An American Tradition

by Zoe Pollock

A Commonweal reader points Paul Moses to a July 28, 1879 article in The New York Times, “An Unprofitable Church: Roman Catholic Troubles in New-Haven:”

As The Times put it, “When the residents of this aristocratic avenue discovered that they were in danger of seeing a Roman Catholic church spring up among them, with all that the establishment of such a church implied, they bestirred themselves to oppose the project. The wisest of the Roman Catholics here did not favor it, and St. Mary’s was induced to exchange the lot for a good one in some other locality.” But that site was also deemed “too good” for Catholics, so a lesser lot was found. The pastor refused this, according to The Times, and built the church as originally planned on wealthy Hillhouse Avenue....

Pressure to “compromise” on a site … bias against the religion of an immigrant community …  hostile media coverage. There is nothing new under the sun.