A Litany Against Racism in America

Author’s note: I am only one person, and one who has never felt the sting of being on the receiving end of racial hatred. But current world events and rifts within the Catholic subculture of which I am a part compel me to denounce what the U.S. Bishops, speaking in 1979, referred to as “the sin of racism [which] defiles the image of God and degrades the sacred dignity of humankind which has been revealed by the mystery of the Incarnation. Let all know that it is a terrible sin that mocks the cross of Christ and ridicules the Incarnation.”

This litany is modeled after the Litany of the Saints. It includes the Patroness of the Americas, who chose to reveal herself as a woman of color, as well as several holy American men and women who have endured racism and/or battled it in their time. It is by no means exhaustive. Each intercessor is accompanied by a quote in his or her own words, where available. Each is also accompanied with a descriptor that is drawn from what he or she achieved or how they were labeled by others in life or in death. I’ve chosen to retain the words “Negro” and “Colored” in two of these cases to make an authentic illustration of the worldview and time periods in which these holy people lived.

The third and fourth sections of this litany borrow from sources much wiser than I, namely the Catechism (beginning at 1928, but especially 1943-1948) and select of the Church’s quotes about racial issues, as found here. This borrowing is not out of any desire to plagiarize or make another’s words seem like my own, but to defer to authority and solidify that being a true son or daughter of the Church is not compatible with racism in any of its forms.


Lord, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.                                                                       

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.

God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

 Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

 Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Morenita, Patroness of the Americas, pray for us.

“No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?”

“Am I not here, I who am your mother?”

Saint Katharine Drexel, Foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us.

­­“Have a cordial respect for others in heart and mind; if there is any prejudice in the mind we must uproot it, or it will tear us down.”

Venerable Pierre and Servant of God Juliette Toussaint, Philanthropists, pray for us.

“Dieu avec moi.”

“God is with me.”

Venerable Henriette DeLille, Foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family, pray for us.

 “Je crois en Dieu. J’espère en Dieu. J’aime. Je v[eux] vivre et mourir pour Dieu.”

 “I believe in God. I hope in God. I love. I want to live and die for God.”

Venerable Felix Varela y Morales, “True Father of Cuban Culture,” pray for us.

“La libertad y la religión tienen un mismo origen, y jamás se contrarían porque no puede haber contrariedad en su autor.”

“Liberty and religion have the same origin, and they can never contradict each other because their author cannot be in opposition.”

Venerable Rafael Cordero y Molina, Father of Public Education in Puerto Rico, pray for us.

 “No escribo nada en esta vida, porque no quiero recorder hoy el bien que hice ayer. Mis deseos son que la noche borre las obras meritorias que he podido hacer durante el dia.”

 “I write nothing in this life, because I do not wish to recall today the good I did yesterday. My wish is that the night erase the good deeds that I have been able to do during the day.”

Venerable Alphonse Gallegos, Bishop of the Barrio, Chaplain of the Low Riders, pray for us.

“Love One Another”

Servant of God Black Elk, Medicine Man and Catechist, pray for us.

 “There can never be peace between nations until there is first known that true peace which is within the souls of men.”

Servant of God Augustus Tolton, First Black Priest in the United States, pray for us.

“The Catholic Church deplores a double slavery – that of the mind and that of the body.  She endeavors to free us of both..”

Servant of God Thea Bowman, Minister of Joy, pray for us.

 “What does it mean to be black and Catholic? It means that I bring myself, my black self. All that I am. All that I have.”

Servant of God Mary Lange, Foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, pray for us.

 “I am ready to do all for the love of Jesus Christ my Redeemer!”

Servant of God Julia Greeley, Angel of Charity, pray for us.

Servant of God Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker, pray for us.

 “We believe in loving our brothers regardless of race, color or creed and we believe in showing this love by working for better conditions immediately and the ultimate owning by the workers of their means of production. 

Servant of God Bernard J. Quinn, Champion of “Negro” Rights, pray for us.

 “I love you, I am proud of every one of you and I would willingly shed to the last drop of my life’s blood for the least among you.”

Servant of God Stephen Eckert, Apostle and Champion of the “Colored” Race, pray for us.

 “Blacks are our brethren, for in common with us, they have the same Father who is in Heaven.”

 Great multitude from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, pray for us.

Oh God, who shows no partiality, ,save our nation.

 Oh Christ, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, save our nation.

From the sin of individual racism, Good Lord, deliver us

From the evil of racial supremacism, Good Lord, deliver us.

From the scandal of institutional racism, Good Lord, deliver us.

From the horrors of slavery, Good Lord, deliver us.

 From the shamefulness of segregation, Good Lord, deliver us.

 From the wickedness of economic oppression, Good Lord, deliver us.

 From the immorality of unjust discrimination, Good Lord, deliver us.

 From the “curse of ignorance”, Good Lord, deliver us.

 From the “prison of fear and prejudice”,  Good Lord, deliver us.

 From the iniquity of indifference, Good Lord, deliver us.

From the “nostalgia for privilege”, Good Lord, deliver us.

 That we might respect the dignity of each human person , Lord, hear our prayer.

 That we might respect each person’s fundamental rights, Lord, hear our prayer.

 That we might recognize the equality of all people before God, Lord, hear our prayer.

 That we might recognize God’s plan for us to need each other, Lord, hear our prayer.

That we might love the diversity of God’s people, Lord, hear our prayer.

That we might work to eliminate sinful inequality, Lord, hear our prayer.

That we might practice Christian solidarity, Lord, hear our prayer.

For true social justice, Lord, hear our prayer.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord!

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord!

 Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.





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