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Gods in AmericaReligious Pluralism in the United States$
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Charles L. Cohen and Ronald L. Numbers

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199931903

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931903.001.0001

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Pluralism: Notes on the American Catholic Experience

Pluralism: Notes on the American Catholic Experience

(p.125) Chapter 5 Pluralism: Notes on the American Catholic Experience
Gods in America

R. Scott Appleby

Oxford University Press

The religious diversity surrounding Catholics in twentieth-century America prompted them to justify their place in that society by retrieving examples of tolerance and accommodation from a previously suppressed past. As Catholics increasingly interacted with members of other faiths, long-held attitudes that valorized a sense of Catholicism's absolute superiority to other religions and legitimated Catholics holding themselves aloof corroded. These developments were amplified by the pronouncements of Vatican II, which provided Catholic theological foundations for religious freedom and the endorsement of religious pluralism. On the level of official practice and rhetoric, the post-conciliar American Church adopted a wide range of internal reforms manifesting an ecumenical spirit, and established a series of unprecedented programs of collaboration with non-Catholics. Nevertheless, the experience of internal pluralism—theological diversity within the American Church—has inspired conflict, notably accusations that pluralism fosters “indifferentism,” the notion that no religion is better than another.

Keywords:   Roman Catholicism—History—United States, John Courtney Murray, Vatican II, ecumenism, indifferentism, Catholic teaching on religious pluralism

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