Racism Among Traditional Catholics on Facebook – Say It Isn’t So – Part II

Racism Among Traditional Catholics – Part Deux

Update: August 2017

With the recent news events, I thought I’d update my experience,  discussed in the post below from 2016.

This is not a popular topic among white-American Catholics.  In fact, you are called racist for trying to be “divisive”.  However, I think it is a conversation we should continue to have.

I continue to see comments from Traditional Catholics celebrating “white pride” and threads that imply Catholicism is somehow linked to Nationalistic thought.

So things haven’t changed that much, unfortunately.

What has been your experience?


July 2016

It has been a little while since I wrote Racism Among Traditional Catholics on Facebook – Say It Isn’t So – Part I. 

I wanted to update you guys on my experience since then.

As an administrator of a Facebook group, I somewhat regularly experience anger from some of the more rowdy (okay, I’ll be nice and say “enthusiastic”) members whenever I moderate a situation in a way they don’t like.  Some of these members would get so angry, they would storm off and leave the Facebook group, but not before hurling a racist insult.

I am happy to say that I have not experienced any racist slurs that since I last wrote this article – just the anger – thanks be to God!

Before I start, let me post this disclaimer: I am in no shape or form implying that most trads on Facebook are racist.  I know I will get comments claiming that’s what I am saying.  I am only speaking of a fringe – but a very vocal fringe. This fringe has convinced me that racism among traditional Catholics exist.  Secondly, I am so thankful for my own parish, which is very racially diverse. If I didn’t have such a good experience at my parish, I would mistakenly believe that trad Catholics are racist because of my online experience.

What I have been noticing  lately, is that there is an in increase in what is being billed as a “nationalist” movement, which oftentimes is nothing more than a crypto, white supremacist movement. According to the Merriam-Webster, nationalism is defined as “loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.”  White nationalism, is a subgroup that advocates a racial identification of national identity (the white nation).


You might ask what does white nationalism  have to do with Catholicism? Good question. These same people are against race mixing and believe God created the different races to stay separate in their own countries and only come together for things like trade.  They do not like the dilution of races.  So somehow, they have convinced themselves it is perfectly Catholic to think that way. They also post about the glory days of the South, when there were beautiful plantations – although they stop short of wishing for the slaves to work those plantations.

kneeling at foot of cross, crucifix at Holy Innocents Church

Me at my wonderful, racially diverse parish.

I’m still trying to figure out if the fact that I’m meeting this fringe is a result of my being exposed to people in more remote parts of the U.S?   It’s shocking to me, because although there are racists where I live, most people know better than to be forthright about it.   So  maybe I am interacting more with the global world in all it’s loveliness and ugliness and it’s not something I’m used to.   However, I also have to ask if there is something about the mindset of a Latin Mass Catholic that makes him prone to  this kind of thinking? What do you think?

By the way, just in case you think I’m making this racist stuff up, a friend of mine recommended this book to me: Desegregating the Altar: The Josephites and the Struggle for Black Priests, 1871–1960.

I also recently met an ex-Protestant pastor, who is considering conversion and who,  as a black person,  experienced some racism in his Catholic community. He felt that the folks in the parish he was involved with weren’t particularly crazy about black people, were dismissive of him and almost gave him the impression that Catholicism wasn’t for him.  I was dismayed and of course we are going to keep in touch, because we don’t want to lose this soul.  An ex pastor is a gem of a convert who could do much good for the faith.

The last thing I want to say on this subject is that since I last wrote the article, I had an experience in a  Traditional Catholic Facebook group, that left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.  In that group, the members were discussing the “glories of slavery”.  Well, they didn’t use that term,  but they were basically analyzing if there were any benefits  of black chattel slavery, aside from the obvious one of labor,  and whether slavery  was totally consistent with Catholicism.  The consensus seemed to be moving in the direction that it was never so bad.  I made known my displeasure but no one paid me any mind. Imagine how that got awkward really fast. I ended up leaving the group.

So, what has been your experience? Have you met the racist fringe?

Read Racism Among Traditional Catholics on Facebook – Say It Isn’t So – Part I. 


