James Carroll

Recent Articles

The Wrong Side of History

In assessing Roman Catholicism's role as a source of the advancement of progressive social change, what is to be made of the Church's age-old and continuing exclusion of black Catholics from the priesthood? That is an admittedly rhetorical question, premised on a half-truth, since the Church excludes only some blacks from the priesthood, which keeps the policy from being racist. If the Roman Catholic Church were an officially and openly white supremacist organization, not even the niceties of church-state separation would keep progressive critics silent, and it is hard to imagine that, in the American civil rights era, the courts themselves would not have found grounds to challenge the policy. The black Catholics who are excluded from the priesthood, of course, are women. Their exclusion, shared with all women, is a matter of gender, not race. In recent years, the Vatican has so forcefully restated the traditional prohibition of women in orders that senior...