The largest gathering of U.S. black Catholics ever held has called for a black married priesthood and the inclusion of black theology and culture in seminary training.
Because a large number of blacks were denied admission into seminaries in the past because of their race, these men -- now married and living in the community -- should be considered for the priesthood, the 2,000 delegates said. c
The historic convention here was sponsored by the National Office for Black Catholics (NOBC), an alliance of clergy, laity and religious men and women that had its 10th anniversary this year.
The delegates urged priests, bishops and Pope John Paul II to support a constitutional amendment granting full voting rights to residents of the District.
In addition, the black Catholics called for the establishement of offices for a black ministry at the chancery level with the power to develop programs for parishes.
The delegates also approved a resolution that said the education of all priests, nuns, lay persons and deacons should include black theology and black cultural studies.
To strengthen the black family, the delegates called for strong premarital instruction programs for black couples getting married in the Catholic Church; urged that church programs such as the Engaged and Marriage Encounter Program be made more relevent to the black community: asked development of couple-support groups headed by successful black married couples and called for a place in the parish community for separated and divorced persons.
Priests, deacons and nuns also should be trained and sensitized to the particular problems of black couplesand the dynamics between black males and females, the delegates said. The should be able to counsel families experiencing crises such as death, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, incarceration and teen-age pregnency.
To strengthen lay leadership, the delegates said, lay persons must be involved in the parish decision-making process.
Although black Catholic schools were seen as vehicles for evangelization, the black church leaders pointed out that schools are there to educate.. The said tax credits and voucher systems should be explored as ways to help parnets pay for their children's education.
The group also pledged to help educate churchgoers, particularly in black churches, to the plight of the Haitians and to support granting permanent refugee status to Haitians who have recently entered.
The black group also called on the church to back up its pro-life stance by working for more sanitary and safer living conditions in prisions.