Kathleen Holscher is associate professor of American Studies, and holds the Endowed Chair of Roman Catholic Studies in the Religious Studies program at University of New Mexico. Her research focuses on the relationship of Catholicism to formations of race and empire, particularly US settler colonialism. Her book, Religious Lessons: Catholic Sisters, Public Education and the Law in Mid-Century New Mexico, was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. Holscher’s recent work deals especially with Catholic clerical sexual abuse in the context of US missions to Native peoples. She has published pieces on this for journals like the National Catholic Reporter and The Revealer. A longer essay on the subject will appear in the volume Religion and US Empire: Critical New Histories, edited by Tisa Wenger and Sylvester Johnson (forthcoming with New York University Press in summer 2022).
Using the example of nineteenth-century “Americanist” archbishop John Ireland, and his boarding school initiatives in Minnesota, this essay demonstrates how the US Catholic Church came to behave as an American institution by seeking common ground with liberal ideals of freedom, while simultaneously embracing state policing and punishment against populations marginalized from the body politic.