Wednesday, January 17, 2024

A Segregated Church

Last month on the Unam Sanctam Catholicam website, I published a lengthy article chronicling the segregation of the Catholic schools and parishes in the Archdiocese of New Orleans following the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884), which called for separate black facilities as a means of more effectively ministering to the needs of black Catholics. It is quite an illuminating article for those interested in American Catholic history and how the hierarchy navigated the "color line" that was so prevalent in late 19th century America.

Today I was reflecting on the draconian motu proprio Traditiones custodes and realized that the Church actually took better care of the spiritual needs of African American Catholics dealing with institutionalized racial segregation than it does for Traditional Catholics today.

When the Church adopted segregation, it was decreed that black Catholics were to have their own designated parishes and schools. Yet Traditiones custodes not only forbids the creation of new dedicated Latin Mass communities, but prohibits them from using existing parish churches. By contrast, black Catholics under segregation were required to have their own dedicated parishes to ensure that they had an ecclesial home. Yet even this concession is denied Traditional Catholics, who are relegated to parish centers and school gymnasia for their liturgies.

Furthermore, under segregation, black Catholic parishes were staffed by their own dedicated pastors. Often men of religious orders who were recruited specifically for the "negro apostolate," Church authorities were solicitious to ensure that if black Catholics were forced into segregated facilities, they would at least have stable pastors to minister to them. This, too, is denied to Traditional Catholics, especially those who attend diocesan TLMs. These are at the mercy of the schedules of traveling priests who can "fit" a Traditional Latin Mass in as their schedule dictates. The DDW's restrictions of December, 2021 make this situation more acute by prohibiting bination, that is, celebrating the Usus Antiquior and the Novus Ordo on the same day. If a diocesan priest is forced to choose which rite he is going to celebrate on a Sunday, he is almost guaranteed to choose the Novus Ordo, as this is the rite most Catholics attend. The dictates of Traditiones custodes and the DDWs follow up legilation are meant to ensure that Traditional Catholics do not become a "Traditional apostolate" by making it nigh on impossible for them to have a parish home for their liturgies or a dedicated pastor. It is a policy meant to deliberately drive them to the margins.

So, to those of you who are in power, especially those men of the cloth who are shutting down Traditional Latin Masses, please think very carefully about this: There is a lot of talk these days about learning from the past and being on the "right side of history." But right now, you are currently affording Traditional Catholics less consideration than African Americans were given under segregation. Those who were herding black Catholics into segregated parishes in 1895 were doing a better job of attending to their spiritual needs of their people than you are. Does that not alarm you? Is that where really where you want to be standing on Judgment Day?


Ben W said...

It is a terrible feeling to be somewhat homeless in the Church.

Anonymous said...

Do you know the story of Ann Rice- she went back and forth with the Catholic Church.

I think alot of the leniency has to do with appeasing people with influence.

i.e. Jill Biden was divorced.

Marissa said...

I have spoken to black Louisiana Catholics who said they had to sit in the back of the church and go to Communion after the whites.

Also, do you think you'll do a write-up of Mother Cabrini: Feminist Icon the Movie?

Boniface said...

@Marissa, yes I bought my ticket for opening day : )