New Orleans had the largest Catholic population of any city in the South, according to TIME. After ordering the removal of "white only" pews from the city's churches, New Orleans' German-born archbishop—who had once served as a parish priest in Harlem—ordered the city's Catholic schools to desegregate. From "The Archbishop Stands Firm," TIME Magazine, April 27, 1962:
In the garden of the archbishops residence in New Orleans, a group of Roman Catholic women chatted and fingered their rosaries, waiting for the Most Reverend Joseph Francis Rummel, 85, to lead them on a Holy Week pilgrimage to the city's shrines. They studiosly tried to ignore women pickets protesting the archbishop's excommunication the day before of three Roman Catholics who had opposed his decision to desegregate the city's Catholic schools.
Suddenly, as Rummel appeared, a distraught, dark-haired woman flung herself through the gathering and fell on her knees before him. "I ask your blessing," cried Mrs. Bernard J. Gaillot, 41, one of the three who had been named in the excommunication order. "But I am not apologizing. Look up to heaven and admit that you know it's God's law to segregate. Don't listen to Satan. Listen to God." Rummel said nothing and Mrs. Gaillot was led away by some of the women pilgrims. "May God have mercy on you!" she said to the archbishop as she rose from her knees.
And why was Mrs. Gaillot so firm in her convictions? Why, because God hates desegregated schools! It's right there in the Bible:
The wife of a factory clerk and the head of a small racist outfit called Save Our Nation, Inc., she has two sons attending a Catholic high school, and holds an unshakable conviction that racial integration is a sin against God. She helped set up the picket lines around Rummel's residence, issued a flurry of mimeographed essays arguing that segregation is authorized in the Bible. One scriptural text she cited was Genesis 21, which describes how Sara asks Abraham to cast out from his house the Egyptian concubine Hagar, whose son "shall not be heir with my son Isaac." On the assumption that no Egyptian can be white, Mrs. Gaillot argues that this passage "surely must mean no playing together in school."
Surely. Another picture of Mrs. Gaillot:
In the 1960s the leaders of the Catholic church in the United States were out in front of the Catholic laity on the leading social justice issue of the day. Today the reverse is true: the Catholic hierarchy, lead by a German-born priest, opposes civil equality for LGBT people while a broad and growing majority of the laity supports civil equality for LGBT people.
Eye-straining image of full article after the jump.