Sociology Catholicism
by
Tricia C. Bruce
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 October 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0045

Introduction

The sociology of Catholicism, like the sociology of religion more broadly, examines how individuals, communities, and organizations engage with religion in social contexts. Its emergence in the late 1930s came in response to perceptions of anti-Catholicism in sociology and academe as a whole, combined with a rejection of strict positivism. Though a number of contributors have themselves been priests, nuns, or lay adherents, the sociology of Catholicism is distinct from a “Catholic sociology” with allegiance to church teachings. Focus in the sociology of Catholicism lies not only on “official” doctrine, teaching, and authority, but also (and even more so) on the ways in which everyday Catholics adhere to or dissent from these formal components of Catholicism. Tension with modernity and individualism emerges as a common theme. Scholarship encompasses the study of culture, social arrangements, and characteristics of Catholic populations. This study also translates into explorations of immigrant and racial groups, as well as regions where Catholicism predominates. Sociologists who study Catholicism employ a variety of methods, including surveys, field observation, interviews, content analysis, and historical comparisons. This article maps the field in relation to race, class, immigration, gender, sexuality, youth, family, modernity, and religious pluralism. It also identifies scholarship focused on church professionals (priests, nuns, and lay leaders), parishes, education, social movements, organizational change, and politics.

General Overviews

There are no textbooks in the sociology of Catholicism. Greeley 1979 comes closest to a review of the field, but its publication date makes the summaries largely outdated. General overviews tend to present a multifaceted analysis of Catholic demographics and behavior, often relying upon national surveys. Reflecting the field overall, these works tend to have an American focus. D’Antonio, et al. 2013 reports on attitudes and behavior from a survey of Catholics nationally, the latest in a line of surveys now spanning twenty-five years. Likewise, Davidson, et al. 1997 presents an overview of key characteristics and points of unity and difference among American Catholics on the basis of a survey and interview data. Surveys are useful in the sociological study of Catholicism as a means of assessing how widely particular beliefs and behaviors are shared. Adding ethnographic depth to survey breadth is Baggett 2009 on the lived religious experiences of parish-going Catholics. Dolan 1992 contextualizes Catholic devotional practice in the social and cultural history of ethnic America. Dillon 1999 and Greeley 2000 both offer overviews of Catholic identity and distinguishing Catholic characteristics. Dillon 1999 is more grounded in social theory; Greeley 2000 is written for a largely popular audience. The 2007 multi-author devoted issue from the U.S. Catholic Historian offers an overview of the sociological study of Catholicism as a field of study. It discusses both the sociological approach to Catholicism and the Catholic approach to sociology, as shaped by its major players.

  • Baggett, Jerome P. 2009. Sense of the faithful: How American Catholics live their faith. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Bringing ethnographic depth to the breadth of survey research on Catholics, this book describes the faith lives and communities of practicing Catholics at six parishes in Northern California. Paints a picture of lay Catholics as actively engaging with, disrupting, and reframing Catholic tradition.

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    • D’Antonio, William V., Michele Dillon, and Mary L. Gautier. 2013. American Catholics in transition. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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      This book reports the latest findings from five surveys of American Catholics, spanning twenty-five years. Chapters highlight differences among Catholics along the lines of gender, generation, and levels of commitment, with particular attention to the growing Latino Catholic population. Prior survey years also resulted in overview books on American Catholics; this is the most recent installment.

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      • Davidson, James D., Andrea S. Williams, Richard A. Lamanna, et al. 1997. The search for common ground: What unites and divides Catholic Americans. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division.

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        This book results from an eighteen-member research team of academics and Catholic Church professionals seeking to understand unity and diversity among Catholics. Combines survey, interview, and focus-group data. Focuses on faith and morals, generational differences, gender, race, parish participation, and other dividing characteristics. Contains practitioner-oriented commentary.

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        • Dillon, Michele. 1999. Catholic identity: Balancing reason, faith, and power. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511752728Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Describes how Catholics reconcile commitment to the faith with dissent from church teachings. Focuses especially on pro-choice Catholics, gay and lesbian Catholics, and Catholics who support women’s ordination. Makes several connections to social theory.

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          • Dolan, Jay P. 1992. The American Catholic experience: A history from colonial times to the present. Notre Dame, IN: Univ. of Notre Dame Press.

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            Traces Catholicism in America from the year 1500 to the modern day, attuned to the influence of immigration and establishment of Catholic-specific neighborhoods, parishes, and schools. Written from a social history—rather than purely sociological—perspective.

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            • Greeley, Andrew M. 1979. The sociology of American Catholics. Annual Review of Sociology 79.5: 91–111.

              DOI: 10.1146/annurev.so.05.080179.000515Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Dated but nonetheless useful point-in-time overview of the sociology of Catholicism as a field, written by one of its most prolific contributors. Summarizes and cites much of the most important work at the time, organized thematically. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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              • Greeley, Andrew M. 2000. The Catholic imagination. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press.

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                Written for a popular audience and therefore light in referencing specific sociological literature. Lays claim to a Catholic sensibility that is distinctive from that of Protestants and characterized by an interest in the fine arts, community orientation, concern with social justice, and awareness of social structure and grace.

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                • Special issue: American Catholics and the social sciences. 2007. U.S. Catholic Historian 25.4 (Fall).

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                  Describes the relationship between sociology and Catholicism from the perspective of several who have long participated in this line of study. Highlights tensions that exist at the intersection of social science and the church. Summarizes several landmark studies, contributors, and historical changes in the sociological approach to Catholicism (and a Catholic approach to social science). Articles available online by subscription.

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                  Core Texts

                  The sociology of Catholicism shares its classics in common with the sociology of religion more generally—notably, the work of Émile Durkheim (b. 1858–d. 1917), Max Weber (b. 1864–d. 1920), and Karl Marx (b. 1818–d. 1883). A handful of publications in later years have been particularly influential in shaping the methodologies, core questions, and theorizing specific to the sociology of Catholicism. Fichter 1951 is notable not only for its findings (contradictions between church teachings and the actual attitudes/practices of church-going Catholics), but also for the controversy it spawned among church hierarchy, ultimately leading to the suppression of the remaining volumes. Fichter and Greeley are both sociologist-priests. Greeley is among the most prolific contributors to the sociology of Catholicism (as well as being a fiction novelist). His works appear in several sections of this bibliography. Greeley 1989, for example, provides evidence of a distinctive, communal, Catholic ethic. Immigration emerges as a major theme in the sociology of Catholicism. Herberg 1983 sets the stage for understanding the conflation of ethnicity and religion in the Catholic encounter with Americanization. Greeley 1977 profiles American Catholics in light of how immigrant identities have shaped the Catholic experience. Casanova 1992 adds to this immigrant focus that of Catholicism’s minority religious status, global church ties, and public influence. And the work of Orsi 2010 (originally published in 1985) commands focus on the culturally rooted ritual practices of Catholic immigrants in urban environments.

