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Black Catholics Number 200 Million Worldwide

  • NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER

Catholics may make up a relatively small percentage of the population of African-Americans, but "there are 200 million black Catholics worldwide," said the head of Black Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit. "It�s the largest religion in the world for people of African descent," he noted.


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MILWAUKEE - Catholics may make up a relatively small percentage of the population of African-Americans, but âthere are 200 million black Catholics worldwide,â said the head of Black Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

âIt's the largest religion in the world for people of African descent,â said Precious Blood Father Clarence Williams, who has written two books and produced nine video documentaries on black Catholic heritage.

He was in Milwaukee to be principal celebrant of a Mass at African World Festival, held July 31-Aug. 1.

There are more than 2 million black Catholics in the United States. Father Williams noted that there are more than 100 million Catholics in Africa. Among black Catholics in the Western Hemisphere, he said there are about 3 million English speakers, 12 million who speak French, 30 million who speak Spanish and 40 million who speak Portuguese.

In the United States, âblack Catholics are a unique group,â with education and income levels well above the average for all African-Americans, Father Williams said. He credits this to `the Catholic advantageâ of parochial schools.

"Wherever you have black Catholics in urban areas, you have people in leadership positions,â Father Williams said, noting that the black mayors of Detroit and New Orleans are Catholics.

Father Williams said that while Catholic schools have continued to serve black neighborhoods in major cities, âthere's been a shift in who's taking advantage.â He noted that non-Catholics now make up a majority of the enrollment in those schools.

âWe are keeping open institutions, but we are not necessarily building up the kingdom,â he said. âWe have a mission, but the vision is not really present.â

Father Williams, a Cleveland native, said a majority of black Catholics in most major cities in the Northeast and Midwest converted to Catholicism after they moved north from the overwhelmingly Protestant South.

âThat was the first contact for many blacks with Catholics,â he said. By contrast, he said a majority of black Catholics in California were already Catholic before they migrated west from Louisiana, with its large concentration of black Catholics. (CNS)

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Acknowledgement

CNS. âBlack Catholics Number 200 Million Worldwide.â National Catholic Register. (August, 15 1999).

Reprinted by permission of the National Catholic Register. To subscribe to the National Catholic Register call 1-800-421-3230.

The Author

The editors of the National Catholic Register.

Copyright © 1999 National Catholic Register
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