Anti-Catholic Violence: Is It Upon Us?

endres 2There is no time like the present for prayer and fasting. With the horrific persecution of Christians in Iraq which includes no less than the beheading and crucifixion of children and the raping and murder of women, our local trials with the HHS Mandate and the rapidly imposing same-sex agenda of the West seem to pale in comparison. One begins to wonder if anti-Catholic violence, for those of course willing to witness to their faith, will soon come to our shores again.

Fr. David Endres, Assistant Professor of Church History and Historical Theology, as well as Director of Field Education at the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, has recently published an article in Homiletic and Pastoral Review entitled, “Sticks and Stones and Broken Bones –The History of Anti-Catholic Violence in the U.S.” The article was based on a Theology on Tap presentation of Fr. Endres from May 8, 2014. It’s provided below not only for the sake of remembrance, but also as context for the Church’s current situation here and abroad.

You have, no doubt, heard the children’s rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones / But names will never hurt me.” That is not exactly true. For in the history of the Church in America, Catholics have been wounded by both physical violence and hate speech. This article will examine episodes of violence against American Catholics, considering the sticks and stones, the broken bones, and the words that encouraged such violence.

An Unmentioned History
If the presence of anti-Catholic violence in American history is unknown to many, it is for good reason. We as Catholics do not usually like to talk about being a minority; we do not like to talk about persecution. For generations, our immigrant ancestors and their descendants fought to be considered “100% American,” not “hyphenated” Americans: Irish-American, German-American, Polish-American, or Italian-American. We Catholics have spent decades trying to assimilate into “White, Anglo Saxon, Protestant” (“WASP”) America and have, consequently, downplayed our distinctiveness. We wanted to fit in, and to achieve the American dream—to get good jobs, get a college education, and move to the suburbs.

Aspects of Anti-Catholicism
In considering some episodes of anti-Catholicism, it should be noted that not all violence against Catholics was motivated exclusively by religion. In many cases, religious misunderstanding blended with nativism, and xenophobia, to bring about a toxic reaction to the United States’ Catholic newcomers. Consequently, anti-Catholic groups—that included the Know-Nothing party, the American Protective Association, and the Ku Klux Klan—espoused a form of bigotry, both religious and racially/ethnically motivated.

Please continue reading the full article here.

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