Religious education and the development of African-American Roman Catholic identity in the United States

James Derran Combs, Fordham University


A tension exists today among U.S. black Catholics in their struggle to maintain a healthy balance between their Roman Catholic identity and their African-American identity. African-American Catholic parish communities have struggled with their dual collective identity as black people within the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. In a world of culture, racial, and religious plurality, the identity of black Roman Catholics is highly ambiguous. This study seeks to address this perplexity and paradox. The work is humanistic, interdisciplinary, and philosophical-theoretical. The research employs perspectives of race, culture and religious identity from contemporary theology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and educational theories. This study explores ways religious education within cultural postmodernity can assist the congregational development of black identity in the Roman Catholic tradition, while striving for a balance of ethnic and cultural identity in a church of multiple identities. The purpose of this study is to explore the subject of black Roman Catholic identity through the lens of religious education in order to determine ways that religious education could address the major contemporary pastoral and educational challenges related to culture, worship and spirituality within black Roman Catholic parishes.

Subject Area

African American Studies|Black studies|Theology|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Combs, James Derran, "Religious education and the development of African-American Roman Catholic identity in the United States" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3630483.