Catholic Order Struggles to Raise $100 Million to Atone for Slave Labor

A prominent order of Catholic priests vowed last year to raise $100 million to atone for its participation in the American slave trade. At the time, church leaders and historians said it would be the largest effort by the Roman Catholic Church to make amends for the buying, selling and enslavement of Black people in the United States.

But 16 months later, cash is only trickling in.

The Jesuit priest leading the fund-raising efforts said he had hoped that his order would have secured several multimillion-dollar donations by now, in addition to an initial $15 million investment made by the order. Instead, only about $180,000 in small donations has flowed into the trust the Jesuits created in partnership with a group of descendants whose ancestors were enslaved by the Catholic priests.

Alarmed by the slow pace of fund-raising, the leader of the group of descendants that has partnered with the Jesuits wrote to Rome earlier this month, urging the order’s worldwide leader to ensure that…

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This article was written by Rachel L. Swarns and originally published on