I don't see anything racist in the text. There's nothing I see that directly attacks what it calls the "negroid" race.
The quotes phrase definitely is way too broad, and quite patronizing. But neither of these are unusual in encyclopedia entries (or even academic writing) of the time.
As for the Catholic Church... THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA DOES NOT REPRESENT THE OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, EITHER IN 1911 OR TODAY.
Yes, the encylcopedia has an imprimatur/Nihil Obstat. But that means that there's nothing inside of it contrary to the faith (as it was at that time), as determined by the censor.
Yes, the encylcopedia does contain Catholic teachings, but it contains MUCH more than that. It's a work by Catholic professors, trying to provide what was then the insights of the latest scholarship for the educated reader.
In my view, its flaws include:
- inconsistency: the articles are written to different standards. Some are well written according to the highest standards of objectivity you can set; others fall FAR short of academic objectivity and accuracy.
- too many opinions: frequently, the authors give their own opinions, theological or otherwise, on an issue the Church as a whole has not made a decision on.
- rationalist critique: rationalist debunking of "unprovable myths" was fashionable among orthodox Catholic scholars then (the emergence of rampant heterodoxy in Catholic universities today has generally made orthodox Catholic scholars much more careful when they speculate). There are LOTS of times when it says "such and such a tradition about Saint X has no proof it has a miracle; therefore it should not believed", sometimes in direct conflict with the opinion of the Church -then or now.
- inaccuracies: there's been a LOT of scholarship in the past century in just about every topic in that encyclopedia which has provided incontrovertible facts that make some (not all by any means, just some) of the articles either obsolete or laughably inaccurate. I know most people on this board will say "oh it's modern scholarship, so it must be evil". Sometimes, you do have to take modern scholarship with a grain of salt. But other times it provides incontrovertible evidence and insights about a particular topic.
- changes in Church teaching since then: as much as Tradist types will howl about it, the Catholic Church has come out with decisive statements in the past 100 years on various subjects which overturn theological opinions that were widely accepted back in 1911. Vatican II and other documents before and since have decisively ruled on subjects like "who can be saved?", or the legitimacy of the Orthodox position.
The article on Hesychasm is an example of the encylopedia's strengths and flaws. It gives an OK history of the controversy between Barlaam and St. Gregory Palamas (yes, I said Saint) and the subsequent decisions. But where it presents the Hesycast opinion, it does so in an unobjective and polemical manner; I'm no expert in Palamite theology but I'd imagine it's wrong in several areas. The article's condescension DOES NOT represent the Catholic Church's opinion on Hesychasm at all.
So, the Catholic Encylcopedia is a generally OK reference book for Catholic theology, circa 1911. There's a lot of good stuff in there. But it must be read with caution; some things are dated or outright false. And it's NOT the official position of the Catholic Church; those who wish to find such should go to this site:http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/