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Hartwig, Uribe 1

Bailey Hartwig, Kathryn Uribe


Mrs. Bennett
Humanities 2
26 January 2016
The European Use of Religion as Moral Motive to Expand
Undoubtedly, from 1450 to 1750, in order to further spread Christianity, the
Catholic Church prompted the expansion of the European states into the Americas. Due
to the competition with other empires for religious and cultural influence, the Church and
State united in order to become more prominent through the combination of an influential
universalizing religion, and the political dominance of Europe. Ultimately, the Catholic
Church set moral and religious standards for expansion and did so through the political
backing of the European State.
During the period of European expansion into the Americas, the government and
Catholic Church informally bound together and gave the Catholic Church the political
support it needed to become a faster universalizing religion driven by their religious
beliefs. In the article The Search For an American Catholicism, the colonial leaders
wanted the Catholic Church and its clergy to enjoy a special place in the new colony, a
privileged status that was commonplace at that time in Europe, and by doing so, exposed
Christianity to the American population and simultaneously expanded (Dolan 170).
Although some people believed that the Catholic Church had become corrupt, and they
lost their trust in it, many Christians still believed that the European State wasn't solely
immorally supporting the church for its own benefit. In the article, it states that from the
very first moment Europeans set foot on America's shores they had sought to adapt their

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culture and customs to the environment of the New World, and this was very evident in
the area of religion (Dolan 169). This shows that originally, the main purpose of
European conquest in the Americas was to bless the world with Catholicism, and offer
them the opportunity to live a better life. The Europeans would not have been able to
accomplish all that they did in the Americas, if it werent for their morally and religiously
driven motives. It is evident all throughout history, that humans will unite for the
opportunity to show others how to live, what they believe to be, a better life; a life lived
like theirs.
After the Europeans had colonized the American Continents, there was a constant
search for a continuation of Western Catholicism, due to the new settlers mindset that
everyone in the new world should be given the opportunity for Christian redemption. In
the article The Search For an American Catholicism, the first English settlers of Virginia
wanted to fashion a Church that would be in conformity with the Church of England, "as
neere as may be (Dolan 169). This proves that the colonists made an effort to integrate
European religion and culture into America, in order to administer Catholic beliefs and
morals among the newly founded American Colonies.
In the article, it states that For Catholics their history had been a continuous search for
American Catholicism, a Catholicism that was rooted in the ancient Catholic tradition but
always sought to adapt itself to the culture of the American Colonies (Dolan 170). This
provides evidence for the Europeans belief that the spread of their Christianity would
really help others to live a more peaceful and harmonious life.
Although it may seem as though the Church was using the State in order to gain
power and wealth, in reality the State provided a political backing for the Church

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allowing for it to prosper and spread the idea of Christian redemption. By spreading this
idea, the intent of European expansion was to promote an amicable and peaceable
lifestyle.