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Sin of racism.

I am very grateful that NCR has decided to discuss the very painful subject of racism in our church and how most Catholics including religious were complicit in this sin (NCR, Feb. 9-22). We must remember that the issue is not merely that Catholic religious men and women refused to admit African-Americans into their ranks, in many cases they also refused to minister to African-Americans.

As a boy growing up in Baltimore, I witnessed how almost all Catholic schools, hospitals and even orphanages were segregated. During the period of white flight to the suburbs when my childhood neighborhood became mostly black, the white nuns left the local parochial school. Attitudes among Catholic religious men and women have changed since that era, and several religious communities are maintaining an educational presence and ministry in the inner city. Unfortunately, the leadership of the Archdiocese of Baltimore has effectively dismantled the parochial school system in the inner city

Not only is racism a serious sin, it is important that we as Catholics make reparation for the current and past sins of racism. I regret that the sin of racism is not mentioned from the pulpit on Sundays.

As Catholics we need to make a greater investment in the African-American community The hierarchy appears to be providing little leadership in this area. They may talk the talk, but they leave it to other Catholics to do the heavy lifting. We need to acknowledge the failings of the past and endeavor to do much better in the future.

Regarding the conspicuous absence of Catholic clergymen joining in the protests against racism in Charlottesville following the white supremacist demonstrations in that city (NCR, Feb. 9-22), it appears that Catholic clergymen are repeating the sins or failures of the past as regards condemning the sin of racism in our country Just as Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister, spearheaded the civil rights movement, we now have Bishop William Barber, Disciples of Christ, representing the majority of Protestant clergymen publicly opposing racism in our country.

As a Catholic layman, it pains me to say that I believe the majority of Catholic clergymen in the United States have abandoned the prophetic charism that they have received in the sacraments. While all baptized Catholics share in Christ's role as priest, prophet and king, bishops and priests are especially called to exercise the role of prophet.

Catholic clergymen should be moral guides for the laity by virtue of their preaching and public actions. Words are simply not enough when the stakes are so high for our minority brothers and sisters.

I realize that the number of Catholic priests in our country is dramatically shrinking, resulting in burdensome schedules for the majority of priests. However, the biblical example of Christ ministering to and being a champion of the poor and marginalized demands similar action on the part of priests who are called to that ministry. Public, overt witness is critical in the call to repentance from the sin of racism and our Catholic clergymen should be leading that call in American society.


Baltimore, Maryland


Connellsville, Pennsylvania

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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:McDonnell, Edward McCarey; Severin, Thomas
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Mar 9, 2018
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