US bishops’ blog offers ‘racial examination of conscience’

USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development recommends we ask ourselves a series of questions to find out if we're closet racists

Mark Schmidt. (image from

The following is a “racial examination of conscience” put together by Mark Schmidt for the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development. Mark Schmidt is Director of the Office of Respect Life and Social Justice in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa.

1. Do I interact with people who are different from me outside of work or school?

2. Do I read books or stories written by people of different ethnic or religious heritage than myself?

3. Have I taken the time to listen to the voices of others who don’t look like me or have a different background and life experience than me?

4. If in a supervisor role, have I included people of various cultural or ethnic backgrounds when developing professional guidelines and/or dress codes?

5. Have I ever said the following phrases or something similar: “she’s pretty for a black girl” or “he’d be handsome if he wasn’t so dark” or “that little girl would be cute if her mom did her hair” or other such judgments on beauty and acceptance?

6. Have I ever asked someone about their heritage or ethnicity by asking “so, what are you?”?

7. Have I ever seen someone on the street and made a judgement based on how they dress, how their hair is styled, how they walk, how they speak?

8. Have I ever participated in or laughed at jokes or comments that belittle or denigrate people who don’t look like me or practice a different faith than me?

9. Do I blame the victims who suffer poverty and/or oppression for their plight?

10. Do I try to come up with excuses for things I do or say that are perceived as racist or harmful by others?

11. Do I dismiss the concerns or observations of others as simply being “overly sensitive” or being “PC”?

12. Do I ask someone that I am an acquaintance with in social or professional settings to speak for their entire culture?

13. Do I use a friend or family member who is of a different background than my own to “prove” that I have said or done nothing wrong?

14. Have I ever said “I’m not racist, but…”?

15. Do I always speak to others from different backgrounds with respectful tone and language?

16. Do I automatically associate negative attributes to an entire group of people?

17. Do I use dehumanizing language about others, referring to people as “thugs, animals, illegals,” etc.?

18. Do I categorize other ethnicities into groups like “good” and “troublesome”?

19. When trying to show a broad ethnic representation for my community or institution, do I randomly place minorities in advertisements? Do I ask for input on how advertisements may be perceived outside of my own culture?

20. Do I take the time to learn and listen to the stories of others’ lives in order to better understand them and the challenges they may face that I do not?

21. Do I see Jesus Christ in each and every person I encounter every single time? Do I love each and every person regardless of their heritage, the choices they have made, their status in society, or the perception I may have of them?

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  1. Most of this is just a call for common-sense charity. But I’m a little suspicious about terms such as “religious heritage”, which has nothing to do with race. Sounds like somebody at headquarters doesn’t want questions raised about certain religions (Islam comes to mind) on the grounds that even honest questions constitute discrimination against the followers of said religions. That is false charity.

  2. Warren Memlib says:

    “USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development” sounds like the Ministries of Love, Peace, Plenty and Truth in George Orwell’s novel 1984 – all rolled into one.

  3. Wonderful! Sorely needed in this era of white nationalism and confederate flags.

    • Thanks for bringing up another problem. The meaning of the confederate flag is “Southern pride”. It has nothing to do with race. Somebody somewhere decided it’s meaning is racist…so people who have flown the confederate flag for years are removing it. There is a huge bigotry against white males especially southern white males.

      • History Major says:

        The Confederate Flag has to do with the Confederacy. They broke away because they were paranoid that Lincoln would harm their slave economy (2/3rds of southern wealth was in slaves by this point), even though Lincoln wasn’t necessarily against slavery. Winning with no southern support only confirmed their conspiracy theory. Character limit so I wont go into the detailed history. The mantra “state’s rights” is is nice deception cooked up by fire eaters and their ilk. A state’s right to what? To slaves of course. The Confederate flag is the battle-flag of the slave empire.

        • Anonymous says:

          History Major, I’m sure you know more about the Civil War then anyone who flies the Stars and Bars. Because it’s not about the Civil War; it’s about Lynard Skynard, Moon Pies and RC Cola, and sweet tea.

  4. Larry Northon says:

    “22. Do I ever fail in my duty to vote Democrat?”

  5. This is probably the dumbest thing to appear on the USCCB website after “Always Our Children”.

    It reeks of liberal white guilt and political correctness.

