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 →
Laymen have repeatedly been invited to voice their views and aspirations on the Ecumenical Council. Thus Francis Cardinal Koenig of Vienna, a member of the Central Preparatory Commission for the Council, said: “Do not wait for the Bishop or for a report from Rome, if you have something to say about the Council… Urge, when you feel urging is necessary.”
In keeping with these invitations, The Commonweal last week began publication of a special series devoted to the layman’s hopes and desires in connection with the Council. Philip Scharper, author of this second article in the series, is chief editor of Sheed & Ward. —The Editors
By Philip Scharper
What every Catholic would hope for from the Council is that it succeed in realizing one of the major goals which Pope John set in convoking it: a renewal of the Church which will be so effective that the Church herself will become, by what she is, the most compelling argument for Christian unity.
But it would be a mistake to assume that such reform and renewal were important only to enable the Church to present a fairer face to our separated brothers. On point after point such reform is urgently needed to make the Catholic himself understand the Church more deeply, love her more devotedly, and live in her life more fully.
In what follows, I shall try to set forth what points of renewal seem to me most urgent. They may reflect a parochialism of experience and poverty of observation; but they have also whatever value may attach itself to the reflections of one who has no position to maintain and no interests to serve, except those of Christ in His Church. 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 →