Augustinians of the Midwest mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, March 21, 2017, with prayer, reflection, witness and action individually, in their communities and in their ministries. The Augustinians invite and encourage all who identify with Augustinian spirituality and traditions to do likewise.
The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted in 1963, states:
Discrimination between human beings on the grounds of race, color or ethnic origin is an offense to human dignity and shall be condemned as a denial of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations among nations and as a fact capable of disturbing peace and security among nations.
Discrimination is contrary to the example and teaching of Jesus Christ, who frequently associated with those whom the society of his time rejected (--Matthew 8: 1ss; 9: 11ss; 11: 19; Mark 2: 15ss; Luke 5: 27ss; 7: 21ss; John 8: 3ss) and told us that we would be judged on our treatment of others (--Matthew 25: 31-46).
Theme for 2017
The timely theme for 2017 is "Racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration." The UN defines "racial profiling" as: “a reliance by law enforcement, security and border control personnel on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin as a basis for subjecting persons to detailed searches, identity checks and investigations, or for determining whether an individual is engaged in criminal activity,”
The Catholic Church, including official teachers of Christian morality like Pope Francis and the Catholic Bishops' Conferences of the United States and Canada, has been a strong promoter of justice for refugees and other immigrants, and a strong opponent of racism.
What Can I Do?
Here are some simple actions you can take to reduce racial, ethnic and religious discrimination
⦁ Learn the facts about refugees and other immigrants. Read "10 Myths about Immigration"
⦁ Pray for an end to racism and discrimination. Select your prayer from these sample prayers.
⦁ Speak out against misconceptions which give rise to racism and discrimination when you hear them expressed in your conversations. Share the link "10 Myths about Immigration" in your e-mails and post it on your social media: The link is http://www.tolerance.org/immigration-myths
⦁ Ask your Pastor how you and other members of your Church can help to "Welcome the Stranger." (See Matthew 25: 35)
Click these links for more informational on the Church teachings related to immigration and asylum:
⦁ What the Bible says
⦁ Justice for Immigrants (from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)
⦁ Welcome Immigrants and Refugees with Dignity: Canadian Bishops' Pastoral Letter
⦁ Migrants and Refugees in Pope Francis' Transformative Vision of Church and Society
⦁ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
⦁ Prayers for an end to racial discrimination
St. Augustine on Discrimination
St. Augustine, in his City of God and Rule, provides a model of non-discrimination. St. Augustine condemns all forms of discrimination, whether it is based on race, economic conditions, or physical appearances.
Sinful human beings hate the equality of all peoples under God and, as though they themselves were God, love to impose their power on their fellow men and women. They hate the peace of God, which is just, and prefer their own peace, which is unjust. -City of God 19, 12
So long, then, as the heavenly City is journeying on Earth, she invites citizens from all nations and all tongues, and unites them into a single pilgrim band. She takes no issue with that diversity of laws and traditions, whereby human peace is sought and maintained. Instead of nulllifying or tearing down, she preserves and appropriates whatever in the diversities of different races is aimed at one and the same objective of human peace, provided only that they do not stand in the way of the faith and worship of the one supreme and true God. -City of God 19, 17
What is true for a Christian beyond the shadow of doubt is that every real human being, that is, every mortal animal that is rational, however unusual to us may be the shape of his/her body, or the color of his/her skin, or the way he/she walks, or the sound of his/her voice, and whatever the strength, portion or quality of his/her natural endowments, is descended from the single first-created human being. -City of God 16, 8
The rich, for their part, who seemed important in the world must not look down upon their brothers or sisters who have come into this holy brotherhood or sisterhood from a condition of poverty. They should seek to glory in the fellowship of poor brothers or sisters rather than in the high rank of rich parents and relatives. They should neither be elated if they have contributed a part of their wealth to the common life, not take more pride in sharing their riches with the monastery than if they were to enjoy them in the world. Indeed, every other kind of sin has do do with the commission of evil deeds, whereas pride lurks even in good works in order to destroy them. And what good is it to scatter one's wealth abroad by giving to the poor, even to become poor oneself, when the unhappy soul is thereby more given to pride in despising riches than it had been in possessing them? Let all of you them live together in oneness of mind and heart, mutually honoring in yourselves the God whose temples you have become. -Rule of St. Augustine, Chapter 1
What practical steps can we take as individuals and as a community to eradicate racism? Is there something we can do to help provide effective measures of prevention, education and protection? How can we encourage our political leaders to mobilize the political will to combat racial discrimination?
The Augustinians of the Midwest invite you to join us in prayer, reflection, witness and action on these questions.