How should Catholic educators respond to the racial turmoil in recent years? Instead of adopting new materials and programs rooted in critical race theory, the Church already has a treasury of wisdom to draw upon.
I recently spoke about this with my colleague, Dr. Denise Donohue, who seems to be on to something important. She told me Catholic educators should discuss race from the foundation of Christian anthropology and St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, with its insights about human dignity and creation — and I think she’s exactly right.
Donohue is vice president for educator resources at the Cardinal Newman Society and has been a leader and teacher at Catholic schools and a university professor. Last year she worked with Dr. Joan Kingsland, a theologian and curriculum and training specialist at Ruah Woods Press, to co-author the “Standards of Christian Anthropology,” which has been enthusiastically welcomed by Catholic education leaders to integrate St. John Paul II’s theology across grade levels. They supplement the Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Curriculum Standards for literature, history, math and science, co-authored by Donohue and Dr. Dan Guernsey.
Somewhere within this work are important clues to teaching about race and justice in ways that are appropriate to faithful Catholic education. Hoping to explore the approach further, I put the following questions to Donohue and Kingsland.