Catholics and Race in American History

The Catholic approach to racial history doesn’t mean ignoring evils or the faults of historical actors. It means seeking in the first place to understand the past rather than to judge it. Rush to judgment is the enemy of historical understanding.

Father Alonzo Cox, vicar for the Office of Black Catholic Concerns in the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., delivers the homily during a Mass marking Black Catholic History Month Nov. 21, 2021, at Our Lady of Victory Church in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. The liturgy was co-sponsored by the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York. At right near the altar is a banner featuring Pierre Toussaint, one of six African Americans who are candidates for sainthood. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

In recent years, controversies over police shootings and school curricula have brought racial tensions once again to the forefront of American consciousness. Astute Catholics have analyzed Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) and rightly pointed to serious concerns about the ideologies behind these movements. (Catholic World Report has published helpful assessments of BLM and CRT.)

These critiques are important, but they also raise another question. If the Marxism-inspired approaches of BLM and CRT are off limits to Catholics, then how should Catholics think about race? That’s a massive, multifaceted question, but we can narrow its scope somewhat by focusing attention where critical race theorists have focused much of theirs: on American history. One major pillar of the CRT edifice, after all, involves reconceiving the entire American project as a story of racial oppression, shifting the starting point from the freedom-themed Declaration of Independence in 1776, to the bondage-themed arrival of African slaves in 1619.

How, then, should American Catholics view their history with respect to the issue of race? Should we patriotically defend the traditional narrative, in which Americans have striven for and largely achieved “liberty and justice for all”? Or should we identify with those who have been marginalized throughout our history, adopting a revisionist narrative of oppression and injustice?

The Censorious Approach

There are at least two crucial dimensions to this question. The first concerns the basic attitude with which we approach history. One option is a censorious approach, which proceeds with condescension, suspicion, and judgmentalism. It combs through the past in search of moral failing. It seeks in the first place not to understand or appreciate but to eviscerate and condemn. It is closely related to what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.”

This has become the dominant mode of discourse in American university history departments, and it has trickled down to many high school and elementary treatments. Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is the exemplary censorious textbook, telling the story of how the nation has been dominated by “men who have no respect for human rights or constitutional liberties.”

The censorious approach is the handmaiden of victimhood. If the past is dominated by oppressors, then it is also filled with the oppressed. Peering through the lens of race reveals an obvious class of victims—people of color—whose grievances can be enumerated ad infinitum. When approaching the past with the attitude of censure, whites are viewed primarily as suspect, dangerous, and abusive.

The censorious approach naturally feeds upon itself, and no one is safe. Yesterday’s hero becomes today’s villain. George Washington, once admired for preserving the Republic by resisting monarchic temptations, is now reprimanded for owning slaves. Andrew Jackson, once the hero of “the little guy” for democratizing American politics, is likewise vilified for his involvement in slavery, with his treatment of Native Americans adding to his sins. Even Abraham Lincoln, long revered as “The Great Emancipator,” has been knocked off his pedestal for being insufficiently committed to racial equality.

The concerns of the censorious should not be dismissed out of hand. Most of this revisionist history is accurate, in the sense that it does not invent things that didn’t actually happen. It is to some extent a necessary corrective to mythological portrayals that skirted around ugly aspects of our national story. Recent scholarship on slavery has given us a deeper appreciation of how terribly degrading the system was for those who suffered under it, and how corrupting it was for all those touched by it.

Yet the censorious approach lacks balance. A healthier approach to the past forthrightly confronts the negative aspects of our history—as a Church and as a nation—but does so from a position of sympathy rather than superiority. It pairs righteous indignation toward the wrongs of the past with sincere gratitude for the achievements of those who went before us. When we evaluate the past, we should always keep in mind the question: “How would I want my life to be assessed by future generations?” We expect observers to give us the benefit of the doubt; to assume that by and large we do our best under the circumstances; and to treat our genuine failings with mercy rather than contempt. In sum, we should scrutinize our motives. When we investigate the past, we should be seeking truth. Are we instead searching for something else, such as ammunition for a partisan cause or a feeling of moral superiority?

The Catholic approach to racial history doesn’t mean ignoring evils or the faults of historical actors. It means seeking in the first place to understand the past rather than to judge it. Rush to judgment is the enemy of historical understanding. One indispensable task in avoiding rash judgment and achieving understanding is viewing individual historical data within a larger framework. This is where the first dimension of our answer (attitude) links up with the second dimension: historical context.

Context

Accounts that distort the racial history of the United States tend not to err in matters of fact. Instead they present a misleading picture by inadequately addressing this second dimension: by failing to place people and events in context. Any effort to understand history necessarily involves not only ascertaining what happened, but also interpreting it—determining how it relates to the historical phenomena that surround it.