                  • Casanova, José. 1992. Roman and Catholic and American: The transformation of Catholicism in the United States. International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 6.1: 75–111.

                    DOI: 10.1007/BF01417664Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Discusses the US Catholic Church’s encounter with modernization as shaped by (1) its status as a minority US religion, (2) equal protection under the law, (3) a heavily European immigrant influence, and (4) tensions that accompany being both “Catholic” and “American.” These characteristics led the church to act simultaneously as sect, denomination, national church, and universal church. Casanova’s same arguments also appear as a case study in his seminal subsequent book, Public religions in the modern world (Chicago: Univ. of Illinois Press, 2011). This article is available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                    • Fichter, Joseph H. 1951. Southern Parish: Dynamics of a city church. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                      Closely examines leadership and practice in a single parish, revealing discrepancies between official Catholic teaching and the actual behaviors of Catholics. Originally contracted as a four-book series, Southern Parish sparked great controversy among its author, (a Jesuit priest/sociologist) and Catholic leaders (most notably the pastor of the studied parish. Consequently, the latter three volumes were never published. The book may therefore be occasionally listed as “Volume 1” without any accompanying volumes. The book chartered a path for the sociology of the parish (and lived Catholicism) that continues to inform this line of study.

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                      • Greeley, Andrew M. 1977. The American Catholic: A social portrait. New York: Basic Books.

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                        Gives close attention to the impact of ethnicity and immigration on the acculturation and social mobility of US Catholics. Pulls together data from several studies on Catholics nationally. Reports changes in Catholic clergy, political behavior, schools, families, and neighborhoods.

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                        • Greeley, Andrew M. 1989. Protestant and Catholic: Is the analogical imagination extinct? American Sociological Review 54.4: 485–502.

                          DOI: 10.2307/2095873Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          To the question posed in the title, Greeley’s answer is “no.” The paper presents empirical evidence for the persistence of both a Protestant and Catholic ethic, the former of which is more individualistic and the latter of which is more communal. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                          • Herberg, Will. 1983. Protestant, Catholic, Jew: An essay in American religious sociology. Rev. ed. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                            This book is well known for its historical account of the emergence of a “triple melting pot” of major American religions. It provides a historical rendering of the Americanization of the Catholic Church, heavily influenced by Irish Catholics. Offers a primer for understanding how the Catholics came to be accepted as genuinely American. Cited extensively in religion and immigration studies. First published in 1960.

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                            • Orsi, Robert A. 2010. The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and community in Italian Harlem, 1880–1950. 3d ed. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale Univ. Press.

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                              Influential monograph on popular Catholicism in America. Intimate look at the lived religion of Italian immigrants in New York City’s East Harlem, focused centrally on street celebrations of the festa of la Madonna del Carmine. Devotional Catholic practices become a means of preserving ethnicity, culture, and a way of life. The books set a precedent for looking outside the church to better understand the lived religious experiences of Catholics (and all religious practitioners). Originally published in 1985.

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                              Journals

                              Though articles relating to the sociology of Catholicism appear in general-purpose sociology journals, they appear more frequently in journals with a specific focus on the sociology of religion. Most common among these are the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (JSSR), the Sociology of Religion, and the Review of Religious Research (RRR). Sociology of Religion was originally an outlet explicitly for Catholic sociologists (and was titled The American Catholic Sociological Review); it has since transitioned into a nonpartisan journal for the sociology of religion in general. Social Compass publishes more articles containing an international focus. Articles with a more historical bent may appear in U.S. Catholic Historian; those with a more political orientation may appear in the Journal of Church and State. The Catholic Social Science Review maintains an explicitly “Catholic” view, as the publication of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.

                              Data Sources and Research Centers

                              In addition to articles and books, primary sociological data on Catholicism can also be accessed via established research centers and online data archives. A handful of research centers provide frequent, sociologically grounded assessments of Catholic demographics, life, and practice. One of the oldest is CARA of Georgetown University, founded after Vatican II as a means of using social science to inform an understanding of the church. CARA publishes numerous reports and statistics, many of which are free online. CSPRI of Notre Dame is a much newer initiative, with a similar focus but less driven by client-based research. PEW contains an extensive and user-friendly collection of data on Catholics from its own national and international surveys. Good sources of primary data for secondary analysis include the ARDA and the OCD. The ARDA has the codebooks and findings from numerous surveys on religion, including Catholicism, as well as regional profiles and bibliographies. The OCD is released every year, featuring key demographic statistics reported by Catholic dioceses.

                              Catholic Church Professionals (Priests, Nuns, Lay Leaders)

                              Much of the literature on Catholic Church professionals describes and responds to declines in ordinations to the priesthood. The number of priests began to shrink rather precipitously after the Second Vatican Council. These trends are described in Schoenherr and Young 1993. Declines in vocations generally (i.e., priests along with nuns and other religious) and possible empirical explanations are described in Stark and Finke 2000 and Wittberg 1994. Wittberg is herself a sociologist and Catholic sister. Schoenherr 2002 explores the implications of vocational decline for mandatory celibacy and the male-only priesthood. Another line of literature—represented here in Wallace 1992 and Wallace 2003—looks at alternative ministry options that have arisen in response to the priest shortage. This includes the use of lay leaders such as female and married male lay pastoral ministers. More recently, literature on Catholic professionals has taken into account the impact of the scandal of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Published in the wake of the 2002 scandal, Hoge and Wenger 2003 concludes with an epilogue considering how its pre-crisis survey and its post-crisis publication fit into the changing public conversation on priests. Gautier, et al. 2012 is among the first studies to offer an extended focus on priests in light of the scandal, including interviews and focus groups with priests themselves.

                              • Gautier, Mary L., Paul M. Perl, and Stephen J. Fichter. 2012. Same call, different men: The evolution of the priesthood since Vatican II. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

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                                Reporting on trend data from surveys of Catholic priests and spanning forty years, this book outlines the changing demographics, satisfaction, and ministry challenges of US priests. It considers the impact of declining numbers of priests and an increasingly diverse US Catholic population. An extended focus on the effects of the sexual abuse scandal in the church includes rich interview data and selected profiles of nine individual priests.

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                                • Hoge, Dean R., and Jacqueline E. Wenger. 2003. Evolving visions of the priesthood: Changes from Vatican II to the turn of the century. Collegeville. MN: Liturgical Press.

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                                  Based on surveys of priests conducted in 2001, just prior to the peak of news coverage regarding clergy abuse in the church. Compares older and younger priests, the latter of whom privilege more traditional views of separation between lay and ordained clergy in the church. An epilogue considers the “effects of the 2002 sexual misconduct crisis.” Author Dean Hoge studied and published widely on priests and was considered an expert in the area.

