Why Would a Black Man Stay in the Catholic Church?

By Grigsby, Daryl | National Catholic Reporter, April 28, 2006 | Go to article overview

Why Would a Black Man Stay in the Catholic Church?


Grigsby, Daryl, National Catholic Reporter


For the last three years, I have been part of a group of African-American Catholic men who meet for a monthly breakfast. Our gatherings are punctuated with lively discussions on faith, politics and justice. Often we grapple with why a black man would stay faithful to the Catholic church. These men are both cradle Catholics and converts, and we all ponder whether the church can nurture a black man.

We struggle with the same issues that afflict many of today's Catholics: the stunning revelations of the scope of clerical pedophilia, the irresponsible transferring of perpetrators by bishops, the subsequent bankruptcies and closures, the exclusion of women and married men from the priesthood.

Like many, we are left confused and searching. Yet for black men, the issue is magnified, for it is harder to find mentors, friends and fellowship in our church. The absence of other black men leaves us without comrades in the faith. Many of the unique challenges of being a black man go unaddressed by a church that is overwhelmingly Anglo. Further, as local parishes correctly strengthen their Vietnamese, Filipino and Hispanic ministries, black issues seem forgotten. Black women have serious issues as well, but to some extent have more sisters for fellowship and conversation.

What are these unique challenges of being a black man? First, to be a black man is to be part of a race-gender composite resting on the bottom of the misery index in countless categories. Our brothers rank high in the rates for unemployment, incarceration, dropouts, illiteracy, infant mortality and early death, and low in home ownership, matriculation and corporate presence. Even if you have "succeeded" in America's scale of values, you can't help but remember Martin Luther King's nervousness, expressed in 1965, that we might be "integrating into a burning house."

Your job, house and security are appreciated, but not completely, for you are saddened by the number of illiterate, jobless and incarcerated brothers. You feel, in fact, a smoldering "black rage" that whites often misunderstand. They cite your personal accomplishments, knowing little that your celebration is muted when so many brothers are denied what you possess. Black men often need a place a share the hurt, anger and joy of being black and male in America. The great black scholar W.E.B. Du Bois said it best in The Souls of Black Folk: "One ever feels his two-ness; an American, a Negro, two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder." In this context, the best thing the Catholic church can do is be a place where black men may gather without judgment or whispers.

So where does this leave the black male Catholic? One of our breakfast members said a local black Baptist minister told him any black man who remains Catholic has lost his mind. This minister sees Anglo paintings of the Virgin Mary, the preponderance of European saints and white priests and wonders aloud why a black man would remain in a place so devoid of color. While black Baptist and Pentecostal churches abound with male leaders, social sermons and community roots, a black Catholic man is often alone.

Yet like many Catholics, we find our hearts longing for our church. The beautiful liturgy has a seasonal rhythm that changes each year into a spiritual odyssey. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Why Would a Black Man Stay in the Catholic Church?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.