AMERICAN CATHOLICS AND SOCIAL REFORM: The New Deal Years by David J. O'Brien

AMERICAN CATHOLICS AND SOCIAL REFORM: The New Deal Years

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This volume offers a study of the way in which American Catholicism applied the social teachings of the Roman Catholic church to the problems of the Depression decade and the New Deal of the Roosevelt administration. The Encyclicals on social matters provide the largest source of these teachings, but additional interpretations are also brought under examination. Certain central themes are identified and their interrelationships studied, particularly at points where disagreement has arisen. The author sees the Catholic church caught between the obligation to fulfill the promise of the Incarnation by making the Christian message relevant to every society, and the temptation to withdraw within itself in order to protect its doctrine from error and its institutional power from attack. In the American scene, this problem has been compounded because of the variety of ethnic cultures making up American Catholicism, and because the new and relatively unformed American society called for new adaptations. In carrying through his general theme, the author gives detailed attention to such leaders as John A. Ryan and Father Coughlin, and movements such as the Catholic Workers. The impression resulting is that of the Catholic church struggling with the same dilemmas and perplexities that besel all of American society, including Protestantism, in the revolutionary years that marked the decade of the thirties. Scholarly, informative, balanced, this should be an important addition to the field of the relation of church and society as well as to American history for that period.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1968
Publisher: Oxford