Fogarty, Gerald P.

History of American Catholicism


Catholicism in the United States has often been in a dilemma.  On the one hand, its spiritual loyalty to Rome and its growth through immigration made it appear "foreign" to most Americans.  On the other, the American Catholic support for religious liberty drew suspicion from Rome.  In 1960, the election of John Kennedy seemed to signal the acceptance of Catholics as Americans.  In 1965, the Second Vatican Council seemed to ratify what had long been a cherished American Catholic tradition.  To understand the significance of these events of the 1960s, the course will treat the following themes: the early Spanish and French settlements, the beginning of English-speaking Catholicism in Maryland, with its espousal of religious liberty, the establishment of the hierarchy under John Carroll and its early development of a strong sense of episcopal collegiality, immigration and nativism, American Catholic support of religious liberty and conflict with the Vatican at the end of the 19th century, and the American Catholic contribution to Vatican II (1962-1965).  The course will conclude with an analysis of social, political, and theological developments in the American Catholic Church since the end of the council.

Course requirements: 1) a mid-term and final exam; 2) an analysis of an historical document selected from collections on reserve.

Course Instructor: 
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Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


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