History ETDs


Allan Helsel

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It is the conclusion of this thesis that the post World War II Catholic press was, to a great extent, responsible for the mass support the extremist politics of Senator Joseph McCarthy received from the American Catholic community. During the years between 1945 and 1950 the American Catholic press met both the domestic and foreign challenges of the Cold War by identifying with the secular symbols of American nationalism. Following its disillusionment with the "one world" political idealism of the immediate post-war period the Catholic press renewed its historical hostility to Communism. And, as the unrelenting pressure of the Cold War transformed Catholicism's old apprehensions into hysteria the Catholic press became more and more disposed to voice its opposition to Communism in formal and simplistic theological terms. Throughout the first five years of the Cold War the American Catholic press reacted to the realities of world politics by forsaking its traditional conception of international unity for a "new realism" of military power and a growing faith in the gospel of anti-Communism. Research for this study was conducted in five of America's leading Catholic journals with a combined circulation of approximately one million monthly issues. They include: The Commonweal, a lay-edited weekly; America, a Jesuit-edited publication which boasts of the largest circulation of any weekly journal of opinion; The Catholic Mind, one of this nation's oldest reprint magazines; The Catholic World, published by the Paulist Fathers, and founded in 1865; and The Register, which is the official weekly newspaper of thirty-one Archdioceses and Dioceses in the United States. Additional research, to determine the extent to which the press articulated the Cold War opinions of the Catholic hierarchy, was conducted in the numerous books, pamphlets, announcements and speeches of prominent American Churchmen.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Ferenc Morton Szasz

Second Committee Member

William Miner Dabney

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