If we’re trying to understand the role of race in the American past, it is obvious that we must in the first place get the facts straight. There have been sensational cases of fabrication and distortion in the writing of American history: a notorious recent example is the later modified New York Times’ 1619 Project claim that “one primary reason” the colonies’ fought for independence from Great Britain was to protect slavery. But outright errors on substantive points are the exception. In polemical debates, antagonists will hurl charges of “falsehood” back and forth, but for the most part these are actually disagreements about how to understand what happened rather than disputes about historical facts. Most of the action in historical controversy is about how properly to understand the character and importance of what happened in relationship to the rest of history.

An illustrative case involving the Catholic Church is the controversy over Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. Historians who point out that Pius XII issued no clarion public condemnations of Nazism or defenses of Jews during World War II make an accurate claim. If we approach this fact with censure—inclined not to try to understand but to judge and condemn—then this “silence” of the pope appears damning.

But if we explore the context within which that silence took place, we discover that in July 1942 the Dutch bishops did issue a public protest against Nazi treatment of Jews in the occupied Netherlands. In response, the Germans intensified their extermination efforts, extending their pogrom to Jewish converts to Christianity. (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, exiled in a Dutch convent, was one casualty of this reprisal.) The public protest did not discernibly aid or protect a single Jew, but it did provoke further depredations against them. Vatican documentation has revealed that this event was a major influence on the pope’s decision not to issue public denunciations of Nazi practices.

We discover further that, while Pius XII was refraining from public statements he was simultaneously and privately encouraging Church personnel to do what they could to save Jews. (This is one detail that the otherwise excellent miniseries The Scarlet and the Black got wrong. For the fascinating story of Vatican involvement in anti-Nazi, pro-Jew activities, see Mark Riebling’s Church of Spies.)

With these vital pieces of context in place, the “failure” of the pope to speak out against Nazism and the Holocaust appears in an entirely different light. Interpretation of the episode shifts from suspicion about Pius’s motives (Anti-Semitism? Cowardice?) to admiration for his prudence in seeking the most effective way to help people in danger, disregarding the risk to his own public reputation.

Appreciating context, generally speaking, adds complexity to the narrative of race in American history. Attempts to tell simple morality tales populated by heroes and villains founder on the shoals of historical reality. Depicting a “good” North versus a “bad” South glosses over the facts that slavery was also practiced in northern colonies and states; that large sections of the South and its people were not slaveholding and were politically and culturally opposed to the slave interests; and that, in the twentieth century, Jim Crow and other forms of racial discrimination were at least as vicious across much of the North as they were in the South.

Spinning a narrative of “white privilege” versus “black victimhood” ignores the larger story of slavery, whereby many Africans were willing participants in the slave trade, capturing and subjecting fellow Africans; the incredible strides made by millions of black Americans in the face of discrimination; the challenges faced, the diverse responses offered, and the varying success achieved by other racial/ethnic groups such as Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans (not to mention the complexity of “whiteness” in an American culture successively absorbing, inter alia, Irish, east European Jews, and Italians); and the numerous other important dividing lines that crisscross and shape the character of American society: religion, family structure, politics, economic class, education, and so on.

The story of race and its lessons are not simple. Those who study them should be prepared to have preconceptions challenged.

A Catholic View of Race

With this methodological foundation in place, we now return to our original question: How should Catholics view race in American history? The first thing to get right is our view of race itself. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine states, “Any theory or form whatsoever of racism and racial discrimination is morally unacceptable” (#433). That much is clear enough. But beyond eschewing racism, we should look with skepticism on the very concept of race. It is less an objective biological criterion than a human construct used most commonly as a tool for self-aggrandizement. Character, personality traits, beliefs, and cultural influences are constitutive parts of the human person. In Christian anthropology, creation in the image of God, bodily existence, intelligence, and will are essential. In contrast, few things matter less than skin color. For those who profess a Church that is “one” and “catholic,” any concession to racial division should be anathema.

But we all know that race is important; indeed, it has played an enormous role in American history. Race is properly understood as one of the ideas that has shaped human experience. Even though it doesn’t capture anything essential about a human being, it is a powerful concept with the capacity to differentiate and divide. As Shelby Steele has incisively observed, “The allure of race as a human delineation is the very shallowness of the delineation it makes.” Race can be used to elevate those who deserve worse and degrade those who deserve better.

So it will not do to ignore the impact of racial ideas in American history, and Catholics have been part of that history. “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age … are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ,” the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World begins, and the Church “realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.”

