Jesuits struggling to meet donation goal for slavery reparations

“I had hoped to be further along,” said Rev. Timothy P. Kesicki

Updated: August 16, 2022 - 7:58pm

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Last year, the Roman Catholic Jesuit Order vowed to raise $100 million to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves whom the order used, bought, or sold but so far, it has raised only a fraction of its target figure.

The priests, in partnership with Descendants Truth and Reconciliation Foundation, which represents the descendants of former slaves, hoped to have already raised millions at this stage. The order was to contribute an initial $15 million figure directly to the fund, according to the New York Times. Instead, the partnership has collectively managed just $180,000 thus far.

“I had hoped to be further along,” said Rev. Timothy P. Kesicki, chair of the trust. “But we need to show more growth... and that’s a challenge and a pressure that I carry every day.”

Foundation President Joseph M. Stewart wrote to the order's senior leaders in Rome, seeking support in holding the American order accountable to its promise. “It is becoming obvious to all who look beyond words that Jesuits are not delivering in deed,” Stewart wrote to Jesuit Superior General Rev. Arturo Sosa, per the Times. “The bottom line is that without your engagement, this partnership seems destined to fail.”

The order maintained plantations in the state of Maryland, initially established as safe haven for Roman Catholics during the colonial era. It previously sold off much of the land that it cultivated using slaves. The Times highlighted plans for the order to sell its remaining plantation land to fund the endeavor and to also contribute the revenue from a prior $57 million sale, though that money has yet to be transferred.

Stewart, in his letter called on the order to complete its $100 million pledge by the end of the year and to commit to raising a total of $1 billion by 2029.