There is time for the church to support black Catholics—if it has the will to do so

A woman prays during a healing Mass on Nov. 12, 2016, at St. Martha Church in Uniondale, N.Y. The liturgy was celebrated in observance of National Black Catholic History Month. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)A woman prays during a healing Mass on Nov. 12, 2016, at St. Martha Church in Uniondale, N.Y. The liturgy was celebrated in observance of National Black Catholic History Month. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Enough. Enough with the white supremacist structures that hold on to their power in the institutional church with tightly clenched fists while feigning disbelief that black Catholics exist.

I am currently working on a book about systemic racism in the Catholic Church and how it impacts African-American Catholic identity. If my book can do only one thing, I want it to end to the incredulousness that surrounds the very idea that black people are Catholic.

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I want to end the incredulousness that surrounds the very idea that black people are Catholic.

Globally speaking, black people have been practicing Catholicism since the earliest days of the church. Additionally, black people were practicing Catholicism in North America for more than 200 years before the United States was founded. Yet, African-American Catholics are constantly required to justify their existence. People like the Rev. Augustus Tolton, Charles Randolph Uncles, S.S.J., Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A., and Cyprian Davis, O.S.B., spent their lives working to make sure the church hierarchy and the people in the pews knew something as basic as that there are black people who are Catholic. Enough!

In my book, I discuss the ways the institutional church is a source of trauma for African-American Catholics instead of the “cosmopolitan canopy” it purports itself to be. The sociologist Elijah Anderson has defined the cosmopolitan canopy as “islands of civility in a sea of racial segregation” and as “settings that offer a respite from the lingering tensions of urban life and an opportunity for diverse peoples to come together.” If the Catholic Church were truly catholic, it would be these things for African-Americans. It would be a place where blacks could find respite from racial segregation.

I was asked to explain for America readers how the church falls short of this goal. But the question presumes that the church wants to be a cosmopolitan canopy, and I am not convinced that it does. Unfortunately, it has been a place where such segregation is heightened and perpetuated.

If the Catholic Church were truly catholic, it would be a place where blacks could find respite from racial segregation.

Slavery, segregated liturgies and systematic exclusion from the priesthood and religious life are just some of the ways we have seen this happen. This history does not exist in a vacuum. It has ramifications for our contemporary church.

Institutions like Georgetown University exist because of the sacrifice of slaves. With a minuscule number of black priests, religious sisters and religious brothers, black Catholics in the United States do not see themselves and their experiences reflected in positions of prominence the way white Catholics do. Exclusionary practices mean that a strong tradition of African-Americans pursuing these vocations never developed.

Now, as the Catholic landscape in cities like Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago changes, these centers of Catholic life in the United States are seeing many schools and churches close, with parishes being reorganized accordingly. These changes disproportionately impact the poor and racial minorities. At a time when economic inequality is growing rapidly and the effects of racism are being felt more strongly than at perhaps any time in the last 50 years, black Catholics who need their church the most are losing their resources.

Additionally, we see a failure in the church to support Black Lives Matter, which subsequently alienates the young people the church will depend on if it is to have a sustainable future. At the National Black Catholic Congress in 2018, Auxiliary Bishop Fernand Cheri III of New Orleans spoke at a session for young black Catholics: “To the black youth, I apologize to you as a leader of the church because I feel we have abandoned you in the Black Lives Matter movement, and I apologize. Partly, I didn’t understand it, and by the time I did understand it, it was too late—the moment was gone.”

But that’s just it! The moment has not passed. We have not achieved a church that is a cosmopolitan canopy. The work of racial justice is ongoing. There is still time for church leadership to stand with and for young people if they only have the will to do so.

I have recently realized that I may lose my religion from writing this book. I may finish this book and be so disheartened and utterly convinced that the church will never change, that power will continue to reside where it has always been located, and I will not be able to be Catholic anymore. That is a risk I am willing to take because this work is so important. I still believe that the church can be its better self, even if it has to get there without me. So while I might lose my religion, I may gain a deeper faith in the process.

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JR Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

With about half the parishes I have been to Mass at having black priests, it’s hard to relate to the Catholic Church as an institution of racism. From what I understand there are over a thousand African priests in the US. Each of the parishes around where I used to live had one. From Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana. My current parish in New Hampshire has a priest from Nigeria.
The author brings up Black Lives Matter which is not conducive to any positive dialogue.