The history of American Catholics and race is a vivid illustration of these lines from Gaudium et Spes. The record of the Church is, like almost everything else in history, a mixed bag. Although popes had repeatedly condemned slavery and forbidden the enslavement of colonized peoples in the Americas and Africa, Catholics in the slave-owning regions of the United States participated in the institution much like their non-Catholic counterparts. (This included religious orders, some of which are now trying to atone for this past.) Few bishops defended slavery outright, and most viewed it as a deplorable institution, but in the antebellum era northern and southern bishops alike were more concerned with navigating the predominantly Protestant culture and denouncing discrimination against Catholics than with advocating abolitionism (a movement that often displayed an anti-Catholic streak). Much like their fellow Americans, some white Catholics were solicitous toward the needs of free and enslaved blacks, some exhibited prejudice or racism, and most were indifferent.

Black Catholics were part of American Catholicism from the start. Many slaves converted to Christianity—which sometimes meant Catholicism, especially in predominantly Catholic areas such as Louisiana. There were also free blacks, often from Caribbean backgrounds. Venerable Pierre Toussaint, a former slave from Haiti, was a prominent figure in New York Catholicism in the early nineteenth century. Another Haitian transplant, Servant of God Mary Lange, was instrumental in founding the Oblate Sisters of Providence in the 1820s, a congregation composed of women of African descent whose purpose was the education of black girls.

Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many black Catholic institutions were founded, including schools, universities, seminaries, and parishes. St. Katharine Drexel provided funding for many of these endeavors. Even so, there were differences of opinions among both white and black Catholics as to whether black Catholics were better served in separate “black” parishes or as members of integrated territorial parishes. Although the debate had unique elements in the racial context of the United States, it largely mirrored similar questions involving ethnic groups such as Italians and Poles.

Catholic opinion during the Civil Rights Movement was similarly divided. Priests and nuns were prominent participants in marches and protests, but these activists still represented a small minority of Catholic religious. Yet, increasingly forthright and vocal criticism of racist views by Catholic leadership had an impact. In one especially intense episode, Archbishop Rummel of New Orleans integrated the archdiocesan Catholic schools in the face of intense opposition from some of the faithful. The feud culminated in the excommunication of a small group of publicly intransigent Catholics.

American Catholic views, like those of most Americans, have continued to evolve. White Catholics have become more sensitive and averse to racial discrimination. Among black and white Catholics alike, there are strong differences of opinion concerning how important race is (or should be) in contemporary life and what kinds of ecclesial and governmental policies are most promising in the quest to improve race relations.

As on other issues, Catholics are tempted by the nearly irresistible force of American political culture to identify with “liberal” or “conservative” approaches to race. Regarding history, the tendency is to fall either into censure, as described above, or naïve patriotism, which minimizes the impact of race in history and ignores its contemporary fallout.

Those seeking the truth of the matter rather than political gain should avoid both errors. One of American Catholicism’s most penetrating contemporary writers on race, Ismael Hernandez, describes the way in which the past can be taken into account without overburdening the future. “A balanced approach that values what we can discover about the effects of antecedent factors while acknowledging personal responsibility is essential for racial progress,” he writes in Not Tragically Colored. “Antecedent factors may have a powerful formative effect, but they do not have absolute binding power over the human person; if they do, morality is nonsense.”

In other words, no matter how powerful or long-lasting its historical effect, race is not destiny. It behooves us to understand the country’s racial record, because it goes a long way toward explaining contemporary culture, economics, and politics. But we shouldn’t let that divisive past poison the present.

American Catholics should be especially disposed to appreciate the point. American history is tainted by a deep and damaging strain of anti-Catholicism. Our ancestors were discriminated against and were sometimes the victims of physical violence. And animus against Catholicism has not disappeared. Yet, the American experience for Catholics has also been characterized by extraordinary opportunity and religious freedom. We should be cognizant of the liabilities of American culture from a Catholic perspective, and at the same time grateful for the assets afforded by the American experiment and our forebears’ achievements in making use of them.

Catholics also know that human bondage, however degrading, is not the worst evil to afflict the human race. All people of every race are “slaves to sin,” unless we are “set free” by the saving power of Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death (Rom 6:17–18). Spiritual bondage is always a danger, no matter how successfully we stamp out slavery and racial discrimination. Freedom, salvation, and eternal life are open to all, regardless of race. This good news always outweighs the bad news of human oppression and division and inoculates us against the virus of despair in the face the seemingly ineradicable “race problem.”

A Model

American Catholics can look into our own past for a model of a balanced approach to race. As others have noted, the life of Venerable Augustus Tolton presents an ideal worthy of emulation. As a young boy, Father Tolton escaped slavery with his family, but he continued to face harsh discrimination from white Americans, including Catholics, throughout the rest of his life. “Good Father Gus” almost never came to be, because no American seminary would accept the young black man from Illinois. After study and ordination in Rome, Father Tolton returned to the “mission field” of black America, where he continued to confront hostility from many parishioners and even fellow priests.

