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  #16  
Old Apr 8, '13, 2:17 pm
Suslar Suslar is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

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Originally Posted by Anne Jane View Post
It was because of language and also people WALKED to church. I'm 77 and we walked everywhere, in all kinds of weather. You didn't miss Mass on Sunday because of a snow storm. You put on your leggings, boots and winter coat with a hood and WENT.
God bless your generation for that deep commitment!
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  #17  
Old Apr 8, '13, 2:21 pm
PatriceA PatriceA is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

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Originally Posted by WildCatholic View Post
Sorry if I posted this in the wrong area, but I don't know where it fits. Anyway, why did the Church allow this ( i doubt they did it intentionally). To me it seems kind of dumb to separate ethnic groups into their own churches. Wouldn't it have been better just to make them attend one church.

One of the examples that seems idiotic to me is in a town not too far from where i live. There are only 600 people in this town and a number of rural families. However, they have 2 Catholic Churches in the same town, and there are at least 3 other Catholic Churches within 10 miles. The only reason this town had 2 is because one was the German Parish, and one was the Czech Parish. From what I heard,one group didn't like the other, so they formed their own church and asked for a priest. Why would the church allow this? Why not just say "tough luck". It seems silly today to have a town of 600 that is 80% Catholic to have 2 catholic churches. The same thing happens in cities. My uncle was of croatian decent and lived in Omaha NE and said that since his family was croatian, they went to the Croat parish even though the Irish parish was closer.

I'm not condemning the church for this, I just find it odd. I understand part of it is culture, but it seems kind of silly to have created parishes like this.
Personally I have never considered ethnic parishes "dumb". If anything I've always been fascinated by the history of the parish and how it came to be, how it continues to survive with so many parishes being merged and closed these days. The physical Church buildings in these parishes alone are fascinating to me. We should cherish these parishes, not look at them as odd or strange.
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  #18  
Old Apr 8, '13, 2:22 pm
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Lormar Lormar is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

No one catered to immigrants back in those days. They went where there were other people from the old country. They built their own churches, tried to get a pastor that spoke their language, opened their neighborhood bars and stores, and rarely ventured passed the invisible ethnic lines that separated neighborhoods (i.e. Irish, Polish, German, Italian). they were quite content, at least my relatives were. My two aunts died in the neighborhood they were born in. The house they and my father were born in is still there and renovated into an over-priced yuppy condo. So is the ethnic church their pennies, nickels and dimes built.
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  #19  
Old Apr 8, '13, 2:26 pm
George Stegmeir George Stegmeir is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

You touch on something no one has not brought up: The most abysmal ethnic predjudice exhibited by not only the laity, but the Clergy during the 19th and early 20th century.
When most of the Irish came to the US just before the American Civil War, They were fanatically set upon because they were Catholic and "spoke funny". There were very few Catholic Churches extant, so the Irish banded together, brought priests over from Ireland and built their own churches. They were brutally set upon by the Know Nothing Party, and there were anti-catholic riots in several major cities. The prejudice did not stop during the
civil war, when there were numerous instances where Irish units of the Union Army were literally used as cannon fodder. The bravery of these soldiers is what got them accepted by American society. However, they picked up the bad habits of their fellow Americans and were prejudiced against numerous new ethnic groups who immigrated into this country. The most notorious such event happened in central Pennsylvania.
The coal mines in Scranton and Willkes Barre were manned by Irish miners. Who, of course built churches and brought over priests from Ireland.
These miners formed an early trade union called the Molly Mcguires. The mine owners objected mightally and a violent conflict occurred. The mine owners then fired all of the Irish miners and replaced them with Poles that they recruited in Eastern Europe. The Poles, having no English knew nothing about the Irish miners, all they knew was that they were definately not welcom in the Irish Parishes.
Like all other ethnic groups at the time, they built Churches with their nickels and dimes and their own hands and brought priests over from Poland. The next thing that happened was that the Bishop of Scranton found that there were Catholic Churches in his Dioceses that he knew nothing about. He also could not communicate with most of the priests since they spoke no English, and there were no Irish who spoke Polish.
Using translators, the Irish Bishop, who disliked the Poles because they took their jobs away from the Irish (HOW DARE THEY), demanded that the Polish Parishes deed over the Churches and the attendant real estate over to him.
Having been excluded from the Irish Parishes, the Poles said no. They appealed to Rome, and Rome decided against them, largely because there was almost no one in the Vatican who understood Polish, and the Irish had more political influence than the Poles at that time.
The result was a Schism, and the Polish National Catholic Church was formed. This schism lasted until it was healed during the reign of Bl. JP II.
The Germans and Italians both suffered prejudice, but not within the Church. The Germans, because they got here in great numbers and were established before the Irish immigrated in large numbers, and the Italians, because, well they were Italian and even the most stupid Irishman knew that prejudice against the "Eyeties" was a dangerous thing. And where the Irish Clergy dominated, the Irish knew that the heirarchy of the Church in Rome was Italian.
Nothing has changed to this date, except the public gets Congress to do their dirty work by making it difficult or impossible to immigrate legally from brown skinned and 3rd world countries, especially those whose populations are largely Catholic.
And they use every excuse in the book to deny legal entry....but their arguments are the same as they were over 100 years ago.
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  #20  
Old Apr 8, '13, 2:32 pm
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

