"Conservative Catholicism and the Carmelites" is an ethnographic and historical study of a present-day order of sisters. The first part of the book explores the historical transformation after Vatican II of one Carmelite community into a neotraditionalist order defending an essentialist understanding of Catholic teaching, and spearheading a movement among women religious within the church to define the parameters of normative Catholicism. This historical analysis suggests that the fundamental disagreement between "conservative" and "liberal" Catholics lies in a dispute about the normativity of Anglo-Protestant culture as a theological and ecclesiological model for the church.The second part of the book documents and analyses ethnographic data to explain the appeal of the order to Latino/a communities in the United States. Its findings suggest that Latino communities appropriate neotraditionalist Catholicism as much to maintain and articulate ethnocultural identities as to defend theological positions. What neotraditionalist Catholic leaders and the Latino/a laity share is an unwillingness to model religious and/or cultural identity after certain Anglo-Protestant values.In conclusion, the book suggests the existence of at least three "churches" encompassed by post-Vatican II, U.S. Catholicism: a liberal contingent embracing Anglo-Protestantism; a neotraditionalist contingent in critical tension with Anglo-Protestantism; and a contingent of transnational Catholic communities from Spanish, New World cultures in critical tension with Anglo-Protestant culture. The book suggests that the postconciliar church is more of a global church than a national one, and its constituents more the product of a polycentric world than an assemblage of "ethnic enclaves" orbiting around an Anglo-Protestant centre. Extant scholarly labels of "conservative" and liberal", Catholicism should thus be subjected to more careful scrutiny problematising the political relationships between religious and cultural affiliations, if not abandoned altogether.
Contents - Introduction; The Emergence of a Neotraditionalist Order; Mother Luisa's Canonization and the Santification of Neotraditionalism; The Urban Cloister - Religious and Ethnic Identity in Los Angeles ;Underground Carmelites - Catholic Identity in the Arizona/Sonora Borderlands; Betwixt and Between - Catholic Identity and the Reconstruction of Ethnic Identity in Miami; Gone But Not Forgotten - The Carmelites in Post-Industrial Cleveland; Conclusion