Growing Towards Active Anti-Racism
In November 2018, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a pastoral letter against racism called “Open Wide Our Hearts.” In the letter, the bishops refer to racism as “our country’s original sin.”
In 2020, during the midst of a global pandemic, frustration, anger, sadness, outrage and protests grew over the continued deaths of unarmed black men and women in our country – Ahmaud Arbery shot to death while jogging on February 23, 2020, Breonna Taylor shot to death on March 13, 2020 by three plainclothes police officers serving a no-knock warrant in the middle of the night, and George Floyd whose life was taken on May 25, 2020 recorded as he called out for mercy while an officer knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes.
Many have been searching their hearts and questioning how and why these deaths continue. This document provides a compilation of resources that allow for prayer, education, and action so that together we can work towards a world where racism will be truly eradicated.
On this page, the links (in gold) below will allow you to jump to a specific section of the resource. Resources listed under each section will also include links (in gold) that will take you to the full resource. This page is not comprehensive but will be continually updated as new resources become available.
We are committed to being a church community that will continue to pray, learn, and grow. To that effect, we are creating a Racial Justice ministry that will offer opportunities for small group reflection and prayer for the parish as well as ways to get involved in the larger community. If you would like to be a part of this ministry, please contact Andrea Mendoza at email@example.com.
Prayer to Overcome Racism from “Open Wide Our Hearts”
A Prayer Service for Racial Healing in our Land from USCCB
Stations of the Cross for Overcoming Racism from USCCB
Collection of Prayers from Social Justice Resource Center
Prayers for Racial Justice & Reconciliation from Xavier University
Litany for Racial Justice from The Living Person, recited at the Prayer Service for Racial Justice by John Carroll University Campus Ministry
Prayer for Racial Healing from Catholic Charities USA
Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love: Released in 2018, the letter released by the USCCB looks at the history of racism in the United States and how it is imperative that all actively fight against the sin of racism. The USCCB has released a study guide that can be used for personal reflection or in a small group setting to break open the letter.
Brothers and Sisters to Us: Released in 1979, the letter received by the USCCB was the first major document looking at racism as a sin within the Catholic Church.
Night Will Be No More: Released in 2019, the letter was written by Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso following the deadly rampage on August 3rd resulting in the deaths of 22 individuals, primarily people of color.
June 3, 2020: “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.”
Archbishop Paul Etienne of Archdiocese of Seattle:
May 29, 2020: “As Catholics…we cannot stand by and not respond to incidents of racism and inhuman treatment of our black brothers and sisters, or anyone else.”
Mario Villanueva, Executive Director of Washington State Catholic Conference:
June 28, 2020: “An end to protests will not bring about peace. Peace can only exist when we properly address the injustice and causes of racism.”
USCCB President Archbishop Jose H Gomez of Los Angeles:
May 31, 2020: “Racism has been tolerated for far too long in our way of life.”
Joint Statement by seven US Bishop Chairmen of USCCB:
May 29, 2020: “Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient. It is a real and present danger that must be met head on.”
Letter by US Bishops to Members of Congress on Police Reform:
June 24, 2020: “A police force that is accountable to its highest standards – discipline, self-control, mercy, and the recognition that every person is made in the image of God – can promote justice and thus bring about peace.”
National Black Catholic Congress:
June 3, 2020: “…the racism brought on by the enslavement of Black Americans in the years leading up to the establishment of the United States of America to the Civil War, still exists and all too frequently displays its ugly effects today in racist attitudes and actions that discriminate one people from another.”
Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington DC:
On George Floyd: May 31, 2020: “Moments like this cause people of good will, who believe in the value, respect and dignity of every human life, to wonder if and how we can move on from here.”
On Ahmaud Arbery: May 12, 2020: “The virus of racism inflicts hatred, violence, and death in our society and in the lives of far too many people.”
Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago:
May 31, 2020: “I will not pretend to speak with any authority about the challenges people of color experience in our society. I do not share the fear they put on when they and their children leave their homes every day. I do not know what it means to be ‘other.’ But I know there is a way to fix it. And the fix begins when we stop talking about the proportionality of ‘their’ response and start talking about the proportionality of ‘ours.’”
