Pressures on the Faith in the American Civil War. And Now, by Dr. Jeff Mirus

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By Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D., Catholic Culture, Oct 08, 2019

In an intriguing new book by Fr. Charles P. Connor, the Catholic position on slavery leading up to and during the American Civil War (1861-1865) is explored in considerable depth. What we learn from it is how much cultural conditioning and competing interests can modify or “slant” the moral positions of bishops within the same Church.

The book is Faith and Fury: The Rise of Catholicism During the Civil War. This is not a review, but Connor’s study is of interest because of the ways in which various prelates “stretched” themselves toward either moral responsibility or partisanship (or both) and also because of the light the slavery issue sheds on the episcopal response to so many equally important moral issues today. Generally speaking, what we find is that the bishops carved out prudential positions based on several competing factors, none of which was unimportant, but all of which at least sometimes muted the moral effectiveness of Catholic leadership in opposition to slavery itself. ….