Catholic education offers a truthful and morally sound framework for considering issues of race, human dignity, and social justice. Yet cultural norms, historical developments, commonplace and novel assumptions, and associated passions all have some influence over Catholic education—sometimes for the good, but often distorting and even contradicting sound Catholic teaching. The human condition and social inequities and injustices can and should be addressed in Catholic education, with confidence in the Church’s wisdom and the ability of societies to respectfully unify around racial and cultural differences. In times of heightened concern and emotion, it is necessary that Catholic education inform and guide students’ understanding with great caution against divisive ideological and political influences.
Today emotional and heated discussions and protests focused on race seem to fill social media, endless news cycles, and opinion journalism. Concepts including “wokeness,” “intersectionality,” and “systemic racism” may be explicitly advocated or implicitly underlie conversation and classroom teaching. Terms such as “racist,” “hate,” “intolerance,” and “oppression” belong to the conversation, but they can at times be harmfully wielded as hasty moral judgments and powerful rhetorical weapons.