He didn’t pretend that racism wasn’t real, for he experienced it firsthand. Nor did he submit obsequiously to the indignities he encountered. When he deemed that opposition in his own diocese had become too intense and compromised his ministry, he sought and was granted transfer to the Diocese of Chicago where he could more effectively serve the Church and her people.

But he never succumbed to victimhood, nor did he ever embrace censure or despair at the expense of gratitude. “Above all,” he announced during his first Mass back in Illinois, “I want to thank my mother,” the woman who courageously led her family out of slavery by a daring escape. He was also grateful to priests who had befriended him and encouraged his vocation. “I was a poor slave boy,” he reflected, “but the priests of the Church did not disdain me.” It was those same priests, he recalled, “who taught me to pray and to forgive my persecutors.”

Similarly, the sisters who had taught him catechism deserved thanks, for they had introduced him to “the glimmering truth and majesty of the Church.” He was grateful for this experience at the College of the Propaganda Fide in Rome, where he discovered that the Catholic Church was composed of peoples from all nations. The seminary’s diverse group of seminarians were treated as equals: “The Church which knows and makes no distinctions in race and color had called them all.” Father Tolton endured insults, discrimination, and hostility from many Catholics, but he didn’t let those experiences overshadow the goodness he also witnessed.

Augustus Tolton favored mercy over condemnation, kept in mind the context of American Catholic prejudice—rooted in American culture, resisted by the priests and sisters who formed him, and in tension with the catholicity of the universal Church—and clung to faith in the liberating power of Jesus Christ. By so doing, he maintained his equanimity amidst the surrounding tumult. American Catholics striving to understand and improve race relations should do the same.


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About Kevin Schmiesing 9 Articles
Kevin Schmiesing is director of research at the Freedom and Virtue Institute, a research associate at the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life, and an instructor of Church history for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Lay Ecclesial Ministry Program. He is the editor of Race and Justice in America: The Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, and the Way Forward. He speaks weekly about Church history on EWTN radio’s Son Rise Morning Show and is co-host of the Catholic History Trek podcast.

22 Comments

  1. In 1838, the Jesuits of Georgetown University organized one of the largest slave auctions in U.S. history to finance the institution. A year later Pope Gregory XVI issued In Supremo condemning slavery . . . whereupon the U.S. Southern bishops hastened to reassure their flocks that the pope’s condemnation did not apply to slavery as practiced in the United States.

    Hypocritical, perhaps, but self-serving most certainly. Most people are unaware that slavery was on the way out in the late eighteenth century when the cotton gin was invented. Suddenly cotton went from a luxury fiber to a low-priced staple. Prior to the cotton gin, all fiber was relatively expensive and difficult to produce, whether wool, linen, silk or anything else.

    For the first time in history there was an affordable source of fiber, and production soared. From 1803 to 1937 cotton was the single largest export from the United States. Demand for more land and slaves to produce cotton were the primary political motives that drove U.S. domestic policy in the first half of the nineteenth century. It led to the removal of the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears, “Bleeding Kansas,” and in 1855 the book that probably did more to cause the Civil War than any other: David Christy’s “Cotton Is King,” in which Christy, a former abolitionist, argued that the economic survival of the United States and of the British Empire depended absolutely on U.S. slave-cultivated cotton.

    Two years later, pro-slavery forces won what they considered their greatest victory: the decision in Scott v Sandford which effectively overturned the natural law basis of the U.S. Constitution and made slavery de facto legal everywhere in the United States. The Dred Scott decision was overturned by the 14th Amendment, but the 14th Amendment was almost immediately nullified by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Slaughterhouse Cases of 1873, which eventually led to Roe v. Wade in 1973.

    It can therefore be argued that racism didn’t lead to slavery, slavery led to racism — for economic reasons. That is why a group in St. Louis, “Descendants of American Slaves for Economic and Social Justice,” founded and led by Eugene Gordon, insists that reparations for slavery and an end to racism require not handing out cash or affirmative action, but opening up economic opportunity and access to the means of acquiring and possessing private property in capital to ALL people, not just descendants of slaves, but to descendants of slave owners and everyone else as well. Gene says we must learn from the past, not live in it:

    https://das4esj.org/

    • So Mr. Greaney, you have opted for the “censorius approach” which Mr. Schmeising warns against, and jumped on the Howard Zinn bandwagon of “The United States is the most evil country, with the most evil people, and evil intentions from its inception.” Learn from the past, not live in it, indeed. Shall we try it?

