By Shannen Dee Williams

IMG_7454The global protests over the long-standing plague of white supremacy, most recently manifested in the police and vigilante murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, have put our nation and church on the precipice of monumental change or devastating setback.

What comes next will depend on how policymakers, elected officials and institutional leaders, including religious men and women, respond to the ever-growing cries of the people in the streets declaring that “Black Lives Matter” and “Enough is enough.”

Recent statements and demonstrations by Catholic leaders condemning the sin of racism and in a few instances calling for change have been encouraging.

However, Catholic statements that fail to acknowledge and confront the church’s direct complicity and agency in the contemporary crisis and its sin histories of colonialism, slavery and segregation ring painfully hollow. This is especially true for black Catholics who have long shouted with their actions and words that “Black Lives Matter” in the face of church opposition.

Indeed, for black Catholics, racism became a pro-life issue in the 15th century when the issuance of several papal bulls including “Dum Diversas” (1452) and “Inter Caetera” (1493) not only authorized the perpetual enslavement of Africans and Native Americans, but also morally sanctioned the seizure of “non-Christian” lands and the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade…

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One thought on “If racial justice and peace will ever be attained, it must begin in the church

  1. Our Pope has made many speeches on this problem of racism and asks everyone to support justice for our brothers and sisters in our world. We should “walk the talk” as Jesus has told us: Love your neighbors as I have Loved you.

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