George, have you ever read Msgr. Florence Collahan's (not sure of the spelling of the name and I do not have the book at hand) book on the history of the Archdiocese of NY? If not, you should get a copy. I believe Fr. Rutler at Our Saviour in NYC has copies. I don't know if he still has any, but he did a few years ago.
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  #21  
Old Apr 8, '13, 2:39 pm
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

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Nothing has changed to this date, except the public gets Congress to do their dirty work by making it difficult or impossible to immigrate legally from brown skinned and 3rd world countries, especially those whose populations are largely Catholic.
And they use every excuse in the book to deny legal entry....but their arguments are the same as they were over 100 years ago.
I strongly disagree. It was much harder to get into this country back then than it is now. My grandfather was going to be sent back to his native country because he had one foot shorter than the other! Can you imagine them doing such a thing today? The civil rights people would be right on it. No such thing as "civil rights" existed back then. Not only that, the conditions that these people were subjected to on the ships that brought them here were inhumane. How many barely made it only to finally die when they arrived here?

And if all of that wasn't enough, our government wasn't standing around waiting to sign all of them up for welfare either. They suffered living conditions that are unheard of today. My own late mother remembered ice on the walls in the apartment she was living in as a little girl and living on banana and bread sandwiches.

Then they had pauper hospitals that were so bad that most people preferred dying at home rather than go to one of those pest houses as they were then called.

No matter how bad people think things are today, they don't come close to what they were back then.
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  #22  
Old Apr 8, '13, 3:23 pm
C_Alexander C_Alexander is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

As George points out, there were bishops who had the same opinion of ethnic parishes as WildCatholic. They thought the way to get everyone on the same page was to eliminate old world ethnic boundaries and support a unified American identity in the Church. The Irish were powerful influencers who spread the idea in the late 1800s which pitted them against the Germans who were not happy with the Irish control.

Ironically enough, the desire to have unity among all the people through uniformity of language and liturgy was considered progressive at the time and was grouped into the heresy of Americanism, which was grouped into the wider heresy of Modernism.

In Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Concerning New Opinions, Virtue, Nature and Grace, with Regard to Americanism (Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae), you can already see the roots of the US' sexual revolution of the 1960s-1970s and of the current traditional vs liberal schism in the American church with some rejecting Vatican II and others saying it wasn't enough.

When you read it, you see how this line of thought influences so many in the American church today on all points of the spectrum without their ever realizing it.

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These dangers, viz., the confounding of license with liberty, the passion for discussing and pouring contempt upon any possible subject, the assumed right to hold whatever opinions one pleases upon any subject and to set them forth in print to the world, have so wrapped minds in darkness that there is now a greater need of the Church's teaching office than ever before, lest people become unmindful both of conscience and of duty.

