American Protestant writers made the sexual teaching in Roman Catholic moral theology more famous than Catholics ever intended it to be. Translating or quoting the Latin in Catholic textbooks for priests, anti-Catholic writers used advice about sex to argue that Catholicism was a corrupting influence. A pretended exposé of sex in convents, Maria Monk’s Awful Disclosures of the Hôtel Dieu Nunnery (1835) became the best-selling book in the United States before Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Other purported disclosures appeared. Fiction by sensational writers was joined by respectable novels, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun (1860) and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Agnes of Sorrento (1862). As Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Germany transformed American cities, violence broke out, inspired in part by sexual fear. The first convent school in the United States was burned by a mob in 1834. Under such pressure, American Catholics began to write more conservative doctrines on sex.
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