Mexican Americans and the Catholic Church, 1900-1965

Mexican Americans and the Catholic Church, 1900-1965

Mexican Americans and the Catholic Church, 1900-1965

Mexican Americans and the Catholic Church, 1900-1965

Synopsis

The first volume of a three-volume history focuses on Mexican-American faith communities in the Southwest, California, and the Midwest. It examines the Native American, Spanish colonial, and Mexican heritage that informed Mexican-American Catholic communities, discusses the marginalization of the Mexican community in California in the early part of the 20th century, and traces the establishment of the first Hispanic communities outside the Southwest. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Excerpt

The Mexican-American faith community is heir to Indian and Spanish religious legacies. It has also been shaped by the process of Spanish expansion into what is now the American Southwest in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and by the developments related to the area's transition from Spanish to Mexican sovereignty in the early 1800s, and then to United States control at midcentury. Early contact between Native Americans and Spaniards revealed that certain aspects of the Indian traditions lent themselves to blending with the faith of the newcomers. Nevertheless, as in central Mexico, the encounter of Indians and Spaniards in New Spain's northern frontier involved conquest and ongoing conflict in the social, political, and religious spheres of daily life. Yet some resolution was achieved as lasting Hispanic communities were organized and certain traditions and a common faith contributed to bringing together disparate segments of society: Indian and Spanish, rich and poor, first settlers and newcomers. Mexico's independence movement disrupted those communities in the northern frontier, but the social bonds among the people and their unity in the faith helped them to survive the turmoil of war and institutional change.

Still greater upheaval awaited Mexicanos when the area came under American rule and they faced new social, economic, and cultural adjustments. Faith communities found themselves in transition as ecclesiastical authority was transferred to bishops in the United States. The American Church responded to the spiritual needs of Mexicanos by assigning priests to the area in greater numbers than had been present there before. Numerous women religious also served in the Southwest, and funds poured in from European and American Catholics. Yet the Church often fell short of fully integrating itself with the Mexicano community and showed greater commitment to institutional goals than to the service of Mexicanos.

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