Before the potato famine ravaged 1840s Ireland, the Catholic Church was barely a thread in the American cloth. Twenty years later, New York City was home to more Irish Catholics than Dublin. Today, the American Catholic Church boasts twenty million members and has become one of this country's most influential cultural forces.
In American Catholic Charles R. Morris vividly recounts the rise of the Catholic Church in America, bringing to life the personalities that transformed an urban Irish subculture-into a dominant presence nationwide. Here are the stories of rogues and ruffians, heroes and martyrs -- from Dorothy Day, a convert from Greenwich Village Marxism, to Cardinal William O'Connell, who ran the Church in Boston like a Renaissance palazzo estate. Morris also reveals the Church's continuing struggle to come to terms with secular, pluralist America and the theological, sexual, doctrinal authority, and gender issues that keep tearing it apart. As comprehensive as it is provocative, American Catholic is a fascinating cultural history that will engage and inform Catholics and non-Catholics alike.