Why Does This Topic Matter: Thinking About the Big Issues

Issues of continuing relevance

This page describes some of the general ideas that The Federated Colored Catholics website can illuminate in the classroom.

Race and Catholicism in the United States

  • How would you describe a typical American Roman Catholic in the 1930s? How would you describe a typical American Roman Catholic today? When you think of an American Roman Catholic, to which particular racial and ethnic group do they belong? What is the basis of your perception?
  • Do you think racial discrimination existed in the Catholic Church before the American Civil War? Does racial discrimination exist in the Catholic Church today? If so, how has it changed over the years? What evidence do you have to support your answers?
  • To what extent do you think race relations within the Catholic church parallels or differs from race relations in American society in general? How does the increase in international business, economics, communication, and travel affect race relations in America and within the American Catholic Church?

Social Justice and the American Church

  • How would you describe relations between the clergy (Fathers LaFarge and Markoe) and the laity (Turner) in the Federated Colored Catholics? How were the goals of these individuals similar? How were they different?
  • Who had more power in the FCC? Why? Do you think relations would have been different if the lay members of the organization were white? If the clergy were African-American?
  • What are the positives and negatives of addressing social problems and issues of race by group solidarity and intergroup cooperation? Why did Thomas Wyatt Turner and his supporters organize the Federated Colored Catholics using group solidarity? Why did Fathers LaFarge and Markoe advocate an interracial cooperative model? Which model do you think would be most effective in the United States today?
  • In your opinion, which should take priority in the mission of the Catholic Church in the United States: spirituality (developing a personal relationship with God, the salvation of souls, etc.) or social justice issues (elimination of discrimination, poverty, injustice, etc.)? Do you see any overlap between the two missions? If so, how would you describe that overlap?
  • Should the Catholic Church in the United States limit its focus to certain specific societal and social justice issues? If so, which ones? Which issues should take top priority? Who should decide which issues are the focus of action in the American Catholic church?

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