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Rome Reports

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African American Catholics making their voice heard in the world

Jamie Phelps Director, Black Catholic Studies, Xavier University “In the 60?s then we began to say if people can identify as Irish Catholics, then we also can identify ourselves as Black Catholics. We are Roman Catholics of African ancestry, but shorthand we call ourselves Black Catholics.” Out of 270 million Black Catholics around the World, around 3 million live inside the United States; residing mainly in large cities such as New Orleans and Chicago. Many of their national organizations can be traced back to the civil rights movement which led to the creation of groups such as the National Office for Black Catholics. Jamie Phelps Director, Black Catholic Studies, Xavier University “It was actually the occasion of the civil rights movement that brought us together as black sisters, as black priests, trying to figure out what our role was in terms of the Catholic Church in the black community.” The US ambassador to the Vatican met with Jamie Phelps in Rome to recognize Black Catholics in honor of US Black History Month. The ambassador noted that the Hispanic community in America has also had a long and sometimes overlapping relationship with Black Catholics. Miguel H. Díaz US Ambassador the the Holy See “There is a rich history because there are many Latino Catholics that have African American roots and so in the United States where we have this very rich society made up of different cultures and peoples there is a connection, a communal connection with black Catholics.” Jamie Phelps credits Catholic schools for educating many African American communities since the 1800?s. Something that helped US bishops promote social justice as the society evolved. Now, she says there is still a great need to help fund these schools in continued support of Black Catholics. ; AE FF JM -BN