A society of fear and a society of discrimination and exclusion, as well as a xenophobic society … all of these feed off of one another. As we prepare to celebrate the International Day for the elimination of racial discrimination (March 21st), we are very aware of the 50 victims of New Zealand massacre (an event that occurred just one week ago). That massacre, like so many others, was rooted in racial supremacy and the hatred of racial, religious and cultural minorities.
Today, despite the efforts of the international community, we are quite aware of the fact that we have not been able to achieve the objectives of the struggles of recent decades against racism and racial discrimination. Furthermore, today countless human beings continue to be victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and many other forms of nationalism, populism and fanaticism.
As members of the Vincentian Family, we know that in our society there are those who disseminate the idea that peaceful coexistence among varied and diverse groups of people is impossible. In fact, there are those who promote the vision of a racial, cultural, and national separation of humankind as a condition for a sustainable peace. Others affirm that racial conflict and tension are the direct result of human mobility and are therefore, opposed to every form of migration. We believe, however, that essentially the human house is diverse by its very nature and we embrace the challenge of diversity as a gift and as the only means for sustainable and peaceful human coexistence. We believe that migration is a human right and that illegal immigration is a direct result of globalization and world economic (dis)order. In the name of our charism, we vehemently reject every form of racism and discrimination!
The United Nations promotes this celebration on March 21 with the intention of mitigating and countering the rising of nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies. In our societies we have witnessed the growth of racist extremist movements based on ideologies that seek to promote populist, nationalist agendas are spreading in various parts of the world, fueling racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, often targeting migrants and refugees as well as people of African descent (see, http://www.un.org/en/events/racialdiscriminationday/).
The principle on which this desire and this search for the elimination of racism is based is at the very heart of the Church’s Social Doctrine and is also expressed in the United Nations Objectives for Sustainable Development. In that document we find a reaffirmation of the reality that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights and have the ability to contribute in a constructive manner to the development and the well-being of society. Furthermore, the same document emphasized that any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races.
Today we are greatly concerned about the growth of nationalist and populist movements that threaten the fundamental human rights principle of equality. In our work with those who are poor we condemn all cultural, social, religious and political practices that promote social exclusion and social repression … practices that harm individuals or groups because of their racial, ethnic national or religious origins. Today our option for the poor is an option for those who are the victims of injustice.
As Vincentians, our ministry and pastoral action should include encouraging all nations to sign and ratify those international agreements concerning human rights and should also encourage nations to adhere to those agreements since ultimately, they will lead to the establishment of a new vision for human society in the twenty-first century.
In this new vision we must reaffirm the fact that cultural diversity is an essential element for the progress of the human person and therefore should be valued, enjoyed, and accepted as a permanent characteristic that enriches our society. Therefore, in light of this there can be no situation in which racial discrimination, genocide and any form of slavery would be permitted.
By vocation, we, as members of the worldwide Vincentian Family, walk with those men and women who are poor … we listen to their hopes (including their hope to live in peace, to live as free men and women, to participate in the decisions of their community). Let us, then, make an option to engage in the struggle against racial discrimination (beginning with those forms of discrimination that are hidden in our own very heart)!
By: Guillermo Campuzano, CM
Office of the Congregation of the Mission
at the United Nations
Charles T. Plock, CM
Eastern Province, USA