The Sin of Racism

Open Wide Our Hearts & Church Teaching

Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love (Mt 22:39).”

– U.S. Bishops, Open Wide Our Hearts

Other Church Documents


“To those who have experienced racism, I care deeply about what has happened to you and I apologize for our failure to condemn the violation of your human dignity. It grieves me to know that I cannot undo the harm that has been done. It is my hope that my apology for the sins of our past can serve as a prologue for our path forward towards healing and reconciliation.” – Archbishop Hartmayer

Archbishop Hartmayer’s Holy Week Statement on Racism





  • Racial Justice and the Catholic Church (2010) – Bryan N. Massingale
  • Uncommon Faithfulness: The Black Catholic Experience (2009) – M. Shawn Copeland
  • The Cross and the Lynching Tree (2011) – James H. Cone
  • Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 – Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
  • Racism & Structural Sin: Confronting Injustice with the Eyes of Faith – Conor M. Kelly

Continued Learning

Dismantling Racism

Hosted by The Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing, Dismantling Racism is a one-day workshop that seeks to increase “racial understanding, healing and reconciliation.” Trainings are offered regularly, but fill up quickly as this program is required training for all Episcopal clergy and lay leaders. It is currently offered through Zoom.

JustFaith Faith & Racial Equity: Exploring Power & Privilege

JustFaith’s eight-week module awakens groups to the economic systems, public policies, cultural norms and hidden biases that empower some and oppress others. The first half of the module introduces a framework for understanding and recognizing racial disparities in power and privilege. Sessions 5-8 take a deeper dive into specific issues related to power and privilege, including affirmative action, the school-to-prison pipeline, the criminal justice system and powerful biases in media representation. As with all JustFaith programs, participants will explore how their faith should inform their response to their learning, as well as discern action steps for working toward racial equity in their own communities.

JustFaith Faith and Racial Healing: Embracing Truth, Justice and Restoration

This eight-week program guides participants in telling the truth about the history of racism in the United States, that we might work toward true reconciliation with God and restoration with one another. Regardless of whether your group is new to the topic, or if you’ve already taken our first program on racial equity, Faith and Racial Healing: Embracing Truth, Justice, and Restoration will guide your small group in the difficult but necessary conversation about our history of racism in the United States.

Racial Wealth Gap Learning Simulation

This resource from Bread for the World helps participants to understand the connections among racial equity, hunger, poverty and wealth. It is a good first step for people unaware of structural inequality, a support tool for those who want a deeper understanding of structural inequality and a source of information for experts who want to know the quantifiable economic impact of each policy that has widened today’s racial hunger, income and wealth divides.

At the link above, you will find a facilitator’s guides for both in person and virtual events, PowerPoint presentation and script, activity sheets and more.

Paths of Renewed Encounter

Restorative justice can help us address a whole range of issues in a wide array of situations and communities. It is particularly useful in facilitating dialogue on the sin of racism. Catholic Mobilizing Network offers Paths of Renewed Encounter, which invites individuals and groups to embrace healing approaches to crime, harm and injustice while reflecting on the unique ways that Catholic ministries and teachings can shepherd processes that transform relationships, communities and systems. It draws on the experience of a wide array of contributors, the prophetic call of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti and the well-known pastoral cycle for social action.

This guide is designed for use by both individuals and groups.

Grace and Bias: Pastoral Practice and Racial Justice

Offered by the Catholic Apostolate Center, this course is designed to assist Catholics in reflecting upon the Gospel call to work for justice and the human dignity of all people. Participants will explore key documents, listen to a rich dialogue and personal experiences from recorded webinars and enter into a spiritual reflection that highlight the Church’s teachings regarding racism and promotion of the dignity of all people. Participants in this course will emerge equipped with the understanding and knowledge to enter into a fruitful dialogue about issues that affect all of our brothers and sisters.

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