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Background

The Catholic Church is “not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners.”(1) One of the sins which the Church continues to grapple with today is that of racism. Racism can take many forms. Individuals actively acting on their prejudices and excluding or actively seeking to harm others with a different race are the often cited form of racism. There is also another form where the individual means no harm, but societal, political, and cultural structures have been built up over time to be exclusory or presenting greater hurdles to those of different race than the majority.(2) While many in the Church have unfortunately participated in both, there remains a deep-seated desire within the Church to heal these divisions and seek the kingdom of God as Jesus prescribed.

The Office of Life & Justice promotes and celebrates the ministries within our community working to heal divides, expose remaining barriers, and promote peace in addressing racism.

  • Black and Hispanic Catholics are more likely to say it is essential for churches to teach practical job and life skills and offer sermons that address immigration and race relations.(3)

  • "In a 2019 report, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops identified that 101 parishes serve predominately Native American Catholics. Only seven U.S. dioceses report that Native Americans constitute more than 5% of their Catholic population; most report that Native Americans are less than 1% of their Catholic population....in 2019, nearly 20% of Native Americans were estimated to be Catholic."(4)

  • Only 38.5% of American Catholics are “moderately” or “very familiar” with Catholic Church teachings about Jews.(5)

  • In a 2019 Pew study about race in America, 76% of Asian Americans said they experienced a significant amount of discrimination.(6)

  • The US Catholic Bishops first collectively condemned racism in 1958 with the statement Discrimination and Christian Conscience.(7)

1https://www.romereports.com/en/2015/02/05/pope-francis-homily-the-church-should-be-like-a-field-hospital/

2https://churchlifejournal.nd.edu/articles/why-does-catholic-teaching-have-a-hard-time-explaining-how-racial-injustice-is-perpetuated-by-non-racists/

3https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2022/03/15/black-catholics-in-america/

4https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/we-were-the-first-ones-the-faith

5https://www.sju.edu/news/first-its-kind-survey-reveals-american-catholics-attitudes-toward-jews-have-improved-last

6https://www.ncronline.org/culture/book-reviews/anti-asian-racism-names-sin-white-supremacy-catholic-church

7https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/african-american/resources/upload/Discrimination-Christian-Conscience-Nov-14-1958.pdf

Church Documents

Catechism of the Catholic Church

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