Saints and Sinners? The Catonsville Nine and Cultural Change Within U.S. Catholicism
“The crisis is of such enormous extent and depth, that all solutions based on the sanity and health and recoverability of current structures are quickly proven wrong, untimely, unmanageable, bureaucratically infected: the same old kettle of fish, stinking worse than ever in the boiling juices of change.” This is how the fugitive Daniel Berrigan described the state of American society in 1970. At a time when the United States, as he said, was “going downhill and pellmell, into a dark age, a progress led by neanderthals armed to teeth”, the Berrigans stood up “to open the eyes of more and more of our friends” to lead others into “the saving act of resistance.” He offered this statement only two years after the fateful actions of the Catonsville Nine. Yet, what caused such actions and statements? And how was it received throughout American society?I argue that the events of this group had deep cultural implications for the state of Catholicism. Specifically, it symbolized a divide in US Catholic identity, something which we call nowadays simply “left” and “right”. While some people ecstatically supported the cause for social justice and radical pacifism, others seemed to reject the social actions Catholics took part in. In addition, the Catonsville Nine exemplify a broader trend namely the rupture of the American Catholic subculture.
Vincent J. Miller
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences
"Saints and Sinners? The Catonsville Nine and Cultural Change Within U.S. Catholicism" (2020). Stander Symposium Projects. 2031.