Frustrated with a church that didn’t reflect his identity, Ralph Moore went into St. Pius Church in West Baltimore late one night with his friends and painted the statues of Jesus and Mary black — a “parting shot” before he left Catholicism.
He recalled a Stations of the Cross depiction — painting Jesus black but leaving white the Roman soldiers abusing him, tugging at his clothes. To Moore, this was a statement on Black liberation.
“We were trying to make the church relevant,” said Moore, who remembers sitting in church wondering, “Why are all the images here white?”
This was 50 years ago. Moore has since returned to the church and is now part of a lay Catholic effort that’s pushing Pope Francis to canonize six African American candidates into sainthood. It’s fitting, Moore said, to commemorate this anniversary by continuing “to teach the institution who God is, because white supremacy practices don’t come from God, they come from men.”
Moore is a member of the social justice committee at St. Ann’s Church in East Baltimore that for the past two months has been collecting several hundred signatures on a letter they drafted and addressed to Francis, highlighting how embarrassing it is “that in the church where we worship, there are no United States African American saints recognized by the highest church authorities.”
Of the more than 10,000 men and women recognized as saints, which includes 11 Americans and a total of 899 that have been canonized by Francis, none are African Americans…