Wilson Gray
2 months 3 weeks ago

So, from your point of view, the Church is being overrun by black laity and clergy and their peculiar, essentially-racist "problems." My experience is different from yours. In 1948, I was the altar-boy for a visiting black priest at the now-extinct colored Catholic church in Marshall, Texas. The next time that I saw a black priest celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass was at the nuptial Mass of an Army buddy, in 1971. I have not seen a black priest under any circumstances since then, except in the print medium. Although I was born in the above-mentioned Marshall, I grew up in Saint Louis, where I was one of seven black students, among 800, who attended the local, Jesuit prep school, during the 1950-1954 school-years. One day, I was chatting with one of the Jesuits, when he said to me, "You know, I played a major part in getting colored admitted to this school. At a board meeting, I told them, 'We may as well admit the colored. If we don't, the archbishop is going to make us do it, anyway!'" And he said this with pride, as though he had been the Frederick Douglass of the Jesuits' Missouri Province! (At one time, all schools in the state of Missouri were as rigidly segregated as those of any state in the. Deep South. In 1945, after having had to threaten recalcitrant white Catholics with excommunication, the archbishop of Saint Louis had desegregated all Catholic schools in the state of Missouri by episcopal fiat. A decade or so later, when the archbishop of New Orleans tried to use this same tactic, it failed, because white Catholics, in their turn, retaliated by threatening the archbishop with schism. True, it’s hard to relate to the Catholic Church as an institution of racism, but it's easy to relate to white Catholics as instruments of racism. After all, the only aspect of this article that seems to have affected the emotions of white-Catholic letter-writers is her mention of Black Lives Matter, an organization that, so far, has done no harm to white people of any religious persuasion.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Wilson, thank you for sharing this.

I agree 100% with your last sentence.

JR Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

Wilson, why did you have to lie about what I said with your first sentence? You then brought up instance of 60-70 years ago as experiences when the article was talking about today.

Maybe you should investigate Black Lives Matter and see if they are responsible for anything positive for anyone. They were part of an extensive discussion on this site a couple years ago.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Per the USCCB, there are 37,302 priests in US dioceses. 250 of them are African American. Thus, .0067 (less seven tenths of one percent) of all US Catholic priests are African American. Per USSCB, there are 450 African American women religious and religious brothers (400 sisters/nuns and 50 brothers) out of slightly more than 49,000. Thus, .009 (or nine tenths of one percent) of all US religious women and brothers are African American.

It seems likely that Wilson's experience goes a way toward accounting for that. It also seems likely that an attitude and a response like yours, go a way toward explaining it, too.

Michael Bindner
2 months 3 weeks ago

Step one in dealing with the issues are to read the article and buy the book.

Step two is a red hat for Archbishop Wilton Gregory. He has certainly earned it. DC has shifted parish schools to charter schools. It is a step away from the evolution of elite parish schools.

Third, we should support DC statehood, BLM and SPLC. Heaven knows that in some parts of Alabama, Catholic Churches are still burned. My niece and her family live in St. Louis and are Black. Given the conduct of law enforcement in that part of the world, I see BLM from a different lens.

Fourth (or maybe now), get out of the GOP coalition. All but one of the Catholic justices will not, nor should they, seek the repeal of Roe, including the three appointed by Bush 43 and Trump. This will be obvious if June v. Gee reverses the Fifth Circuit and overturns Louisiana Trap Law per Curiam. We will know on October 7th. There should be no room in the GOP white supremacists and the Church and the former won't leave. The latter must unless the party embraces a middle class negative income tax for each child. Those who won't can stay with the White reactionaries.

Nick Heckman
2 months 3 weeks ago

Catholics shouldn’t work against Roe which makes abortion a constitutional right, something Pope Francis has spoken against countless times?

Michael Bindner
2 months 3 weeks ago

Stressing Roe prevents working on family based wages and tax policy that will provide them.

I am saying that telling people that voting GOP in order to overturn Roe is a deliberate fraud.

Andrew Strada
2 months 3 weeks ago

Where and when was the last Catholic church burned in Alabama?

Michael Bindner
2 months 3 weeks ago

A missionary priest from there stated it was a current problem. The Crackers still believe that the Pope is the anti-Christ

Andrew Strada
2 months 3 weeks ago

We are often told in the age of Trump that facts matter. Some random unnamed person saying something is still a problem is no substitute for factual information. Where was the last Catholic church in Alabama burned and on what day?

