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    Impact of Immigration on American Catholics

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    1. How did the new immigration affect the American Christians?
    2. Where and why did the Italians emigrate to the United States? Where did they settle in the USA?
    3. What was distinctive about Italian religious customs and traditions in USA?
    4. Why was there so-called anticlericalism amongst the Italian immigrants?
    5. Who were the principal Slavic and Eastern European Immigrants in USA?
    6. Who were the so-called aristocrats among the Slavic immigrants?
    7. Why are Ukranian Carpatho Rusyn Catholics called Byzantine-rite Catholics?
    8. How and why did it improve after 1907?
    9. Who were the Hispanic Catholic emigrants?
    10. What are distinctive features of Hispanic Catholicism and how do they resemble the German Catholics of the 19th century?

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    Please refer to response file attached, which is also presented in part below. I hope this helps and take care.


    1. How did the new immigration affect the American Christians?

    Mark Twain called the late nineteenth-century the "Gilded Age." In the popular view, the late nineteenth century was a period of greed and guile, when rapacious robber barons, unscrupulous speculators, and corporate buccaneers engaged in shady business practices and vulgar displays of wealth. It is easy to caricature the Gilded Age as an era of corruption, scandal-plagued politics, conspicuous consumption, and unfettered capitalism. But it is more useful to think of this period as modern America's formative era, when the rules of modern politics and business practice were just beginning to be written.

    Between 1820 and 1860 5 million immigrants came to the USA, a large part of them were Irish Catholics. Many well-off Americans succumbed to the appeal of a new doctrine of Social Darwinism, which justified individuals' great wealth as "survival of the fittest" and deprecated charity as prolonging the life of the weak. The early sociologist William Graham Sumner explored "What Social Classes Owe To Each Other?" in a book by the same title, and concluded, in resounding terms, "nothing." The poor were so because they lacked ability, determination and foresight. 3

    Many American Protestants also recoiled in horror when confronted with a continuing influx of Catholic immigrants from Ireland and southern and eastern Europe. In the 1850s native-born Protestants' distaste for immigration and Catholicism had turned to the American Party's (or Know-Nothings') nativism. In the Gilded Age native-born, Protestant Americans continued to struggle with Catholic immigrants, both over matters of religion and culture. (Ssee http://dig.lib.niu.edu/gildedage/religionculture.html for more detail).

    During this period, the most contentious moral issue in politics involved prohibition of beer and whiskey. Many Catholic and German Lutheran voters were deeply offended by efforts to use government to enforce moral standards. Together, Catholics and German Lutheran made up about 35 percent of the Northern electorate and in urban areas Germans alone comprised 15 to 50 percent of the urban vote.

    Roman Catholics were highly affected by immigration because of the mass immigrations of other Catholics, including Italian
    Catholics, which is highly debated topic:

    In some ways, the Catholic immigrants of the nineteenth century faced as much conflict within their churches as without. The debate raged between Church leaders about the best strategy to deal with the immigrants--"Americanize" them as quickly as possible, or encourage them to retain their own national language and faith customs as long as they could. The proponents of the first view, called "Americanists," tended to be theological liberals and social progressives who were quite optimistic, in the spirit of the "Gilded Age," about the compatibility between America and the Catholic religion. The advocates of the second view, considered "conservatives," tended to be traditionalists who regarded America's infatuation with the new technology, "materialism," and social reform as a dangerous context for preserving the troubled immigrants' faith. Often the immigrants themselves had their own opinions in the matter, but were caught between warring bishops. Over the long term, both the Americanists and the conservatives "won": the pope pronounced in favor of the conservatives in 1891, but as new generations were born, of course, Catholics became quite "Americanized" as aspects of the Old World devotional culture and theology were gradually left behind and shades of a new, more individualistic and democratic Catholicism appeared.
    Scholars of American Catholic history have universally considered immigration by far the most dynamic force in the nineteenth-century American Church, but they continue to debate the issue of "Americanization." The magisterial histories of American Catholicism written successively by John Gilmary Shea, Peter Guilday, and John Tracy Ellis from the 1890s to the 1950s considered "Americanization" a good thing and countered popular perceptions of Catholics' unfitness for America with numerous examples of American Catholic achievement. More recent histories by Jay Dolan and Patrick Carey (1990s) reconsider the merits of "Americanization" in light of contemporary discussions of "Catholic difference" and "multiculturalism."

    Their work suggests that traditional immigrant Catholicism contributed to changing the definition of "America" from a nation of Anglo-Saxon Protestants to a culture of diversified regions and peoples. They also carefully distinguish between religious styles, political leanings, and social status associated with different ethnic groups within Catholicism; for example, the Irish Catholic political machines in New York were much different than German Catholic sodalities in the Midwest, though both kinds of groups grew out of the immigrant Catholic experience.

    Other historians have pointed out that concepts like "Americanization" and "assimilation" assume there was a coherent "American" population, when in fact immigration itself was overshadowed and interimplicated with the great social debates over slavery and, after the Civil War, the so-called ...

    Solution Summary

    Referring to the American Catholics in the "Gilded Age", this solution explains and discusses the main impact of Italian immigration on the American Catholics, identifying the distinctiveness of Italian religious customs and traditions in USA, where and why Italians immigrated to USA and the reason for anticlericalism. It also explains the identity of the principal Slavic and Eastern European Immigrants in USA, as well as who the aristocrats were among the Slavic immigrants. It also explains why the Ukranian Carpatho Rusyn Catholics were also called Byzantine-rite Catholics. The main reasons for improvements after 1907 are then discussed. The Hispanic Catholic emigrants were also identified in terms of identity, distinctive features and how they resembled the German Catholics of the 19th century. Supplemented with links for further reading and research.