Chapter 10


       As we have already observed, both Bishop Amadeus Rappe, who presided over the Diocese from 1847 to 1870, and Bishop Richard Gilmour, who was bishop here from 1872 until 1891, were relatively strong Americanizers. They dealt with the Irish ethnicity in Cleveland with severity. They allowed exceptions, already mentioned, to their policy, but for the most part they wanted their Irish people to become part of the American mainstream as soon as possible.

Bishop Ignatius Horstmann

       This was not quite the policy of Bishop Ignatius Horstmann who was Bishop of Cleveland from 1892 until 1908. He saw his diocese rife with nationalism, mostly rooted in a genuine hostility between the children of the Irish immigrants and the children of the German immigrants. Horstmann too professed to be an Americanizer. Although he himself had been born in Germany, he came to this country as a very young boy with his parents who settled in Philadelphia. Horstmann did his studies for the priesthood at the Urban College of the Propaganda in Rome, and .....




returned to work in the Philadelphia archdiocese as a curate, pastor, seminary professor and chancellor from 1863 until his appointment to Cleveland in 1892. He was profoundly influenced by the transcultural experience that was his at the Urban College where students from all over the world were educated in an environment that bore no resemblance at all to the provincialism of the seminaries in Ireland, Germany or in the United States which trained most of the American priests of his day. At the Urban College, a young seminarian was taught the following:

1)    He was told to regard himself as a missionary in his own country. He was to respect the culture of his country which he was urged to study thoroughly.

2)    He was to seek to adopt the teaching of the Catholic Church to the culture of his country, assimilate its good insights and incorporate this culture into the discipline of the Church as it was to be lived in the missionary environment.

3)    At the same time, the Urban College exposed the seminarian to the diversity of the cultures of other churches within the world-wide influence of Roman Catholicism. He learned that differences of culture led to differences of style, especially in the liturgy, without doing any violence to the doctrine of Catholicism. Thus, for example, the alumnus of the Urban College knew that a Mass celebrated by Coptics in Aramaic was just as valid as a Mass celebrated in Latin by the Pope in Rome or by an isolated priest in rural or urban America.




4)    An alumnus of the Urban College in Rome was also taught that when he returned to America he was to treat the cultures of all the different nationalities with an equal respect. He had no desire to destroy either the language or culture of any national group in order to make that group something it had not yet become, in this case, American.

5)    This approach, extremely sophisticated for its own time, was bound to be misunderstood by any immigrant group who might seek to impose its culture or language on any other diverse though Catholic immigrant group. Hence, the alumnus of the Urban College was rarely understood by priests who had a monolithic or narrowly ultra-national seminary training of their own. And if the Urban College alumnus brought these views to the Episcopacy, especially in a diocese like Cleveland, one could predict that he might well alienate many of his people. The irony of this situation became compounded if the Urban College alumnus bishop found himself unable to convince either the pastors or people of his parishes that, in fact, he favored that all should become American in time. He did not want to rush into an Americanism that had not yet become culturally mature.

       This was basically the thrust of the episcopate of Bishop Horstmann. He allowed that the Irish were moving more quickly toward some sort of American Catholic culture in their parishes but he would not force the Germans to join them. He made extraordinary efforts to care for the countless other immigrant groups .....




from middle and eastern Europe, often making genuine efforts to obtain for these recently arrived immigrants priests from Europe to come here to take charge of their needs. For the most part, he succeeded in doing so. But once these parishes were begun, they antagonized the Irish or territorial pastors. For their part, the Irish claimed that the new immigrants were frequently lawless, that they formed all but schismatic churches in that they did not follow diocesan rules, especially with regard to the observation of parish boundaries. One need hardly note that these same criticisms might have been leveled against the Irish themselves when they arrived in Cleveland forty years earlier. But at the same time, as we have observed earlier, the rush toward upward mobility by the Irish in the second half of the last century appears to have cost them a real loss of their historical roots. Maybe they wanted it that way. But if some Irish narrowly condemned the immigrants who came after them, they must stand before the tribunal of history as being intolerant of the very same hardships of immigration they themselves had endured. The fact that the Irish had overcome these hardships by sheer determination did not make them more understanding. Their fear of falling back into the poverty of the Famine times seems to have often cost the Irish their great natural gift of compassion.

       There were exceptions. In 1886 when a parish was begun for the Italians at East 13th and Central, called St. Anthony, it was the pastor and the people of the Cathedral Parish that supported the venture financially and taught Sunday School there. They made .....(continued next page)