John Butler
2 months 3 weeks ago

BLM? Have you read what they propose- their aims? The hate towards police officers they articulate?
You had me interested, until you mentioned them.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

John, I have worked with police officers for most of a 30 year career. I like and respect most of the officers I have worked with. I learned from police officers how to remain safe in the field as an unarmed crisis worker. I want police officers to be safe. I want all citizens to be safe. I do not understand why so many unarmed people of color are not safe. I do not understand why so many unarmed people of color are killed by the police. I am angry that so many unarmed people of color are killed by the police. I do not understand why all Americans are not angered that the police kill so many unarmed people of color. I support Black Lives Matter. This is not a binary choice. Neither Black Lives Matter activists nor the movement nor I ask anyone to make a binary choice between black lives or any other life. We ask only that black lives matter as much as any other life, that black lives be protected and respected by our nation's institutions, systems and all citizens in the way any and every other life is protected and respected. That demand can be a problem only if and when black lives do NOT matter.
https://nadler.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=394075

PS
15 of my 30 years of work have involved approaching other people's front doors after dark in my own vehicle and not wearing any kind of uniform. I have never been approached by the police or, with rare exceptions, by ANYone asking whether I should be where I am. I have never carried any kind of weapon, not even capsican. Try THAT as a black man. My number may be up some day but I am willing to risk it and I am 99.9% certain that it won't be a police officer who shoots me because I am holding a cellphone or a shiny metallic pen. I do not wear the target all black men wear. Instead, I wear "the benefit of America's doubt": I am a white woman. Compare that with my friends who are black women: as one said, "our sons are an endangered species". This mother is a university professor who arrived home one night to her middle class home to see her son spread-eagled on a police car at her curb because the new white family down the street got suspicious about seeing a black man in his twenties parked in the dark and using his cellphone. He had the temerity to be shocked, afraid, offended, angry that he couldn't make a call in his own car in front of the house he had lived in his entire life without the cops being called on him --- and so he got hauled out of his car in front of his own home. Black lives matter. We need to start acting like it.

Last thought: if I do get killed by the police, we can count on this: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/30/us/minneapolis-police-noor-verdict.html

NANCY CHISM
2 months 3 weeks ago

Tia, I've just published a book about Father Boniface Hardin. Also did a journal article about his struggles with the Church In J African American History. His story confirms your points. Best to you.

Robin Vestal
2 months 3 weeks ago

I worry a lot about the church in this country and it's general indifference to the people of God. There are notable exceptions but in general the oppression of people of color, immigrants and refugees are not at the forefront of the American church, to it's shame. I was grateful to Cardinal Tobin for his witness in NJ re; ICE but yes, the silence on BLM, institutional racism has been distressing to say the least. It's shaken my faith. I still see those who are staking their lives of the love of God but there is a lot of going along with evil here.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Tia, I am thrilled to read your voice here and I will continue to look for your name and your work.

Black Lives Matter activists continue to work hard to break through consciously and unconsciously racist efforts to misrepresent their name and goal.

I am going to take some time to read your article again and then will come back. I just wanted to say how glad I am to read your words, and I want to speak up as one white American who knows that the response to Black Lives Matter - the words, the meaning, the movement - means we have a very long way to go AND that Christian love and justice require that we ALL commit to arriving together as fast as possible at the place and time and moral integrity in which the words and reality "Black Lives Matters" are not met by American (and Catholic) umbrage, suspicion, fear, rage and derision.

Christopher Lochner
2 months 3 weeks ago

Like this guy?

https://www.networthstats.com/activist/deray-mckesson-net-worth/

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

What is your point?

Christopher Lochner
2 months 3 weeks ago

There are many leaders in the movement who are using the perceived problem solely for their own financial advantage. There well may be individuals in the movement who are genuine but they are not in leadership. If BLM would address the carnage ongoing in the cities I might support them. But they set a false premise that police are gunning down unarmed young men on a regular basis. It's not that black lives matter as much as how can I make money off of this movement.

Christopher Lochner
2 months 3 weeks ago

And, the above noted individual knew how to play his connections. In a Baltimore school system with systemic financial abuse ( millions of dollars just disappear) he was making $160k a year in HR. Really??? Difficult to like the guy. He knows well how to game a system.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

See McKesson's resume at LinkedIn. 2018 median annual salary for an HR director = $113,000. 2016-2017 McKesson was interim HR Chief. 2019 the district has 172 schools and $1.31B budget.

