- As the Black Lives Matter movement and immigration concerns continue to shine the national spotlight on racism in the United States, surely church leadership shouldn’t be taking a step back.
- A pastoral letter from the U.S. bishops won’t solve racism. Becoming an intercultural church might.
A U.S. Catholic interview
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May 2017 | In 1979 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a pastoral letter on racism entitled “Brothers and Sisters to Us.” It was significant because it was the strongest statement by the U.S. bishops declaring racism a sin. However, a problematic title to this otherwise dynamic document seemed to perpetuate exactly this racial “us” versus “them” the document itself was trying to alleviate. Just who is “us”? critics asked, pointing out how the title implied that the American church’s membership and leadership was of European descent. Where were the black, Asian, and Latino Catholics in the conversation?
It’s been almost 40 years since that document, and tense race relations in the church and society have anything but subsided. Father Simon Kim, a Korean American priest and theologian who has researched racism in the church and is currently serving on the committee drafting the upcoming bishops’ document on racism, believes that the church has “taken a decline, a step back from the momentum of the ’79 document, and we’re not doing as much or anything substantial or relevant right now.”
U.S. Catholic: With a strong focus on social justice, we offer a fresh and balanced take on the issues that matter most in our world, adding a faith perspective to such challenges as poverty, education, family life, and pop culture.
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