Parish praised for work against racism


The Catholic Church has a “crucial role to play” in speaking out against racism and promoting racial inclusion, a prominent British Catholic says.

“Racism is a sin and has no place in our world. As followers of Christ, it is our duty to welcome all people, regardless of race or background, into our Church and show them there is a place for them” said Canon Victor Darlington.

Darlington is the chair of the Archdiocese of Southark’s Commission for Promoting Racial and Cultural Inclusion, which governs the London boroughs south of the River Thames.

It is the first Catholic diocese in England and Wales to establish such a Commission.

Welcoming diversity

One parish in particular “leads the way” in the archdiocese as to how it promotes racial and cultural inclusion.

The pastor of that parish (St. Margaret of Scotland) is Father Anthony Uche, originally from Nigeria.

Uche (pictured greeting a young parishioner) has established a Racial and Cultural Inclusion group in the community, saying “the face of the Church must be seen in all we do”.

The parish’s efforts to extend an inclusive welcome to all has seen a change in the imagery chosen to decorate the church. These include images and statues of saints from different cultural and racial backgrounds. There are several of the Virgin Mary from different parts of the world.

Darlington said that’s why the work of St Margaret’s Parish is so important – “because when people go to a parish, they should not only see white images but also people who look like them.

“Jesus loves us all and we in turn must love and welcome all” the priest said.

Diversity in the parish is increasing, says Uche. The impact has been extraordinary, with a previously predominantly white parish now including others from various cultures.

“You know how it can feel busy in London but we always feel at home and okay here. We are welcome to Mass, we are welcome to the church and the parish” a parishioner says

The parish’s welcome is a welcome influence on his family which includes six children.

As his wife says “… the impact of the parish on each of them makes a huge difference in the community and we hope that can impact their friends”.

Equality includes all

A member of St Margaret’s Racial and Cultural Diversity group says racial equality means fairness to everybody regardless of what race they’re from.

“When you think of what we’re meant to be as Christians, we’re called to love everybody, regardless of race.”

Another parishioner – also a group member – says promoting racial and cultural diversity does not happen by accident.

“It needs a group which looks systemically at all the worship, the activities, the different ministries in the parish and making sure we’re promoting racial and cultural diversity across everything we do.

“We have to show God loves everyone equally – in our activities and in our worship. If we don’t show that, we are failing” he adds.


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