Skip to comments.Burial site set for priest Klansman killed in'21 (Fr. Coyle)
Posted on 08/20/2006 7:47:10 AM PDT by markomalley
The planned new grave for a Catholic priest killed 85 years ago in downtown Birmingham has been dug next to St. Paul's Cathedral.
The Rev. James E. Coyle, who became pastor of St. Paul's Cathedral in 1904, was shot to death on the porch of the rectory, the priest's house, on Aug. 11, 1921. He is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.
The Rev. Richard Donohoe, current pastor of the cathedral, plans to seek Vatican approval for moving Coyle's remains.
"It would make his grave more visible and accessible to the people, for reflection on his cause for being declared a martyr or a saint," Donohoe said. "It would be appropriate to have his body where he died."
Bishop David E. Foley, who retired in February 2005 but still serves as administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham, said the possibility of asking for sainthood for Coyle is still in the early stages. Moving the grave will have to wait until that process begins, he said.
"You can't open a grave of anyone who might be coming up for canonization," Foley said. "Once the process of canonization begins, there is a ritual to open the grave and see the condition of the proposed saint's body."
A body that doesn't decay can be considered evidence toward a person's sainthood, Foley said.
Foley said he's hoping Pope Benedict XVI will appoint a new bishop to Birmingham by this fall. The next bishop likely would be the one to initiate a request that Coyle be considered for sainthood, Foley said.
Foley said he believes Coyle has the credentials for martyrdom, but he has not requested canonization yet because supporters are still researching Coyle's life to make the case for sainthood.
"We're in the information-gathering process," he said. "We're not there yet. It's very early. We're trying to find out as much as we can about his life. He died what we consider a martyr's death, but we have to show that."
The new grave for Coyle has been dug near the iron gate on Fourth Avenue North behind the cathedral. A vault has been placed in the ground, between two brick columbarium walls where parishioners will be able to purchase space for burial of their ashes.
The columbarium is being built as part of the renovation of the former St. Paul's School and beautification of the courtyard.
As part of the $4.5 million project, the former school building will be turned into a conference center with a 70-foot-tall bell tower. The old asphalt playground has been ripped up to make room for the columbarium, and concrete will be replaced with grass, trees, park benches, brick pillars and a fountain.
If Coyle's body is moved, it would be his second re-burial. He was first buried in the old Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery, near what is now UAB's Alys Stephens Center. Those graves were moved to Elmwood in 1936.
As part of the effort to honor Coyle, Donohoe also hopes to rename the rectory "The Coyle House." The red brick structure was completed after Coyle's death, replacing the wooden frame structure where he was killed on the front porch.
"They began building it as a gift to him from the people to thank him for his service," Donohoe said.
Minister shot him:
Coyle became pastor of St. Paul's Cathedral during a period of rising anti-Catholic bigotry in Birmingham fueled by the Ku Klux Klan.
Future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black defended Coyle's killer, a Klan member, and gained an acquittal based on an appeal to the jury's ethnic and religious prejudice.
Coyle's killing brought Birmingham's religious and ethnic turmoil to a climax in an era dominated by Klan bigotry. The Klan of the time targeted blacks, Jews and Roman Catholics for persecution.
The Rev. Edwin R. Stephenson, a Methodist minister who conducted weddings at the Jefferson County Courthouse, gunned down Coyle after becoming irate that Coyle had officiated at the marriage of his daughter, Ruth, to a Puerto Rican, Pedro Gussman.
As defense attorney, Black had Gussman summoned into the courtroom and questioned him about his curly hair.
"Lights were arranged in the courtroom so that the darkness of Gussman's complexion would be accentuated," said an Oct. 20, 1921, newspaper account of the final day of the trial.
Years later Black renounced his Klan ties and became one of the most liberal members of the U.S. Supreme Court. After the acquittal, Stephenson once again was a regular at the courthouse, conducting marriages.
