Religion: Black Catholics vs. the Church

Disputes in two U.S. cities dramatize a widening rift

Since well before the Civil War, black Americans have been predominantly Protestant. Despite extensive outreach by the Roman Catholic Church, only 2 million of America's 54 million lay Catholics and 300 of the nation's 19,000 priests are black. Thirteen of 314 active Catholic bishops in the U.S. are black. The first black archbishop, Eugene Marino, was assigned to Atlanta only last year. Catholicism has not only had difficulty finding new recruits in the black community, it is even beginning to lose its grip on those few already in the fold.

Nowhere are the problems more evident than in Detroit and Washington,...

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