USA    ILLINOIS BISHOPS TACKLE RACISM
Racism may be a tangled, deep-rooted sin sprouting in many directions at once, but fighting it is not that complicated, according to the bishops of Illinois in the US.
   Don't tell racist jokes. Get to know a person of a different race. Teach children to open their hearts. Pray.
   On the eve of the anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, the 14 Catholic bishops of Illinois issued their first-ever pastoral letter on Monday, urging Catholics to battle racism in their churches and in their homes.
   The broadly worded, seven-page document offers no easy solutions or new programs. But along with recent initiatives promoting fair housing and parish-level interracial dialogue, the document is part of a campaign to jostle a sometimes complacent local church, a generation after the civil rights movement lost its momentum.
   Chicago's Cardinal Francis George said that Catholics should not settle for mere tolerance among the races. "Is there a sense of enthusiasm, not just tolerance . . . to welcome people of different races into our homes, our parishes, our neighbourhoods, our institutions?" he asked. "We would be open to the immense richness of every race, of all people. We would be free people," he said. "We're not free people now. We're all enslaved by racism."
   In addition to opposing racism in their own behaviour, Catholics were called upon to avoid investing in companies that "practice racist policies," vote for public officials committed to racial justice and scrutinise media coverage of violent crime for racial biases.
   
Chicago Tribune
6/4/00

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