Catholic efforts to use the Civil War, both during the 1860s and after, were ultimately unsuccessful in defeating anti-Catholicism and nativism in American society. As a result, Catholics partially separated themselves from non-Catholic Americans in order to protect their religious faith and ethnic traditions. The continued strength of anti-Catholicism in the 1920s, despite the much more patriotic response of the hierarchy and laity to the First World War, underscored the limits of relying on a military conflict to end long-standing prejudices in American society. It was only after the end of the Second World War and the election of the first Catholic president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, that Catholicism became more widely tolerated in American society. In commemorating Father William Corby’s actions at Gettysburg 150 years later, Notre Dame President John Jenkins ironically sided with Catholic opponents of the Civil War who wanted to use dialogue with the South to end the conflict peacefully.
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