Archbishop Chaput reveals an ugly little secret:
The American Catholic history of institutional racism
Adapted from this source: chapter 4. CONSTANTINE'S CHILDREN, from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput's latest book, Render Unto Caesar.
"Archbishop Joseph Rummel served the Catholic people of New Orleans from 1935 until his death in 1964.
"By the 1950s, he faced an increasingly ugly problem.
"The Archdiocese of New Orleans had the largest Catholic population in the Deep South and many thousands of black Catholics.
"It also had segregated schools.
"Rummel and previous bishops had always ensured that black students had access to Catholic education.
"However, segregated parochial schools had the same scarce money and poor quality as the segregated public schools.
"After World War II, Rummel began desegregating the local church.
"In 1948, his seminary welcomed two black students.
"In 1951, Rummel pulled the White and Colored signs from Catholic parishes [But! Maybe not those racist signs still inside his Cathedral, just yet, huh? So mom told us years later! Heh, heh!]
"In 1953, a year before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down segregation in public schools, he issued the first of two strong pastoral letters: Blessed Are the Peacemakers.
"Pastors read it to their people at every Mass one Sunday.
"It drew a quick response.
"Some parishioners bitterly resented from the pulpit that there will be no further discrimination or segregation in the pews, at the Communion rail, at the confessional and in parish meetings, just as there will be no segregation in the kingdom of heaven.
"In 1956 [ 3 years later, o.k.? :) ], Rummel said he intended to desegregate Catholic schools.
"Tempers ran hot.
"Most parish school boards voted against desegregation.
"Rummel didn't budge.
"A year earlier, he had closed a parish when its people objected to their newly assigned black priest.
"But to compound the archbishop's troubles, many parents had moved their children from public to Catholic schools, hoping to avoid desegregation.
"Members of the Louisiana legislature threatened to withhold then - available public funds from Catholic schools if Rummel went ahead with his plans [similar monkey - shines were still going on there in 1978, as we discovered -- the hard way! -- after testifying before State Representative Jimmy Long's house education committee, boy and howdy! :) ].
"In early 1962, Rummel said that in the following year, Catholic schools would integrate.
"Several Catholic politicians organized public protests and letter - writing campaigns.
"They threatened a boycott of Catholic schools.
"On April 16, 1962, Rummel excommunicated three prominent Catholics [at long last! :) ] -- a judge [ My guess? Most likely bad 'ole Leander Perez, right?], a political writer, and a community organizer -- for publicly defying the teaching of their church.
"The New Orleans events made national news, covered by Time magazine and the New York Times.
"The Times editorial board gushed that men of all faiths must admire [Rummel's] unwavering courage because he has set an example founded on religious principle and is responsive to the social conscience of our time."
Anybody wanting to look all this up on microfilm at your own school's library:
"Courage in the Church," New York Times, April 19, 1962.
'Way over in Gran Coteau, the Madams of the Sacred Heart nuns started desegregating their Womens' College by 1953 - 1954, as an older female sibling gleefully told us not too many years ago.
She was thrilled to have been smack in the middle of both the on - campus and off - campus uproar that followed.
Indeed, she and other classmates had already been given the green light by the mother superior to teach catechism to little black kids, and had apparently done so.
Such is the contrast between Roman Catholicism and so - called American Catholicism, believe it or not!