Further Reading
Racial Justice and the Catholic Church by  Fr Bryan N. Massingale
Who Are You? What is Your Faith?: America’s 21st Century Alt-Right and Catholic Social Doctrine
Desegregating the Altar: The Josephites and the Struggle for Black Priests, 1871–1960

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22 thoughts on “Racism Among Traditional Catholics on Facebook – Say It Isn’t So – Part II

  1. Mary

    I have a relative that is a “cradle” Catholic. Like myself, they had lived a morally sinful life. Visited a couple of parishes on the west coast and decided that the people were racist. Did anyone call him the “n” word? No. Did anyone say you are not welcome here? No.
    I believe that the current climate says, if no one reaches out and enthusiastically welcome you “to come back,” and you don’t understand your faith, everyone is racist and don’t want you. Not true. Catholics have 7 sacraments. That’s our calling card. Folks are poorly catechised and think finding a church should be the same as shopping at the mall.

    Reply
    1. Convert on Fire Post author

      Dismissal is always the easy way out. The more courageous ways is to be open to someone’s experience that might not be your own. .

      Reply
  2. John F. Tashjian

    I have not met many racists among Traditionalist Catholics, and I have a bit of difficulty believing that such exists. And yet, I know that racism infects everything it touches, including Catholicism. I pray that we can combat it whenever it raises its ugly head.

    Reply
    1. Convert on Fire Post author

      Oh it exists my friend. It is easily seen on people’s personal Facebook accounts. I have had to unfollow so many so-called FB “friends”. It was quite disheartening in the beginning, but I’ve gotten used to it.

      Reply
  3. Rebecca

    My late father, who was a very holy man, was a convert at 18. and was enthusiastic and loved the Faith until the day he died. Back in the 50s, about ten years after his conversion, he was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He made friends with another young man, who went to daily Mass, like he did. Said the rosary daily, well versed in Scripture and the Faith, and was a devout Catholic. My father happily presented him as a candidate for the Knights of Columbus, to sponsor him. When he brought his friend in though, he was pulled off to the side and berated for trying to get a black man into the group. My father was crushed and ashamed. Of the Knights of Columbus. He left with the young man and never went back to the K of C again. I realize that was a different time in America But the Faith was not as watered down and poisoned by liberals as it is today, and those men in the Kof C should have known better. So even today, I have no doubt that there are racists in the Church…..although political correctness being what it is some may be less inclined to voice it. But God knows the heart of men.

    Reply
  4. K

    Thanks for this post. I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with Catholics — who, as another commenter noted, should know better — behaving with this kind of uncharity. It’s probably not frequently enough spelled out in traditional circles that racism is a form of uncharity toward others, and it’s certainly not well enough understood what constitutes racist behavior — I’m still growing in understanding this latter part, having grown up in a part of the world where statements certain to give offense were frequently prefaced with “I’m not racist, BUT…” — it took me a long time to understand that the words following those words were almost invariably, in point of fact, racist. In my experience of liberal Catholic circles, to give them their due, they do tend to speak the truth on this point. But we’re dealing with unfortunate fragmentation within the Church herself, where those who might be quicker to denounce racism are perfectly willing to let other problems slide or not consider them problems at all, while traditional groups have it right on lots of real religious, social and cultural points but miss the boat on issues often (mistakenly) considered the territory of “liberal” groups, and neither constellation of groups really wants to listen to the other. I believe growth is taking place, but unfortunately it’s likely to be slow. In the meantime I feel lucky to live close to a parish where the traditional Mass is offered and attended by a small but growing congregation that is racially and in other ways diverse, where hopefully relationships can be built and healing take place — “brick by brick,” as they say.

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      To be sure, I VERY seriously doubt anything like this would EVER happen at a K of C meeting in today’s day and age. My husband is a member of the K of C and he was appalled at that story. I did not bring that ancient tale up to besmirch the K of C, which is a noble Church group! But simply to point out that even a Traditional Catholic organization like that is made up of MEN—-human beings who are weak and sinful, as we ALL are. But we do NOT throw out the baby with the bathwater. Daddy became one of the most devout Catholics it has ever been my privilege to know, both he and my mother were Third Order Franciscans, but Daddy regretted never going back to the K of C when he and Mom were moved yet again by the Air Force. Because he recognized it was the weakness of the men in that particular chapter who were at fault; in that region of the USA, at that time. He realized he should not have dismissed the organization itself. Forgiveness and understanding are CRITICAL when it comes to wrongs done by members of the Church.

      Reply
    2. Convert on Fire Post author

      Bingo!

