cover image History Black Catholics in Us

History Black Catholics in Us

Cyprian Davis. Crossroad Publishing Company, $27.5 (347pp) ISBN 978-0-8245-1010-7

``The story of the black Catholic community in the United States begins with the story of the Catholic church in Africa.'' With this historical overview, Davis, professor at Indiana's St. Meinrad School of Theology, begins his task--``to retrieve a mislaid memory'' of the black Catholic presence in the United States for the last 300 years. The issue of slavery--including the uneasy responses of America's first bishop, John Carroll, in the late 18th century, and the pro-slavery views of John Hughes, outspoken archbishop of New York during the Civil War--is positioned within the political and social fabric of those centuries. Yet, as shown in this masterfully concise history, the faith flourished among such black Catholics as Pierre Toussaint, the 19th-century New Yorker now proposed for sainthood. Studded with personal stories, this is a chronicle both sad and inspiring. Davis's groundbreaking research should pave the way for further exploration of the growing black Catholic community. (Jan.)