Charles Keith's Catholic Vietnam: A Church from Empire to Nation examines the history of Catholicism in Vietnam under French colonialism. Keith argues that colonialism sharpened racial differences in Vietnamese Catholic life by enabling French missionaries to dominate the religious leadership. Whereas Vietnamese priests enjoyed relative parity with European missionaries prior to the French conquest, the subsequent surge in the number of French missionaries reduced native priests to mere auxiliaries. The trend reversed, however, after the First World War. The Vatican responded to the global decline in missionary Catholicism by instituting a series of changes in the 1920s and 1930s that aimed to replace European missions with national churches. In Vietnam, the reforms included the ordination of native bishops, a more rigorous and centralized educational system for seminarians, sending talented seminarians to study abroad, and the encouragement of print culture. These changes enabled Vietnamese priests to become leaders within their own...

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