CTA Affirms, Challenges USCCB’s “Committee Against Racism”

Written By Christine Haider-Winnett

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August 25, 2017

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August 25, 2017– The USCCB announced on Wednesday that it is forming an “ad-hoc committee against racism” in response to the recent white supremacist violence across the country. But many lay Catholics are wondering why Catholic Leaders did so little to address racism before now.

Call To Action (CTA)  is a Catholic church reform and social justice organization of both ordained and lay people that has been working on and advocating for anti-racism in specifically Catholic settings for over 15 years.

“We want to offer our support and share what we have learned with our church leaders,” said CTA Executive Director Zach Johnson. The last major effort by American Catholic leadership to address racism was in 1979.

Johnson said he agreed with committee chair Bishop George V. Murry that the committee is, “a good start.” But Johnson added, “the Bishops should not be congratulated for simply doing what’s right–especially when their response is so late.”

The committee members have not yet been named, and many worry that the committee will not properly represent those who suffer the harshest racial oppression: young, poor, or uneducated people of color. USCCB committees are generally only composed of bishops. All 47 members of the Committee for Cultural Diversity in the Church are bishops.

Call To Action Vision Council member Debra Brittenum said “To be effective, this committee must include people with lived experience of racist oppression–including those who do not have theological degrees. Call To Action has learned the most about racism from young people of color.”

Call To Action is currently working with local organizers to offer trainings in Charlottesville about how Catholicism and White Supremacy overlap. “These are difficult conversations,” said Johnson, “but we have to address these connections directly, and our church leaders are only now realizing this. We hope they can catch up.”

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