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Racism, Casteism and Mimetic Ecclesiology

Attached to Paper Session

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Abstract for Online Program Book (maximum 1200 characters including spaces)

French Catholic ecclesiologist Yves Congar cites racial segregation in the US Church as a specific example of the contradiction between the Church’s vision of catholicity and its concrete eucharistic practice. My research responds to this contradiction by developing a mimetic ecclesiology that begins with James Alison’s claim that “[k]nowing Jesus is inseparable from knowing Jesus in the eucharist.” By utilizing a mimetic lens, my paper first analyzes the nature of racism and casteism in the US Catholic Church. Second, I build on Alison’s eucharistic insights to explore how an experience of conversion away from both superiority and victimhood contributes to the possibility of redeemed relationality in the presence of the Forgiving Victim. Finally, I place these initial foundations of mimetic ecclesiology into dialogue with Pope Francis’ vision for a “culture of encounter,” which must first occur relationally within the Church so that it may become transfigurative leaven in the world.

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