    Racism is not a problem in America, but reverse racism is a growing problem. There is growing animus towards anything Caucasian or of European-American-Christian culture, and it isn’t hard to see such a mindset informing this stupid “examination of conscience”.

  6. Problems:
    #1-4 not a sin if you don’t do those things.
    #5 beauty is somewhat subjective; not finding someone beautiful isn’t a sin
    #6-7 not sins to do those things.
    #8 not all such humor is sinful
    #9 not a sin
    #10 not responsible for others’ misperceptions
    #11-14 not sins if you do those things
    #15 just a simple matter of having respect for individuals
    #16 sometimes groups of people do have negative collective attributes
    #17 those words can be appropriate descriptors; not a sin to use them
    #18 same as #16
    #19-20 not sins if you don’t do those things
    #21 some good here, but dangerously close to relativism

    Two letters for this: BS. It trivializes sin by claiming it’s sinful to be non-PC.

    • Anonymous says:

      It does not say these things are sinful.
      If you click the link you can see the introduction to the list.

      • An examination of conscience is for the purpose of identifying sins. Calling questions a racial examination of conscience is unmistakably an attempt to make people believe that they are committing sins if they don’t think or act the way the author of the list thinks they should.

        Oh, sure, in the introduction the holier-than-thou author (who writes “in all charity and humility” — of course!) claims he’s not trying to implicate anyone as racist. But that is exactly what he’s trying to do.

        The buzzwords are all there: “opportunity to reflect”, “unknown bias”, “unaware of the impact of everyday decisions”, etc. It’s a liberal attempt to say non-PC individuals are racist while laughably denying it is trying to condemn anyone…

        • Anonymous says:

          Anytime you attribute motivation to someone beside yourself, you are most likely going to be wrong and be offensive. “Racial examination of conscience” is in parentheses. It is more about social faux pas than sin.

          • It’s actually more about making whites feel guilty for being white and making conservatives feel guilty for opposing liberal Democrat policies and agendas.

            The whole list reeks of a “check your white privilege” guilt trip coming from a white guy who wants to virtue-signal his credentials as being woke.

          • If it’s only about social faux pas, not about sin, then why is it the concern of the Catholic bishops? Are the bishops taking on the role of Miss Manners now?

            The intent is very clearly to implicate people in alleged sins of racism.

    • Absolutely on target! The stench of political correctness coming from the USCCB reflects its connection to the swamp. I did a paper on black authors when I was in college (1960s). Does that give me plus points? But I pray for people on the streets dressed like sluts or with their pants dragging and their underwear showing. Does that give me minus points for judging? We are called to use our “seat of judgment” — always with charity, but there are many signals that flash “caution” and don’t equate to being racists. My prayer for 2018 is the dissolution of the USCCB!

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry, it is mandated by canon law. Maybe you can pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all the US Bishops.

  7. You simply cannot make this stuff up. If not for the Holy Spirit providing the gift of Faith to me, I question whether I could continue being a Catholic. It is a tragedy as to what has happened to the Catholic Church in the US and in Rome.

  8. Michael McDermott says:

    Professors claim farmers’ markets cultivate racism: ‘Habits of white people are normalized’

    “Two professors from San Diego State University claim in a new book that farmers’ markets in urban areas are weed-like “white spaces” responsible for oppression.

  9. To deny that there is a good amount of racism in the US is to have our heads in the sand. Most of us whites don’t realize how deep racism in in our everyday lives. Ask the African-American father about “the talk” they have to give their kids almost daily. Ask why its ok to build a Christian church in the neighborhood but not a mosque or temple. Ask why most police departments are almost all white or that racial groups are arrested more often for minor infractions that are overlooked for white people. Ask why you are nervous about racial groups mixing on the school campus. We have to be carefully taught to love and hate and we were. Most of our racism is not intentional, but instinctive because or our training.

    • Who plays the knock-out game? What is the object of the knock-out game?

    • Anonymous says:

      Bob One, sorry, but that was really racist.

      • Almost everything is considered racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/Islamophobic/classist/bigoted these days. We have eight years of Obama poisoning American society to thank for that.

