Catholicism Demands That “Black Lives Matter!”

  • Matt Harper Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere - LA White People 4 Black Lives
Keywords: Catholicism, Black Lives Matter, White privilege, Exodus, Tradition, Tactics


The historical role that the Catholic Church has played in oppressing many different groups is clear: for example, the oppression of women, children, LGBTQ people, and people of Color. Equally clear is the choice many churches and congregants make today to remain silent and inert when it comes to prioritizing the dignity of all marginalized populations, even those sitting beside them in the pews. Specifically, the White, Catholic community of faith is significantly absent in the work to challenge institutions that oppose the liberation of Black communities. However, this reality is inconsistent with the most faithful demands of Catholic scripture and tradition. From the Old Testament to Jesus of Nazareth and his apostles to Pope Francis, one core principle of Catholicism is the priority God places on the lives and dignity of the most oppressed. By exploring the compendium of Catholicism, White Catholics can find an appropriate framework for considering how to engage the work for racial justice. Additionally, those of White identity have a unique responsibility to explore the realities of their racial identity. By taking intentional action and heeding the call that so many others before them have taken up, they can find that it is very much in the lexicon of God to loudly proclaim the Gospel truth, “Black lives matter!” This is a personal self-reflection, and I envision the primary audience for this article to be privileged White Catholics who impose their social and political beliefs about the Black Lives Matter movement on their faith. The aim is to provide pushback to those who would argue that this social movement, along with others, is contrary to the Catholic faith and hopefully serve as a call to embolden them to action.  

Note: UDP is a platform for voices to be heard. Therefore, this is a personal, self-reflection article for a specific population, and is not a reflection of the beliefs of UDP.

Author Biography

Matt Harper, Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere - LA White People 4 Black Lives

After being activated in college, author Matt Harper got heavily involved with multicultural work on campus. Following graduation, he moved to Belize where he coordinated the rehabilitation programs in the youth facility of a Central American prison before returning home to Los Angeles to teach middle school students. Since returning home, he has been active in the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere-LA and, most recently, with White People for Black Lives (the local Showing Up for Racial Justice chapter). His activism and organizing has led him to join the Los Angeles Catholic Worker community, which both operates a soup kitchen on Skid Row and actively challenges state violence and oppression.

How to Cite
Harper, M. (2017). Catholicism Demands That “Black Lives Matter!”. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 7(1), 53-65. Retrieved from
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