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Desegregating the Altar: The Josephites and the Struggle for Black Priests, 1871-1960

by Stephen J. Ochs

Buy the book: Stephen J. Ochs. Desegregating the Altar: The Josephites and the Struggle for Black Priests, 1871-1960

Release Date: July, 1993

Edition: Paperback

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Buy the book: Stephen J. Ochs. Desegregating the Altar: The Josephites and the Struggle for Black Priests, 1871-1960


"Black" Catholic is ill-defined

There appears to be a movement among black and liberal American Catholics to create a "black Catholic" history that rightfully belongs to multiracial Americans. Louisiana Creoles are the victims of this attempt to create "black" Catholics, but the most prominent victims are three brothers born to an Irish-American father and a mulatto mother in antebellum Georgia. James Augustine Healy was bishop of the diocese of Portland, Maine from 1875 until his death in 1900. Patrick Francis Healy served successively as professor, prefect of studies, vice-rector, and, from 1874 to 1882, as rector of Georgetown University. Alexander Sherwood Healy served as rector of Holy Cross Cathedral and, for a few months before his death in 1875, as pastor of St. James Parish in Boston. Ochs admits that the Healys did not identify with blacks but with their Irish heritage and were not considered "black" by others. Indeed, not only were the Healy brothers only one-quarter "black" and of caucasian phenotype, but it was their Irish father who reared them as Catholics and paid for the educations that allowed them to rise to such high positions in their Church. Nevertheless, hypodecent fanatics like Ochs claim that "blacks" deserve all the credit.

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