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Inherent Dignity: Catholic Teaching and Response to the Sin of Racism Webinar

Discussion on what the Church teaches about racism and social justice and what we're called to do

by Editorial Team

Fr. Ted Parker, Pastor of St Charles Lwanga Parish in Detroit is joined by John Thorne, Executive Director of Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance and former Sacred Heart student, Vickie Figueroa, Director of Black Catholic and Cultural Ministries and Sacred Heart MAPS graduate (2010), and Bp. Donald Hanchon, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit and Sacred Heart alumnus (1965, 1969), to discuss what the Church teaches about racism and social justice and what we're called to do.

by Editorial Team

What is Racism? (5:24)

Fr. Parker offers a definition of racism as the conscious or unconscious belief that one’s racial grouping is superior, therefore judging another race as inferior or unworthy of equal regard. Bp. Hanchon addresses the acknowledgement in Open Wide Our Hearts of the Church’s implicit contributions to racism over the years, and Mr. Thorne remarks on the institutional presence of racial prejudice as well. Ms. Figueroa also offers insight on the personal, smaller acts of prejudice that invade society. The three discuss the undercurrent injustices that lay out of sight — and somewhat out of mind — that we deem part of everyday life, and the juxtaposition of that subtle racism with larger acts that cause us to stop our daily routines and pay more intentional attention.

What’s the role of the Church? (20:27)

Ms. Figueroa acknowledges the Euro-centric images and literature of the Church and their relative inability to be used in the multicultural communities of metro-Detroit. Fr. Parker calls to mind the condemnation of the slave trade by Pope Gregory XVI in the 1830s and the Church’s sinful history in regards to racism. The three discuss ideals versus real circumstances and situations. Fr. Parker also ruminates on the ability to recognize sin on a large scale and how it translates to the ability to recognize sin on a personal scale.

What can we do about it? (39:11)

Fr. Parker encourages faithful to ask their pastors to have a conversation about race. He emphasizes the importance of having the difficult conversations not only in our Church, but among other Christians as well, the need to work together to make the change, and the need to hear Black voices in these conversations. Mr. Thorne reaffirms the need for conversation and mentions his educational work with the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, and the need to urge people to evaluate how they’ll move this movement forward.

Closing statements and prayer (1:02:56)

Editorial Team

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.