"Can Prejudice Be Cured?"; "The Theology of Racism"


Second CIC meeting, Fordham University, August 1936
Courtesy of ACUA

As with the greater fight against racial prejudice in the United States, the involvement of the U.S. Catholic Church in the civil rights issue is not easily pinpointed. However, one of the first Catholic organizations to be formed specifically for civil rights was the Catholic Interracial Council of New York. The CICNY, the founding organization that would spawn others CICs across the country, was founded by Father John LaFarge in 1934 as a way to increase interracial cooperation in the civil rights struggle. The group was formed after a split within the Federated Colored Catholics over whether African Americans alone should be part of the group or whether it should be interracial in composition (See "African American Catholics" exhibit for more on the Federated Colored Catholics).


"Can Prejudice Be Cured?"
Courtesy of ACUA



As part of its mission, the CICNY published The Interracial Review, a journal that including articles on various topics within the realm of equality for all races. Two of those articles are featured here. In the first article, “Can Prejudice Be Cured?” the editors of the Review embrace the view that racial prejudice is a “moral evil,” and as such “can be cured.” To combat it, this must be acknowledged, and interracial justice must be the goal. In the second article, “The Theology of Racism,” the Rev. Philemon Merrill denounces racism as heresy, contrary to the Church’s teaching that God has created all men to be equal. While not all Catholics, leaders or lay, ascribed to this in every region of the country, the two articles set a tone for further Church denunciations later.

(For more of the Interracial Review, click links to see full copies of the February 1945 and August 1947 issues)


"The Theology of Racism"
Courtesy of ACUA




1. What is significant about how prejudice and racism is viewed by the writers of these two documents?

2. How can, according to the editors of the Interracial Review, prejudice be cured?