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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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The Church and American Catholics

The Church and American Catholics

(p.304) Fourteen The Church and American Catholics
Roman Catholicism in the United States

Chester Gillis

Fordham University Press

This chapter shows that the Second Vatican Council called the whole church to engage the world in a spirit of joy and hope. The U.S. Catholic bishops—following an unprecedented process of consultation with other citizens—gradually adopted a prophetic stance as world citizens rather than imperial monarchs. In the 1980s, the U.S. bishops attracted global notice via their pastoral letters on nuclear weaponry and economic justice. There were no more bars to the church's wholehearted participation in the public arena, but the bishops' intended audience—especially including many Catholics—now ascribed an advisory role at best to these shepherds' teachings. Church leaders operated within a competitive marketplace of ideas—ideas warily assessed by consumers regardless of their source.

Keywords:   Second Vatican Council, Catholic Church, American Catholic bishops, pastoral letters

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