By John Duffy, Commission member

At the start of 2021, the J&P Commission became aware, through articles in both the
Catholic and national press, that a significant number of Black British Catholics experience
racism in their parish communities: ranging from misunderstandings and stereotyping to
distancing and discrimination.

We needed to engage with this issue.
Our aims were:

  •  to hear the experiences of black Catholics and give their voice a permanent place
  •  to make J&P genuinely inclusive
  •  to ensure that we do not pay lip service to anti racism
  •  to spread awareness and inclusivity through the diocese
  •  to learn from other diocesan experiences
  •  to influence diocesan policy
  •  to spread the word that everyone in our church should feel safe, seen, heard and respected.

We started conversations with involved Black Catholics in the diocese to agree and
support an agenda and platform because we were told that you need your own space to
talk to one another before you talk to the wider church.

The Racial Awareness group met online for 6 months of listening workshops, facilitated by
Graham Brownlee of Leeds Citizens, and they met with the rest of the J&P Commission
(by ZOOM) in early September. We were pleased to be together at last, to hear the
group’s findings and to look to the future, with the Racial Justice group now being a
permanent and effective part of the Justice and Peace Commission.

If we are failing to be an inclusive church, if people from minority groups feel side-lined,
excluded or encounter prejudice, then, as one of our members said, the Body of Christ is not being expressed well.

The next step to support the group and build networks, is to have a conversation with
CARJ (The Catholic Association for Racial Justice), who have given good support and guidance when this initiative was being planned. The Racial Justice Awareness Group will be continuing its work over the coming months to bring proposals for practical actions and initiatives to be taken in the diocese. These will be clarified in the near future.


The group would welcome more people of colour from across the Diocese to join them in their reflections.

If you are interested then please just email

and we will get in touch with the details of the next meeting.