*His LinkedIn page hasn't been updated recently
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/mobile/human-resources-managers.htm
https://www.linkedin.com/in/deray-mckesson-14523113
https://www.baltimorecityschools.org/human-capital-office-contacts
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.baltimorecityschools.org/sites/default/files/2019-01/Budget-FY19OperatingBudget-English.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiMs6nL6OTkAhXOvJ4KHVkPAB8QFjAPegQIBhAH&usg=AOvVaw0Z26JspreAAbrI4-Rm1N5w
https://www.baltimoresun.com/education/bs-md-ci-deray-to-leave-20170714-story.html
https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-deray-mckesson-appointment-20160628-story.html

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Duplicate

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Tia, thank you for all the rich links you provide in this article. I have read it several times. You have just provided me with my reading for the next months as I await your book.

As I read your article, the comments and took a first pass at exploring your links, I was reminded of a small group discussion series on racism at my Black Catholic church in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina (https://d2wldr9tsuuj1b.cloudfront.net/16596/documents/2019/2/Pastoral%20Letter%20of%20Racial%20Harmony%2012162006.pdf)

I had moved from the northeast to work in the recovery effort and, as I was invited to hear my new community's stories, I found myself called again and again to reconciliation:

I confess to Almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters [at this table in New Orleans], that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do, and I ask you, my brothers and sisters [at this table in New Orleans], to pray with me to the Lord our God that I am changed forever by your experience.

They continued to tell me the truth of the Catholic Church and the America they lived and still live. We all prayed. They welcomed me formally back into our Church when they confirmed me on Easter, 38 years after my first Communion. I am still working on what I say and do and trying hard not to fail to say and do the really hard stuff required of me by their love and by our shared existence in the image and likeness of God.

Thank you for praying with your scholarship, your life and your faith that we the Church are changed finally and forever by the pouring out of the story of the experience of two millennia of Black Catholics.

Tell this story, Tia, and let the Body of Christ be changed until the Black bodies of Christ matter.

David Gray
2 months 3 weeks ago

VERY Interesting! I've been talking and writing about the Jim Crow Black Catholic Church for many years. I would love an advanced review copy of this book! Contact david@davidlgray.info

But Tia... if your faith isn't to the point where you can distinguish between THE faith and the actors in the faith, then stop writing this book - you're not ready for it. You should not even have in your mind the idea of abandoning Christ Jesus, the Holy Eucharist. I LOVE your honest, but put the book away unless you can make that mature distinction.

Deum Vernum,
David L. Gray

John Placette
2 months 3 weeks ago

.

Vince Killoran
2 months 3 weeks ago

There's no denying the history of racism in the American Catholic Church. Still, the author is fairly thin with details ca. 2019. Yes, schools and parishes continue to close in many cities but that has happened in many old white ethnic parishes as well in recent decades. Are parishes with a large number of Black parishioners unique? Also, it is important to ask whether (& how well) dioceses and religious orders have engaged with their racist pasts. I may be reading incomplete reports but I understand them to be moving in the right direction. I don't want to appear satisfied with their progress; we need concrete examples, however, on how they are falling short.

As for BLM as the exclusive organization for racial justice, it is important to know that there are many others, including the multitude of citizen power organizations that have been around for decades and worked on important issues such as the living wage and affordable housing. The East Brooklyn Congregations and Baltimore's BUILD are two excellent examples. Catholic parishes, along with Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim congregations, make up their membership. (There is some trenchant criticism of BLM from the Left about its focus, methods, and articulation of goals. It isn't perfect, and it isn't the only group out there.)

Overall, I'd love to read more about all this. How about a more expansive approach, including addressing the relationship between Hispanic and Black Catholics?

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

1) The author is still WRITING the book.
2) There is no other Catholic community in the United States which includes descendants of persons enslaved by the US Catholic Church; who were sold to fund the US Catholic Church and its US Catholic ministries; who, as slaves, built the physical buildings of the US Catholic Church; and who as recently, as 50 to 60 years ago, couldn't sit next to or stand behind a white (or Hispanic or any non-black) person in the pews or Communion lines of a US Catholic Church. No other US Catholic community has that history, that trauma, those family histories, those legacies in the US Catholic Church.
3) Nothing and no one and no organization is perfect. And, yet, there is an inordinate amount of anger about a group of young black women and men asking not to be killed by the police.
4) Vince, you and I are both allies of the Catholic LGBTQ community. I cannot recall either one of us ever asking writers from that community to take a broader approach and write about their community's relationship with Black Catholics. In all the articles here about the Hispanic community, I have never heard anyone ask the writers to broaden the focus to look at that community's relationship with the Black community.