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                                  • Schoenherr, Richard A. 2002. Goodbye Father: The celibate male priesthood and the future of the Catholic Church. Edited by David Yamane. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                    Extrapolating from evidence presented his 1993 book detailing the priest shortage, Schoenherr argues here that social forces bring to the forefront issues of mandatory celibacy and male exclusivity in the priesthood. Writes not dispassionately about organizational change in religion that ultimately necessitates radical reconsideration of the priesthood and patriarchy more broadly. This book, edited by Yamane after Schoenherr’s death, was reduced from an originally much larger manuscript.

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                                    • Schoenherr, Richard A., and Lawrence A. Young. 1993. Full pews and empty altars: Demographics of the priest shortage in United States Catholic dioceses. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

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                                      Provides extensive demographic data on the declining numbers of priests serving a growing population of US Catholics. Based on twenty-year trend data from a random sample of US dioceses. Informs the arguments made in Schoenherr 2002.

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                                      • Stark, Rodney, and Roger Finke. 2000. Catholic religious vocations: Decline and revival. Review of Religious Research 42.2: 125–145.

                                        DOI: 10.2307/3512525Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Seeks to explain the sharp decline in vocations among Catholic priests, nuns, and monks. Refutes arguments positing that increased career options explain the decreasing number of nuns in particular. Looks at the impact of Vatican II as well as local diocesan contexts. Discusses vocational trends in terms of perceived costs and benefits. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                        • Wallace, Ruth A. 1992. They call her pastor: A New role for Catholic women. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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                                          One consequence of the growing priest shortage has been priestless parishes and the increasing use of lay people in parish leadership. This book examines the rising prevalence of female parish administrators. Wallace provides an entry point for understanding church law, parish structure, and lived experience when circumstances necessitate alternative pastoral appointments.

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                                          • Wallace, Ruth A. 2003. They call him pastor: Married men in charge of Catholic parishes. New York: Paulist.

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                                            Furthers the exploration begun in Wallace 1992 on alternative modes of parish leadership. Examines married male pastors (deacons and lay men), describing the new parish roles and collaborative leadership styles they introduce.

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                                            • Wittberg, Patricia. 1994. The rise and decline of Catholic religious orders: A social movement perspective. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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                                              Examines why Catholic religious orders succeed, fail, and face hardship in recruitment, financing, and spiritual vitality. Uses social movement theories to inform a historical analysis of religious order membership over twenty centuries.

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                                              The Catholic Church as Political Actor and Political Institution

                                              Considerations of Catholicism and politics turn inward as often as they turn outward. Especially since changes introduced during the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), sociologists have researched ideological tensions between modernity and tradition navigated by the church in the public arena as well as experienced by Catholics themselves. Kurtz 1986 suggests that dissenting Catholics actually help to shape boundaries around belief. D’Antonio 1994 writes of how this autonomy and dissent is accepted and rationalized by committed Catholics. Leege 1988 confirms at the parish level Catholics’ acceptance of leaders’ authority in social and political issues, but not personal ones. Burns 1996 introduces a cultural approach to studying Catholicism’s political culture, noting the usefulness of the church as a laboratory for examining dynamics of power and ideology. Burns 1992 paints a picture of Catholicism as a battle over the ideological core and periphery, which engenders a diversity of opinion, especially when it comes to sociopolitical issues. In a somewhat more traditional approach to religion and politics, Yamane 2005 and Prendergast 1999 track bishops’ strategies for advocating policy at the state level and Catholics’ voting patterns, respectively. Casanova 1996 concludes that the Catholic Church is reasserting its relevance on a global stage, particularly in regards to human rights.

                                              • Burns, Gene. 1992. The Frontiers of Catholicism: The politics of ideology in a liberal world. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                Maps ideological changes in the church since the early 19th century, with a focus on the papacy, American bishops and sisters, and Latin American Catholicism. How do institutional leaders assert authority or accommodate to a liberal, individualized world? Analyzes how power structures Catholic ideology at the intersection of political, cultural, and historical contexts.

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                                                • Burns, Gene. 1996. Studying the political culture of American Catholicism. Sociology of Religion 57.1: 37–53.

                                                  DOI: 10.2307/3712003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  Builds upon scholarship on the Catholic Church as a political institution; introduces the theoretical lens of cultural sociology. Discusses the usefulness of seeing the church as a complex, political institution with many ways to interpret shared doctrine. Outlines connections between this cultural approach and the dominant theoretical perspectives in the sociology of religion. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                  • Casanova, José. 1996. Global Catholicism and the politics of civil society. Sociological Inquiry 66.3: 356–373.

                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-682X.1996.tb00225.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    Examines shifts in the role of the Catholic Church as a political actor transnationally. Sees the public Catholic voice as having emerged from Vatican II, reasserting religion’s relevance for policy, particularly in human rights issues. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                    • D’Antonio, William. 1994. Autonomy and democracy in an autocratic organization: The case of the Roman Catholic Church. Sociology of Religion 55.4: 379–396.

                                                      DOI: 10.2307/3711978Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Good introduction to the paradox of institutional commitment and individual autonomy in the Catholic Church. Summarizes seemingly contradictory findings that Catholics as individuals and through voluntary associations rationalize their own dissent from church teachings, particularly those relating to moral authority. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                      • Kurtz, Lester R. 1986. The politics of heresy: The modernist crisis in Roman Catholicism. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                        Explores the role of the “deviant insider” and how dissenting views within the church may come to be labeled dangerous. Follows the case example of modernist Catholic thinkers in the early 20th century who suffered great criticism and censure by Vatican authorities. Suggests that the hunt for heretics actually helps to define beliefs. Access to this book may be difficult; Kurtz authored a journal article, The politics of heresy (1983, Journal of Sociology 88.6: 1085–1115). Article available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                        • Leege, David C. 1988. Catholics and the civic order: Parish participation, politics, and civic participation. Review of Politics 50.4: 704–736.

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                                                          Provides a historical and point-in-time assessment of Catholic civic involvement, analyzing data from the 1984 Notre Dame Study of Parish Life. Finds that most Catholic parishioners accept the moral authority of church leaders in social and political issues, but grant that authority less credence in issues of personal morality. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                          • Prendergast, William B. 1999. The Catholic voter in American politics: The passing of the Democratic monolith. Washington, DC: Georgetown Univ. Press.

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                                                            Long seen as a stronghold for the Democratic party, Catholics have in more recent years shifted away from these voting behaviors. Traces this change historically by examining changes in the Catholic population, changes in the parties, and changes in the political environment.

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                                                            • Yamane, David. 2005. The Catholic Church in state politics: Negotiating prophetic demands and political realities. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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                                                              Looks at state Catholic conferences’ political participation as a means of gauging the church’s political contributions to American democracy. Identifies numerous cultural and political pressures faced by bishops in advocating Catholic positions.