We, indeed, have no thought of rejecting everything that modern industry and study has produced; so far from it that we welcome to the patrimony of truth and to an ever-widening scope of public well-being whatsoever helps toward the progress of learning and virtue. Yet all this, to be of any solid benefit, nay, to have a real existence and growth, can only be on the condition of recognizing the wisdom and authority of the Church.
The rust and coal belt areas that George refers to were the epicenter of this heresy.
Quote:
A Roman Catholic archbishop who was nicknamed the "Minnesota Blizzard" was so convinced of the heresy of Americanism that it led him to drive what eventually became tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of Ruthenian Catholics out of the Catholic Church, leading to the new nickname of "The Father of American Orthodoxy" in reference to the Ruthenians who joined the Russian Orthodox Church in Archbishop Ireland's wake. Below is a short excerpt from Marvin Richard O'Connell's John Ireland and the American Catholic Church which covers some of the difficulties Greek-Catholic immigrants from Eastern Europe experienced upon moving to the United States in the 18-1900s. (It uses terminology that is considered offensive today but which was acceptable at the time.)

Two weeks after writing the long report to Cardinal Gibbons about the Scandinavians, on December 19, 1889, the archbishop of St. Paul gave an interview in his office to Father Alexis Goergievich Toth, recently arrived in the United States from his birthplace and the scene of his early priestly ministry in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Toth, a learned man of thirty-six, was a Uniate--that is, he belonged to one of the non-Latin rites in union with the Roman see but distinctive in their liturgical languages and ecclesiastical customs. A group of Ruthenian Uniates had established their own parish earlier in the year in Northeast Minneapolis--where a good many eastern European immigrants had settled--and had called Father Toth to be their pastor.
The priest presented the archbishop his credentials, and, as Toth recalled it, Ireland's hands trembled as he read them. Then he looked up, and said abruptly in Latin: "Have you a wife?"
"No," Toth answered in the same language.
"But you had one?"
"Yes, I am a widower."
Ireland tossed the documents on the desk in front of him. "I have already written to Rome protesting against this kind of priest being sent to me!"
"What kind of priest do you mean?"
"Your kind."
"I am a Catholic priest of the Greek rite," Toth protested. "I am a Uniate and was ordained by a regular Catholic bishop."
"I do not consider that either you or this bishop of yours are Catholic; besides I do not need any Greek Catholic priests here; a Polish priest in Minneapolis is quite sufficient; the Greeks can also have him for their priest."
The Minnesota Blizzard's Americanism

The Heresy of Americanism: Response To Radical Traditionalists by Shaun Kenney

Americanism: Then and Now by Russell Shaw
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  #23  
Old Apr 8, '13, 5:47 pm
WildCatholic WildCatholic is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

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Originally Posted by PatriceA View Post
Was the town more populated at one time, perhaps when there were industries that employed these two groups of immigrants? There are two parishes in my city that are associated with two different ethnic groups, the Italians and the Polish/German and were established in the neighborhoods were a majority of the two groups lived when the mills and foundries were running at full employment. Now, it would probably appear strange to an outsider to still have these two parishes associated with their ethnic group, especially when there are a couple of other parishes that aren't associated with any ethnic group and the mills are gone, the neighborhoods are diminished.
It might have been a little bigger, and certainly there were more farmers, but it couldn't be that much bigger. I could understand if say one church was in town and the other was in the country (since horse and buggy made travel longer), but in this town the two churches are literally about a 1/2 mile apart. I guess I wonder why its still like that since for the most part, everyone speaks english.

Everybody talks about culture too, but wasn't every mass in latin? Or were the hymns in their native tongue? I've always thought everything except the Homily was in latin before 1962
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  #24  
Old Apr 8, '13, 5:51 pm
WildCatholic WildCatholic is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

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Originally Posted by PatriceA View Post
Personally I have never considered ethnic parishes "dumb". If anything I've always been fascinated by the history of the parish and how it came to be, how it continues to survive with so many parishes being merged and closed these days. The physical Church buildings in these parishes alone are fascinating to me. We should cherish these parishes, not look at them as odd or strange.
Sorry if dumb is too strong of a word, maybe just "old fashioned". I myself am of czech descent. But I don't see why in some places the czechs and the germans and irish and italians need there own church when it was all in latin. I'm sorry if I offended people. I'll admit i can be insensitive a lot of the time.