But here we are with an African American Catholic woman being asked to "broaden her approach" to include the Hispanic community.

It has a familiar ring, doesn't it? A group of young Black activists say "Black Lives Matter", and the country loses its mind shouting back "All lives matter" and "blue lives matter". A Black Catholic woman writes a book about the Black Catholic experience and is told to broaden her focus to address ethnic white Catholic communities and Hispanic Catholic communities.

It is stunning to me how quickly we prove the point that black lives don't matter as soon as some Black American says they do.

Tia, keep writing about the Black Catholic experience. It matters.

Vince Killoran
2 months 3 weeks ago

Please re-read my comments. I did not advise the author to stop writing about race & the CC. Nor did I claim that racial injustice did not exist. I asked the scholar--and that is how I understood the author to present herself--to dig a bit more and consider a more complex lens of analysis. The Church in 2019 is not the Church of 1850 (or 1950). In terms of my query about Black-Hispanic Catholic relations: the American Catholic Church is a diverse church so a stark duotone approach seems limited. You may not be aware of it but, in some dioceses, there is conflict between Hispanic parishes and Black parishes over resources. In other places there is a record of support and shared resources. BTW, scholars of race in America are focused these days on the sometimes strained relations between African Americans and immigrants from Africa so my call to be more nuanced are fairly commonplace in academic circles.

The shock and insult stance that you present are not productive. If my comments upset you then the ability to converse and perhaps win allies is hampered. A little less pathos and a little more logos please.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Vince, you are asking the author to address race in the way you want her to address race.

This is a very old and very current way of engaging of the African American community in the United States. Someone else defines acceptable language, the facts allowed to be acknowledged as relevant, the contextual boundaries which are legitimate, the acceptable temperature (the degree of "upset" or "pathos" the non-African American community will tolerate while still agreeing to listen and engage) and the solutions predetermined to be acceptable "asks" of those in power.

My experience is that we Americans love our origin stories ... until those American origin stories are BLACK American (or Native American) origin stories. We are impatient and uncomfortable with THOSE origin stories. In those stories, Americans are the bad guys. Really bad guys. As in, world-class bad guts. We want Black Americans (and Native Americans) to skip to the good parts, the parts where we are the good guys. The problem is that, reality being what it is, that eliminates most of the story. This author chooses to tell the story from the beginning and she chooses to tell how the beginnings inform and impact the present.

When similar pressures have been directed toward women and the LGBTQ community, there is often an additional effort to guide a member of a marginalized community to engage in the scarcity mentality of the dominant community. That scarcity mentality insists that there is only so much to go around, and it is clear to everyone that the dominant community has a lock on their share of the resources and legitimacy with the end result that it is easier (and more beneficial for the dominant community) if a marginalized community wrestles for resources and legitimacy from another marginalized community. The end result is typically that dominant community retains its resources and legitimacy, and the story shifts away from them and their dominance to focus on tensions between those who have been convinced of the scarcity model.

This author is surely aware of the dynamics you mention: she is an African American theologian who got her PhD at Fordham; she works in Philadelphia; and is Executive Director of the Martin de Porres Foundation for her diocese (http://martindeporresfoundation.org/). I am also aware of the dynamics you mention.

I am grateful I have yet to see the LGBT community asked to broaden their focus to address other marginalized communities. That request is justly addressed to the dominant community. Coalitions are a great thing - and fine modelling for dominant communities - and it remains a just and good and healthy and necessary thing for each community to claim space and time and legitimacy and survival and dignity for itself (hence, the value and importance of Black Lives Matter and this author's work as well as of the LGBTgroups within the Church and society and Father Jim Martin's LGTBQ writi g here and elsewhere, which I know you and I both deeply appreciate and believe is essential and just and of God )

It doesn't appear, at least from this brief piece, that she wants to write the book you want her to write. How about engaging her about the book she IS writing, rather than the one you recommend? Surely there is enough space on the bookshelf, literally and metaphorically. That is pretty much her point, Vince.

