Reconciling "Wokeness" & The Church


OK, that makes sense now that you have explained it as “awareness”.


I just can’t…sorry. I have to leave this whole “woke” thing.


isn’t wokeness then, another form of racism. hey we whitefellas are aware and understand what you blackfellas experience. And yes I can use those terms because they are australian white and black vernacular, before anyone gets upset .
isn’t it just virtue signalling


OK, now let’s try to address your actual question, which is very broad. You raise two issues:

  1. history of colonialism (a super broad topic in and of itself)


  1. depictions of Jesus, Mary etc in art

The art one is easy. There are representations of Jesus, Mary etc in all races and colors. I like looking at different depictions of them.

For example, here is an entire page with so many pictures of African Jesus

One of my favorites is this Superhero Jesus which reminds me of my 70s childhood, big time

The “Family Rosary” Fr. Peyton videos start out (from about 0:52 to 1:55 in the video) with a bunch of depictions of Mary and Jesus in art, all different races and nationalities.

Jesus and Mary over time have usually been depicted by artists as looking like whatever nationality the artist is. Starting in the 60s and 70s one began to see a lot of multi-cultural art, so there were always images around of Jesus and Mary looking like different races. So I never saw Jesus or Mary as particularly white.


Now turning to your second point, history of colonialism:

Like I said that is a huge topic that we could dwell on for days.

First of all, we need to put colonialism in the social context of the reality of the persons doing it. This was lesson 1 when I took history: that people in the past often did things that would be socially unacceptable today, but in their era, with the beliefs prevalent at that time, their behavior was often (not always) reasonable.

There were many different forces pushing colonialism. To the extent the Church was going along with it, it was often out of a belief that it was necessary to Christianize people in order to save their souls from Hell, so they thought they were doing these folks a favor by bringing them to Jesus. And indeed, we have some saints and people on the path to sainthood, like Saint Kateri Tekawitha and Servant of God Nicholas Black Elk.

In a number of cases the Catholic missionaries were actually more friendly to the culture/ dignity of the indigenous persons than some of the other forces looking to colonize them (often it was a case of “going to get colonized by someone, no avoiding it”) and the Catholics helped greatly to preserve some of the indigenous culture that otherwise would have been completely destroyed. I believe this is the case with St. Junipero Serra.

Obviously not every missionary or Catholic dealing with indigenous peoples was a saint, and some of them did not treat people with the dignity they should have. People, including Catholics and including missionaries, can sin and can act with insensitivity to others. However, the number of Catholic missionaries who ended up dying gruesome deaths at the hands of indigenous peoples shows that insensitivity works both ways. I am glad we have all reached a better understanding of each other today so we can avoid such torturous events. I also note that we have had some great saints who worked with minorities, such as St. Katherine Drexel and St. Damien of Molokai.

With respect to Columbus, he was a layperson and a political operative, so I don’t consider him a representative of the Church. It’s my understanding that the Knights of Columbus took his name because at the time Columbus was widely revered by American Protestant businessmen, so using his name made a society composed primarily of recent immigrant Catholics more acceptable to these Protestants who were in charge and who were often biased against Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Italy and other European countries. Viewed by today’s standards, Columbus did a lot of questionable or even bad things, but he also did some good things, and when you put his actions in the social context of what was going on at the time, they are more understandable.


Christopher Columbus helped to bring Christianity to America, among his other accomplishments. He may even be blessed with the beatific vision.

Saint Christopher Columbus?


Now that’s going a little far. Columbus will never be a canonized saint. Ever. Not even close.

He may of course be in Heaven though we have no way of knowing; I would imagine he would spend purgatory time first, although again I have no way of knowing for sure.


ok I did some reading about wokeness. one of its biggest criticisms is that it is a viewing, a watching. It is not a doing. It stagnates the person who claims they are wokeness. It stagnates the issue, stagnates any action.

we saw , we agree. thats it. NYT had a good article on its down side.

so the church is a living church, Our understanding of Scripture and Jesus grows over time and centuries, and we, as catholics, take action through it.
so what did Jesus , in His public ministry do. He overturned accepted status quo, He put the last first and first last . How did this manifest in action? Jesus ministered in the small towns , the rural areas, the tiny places, where people were poor, marginalised, fringe dwellers of society. Jesus had a table fellowship that included everyone. He ate with sinners. This was a complete reversal of what the Jewish thought acceptable.

so as a Catholic, wokeness needs to be converted to action. Its not enough just to look and see.

As far as art goes, you aren’t looking in the right places. your wokeness is not leading you to search the Jewish Jesus. The meditteranean first century Palestinian Jew. The apostles and disciples who established churches in those early days. Rome, as the colonists of the day, built amazing roads all round their empires. This meant easy and active migration and travel throughout the Roman empire. And a true melting pot in the Christian and Pagan world. The Jewish were not so accepting of marrying outside their own .


When you say “aware”, do you mean you’ve actually read a book such as ths one, for instance?


I would never say never. If his cult develops, he may be recognized. The cults of some Saints develop very slowly, over centuries. It is God’s time.


i was just reading about the existing slave trade in Thailand and Indonesia, in the fishing industry. The slave trade is alive and well. I have no idea how those countries allow it, and how the fishing industry gets away with it.
Don’t buy fish caught in those waters. They are caught and processed by slaves


Cardinal Arinze doesn’t seem to have an “issue” with the representation of the Holy Family as caucasians. Do you think he ought to? Was it very wrong of him to allow his publisher to put this illustration on the cover of his book?


Um, no, that’s not it at all.


I think that’s a bit harsh of a definition, although maybe not too far from the mark.
To me, woke means “unwilling to accept what The Man tells me is true without first questioning it,” but from a biased standpoint that The Man is wrong.

It’s probably not far from “Check your privilege.”

TBH, @Mr_Kooper_513 seems to have a lot of patience, in light of some of the replies .


i think it is , if there is no action and it leads to stagnation on issues. we see but do not do.


As a contribution to the ethnic Madonnas, here’s an “Australian” Madonna and child, with features chosen to resemble a young, modern Caucasian Australian mother and baby, and in an Australian setting.

The skin tone, ie. tanned, is where an Australian girl would differ from a European. While the dress is not directly “Australian”, the overall impression of simplicity, compared with ornateness and regality, is an Australian touch.

When I first saw it I found it quite startling to see a Mary who was so “familiar” compared with the European depictions.

Thanks to @Roseeurekacross for some more detail:

This is Our Lady of the Southern Cross and her headband is wattle, our national flower.


Queen Isabella is a Servant of God. (Does that mean she’s definitely in heaven by now?)


love this painting Our Lady of the Southern Cross wearing wattle


Thanks for the extra details!


Thanks for the new word I just learned. The online Oxford dictionary defines it as a species of acacia. I suppose it’s what she’s wearing in her hair?

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