The Racial Divide in the United States Revisited
An Address by
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Belleville, Illinois
Saturday, February 25, 2017
The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows
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His Excellency, Bishop Braxton, who has served as Bishop of Belleville since 2005, has become a leading voice among the bishops of the United States on the racial divide in our country. He is a nationally known theologian whose writings have covered a wide range of topics of concern to the Catholic Church in the United States. He is a former member of the faculty of theology at Harvard Divinity School, the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic University of America. Most of his writings, which have appeared in many journals including the Harvard Theological Review, Louvain Studies, Commonweal and America, have addressed topics of systematic and pastoral theology. His Pastoral Letters, “The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection for the World Day of Peace 2015” and “The Catholic Church and the Black Lives Matter Movement: The Racial Divide in the United States Revisited” (2016), have made a significant contribution to the dialogue in the United States about ongoing challenges that African-Americans experience within the Church and in the larger society. His research and publications make it clear that seven years after the election of a bi-racial president, we have not entered a “post-racial era”. Unfortunately, the racial divide persists in our nation and in our Church.
Bishop Braxton, who is one of only six African-American diocesan bishops, acknowledges that the Catholic Church cannot embrace many of the positions held by the Blacks Lives Matter Movement. Nevertheless, he believes that Catholics, black and white, should be informed about this significant social movement and seek to understand its implications for the Church and society. The bishop reminds his readers to place their hope in the Gospel which calls us all to conversion, a deep, ongoing personal and social transformation. This transformation, which has the power to change the hearts of men and women of all backgrounds, can enable them to play their part in renewing and transforming the Church and the human community.
The bishop is frequently invited to address the reality of the racial divide at conferences throughout the United States.