The intertwining of U.S. Catholicism and race-based slavery is a painful aspect of the Church’s history. Many scholars have shied away from this uncomfortable topic, but in recent years a cadre of historians have studied Catholics’ varied roles: as enslaved persons, slaveholders, defenders of slavery, and, in a few cases, advocates of abolition and emancipation.
This collection of nine essays is divided into three sections: enslaved persons and slaveholders, debating abolition and emancipation, and historians and historiography. The studies, many of which are informed by recent archival discoveries, offer a model for historians seeking to understand the relationship between slavery and the Church, not only topically but in terms of methods, contexts, and resources. They contribute to a broader appreciation of religion’s role in race-based slavery and, in doing so, will assist scholars, teachers, and students in the contemporary discussion involving slavery, racism, and their legacies.
Slavery and the Catholic Church in the United States witnesses to the fragility of humanity, which is capable of freedom or slavery, brotherhood or hatred. Yet each chapter offers a ray of hope, suggesting how we might acknowledge and respond to this difficult history.
" Slavery and the Catholic Church in the United States is an essential collection of scholarship on an important topic. It deals thoughtfully with a range of issues from doctrine to social relations to archival documentation. The volume holds lessons not only for Catholics but for anyone who wants to learn about the entanglement of religion, morality, and slavery in American life."~Adam Rothman, Director of the Georgetown University Center for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies
"Beginning with a brilliant essay on Jesuit slaveholding, this volume opens the door to a complex and difficult history. It leaves no doubt as to the need for the Catholic Church in the United States to reckon with its slaveholding past."~Christopher J. Kellerman, SJ, author of All Oppression Shall Cease: A History of Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Catholic Church
"Whether there will ever be an end to the racism that fosters slavery is anybody's guess. The effects of Original Sin do linger. But Slavery and the Catholic Church highlights how grave injustice can be revealed, repudiated, and, in some cases, partly ameliorated."~New Oxford Review
"A valuable contribution to the growing body of work studying the relationship between the American Catholic religious congregations and the history of enslaved persons."~Catholic Books Review