      • With all due respect, Mr. Zelch, you are mistaken. To admit that mistakes have been made in the past and offer a hope for correcting them is not jumping on anyone’s bandwagon. Not only is America not the most evil country, etc., I agree with Lincoln that it is the last, best hope of Earth. To whitewash the past and pretend that good is evil and evil good is to live in a fool’s paradise, however, and allows injustice to continue.

        Alexis de Tocqueville said pretty much the same thing in Democracy in America. He considered the American system the best the world had ever developed, but with two existing flaws in the 1830s, and one potential danger. The flaws were slavery and the treatment of native peoples. The danger was that Americans would abandon their true, “Catholic” (according to de Tocqueville) notions of equality and liberal democracy (of which most of the nineteenth century popes approved, especially Pius IX and Leo XIII), and adopt European and English notions of liberal democracy, collectivist and elitist, respectively.

        Lincoln’s 1862 Homestead Act delayed the development that de Tocqueville feared, but by 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner observed that in his opinion the end of “free” land meant the end of the uniquely American form of liberal democracy, and from that point on, America would become more “European” and collectivist.

        In the early twentieth century, Judge Peter S. Grosscup, one of Theodore Roosevelt’s “trust busters,” wrote a series of articles urging legal reforms that would enable ordinary Americans to purchase corporate equity and thereby “people-ize” the corporation, breaking up the large concentrations of wealth that in his opinion were a danger to the American way of life. Unfortunately, in common with Chesterton and Belloc (who may have been familiar with Grosscup’s writings), he gave no financially feasible means whereby ordinary people could become owners without redistributing existing wealth or redefining ownership. Grosscup was acquainted with Archbishop John Ireland, America’s leading expert on Rerum Novarum, and often spoke before Catholic groups, including the Knights of Columbus, thereby earning him the ire of nativists who claimed he was a crypto Catholic and un-American.

        It was not until the 1950s with the publication of “The Capitalist Manifesto” (not descriptive but cleverly titled) by Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler that a non-redistributive way of financing widespread capital ownership that restored and preserved the natural right of private property that a feasible means to implement Leo XIII’s vision was presented, potentially correcting the flaws of the past, and reestablishing America on its original, natural law basis.

        So, no, Mr. Zelch, I by no means claim that America is the most evil country in the world, but the best and the greatest — which is not to say it is perfect by any means. You don’t love your country by being blind to its faults, but by trying to correct them. As Chesterton said, saying “My country, right or wrong,” is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”

        I would suggest you take a look at Gene Gordon’s website, and possibly that of the interfaith Center for Economic and Social Justice as well before making any similar declarations about someone’s opinion:

        https://www.cesj.org/

        • Wow – I didn’t think I would cause such a stir. I received your lengthy email. We appear to be like-minded politically & philosophically. [Chesterton is a hero of mine, but his criticisms of Capitalism and his fanciful proposal of “Distributism” are both folly]
          But, what irritates me about the recounting of slavery and the treatment of the “indigenous peoples” in American history is the implication that we (Americans) must bear guilt feelings for our history. I don’t want to whitewash history, but must we wallow in the unfortunate deeds of some of our ancestors. Inhabitants (including “discoverers and settlers”) of America were no different than other people in the world. Although one might argue that they proved themselves more enlightened than most of their contemporaries. Columbus, Washington, Jefferson, even Lincoln (and many others) are being attacked and regarded as criminals in some quarters.
          In the context of the time, what could have gone differently? Could the indigenous peoples of the Americas or Africa have proven to the Europeans that their cultures were the way of the future?
          We are all God’s children, but let’s study and learn from history and not live in it.

        • I would like to see more proof that large scale reparations so far removed from events halt or reduce racism. My gut tells me they just fuel more racism, and provide some false sense of satisfaction to those who believe that is portrays actual justice. Society’s landscape seems full of various reparation treatments over the last 60 years.

  2. Some time ago I had to defend the church’s teaching on slavery I took as my guide to support the Church, information from the link below
    https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/controversy/common-misconceptions/let-my-people-go-the-catholic-church-and-slavery.html

    From the link a justification of the churches dealing with slavery in America
    “Another reason may have been the precarious position of the Catholic Church in America before the twentieth century. Catholics were a small and much-despised minority. They were subject to repeated, sometimes violent attacks by Protestant Nativists. In many ways, the American hierarchy of the day was trying to protect the Catholics immigrating to the U.S. and did not regard itself as in a position to be the leader in a major social crusade”.

