It’s hard to turn on tv or radio or log into social media these days without reading or hearing about the social unrest and protests following the tragic events surrounding the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN on Memorial Day.
It was gut-wrenching to say the least and I believe it’s an important topic to address here on Genuflect.
I didn’t want this to get political, as so much of the coverage has become. Rather, I wanted to approach it from a human perspective based on our Catholic teachings.
Afterall, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about racism:
The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it:
Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design. (CCC 1935)
However, I must admit that midway through my research, much to my surprise, my heart was changed.
I should probably disclose that I am a white, middle-aged woman. I’ve lived my whole life in a racially diverse community, attending a racially diverse parish. And racism is not something I hold in my heart. I agree that all people are made in the image of God and should be treated accordingly.
Though I despise the rioting that has resulted in lives lost, bodily injury on both sides of the protest lines, property damaged, and businesses destroyed, I do respect the peaceful protests we’ve seen around the nation.
Where my heart has changed is this: Now I understand that it’s not enough to not have racism in your own heart. As Catholics we are called to speak out against the sin of racism and to do what we can to eliminate it.
So this issue of Genuflect looks at how we can become part of the solution for racism. We look at ways to combat racism, why we should be more outraged, how to create lasting change, ways to fight racism, a novena we can pray to end racism, and why we should have hope.
As you review these resources, I ask you to approach it with an open mind. And perhaps you too may experience a change of heart. Or maybe you don’t need the change of heart as I did … and you’ll find inspiration here to help in your fight against racism and provide hope for lasting change.
You all are in my prayers. Stay safe!
Founding Editor, Genuflect
P.S. Last year Genuflect covered the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which you may want to revisit. It’s coming up on June 19th and the novena begins tonight. It seems appropriate at a time when hearts need to change that we will be celebrating the sacred heart of Jesus. See below for more information on the Novena.
The Bishops’ Response
A good place to begin is with the official statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) by its president, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles. He explains how we should honor the sacrifice of George Floyd.
Statement of U.S. Bishops’ President on George Floyd And The Protests in American Cities | US Conference of Catholic Bishops
And speaking of the U.S. Bishops, they also put together this cool page of resources on the subject of combating racism. In addition to statements by the Pope and the Bishops, you’ll find prayers, a children’s book, latest news … and maybe something you could use.
Combating Racism | US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Sin by Complicity
Racism is indeed a sin that can keep us out of heaven. Mr. Wright reminds us that Saint John Paul II wrote in his apostolic exhortation Reconciliation and Penance that there are actually 4 ways we can be guilty of racism, only one of which involves having racism in our heart.
Racism: A Catholic Response | Catholic Link
A Time For Outrage
We don’t like criticism, but sometimes we need an outside perspective to open our eyes. Mr. White makes a compelling case that Catholics, who are so passionate about pro-life issues, have been mostly quiet on the subject of racism. This may be a tough read, but it may open your heart.
As our country responds to yet another senseless murder of a black man, and protests — even riots — break out decrying racism in our society, many Catholics are left wondering what they can do for lasting change. Here are 5 ways to begin.
Catholics Speak Out
Some Catholics believe this is an opportune time for Catholics to speak out about racism. It’s time for us to be a part of the solution. Here’s how.
All Catholics Must Speak Out For Equality, Against Racism, Say Leaders | Catholic News Service
Novena to End Racism
Pope Francis has called each of us to seek non-violent ways to end the sin of racism. What better way than through the power of prayer?! The Knights of Columbus organization has written a Novena to End Racism that technically began last Sunday, but Novenas can be prayed anytime. Why not begin tonight and repeat this prayer daily for nine days.
Civil Unrest Perspective
This is an interesting look at the current social unrest in the U.S. through the lens of a Catholic who lived through the integration riots of the 60’s and later worked training law enforcement agencies and delivering programs for inner-city youth. Mr. Collingwood masterfully uses his real-world experience to look at the realities of use of force, the nature of the demonstrators and protestors, and where we go from here.
A Perspective on Civil Unrest And Riots | Catholic Stand
Black Catholics’ Perspective
In this thoughtful article, Ms. Christian brings together the thoughts of numerous black Catholics around Philadelphia as they share why they participated in protests, what it’s like to experience the hate of racism, what we can do about racism, and why they are hopeful we can change.
Black Catholics Urge Prayer, Change After Floyd Killing And Riots | Catholic Philly
Why we Can Have Hope
Despite losing his family, World War II, Communism, cancer, and being shot, Saint John Paul II always had hope. There was one reason John Paul II was hopeful and it’s also the reason for us to have hope today, despite our current trials and tribulations, economic troubles, racism, and more. Here’s why we can still have hope.
St. John Paul II: As Relevant to The Times as Ever | Word on Fire
Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is Friday, June 19th. To make the most of your celebration, begin praying The Novena today! We have the full instructions here.
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