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                                                              Race and Class

                                                              Race in the sociology of Catholicism literature is treated as both identity and inequality. Sociologists have conducted research on how racial and ethnic differences distinguish and shape religious expression, behavior, and structure. Catholic parishes, rituals, organizations, and leadership are often organized along racial and ethnic lines. McGreevy 1996, a social history, presents a model for understanding the structural and cultural consequences of race and religion, here focused on contact between European immigrant Catholics and African Americans. Much of the contemporary scholarship on race in Catholicism is focused on Latino Catholics, given that Latinos constitute the highest non-white proportion of Catholic adherents in the United States and globally (see Immigration and Latino Catholics). Though a substantial minority of Catholics are Asian, there is little in the literature that focuses specifically in this area. Articles in the U.S. Catholic Historian issue listed in this section offer some qualitative data on Asian-specific Catholic communities. Given the major role of immigration in shaping American religion in particular, this literature can be found in a separate section (see Immigration and Latino Catholics). In society as in sociology, race and class often intersect. Lopez 2009 and Hunt and Hunt 1976 look at Latino and black Catholics, respectively, in light of social mobility and status attainment. Keister 2007 isolates race by examining social mobility among just non-Hispanic white Catholics. Lastly, Starks and Smith 2012 seeks to explain lower levels of financial giving among all Catholics.

                                                              • Hunt, Larry L., and Janet G. Hunt. 1976. Black Catholicism and the spirit of Weber. Sociological Quarterly 17.3: 369–377.

                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1533-8525.1976.tb00990.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                One of few articles that directly address sociological elements of black Catholicism. Considers links between Catholicism and blacks’ status attainment. Contemporary research tends to assess Catholicism among African-Americans in combination with other racial/ethnic groups or alongside other religious traditions. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                • Keister, Lisa A. 2007. Upward wealth mobility: Exploring the Roman Catholic advantage. Social Forces 85.3: 1195–1225.

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                                                                  Shows how marriage, education, religious values, and low birth rates contributed to Catholics’ increased wealth over time. Focuses on non-Hispanic white Catholics by using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                  • Lopez, David. 2009. Whither the flock? The Catholic Church and the success of Mexicans in America. In Immigration and religion in America: Comparative and historical perspectives. Edited by Richard Alba, Albert J. Raboteau, and Josh DeWind, 71–98. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                                                    Considers the Catholic Church’s role in the integration and social mobility of Latino immigrants, particularly Mexicans. Pulls together secondary sources to conclude that Catholicism has in fact done little to promote the upward mobility of Mexican Catholics. The focus on charity has limited Mexicans’ meaningful engagement with and access to power within the church. Catholic educational institutions serve few Latino Catholics, further stifling immigrants’ upward mobility.

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                                                                    • McGreevy, John T. 1996. Parish boundaries: The Catholic encounter with race in the twentieth-century urban North. Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                      Historical analysis of contact between white European immigrant Catholics and growing populations of African-Americans in several major American cities. The book covers the social construction of race among white immigrants, urban and racial reorganizing in predominantly Catholic areas, and the interlocking variables of religion, race, and community.

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                                                                      • Starks, Brian, and Christian Smith. 2012. Unleashing Catholic generosity: Explaining the Catholic giving gap in the United States. Notre Name, IN: Catholic Social and Pastoral Research Initiative (CSPRI) of University of Notre Dame.

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                                                                        Analyzes data from a national survey to profile, compare, and explain Catholics’ voluntary financial giving. Reports that, on average, Catholics are less likely than non-Catholics to give 10 percent or more of their income to voluntary causes. Discusses the tendency of Catholics to separate issues of finance from faith. Report is freely available online, and includes a discussion of practice-oriented implications of the research.

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                                                                        • Special issue: Asian-American Catholics. 2000. U.S. Catholic Historian 18.1 (Winter).

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                                                                          Full issue on Asian-American Catholics, with articles focused on Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and Filipino Catholics in the United States. Articles are mostly focused on specific parishes and communities, along with a discussion of historical contexts and the impact of immigration and minority status.

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                                                                          Immigration and Latino Catholics

                                                                          The history of Catholicism, and therefore the sociology of Catholicism, is deeply embedded in a history of immigration. Early work in this field (including Greeley 1977 and Herberg 1983, both cited under Core Texts and Dolan 1992, cited under General Overviews) examine European—largely white—waves of immigration. Themes in this literature include a focus on socioeconomic inequality and mobility, anti-Catholicism in a predominantly Protestant country, and the creation of separate neighborhoods, parishes, and organizations for ethnic Catholics. Orsi 2010 (cited under Core Texts) sets a precedent for understanding the popular religiosity of Catholics intertwined with immigrant and ethnic identities. More recently, examinations of immigration and the Catholic Church centralize the experience of post-1965 immigrant groups, including those from Latin America and Asia. Given the high proportion of Latinos who are Catholic (Perl, et al. 2006 estimates 70 percent) and the growing proportion of the church that is Latino, the study of Latino Catholicism is a burgeoning field. Badillo 2006 and Matovina 2012 provide the most comprehensive, albeit more historical and at times theological, assessments of a Latino Catholic experience. Ebaugh and Chaftez 2000 and Palmer-Boyes 2010 offer qualitative and quantitative assessments of the religiosity and congregational experiences of Latino Catholics. Vargas-Ramos and Stevens-Arroyo 2012 considers Latinos’ civic and political involvement, countering claims that Catholicism discourages civic participation. Finally, sources including Mooney 2009, Menjivar 1999, and Lopez 2009 (cited under Race and Class) consider the function and effectiveness of social service to new immigrant groups. Their conclusions differ as to the impact and ultimate success of service organizations for specific immigrant groups, variant among social contexts.

                                                                          • Badillo, David A. 2006. Latinos and the new immigrant church. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                                                            Provides a social history of Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Cuban American engagement with Catholicism in four major US cities. Concludes that unlike earlier waves of Catholic immigrants, post-1965 immigrant Catholics lack lay and clerical power in the church and introduce increasingly transnational forms of community.

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                                                                            • Ebaugh, Helen Rose, and Janet Saltzman Chaftez, eds. 2000. Religion and the new immigrants: Continuities and adaptations in immigrant congregations. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.

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                                                                              Chapters profile a variety of congregations joined or started by post-1965 waves of immigrants. This study includes two Catholic parishes—one primarily Mexican and another that serves a variety of ethnic/immigrant groups. The book is detailed in parish characteristics and well-contextualized in the literature on immigration.

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                                                                              • Matovina, Timothy. 2012. Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s largest church. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                Written from a historical perspective to shed light on the distinctive characteristics and core concerns of Latino Catholics in the United States. Suggests that while Euro-American Catholics have emphasized post-Vatican II reforms in authority and participation in church leadership, Latino Catholics are more concerned with the church as a resource for the alleviation of suffering.

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                                                                                • Menjivar, Cecilia. 1999. Religious institutions and transnationalism: A case study of Catholic and evangelical Salvadoran immigrants. International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 12.4: 589–612.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1023/A:1025990209941Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Looks at how religious organizations matter for sustaining immigrants’ connections to their countries of origin. Reveals how Catholic leaders promote immigrants’ cultural expressions of faith at the parish level, but necessarily within the context of panethnic unity. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                  • Mooney, Margarita A. 2009. Faith makes us live: Surviving and thriving in the Haitian diaspora. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                    Comparative ethnography of Catholic Haitian immigrants in Miami, Quebec, and Paris. Focuses on differing national contexts for church-state collaboration in social service provision. Reveals Catholicism’s myriad roles in the lives of disadvantaged immigrant groups.

