Racial healing: The call to open our hearts

Do unto others
Bill Scholl is the archdiocesan consultant for social justice. You can email him at: socialjustice@ archkck.org.

by Bill Scholl

It has been observed that racism is a sin almost nobody confesses. Like pollution, it is a “sin of the world” that is everyone’s responsibility, but apparently no one’s fault.  

Recently the U.S. bishops have challenged the faithful to confront the sin of racism with the pastoral letter: “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.”

While racism is a topic that makes many of us uncomfortable, as Catholics of all ethnicities, we must heed Jesus’ command to “be not afraid” and combat the structural sins of racism that still persist.

To help Catholics come together on this issue, the archdiocesan office for social justice has teamed up with the office for black Catholics and School of Faith to host a racial healing event reflecting upon the U.S. bishops’ new pastoral letter combating racism. Please mark your calendars now for Fri., Feb. 8.

I, like many white Catholics, must confess this topic makes me uncomfortable. I would like to believe that racism is in our nation’s rearview mirror.

However, current events and the U.S. bishops challenge this assumption and call us to no longer neglect this problem.

The bishops write: “With the positive changes that arose from the civil rights movement and related civil rights legislation, some may believe that racism is no longer a major affliction of our society — that it is only found in the hearts of individuals who can be dismissed as ignorant or unenlightened. But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart.

This evil causes great harm to its victims, and it corrupts the souls of those who harbor racist or prejudicial thoughts. The persistence of the evil of racism is why we are writing this letter now. People are still being harmed, so action is still needed.”

When I take the time to listen to Catholics of color, I learn that, while some progress has been made for racial justice, the cultural legacy of white supremacy, which lasted for centuries, doesn’t just go away in one or two generations. Our brothers and sisters still feel it, even if we have stopped noticing.

The life of Christian discipleship is one of perennial openness to conversion. All of us reject overt racism, but the problem with this sin is it can infect us unconsciously.

If you are ready to listen and to be open to contributing to racial healing, please make plans now to attend “Open Our Hearts to Racial Healing: An Evening of Reflection on the U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Letter against Racism.” Again, the date is Feb. 8, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at Holy Trinity Church in Lenexa, located at 9150 Pflumm Rd.

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