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Racism must not be tolerated

To the editor:

Perhaps you have seen the black and white signs posted on the grounds of St. Patrick Church in Leetonia:

Racism is a Sin. Period.

These were created by the Dominican Sisters of Peace, the Catholic religious community to which we belong. We are a congregation of vowed religious women ministering in 24 states and two foreign countries. We work for peace and justice wherever we are able, responding to the needs of our time. One of our commitments is: Promote justice through solidarity with those who are marginalized, especially women and children, and work with others to identify and transform oppressive systems.

Racism is one such oppressive system. In light of recent seemingly unjustified deaths of people of color at the hands of law enforcement personnel, the Dominican Sisters of Peace choose to stand in solidarity with those “who are marginalized” by posting signs reminding all that “Racism is a Sin.” This message is a clear statement of Catholic social teaching.

These signs are all over the country, wherever our sisters are in ministry. They are not a criticism of any one place, any one city or village. Indeed, they are not a criticism at all. They are simply a reminder that racism in all its forms, whether within us as individuals or within the systems that profoundly affect our lives, is sinful.

So are the signs intended to say that the people of Leetonia are racist? No. What we seek is for each of us (everyone in our country, not just our small town) to first look within ourselves to see if we exhibit racist thoughts or ideas. Then, secondly, we can look around ourselves to find ways to create a community in which systemic racism has no place to exist. Pope Francis, in a recent address, said, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.” (General Audience June 3, 2020)

We are asking you to join with us in working toward peace, unity and justice in our country, our state, our towns, and our churches.

Sister Barbara Rapp, O.P.,

Sister Rene Weeks, O.P.,

Leetonia

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