Many remarkable Catholics have had a significant impact on the Catholic Church in the United States and American society: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, President John F. Kennedy, Father Michael McGivney, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Flannery O’Connor, Cardinal Francis Spellman and Dorothy Day, among others.
Widely published author and journalist Russell Shaw provides a collection of profiles of the aforementioned Catholics, and others, and explores the ongoing — and often controversial — effort of Catholics to work out their identity in a secular, and sometimes hostile, society in his new book, CATHOLICS IN AMERICA: Religious Identity and Cultural Assimilation from John Carroll to Flannery O’Connor.
Shaw poses a fundamental challenge to the conventional wisdom of Catholic Americanist historiography, which takes cultural assimilation for granted. The oldest question in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States may be: “Is it possible to be a good Catholic and a good American?” In CATHOLICS IN AMERICA, Shaw documents the variety of answers that have been given to date and demonstrates that the question is timelier now than ever before.
“These portraits of 15 key Catholics from our nation’s history make for a compelling experience of the tensions that exist between our Christian identity and the powerful appeal of American secular culture,” says Most Rev. Charles Chaput, archbishop of Philadelphia, of CATHOLICS IN AMERICA. “This is a small book with big content. It offers wonderful help, vividly readable and wise, in understanding the dilemmas and paradoxes of the Catholic Church in the United States.”
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