Michele Dillon
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The difference between Irish and American Catholicism
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This chapter probes the commonalities and divergences apparent in a cross-national comparison of Irish and US Catholicism and assesses how and why national context influences the particularised expression of a universal Catholicism. The resurgence of public Catholicism is driven both in Ireland and the US by what church officials see as secular threats undermining Catholic teaching in the domain of sexuality. The shared public enthusiasm of Catholics on both sides of the Atlantic during Pope John Paul II's 1979 tour suggested a shared Catholic reality that was largely independent of societal context. The defensive Catholicism of the Irish bishops in contrast to the proactive sociopolitical engagement of the US bishops points to the relevance of societal context. This relevance of societal context helps in shaping of how Catholic teaching is articulated and used to maintain the public presence of a universal Church.

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