Sorry.

Just an aside though. The main newspaper out of Omaha did a story on the town (the town is Howells btw, i don't know if its right to mention it. I don't think they are wrong for having two catholic churches, its just odd that such a small town has two of them). The article, which i can't find, mentioned how since they each had their own priest back then, they would tell their parishioners not to go to the other one and that it was a sin to attend the other one. Granted this may have just been a rumor, or more likely something blown way out of proportion, but that seemed a tad strange.
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  #25  
Old Apr 8, '13, 6:02 pm
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WingsOfEagles WingsOfEagles is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

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Originally Posted by WildCatholic View Post
Everybody talks about culture too, but wasn't every mass in latin? Or were the hymns in their native tongue? I've always thought everything except the Homily was in latin before 1962
True, but would you want to listen to a homily in a language you don't understand well week after week? I've done it on vacation and went to a Mass in French. I speak only broken French and there is no way I would get all that much out of Mass in French week after week.
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  #26  
Old Apr 8, '13, 7:32 pm
WildCatholic WildCatholic is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

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Originally Posted by WingsOfEagles View Post
True, but would you want to listen to a homily in a language you don't understand well week after week? I've done it on vacation and went to a Mass in French. I speak only broken French and there is no way I would get all that much out of Mass in French week after week.
I guess i keep forgetting that they didn't know english in a lot of these communities. But this faded after about 50 years though. Today, only people over 80 know Czech in my community. Most know a few words, but no one speaks it. I will say it is interesting.
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  #27  
Old Apr 8, '13, 10:59 pm
George Stegmeir George Stegmeir is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

What most of you don't know, because many of you are too young to remember what it was like before Vatican II.
Before V II, in the USA, the Mass and all other Catholic religious services were completely in Latin without exception. The Gospel, the Sermon, and the hymnd were in the native language of the ethnic parishes.
All of that changed in the aftermath of V II. In the Diocese of New York and of Brooklyn, the Mass was allowed to be said only in English or Spanish. The Poles applied for and were granted an exemption by the Cardinal in NYC and the Bishop in Brooklyn followed suit. I think this was in part because of the threat of schism to the Polish National Catholic Church. The Italian Parishes ignored the whole thing and went their own way in Italian. The Cardinal and the Bishop over in Brooklyn left them alone because after the Vatican was wall to wall Italian and would take a dim view of the Church in the US forcing the Italians to use English!
However, all of the former ethnic parishes knuckled under and became mainstream American with the Mass being said in English.
However, things have loosened up in NYC under the past two Popes, where ocassionally one can find a Mass being said in other languages, including both the Tridentine and Contemporary Latin Masses.
If you really want a religious experience, you should attend Mass in Chinatown in Manhattan, or in a Phillipine Parish (said in Tagalog) out in Queens!
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  #28  
Old Apr 9, '13, 2:15 am
coachdennis coachdennis is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

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Originally Posted by WildCatholic View Post
Sorry if dumb is too strong of a word, maybe just "old fashioned". I myself am of czech descent. But I don't see why in some places the czechs and the germans and irish and italians need there own church when it was all in latin. I'm sorry if I offended people. I'll admit i can be insensitive a lot of the time.

Sorry.

Just an aside though. The main newspaper out of Omaha did a story on the town (the town is Howells btw, i don't know if its right to mention it. I don't think they are wrong for having two catholic churches, its just odd that such a small town has two of them). The article, which i can't find, mentioned how since they each had their own priest back then, they would tell their parishioners not to go to the other one and that it was a sin to attend the other one. Granted this may have just been a rumor, or more likely something blown way out of proportion, but that seemed a tad strange.
What about confessions? When someone was sick? When someone needed to talk to a priest? How do you do that when the priest doesn't speak your language?

Many people have tried to explain to you the various point of views that various ethnic groups had towards each other. You cannot look at it through the eyes of 2013. Many of these people were poor, uneducated and left all they had for a strange, sometimes hostile world. Their faith AND their language was ALL THEY HAD!