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                                                                                    • Palmer-Boyes, Ashley. 2010. The Latino Catholic parish as a specialist organization: Distinguishing characteristics. Review of Religious Research 51.3: 302–323.

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                                                                                      Characterizes the impact of Latino immigration on American Catholicism, with a focus on the Latino parish. Integrates data from the National Congregations Study (1998) to compare religiosity, worship, demographics, and social service programs. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                      • Perl, Paul, Jennifer Z. Greeley, and Mark M. Gray. 2006. What proportion of adult Hispanics are Catholic? A Review of survey data and methodology. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 45.3: 419–436.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2006.00316.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Meta-analysis of twelve national surveys in an effort to better approximate the proportion of adult Hispanics who are Catholic. Concludes that around 70 percent of adult Hispanics are Catholic, with another 20 percent identifying as Protestant or other Christian. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                        • Vargas-Ramos, Carlos, and Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo, eds. 2012. Blessing la politica: The Latino religious experience and political involvement in the United States. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

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                                                                                          Edited volume responding to political science theories positing that Catholicism fosters less civic participation than Protestantism, especially among Latinos. The articles describe political involvement, voting patterns, and civic organizing at the intersection of religion. Includes a list of suggestions for further reading on Latinos and religion and “a layperson’s guide to research on Hispanics/Latinos.”

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                                                                                          Gender and Sexuality

                                                                                          Publications that address gender and sexuality in the sociology of Catholicism tend to focus on those who remain in the church despite holding seemingly contradictory stances on issues of moral authority. For this reason, the literature centralizes themes of dissent. Dillon 1999 offers a treatise on this classically American Catholic identity paradox via examinations of pro-gay, pro-choice, and pro-women’s-ordination Catholic groups. Wallace 1988 and Katzenstein 1998 offer numerous examples of how laity and religious sisters collectively reinterpret and challenge Catholic teaching that limits women’s roles. In a rare comparative glimpse, Ecklund 2005 presents interview data from women who agree with Catholic doctrines as Catholics, those who disagree and leave the church, and those who disagree but remain nonetheless. Alliaume 2006 offers a somewhat more theoretical consideration of how Catholic theology informs women’s gendered conceptions of themselves and their bodies. The author also considers the role of dissent in this gendered construction. The literature on sexuality in the sociology of Catholicism is often wrapped up in discussions of sexual morality and moral authority, at the core of many writings on Catholicism, especially Catholicism in America (see General Overviews). Less is written specifically about gay and lesbian Catholics. Exceptions include Dillon 1999, which traces the pro-gay Catholic group Dignity, and Yip 1997, which presents data from gay and lesbian Catholics in Britain. Again, both studies focus on Catholics who remain in the church despite disagreement with church teachings. One of the parishes profiled in Baggett 2009 (see General Overviews) is a predominantly gay and lesbian parish. Finally, Sullins 2010 offers one of the few sociological summaries of Catholic teaching on and attitudes toward same-sex marriage, though such data are more often presented in comparative focus with other religious affiliations.

                                                                                          • Alliaume, Karen Trimble. 2006. Disturbingly Catholic: Thinking the inordinate body. In Bodily citations: Religion and Judith Butler. Edited by Ellen T. Armour and Susan M. St. Ville, 93–119. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                            Considers official theology and dissenting views related to gender identity and roles in Catholicism. Discusses the inseparability of Catholic and gender identity for Catholic women. Analyzes Catholic practices in light of ideas from feminist scholar Judith Butler.

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                                                                                            • Dillon, Michele. 1999. Catholic identity: Balancing reason, faith, and power. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511752728Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Study of Catholics who maintain allegiance to the church despite being gay and lesbian, pro-choice, or for women’s ordination. Core contribution to understanding Catholics’ adherence and autonomy in issues of moral authority.

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                                                                                              • Ecklund, Elaine Howard. 2005. Different identity accounts for Catholic women. Review of Religious Research 47.2: 135–149.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/3512046Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Discusses women’s construction of Catholic identity in light of official Catholic teaching that limits their roles in the church. Compares and contrasts interview accounts of women who exit the church with those who remain involved. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                • Katzenstein, Mary Fainsod. 1998. Faithful and fearless: Moving feminist protest inside church and military. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                  Looks at the variety of efforts among Catholic laity and women religious to change church teachings on gender and women’s roles. Describes how women creatively reappropriate the language and tools of the church to promote feminist ideals.

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                                                                                                  • Sullins, D. Paul. 2010. American Catholics and same-sex “marriage.” Catholic Social Science Review 15:97–123.

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                                                                                                    Provides an overview of formal Catholic teaching on same-sex marriage. Presents data from the General Social Survey (GSS) reflecting American Catholics’ attitudes toward homosexuality and same-sex marriage, noting differences by religious affiliation, age, and other factors. Conclusion highlights ongoing tension between American and Catholic identities.

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                                                                                                    • Wallace, Ruth. 1988. Catholic women and the creation of a new social reality. Gender and Society 2.1: 24–38.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/089124388002001003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Uses Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s theoretical framework (1967) of the social construction of reality to assess Catholic women’s changing roles since Vatican II. Considers the increased presence of women in church leadership positions and resistance to subservient roles. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                      • Yip, Andrew K. T. 1997. Dare to differ: Gay and lesbian Catholics’ assessment of official Catholic positions on sexuality. Sociology of Religion 58.2: 165–180.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/3711875Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Reports on a survey of gay and lesbian Catholics in Britain. Assesses attitudes toward official Catholic positions on homosexuality. The majority saw same-sex relationships as fully compatible with their Catholic faith despite the contradictions to official teachings. Many rejected negative labeling and maintained active participation in the church. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                        Parishes

                                                                                                        The parish is the primary site of Catholic community. It is arguably the core institution of the Roman Catholic Church; its frequent coverage in the literature reflects this. Parish membership and Mass attendance are also used frequently as a measure of Catholic commitment. Surveys on Catholics will often distinguish among Catholics who attend Mass weekly and those who attend less often. The publication of Fichter 1951 has introduced a sociological approach to studying the demographics, behaviors, practices, and dynamics of authority in Catholic congregational settings. Fichter’s study set off something of a firestorm amid Catholic leaders, given that the author was a sociologist-priest and that findings revealed lay dissent from Catholic teaching and set a precedent for exploring Catholics’ attitudes and behaviors alongside official church teachings. Expanding this approach nationally was the multi-method Notre Dame Study of Parish Life from the mid-1980s. Gremillion and Castelli 1987 is the best known among many publications that report on this pathbreaking look at US parishes. Hornsby-Smith 1989 offers a comparative national look from the United Kingdom, with similar timing. Asked to consider updating the 1984 Notre Dame Study of Parish Life (Gremillion and Castelli 1987), the authors of Davidson and Fournier 2006 have provided a summary of research on Catholic parishes up to that date. Baggett 2009 offers an in-depth ethnography of parish life in one region. Gray, et al. 2011 is among the most recent national surveys reporting on parish demographics and trends. Neitz 1987 reflects a parallel development in research on Catholic communities that occurs outside of formal parish settings, here focused on a charismatic group.

