What it means to be ‘woke’ and Catholic

By Gloria Purvis, 17 September 2021
Image: Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash


As a Catholic, I understand the evil present in unjust systems. “Structures of sin” (as we call them) like systemic racism must be destroyed for the sake of human dignity and the common good. Part of being Catholic is awakening to these realities. We must constantly be on guard and resist sin, evil, the devil and all his empty promises.

Although the term “woke” was used positively within the racial justice movement, it has been co-opted and misunderstood in recent years. From my perspective as a Black Catholic woman who has known personally the reality of systemic injustice, I understand the term “woke” to mean being alert and awakening to injustice, including racial injustice. It resonates with my understanding of the Christian call to conversion.

The first step is waking up. The second step is responding. If I believe in the dignity of the human person and the unity of the human family, it follows that I must be actively doing good, which includes thwarting social evils. As a Catholic, this action also involves the interior life: confessing my sins, attending the Holy Mass, praying and following the church’s social and moral teachings. This is the basis for being woke.

Woke Catholics are people who are open to conversion. They listen. They are humble. They think with the mind and heart of the church. They are people of prayer who ask for God’s grace and guidance in the lifelong project of conversion.

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Gloria Purvis is host of The Gloria Purvis Podcast from America Media. A radio and media personality, she has appeared in various media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, PBS Newshour, Catholic Answers Live, and EWTN News Nightly, and hosted Morning Glory, an international radio show.

With thanks to America Magazine and Gloria Purvis, where this article originally appeared.


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