Bishop Robert McElroy of the Diocese of San Diego:
June 1, 2020: “Ours must not be an episodic response that seeks to calm the waters of racial turmoil and then return to normalcy. The only authentic moral response to this moment in our nation’s history is a sustained conversion of heart and soul to genuinely comprehend the overwhelming evil of racism in our society, and to refuse to rest until we have rooted it out.”
Bishop Shelton J Fabre, Chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism:
August 27, 2020: “The sins of violence, injustice, racism, and hatred must be purged from our communities with acts of mercy, with the protection and care for the dignity of every human person, with respect for the common good, and with an unwavering pursuit of equality and peace.”
For Black Catholics, Fighting Racism Means Putting Faith in Action: This article, from Angelus News, interviews aspiring filmmaker John Thordarson, host of EWTN’s Morning Glory Gloria Purvis, medical nonprofit founder Louis Brown, and recently ordained priest Father Matthew Hawkins on their experiences and responses to dealing with racial injustice as Black Catholics.
‘The Ink Has Run Dry on Writing Statements’ – Black Catholics Call for Action in Wake of George Floyd’s Killing: Written by Michael J. O’Loughlin, this article from America Magazine compiles reactions and responses from various Black Catholic groups on what is needed to create conversion and stamp out racism.
The Assumptions of White Privilege and What We Can Do About It: Written by Father Bryan Massingale, this article from the National Catholic Reporter breaks down what white privilege is and how to identify and address it.
To Fight Racism, Catholics Must Hunger for Justice like We do the Eucharist: Written by the Editors of America Magazine, this article looks at five pillars (repentance, solidarity, presence, formation, and prayer) that Catholics must embrace to truly take a stand against racism.
El Paso’s Bishop Mark Seitz Black Lives Matter: Written by Bishop Mark Seitz, “To say, as all who eat from the table of the Eucharist should be able to say, that black lives matter is just another way of repeating something we in the United States seem to so often forget, that God has a special love for the forgotten and oppressed.”
If Racial Justice and Peace will ever be Attained, It Must Begin with the Church: Shannen Dee Williams, Associate Professor at Villanova University, takes a look at the Church’s active role in the history of racism and segregation in our country and lays out ways to undo the harm caused as a result.
How Catholics Can Work for Racial Justice: Written by Patrick Saint-Jean, a Jesuit in formation, this article takes a look at how to move from prayer into action in the fight against racism.
I Am George Floyd. Except I Can Breathe. And I Can Do Something: Dean G. Marcus Cole of Notre Dame Law School reflects on his experience with generational racism and how he is using this moment to change the narrative moving forward.
A Catholic Response to Racism: Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers writes about his experience as being African-American, a former law enforcement officer, and Catholic as well as his views on how Catholics and the Church can respond to the sin of racism.
Covid-19 is Not the Only Pandemic Our Nation is Fighting: This article, from US Catholic, looks at the increased blatant racism targeted at Asians/Asian-Americans during the pandemic.
Racism Makes a Liar of God: From the New York Times, this article by Elizabeth Bruenig takes a look at how the US Catholic Church is wrestling with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Pray, Study, and Work: Benedictine Ideas for Discerning Anti-Racism: This article looks at six different steps in becoming anti-racist and provides concrete ideas on how to use the Benedictine way of prayer, study, and work to make progress on each step.
Articles on Racial Justice & Reform: Millennial compiled a number of different recent articles ranging from how racial justice is a pro-life issue to addressing the renaming of buildings/locations after Confederate soldiers.
A Response to Racism (Podcast Interview): Commonweal Magazine hosts an interview with Father Bryan Massingale looking at racism as liturgy and the limitations of the USCCB’s letter “Open Wide Our Hearts.”
The Dignity of Black Lives: A Catholic Response to Racism: From the Catholic Apostolate Center, Deacon Ajani Gibson from the Archdiocese of New Orleans explores the reality of racism in the Church and the necessary place of the Church in the fight against racism.
Black Faith Matters: This video focusing on the historically Black Treme neighborhood in New Orleans, takes a look at the reason Black Catholic Churches were established, the role they play today, and the effect of gentrification on the neighborhood post-Katrina.
