“This leaves them at a disadvantage when they seek a good education, meaningful employment, decent housing and health care, and every other form of social advancement and benefits,” he said. “All of these instances of the racial divide are examples of racism.”
Bishop Edward Braxton. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America Communications Office.
Bishop Braxton said that while he believes that most Americans and most Catholics “are probably not racist,” in his understanding of the word, “it is possible for someone to live with unconscious or a barely conscious awareness that they harbor biases, prejudice, and stereotypes that influence their attitudes towards people of different races, nationalities, religion, sexual orientations and the like.”
“These attitudes, this moral fault becomes racism, which is a moral evil and a grave sin, when individuals and groups allow these biases to lead them to think they are objectively superior to all members of the group in question,” he said.
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Bishop Braxton said that universities are responsible for “contributing [to] the process of pushing back the horizons of ignorance by planting seeds that, over time, may contribute to the kind of interior personal transformation and moral conversion that is essential if there is to be any hope of overcoming the racial divide.”
The final public event will be the celebration of Mass by Cardinal Gregory of Washington. The Mass will include African American music, and vestments commissioned specifically for the BCTS.
“This more than just issues around discrimination—those are important, absolutely—but it’s also simply praying together in a distinctive cultural idiom,” said Styles. “Bringing together, seeing one another, reverencing one another, and, and believing that God is already present in that community, and in this community—it’s important for my students to experience that.”
All three public events are free and no tickets are required to attend. They will also be livestreamed on Notre Dame’s Department of Theology website.
“I hope [the BCTS] opens the doors to many other things, not only for the Black community, but for the Latino community, and various Asian American populations that are served and are part of our Church,” Styles said. “‘Catholic’ means ‘universal,’ so we need to be able to see varying cultural ways of celebrating that faith that we value so much.”
Autumn Jones is a staff writer with Catholic News Agency. She is a graduate of Gonzaga University and the University of Colorado. She is based in Denver.