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The Catholic Church shut its doors on Black Americans. But we can still be made new.

Chris Smith, S.J., is one of a small number of Black Jesuits in formation in the United States. He comes from a multi-racial family and recently wrote an article for America about the reaction his white grandmother had to his mother’s marriage to a Black man.

Chris joins “The Gloria Purvis Podcast” to talk about his family’s legacy of love, racism, reconciliation and healing. Chris also discusses with Gloria how the Catholic Church actively shut the doors on African Americans in the United States and how this can be traced in his own paternal family line.

Although he has witnessed plenty of generational racism, Chris testifies to the goodness of people, even when you can’t see it: He has witnessed it in his own family and among the mostly older, white Catholics who welcomed him as a child into the faith. And it is what leads him to the conviction that, as he says, “God can change any heart with love” and that we, the faithful, have to “let people be new,” to evolve, on their spiritual journeys.

Chris Smith, S.J., joins “The Gloria Purvis Podcast” to talk about his family’s legacy of love, racism, reconciliation and healing.

Looking for a spiritual practice to help you see people anew? Chris says that you have to step out of your comfort zone. He regularly attends Mass at a Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish, although it bears little familiarity to his own inculturated celebration of the faith. It is there that he is challenged to appreciate the variety in the church and the possibility for us all to see things differently.

“If you are a liberal person and you can’t stand traditional people on the internet, ‘go to a traditional parish,’” Chris says. “You’re going to find saints there.”

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