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Religious education; Toleration--Religious aspects--Christianity; German language--Religious aspects--Christianity; Ireland, John, 1838-1918


Archbishop John Ireland dominated the national debate on German language use in parochial schools at the turn of the century. Because of his outspoken desire that Catholics not be viewed as "foreigners" on American soil, Ireland has been portrayed by critics as a rabid Americanizer who was insensitive to the cultural heritage of non-English speaking Catholic immigrants. A review of Ireland's correspondence and papers, interviews with individuals who knew him, and a search of the historical records of six German-Catholic national parishes in St. Paul reveal that Ireland's public statements on Americanization and his archdiocesan policies regarding the German national parishes were often contradictory. In contrast to his public statements, John Ireland's educational policies were pragmatic, culturally sensitive, and consistent. The archbishop not only tolerated widespread use of German language in parish schoolrooms, he promoted its growth by encouraging the development of national parishes and schools and by providing German-speaking priests and nuns to the congregations.

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