        • Your Fellow Catholic says:

          Funny, I can’t recall a single instance when he used any of those terms except maybe once or twice. I suppose Trump repeatedly calls Mexicans “bad hombres”. I suppose you have no problem with that expression.

        • Anonymous says:

          The meaning of the term racist has changed. It does not mean that you hate the race or are prejudiced or feel negative. It now includes anything that stereotypes or generalizes a race, positive or negative.. “White people are stupid” or “White people need to learn…” or “Asians are the smartest.”
          It may have something to do with Obama breaking stereotypes or raising expectations. It also may have to do with the internet where more people now can express their feelings of offense.and let others know. Dear Abby used to do this in her column. Now anyone can do it.

    • Bob One, an “African American father” is practically nonexistent in black households in America today. It is well-documented that black fathers are almost completely absent from raising their children. That task falls almost entirely to single black mothers. The breakdown of the nuclear family among black Americans and the alarmingly high rate of absent fathers in the lives of black children are the primary factors contributing to negative outcomes and traits for black Americans today: poverty, violence, crime, drugs, gangs, incarceration. Are facts racist? I think the author of the list above would say pointing out facts that reflect negatively on a group is a racist thing to do.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mike, yup that’s racist. Or at least stereotyping and generalizing. Most black fathers live with their children. However there are almost 2 million who do not. Those who do not live with their children are involved in their lives, more than white or Hispanic dads who do not live with their children.

  10. 3. Bad grammar. “different background and life experience than me?” Should be “I” (have).
    8. Bad grammar. “different faith than me?” Should be “I” (have).
    17. Last night some thug broke into our Church and took our TV that was in the children’s room so that those in there could see and hear the Mass. Do I have to go to Confession for saying “thug”?
    Other than that I agree with all the comments above.

  11. Elizabeth M. says:

    I gave up listening to the the USCCB after their issuing of Always Our Children. Now for racism and feelings of guilt for being white I definitely will not listen to them. I treat all people with respect as children of God. As for The Talk that black parents give their children we too gave our children The talk. We told them to treat the police with respect and if you are told to move you move. If you noticed most of the incidents with black youngsters occurred when the young people started arguing with the police. If you have a problem with the police take care of it later don’t get into a confrontation.
    From what I see the USCCB is just an arm of the Democratic party.

  12. helen wheels says:

    bless me Father, for i am white.

  13. Michael McDermott says:

    The ‘Always Treat (them / they) Like Children’ pogrom has proven deeply destructive to American Culture & Government, as was intended from the outset
    Rather than go through the tedious hard labor of building foundations and sturdy (earthquake proof) structures atop them, it is so much easier for the GILBERT Gaystapo to produce ‘Potemkin Villages’ (empty facades like movie sets) and fill them with PC platitudes.
    That way – when the kultural wind shifts, they can pivot like a weather vane to whatever political pretense feels the most comfortable – and lucrative, given that they still feed off of the same congregations they despise.

  14. Michael McDermott says:

    Talk about smarmy ‘Virtue Signaling & Shaming’ – Not.
    Gosh, does this whole List need to be recited when rolled on one’s back – in order to better to soil as much of the whole cloth as possible?
    “Have I ever seen someone on the street and made a judgement based on how they dress, how their hair is styled, how they walk, how they speak?”

  15. One time I had to pull over, stop my car and check to see if the trunk was closed. It was near a city overpass. No one was on the street except an Asian woman and her child coming my way. She immediately took her child and crossed the street. As a woman I realized she was afraid of an abduction since she had no idea who I was. I did not fault her as I would have done the same thing myself. Sometimes #7 is just common sense. If the street is clear of other people and a tough looking man comes my way, I take precautions no matter his color, race or religion.

  16. Don Guillermo says:

    Love of God and love of neighbor together with the 10 commandments are sufficient. The USCCB’s “Racial Examination of Conscience” wittingly or unwittingly aids and abets the “anti-gospel” to which the future Pope Saint. John Paul II referred during a visit to the United States while he was still a cardinal. It is yet another sad case of the false righteousness that the unrighteous are so apt to wear as a mask. No, they are not the Good Samaritan. Jesus says to them what He said to their ancestors, the Pharisees: “Ye hypocrites!”

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