Continued from page 4 hausted the patience of Archbishop Rummel. On March 27, 1962 he ordered integration of all Catholic schools to take effect next September. The patience of the United States was also exhausted. A week after the Archbishop's pronouncement U.S. District Judge 1. Skelly ordered desegregation of the first six grades of all New Orleans public schools, as contrasted with 12 grades in Catholic schools.
Forty-eight hours after the federal order 2.000 segregationists rioted at the New Orleans City Hall. A picket line formed round the residences of Archbishop Rummel and Coadjutor Archbishop John P. Cody, organized by the "S.O.N." — "Save Our Nation" a group of Catholic women organized by Mrs. B. J. Gaillot, president of the organization.
JACKSON G. RICAU, executive secretary of the South Louisiana Citizens' Council, which has been fighting integration in public as well as private schools attempted to add more fuel to the flames with a pro-segregation rally at which the U.S. order and that of the Archbishop were roundly and somewhat profanely condem ned.
Emile A. Wagner hinted to reporters at possible legislative reprisals against the Archdiocese such as the withdrawal of State assistance for the purchase of textbooks. for transportation of children, lunches and other "fringe benefits", plus withdrawing tax exemption to Church property.
State Senator E. W. (iravolet, chairman of a joint legislative committee which for three years has been engaged in legal gymnastics in unsuccessful efforts to counter U.S. Court orders other than by miniscule integration, has predicted a mass boycott of Catholic schools next September.
Following general appeals to dissidents, Archbishop Rummel sent registered letters to the leaders concerned, without publishing the names of the addressees. The letters couched in fatherly terms but ending with the admonition that failure to refrain from further interference with archdiocesan administration would result in excommunication, were publicised by Ricau, Perez and
Mrs. Gaillot. Emile A. Wagner admitted refusing to accept a registered letter addressed to him. Evidently he has complied in response to the publicised archdiocesan warning as ,the extreme penalty was not applied to him, as it was subsequently applied to the other three.
The excommunication of Ricau, Perez and Mrs. Gaillot, is the second use of the penalty during the last seven years. In 1955 Bishop Jules B. Jeannard of Lafayette, La., excommunicated a number of Catholics with hoodlum tendencies as well as segregationist philosophy who assaulted the teacher of an integrated Catechism class in Our Lady of Lourdes parish at Erath, Louisiana.
In Missouri, two years later, Joseph Cardinal Ritter, then Archbishop of St. Louis, warned a recalcitrant minority of parents with excommunication if they went ahead with a civil suit to prevent him from integrating St. Louis Catholic schools.
MRS. GAILLOT was refused an audience with the Archbishop. although he had given auidences to others to whom he had sent registered letters. One, for instance, went to Louisiana State Representative Rodney Burgs. a Catholic and supporter of Perez. who although still opposed to integration, agreed with the authority of the Church and started he would abide by the integration order.
Rummel's reluctance to grant an audience with Mrs. Gaillot stemmed from his well-founded suspicion that she wanted to turn the audience int( a publicised circus. in pleading for an audience she insisted that witnesses from the Press be present.
The Archbishop's suspicions were verified a day or two later when she interrupted his recital of the Rosary by falling on her knees in front of him — with a photographer in the background and exclaiming "Don't listen to Satan. Listen to God. Look up to Him and admit you know God's law is to separate.'
Also in the background were pickets carrying signs: "Jesus was born of the House of David — of pure white stock in Judea. a White Country. It is our sacred duty to preserve the white race of Jesus"; "God does demand the segregation of the races and curses all integrators no matter who they are".
Mrs. Gaillot has said she will appeal to the Pope against her excommunication. Perez believed "in the end they (Church leaders) will see the light and mend their ways and conic back to the true teachings of the Catholic Church". Ricau had "done nothing but fight for racial integrity . as I have done in the past, serving God and begging his help and protection".
ARCHBISHOP RU MMEL believes that the antiinlegrationists are small in number, and that those among them who would reject Church authority arc smaller still. This seems to be borne out by the remarkable pupil registration for the September term carried out the week of April 13. when instead of the mass boycott of the Catholic schools predicted by the segregationists 74,000 children enrolled in 116 schools, approximately 95 per cent of the 1961 registration. There are no figures of the number of coloured pupils registered as according to the Rev. Elmo Romagosa "we do not register students by race". However, the previous all-Negro Catholic schools had an enrolment last year of 10,850.
Fifty-five per cent of New Orleans population of 1,500.000 arc Catholics. New Orleans has the largest Catholic Negro population of any city in the U.S. Twenty-five per cent are Catholics. In the predominantly Negro areas. there will be little change next September. In fringe areas of mixed white and coloured, the integration of Catholic schools will have a tremendous effect on the city schools in the same area. Archbishop Rummel appears to have won the fight.
THE Archbishop has won although he has shunned publicity and the well-meant aid of Catholic laymen who agreed with him. 1 v.ielve hours after the organization of "Catholic Laymen Supporting School Integration"
had been formed. it was disbanded at his powerful suggestion. He was reluctant to have his flock divided publicly and was also afraid of physical strife. In its brief twelve hours, the president of the action group, Harold Ditman, appeared on television calling upon all Catholics agreeing with the Bishop's authority to stand up and be counted.
He spent the rest of the night answering obscene telephone calls. A police guard was established at his home the following day to turn back scores of delivery trucks attempting to secure payment for food, liquor and merchandise he had never ordered.
Unpublicised is the aid given by a public relations committee of laymen frequently consulted by the Chancery office, and by the Knights of Columbus. Both have prevailed upon the New Orleans newspapers to play down racial conflict, and have cautioned newspaper photographers and television camera crews that the appearance of cameras and the opportunity for members of a group to get their features on newsprint or television screens often results in news being created on the spot. There's to he no circus when Catholic schools re-open next September as integrated units.