From the September 21, 1962 issue of Commonweal, a followup to the announcement by the archbishop of New Orleans that all the parochial schools of the archdiocese would be desegregated for the 1962-1963 academic year.
When Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel announced last spring that segregation of parochial schools in New Orleans would end with the opening of school this fall, he laid to rest some lingering doubts about the effective meaning of the Church’s condemnation of segregation. He certainly knew, as did his coadjutor, Archbishop John P. Cody, that trouble could be expected.
Now, with more than a week of desegregation behind them, the Catholics of New Orleans have good, reason to take pride in their response to the Archbishop’s decision. To be sure, there were many instances of white parents’ boycotting the integrated parochial schools. And there were as well some nasty scenes of white and Negro parents’ being jeered and harassed. Yet, by and large, the opening week went off very well indeed. The only real trouble came in some of the outlying areas of the Archdiocese. In Buras, deep in the heart of Leander Perez’ domain, Our Lady of Good Harbor School lost all of its white pupils through parental boycott. As for the five Negro children who entered the school on the opening day, they did not return on the next. Continue reading →
The eminent American Catholic historian John Tracy Ellis, in evaluating the role of the laity on the eve of the Council, cautions against the dangers of anti-clericalism, which American Catholicism has so far avoided but which is increasingly likely unless the gifts of the laity are recognized.
By John Tracy Ellis
Each age in the long and eventful life of the Church has its distinguishing characteristics. When the history of this second half of the twentieth century is written there will, in all probability, be few more striking notes than the emergence of the laity into a strong and active role as collaborators with the clergy in the apostolate. So marked has been this development that there has even emerged a theology of the lay movement, a ne w tract, as it were, which theologians have been refining in recent years in a way that suggests the revival of the part once played in the early Church by the deacon who assisted the priests and bishops in advancing the word of God through the ancient pagan world.
In part this expanding concept of the layman’s place in the divine economy of salvation is an answer to a need. For every well-informed Catholic has for sometime been aware that the rate of increase of the faithful—to say nothing of the increase of potential converts among our separated brethren—has become so rapid that the supply of priests and religious for their spiritual care can in no way keep pace, with the result that the emphasis on the need for lay apostles is by no means confined to Latin America but has become virtually worldwide. Continue reading →
On April 16, after a long period of negotiations with leading conservative segregationists of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, several of whom backed down from their opposition to his plans to integrate the parochial schools, Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel excommunicated three defiant racists. These three insisted the archbishop was a heretic and Communist seeking to undermine God’s wish that the races be separate and black people be subject to the oppression of the white majority.
The following is a photograph and caption from Life Magazine showing one of the excommunicated conservatives engaging in a dramatic gesture, calling on the archbishop to repent of his heresy. Continue reading →
The decision of Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel to put an immediate end to segregation in the parochial schools of the Archdiocese of New Orleans is a particularly welcome and significant one. It is welcome because the existence of segregated parochial schools is a scandal to the Church and a disservice to the nation. It is significant because it indicates that the Church in New Orleans is quite willing to risk its temporal welfare for a basic principle of social justice.
This latter point is of special importance. The Church’s position on segregation and discrimination could hardly be more clear. As Archbishop Rummel has said, it is “morally wrong and sinful.” But what has been far less clear is the extent to which the Church in the South is willing to put into practice this basic Catholic teaching. It has often appeared as if the Church lacked the nerve or the conviction to withstand hostile pressure—as if it valued its financial security and social position more than anything else. It is quite possible that such an accusation has been an unjust one. Yet the Church always leaves itself open to this kind of charge when there is a seeming discrepancy between its principles and its practice. Continue reading →
Today Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel announced that all schools of the Archdiocese of New Orleans will begin the 1962-63 academic year fully integrated. The decision, coming two years after a bitter and violent struggle against integration of the city’s public schools, is expected to uncover much ugly racism before it becomes a reality for the 75,000 students enrolled in the Catholic schools of the archdiocese. Continue reading →