    But the credibility of this statement is trounced with this, see link below
    From the link
    “In partnership with the Washington Archdiocese and the Jesuit Conference of
    Canada and the United States, Georgetown University held a public spiritual
    ceremony and building dedication on April 18 to honor the 272 enslaved people that
    Jesuits in Maryland had sold to Louisiana plantation owners in 1838”……
    “To think that together with those 272 souls we received the same sacraments, read from the same Scriptures, prayed the same prayers, sang the same hymns, and praised the same God — how did we, the Society of Jesus, fail to see us all as one body in Christ? We betrayed the very name of Jesus for whom our least Society is named”

    https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/georgetown-liturgy-contrition-honors-enslaved

    The article in the first link, endorsed by the Church gives an overall picture of slavery throughout the ages and the Churches response (Teachings) in regards to it. And concludes with this statement

    “The Church’s consistent teaching that all men are made in Gods image and are called to redemption in Christ has helped give rise to the modern notion of human rights and equality ideas diametrically opposed to chattel slavery and that have led to a great diminishment in its practice”

    I agreed with this statement but the article is biased in that it does not go to the heart of the problem, that is one of the abuses of power of the elite augmented by unaccountability manifest as a self-serving culture of clericalism. It is a defection from the full reality of the leadership of the church in the past in regards to slavery and this points us also to the treatment of indigenous peoples.

    This same summary states that “The Church’s consistent teaching that all men are made in God’s image and are called to redemption in Christ has helped give rise to the modern notion of human rights and equality”

    Yes, this applies today but sadly we have the same ongoing problem bias/spin in that it does not go to the heart of the problem that is one of the abuses of power of the elite augmented by unaccountability manifest as a self-serving culture of Clericalism. So now the record of selfless service of the vast majority of religious men and women is been undermined as the leadership of the Church will not face up to the full reality of its failings.

    The Church is at a watershed moment in its history it must face up to the reality of its failings or credibility will be lost permanently; it appears to be refusing to do so and is possibly waiting for the present situation the ongoing cover-up of the child abuse scandal and its refusal to acknowledge its historical culture within the Church, emanating from Rome, in that it will be lost in the fog of history. Because of global communications (Internet) knowledge is available instantly deflect/spin/half-truths can be researched with easy by Joe Bloggs and will no longer stand before mankind, this present episode will not be lost in history quite the opposite as historians will point to it as a point in time when the Church’s moral authority was lost never to be regained.

    The basis for credibility is in the serving of the Truth, straight-talking as in “Yes or No”. Those who serve Jesus Christ cannot spin half-truths for to do so will invite derision.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

    • The basis for credibility is in the serving of the Truth, straight-talking as in “Yes or No.”

      I’m almost certain that the irony of this statement, as it relates to your own meandering “posts,” is totally lost on you.

  3. This article is indicative of the epic failure of White American Catholics to come to terms with its complicity with the history of racism in America. Today this takes the form of anti-anti-racism clearly shown by the author here with the demonization of Black Lives Matter and the ignorant scarecrowing of Critical Race Theory (which is only taught in law schools, not all schools!). This is indicative of America now getting closer to Fascism. Take a read…
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/22/america-fascism-legal-phase

    • “This article is indicative of the epic failure of White American Catholics …”

      “This is indicative of America now getting closer to Fascism.”

      You appear to be swinging for a home run but without having mastered even the basics of holding a bat.

    • You are living with your head in the sand if you believe that CRT is only taught in law school. ( And, why should it be taught even there? What does it have to do with the law? Unless, of course, one is going to attempt to dismantle the current racially biased quota laws??) You can easily google the news reports of irate parents confronting school boards with copies of library books like “Woke Baby” and homework assignments which are racially biased to whites and which are sometimes taught to SEGREGATED groups of children and/or are obvious propaganda indoctrination. Maybe stop watching so much CNN, which panders to this belief system, and you’ll get a clearer idea. I would say fascism is indeed getting a grip here in the US and it is ALL due to the destruction of the rule of law in the US. Thanks to leftist public officials and average Americans who “go along” for fear of being fired or cancelled. Anti-white sentiments expressed by the likes of COKE and other large US companies say a great deal. The fact that mostly black rioters were allowed to loot and burn all over the US for a whole year and not be held accountable to the rule of law says more. If you imagine such actions will bring Americans together you are very much mistaken. Gun sales are at record highs. Its what people do when their governments refuse to enforce the law and throw them to survive on their own. This is very dangerous to our citizens and to the country as a whole. Ask why there is concern that social media has acted for the last few years to suppress conservative thought? Ask why Jan 6th defendants, NONE of whom were arrested with weapons, are being treated like Soviet invaders, denied basic American rights to legal representation, and being held for a year without being charged? Such things are worthy of the lowest of low third rate countries.Yet by contrast, it was difficult to impossible to arrest those who rioted and looted all during 2020 and physically attacked police. Democrat DA’s in blue cities were not interested in prosecuting those offenses. . Many average Americans of ALL colors see much which has gone wrong in the country while it attempts to pander to extreme leftist demands. The left sees everything through the prism of racism. And more to the point, they see an American which has not existed for 60 years at least. Its why BLM cant make their sale to any INFORMED American. BLM presents to the public the same level of truth as the old Tawana Brawley case, or Duke rape case. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, those cases lingered far too long in the public eye because too many of those involved feared being called racists, and lacked the courage to deal with the fall-out of calling the “facts” of the case as they really were –false and delusional.

