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The Catholic Studies Reader$
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James T. Fisher and Margaret M. McGuinness

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823234103

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823234103.001.0001

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A Definition of Catholic

A Definition of Catholic

Toward a Cosmopolitan Vision

(p.129) 6 A Definition of Catholic
The Catholic Studies Reader



Fordham University Press

Catholic Studies emerges in the North American context precisely at a time when the boundaries for identifying “Catholic” are contested. Under conditions of globalization when persons shift in and out of a variety of local and transnational affiliations, the identifier is not as clear as perhaps it once was. This chapter proposes a method of rigorous interrogation not only of “what is Catholic” but also “what Catholic is.” It shows that the “Catholic” in Catholic Studies never represents the totality of personal and spiritual identity for Catholic persons: it constitutes but one element among many that contribute to forging personal, spiritual, and intellectual identities. It argues that the challenge for Catholic Studies is to generate scholarly and pedagogical practices that recognize the essentially hybrid character of “Catholic,” an insight that the author intuitively shares with British scholar Paul Giles, who suggested in a 1999 essay that Catholicism in America flourishes “as a form of hybridity, modulating the very different (often antagonistic) forces with which it has come in contact.”.

Keywords:   Catholic Studies, Catholic, globalization, personal identity, spiritual identity, intellectual identity, Catholicism, Paul Giles, America, hybridity

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