Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda – CURB has today applauded the stance taken by the Roman Catholic Church to “engage and explore the subject of racism in the Bermuda-context”.
In a statement issued this afternoon, a CURB spokesperson said: “Recognizing and examining the history of the church and understanding the need to encourage group discussion around difficult subject matters is the first step towards a greater awareness and empathy for that which divides us and helps identify those things that we share.
“Those who value their freedom of faith without valuing freedom, equality and justice in broader areas of life, have only a narrow application and limited view of the roots of their own faith.
“We note that the Church is not hiding the discussions behind the veil of diversity and inclusion, which often times is the safer more comfortable subject to talk about, and instead is honestly attempting to address racism head on by naming it.”
The statement continued: “Faith communities and individuals of faith have a long history of being present and center in the fight for freedom and justice. It was so in the fight for Civil Rights in the US, where it was at the apex of the movement, and we saw it demonstrated by Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X on behalf of the Muslim community.
“There are those who broke the vessels of traditional and sacred values in order to serve up revolutionary social change, and we see this reflected in Christ’s ministry.
“Seeking new knowledge, authentic discussion and learning around race is key to speaking the truth to each other in love within a faith community. For those who are Christian there is a responsibility to talk about race in the context of Christ and their faith, and the Roman Catholic Church and their Peace & Social Justice Committee is confronting this with courage and determination.”
Earlier this week, Catholic Bishop of Bermuda, the Right Reverend Wesley Spiewak was quoted as saying the island’s Catholic congregation is a reflection of failure to overcome the racial divide.
The Bishop told the daily newspaper that the low number of Black Catholic Bermudians “gives me a clear idea that we were never very welcoming to these persons”.
“It’s not that we can change the past, but I believe we should shape the mindset of our people making them more welcoming, more open.”
He also said historically, the Roman Catholic Church “did not do enough” globally to combat racism.
“We have been, and we are still, a very white church. And this, for me, does not reflect what Catholicism means.
“Catholic means universal; we never became universal in this sense,” he added.
Bishop Spiewak was speaking ahead of the launch an anti-racism campaign headed up by the Catholic Church in Bermuda.
The initiative is the brainchild of its peace and social justice committee.
Previous campaigns have highlighted Bermuda’s ageing population and the environment.
The six-month anti-racism campaign will start with a series of workshops in June, to be followed by an event designed to look at Bermuda’s history and the island’s record on systemic racism in September, which will focus on education and employment.
The campaign will end with a conference at Mount Saint Agnes Academy in November.
Bishop Spiewak noted that it was important that the church played a role in easing racial tensions in Bermuda.
He also noted that a “frank and honest: was crucial to the island moving forward.
“I would like our people to be more and more open to diversity,” he added.
“This is the reality of the world and this is what makes our world also a great place — the diversity, not the uniformity.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming launch of the campaign he said the main goal is to heighten public awareness of the racial divide in Bermuda.
“It doesn’t mean that it’s going to change everything,” said Bishop Spiewak.
“It doesn’t mean that it’s going to change everything. But awareness, it’s important, because many changes can happen when we become aware of certain things.”