On this Monday before Easter, Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel of the Archdiocese of New Orleans excommunicates three segregationists for organizing protests against the archdiocese for his decision to integrate church schools.
The Vatican gives its tacit approval to this move, and it's a major issue because half of the white students in New Orleans are enrolled in Catholic schools.
The three are Judge Leander Perez Sr., Jackson G. Ricau of the Citizens Council, and Una Gaillot, president of "Save Our Nation Inc." and author of the pamphlet God Gave the Law of Segregation to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel had written to them on March 31:
"[You] promoted flagrant disobedience to the decision to open our schools to ALL our Catholic children and have even threatened and incited others to take reprisals, legal and otherwise, against our action. ...
In the spirit of fatherly solicitude we deem it our duty to admonish you that any further attempt by you through word or deed to hinder our order or provoke our devoted people to disobedience or rebellion against the Church will subject you to excommunication."
Because none of the three have heeded the warning, they are excommunicated today and the edict stipulates that only Archbishop Rummel can lift the penalty. This means that they must repent directly to the archbishop and no one else.
They are to be denied church sacraments, kept from attending Mass, and denied church burial. Jackson G. Ricau will be prevented from escorting his daughter down the aisle in her church wedding.
Judge Leander Perez will help found the group "Parents and Friends of Catholic Children" and tells members:
"Excommunication cannot send you to hell, but integration can send your children to hell on earth."
He also hands out cards saying "Better Excommunication Than Integration."