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CATH 226 - American Catholic Culture

This course provides a real world overview of Catholic life in the United States today. The institutional and social dimensions of Catholic Church life will be examined as well as important issues facing the Catholic Church in the United States in the 21st Century. After a survey of the historical roots of Catholicism in the U.S., the course will focus on contemporary trends and challenges including increasing diversity through immigration, declines in Mass attendance, the rise of Millennial Generation Catholics (born after 1981), shortages of clergy, closing parishes and schools, the relationship between the Catholic Church in the U.S. and Catholicism internationally, and the sex abuse crisis. Students will examine these issues and more using databases from Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and a recent large national survey of people of all faiths conducted by Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. These analyses will include the institutional changes (numbers of parishes, priests, schools, etc.) and trends from national surveys of the adult Catholic population regarding religious behaviors (Mass attendance, prayer, devotions, etc.), beliefs (Sacrament of Marriage, The Real Presence, the Holy Trinity, etc.), and attitudes (death penalty, abortion, economic justice, etc.). At the conclusion of the course students will have been provided an in-depth overview of the state of the Catholic Church in the United States.
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