Look at these luminaries of the reformation and their attitude: ---------------------- Martin Luther (Lutheran) "We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist...personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist." (Aug. 18, 1520) Taken from The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 2., pg. 121 by Froom. (In response to a papal bull [official decree]): "I despise and attack it, as impious, false... It is Christ Himself who is condemned therein... I rejoice in having to bear such ills for the best of causes. Already I feel greater liberty in my heart; for at last I know that the pope is antichrist, and that his throne is that of Satan himself." --D'Aubigné, b.6, ch. 9.
Cotton Mather (Congregational Theologian) "The oracles of God foretold the rising of an Antichrist in the Christian Church: and in the Pope of Rome, all the characteristics of that Antichrist are so marvelously answered that if any who read the Scriptures do not see it, there is a marvelous blindness upon them." Taken from The Fall of Babylon by Cotton Mather in Froom's book, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 3, pg. 113.
John Wesley (Methodist) Speaking of the Papacy he said, "He is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers... He it is...that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped...claiming the highest power, and highest honour...claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone." Taken from Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms by John Wesley, pg. 110.
Ellen G. White: Seven Day Adventists "This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of "the man of sin" foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan's power--a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.
Thomas Cranmer (Anglican) "Whereof it followeth Rome to be the seat of antichrist, and the pope to be very antichrist himself. I could prove the same by many other scriptures, old writers, and strong reasons." (Referring to prophecies in Revelation and Daniel.) Taken from Works by Cranmer, Vol. 1, pp. 6-7.
Roger Williams (First Baptist Pastor in America) He spoke of the Pope as "the pretended Vicar of Christ on earth, who sits as God over the Temple of God, exalting himself not only above all that is called God, but over the souls and consciences of all his vassals, yea over the Spirit of Christ, over the Holy Spirit, yea, and God himself...speaking against the God of heaven, thinking to change times and laws; but he is the son of perdition (II Thess. 2)." Taken from The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers by Froom, Vol. 3, pg. 52.
1689 London Baptist Confession
Chapter 26: Of the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. ( Colossians 1:18; Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11, 12; 2 Thessalonians 2:2-9 )
John Knox (Scotch Presbyterian) Knox wrote to abolish "that tyranny which the pope himself has for so many ages exercised over the church" and that the pope should be recognized as "the very antichrist, and son of perdition, of whom Paul speaks." Taken from The Zurich Letters, pg. 199 by John Knox.
John Calvin (Presbyterian) "Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt... I shall briefly show that (Paul's words in II Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy." Taken from Institutes by John Calvin. --------------------
The published version of the Hugo Black Symposium reports, "Some of those who knew [Black] offered additional reasons for his joining. Herman Beck, a leading Jewish merchant in Birmingham encouraged his young friend Black to become a Klansman so that he could help contain the trouble-making element just coming to the fore of the organization in Alabama.".
Uh, see, I only joined that lynch mob to see that it didn't get out of control, ya know...
Only a liberal could believe something like that.
You know, I'm going to start thanking
the woman who cleans the restroom in
the building I work in. I'm going to start
thinking of her as a human being
Pity that those who constantly post flame-bait against Catholics don't reflect your sentiment...I've noticed that they're awfully quiet right now....
You surely love to throw kerosene on fires, don't you?
Gasoline works better.
"Years later Black renounced his Klan ties and became one of the most liberal members of the U.S. Supreme Court."
A leopard doesn't change its spots.
Innocent Catholic priest murdered by angry, hate-filled, racist Protestant.
I wonder if Goldstein talks about this in his book:
I have no idea where my copy is!
I wonder if Goldstein talks about this in his book:
I have no idea where my copy is!
As though the two are mutually exclusive. Evidently the author's never heard of Senator Byrd.
A Jesuit priest lynched by the Klan in Iowa?
Are you sure about that?
The local KKK burned a Cross in his backyard. I don't know if Sheets Byrd was in the neighborhood with his Hood...
As for the substance of the article, I was worried that they hadn't recovered the body in the first place.
The Klan in Colorado burned a cross on my great-grandparents' lawn. Glad the Kluxers are mostly dead. Do FBI agents still infiltrate the Klan?
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