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Roman Catholicism in the United StatesA Thematic History$
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Margaret M. McGuinness and James T. Fisher

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823282760

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823282760.001.0001

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Left Coast Catholicism: The Tradition of Dissent in the California Church

Left Coast Catholicism: The Tradition of Dissent in the California Church

Chapter:
(p.63) Three Left Coast Catholicism: The Tradition of Dissent in the California Church
Source:
Roman Catholicism in the United States
Author(s):

Jeffrey M. Burns

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823282760.003.0004

This chapter argues that independence, innovation, bold action, and openness to change—traditions uniquely nurtured in California from its beginnings—shaped Catholic experience in the Golden State. It presents a treatment of the formative California missions that focuses on the “first dissenter,” Fray José Maria Fernandez, a critic of the exploitation of Indians in the late 1790s who was persecuted by enemies (and later by many historians) as mad or brain-damaged, yet endured in his advocacy work. In the twentieth century, California Catholics engaged issues of great importance for the whole church; the local church engaged in vigorous dialogue that addressed questions of work and social justice with a directness and intensity rarely witnessed in eastern cities, where ethnic tribalism so often undermined concerted action, especially action that called the church to account for failures to practice its own social teachings.

Keywords:   California, Catholicism, Catholics, Fray José Maria Fernandez, social justice, local church

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