| Program: || Task Force on Racism, Chicago, IL |
| Contact(s): || James R. Lund and Sherwen Moor: (312) 751-8390 |
| Purpose: || To conduct long- and short-term projects intended to address the issue of racism within the Archdiocese of Chicago and to provide parishes and schools with the means to initiate or enhance efforts to combat racism |
The Task Force on Racism within the Archdiocese of Chicago dates back to the early 1990s with a commitment from the Illinois Catholic Bishops to undertake a three-year effort to address racism. Beginning with a state-wide conference examining the way racism worked its way into the institutions of society, the Archdiocesan Committee for Racial Justice was formed. A platform document resulted, outlining a systematic strategy to address racism in schools and parishes. As a result of two incidents in Catholic high schools, the Archdiocese accelerated its efforts and established the Task Force on Racism.
Projects of the task force are intended to affect individual attitudes and behavior, as well as institutional practices in the workplace and in the schools. In an effort to create a welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds, high schools and elementary schools revise their curriculum and conduct diversity training for faculty. Parish leaders also participate in overnight workshops on racial and ethnic sensitivity as part of a strategic plan that was set in place by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Projects are driven by three underlying principles: 1) the presence of a strong spiritual leader is integral in making people see that they must change the ways in order to reconcile their differences; 2) there must be "leadership by example" in white and non-white communities; and, 3) there must be measurable outcomes that show gains people can see and embrace.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
The Parish Sharing Program, which links inner-city and suburban parishes, is addressing issues of race and race relations more directly. Growing numbers of parishes are becoming interested in building relationships that bridge racial and ethnic divides. In May 1997, two forums called "The Archdiocese of Chicago Faces Racism" were conducted, attended by 1,200 pastors, school principals and other parish leaders. The program defined racism, examined it through a theological lens and considered the role of leadership in combating it.