The Catholic Commission for Social Justice is calling on all citizens to denounce racism. Following is the Commission’s full statement:
The Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) calls on all citizens to denounce racism, which is a vile worm that eats at the very soul of our beings and our nation. Racism is a sin and should be eliminated in all its forms e.g. individual, institutional, direct, and indirect.
Let us not forget the impact of racism on the lives of our ancestors. As T&T’s Independence Day approaches, let us reflect NOW on ways in which each of us may have, wittingly or unwittingly, through thought, word, or action, fed this socially constructed, hydra-headed monster. And let us commit to root out this evil from our hearts and minds. Indeed, the heart of the matter is in the human heart.
We read in Proverbs that “Without a vision the people perish”. We have a vision – laws e.g. our Constitution, the Equal Opportunity Act; policies; the tenets of our various Faith communities. Transformation will only come when we move from paper to action. Faith without good works is dead (James 2:26).
The Catholic Catechism tells us: “Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men and women have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity. The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it.” (CCC 1934, 1935).
“Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, colour, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design” (Gaudium et Spes, 29,2).
Pope St John Paul II’s words are instructive: We need a culture “in which we recognise, in every man and woman, a brother and a sister with whom we can together walk the path of solidarity and peace”.
And while we abhor all the recent racist statements made on social media before and after our General Election, we agree with the UK Journalist, Kehinde Andrews, who rightly says that “…focusing on individual prejudice has avoided tackling endemic, systematic racism, leaving significant inequalities.”
As long as racism exists, justice and peace will never become a reality. The time is long overdue for us as a people to reject racism and embrace and promote unity in our diversity. We ignore, at our peril, the call of all right-thinking people to do so.
We must pray for a conversion of hearts because, as the US Bishops said: “True justice and peace can be a matter of policy only if it is first a matter of the heart.”
Let us pray for God’s grace to open our eyes and those of our leaders, so that we will choose values and virtues that will help us to flourish/progress as a people. God bless our Nation.