In the last decades, characterized by the phenomenon of globalization and marked by the worrying resurgence of aggressive nationalism, ethnic violence and widespread phenomena of racial discrimination, human dignity has often been seriously threatened. Every upright conscience cannot but decisively condemn any racism, no matter in what heart or place it is found.
Unfortunately it emerges in ever new and unexpected ways, offending and degrading the human family. Racism is a sin that constitutes a serious offence against God. The Second Vatican Council reminds us that “We cannot truly pray to God the Father of all if we treat any people in other than brotherly fashion, for all men are created in the image of God…. Therefore, the Church reproves, as foreign to the will of Christ, any discrimination against people or any persecution of them on the basis of their race, color, social condition or religion.” (Nostra aetate, n. 5)
To oppose racism we must practice the culture of reciprocal acceptance, recognizing in every man and woman a brother or sister with whom we walk in solidarity and peace. There is need for a vast work of education to the values that exalt the dignity of the human person and safeguard his fundamental rights. The Church intends to continue her efforts in this area and asks all believers to make their own responsible contribution of conversion of heart, sensitization and formation. First of all, prayer is necessary to achieve this.
Particularly, let us invoke Our Lady, so that everywhere the culture of dialogue, of acceptance, and of respect for every human being may be advanced. To her we entrust the coming Conference of Durban which we hope will reinforce the common will to build a freer and more solidary society. – from his Angelus message, August 26, 2001