Cardinal Cormac at Racial Justice Conference

 Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor will use his address to the Catholic Association for Racial Justice Congress on Saturday to call for a redoubling of efforts by the church and society to address the issue of institutional racism. "As Christians and Catholics we have a special responsibility to work for the transformation of attitudes in our homes, our workplaces and in our communities which will render that term (institutional racism) an anachronism," said Cardinal Murphy O'Connor. "The change we are committed to is not a top-down process. It starts with us at home, and it works outwards. Christ's message to us in the gospels, and especially in the Sermon on the Mount is that change begins with me. If I don't change my heart I will never change anything. We are here not only to celebrate our diversity. We are here to re-commit to a huge challenge for our Church and an even bigger challenge for our whole society." The Cardinal referred to the long journey that the church has been on since the last Congress in 1990. "Although we have come some way since 1990, we should not be tempted into complacency. The murder of Stephen Lawrence was a terrible reminder of how far we have left to journey in this country. Our minds, hearts, and institutions must be open to a permanent conversion, what St Benedict called conversio mores, if our communities are to become, over time, places of eal trust and mutual affirmation," said Archbishop Murphy O'Connor. In 1999, following publication of the MacPherson Report into the death of Stephen Lawrence the Bishop's Conference "urged all Catholic organisations and institutions to look again at how they could better serve minority ethnic communities in our society." "I want, and I am sure that you want, our families, our parishes and schools to be the engine of institutional and social change. Beginning there, and especially with our children, we can make and we must make a difference. Every Catholic family, parish, school, and diocese in this country is part of the process of renewal out of which is being built the truly inclusive Church that we are intent upon," said Archbishop Murphy O'Connor. A major theme of the Congress is the empowerment of black and minority ethnic Catholics in roles of service and esponsibility at all levels in order to make us a truly inclusive Church. The Cardinal has asked that this question be taken on board at all levels of the church but particularly the local level. "I think that this is the right question for us to be asking ourselves in all seriousness. I am also suggesting that this question has to be addressed at all levels of the Church but, frankly most especially at the local level, because that is where the Spirit works most intently. That is where change happens," said Cardinal Murphy O'Connor. Around 300 delegates, from across England and Wales, will gather at Southlands College in Roehampton this weekend (12-14 September 2003) to take part in a Racial Justice Congress organised by the Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ). The Congress, entitled People of Colour, People of God will be opened by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, who will also celebrate Mass on the final day, which is also Racial Justice Sunday (14 September). Taking part in the Congress will be Home Office Minister and QC Baroness Patricia Scotland; Rudolph Walker, who plays Patrick Trueman in Eastenders; Archbishop Peter Kwasi Sarpong from Ghana; Dr Diana Hayes, an African American theologian; and Fr Jason Gordon, a black priest from Trinidad CARJ is an association with members throughout England & Wales. It is an independent charity, established in 1984 with the support of the Bishops Conference to empower minority ethnic Catholics, to educate the Catholic community and to speak out on issues of racial justice.

Share this story