SAMUELS: Continuing the battle against racism

December 12, 2023

(Herald file photo)

On March 21, the United Nations observed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Holy See, which was represented by Archbishop Gabriel Giordano Caccia, reiterated the Holy See’s strong condemnation of racism. The Holy See states: Racism “should be countered by promoting a culture of solidarity and authentic human fraternity.”
Nuncio and Vatican Observer (Ambassador) Archbishop Caccia addressed the United Nations Assembly and stated: “Only the recognition of human dignity can make possible the common and personal growth of everyone and every society. To stimulate this kind of growth, it is necessary in particular to ensure conditions of equal opportunity for men and women and guarantee an objective equality between all human beings.”
On Nov. 22, 2022, the Holy Father Pope Francis spoke to a group of American journalists regarding the various issues that are at the forefront of American society. Pope Francis stated: “Racism is an intolerable sin against God. The Church, the pastors and lay people must continue fighting to eradicate it and for a more just world.”
Pope Francis said of the events in the U.S. over the last few years: “We cannot close our eyes to any form of racism or exclusion while pretending to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
In June 2020, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo issued a statement regarding racism in our Church, community, and country: “Plainly stated, for it is plain to see, we in America have a plank in our eye with regard to racism. This is a tough but necessary reality to confront because we cannot address a problem until we acknowledge it. This includes us as members of the Catholic Church.”
In 2018, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter called: “Open Wide Our Hearts,” which condemns racism and vows to use the Church to combat it.
In the pastoral letter, the bishops wrote: “There have been many times when the Church has failed to live as Christ taught — to love our brothers and sisters. Acts of racism have been committed by leaders and members of the Catholic Church — by bishops, clergy, religious, and laity — and her institutions. Consequently, we all need to take responsibility for correcting the injustices of racism and healing the harm it has caused.
The Catholic bishops went on to state in the pastoral letter: “The roots of racism have extended deeply into the soul of our society. Racism can only end if we contend with the policies and institutional barriers that perpetuate and preserve the inequality — economic and social — that we still see all around us.”
On Jan. 14, 2024, at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the Church of Galveston-Houston will once again celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The Church will use this moment in time to rededicate itself to the fight for racial justice.
Acknowledgment of the sin of racism, prayer and action are the true reasons we celebrate the life of Dr. King. Now is the time to promote a culture of solidarity and authentic human fraternity and continue to move to action to bring an end to racism and start the healing that is needed in our Church, community and country. †

Father Reginald Samuels is the vicar for Catholics of African Descent and pastor at St. Hyacinth Catholic Church in Deer Park.