NCCL and the Fight Against Racism

Libby MahowaldFeatured, News

A Message From Our Board of Directors

Dear Church,

For days we have been searching for the words to address the deeply rooted pain and anger that the community of faith is experiencing in response to the grave injustice of violence. George Floyd’s death at the hands of men in authority demonstrates once again the long history of institutional racism that continues to plague this country. The inhumanity that Christian Cooper experienced in Central Park exposes the plague of racism in all its intricate pervasions. Although the law enforcement and judicial systems, the wealthy and privileged, the lawmakers and leaders of industry all have blame in this issue, we must also acknowledge that institutional racism exists in our national ministry community, and directly within our own network of NCCL.

As evangelization and catechetical leaders, NCCL has offered opportunities of conversion to address the issue of racism. NCCL has prioritized educating its members through programming, panel discussions, partnerships with other national organizations and publishing houses on resources, inviting a diverse array of speakers to challenge and witness, but we recognize the fact that we have failed to do all that we can do to contribute to any real comprehensive systematic change. From studies out of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, and from our own recent membership survey, the data reveals that the community recognized as catechetical and evangelizing leaders in the United States is not fully reflective of our intercultural Catholic community. This includes our own membership, as well as those in leadership in NCCL. The Representative Council exposed that our institutional structure itself, written in our bylaws and procedures, fosters the systemic issue of exclusion.  By narrowly defining who and how someone can be identified as a leader in NCCL, and in catechesis and evangelization at large, we have ritualized exclusion. This has defined a critical part of NCCL’s response to its assessment process of the past eight months – NCCL needs to diversify its visioning leadership body and it needs to identify the core value of diversity as critical to its mission. This brings to light an initial step, but action towards addressing deeper systemic issues in the Church is the requirement.

For continued inspiration and education for our members, we invite you to reflect upon the poignant words of Sr. Thea Bowman to the USCCB from June 1989. Thirty-one years later, we have yet to respond fully, and thus, claim the ill effects of such complacency on generations through our shared ministries of catechesis and evangelization. But we, you and I, individually and communally, have an opportunity to be part of changing that in an ongoing and intentional capacity. Though her whole reflection (read and listen) permeates the truths of our call to serve more intentionally, these are key points we identified as addressing the NCCL community directly. In Sr. Thea Bowman’s words, we quote:

  • The majority of priests, religious and lay ministers who serve the black community in the United States still are not from the black community and many of those people who attempt to serve among us – some of them perhaps in your dioceses – do not feel an obligation to learn or understand black history or spirituality, or culture or life – black tradition or ritual.

  • They (church leaders) work for the people, but they have not learned to share life and love and laughter with the people. They somehow insulate themselves from the real lives of the people because they don’t feel “comfortable” with black people.

  •  Sometimes decisions are made that affect the black community for generations and they’re made in rooms by white people behind closed doors.

  • Go in the room and look around and see who’s missing and send some of your folk out to call them in so that the Church can be what she claims to be – truly Catholic.

  • The National Catechetical Directory says that all Catechesis is supposed to be multi-cultural – but how little of it is. When we attempt to bring our blackism to the Church, the people who do not know us say that we are being “non-Catholic” or “Separatist” – or just plain “uncouth”.

  • The Church teaches us that the Church is a family of families and the family got to stay together and we know, that if we do stay together, come here brother – we know that if we do stay together – if we walk and talk and work and play and stand together in Jesus’ name – we’ll be who we say we are – truly Catholic and we shall overcome – overcome the poverty – overcome the loneliness – overcome the alienation and build together a Holy city, a new Jerusalem, a city set apart where they’ll know that we are here because we love one another.

We have work to do, church, and NCCL is committed to the comprehensive systemic change that is required of us. As we walk this journey together, accompanying one another, as Jesus accompanies us, we open wide our hearts, and we pray for God to help us overcome.

A Message From Pope Francis 

“Dear Brothers and Sisters in the United States, I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd,” Francis said.
“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost,” he urged.

Keep Reading

For Further Reflection:

A Message from the USCCB Ad Hoc Coommittee Against Racism

” As Bishops, we unequivocally state that Racism is a life issue” – Bishop Shelton Fabre

One Day Against Hate 

Download the One Day Against Hate toolkit. This collaboration between NCCL and NCEA provides practical resources for prayer, reflection, and discussion.

Download the Toolkit Here 

Open Wide Our Hearts

“Only by forging authentic relationships can we truly see each other as Christ sees us.
Love should then move us to take what we learn from our encounters and examine where society
continues to fail our brothers and sisters, or where it perpetuates inequity, and seek to address
those problems.”

View the Full Pastoral Letter from the USCCB here.

Catholic Resources on Racial Justice

The Ignatian Solidarity Network has compiled a comprehensive list of Catholic Resources on Racial Justice. These resources include: 
– Articles on Catholicism and Racism
– Secondary and Higher Education Articles and Statements
– Reflections
– Official Statements and Pastoral Letters
– Blogs

View the Full List of Resources Here

Pax Christi USA Anti-Racism Resources

Pax Christi USA has compiled a list of resources including information from the USCCB, books, articles, movies, and speeches.

View the Full List of Resources Here

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture launched Talking About Race, a new online portal designed to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society, from the economy and politics to the broader American culture.

The online portal provides digital tools, online exercises, video instructions, scholarly articles and more than 100 multi-media resources tailored for educators, parents and caregivers—and individuals committed to racial equality.

Find out more information here.

CRS: Catholic Social Teaching 101

CST 101 is a collaborative 7-part video and discussion guide series presented by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services on Catholic social teaching. The videos bring the themes of Catholic social teaching to life and inspire us to put our faith into action. Click here to explore the entire series and see two samples below.

CST 101 | Life and Dignity of the Human Person
English Study Guide
Spanish Study Guide

CST 101 | Solidarity
English Study Guide
Spanish Study Guide

“The task of reading the signs of the times in the present is a major responsibility…Reading the signs of times is something that is not to be taken lightly. It is an important and a crucial responsibility. The General Directory for Catechesis reminds us that availing herself of the human sciences, which is always necessary, the Church seeks to discover the meaning of the present situation within the perspective of the history of salvation. Her judgement on reality are always a diagnosis of the need for mission. Notice how important this is…. The better we understand the present. The better we understand what we do ; why we do it. It would unrealistic to expect that one person, or one organization, or academic institution, or perhaps a think tank would capture the fullness of the complexity of our shared reality. Perhaps this is one of the weaknesses that we must name first in this exercise in reading the present to imagine the future of catechesis … Reading the signs of the times can and should not be the prerogative of individuals or institutions or organizations with particular agendas but an exercise of ecclesial discernment.” Hosffman Ospino

“Whether it was the lynching out a tree or the lynching on the cross, people were standing around, watching. Dr. King says our lives begin to die the moment we stop caring or speaking about the things that matter.  I sometimes wonder today, sisters and brothers, if not just society, but if the church, this institution which Christ gave us to transform the world, I wonder today if we are guilty today of standing around watching.”

“Our task in accompaniment is to assist people in knowing who they are. Deep deep down. And we do that because we know who we are. Deep deep down. That’s our own conversion. Our call to constant conversion.”

From the 2019 RECongress: Influential hashtag movements – including #MeToo #NeverAgain #blac

Centuries ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola offered a revolutionary view that God’s presence could be found in all places and circumstances. How does #hashtagging offer an opportunity to explore today’s largest storytelling space – social media? Here, participants will get a chance to prayerfully engage that space with some of the meditations, prayers and contemplative practices Ignatius outlines in his Spiritual Exercises.

REC2016 | Saturday Morning Praise