More than a decade before the Civil Rights Act became national law Bishop Vincent Waters was actively desegregating the parishes, schools, hospitals, and other institutions of the Diocese of Raleigh in North Carolina. Bishop Waters had studied at the North American College in Rome where his friendship with the black cook — who was American, and who wanted to be a priest but was barred due to the color of his skin — helped him realize the deep injustice of racist policies and segregation. As bishop he wrote multiple pastoral letters on racism, calling it a “heresy” in one.
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