US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Beyond good intentions: The problem with well-meaning white people

Catholics concerned about racial justice must step out of their comfort zones—and stay there.

By Peter Feuerherd |
Article Justice

Larry Cohen, a Queens, New York weekend warrior of the hoops variety, pulled me aside after a game.

“You are one of the whitest people I know,” he said.

This was in the pre-George Floyd demonstration era, a time when people were quick to toss around racial stereotypes—although it is doubtful much will change on the Queens courts once they open up after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

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Pray, study, and work: Benedictine ideas for discerning anti-racism

Benedictine spirituality highlights how prayer, work, and study move in tandem.

By Jessie Bazan |
Article Justice

“I would hear white students use the n-word freely.”

“Sophomore year, the professor assumed that because I was Black, I attended an inner-city school and grew up in the ‘ghetto.’”

“My boss didn’t understand why tokenizing students of color in marketing materials was a bad idea.”

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How moments of pause can open us to new possibilities

Time living in an unusual context could guide us toward who we're called to be.

By Meghan J. Clark |
Article Justice

I live in what was once the epicenter of the American COVID-19 pandemic—Queens, New York. We lived through 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, yet the pandemic feels different. An indeterminacy and isolation to the current moment elude quantification or categorization. So, as I think about the pandemic, grief, and hope, I find an upwelling of questions without answers.

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COVID-19 is not the only pandemic our nation is fighting

The virus of fear leads to violence in a racialized U.S. culture. The antidote is courage and love.

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Lifestyle

Across the nation, attacks against Asian Americans are on the rise. There have been stabbings in Texas, assaults in New York and San Francisco, and physical attacks, racial slurs, and spittle hurled in other locales. In Chicago and its suburbs, people of Korean, Cambodian, and other “Chinese-looking” ethnicities have been spat upon, called “chink,” assaulted while jogging, and told to “go back where you came from.”

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A new book helps white congregations engage racial justice

David W. Swanson explores how to move from cheap diversity to true solidarity.

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Culture

“I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.”

This was James Baldwin’s incisive critique on the pretty words of white people, especially white Christians, when engaging with racial injustice. Baldwin’s words have stuck with me for years, and that is why I often am extra-critical of white priests, pastors, theologians, and writers who attempt to offer a constructive word on racial justice. With so many wise authors of color to read, most books of this kind are just not worth the time it takes to read, let alone the price tag that goes along with it.

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This Juneteenth, make racial reconciliation a priority

American Catholics must ask God to convert our hearts. It's time to heal.

By Patrick Saint-Jean, S.J. |
Article Justice

On June 19, 2019, Congress introduced a new bill: H.R. 40. The bill advocates for the creation of a commission to examine the possible payment of reparations to African Americans descended from enslaved persons.

The date—June 19—was intentional. On June 19, 1865, the last enslaved people gained news of their emancipation in Galveston, Texas, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Today, many in the Black community consider Juneteenth to be their true Independence Day.

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To express rage at injustice, turn to music

Pearl Jam's song ‘W.M.A.' communicates intense emotions.

By Kevin P. Considine |
Article Culture

Honk, Honk Honk. “Black Lives Matter!” Beep, Beep, Beep. “Black Lives Matter!” 

Voices and car horns synchronized to create a rhythm of solidarity. Fists were raised. Eyes connected. Heads nodded. Cars were adorned with “No Justice, No Peace,” “Say their names,” “White Supremacy is a sin,” and other slogans.

This was protest in the time of COVID. In Chicago, led by African-American clergy, thousands of people protested nonviolently against the dehumanization of black lives and for the creation of a society wherein racial justice abides.

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What church leaders can learn from St. Paul about race and diversity

To heal the wounds of racism in our nation, the church must practice what it preaches.

By Ferdinand Okorie, C.M.F. |
Article Justice

When St. Paul arrives in the Roman Empire, teaching the gospel of God’s love for humanity through the self-gift of Christ on the cross, he meets an empire structured around class, status, ethnicity, and gender. Within this culture, his message resonates among those disenfranchised by the Roman social order and the legal system that keeps some out while turning them into property and human capital.

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How Catholics can work for racial justice

It’s time for white Catholics to stop being defensive and have hard conversations about faith and race.

By Patrick Saint-Jean, S.J. |
Article Justice
A healing beatitude

Blessed are you who are willing to engage in a sincere conversation about race.
Blessed are you who embrace your Black sisters and brothers in the fight for social justice.
Blessed are you who are willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of healing our society.
Blessed are you who ask your bishop about racial equity training and programming in your diocese.
Blessed are you who pray to end racism as a pro-life issue.
Amen

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Pentecost demands a faith that moves

The Spirit drives disciples from silence out into the streets.

By Travis LaCouter |
Article Justice

Thoughts and prayers—such is the typical response to tragedy in the United States of America. It is an especially common refrain after the death of innocents, almost always urged upon us by those who know that they have something to lose should a more fundamental challenge to the system arise.

And why not? For many people, prayer refers to something private, something silent. Catholics often think that prayer leads one further into oneself, not out into the world.

The occasion of Pentecost demands that we see things differently.

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