The slaves’ descendants announced that they had raised $115,000 in seed money for the proposed institution, which would be set up in partnership with Georgetown. That sum matches the amount that the Jesuits received for the slaves they sold in 1838 to pay for the university’s expenses.
Writing in Crisis, Father Cornelius Buckley, SJ, observes that the Jesuit ownership of slaves in the 19th century was a clear violation of papal decrees condemning the practice. Thus he writes: “it is important to see that disobedience to papal teaching was the point of departure from which Georgetown and other Jesuit colleges in the United States plotted their course.”
Father Cornelius Buckley explains :
Slavery as an institution should be condemned. This was precisely the position of Pope Paul III, when in 1537, he outlawed slavery and condemned those who owned or sold slaves. Three years later he approved the rule of Ignatius of Loyola and his companions constituting them as a religious order. Of course, not many paid much attention to the pope’s strong statements against black slavery. It was too advantageous for black chiefs who sold their people and for white traders who purchased them and transported them to the New World. But then in 1639, at the insistence of the Jesuits in Paraguay, where the Spaniards where enslaving the indigenous peoples, Pope Urban VIII issued another bull confirming what Paul had decreed and adding strength to it. Then, less than fifty years later, the Jesuits in Maryland were slave owners. So, in order to put into its proper perspective the historical fact that the 1838 Georgetown Jesuits were owners and sellers of slaves, it is important to see that disobedience to papal teaching was the point of departure from which Georgetown and other Jesuit colleges in the United States plotted their course.
So what's they big deal? It's not as if they were denying someone contraceptives.