Both the bishop of Spokane and the leader of a Washington state Catholic Charities organization have spoken out about a controversial video in which the charity leader said that he, his organization, and the Catholic Church are racist, and that the Catholic Church is premised on the idea that Jesus Christ was white.
“I am a racist. That’s the hard truth. I am a racist. How could I not be? As a white person living in America, where every institution is geared to advantage people who look like me, it’s seemingly impossible for me to be anything other than a racist,” Rob McCann, CEO of Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington, said in a video posted to YouTube June 19.
“My Catholic Church, and my Catholic Charities organization, is racist. How could they not be? Our Catholic faith tradition is built on the premise that a baby, born in a manger, in the Middle East, was a white baby. So how can we be surprised to know that we must still fight against racism,” McCann added in the video.
Jesus Christ was a Jewish man, born to Jewish parents in the Middle East, centuries before contemporary categories of racial identification emerged amid European colonization in various parts of the world. The Catholic Church teaches that the Jewish and Israelite identity of Jesus are central aspects to his role in salvation.
McCann’s video said that “the Catholic Church in America has its own long, terrible history of owning slaves, staying silent about others who did the same, and being part of the institutionalization of racism.”
The CEO said that Catholic Charities has been “unknowingly part of the institutionalization of racism,” because its board and staff is primarily composed of white people, while those it serves are “disproportionately people of color.”
The video garnered national attention after its release. McCann is also vice chair of Catholic Charities USA, the umbrella organization for Catholic Charities organizations in dioceses across the country.
On July 5, McCann posted a set of “clarifications” on the website of Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington.
In his clarifications, McCann wrote that in his video, “instead of engaging in a discussion about race, I spoke in a way that some heard as a critical rant against the Church. For that, I am deeply and truly sorry.”
He noted that by identifying himself as a racist, he meant: “I realize that due to my upbringing and my membership in the majority race in this country, I certainly have areas of both known and unknown bias in my heart that I need to work on, and that in my lifetime I have struggled with those biases in ways that are so subtle I may not have fully realized them.”
“As an individual with white privilege, I certainly have had moments where I could and should have done more to be actively anti-racist. I am not saying that all white people are racists or that all Catholics are racist. I am acknowledging that I need to deeply evaluate my own sin in this area every single day and that I hope others will do the same.”
On his charge that the Catholic Church and Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington are racist organizations, “what I intended to convey is that my experience of my own flawed faith life and my experience inside human organizations, lead me to know that there are areas of both known and unknown bias, as well as areas of historical mis-steps that should be acknowledged in order to be a positive force for change.”
McCann’s clarifications addressed his charge that Catholicism is premised on the notion that Jesus Christ was white.
“My description of our Catholic faith tradition being built on the premise that a baby born in a manger in the Middle East was a white baby has also caused pain, and here I must admit I misspoke and was wrong to say it that way,” McCann wrote.
McCann said that after the video’s released, his pastor had reminded him “that in other parts of the world, and in some places in the U.S., artistic and pictorial representations of Jesus are in the images and likenesses of the local culture. Jesus, and the entire Holy Family, are consistently, artistically, beautifully represented as members of every race and culture around the globe where there are Catholic churches,” he wrote.
The letter came after a meeting between McCann and Spokane’s Bishop Thomas Daly.
In a July 5 statement, Daly said of that meeting that “our conversation was candid and frank – and hopefully productive.”
In response to the controversy, in the diocese of Spokane “the Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Collection will either be replaced by or taken in conjunction with the Black and Indian Missions Collection,” Daly said, adding that Catholic Charities will be asked “to sponsor a series of speakers, approved by me, to address the subject of Church and Race.”
The organization will also “address the issue of abortion and its detrimental effects on the Black community. In places such as New York City, more Black babies are aborted each day than are born. As Catholics, we believe in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death,” the bishop added.
While McCann’s “letter answers some of my concerns, others remain. His support of the Black Lives Matter organization (BLM), albeit now modified, puzzles me. BLM is in conflict with Church teaching regarding marriage, family and the sanctity of life. Moreover, it is disturbing that BLM has not vocally condemned the recent violence that has torn apart so many cities. Its silence has not gone unheard. One need not stand with BLM to stand for Black lives. I will address this and other issues with Dr. McCann in future meetings,” Daly said…
The above comes from a July 6 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.
Mr. McCann appears to be inflicted with a spiritual defect known as scrupulosity. A good confessor should be able to help him with this defect.
