This chapter begins by reviewing the development of U.S. Catholic history over the past century and a half. It then argues that the authors in the present volume represent the next stage in U.S. Catholic historiography. They represent serious scholarship that is better integrated into the U.S. story. Today, U.S. Catholic historians find themselves in an interesting position—they are no longer part of a struggling, defensive minority community, but are still on the periphery. The Catholic Church now matters, sometimes. In the twenty-first century, historians will have to unpack the incredible complexity of a church that is both post-immigrant and still essentially immigrant; a church that consists of all social classes and political parties; and a church that continually struggles to apply and integrate its social message in the face of an increasingly disjointed yet global world.
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