Moment of Prayer and Lament: On Friday, June 5th a number of religious leaders from Seattle came together to share in a prayer of solidarity for black lives and against racism.
Open Wide Our Hearts Webinar Series: The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry has compiled a series of four webinars looking at how to break open the USCCB’s 2018 Pastoral Letter. The page also includes links to a number of additional resources such as statements, texts, and practical ways people can put anti-racism work into practice.
Pope Francis and US Bishops Respond to George Floyd’s Killing: Catholic Mobilizing Network put together a quick 2½ minute video highlighting the 5 major takeaways from recent statements from Pope Francis & US Bishops regarding the sin of racism, in light of the death of George Floyd.
Race in America: Phil Vischer, host of the The Holy Post Podcast and co-creator of VeggieTales, takes a look at systemic racism and how it has evolved into the current state of the nation.
Racism in Our Streets and Structures: Georgetown University hosted a panel conversation addressing racism in the country and the Catholic Church. The panel included Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington DC, Dr. Martha Chatelain of Georgetown University, Ralph McCloud, director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and Gloria Purvis, host of the EWTN radio show Morning Glory. The conversation was moderated by John Carr, director of the Initiative of Catholic Social Thought and Public Life of Georgetown University.
A Real Wake-Up Call: The Busted Halo Radio Show interviews Father Bryan Massingle following his article in NCR discussing white privilege and how to respond.
Reconciling the Body of Christ: Fr. Mike Schmitz interviews Fr. Josh Johnson discussing the racial division in the Church including Fr. Josh’s own experience of racism while in seminary.
What’s Next for America?: Kathryn Jean Lopez from the National Review Institute facilitates a dialogue between Gloria Purvis, host of EWTN’s Morning Glory and Louis Brown, Executive Director of Christ Medicus Foundation covering a Catholic response to the crises of racism and the coronavirus.
Playlist Series: The Catholic Apostolate Center partnered with the National Black Catholic Congress to put together a series of videos ranging from “Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror in the Era of Mass Incarceration” to “How to Disrupt Racism by Implementing the US Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter” among others.
Anti-Racism Resources: This document includes a number of non-faith based resources to grow in anti-racism work. Resources include links to articles, podcasts, videos, and books among others.
Black Catholic Syllabus: Curated by Dr. Tia Noelle Pratt, this resource looks specifically at texts about Black Catholics throughout the history of the country, primarily through and by Black voices.
Black Lives Matter – Pray, Study, Act: Compiled by Pax Christi USA, this page includes resources on how to pray, study, and act towards racials justice. It also includes links to various statements made by Pas Christi USA in the area of racism and racial justice.
Catholic Resources for Racial Justice: This extensive resource assembled by Michael Bayer, Director of Evangelization and Adult Formation of St. Clement Parish of the Archdiocese of Chicago, includes 30 pages of resources on statements, books, prayers, articles, and videos among others.
Combatting Racism: This resource, offered by the USCCB, compiles various pastoral statements as well as educational resources and videos.
Faith in Action: Resources for Today’s Anti-Racist Catholic: This resource compiles a number of podcasts and articles from the archives of Busted Halo addressing racism as well as a number of other works and articles in the larger Catholic circle.
Faith in Action: Responding to Racial Injustice: The Ignatian Solidarity Network has compiled a number of statements, articles, and resources addressing racial injustice.
Racism & Diversity Resources: The Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center has released a number of documents addressing racism and racial justice. Additionally, they have also compiled a number of other resources addressing these issues.
Racism & Incarceration: Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition has compiled a list of resources breaking open the topic of racism, with a particular focus on the systemic racism found in the criminal justice system.
Recommit to Racial Justice: An 8-part series offered by Network reflecting various aspects of racial injustice and the causes of systemic racism.
Resources for Anti-Racism Work: Compiled by the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, this resource offers educational resources as well as opportunities to act for justice.
Resources for Responding to Racism: Compiled by the Archdiocese of Seattle’s Faith Formation Department, this resource offers a number of faith-based options organized by age/grade level from Pre-K through Adult.
Required Reading: A Black Catholic Syllabus: Compiled by US Catholic, this resource looks at important texts in the conversation about racism within the history of the country as well as resources looking at racial justice and how it intersects with the Catholic Church.