Did Catholics justify racism and slavery?

i know the church itself is not racist and does not condone slavery, but in the past there was not as much outspoken as today.

even priests and nuns and many other cahtolics had racist tendencies. seminaries in america wouldn’t accept blacks, they were often segragated in a parish or had their own parishes. priests and nuns and other cathoics also bought and sold slaves, and i don’t mean just form of slavery either. even spanish and portuguese colonialist went to africa and brought all the slaves here, sanctioned by the pope at one point. those were catohic countries too

how on earth did they think this was ok?

also, the residential school issue keeps coming up and i don’t know what to say about it. i think the media has blown a lot of it out of proporiton but everyone believes that the cahtolic church basically tried to force first nations to be christians and abused and killed many of them in the schools.

are there any first nations catholics or african american catohlics on these forums. is so, can i get some input on how you feel about these issues?

Question: “How did catholics justify racism and slavery?”
Answer: If they did it was the same way many Catholics justify voting for abortion. They ignore what the Church has to say.

Papal condemnations of slavery were repeated by Popes Gregory XIV (1591), Urban VIII (1639), Innocent XI (1686), Benedict XIV (1741), and Pius VII (1815). In 1839, Pope Gregory XVI and Pope Leo XIII (1890) both wrote condemning slavery, as did the Second Vatican Council (1965).


First, can you provide any sources for this?




There are lots of ways I can think of that one can try to justify slavery. E.g., they’re like adopted children. As for racial discrimination, believe it or not, it still exists today though it goes largely unspoken. I know some who aren’t particularly welcoming of Hispanics to their parish. It’s justified on the same grounds that hostility towards them in civil society is justified. E.g., they’re changing the culture we’ve maintained for generations, consuming limited resources, not contributing proportionally, and they can live among themselves so why do they have to bother us?

In the end, it’s due to people placing their own interests before divine commandments and lying to themselves that there’s no conflict. Think about any persistent sin people commit. They may be seemingly devout Catholics but the just don’t consider what they’re doing to be sinful.

First, posts 2 & 4 below show that the Church herself was always against racism and slavery. However, individual Catholics, are sinners and just as big sinners as anyone else. Being Catholic is not a " magic bullet. " Catholics, like everyone else, are, to a large extent, " children " of the surrounding culture. Only Saints are truly counter cultural, just look at the number of Catholics today who support, take part in the pro-death, contraceptive culture. Even priest, Bishops, and religious are not immune from infection by the surrounding culture. I think that explains it.

Look at your own life, how infected are you by the surrounding culture?


We didn’t.

Keep this in mind…though He was the Son of God, He took the form of a slave being born in the likeness of men…


Exactly! This is yet another in a long line of verbal assault tactics against Christianity. People have unwittingly fallen prey to this attack simply by it being repeated so often so that it becomes part of our subconscious thought. The Church has always been surrounded by the secular culture of mankind. Even when the Church was at the peak of its earthly political power, it was not so powerful as to stomp out the secular powers of man in a political fashion.

Within the Holy Scriptures are contained guidelines for treating people who are already confined within cultural slavery, which by the way, is not what we think of today as slavery. It was to have Christians treat them with some dignity and respect, especially since many of them were Christian.

The allegation of racism is simply outrageous and has no semblance of reality whatsoever. Even in the early centuries of the Church, there were various ethnic peoples involved in its development and protection which continues through modern times.

You have made some blanket generalizations that are not supported anywhere. Look at the links provided by some of the other posters and you will see that the Catholic Church never supported slavery and racism. The abolitionist movement before the US civil war had many Catholics in it and many bishops spoke out against slavery even though the Catholic population was a minority back then. Stop using anti-Catholic bias and generalization and if going to make some of the statements you have made, back them up with real facts which are hard to find because they don’t exist.

Based on Augustus Tolton alone, , a blanket statement wouldn’t apply. Also remember we are a church of sinners.

I grew up in South Florida in the 1940’s, during the segregation era. I attended Gesu School in downtown Miami. It was the Parish School for the Jesuit Church in Miam.
One of the Jesuit Priests who lived in our Rectory, was the Pastor of Catholic Church in the downtown Negro neighborhood, known as Liberty City, or colloquially as “Colored Town” in the idiom of that time. Because of the segregation laws of that day, he could not reside in that neighborhood, and after 7 P.M. if one was in need of him after that time, he had to call for a police escort, because it was against the law for whites to be in that area after dark, just as it was for blacks to be in white neighborhoods after the curfew hour.
However, although all schools were segregated, I distinctly remember having Latino classmates that were clearly light-skinned mulatoes. And, Gesu School was the first school in Florida that integrated, and that was in the 1950’s.
During the Civil Rights movement in the turbulent 1960’s, Catholic Churches throughout the South were the first Church Congregations to be integrated, in fact- if memory serves me correctly, I believe the Diocese of New Orleans was the first to integrate its congregations.

I understand that but, Op made broad and sweeping statements that the Catholic church supported or implied so support of slavery and racism. Racisim is trickier because standards and ideas have changed drastically over time. What might be considered racism by today’s standards and ideas might not have been considered racist 50+ years ago. The problem is trying to judge the past by using todays social norms. The comment about slavery was just so sweeping and false. There have been so many statements against slavery by Popes and bishops that to make some kind of blanket statement is totally wrong. Yes, there have been Catholics involved in both but that does not mean that the Church supported these things in any official manner and in fact the Catholic church is and was a leader against these things. Slavery in the Americas was a Protestant import brought over by the biggest slave traders of all, the Muslims of the barbary coast. Yet, the Catholic Church still is getting blamed for things that were never supported while slavery is still being practiced in Islamic countries (even if it is officially banned).

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