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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let None Dare Call it Liberty: The Catholic Church in Colonial America by Dr. Marian T. Horvat @ TraditionInAction.org

As my 10th grader and I are going over this period of time in American History, and since persecution was brought up in another thread, this caught my eye.

Let None Dare Call it Liberty: The Catholic Church in Colonial America by Dr. Marian T. Horvat @ TraditionInAction.org: "American History

Tradition In Action


Let None Dare Call it Liberty:
The Catholic Church in Colonial America

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

Relatively little attention has been paid to the relentless hostility toward the Catholics of our 13 English colonies in the period that preceded the American Revolution. Instead, historians have tended to concentrate only on the story of the expansion of the tiny Catholic community of 1785, which possessed no Bishop and hardly 25 priests, into the mighty organization we see today that spreads its branches from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

To show this progress of Catholicism is good and legitimate. But to avoid presenting the persecution the Church suffered in the pre-Revolution colonial period is to offer an incomplete or partial history. It ignores the early story of our Catholic ancestors. It would be like describing the History of the Church only after the Edict of Milan, when the Church emerged from the Catacombs, pretending there had never been a glorious but terrible period of martyrdom.


An optimistic view that conflicts with reality

It should not be surprising that this cloud of general omission concerning Catholicism in the colonial period (1600-1775) should have settled over the Catholic milieu given the optimistic accounts written by such notable Catholic historians as John Gilmary Shea, Thomas Maynard, Theodore Roemer, and Thomas McAvoy. (1) These historians, whose works provided the foundation for Catholic school history books up until recently (when a different kind of revisionist history is replacing them), only briefly acknowledge and downplay a period of repression and persecution of Catholics.

What they have stressed is what might be called the "positive" stage of Catholic colonial history that begins in the period of the American Revolution. This period has been glossed with an unrealistic interpretation that freedom of religion was unequivocally established and the bitter, deeply-entrenched anti-Catholicism miraculously dissolved in the new atmosphere of tolerance and liberty for all. This in fact did not happen.


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3 comments:

Sal said...

Elena-
just an FYI. You might want to vet Horvat's stuff closely. She keeps some questionable company:
http://www.traditioninaction.org/tiabk002.htm

Clare said...

I'm wondering what happened to the conversation with Jennie. I was finding it very interesting. Did Jennie drop out?

Tracie said...

I really love Horvat's articles on manners and Catholic etiquette.

Unfortunately, she is definitely a "rad trad" who has issues with practically everything post-VII (and I say this as someone who attend a Traditional Latin Mass).

While there is much good on the Tradition in Action website, plenty of it is not. My first inclination is to not let protestants know that there are fundamentalist "crazies" in the Catholic Church. But, as a convert, I think that it's useful. The Catholic Church is wide and large, and there is room for all of us as long as we don't dissent from basic doctrine.