Do you know that for the majority of Americans before World War II-- the average American did not travel more than 250 miles from their place of birth in their lifetime? Until 1930s for most people there was no radio or mass communication. Yes, there were newspapers but how many could read English, or even their native language?

I really think the best thing for you to do is to try to enter the mindset of people of the time of immigrants. Perhaps that will give you some greater insight,
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  #29  
Old Apr 9, '13, 9:23 am
Monte RCMS Monte RCMS is offline
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

We have friends who are from Ukraine and they attend a Ukrainian Catholic Church ... fully part of the Catholic Church.

If you don't speak English and you want to get married and your priest doesn't speak Ukrainian, then what do you do?


Anyway, the local American Irish priests gave the Ukrainian priest a terrible hard time.
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Old Apr 9, '13, 10:01 am
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Default Re: Why did the Catholic Church in the U. S. divide parishes based on ethnic lines?

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Originally Posted by WildCatholic View Post
Sorry if I posted this in the wrong area, but I don't know where it fits. Anyway, why did the Church allow this ( i doubt they did it intentionally). To me it seems kind of dumb to separate ethnic groups into their own churches. Wouldn't it have been better just to make them attend one church.

One of the examples that seems idiotic to me is in a town not too far from where i live. There are only 600 people in this town and a number of rural families. However, they have 2 Catholic Churches in the same town, and there are at least 3 other Catholic Churches within 10 miles. The only reason this town had 2 is because one was the German Parish, and one was the Czech Parish. From what I heard,one group didn't like the other, so they formed their own church and asked for a priest. Why would the church allow this? Why not just say "tough luck". It seems silly today to have a town of 600 that is 80% Catholic to have 2 catholic churches. The same thing happens in cities. My uncle was of croatian decent and lived in Omaha NE and said that since his family was croatian, they went to the Croat parish even though the Irish parish was closer.

I'm not condemning the church for this, I just find it odd. I understand part of it is culture, but it seems kind of silly to have created parishes like this.
Others have responded to this, so at the risk of being redundant I will add my two cents worth.

Catholics in America, like many other newly arrived groups, generally congregated with people of their own ethnicity and/or nationality. They spoke their native tongue, and wanted to celebrate the liturgy and Feast Days, and honor "their" saints using familiar traditions and language. Even though Latin was the language of the Mass, the vernacular was used in a lot of the prayers, songs and sacramentals that were part of ethnic parish worship and ceremonies.

When the ethnic group was large enough, a church was formed, and over the first decades everything was built up with the sweat and monetary contributions of those pioneers. In the town in which I grew up, as in neighboring towns, there was a Polish church (in the Polish neighborhood), a German church, and a French (or French-Canadian) church. Other places had Irish, Italian and other churches formed and supported by people of those ethnic groups (don't forget that with big families and living near each other, many of those people intermarried and so were related to a lot of their fellow parishioners).

Churches also "split" when the first parish became too large and unwieldy, and the split was often done, voluntarily, along ethnic lines, since for the most part people wanted to be with those who were most like themselves, or who were their friends and relatives.

I know of one church started by the earliest German Catholic settlers, but when the Polish immigrants arrived and became numerous enough, they asked for and received permission to start a new parish of their own. The two churches ended up being on the same street, several blocks apart, almost within sight of each other.

The Church did not purposely "divide" groups ethnically, but supported those groups who wanted to form a parish. The new parish would usually be assigned a priest of the same ethnicity, often one who came from the same homeland as the congregation. When a school was formed, an order of nuns connected to that nationality or ethnicity would also come to teach and serve.

One could still see the reminders of those days into the 1960's, until as people moved and mingled the ethnic nature of particular parishes began to wane. But remnants still exist, and today we are again seeing more "ethnic" parishes; for example, with the advent of Hispanics becoming the majority in some neighborhoods and the parishes changing to conform to their language and traditions.

One thing that I have found in participating at the liturgy in some of these "ethnic" churches is the rich variety of traditions that exist in the entire Catholic Church. As much as some want to think that the Church and the liturgy is the exactly the same everywhere, there is a wide and wonderful range of what people can do within those parameters.
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