      “It’s probably not frequently enough spelled out in traditional circles that racism is a form of uncharity toward others…”

      Reply
  5. Stefan

    Yes you’re right, I have experienced nothing like this in most catholic communities. But just like everywhere you do get people with prejudices both real and imagined.

    The important thing is to get away from a victim mindset, as this is what the devil preys on. Hitler swept into power on the back of German victims after the Versailles treaty and history is littered with many more such examples

    Reply
    1. Convert on Fire Post author

      Stefan, pointing something out does not mean you have a victim mindset. A victim mindset would imply one gives up and uses the bad things in life as an excuse. I don’t believe you saw anything like that in my post.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Well I disagree with you here. Yes in many cases victims will give up, such as in the case of liberation theology, in other instances they will lash out or blame their circumstances on a persecution to some extent real but in most cases fabricated.

        Not sure that the Jews were responsible for the state of the German economy in the inter war period, but we all know what the outcome of such victim led psychology was.

        If you’re suggesting that the Catholic Church as an institution is particularly prone to prejudice or racism may I suggest that you seriously seek psychiatric help.

        Reply
      2. Stefan

        Not sure the previous comment went through.

        But again I must stress that a victim based psychology does not only lead to inaction. It is very dangerous indeed. Victims believe that their circumstances are the result of things outside their control. It is a disempowering and can be used as a tool of manipulation (as was the case of nazis after world war 1)
        Some Jews will use the victim argument as a pretext to build settlements and keep Arabs in the occupied territories under an iron grip. Similarly Muslim extremists will use it as an excuse to murder and rape Yazidis and Christians in the Middle East

        Now if your suggestion is that the Catholic Church is particularly racist as an institution, I would recommend that you seek serious psychiatric help

        Reply
  6. David M.Lord

    Are you referring to the concern over illegal aliens? Not necessarily racist. Our Church is universal, but we have a right and duty to protect our homeland.

    Reply
  7. Hugh McLoughlin

    Not being American, I have never had recourse to Merriam-Webster. I have to say that I find that the definition they give of nationalism nationalism ― “loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups” ― is troubling. “Exalting” here suggests something dangerously unreasonable. Here in Scotland, ridicule was heaped on the devolved administration when they came up with the slogan “the best wee country in the world”. I suppose that WAS exalting Scotland but it wasn’t unreasonable or dangerous. Stupid, aye.

    Reply
    1. Convert on Fire Post author

      Nothing wrong with a little Scottish pride! It gets dangerous when one exalts one skin color over another.

      Reply
  8. allergiesareus

    So how do these Trad Catholics react to the 16th century saint
    St. Martin de Porres? He is (gasp!) the patron saint of both black people AND of MIXED race people! Can they handle both the proof & truth that the RCC has a history of embracing ALL races and even mixed races? St.Martin himself was of mixed race heritage.

    Reply
  9. Elson

    Uhm… The general tone of the Church is that God is white and the devil is black and you are wondering why racism seems to be alive and well in the Catholic church. We are all witnesses to the remarks of some German cardinals during the synod on the family in 2014 where they basically told African cardinals to go back to their jungle and not tell civilized Caucasians what to do or how to run the Church.
    I am an African and a Catholic but I keep looking at the roster for canonized saints in the Church and they all seem to have one common feature. You guessed right. Nary a black skin among them. How about the Popes since St. Peter? I have come across these groups on Facebook you mentioned. It’s quite unfortunate, but I think it has to do with the whole atmosphere in the Church. Everywhere you turn seems to scream white supremacy. Even divine apparitions and visitations happen everywhere but in Africa. I look at the images of Jesus and Mary so rampany in our churches and I don’t see a Hebrew or middle eastern dark face but a European face, blond hair and blue eyes.
    It is the general tone of the Church. God is white and Satan is black.

    Reply
    1. Convert on Fire Post author

      Thanks for your input.

      Because Christianity really thrived in the Middle Ages, it was mostly centered in Europe. Therefore, it is natural that many of the depictions will be white, in the same way, there are Marian images that are Japanese in phenotype and Marian images that are African.

      So yeah, we have to look a little harder. I take comfort in Saints such as St Martin de Porres who was of mixed race, St Benedict the Moor, St Augustine who’s mother was African, although some say she was Berber. Who really knows?

      I think you’ll enjoy this list of black Saints and Martyrs.black Saints.

      Finally, what a blessing that African Bishops are leading the way in Catholic Orthodoxy today. God bless!

      Reply

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