In 1838 the Jesuit Georgetown University, in Washington D.C. sold their 272 black slaves to plantations in Louisiana.
Father Cornelius Buckley S.J. writes on CrisisMagazine.com (September 9) that the Baltimore Archdiocese shared in the proceeds which helped calming its feud with the Jesuits.
The Jesuits' slave business contradicted Church teaching. Paul III, who had approved Ignatius of Loyola’s rule, condemned slavery in 1537.
However, few people paid attention. At the insistence of the Jesuits in Paraguay, where Spain was enslaving the locals, Urban VIII tightened the prohibition in 1639. Less than fifty years later, the Maryland Jesuits owned slaves.
To be fair, Buckley points out that slaves, not only those owned by the Jesuits, were better off than the Irish workers on the Erie Canal.
Buckley’s conclusion, “It is important to see that disobedience to papal teaching was the point of departure from which Georgetown and other Jesuit colleges in the U.S. plotted their course.”
Picture: Georgetown University, © Hoyer2009, wikicommons CC BY-SA, #newsIvqzchhhmb