Praying Together for Racial Justice

Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Racial Justice, focuses on ‘Praying Together’ for racial justice in this reflection.

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On 5 February, the Catholic Church in England and Wales celebrates Racial Justice Sunday. It’s the day the Church focuses on the need to oppose racism and pursue racial justice with renewed vigour.

The theme for 2023 is “All are included in the mission of Christ and His Church. Let us walk together, pray together and work together”

This reflection, from Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Racial Justice, focuses on ‘Praying Together’ for racial justice.


I’m Bishop Paul McAleenan, an Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster Diocese. One of my responsibilities for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is Racial Justice. We have a Racial Justice Sunday each year. Though, when speaking of this day, it is important to keep something in mind. Just as Easter Sunday is not for that day only but the theme of Resurrection overflows into the weeks which follow, so Racial Justice Sunday is not for one day only but intended to a be an annual reinvigoration of our desire and resolve to pursue and promote racial justice in our Church communities and in daily encounters.

The theme chosen for Racial Justice Sunday 2023 is, ‘All are included in the mission of Christ and His Church. Let us walk , pray and work together’ Others will speak about working and walking together. I would like to say some words about praying together.

St Augustine of Hippo once remarked, ‘We should pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon us’. An observation which reminds us that our prayer and work complement each other. When applied to racial justice what else but walking together, in the full meaning of those words, can be the result. So we should pray fervently for racial justice.

To pray together we have to be together. How sad it is when one chooses a particular church to worship in in order to avoid those of other races.  How pleasing to see parishioners of all races and nationalities freely assemble together to pray for the needs of the Church, the world and their own needs.

It is essential that we advocate and actively work for racial justice. It is also necessary to pray for that cause. Some may even  consider establishing a prayer group precisely to pray with others for racial justice in their own community and throughout the world. Just as parishes have different  groups and association there is also room for those who wish to commit themselves to pray for racial justice. Having people of different races come together to pray and to reflect on scripture passages which assert the truth that we are all equal would give excellent example to a wider community.

In the Book of Revelation the Apostle John writes of a vision he has of heaven using the words, ‘I saw a huge number of people impossible to count from every nation, race, tribe and language’.  That vision which John had of countless people from every race all together singing in unison is something we should keep in mind on Racial Justice Sunday and throughout 2023 when pray those words that Jesus gave us, ‘Thy will be done on earth – as it is in heaven.