Peace.

Vince Killoran
2 months 3 weeks ago

I think we are writing past each other now. Indeed, I AM engaged in the book that she is writing. Hence, the criticism. If the vexing issues of the day are to be addressed then we must be open to critiques. The person in the room who claims to be the most disadvantaged is not owed deference. That is emotional reasoning, not critical reasoning.

My only point was that studying race relations should not be approached in a facile manner. The fact is that the best historical and sociological scholarship today addresses, in a truly intersectional way the complexity of race in America. As the African American and sociologist Adolph Reed notes, a race-first sensibility leads to a race reductionist perspective.

LGBTQ scholars toiling in that field study all manner of conflict, e.g., gay and trans conflict in the political and policy making realm. So, the LGBTQ community is being asked "to broaden their focus to address other marginalized communities." Simplistic equations (white=bad, black=good) misses class, colorism, gender, etc.

J Jones
2 months 3 weeks ago

Vince, first: my apologies for confusing you with another Vince who posts here.

The author is explicitly addressing the interesection of African American and Catholic identities and the complex experiences of discrimination which result from that intersection of multiple identities. Hence, the discussion of the Church's response Black Lives Matter: in the year 2019, some young Catholic men and women are trying to figure out how to get home from the late Mass on campus without getting killed by the cops.

(I don't know this writer but it seems a safe bet that she would have a solid handle on intersectionality since she is an African American female theologian writing in the year 2019, and the theory of intersectionality originated with black women articulating that feminism as formulated by white women did not address the complex identities of and oppressions experienced by black women.)

I don't buy your comparison of LGBTQ scholars writing about conflicts between the gay and trans communities with your critique that this author's approach to the African American Catholic experience (at least as evidenced by this short piece) doesn't include US white ethnic Catholics, US Hispanic Catholics and African Catholics in the US. I can't quite articulate why yet but, at first and now third pass, I don't think it is valid. (I think you threw kiwis into the apple bowl, Vince, but will get back to that if I am able to put words to it.)

Demanding that voices which have been excluded, denied, and silenced be listened to before they are told they are getting it wrong is not deference. It is, in street language, shutting up long enough to hear the whole story from someone who has spent a lifetime listening to and having to adapt to the dominant story. It is shutting up long enough to sit with a new narrative and heretofore obscured realities and hear the new questions so that we can hear new imperatives generated by a narrative that was excluded, denied or silenced in the past.

William Gallerizzo
2 months 3 weeks ago

Thank you for this. It is about time. I am not African American. I am an Italian American from the DC area where our two histories are closely entwined where we worked and lived side by side during the building of the expansive government development of the early 29th Century. African Americans introduced us to much of our,assimilation, including language, american folkways, and music. At that time, Italians were not permitted full access in "white" churches and my old home parish in DC, Holy Rosary, was commissioned by Cardinal Gibbons as part of his effort to alleviate that discrimination. My grandfather hired African Americans to work in his store at a time when to do so would hsve been a crime, and my uncles and cousins all played in police bands and local jazz bands with the locally rich musical culture of the time. Our Italian history in DC, unfortunately, was commissioned to someone with little knowledge and limited access to what really happened and although a book exists, it is highly flawed. In the case of the African Americans the same has been true up until now. So I thank you for this monumental work, and may it serve as an example of the importance of the journey of minorities that made America great in the face of opposition, and unfortunately continues today unless truth prevails.
Deacon William Gallerizzo

Vincent Gaglione
2 months 3 weeks ago

In the catalog of sins usually preached in church pulpits, racism is rarely if ever mentioned and defined. That’s because the preachers give no thought to it, most of them having been raised in the privileges of their own ethnicity and races. It was never recognized or taught as such in a seminary curriculum either. It is probably a unique example of why black lives matter!

I appreciate Deacon Gallerizzo’s remarks because I detected the same discrimination in some genealogy work that I had done. My father’s immigrant parents settled into a black neighborhood in the New Jersey town in which they lived. When my mother married my father, she was subjected until my birth to a family freeze by her Irish relatives.

In its history there have been outstanding priests who have recognized the racism of the USA Catholic Church and have worked diligently to overcome it, for example Father Bernard Quinn of the Brooklyn diocese. These men and the USA lay Catholics who learned from them have been and still are too few and far between. I often wonder what the reckoning will be at our judgments for this ubiquitous sin

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