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Fr. Josh Johnson: In my priesthood, I've never seen such openness from Catholics on racism

Fr. Josh Johnson, a Catholic priest in Louisiana says he "was born for a time like this." His father is a Protestant, African-American policeman, while his mother is a white, Catholic nurse. Still, he asserts he too has experienced mistreatment by cops, while understanding that not all police abuse their power.

After the death of George Floyd sparked protests across the United States, he is happy to say he's also seen a boom in the willingness of Catholics to listen and educate themselves on bridging the gap between races.

Priest and advocate against racism
“Since George Floyd's death, so many people have been open to hearing. They've been open to listening and learning something new about how they can be used by God to be part of the solution, which I've never experienced in my priesthood. Which has been so beautiful for me to be able to work with people from all over the nation: priests, bishops, religious and laity from all around the nation, who are interested in learning more about how we can be used by God to bring about healing.”

He asserts this evil of racism is combatted by future saints who are rising up to the challenge and going outside their comfort zone. 

Fr. Josh says there are ways Catholics can actively defend the entire Body of Christ, which includes everyone.   

Priest and advocate against racism
“We need to first and foremost pray, then fast. Fast from our resource that we normally listen to, and then fast from speaking, so that when we have our Bible studies with our brothers and sisters who are different from us, we can actually listen to them and hear them.”

He explained that through listening, trust is built, dividing walls are shattered, and healing begins. Fr. Josh is proud to say he has felt supported by some in the Church, but not all Catholics are as eager to have racial unity in the Body of Christ. 

Priest and advocate against racism
“I've heard that message from some people who wear the collar. I've heard that message from some Catholics who go to daily Mass. 'Things are so much better today, Fr. Josh. So why don't you just settle for mediocrity?' I'm like, 'No! Because God has called us for greatness.”

Only having been a priest for six years, he asserts racism is one theme he has and will continue speaking about, until it is eliminated for good. 

Melissa Butz