The following is the first in a series of reflections on our Parish Statement on Racism:
“Parishioners of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish strive to be a vibrant voice and beacon of the Catholic faith in our neighborhoods. We make this statement, together, to acknowledge racism for the sin that it is, as an offense against the dignity of the human person. We vow to fight racism in our country, state, neighborhood, parish, and in our own hearts. While we acknowledge the progress that has been made since Jim Crow reigned, we also know that racism still exists, still hurts us all, and will not cure itself. We thus proclaim our determination to do our part in eradicating it.” (from St. Margaret of Scotland Parish Statement on Racism)
We hold this truth to be self-evident: racism is a sin that hurts us all. It splinters the Body of Christ. I’ve been immersed in racism from the time I was born–hearing that “White is Right” and “those others” aren’t clean, aren’t smart, aren’t good… aren’t like us. I’m heartened that St. Margaret has heeded the words of Pope Francis and the Bishops, stepping out to proclaim our intention to fight racism. It’s the right time to do this. We’ve failed as a country each time we’ve tried to eradicate racism. Reconstruction failed in 1876. The broader economic goals of the Civil Rights Movement failed in the 1970s and onward. The horror of the George Floyd’s murder shocks us back into the realization that there is much work to do. Our schools are fraught with savage inequalities; health care is skewed; and the risk of mortality for a black mother is far higher than that of her white neighbor. It’s time for a successful Reconstruction.
We can see this as too lofty of a goal. How can anyone eradicate a system rooted in 300+ years of history? I’m reminded that at one time women couldn’t vote. At one time, children worked in mines. At one time, Bob Gibson couldn’t eat with his white teammates.
The mustard seed comes to mind. Tiny though we are, we can strive to be the beautiful Body of Christ, where there is no East or West, no Man or Woman…no White or Black. I’m proud to be a member of a parish which recognizes racism for the sin that it is and has taken on the work we’ve needed to do for a long time.
Mike Holdinghaus is a parishioner and former Chair of the SMOS Living Justice Ministries.
Over the course of nine weeks, the SMOS Living Justice Ministry – Racial Equity Team will present reflections from various parishioners on the Parish Statement on Racism. To read more about the Statement, please go to the front page of the Parish website at stmargaretstl.org.