Most religious doctrines and beliefs are at the forefront in creating an understanding of human dignity and the common good in the society. The Catholic Church, through the Catholic social teaching, has its set of doctrines that emphasize and elaborate the importance of human dignity. Some of the themes featured in these lessons include rights and responsibility, solidarity, life and dignity of the human person, among others. Racism as a principle of human dignity is a major topic of debate in these teachings (Massingale 21). As such, it is timely to discuss both sides of the discussion on racism as applied to the Catholic social teaching.
The Catholic social teaching is anti-racist. Racism is the consideration of ones ethnic group or race as superior to the others due to the actual biological differences. Racism takes different forms. These include legal, political, and economic structures, as well as the individual conscience. People are likely to stereotype and marginalize others by skin color or gender. It is possible for the law to create divisions among citizens and therefore foster systemic racism. An example of such a law is South Africas apartheid policy which required that the white and non-white populations of this country live in separate areas and use different public facilities. According to the Catholic social teaching, racism is a sin that undermines human dignity as it is among the worst forms of prejudice ("Further Explanation"). Additionally, the Catholic social teaching opines that racism is to blame for the divide in the human family. The fundamental scriptural beliefs indicate that all people are created in the image and likeness of God and should, therefore, be accorded their deserved dignity in equal measure. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is indicated that religion, language, sex, social conditions, color, or race should not be the basis for social or cultural discrimination (Ahern 45). The Catholic social teachings introduce people to the biblical teachings on the definition of a neighbor. According to Jesus teaching, both Jews and Samaritans are united by one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. It is a lesson that there can be no inequality on whatever basis.
The Catholic social teaching on racism majors on the fact that the choice to be racist is voluntary. It states that an individual voluntarily decides to encourage prejudicial thoughts and foster hatred towards those from different origins (Massingale 67). Inherently, this point of view the Catholic Church merely considers racism as a symptom of social ills instead of treating it as the cause of these injustices. These social ills include unemployment and educational disparities. The other side of the debate, therefore, opines that it is not genuine for the Catholic social teaching to insinuate that they are solely against racism when they keep silent on the root causes of injustices that are as a result of racism. Consider, for instance, Pope Benedict XVIs address on the global economic crisis. Nowhere did the Pope mention racism in this speech that was delivered on the Christmas of 2011. It then puts into question the Catholics commitment to treating racism explicitly and their dedication in examining the underlying peoples beliefs which tend to justify racist behaviors. The Catholic Church is faulted for taking a neutral ground on matters about racism. The Catholic social teaching boldly documents the important role that the church plays in unmasking social evils and denouncing injustice. However, few are the instances where the Catholic Church has openly condemned this vice.
It is very prudent for the Catholic Church to declare their stance on racism. Any person that interacts with their social teaching appreciates the elaborate nature with which the document explains the precarious character of any form of prejudice. However, words are meaningless if they are unaccompanied with the relevant action. Homage should be paid to personalities like Pope Benedict for telling the world, in writing, that humanity ought to treat the human race as a family which is meant to work in harmony. These words of wisdom should be acted upon so that individuals feel their impact (Barndt 101). The Catholic Church can be faulted for turning a blind eye to national matters that mirror racism. Consider, for instance, a case where the sitting president of the United States, during his campaigns made some racist remarks. Shockingly, none of the leaders from the Catholic Church openly condemned his utterances. It was as though these leaders turned a deaf ear to his latent racist remarks and were paralyzed in Trumps face. It was at that crucial time that the world would have understood better the Catholic Churchs detest to racism if they had openly spoken out to denounce racist utterances (Ahern 87).
All in all, it is not enough for people to document their beliefs and opinions. These should be accompanied by actions so that one is branded according to their deeds. Racism is rot, evil, and a sin that is eating away that which is left of humanity. Importantly, people should understand that evils such as educational disparities and the increasing gap between the rich and the poor are the consequences of, among other underlying factors, racial discrimination. It is not only the duty of the Catholic Church to live up to its social teachings on the subject, but also the role of the society to condemn any form of stereotype in the strongest terms possible. These efforts are informed by the need to have a society where people live harmoniously.
Ahern, Kevin. Visions of Hope: Emerging Theologians and the Future of the Church. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2013. Print.
Barndt, Joseph R. Becoming an Anti-Racist Church: Journeying Toward Wholeness. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011. Print.
Massingale, Bryan N. Racial Justice and the Catholic Church. Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books, 2010. Print.
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