Americanism: An Ontological Inquiry in Light of Vatican II

JPI 974

This course reflects on the theological-ontological roots of what is termed "Americanism," for the purpose of assessing the presuppositions that have, often unconsciously, shaped the dominant self-understanding(s) of Catholics in their relation to America. The course will focus in particular on the work (1) of Isaac Hecker and the controversy surrounding Pope Leo XIII’s Testem Benevolentiae on Americanism (1899); and (2) of John Courtney Murray in the 1940s and 1950s, culminating in his work in the 1960s regarding religious liberty and the Second Vatican Council. The third part of the course will consider the Personalism-Distributism of Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day as another way of reading Catholicism’s relation to American culture. The question guiding reflection on these authors is that of how best to understand the relation between America=s characteristic liberal institutions and the Catholic faith (as developed especially in terms of the theological anthropology of the Second Vatican Council and the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI).

Course Texts for Fall 2013

  1. Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage
  2. Isaac Hecker, Aspirations of Nature
  3. ---, The Church and the Age
  4. John Courtney Murray, We Hold These Truths
  5. ---, Religious Liberty
  6. Herminio Rico, John Paul II and the Legacy of Dignitatis Humanae
  7. David L. Schindler, Ordering Love: Liberal Societies and the Memory of God
  8. Mark and Louise Zwick, The Catholic Worker Movement
  9. Compendium of Readings (available through University Readers)

Associated Faculty

« Back to Courses