  4. The United States does not have, and NEVER had, a monopoly on slavery, an institution well represented in the Bible from thousands of years ago and known the world over. Many of us are SICK of hearing about what happened a hundred or two hundred years ago, and even more sick of being blamed in some fashion for it. We are tired of being assumed to be racists and evil-doers, and sinners of all sort. Tired of group blame for crimes we never committed. IT has been abundantly clear for some time that equality is not what has been sought. How could it be? Minorities are given preference in college admission, jobs, scholarships, etc, and yet are already well represented in EVERY occupation, whether government or private, that the country has to offer. Barak Obama, Ben Carson,Kamala Harris etc, etc, etc. If this is oppression, many of us would like to share in it. This to the degree that white students have begun lying about their race in order to also reap these benefits? This does not represent an even playing field at all. I am glad my children are now grown and will not be subjected to the race baiting and propagandizing ( both subtle and over) which is part of “school” instruction these days. I am close to 70, but recall learning in school about slavery, Jim Crow laws, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement. On what planet was that part of our history EVER “hidden”?? When the teaching of mathematics becomes “racist”, you know that something is very, very wrong with the thought processes of those in charge. America is indeed getting closer to fascism. It is being steam-rolled by the left, who power grab with voter fraud and constitution crushing mandates in individual states, advocate to defund police to help terrorize the local populations, and other mentally unbalanced ideas promoted by professional victims and self-loathing whites. Sad and dangerous stuff.

    • To LJ:

      Many excellent insights, LJ. It’s amazing that Christians do not seek reparations from Italy because of the way their ancestors were persecuted for many years when Rome ruled. 🙂

      I recently came upon 2 small books by Kathleen Brush that I highly recommend to you and all others (caution: Brush leans left regarding many issues, so some statements in her work will not be agreeable to the Catholic point of view, but the majority of her writing in these books is historical in nature). Indeed, Brush is a researching machine, and her works contain superb research and detailed references to back up her reporting of historical facts. The first book published in 2020 is entitled “Racism and Anti-Racism in the World before and after 1945,” and the second one published earlier this year is “America’s Discrimination Circus.” Both books could benefit from some much better editing, but the contents of both demonstrate that, contrary to what Mr. Schmiesing claims, a significant portion of the problems involving world and American history is not a misinterpretation of historical events (indeed a problem), but a lack of accurate historical knowledge that opens the door for all kinds of distortions, lies, manipulations, and misinterpretations. When true history is recognized and defended, any attempts to manipulate the underlying facts of history for unjust ends are easily refuted. But the facts are all-important and must be learned and defended.

      For instance, on page 10 of “America’s Discrimination Circus,” Brush makes the bold claim (among many more such claims) that: “Poverty pimps and race hustlers have done a great disservice to Americans of all colors. Blacks suffer the most because many have come to believe they are victims of white oppression. White guilt encourages this. According to the U.S. Census, just 1.25% of Americans in 1860 held slaves, but many whites have come to feel guilty about slavery. Only in America could people in the 21st century be made to feel personally guilty for slavery that was abolished in the 19th century, and for systemic racism that was obliterated in the mid-20th century. People feeling guilty about people they didn’t know, things they had nothing to do with and never would have supported. Things America has diligently corrected and has done so in a manner unique in the world.

      There is no country that has provided more opportunities for minority groups or has strived harder to deliever equality of opportunity. America had systemic racism in the past, but it is no more. The United States has created an enduring anti-racist nation that Americans can take pride in. There is nothing to feel guilty about and nothing to be on the hook for.”

      And to be crystal clear, Brush is not simply a biased apologist for America based on some inherent racism, etc. She fully recognizes the problems that racism presents for all people, but she refuses to accept false history and false declarations about the true history of racism in the United States, and she also points out in the first book mentioned above (also with detailed references) how racism has afflicted many other countries in the past and still does today in many parts of the world. Moreover, in comparison with the major countries of the world, the US has indeed been the leader in combatting the evils of racism, but all will be for naught if too many people insist on ignoring the real history (warts and all), and continue to succeed in promoting and exercising racism against white people and Western societal values based on numerous false narratives that Brush dismantles one by one.

