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*Image: May Day Celebration, 1963, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, Washington, D.C. [Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, DC]

By David Carlin, The Catholic Thing, Aug. 9, 2022

David Carlin is a retired professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America and, most recently, Three Sexual Revolutions: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist.

During the 19th century, Catholics found themselves settled and growing in numbers in the United States, a great Protestant country that was relatively tolerant and hospitable toward Catholics. This, even though the American people generally felt that the Roman religion adhered to by these Catholics was a false and corrupt version of Christianity.

The leaders of the Catholic Church in America – its bishops, priests, and religious sisters – were well aware of the great danger that Catholics, an island surrounded by a vast sea of Protestantism, might fall away from the true faith and either: (a) embrace the Protestant heresy; or (b) become mere infidels, having no religious belief at all. …