Here are some quotes from the U.S. bishops' pastoral letter Brothersand Sisters to Us: U.S. Bishops' Pastoral
Letter on Racism in Our Day, approved Nov. 14, 1979, by the bishops:
"Racism is an evil which endures in our society and in
our church. Despite apparent advances and even significant changes in the last
two decades, the reality of racism remains. In large part it is only external
appearances which have changed."
"We wish to call attention to the persistent presence
of racism and in particular to the relationship between racial and economic justice.
Racism and economic oppression are distinct but interrelated forces which
dehumanize our society. Movement toward authentic justice demands a
simultaneous attack on both evils."
"Mindful of its duty to be the advocate for those who
hunger and thirst for justice's sake, the church cannot remain silent about the
racial injustices in society and its own structures."
"Racism is the sin that says some human beings are
inherently superior and others essentially inferior because of race."
"Racism is apparent when we note that the population is
our prisons consists disproportionately of minorities; that violent crime is the
daily companion of a life of poverty and deprivation; and that the victims of
such crimes are also disproportionately nonwhite and poor. Racism is also
apparent in the attitudes and behavior of some law enforcement officials and in
the unequal availability of legal assistance. Finally, racism is sometimes
apparent in the growing sentiment that too much is being given to racial
minorities by way of affirmative action programs or allocations to redress
long-standing imbalances in minority representation and government-funded programs
for the disadvantaged. At times, protestations claiming that all persons should
be treated equally reflect the desire to maintain a status quo that favors one
race and social group at the expense of the poor and the nonwhite."
"Racism has been part of the social fabric of America
since its European colonization. Whether it be the tragic past of the Native Americans,
the Mexicans, the Puerto Ricans or the blacks, the story is one of slavery,
peonage, economic exploration, brutal repression and cultural neglect."
"Crude and blatant expression of racist sentiment,
though they occasionally exist, are today considered bad form. Yet racism
itself persists in convert ways. Under the guise of other motives, it is
manifest in the tendency to stereotype and marginalize whole segments of the
population whose presence perceived as a threat."
"Today's racism flourishes in the triumph of private
concern over public responsibility, individual success over social commitment, and
personal fulfillment over authentic compassion."
"The new forms of racism must be brought face-to-face
with the figure of Christ."
"How great, therefore, is that sin of racism which
weakens the church's witness as the universal sign of unity among all peoples! How
great the scandal given by racist Catholics who make the body of Christ, the
church, a sign of racial oppression! Yet all too often the church in our
country has been for many a 'white church,' a racist institution."
"Each of us as Catholics must acknowledge a share in
the mistakes and sins of the past. Many of us have been prisoners of fear and prejudice.
We have preached the Gospel while closing our eyes to the racism it condemns.
We have allowed conformity to social pressures to replace compliance with
"Let the church speak out, not only in the assemblies
of the bishops, but in every diocese and parish in the land, in every chapel and
religious house, in every school, in every social service agency and in every
institution that bears the name Catholic."
"Let the church proclaim to all that the sin of racism
defiles the image of God and degrades the sacred dignity of humankind which has
been revealed by the mystery of the Incarnation. Let all know that it is a
terrible sin that mocks the cross of Christ and ridicules the Incarnation. For
the brother and sister of our brother Jesus Christ are brother and sister to
"Racism is not merely one sin among many; it is a
radical evil that divides the human family and denies the new creation of a redeemed
world. To struggle against it demands an equally radical transformation, in our
own minds and hearts as well as in the structure of our society."
"We strongly urge that special attention be directed to
the plight of undocumented workers and that every effort be made to remove the
fear and prejudice of which they are victims."
"For a century and a half the church in the United
States has been distinguished by its efforts to educate the poor and disadvantaged,
many of whom are not of the Catholic faith. That tradition continues today in
-- among other places – Catholic schools, where so many blacks, Hispanics,
Native Americans, and Asians receive a form of education and formation which constitutes
a key to greater freedom and dignity. ... No sacrifice can be so great, no
price can be so high, no short-range goals can be so important as to warrant
the lessening of our commitment to Catholic education in minority neighborhoods.
More affluent parishes should be made aware of this need and of their
opportunity to share resources with the poor and needy in a way that recognizes
the dignity of both giver and receiver."
"Domestically, justice demands that we strive for authentic
full employment, recognizing the special need for employment of those who,
whether men or women, carry the principal responsibility for support of a
family. Justice also demands that we strive for decent working conditions,
adequate income, housing, education, and health care for all. Government at the
national and local levels must be held accountable by all citizens for the
essential services which all are entitled to receive. The private sector should
work with various racial communities to ensure that they receive a just share
of the profits they have helped to create."
These quotes were originally compiled by
Catholic News Service, "Quotes 1979 pastoral letter 'Brothers and Sisters to
Us'," August 25, 2017. Used with permission.