                                                                                                        • Baggett, Jerome P. 2009. Sense of the faithful: How American Catholics live their faith. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                          In-depth look at six Northern California parishes characterized by different ethnic, class, and ideological makeup. Good introduction to a sociological approach to lived Catholicism, particularly at the parish level.

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                                                                                                          • Davidson, James D., and Suzanne C. Fournier. 2006. Recent research on Catholic parishes: A research note. Review of Religious Research 48.1: 72–81.

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                                                                                                            Updates the 1984 Notre Dame Study of Catholic Parish Life (Gremillion and Castelli 1987) by examining the structural, human resource, symbolic, and political dimensions of parishes reported in ten different studies. Identifies several resources for data on parishes and comparisons with Protestant congregations. This is a brief research note rather than a full article. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                            • Fichter, Joseph H. 1951. Southern parish: Dynamics of a city church. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                              Closely examines leadership and practice in a single parish, revealing discrepancies between official Catholic teaching and the lived behaviors of Catholics. Originally contracted as a four-book series, Southern Parish sparked great controversy between its author, a Jesuit priest/sociologist, and Catholic leaders, including most notably the pastor of the studied parish. Consequently, the latter three volumes were never published. Nonetheless, the book chartered a path for the sociology of the parish that continues to inform this line of study.

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                                                                                                              • Gray, Mark M., Mary L. Gautier, and Melissa Cidade. 2011. Emerging modes of pastoral leadership: The changing face of U.S. Catholic parishes. Washington, DC: National Association for Lay Ministry.

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                                                                                                                Reports findings from a study conducted by CARA (the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) (see Data Sources and Research Centers) and initiated by five Catholic national ministerial organizations. Reveals trends in parish characteristics, including a larger average size, more Masses, and the proliferation of ministry offerings in languages other than English. The report is freely available online.

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                                                                                                                • Gremillion, Joseph, and Jim Castelli. 1987. The emerging parish: The Notre Dame study of Catholic parish life since Vatican II. San Francisco: Harper & Row.

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                                                                                                                  Thorough and multidisciplinary point-in-time look at Catholic parishes in the United States in the mid-1980s. Draws from a multiphased representative sample of parishes nationally. The Notre Dame study was conducted in response to a call for closer study of post–Vatican II parish life made by American bishops in their 1980 statement The parish: A people, a mission, a structure. The survey data have been used in numerous published articles and books.

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                                                                                                                  • Hornsby-Smith, Michael P. 1989. The changing parish: A study of parishes, priests and parishioners. London and New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                    Focuses on transformation in Catholic parishes since World War II, with an empirical focus on England and Wales. Adds comparative depth (revealing many similarities) to a largely US-focused study of parish life and leadership. One chapter directly compares parishes in England to those in the United States, Australia, continental Europe, and the Philippines.

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                                                                                                                    • Neitz, Mary Jo. 1987. Charisma and community: A study of religious commitment within the charismatic renewal. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

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                                                                                                                      Ethnography of an affluent Chicago Catholic charismatic renewal group (not formally a parish). Sees charismatic renewal as the Catholic interpretation of Pentecostalism, combining authority and individualism. Neitz’s research is subsequently mentioned as emblematic of “the new paradigm” in the sociology of religion.

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                                                                                                                      Youth and Family

                                                                                                                      Much of the research on Catholic youth is found within larger, multi-religion studies. Smith and Denton 2005 is one such example. One chapter in Smith and Denton 2005 is specifically devoted to Catholic teenagers, discussing potential reasons behind their lower reported levels of religiosity. Hoge, et al. 2001 is the most comprehensive specifically focused study on Catholic young adults. Literature on Catholic education presents some life-stage specific data, for example, on college-age youth (see Education). Sociological research on Catholicism and the family frequently intersects discussions of sexual morality and moral authority, for example, Catholic laity’s attitudes toward contraception. This larger discussion lies at the core of many general overviews of Catholicism at the intersection with modernity and Americanism (see General Overviews). In writing specifically about family, the author of D’Antonio 1985 reports on divergence between Catholics and official teachings on sexual morality. Sander 1995 provides a comprehensive look at varied elements of the Catholic family, as compared to other faith groups and between former and current Catholics. Berman, et al. 2012 contributes to a broader study of Catholic decline in Europe via an analysis of declining Catholic fertility rates.

                                                                                                                      • Berman, Eli, Laurence R. Iannaccone, and Giuseppe Ragusa. 2012. From empty pews to empty cradles: Fertility decline among European Catholics. Working Paper 18350. Cambridge, MA: The National Bureau of Economic Research.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.3386/w18350Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Analysis of Catholicism and fertility in thirteen European countries since Vatican II. Finds that reductions in church attendance correlate with reductions in fertility. Also finds correlation between reduced church service (as measured by number of religious nuns) and lower fertility. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                        • D’Antonio, William V. 1985. The American Catholic family: Signs of cohesion and polarization. Journal of Marriage and Family 47.2: 395–405.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/352139Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Provides an overview of Catholic Church teachings on marriage and family as well as the influence of Vatican II and papal statements for Catholics’ family practices. Sees the effect of modernization as the further deinstitutionalization of Roman Catholic religiosity. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                          • Hoge, Dean R., William D. Dinges, Mary Johnson, and Juan L. Gonzalez Jr. 2001. Young adult Catholics: Religion in a culture of choice. Notre Dame, IN: Univ. of Notre Dame Press.

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                                                                                                                            Reports findings from a national survey of confirmed Catholics ages twenty through thirty-nine, half of whom are Latino. See Catholic identity and retention as generally strong. Finds no evidence to support extreme liberalization of younger Catholics, but does find differences between “parish Catholics,” “spiritual Catholics,” and “contingent Catholics,” whose religious identity is closely wedded to family or ethnicity. Dean Hoge was in the early stages of an updated study of religion and young adults at the time of his death in 2008. That project (Changing Spirituality of Emerging Adults) was continued by other sociologists; findings and updates are posted at online.

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                                                                                                                            • Sander, William. 1995. The Catholic family: Marriage, children, and human capital. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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                                                                                                                              Looks at differences between Catholics and non-Catholics along the lines of fertility, marriage, education, and other factors. Distinguishes between those with a Catholic background and those who currently claim membership in the church. Written in distinct chapters that can mostly be read separately. Book may be hard to locate.

