Racism is a sin; a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father. Racism is the sin that says some human beings are inherently superior and others essentially inferior because of races. It is the sin that makes racial characteristics the determining factor for the exercise of human rights. It mocks the words of Jesus: "Treat others the way you would have them treat you." Indeed, racism is more than a disregard for the words of Jesus; it is a denial of the truth of the dignity of each human being revealed by the mystery of the Incarnation.
Brothers and Sisters to Us All, 1979
PART THREE, SECTION ONE, CHAPTER TWO, ARTICLE 3 - SOCIAL JUSTICE
1928: Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.
1929: Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him:
What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.
1930: Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy. If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church's role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.
1931: Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that "everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as 'another self,' above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity." No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a "neighbor," a brother.
1935: 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.
Intervention at the 59th Session of the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (2003)
Vatican Representative to the U.N.
In God's Image
Archbishop Harry Flynn (2003)
Archdiocese of St. Paul / Minneapolis
The Church and Racism: An Introductory Update
Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice (2001)
Dwell in My Love
Francis Cardinal George (2002)
Archdiocese of Chicago
Healing Racism Though Faith and Truth
Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua (1998)
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
The Church and Racism: Towards a More Fraternal Society
Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice (1988)
Brothers and Sisters to Us
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (1979)
Intervention at the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission
on Human Rights
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Vatican Representative to the U.N., 2003.
Moving Beyond Racism: Learning to See with the Eyes of Christ
Bishops of Illinois, 2000.
A Generous Heart in the Love of Christ: Challenging Racism in Australia Today
The Catholic Bishops of Australia, 2003.
The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference Statement
Department of Justice and Peace Department, 2004.
Related Books and Articles
Baum, Gregory and Coleman, John, ed.The church and racism,Concilium. January, 1982. Seabury Press.
Consultation on Church Union. Call to Christian commitment and action to combat racism. Ecumenical Trends, 28: 7-9 (Nov 1999).
Davies, Susan E. and, Sister Paul Teresa Hennessee, S.A., (eds.) Ending Racism in the Church. Cleveland, OH: United Church Press.
Davis, Cyprian & Phelps, Jamie (eds.). Stamped with the image of God: African Americans as God's image in black. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2003.
Duffey, Michael K. Sowing justice, reaping peace: Case studies of racial, religious and ethnic healing around the world. Franklin, WI: Sheed & Ward, 2001.
Heckel, Roger. The struggle against racism: Some contributions of the Church. Vatican, Pontifical Commission Justice and Peace, 1979.
Martin, Diarmuid. Racism: Educating future generations to a different vision ofhuman relations.Origins, 32(44): 729-730 (Apr 17, 2003).
Martin, Diarmuid. Combat racism with education. Osservatore Romano (Weekly edition in English), 1787: 6 (Apr 2, 2003).
Martin, Diarmuid. Racism in the 21st Century: A Catholic perspective. National Catholic Register, 77(37): 6 (Sep 16-22, 2001).
Massingale, Bryan. The ethics of racism justice. Origins, 28: 424-428 (Nov 26 1998).
Mason, David R. A Christian alternative to (Christian) racism and anti-Semitism. Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 37(2): 151-160 (Spring 2001)
McTernan, Oliver J. The racism we don't see. Tablet, 255: 79 (Jan 20 2001).
Melczek, Dale J, Created in God's image: The sin of racism and a call to conversion. Origins, 33(16): 264-272 (Sep 25 2003).
Myers, Ched. How racist is the Church? Priests & People, 16(5): 169 (May 2002).
Perkinson, Jim. The color of the enemy in the new millennium. Cross Currents, 50:349-368 (Aut 2000).
O'Malley, Sean . Solidarity: The antidote to resurgent racism. Origins, 29:529+ (Feb 3 2000).
Swift, John (Reviewer). Responding to racism: A challenge and a task for the Catholic Community, Studies, 91(364): 402-403 (Winter 2002).
Compiled by Christopher M. Janosik, Ed.D., Managing Editor, Journal of Catholic Social Thought.