example as a model for our efforts against racism today.
Brigit Hurley
1 year 1 month ago
Fr. Bryan Massingale pointed out to me years ago that the firm hold of racism on the U.S. Catholic Church is nowhere more evident than in the title of the 1979 U.S. Catholic Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Racism: "Brothers and Sisters to Us". Catholics of color, in other words, are not "us."
argentina herrera
1 year ago
I have always found white American Catholics to be white Americans first and Catholics second. OF course racism is wrong. But American Christians benefitted from racism and slavery and this legacy is particularly American and it is not just in the South that this is a problem. Until white America, regardless of religion, deals with its racist legacy all the praying and fasting will not change anything.
L J
1 year ago
¿Porqué su actitud tan severa? Has venido con acusaciones y recriminaciones aún ni siquiera preguntando. El dialogo requiere mentes abierta de ambos parte. Recuérdese que el amor viene primero y el cuchillo no es parte de nuestra identidad como pescadores del Señor. "Jesús le dijo: «Guarda tu espada, porque el que a hierro mata a hierro muere." San Mateo 26:52 http://www.vatican.va/archive/ESL0506/__PV0.HTM

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After Bella

In truth, I know nothing
of her secret or public life.

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Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Malmo, Sweden, to Rome Nov. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
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