Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 29, 2004
Bishops take aim at discrimination
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops takes aim at racial and religious discrimination in a pastoral message from two of its commissions in marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21.
Entitled, See Every Person as My Sister or Brother, the message from the social affairs commission and the commission for interfaith dialogue states, "As bishops, we reject all forms of racism and all discrimination on the basis of race or religion."
The bishops say they have been made aware of incidents of racism, racial profiling and discrimination from police and media reports, and from members of the aboriginal, black, Jewish, Muslim and other communities.
War on terrorism
"Some of these situations have occurred as a result of new tensions arising from "the war on terrorism," they say. "Other situations are not new, but may arise from entrenched inequalities from Canada's past."
Among the elements of racism in the country's past is the "damaged relationship" between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples, the message says.
"We have recognized, for example, the role that Church organizations have played in the operation of the former Indian Residential Schools and that, though many served with great devotion, the system was dangerously flawed by the policy underlying it."
Catholic Church officials have apologized "for individual and collective actions that contributed to the injustice that aboriginal people continue to bear," the message points out. As well, it says, much of the CCCB's activities is now directed at speaking out on issues of aboriginal justice and developing aboriginal catechesis and formation programs "that respect their profound spiritual, moral and cultural heritage."
The bishops also say that Catholic communities, "need to develop sensitivities enabling us to recognize racism and religious discrimination wherever these may occur, for example in the provision of social services or lodging.
"Through social involvement, such as the Multi-faith Housing Initiative or other social justice efforts like the World Council for Religion and Peace, "we can make a positive difference, along with other people of good will," the message states.
Catholic educational institutions also have "a particular and crucial role" to play in raising awareness of discrimination as well as promoting actions for societal and legislative change, it adds.
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