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                                                                                                                              • Smith, Christian, and Melissa Lundquist Denton. 2005. Soul searching: The religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                Widely cited book on religion and teenagers, written by a prolific and widely cited sociologist of religion. The book reports on findings from the National Study of Youth and Religion. Catholic teenagers receive their own chapter (the only religious group to have a devoted chapter), largely to explain why survey findings reveal that they are less religious than other teens.

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                                                                                                                                Education

                                                                                                                                The literature on Catholicism and education is fairly extensive, given the large number of Catholic schools from elementary to higher education. Sociologists tend to emphasize in their investigations academic and religious outcomes, defined both in terms of scholarly achievement and retention in commitment to the Catholic faith. Hoffer, et al. 1985 presents evidence that Catholic schools lead to higher student achievement. Coleman was a heavily published and widely known contributor to the sociology of education, Greeley a prolific sociologist-priest with several books and articles on Catholicism and education (among other areas). Their work joins that of several others in describing positive academic outcomes and myriad advantages from attending Catholic schools, strongest for students of color and from a lower socioeconomic status. The authors of Bryk, et al. 1993 update and expand these arguments in their book on Catholic schools, another positive assessment of student success. Morgan 2001 presents an advanced technique of statistical modeling to test these outcomes among Catholic schools and other institutional contexts. The other main strand of literature in Catholic education considers retention in and commitment to the Catholic faith, particularly among those who attend Catholic schools. Perl and Gray 2007 uses national survey data to say that attendance at a Catholic school decreases the odds of disaffiliation from Catholicism later in life. Uecker 2009, by contrast, finds that students who attend Catholic schools wind up being less religious as young adults. The papal letter Ex Corde Ecclesia led to several studies attempting to test assertions and propositions about Catholic colleges and universities. One example is Sullins 2004, testing a hypothesis regarding Catholic faculty, as discussed in the papal letter. Morey and Piderit 2006 examines just what it means to be a Catholic college or university in the higher-education marketplace. Hill 2009 brings comparative data to claims that college diminishes Catholic faith, concluding that students at Catholic colleges are less religious than those attending elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                • Bryk, Anthony S., Valerie E. Lee, and Peter Blakeley Holland. 1993. Catholic Schools and the common good. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                  Offers insight into the relationship between Catholic schooling and student achievement, with an eye toward explaining the process. Considers historic and institutional influences on school structure, as well as social location, frequently in service to children in low-income urban areas. The authors identify Catholic schools’ focus on community and the collective as one core element behind student success.

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                                                                                                                                  • Hill, Jonathan P. 2009. Higher education as moral community: Institutional influences on religious participation during college. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 48.3: 515–534.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01463.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Students in Catholic-affiliated colleges show lower levels of religious participation than those at nonreligious public colleges and universities. Attendance at an evangelical college increases Catholics’ religious participation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                    • Hoffer, Thomas, Andrew M. Greeley, and James S. Coleman. 1985. Achievement growth in public and Catholic schools. Sociology of Education 58.2: 74–97.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2112249Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Presents empirical evidence that Catholic schools produce higher student achievement levels than public schools. Effects are strongest among black, Hispanic, and underprivileged students. Attributes difference to greater academic rigor among Catholic schools. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                      • Morey, Melanie M., and John J. Piderit. 2006. Catholic higher education: A culture in crisis. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/0195305515.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Comprehensive look at mission, culture, tradition, and student life in Catholic colleges and universities. Assesses commonalities and makes recommendations based upon a national study of 124 senior administrators from thirty-three colleges and universities.

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                                                                                                                                        • Morgan, Stephen L. 2001. Counterfactuals, causal effect heterogeneity, and the Catholic school effect on learning. Sociology of Education 74.4: 341–374.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/2673139Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Uses statistical modeling to test the effects of Catholic schooling on student outcomes. Proposes a more nuanced approach to research on school effects, problematizing purely observational studies and suggesting a path forward for studying various comparative questions. Frequently cited article, but not for the quantitatively faint of heart. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                          • Perl, Paul, and Mark M. Gray. 2007. Catholic schooling and disaffiliation from Catholicism. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 46.2: 269–280.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2007.00356.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Tackles the question of whether attending Catholic schools reduces the likelihood of leaving the Catholic faith as an adult. After examining data from a national survey of US Catholics, the authors conclude that attending a Catholic high school for three or more years does decrease the odds that someone will disaffiliate from Catholicism later in life. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                            • Sullins, D. Paul. 2004. The difference Catholic makes: Catholic faculty and Catholic identity. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 43.1: 83–101.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2004.00219.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Tests the hypothesis (stemming from the papal document Ex Corde Ecclesia) that Catholic colleges and universities where half or more faculty are Catholic will be more supportive of the institution’s religious identity. Findings from the large random sample of US faculty and institutions provide evidence that yes, a critical mass of Catholic faculty does help to maintain a university’s Catholic identity. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                              • Uecker, Jeremy E. 2009. Catholic schooling, Protestant schooling, and religious commitment in young adulthood. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 48.2: 353–367.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01451.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Finds that those who attended Catholic schools end up less religious as young adults than those who attended secular schools. The effect is reversed for Protestant young adults, who are more religious after attending Protestant schools. The data are drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Article available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                Social Movements and Organizational Change

                                                                                                                                                As noted in Finke and Wittberg 2000, much of the change that occurs in the Catholic Church starts and stays within the church’s own boundaries. To understand how and why this happens, scholarship on organizational change in the church frequently intersects with that of social movements. By far the most extensive and frequently written about occasion of change in the Catholic Church is the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, which spanned the years 1962 through 1965. A handful of sociologists, including the authors of Seidler and Meyer 1989, Greeley 2004, and Wilde 2007, have written about Vatican II as being itself a social movement. Seidler and Meyer 1989 maps conflict and change in light of this expansive “updating” to the church. Greeley 2004 suggests that these massive changes led to instability for the overall church. Wilde 2007 tracks down actual votes and organizing strategies among bishops at Vatican II to explain how such progressive outcomes could have resulted. Katzenstein 1998 and Bruce 2011 trace organized attempts among Catholic laity to promote change from within the church. These works highlight the identity struggles of Catholics occupying both adherent and activist roles. Smith 1991 and Finke and Wittberg 2000 draw attention to how organizational elites (priests, nuns, bishops) appropriate church resources to promote social change.

