Louisiana Archbishop Joseph Rummel Comments on Church Refusing to Integrate

Louisiana Archbishop Joseph Rummel Comments on Church Refusing to Integrate

Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel

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Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel of Louisiana is asked about the status of the Jesuit Bend Mission, which in 1955 refused to allow a black priest named Father Gerald Lewis celebrate Mass.

Archbishop Rummel closed the mission rather than allow it to continue to operate as a segregated place: parishioners must recant and sign statements saying they will accept a "Negro priest" if one is sent to them.

Today, his only comment on the matter is that the status is "unchanged" and that he would "rather not comment further."

Father Clement Meyer, pastor of the mission's mother church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, does comment further and says that as far as he knows, neither side has made any attempt to reach a compromise and resolve the issue.

In fact, Father Meyer thinks that the white parishioners have "given up all hope that they will ever get their church back" and that "those ideas [racial integration, racial equality] are too new for old people." Father Meyer is convinced that racial integration will only really be achieved via the younger generation.

Currently both black and white Catholics attend Mass at the mother church and one other mission: whites sit on one side and blacks sit on the other. That's as far as racial "integration" has come.

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