“I’m a racist. You’re a racist. Everyone’s a racist.”
Maybe Mr. Cann is a racist. Shouldn’t we give him the benefit of the doubt that he knows himself better than we do?
Or, he has taken the concept of Catholic (false) guilt to new heights (or depths)!
Tragically, such overuse of the term makes it commonplace, too easily dismissed and will likely minimize the tragedy of real, serious racial injustice.
Rob the Racist – and that is what he is known for internationally now – can speak for himself only.
We have icons, pictures and crucifixes in our house of Jesus that are white, tan, dark brown, silver and bronze. I do not know where Rob has been all his life, but the Christians from Bethlehem sell crucifixes made from olive wood where the corpus is a mixture of tan and dark brown, and often sell them right here in the United States. I also have a folding icon of Jesus, Mary and St. John the Baptist who are brown, too, which I got at a sale on the grounds of a hospital.
I do believe, though, that the Shroud of Turin is the original shroud of the Lord Jesus Christ. How light or dark the Lord’s skin is on the shroud I do not know, but his hair does appear rather dark. That is not important, nevertheless, as the resurrected Lord can appear any color He wants and has to many people over the ages, in order for them to relate better with him I suppose.
I suspect many donors pulled their funding. Nothing will sober up a panderer faster than a loss of income. Avarice is a stronger vice than vanity.
The Catholic Church is racist…that would be funny if it weren’t so pitiful a statement…But Rob McCann is correct about his own catholic racism in that he is apparently unaware that there are far more Catholics with brown skin world wide than there are with light skin. I think that’s what you call ‘progressive exceptionalism’.
With a racist here and a racist there,
Here a racist, there a racist,
Everywhere a racist,
Old McCann had Catholic Charities, E-I-E-I-O!
“…every institution is geared to advantage people who look like me…” This idiot never heard of the National Basketball Association or the National Football League. Fact is, in this country, if you can do it better than the guy you’re competing with, you’ve got the job.
Robert McCann’s bio on LinkedIn states he graduated from Delbarton School (high school, current annual tuition $39,000). BA from Fairfield University, MA and PhD in “Leadership” from Gonzaga University. Both colleges are Jesuit.
My guess would be that the last book he has read is either “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo or “How to be Anti-Racist” by Ibrahim X Kendi.
The best book on this subject I believe is “White Guilt” by Steele. Collective race guilt always had proven disasterous.
Maybe Mr. McCann is sexist too, since he went to an all-male Benedictine school before the Jesuits got to him. Three degrees from Jesuit schools. Give him a break, he probably was formed by theological giants like James Martin SJ, Jon Sobrino SJ and John J. McNeill SJ. Maybe he mistakenly self-diagnosed his “white privilege” and suffers from “affluent liberal privilege.” If he has children, are they racists too?
Maybe he’s in contention for the new 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. His jersey says Race Penitent and he is in contention for both virtue signaling and race baiting.
As some have pointed out, Catholic Charities Spokane’s tax forms indicate that Rob the Racist is making over $150K a year living in a region of the country known for its modest incomes, and that seven other members of their Catholic Charities’ board are making over $100k per year for their work. So, yes, I would agree that Rob the Racist is privileged, but not because of his white skin. Better to give your charity money directly to groups than to funnel it through this top-heavy organization.
Additionally, Rob the Racist is certainly a polarizing and, to some, an offensive figure, and not one that is going to convince people to donate to the needy. I would advise Bishop Daly to replace him. Perhaps laboring day-to-day with his hands in a low paying job common in the region would give him the opportunity to do penance for his sins.
Carol, good information, However, as a separate organization, Catholic Charities is not part of the Diocese of Spokane. And, although Bishop Daly is a board member, he is not the chairperson. If people stopped giving, that might move the board to deal with Racist Rob. The median total household income in Spokane is $45K per year. It’s easy to virtue signal and push socialism when you can afford to do so. I’ve known too many social justice warriors who drive foreign luxury cars and criticize middle and working class Americans for not caring enough about the poor. And, I bet many of them give a higher percentage of their income to charity than does Racist Rob.
Carol has an excellent suggestion. The eastern two thirds of Washington State has many farms and orchards looking for hard working, dependable and enthusiastic employees to harvest their grapes, hops, apples, peaches and onions. Mr. McCann would be able to demonstrate in a tangible way public solidarity with his fellow humbly paid employees.
His doctorate in “Leadership” from Gonzaga University surely taught him that leading by example is essential.