                                                                                                                                                • Bruce, Tricia. 2011. Faithful revolution: How voice of the faithful is changing the church. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385847.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Examines a lay Catholic movement that emerged in response to the scandal of child sexual abuse among Catholic clergy. Defines an intra-institutional social movement by using the Catholic Church as a case example. Tensions arising from participants’ attempts to balance a commitment to the church with a commitment to change ultimately stifle many movement efforts.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Finke, Roger, and Patricia Wittberg. 2000. Organizational revival from within: Explaining revivalism and reform in the Roman Catholic Church. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 39.2: 154–170.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/0021-8294.00013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Argues that Catholic religious orders operate similarly to Protestant sects in their ability to stimulate change. In the context of the Catholic Church, however, this change is enacted from within church boundaries, thereby preserving unity and enhancing the long-term vitality of the church. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Greeley, Andrew. 2004. The Catholic revolution: New wine, old wineskins, and the Second Vatican Council. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520238176.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Pulls together prior work done on American Catholics by the author, prolific sociologist-priest Andrew Greeley, in light of the literature on collective behavior. Discusses how revolutionary changes in the church introduced by the Second Vatican Council overwhelmed the rigidity of existing church structures. Increased autonomy fueled a rise in Catholics’ educational and economic achievement and destabilized the church overall. This destabilization necessitates innovative strategies for retaining doctrinally ambivalent Catholics.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Katzenstein, Mary Fainsod. 1998. Faithful and fearless: Moving feminist protest inside church and military. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                        Looks at feminist activism within the US Catholic Church, drawing parallels to feminist activism within the US military. Identifies and describes the constraints and tactical creativity of numerous Catholic feminist organizations led by nuns and lay Catholics.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Seidler, John, and Katherine Meyer. 1989. Conflict and change in the Catholic Church. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                          Traces the contested and divisive modernization of the Catholic Church in the two decades following the Second Vatican Council. Puts change in the church into conversation with theories of organizational innovation and elite response to broad social change. Thorough discussion of the “aggiornamento” (updating) introduced by Vatican II. Based on survey data and interviews with US priests.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Smith, Christian. 1991. The Emergence of liberation theology: Radical religion and social movement theory. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                                            Traces the development and survival of liberation theology in Latin American countries. Notes in particular the influence of organizational elites—here, progressive Latin American bishops—in mobilizing for action by using the institutional resources of the Catholic Church. Contextualizes substantial revitalization and change in the Latin American church.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Wilde, Melissa J. 2007. Vatican II: A Sociological analysis of religious change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                              Analyzes primary Vatican documents to explain how such extensive institutional change resulted from the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). Focuses on how bishops’ interests and priorities coalesced into organizational alliances that were ultimately more successful (in both structure and outcome) for progressive bishops. Data are available for secondary use via the ARDA (see section Data Sources and Research Centers).

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                                                                                                                                                              Modernity and Religious Pluralism

                                                                                                                                                              Macro-level studies of Catholicism frequently focus on the church’s interface with modernity and/or religious pluralism. Discussions of Catholicism amidst pluralism stem from a prolific literature in the sociology of religion; this literature treats societies as competitive religious marketplaces. Competition breeds commitment, so the theory goes. In the Catholic context, this theory would suggest higher levels of Catholic participation in non-majority Catholic countries. Stark 1992 and Stark and McCann 1993 confirm this hypothesis across several social contexts. Jelen and Wilcox 1998 likewise affirms Catholicism’s greater salience in less-Catholic European countries. Chesnut 2003 reviews the declining ability of the Catholic Church to compete amid Latin America’s increasingly plural religious landscape. Social-historical accounts of Catholicism privilege the church’s encounter with modernity. Jay Dolan’s work is often cited on this front, with his expansive look at how Catholicism entered and changed in the American cultural context (Dolan 2002). American Catholics exist with a sort of “two-ness” that Dolan parallels to W. E. B. Du Bois’s descriptions of black Americans. The modernizing tendencies of America in particular lead to great tensions between these two identities. Tentler 2007 extrapolates this tension across several cultural contexts, again testifying to Catholicism’s tension with modernity. The broad, historic decline of Catholic influence in France constitutes the focus of Hervieu-Léger 2003. Finally, Pace 2007 discusses how, in the face of the modernization and secularization crisis, the Catholic Church nonetheless exists to preserve memory and facilitate unity for Europeans.

                                                                                                                                                              • Chesnut, R. Andrew. 2003. Competitive spirits: Latin America’s new religious economy. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                Considers the declining monopoly of the Catholic Church in Latin America and the rise of Protestant, charismatic Catholic, or syncretic religious movements. Chesnut’s “religious market” perspective draws attention to Catholicism’s ability (or lack thereof) to compete by providing diverse products and effective staffing in the changing religious landscape.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Dolan, Jay P. 2002. In search of An American Catholicism: A history of religion and culture in tension. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/0195069269.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Not directly sociological but deeply embedded in a discussion of culture and society. Dolan is a widely cited historian of Catholicism. Explores the uneasy reconciliation of “American” and “Catholic” identities.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Hervieu-Léger, Danièle. 2003. Catholicisme, la fin d’un monde. Paris: Bayard.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Broad assessment of the “cultural exit” of Catholicism in France over 200 years, stemming from the French Revolution. Traces the loss of Catholic influence over French morality, families, law, and public discourse. In French.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Jelen, Ted G., and Clyde Wilcox. 1998. Context and conscience: The Catholic Church as an agent of political socialization in Western Europe. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37.1: 28–40.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/1388027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      Tests the “new paradigm” approach in the sociology of religion to Catholicism in Western European countries (that religious pluralism, not monopoly, strengthens commitment). Affirms that Catholic observance and adherence to Catholic teaching are indeed higher in countries that are not predominantly Catholic. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Pace, Enzo. 2007. Religion as communication: The changing shape of Catholicism in Europe. In Everyday religion: Observing modern religious lives. Edited by Nancy T. Ammerman, 37–49. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305418.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Despite the Catholic Church’s declining significance in many areas of European social life, it nonetheless plays an important public role in sustaining collective memory and shaping narratives of sociocultural identity. As such, Catholicism becomes a means of communicating unity across diversity in varied European contexts. Part of an edited volume that centralizes a “lived” approach to the study of religion.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Stark, Rodney. 1992. Do Catholic societies really exist? Rationality and Society 4.3: 261–271.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/1043463192004003002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Applies market theories of religion to data from forty-five countries. Confirms that in societies where Catholicism claims a majority, commitment among Catholics tends to be lower. Countries with a more religiously plural landscape (i.e., competition) see higher levels of commitment among Catholics. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Stark, Rodney, and James C. McCann. 1993. Market forces and Catholic Commitment: Exploring the new paradigm. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 32.2: 111–124.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/1386791Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Takes a religious marketplace approach to understanding Catholic vitality. Considers whether a Catholic monopoly encourages greater Catholic commitment than a religiously plural social context. In line with the “new paradigm” in the sociology of religion, the less Catholic an area is, the higher the Catholic commitment. Competition breeds commitment, measured here by ordination rates, ratio of priests to nominal Catholics, Catholic school enrollment, and circulation rate of a Catholic publication. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Tentler, Leslie Woodcock, ed. 2007. The Church confronts modernity: Catholicism since 1950 in the United States, Ireland, and Quebec. Washington, DC: Catholic Univ. of America Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Comparative-historical look at the Catholic Church in three countries. Chapters written by different authors describe divergent responses to modernity and the influence of local context. Considers themes of generation, the crisis of abuse among clergy, contested Catholic teachings, and secularization, among others.

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