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The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History$
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Paul Harvey and Edward Blum

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231140201

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231140201.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Catholicism in America

Catholicism in America

(p.321) 17. Catholicism in America
The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History

Leslie Woodcock Tentler

Columbia University Press

This chapter surveys the history of Catholicism in America. Prior to 1830, Catholics were a negligible group in the American population: no more than one percent of the inhabitants counted in the census of 1790 and not much more than two percent in that of 1820. Anglo-American Catholics, living primarily in Maryland and Pennsylvania, were still the most numerous. Change came quickly after 1830. By the time of the Civil War, Catholics—more and more concentrated in the North and increasingly in cities—constituted the nation's single largest denomination. Immigration fueled this remarkable growth, particularly from famine-stricken Ireland and Germany. The long papacy of John Paul II provided many American Catholics with a strengthened sense of religious purpose and confessional identity. Since the 1970s, historians have produced significant studies of Catholic religious practice and “lived religion”—the quintessence of Catholic difference. They have explored distinctively Catholic understandings of freedom and sexuality, along with other themes such as Catholic education, gender history, and even episcopal biography.

Keywords:   American history, Catholicism, America, Catholics, immigration, John Paul II, freedom, sexuality, Catholic education, gender

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