Friday, November 4, 2011

Being Black and Catholic In the United States in 2011

Whispers has a good post here at "To Be Black and Catholic" . Besides November being the month we pray for the pour souls of faithful departed it is also Black Catholic History month. In Louisiana of course there is a lot to talk about as too that.

Whispers in the Loggia has a good column but this struck me as very apt (the bolding is mine):


In the years since, though, many leaders and layfolk in the community have expressed discouragement over a diminishing tide born of two convergent domestic trends: a shift of the national church's wider focus toward the booming Hispanic population, and the prominent emergence of a fresh immigration from Africa, above all from Nigeria and Ghana, whose impact has been most powerfully felt in the South.

Along those lines, it is indeed conspicuous that next month will mark five years since an African-American priest was last named to the episcopacy, after a decade that brought the appointments of no fewer than six others. Yet lest anyone forgot, "increas[ing] the Catholic community’s understanding and acceptance of cultural diversity in the church" has been one of the USCCB's five national priorities in the conference's most recent cycle of at-large concerns.

I commented on the needless to say immense African Catholic presence in the South just a week ago. See African Catholics In Archdiocese of Atlanta A Massive Presence . While there are similarities between Black American Catholics and recent African immigrants no doubt there are major differences and thus perhaps the tensions.

Part of this is we are sowing what the American Catholic Church reaped as a whole. While my experience is just one person I can not help but notice that some of the post "Spirit of Vatican II" Priests with perhaps a Social Justice view only (often white) were appointed to many black parishes.

While social justice has always been a part of the black Church both Protestant and Catholic there appeared to be a crucial difference. The Protestant black Church also made a emphasis on evangelizing in the community. To put it bluntly getting butts in the pews. For whatever reason this did not happen in far too many places in the black Catholic community as we entered the second half of the 2oth century.

If you think that is controversial then explain to me why once thriving Black Catholic congregations are a shadow of themselves in some places while the Protestant black Church is still going gangbusters. I cannot tell you how many black former Catholics I know are now Protestants. Largely because , like the American Catholic community as a whole, there was lack of formation of Catholic ID and formation.

Further to put it bluntly , I got the impression at time often Bishops might have had a false idea of what black Catholics wanted and needed. Like everyone else they do not all think the same.

Trends that hit the Catholic Church as a whole might have hit the black Catholic community worse. This is not to say there are not thriving Black Catholic Churches in the USA . There are indeed. But the emphasis on actually spreading the Catholic message in black communities faltered. Thus at one time we saw numerous conversion to the Catholic in the black community because of the Catholic school. Nowadays where those Black Catholic schools still exist in many areas the students are mostly Protestant. So yes that might be a reason why in part we have had less black appointments to the Episcopal purple etc lately. At least that is my theory.

Still I am positive. I am hopeful we might come to our sense and realize that we should not be closing down black Catholic schools but opening them up. That we should be expanding our service in the black community. We should also recognize this not 1960 and that a significant Black middle class has developed that must be "marketed" too also.

1 comment:

Johannes Anti-Hominem said...

Prior even to the division of humanity into races (at Babel) was the division of humanity into Adamic and Cainite. What role does the Cainite covenant, and the phenomenology of Cainite humanity more generally, have for questions of religion and race?