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School of Theology and Ministry

Mark S. Massa, S.J.

professor of church history

Mark S. Massa, S.J.

Contact Information | 617-552-6501


A.B., M.A., M.Div., S.T.L., Th.D. (Harvard)

Areas of Interest

For the past decade my research interest has focused on the Catholic experience in the United States since World War II.  Catholics and American Culture sought to provide a non-“master narrative” approach to understanding how Catholics left their secure ghetto after 1945 to enter the verdant pastures of middle class affluence, with somewhat mixed results.  And precisely because of those mixed results, I utilized Reinhold Niebuhr’s rich category of “theological irony" to tell my tale.  Anti-Catholicism in America mined David Tracy’s protean distinction between “analogical” and “dialectical” pre-conceptual languages to explain how – and – why – Catholics and other Americans actually do see the world differently, a difference that has contributed significantly to “prejudice” against Catholics in the U.S. And I use that term in neutral sense (and not in its more usual pejorative) sense: prejudice comes from two Latin words that mean “prejudgment.”  I thus attempted an ideologically neutral approach to anti-Catholic “prejudice.”  My latest book, The American Catholic Revolution (Oxford 2010) examines what happened after Vatican II when historical consciousness (i.e., the awareness that everything in history changes) was let loose in the American Catholic community. The book starts with Vatican II, and examines the reception of Humanae Vitae, the "Catonsville Nine" anti-Vietnam War protest, the reform of women's religious orders, and Avery Dulles' classic work, Models of the Church.


Fr. Mark S. Massa, S.J. was born and raised in Ohio (a public school kid for 12 years), and educated at the University of Detroit, the University of Chicago, and Harvard. He received his M.Div. from the Weston School of Theology in 1980. After ordination he lived for a year in North Cambridge (St. John the Evangelist).  At Fordham, Fr. Massa was the Karl Rahner, S.J. Professor of Theology, and directed the American Studies Program for 12 years.  In 2001 he founded and directed the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies.  Fr. Massa will be on sabbatical during the 2016-2017 academic year, before returning to serve as the new director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life.


Classic Texts in American Theology
Catholics and American Culture

Recent Publications

The American Catholic Revolution: How the Sixties Changed the Church Forever. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice?  New York: Crossroad Press, 2003.

Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team.  New York: Crossroad, 1999. Winner of the AJCU/Alpha Sigma Nu Award for Outstanding Work in Theology for 1999-2001.

World Religions: A Sourcebook (with Richard Viladesau). Metuchen, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993.

Foundations of Theological Study (with Richard Viladesau). Metuchen, NJ: Paulist Press, 1991.
Charles Augustus Briggs and the Crisis of Historical Criticism.  Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.