      One more thing that I have mentioned in various comments from time-to-time, but bears repeating once again. Even the slogan “black lives matter” is a racist declaration based upon how those who promote it the most insist on what it actually means. Fundamentally, it stands for the proposition that black lives are abused and killed in large numbers and/or too often by police officers and white racists, and white people en masse and the legal system do not really care when these particular black lives are abused or destroyed. In this regard, then, the slogan means basically this: ‘Hey, white people and legal authorities! Stop ignoring and not caring about the ongoing slaughter and abuse of black people by racist police officers, the legal system, and white racists in general. Black lives matter, you immoral racists.’

      However, this is an egregiously false and unjust narrative that is not backed up by any objective data and other facts about such killings and abuse that protesters and rioters and fellow travelers intentionally ignore. Accordingly, anybody who uses, defends, or supports the ‘black lives matter’ protest slogan (The hideously immoral, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marriage, pro-gender fantasies, pro-Marxist organization with the ‘black lives matter’ name is of course even worse in many ways.) as a legitimate form of protest is intentionally or unintentionally guilty of adopting a bigoted and unjust narrative toward white people in general, the legal system, and the majority of police officers based on the fundamental lie at the heart of the protest slogan. Moreover, those who defend the protest slogan in part by claiming it does not diminish other lives are using the red herring fallacy to avoid admitting the bigotry of the primary narrative expressed by the protest slogan that automatically diminishes other lives based on the false stereotyping and unjust claims that comprise the essence of the protest slogan.

          • Nice piece DV, and thank you for the info about Ms. Brush. The problem we are facing is that too many people are fearful of publicly confronting this crazed diatribe concocted by the left. And because, unlike author JK Rowling, they are in no financial position to weather the resulting storm, they simply remain silent.I believe the average German did this during WWII and lived to rue the day. Evil must be confronted, and it is better to confront it before it becomes entrenched and powerful. Seeing parents assert themselves at school board meetings against CRT is a hopeful sign, as is the dawning recognition that the bogus “defund the police” movement has only resulted in a rising crime and murder rate. We next must insist that “smash and grab” crimes need to be punished, whether the perpetrator is a minority member or not.And that “protests” must be conducted peacefully , WITHOUT looting and burning, or violators will be jailed. We have to stop feeling guilt for actions we never committed, or being held hostage by the ghosts of the country’s old civil rights failures which happened almost a century ago. Failure to assert the rule of law EQUALLY now, will only result in the collapse of civil society as we know it.I am not a racist, and I resent and will oppose anyone, whether secular or from the church, who asserts otherwise. I am responsible for my OWN failings ONLY , not those of anyone else. Certainly not those of folks who lived hundreds of years ago. America has made mighty attempts to address and amend its racial past. Committing racial bias against present day whites will not undo the past, nor will burning down our history and attacking our past heroes make this a better and fairer place in which to live. More people need to find the courage to say so.

  5. In 2021, US Catholic Dioceses and lay faithful everywhere love one another regardless of race. The good will and amity extended displays the presence of Jesus Christ amidst all faithful.
    The Holy Spirit of love permeates the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. There is the spirit of forgiving love for all transgressions present and past.

  6. I have evidence that my family were held in serfdom in 14th century England. I want to be compensated for this injustice by Her Royal Majesty the Queen. When can I collect?

  7. Most Roman Catholics in my neck of the woods are totally NOT in line with Black Lives Matter or Critical Race Theory. It is just thaat simple. Ask me why and i will tell you why. thank You. P.S. We also do not care for the Group known as Antifa.

  8. “But beyond eschewing racism, we should look with skepticism on the very concept of race. It is less an objective biological criterion than a human construct used most commonly as a tool for self-aggrandizement.”

    According to scientists, there is no such thing as race. This shouldn’t be controversial to Catholics. Apparently, the concept of race was invented in the mid 18th century.

    Racism exists because there are people who believe in the fictitious concept of race.

    • True, Shawn there’s no such thing as race but there are differences in human beings that can be used for purposes of discrimination.
      Most of us in the Americas are a mix of DNA anyways. The whole concept of separate races is pretty silly.

  9. Ever since Adam chose to serve himself and his ego instead of loving God and His creation, caring for the flora and fauna, humans have grown increasingly greedy and self-centered. It is no wonder then bigotry, which is an ingredient of this self-centeredness, plays its ugly role. It will always be with us. We tend to use our race, religion, nationality, color of skin and other groups or clubs as extensions of ourselves and so we develop this club mentality. We see this displayed by football fans and religious fundamentalists. Only an environment in which love prevails will the effects of bigotry be minimized.
    American slaveholders were bigots who believed in exploiting people who were vulnerable or deemed inferior. They were no different from the bigots who were victorious in battles all over the world. However, today, we see that bigotry is based on hatred and revenge. Just as bad, if not worse. What makes it even more dangerous, influential groups encourage it.

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