Black Catholics Rally to Get the ‘Saintly Six’ Canonized by the Vatican

Black Catholics in America, who are three million of the 1.3 billion church members, are angry about a lack of representation in the church. Of those polled, three-quarters say opposing racism is essential to their faith and that churches should offer a sense of racial affirmation, according to recent Gallop polling.

But what specifically has them riled up is that of the 11 Americans canonized as saints by the church, none of them is African American. How can that be?

African Americans make up at least 3% of Catholics in America, a number that could be 1.375 billion, according to the Association of Statistics of American Religion Bodies, which issues those numbers every 10 years.

At the same time, the number of Black saints from this country is nowhere near a 3% representation. In fact, the saints who are Black are from African countries.

“I was meditating in the chapel of the neighborhood school, wondering what I would say to these young people about the racial problems that continued to arise,” the Rev. John Johnson, co-chair of the Commission in Racial Harmony for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, said in “A Place at the Table: African Americans on the Path to Sainthood,” a documentary about The Saintly Six.

The Saintly Six, as they are called, are six Catholic African American candidates for sainthood: Mother Mary Lange, Father Augustus Tolton, Mother Henriette DeLille, Pierre Toussaint, Julia Greeley, and Sister Thea Bowman.

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