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Anti-Catholicism in America: The Last Acceptable Prejudice Paperback – October 1, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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One of the most important books in contemporary religious publishing. This book explores the astonishing story of prejudice against Catholics and what it tells us about Catholic identity. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company; 2nd edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824523628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824523626
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,052,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Mark S. Massa's "Anti-Catholicism in America: The Last Acceptable Prejudice" provides a broad survey and insightful analysis of a deep and virulent strain of bigotry in America that was imported from Europe, was present at America's founding and popped up throughout American history and has managed to make into the internet era. Anyone who believes that anti-Catholicism is a historical relic need only visit any number of websites occupied by atheists or what one would hope are fringe Protestants. What one finds there is a fairly continuous theme of ululating hatred for Catholicism and the Catholic Church. Father Massa - writing in 2003 - notes the breadth and depth of anti-Catholic hatred in the waning years of the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st, from anti-Catholic plays to anti-Catholic editorials in mainstream papers to the casual implication that Catholic Supreme Court nominees are suspect as having a potentially unhealthy "allegiance" to the Pope to over-the-top accusations by Planned Parenthood that the Catholic Church is at "war with women" (p. 42 - 45), and concludes that somehow Catholicism doesn't "fit in" to American society. Massa writes:

"The very randomness of these examples of what have termed Catholic-bashing - spanning the cultural spectrum from up-scale magazines of cultural comment and mass-market newspapers on the east coast to street theater in the Bay Area on the west coast - form a disturbing web of evidence. Some Catholic observers have argued that it is as though Catholic iconography, leadership, and sensibilities are somehow perceived by large sections of U.S. culture as fair game for attack, in ways that the beliefs and practices of other groups are not.
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The oft quoted saying that problems can't be solved at the same level that they were created applies here if the study of anti-Catholicism is intended to help alleviate it. `Unlike Catholic and non-Catholic authors of other books on the subject that I have read, the author of this book (in spite of being a Catholic priest) appears to be himself quite hostile toward Catholicism (but not somehow 'being a Catholic').

People who despise Catholicism and appreciate a well written and well referenced book arguing that Catholicism itself is the root of its problems will enjoy this book. The author genuinely seems to want anti-Catholicism to end. However he considers the substance of Catholicism to blame and believes that the solution is Catholicism reinventing itself so that its structure and beliefs enable it to blend better with popular secular culture.

The issue of the sexual abuse scandals is legitimately raised as a catalyst for extreme modern anti-Catholicism. The author rightly points out that "One of the many tragedies of the Boston Clergy sexual abuse case is its handy availability as proof positive for those citizens already uneasy with Catholicism that their fears were well placed after all."

Nevertheless, as has been pointed out in other literature, the scandal was exacerbated by critics of the Church who helped generate the media construct and who fanned the flames hoping to derive support for their ongoing attack on Catholicism.

Unfortunately the author leans toward continuing this exacerbation. Don't expect more than an incidental mention of the low incidence of abuse among the clergy relative to comparable groups and the mitigating reasons for inappropriate management by the Bishops.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anti-Catholicism in America: The Last Acceptable Prejudice
Mark S. Massa
New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2003; 2nd edition (October 1, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0824523628
ISBN-13: 978-0824523626

Review by Reverend Brian Van Hove, S.J.
Alma, Michigan
Published in The Fellowship of Scholars Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 4 (Winter 2004): 39

This well-written work has two parts. The first is longer, and examines the anti-Catholic impulse in America. The second is an analysis of the crisis in American Catholicism, using the Boston sex scandals as the example.
Anti-Catholicism is a fact. It is both old and new, but it is not the only prejudice in America. The author balances every assertion with qualifiers and counter-assertions. The core idea is that two types of imagination and language inform the American culture. The dominant one is "dialectical" and has its origin in Calvinism and certain forms of medieval dialectical reasoning pre-dating Calvin. Dialectical minds distrust institutions and groups. The second mode is "analogical" and it is very different, stressing community and the sacramental order of history. Catholics are therefore "different" from the American mainstream, and they are destined never fully to fit in. While they may not be the only outsiders, they will never be anything but outsiders when true to their identity. They trust institutions and groups, particularly the church. Individualism and community, Calvinistic pessimism (whether of the religious type or secularized) and Catholic hopefulness are reconcilable only partially at best.
Father Massa's two heroes are Andrew Greeley and David Tracy. Greeley and Tracy provide the vocabulary of "dialectical" and "analogical" to study these social questions in America.
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