American Catholicism Transformed

8Cf. Jeffrey Marlett, Saving the Heartland: Catholic Missionaries in Rural America (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University ... 11Quiñonez and Turner, The Transformation of American Sisters, 12–13; Helen Sanders, SL, More Than Renewal: ...

American Catholicism Transformed

Situating the church within the context of post-World War II globalization and the Cold War, American Catholicism Transformed draws on previously untapped archival sources to provide deep background to developments within the American Catholic Church in relationship to American society at large. Shaped by anti-communist sentiment and responsive to American cultural trends, the Catholic community adopted "strategies of domestic containment," stressing the close unity between the Church and the "American way of life." A focus on the unchanging character of God's law as expressed in social hierarchies of authority, race, and gender provided a public visage of unity and uniformity. However, the emphasis on American values mainstreamed into the community the political values of personal rights, equality, acceptance of the arms race, and muted the Church's inherited social vision. The result was a deep ambivalence over the forces of secularization. The Catholic community entered a transitional stage in which "those on the right" and "those on the left" battled for control of the Church's vision. International networking, reform of religious life among women, international congresses of the laity, the institutionalization of the liturgical movement, and the burgeoning civil right movement positioned the community to receive the Vatican Council in a distinctly American way. During the Second Vatican Council, the American bishops and theological experts gradually adopted the reforming currents of the world-wide Church. This convergence of international and national forces of renewal -- and resistance to them -- says Joseph Chinnici, will continue to shape the American Catholic community's identity in the twenty-first century.

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