Racial Justice and the Catholic Church

Bryan N. Massingale, Author . Orbis $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-57075-776-1

Lamenting that he sometimes feels “like a motherless child... a long ways from home” in his own church, Massingale, a black priest and moral theologian, levels a strong indictment of the Catholic response to racial injustice in this review and analysis. After answering the question “What is racism?” at some length, Massingale delves into Catholic history on the issue, taking apart three documents on racial justice from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1958, 1968, and 1979. Although he says the last two improved on the first, which offered nothing in the way of recommendations for action, none was marked by the depth of social analysis found in many of the bishops’ other social justice documents. To improve Catholic engagement in racial justice, Massingale proposes using such resources of the tradition as the practice of lament, compassion, solidarity, conversion, baptism, and Eucharist. The author’s moving personal reflections add a human face to his message, which readers who have a heart for social justice will no doubt find to be prophetic. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/11/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
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