Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Shaping American Catholicism: Maryland and New York 1805-1915

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Shaping American Catholicism: Maryland and New York 1805-1915

Article excerpt

Shaping American Catholicism: Maryland and New York 1805-1915. By Robert Emmett Curran (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2012 . Pp. vii, 308. $69.95. ISBN 978-0-8132-1967-7.)

In February 2012 Pope Benedict XVI elevated the archbishops of Baltimore and New York to the College of Cardinals. As this reviewer congratulated Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the new cardinal pointed across the Paul VI Audience Hall to where Cardinal Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore was receiving well-wishers: "Make sure you go and check out Ed O'Brien," he said. "He's wearing Archbishop Carroll's pectoral cross!" It was an acknowledgment of the presence in Rome of an historic American Catholic artifact. Or perhaps it was an acknowledgment by the prelate of the Big Apple and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that Baltimore still has an historic prerogative of place in American Catholicism.

That dichotomy is masterfully treated in Robert Emmett Curran's splendid new book. Curran traces the nineteenth-century leadership shift in the American Church from the genteel, measured and essentially rural Southern focus provided by the Maryland Church to a northern, urban, and more immigrant-focused leadership embodied by the bustling metropolis of New York. Professor emeritus of history at Georgetown University, Curran has been a mainstay in the historiography of U.S. Catholicism for more than forty years. The five pages of primary sources in this book underscore the author's reputation for solid historical research and interpretation. …

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