National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus held in Montgomery

Published: May. 22, 2012 at 3:02 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2012 at 3:05 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - "I say I'm a catholic priest and they look at me and say, a Roman Catholic Priest? Oh I've never seen one before," Father Bryan Walker said.

Father Walker is a priest in Chicago who says that's one reason why they're meeting here as a part of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus.

"We need to let people know that we are out there and that we are contributing to society," Father Walker said.

Father Anthony Bozeman of New Orleans is the president of this caucus. They're discussing ways to tackle several issues from parishes closing and membership declining to Black Catholic education.

"We have a lot of issues that we are dealing with," Father Bozeman said.

Also, touching on national and state political issues, in particular Alabama's controversial immigration law.

Bishops have denounced anti-immigration laws because they say they don't line up with a strong value of the catholic church which is to be welcoming.

"10's of thousands of these families in Alabama have been living with this cloud over their head that at any point the parents could be sent back to Mexico or wherever they've come from but the children are technically American citizens, not to make allowances for that is just inhumane," Resurrection Catholic Church Pastor Father Manuel Williams said.

Father Bozeman says Louisiana may be next in line for a similar bill.

Last month, lawmakers introduced House Bill 411 which is Louisiana's Citizens Protection Act.

"We have to be America has to live up to the Christian principles that it's been given; that all or involved to be a part of the American dream the melting pot that we are called to be," Father Bozeman said.

Father Walker says he ministers to and works with Hispanics in Dominican Order of Chicago.

"Well to tell you the truth, I have a big problem with it because we are a country of immigrants," Father Walker said.

Research shows Black priests account for less than one percent of the entire catholic church leadership.

Leaders say there are only four in Alabama, two of which are in Montgomery.

The National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus was founded in 1968. There are roughly 350 members.

Governor Robert Bentley signed the revisions to Alabama's Immigration Law last week.

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